Mar. 30th, 2012 02:52 pm
ricardienne: (library)
I had forgotten that David Brooks' (and others') perennial head-shaking about the 'technocrats' their silly exaltation of science/specialization/expertise over common sense and received opinion, was basically the rhetoric of Cleon, the Guy Who First Demonstrated Why Democracies Can't Have Nice Things:
What will be worst of all is if nothing stands fixed which has been decided upon, and we don't recognize that a city is stronger using worse but unshaken laws than ones that are very fine, but unstable, and that ignorance together with prudence is a more useful thing than brilliance together with license, and that lesser men, as compared to more intelligent ones, for the most part are better at civil life. For the latter want to seem to be cleverer than the laws and to excel in public with whatever they are saying. But the former, distrusting in their own intelligence judge that they are less smart than the laws and are less able to criticize the recommendation of a good speaker and being judges from a position of equality rather than competitors they set most things straight. -- Thucydides. 3.57

Or was Cleon all that bad? Democratic politicians don't come off very well in most ancient sources, and Thucydides had particular reason for ira et studium toward the guy who got him exiled. I'm not sure that importing the Tacitus model onto Thucydides (even though I like Tacitus far more than Thucydides, and one would think that treating Thucydides more like Tacitus would make me like him more) is entirely helpful, but it's also good that he (Thucydides) -- slowly over the second half of the 20th century -- has gotten a more critical eye as a historian. (Although I'm not sure how much of this percolated over to Polysci and IR, where I think he is still a gospel authority. Maybe it doesn't matter over there whether he is laying out a theory strongly supported by historical fact or not.) So Cleon, like Tiberius, Nero, and Domitian, gets a bit of a rehabilitation now and then. But this is not perhaps the most scholastically auspicious way to go about it:
Thus have this ill-assorted pair (sc. Aristophanes and Thucydides) gained their revenge: I submit that there is no real reason to suppose anything of the kind. That both wrote literature of survival value, and that both disliked Cleon, ought not to be regarded as more than fortuitous. It clinches no argument. One could suggest comparative instances : for example, two such very different men as Shakespeare and St. Thomas More paint much the same picture of King Richard III ; but that proves nothing as to Richard’s real character, which there is cause to view differently.” [{A.G. Woodhead: “Thucydides' Portrait of Cleon” Mnemosyne, 4th s. 13.4 (1960), pp. 289-31, p. 293]

One might note that Daughter of Time was published in 1951.
ricardienne: (Default)
Of course, I know Ford best through his wacky alternate history/fantasy/Wars of the Roses novel The Dragon Waiting, so I'm not surprised he also wrote wacky and awesome Wars of the Roses poetry:

Enter Mr Jno. Ford (the Elizabethan one) as King Edward the Fourth.

I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.
This monarch business makes a fellow hungry.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

What happened to the kippers left from breakfast?
Or maybe there’s a bit of cold roast pheasant.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.

A civil war is such an awful bother.
We fought at Tewksbury and still ran out of mustard.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

Speak not to me of pasta Marinara.
I know we laid in lots of boar last Tuesday.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.

The pantry seems entirely full of Woodvilles
And Clarence has drunk two-thirds of the cellar.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.

If I ran England like I run that kitchen
You’d half expect somebody to usurp it.
I am the King now, and I want a sandwich.
I wonder where my brother Richard is.
ricardienne: (Default)
So I have a stomach bug today, and I feel crummy. I should go to bed, but I don't want to go to bed.

Read most of Catilina's Riddle (Steven Sayler); today, while moping around. About 30 pages from the end, I got frustrated by the twistyness (SPOILERS?) of the MC's theories, by which Cicero was actually machinating everything, and using his spies to plant and instigate all of illegal activity/apparent illegal activity among the so-called conspirators, which, okay, is not that implausible, because doen't the FBI do that now, sometimes, but anyway, I skipped and read the author's note at the end, and and found my suspicions confirmed, because "I am not trying to rehabilitate Cataline like Josephine Tey and Richard III, but OMG ALL THE SOURCES ARE TOTALLY BIASED."

Which is true, except that Sallust was an enemy of Cicero, so you do have at least two sources which would be inimical to each-other agreeing.

(Also, I am not in a good position to judge how plausible all of this convolution is, partly because I am sick, partly because what I remember about Cicero's version is "quouseque abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra" and the bit about Catiline's followers being the types to dance naked at parties, and the post-conspiracy debate between Cato and Caesar from Sallust. Although I think that A Slave of Catiline had more or less the outline, except for the bizarre bit with Cicero handing off the mantle of future rescue of the res p. to Caesar at the end.)

Um. So the point of this post, I think, was to wonder about how someone with the username "ricardienne" can get annoyed by historical conspiracy theories. It's true that I no longer either 1) care so much about Richard III's innocence as I did in, say, 8th grade, or (shall I be honest here?) high school, or 2) think that he was TEH EPITOME OF INNOCENCE (although maybe he was a moderately decent person who tried to do some kind of right thing most of the time, and didn't necessarily murder his nephews). Seriously, there was a point when I used to lie awake at night getting angsty with doubt about R3's True Character.

I also like Cicero, and I think he gets bashed a bit unfairly. Just because he was a lawyer and a politician, and ambitious and vain and left an immense body of writing to document it all... but then, all that writing survived because he was a freaking brilliant writer and intellectual and orator, too. (Why don't people ever mock Caesar, hmm? He doesn't even get a bad rap in Asterix, for crying out loud?). So if feels like a cheap shot to say "oh, Cataline: probably innocent, because, after, all it's Cicero who's going on about it, and we all know what his agenda was like."

Even though that's PRETTY MUCH THE SAME ARGUMENT that gets used in defense of R3. So maybe I'm just encountering this later in life, when I have, *sigh*, grown more *conservative* and don't want to start anything too *radical* within the historical canon.

Whatever. Maybe I will finish the novel: I kind of what to find out where the headless bodies were coming from. Also whether there will be a giant family feud over Cicero vs. Catiline.
ricardienne: (chord)
Today is Anne Neville's birthday. Also [ profile] angevin2's. Happy Birthday to both!

The Haydn D-major concerto is one of the few pieces of major-mode music that makes me sad. Sad in a good way, though. I got sort of teary of mm 71-76 while practicing it this morning. Sooooo good!


May. 30th, 2006 03:04 am
ricardienne: (york)
I was poking around on Red Hen Publications, whose essays are a lot of fun, even if they verge on the absolutely absurd (in my opinion) and sometimes seem to be more attempts to justify fandom and fanfiction premises than straight analysis/speculation of the books, and I found an essay entitled "Loyaulte me lie". It's about Snape, or rather it's an elaborate Dumbledore-Snape Conspiracy Theory that is the most convincing one I've seen yet. But the important thing is obviously the title: I'm not the only one to want to associate Snape and Richard.
ricardienne: (york)
Or not, I suppose. I've been home 2 days, and this is what I have accomplished: nothing, but I have been catching up on my "fun" reading.

Ptolomy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud. This is the third book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, the first two of which I went on and on about here. Stroud really seems to have developed over the course of this series, and I do have a feeling that his ideas about where the books were going as far as plot and character changed quite a bit from the first to the third. However, this might be because I read them fairly far apart, and I don't think that it was necessarily a bad thing. I like(d) this series very much: I would reccomend it as a fill-in while waiting for the next Harry Potter book. I don't want to say too much, because I don't want to spoil it, but this third book made me rethink the possibilities of a thoroughly (or near-thoroughly) horrid character (the semi-main one is a sort of cross between Tom Riddle, Artemis Fowl, and Christopher Chant) in a children's book, which has quite a few implications for Snape. Stroud also did something that I was not at all sure could be pulled off in a children's book, and am still not sure at all JK Rowling would (will?) dare pull off, but that's all I'll say on that subject!

The Da Vinci Code. Admittedly, only about the first 1/5th of it, out loud on the way to bring my cello into the shop this morning. (A two-hour drive to get an instrument repaired is ridiculous, but there you are). Now, I can really mock/scorn it, having actually (started to) read the thing.* Because, oh my goodness it was awful! I don't know why the Catholic Church is so upset: if anything, it would tend to make me more favorable towards Opus Dei/the Vatican, because anything that someone as dumb as Dan Brown dislikes can't be all that bad, can it? I probably would have made it through a lot more if my father and I hadn't kept erupting with comments and objections. I don't think there's much point in cataloging them here. However, I am starting to develop a theory about Dan Brown. Clearly he has serious issues arising from the popularity of the Harry Potter books. Note the very clear references to Draco(nian), where no one has (yet) considered the possibility of the word as an adjective but insists on assuming it references the historical figure: this is certainly a coded reference to Draco Malfoy. And then the repeated mention of "dark arts" and the preoccupation with the possibility of a Satanic interpretation of what is in fact non-Satanic. I shall probably have to read the rest of the book before I can decipher the entire message, as my symbological skills are not incredibly great! On a slightly less flippant note, I am somewhat bothered by the assumption that this book makes that Europe is essentially in the Middle Ages. It's really weird, and kind of irritating, although not as irritating as the not always terrible accurate guidebook that he seems to have swallowed. No, I do not care to read about things such as, "Almost emanating sepulchral atmosphere of the nearly thousand-year-old catacombs in the Quartier Latin, the old University district of Paris, Robert Langdon scanned the entire length of the opulently carpeted corridor. It would have take 346,772,491 American pennies laid end to end to approximate it 767.8 foot length."**
*Isn't is cool that I can do that: use the same word as alternately past and present tense? Sometimes I think English is a pretty good language after all.
**Okay, so I made this "quote" up, misplaced modifier and all.

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova. Counting Da Vinci Code, I have now read three of these pseudo-academic thrillers: that one, Codex, and now, The Historian. Da Vinci Code I talked about above, Codex was stupid in an astonishing number of ways*, but I rather liked The Historian. There are certainly personal reasons for this. I went through a vampire craze in 7th grade, but it quickly turned into a Vlad the Impaler interest, and I've always sort of been on the look-out for novels about him. This one was definitely better than the "Danish medical student finds Vlad's memoirs and falls in love with him because impaling people is teh hotness" one I read back in middle school. And now, with [ profile] dracula1897 up, I am definitely in the mood for traditional vampires. (None of that mysterious and misunderstood children of the night business here. This book fulfills on that score; it is a sort of successor to Bram Stoker, except rather more ambitious in scope: the action spans three modern generations (presented all mixed together in letters and journals, however) and much of cold-war era Europe and Turkey. As far as "Academia thrillers" are concerned, this one also tops out the others I've read. The grad students and professors here actually tend to act like the scholars they're supposed to be, and much of the "action" is looking up documents in libraries, trying to find translations of the texts you need and to contact the other people in your field who might have the information you want. I nearly squeed when a crucial document was presented along with notes about the several surviving manuscripts and their possible departures from the lost original. Okay, so it isn't much, but we need more of this kind of thing in this kind of novel. Granted the premise that Dracula goes around trying to snare top academics is more than a little silly, and there were plenty of ridiculous/unbelievably outside the obviously supernatural premise moments. But the clearly made-up stuff, of which there was naturally a lot (a lost Shakspeare play about a vampire in the Ottoman empire, anyone?) worked much better than it did in say, Da Vinci Code. That is to say, I didn't feel that the author was trying to persuade me to believe that such a play actually existed, for example. Unfortunately, it's 600+ pages, which is why I didn't get anything else done today. I did find it fairly scaring/compelling, but then, I tend to get sucked into even pretty bad books, so that doesn't say very much.
*Such as people trying to destroy/find a medieval text because it contains the secret to a very localized 13th century mystery whose solution will have absolutely no effect on anything. Also, the entire plot was based on an early English text that included such things as pages of nonsense and a page entirely inked over as part of its post-modern artistic concept, which is well… no comment.

Tomorrow, I really will start to do all of the things I need to do. If I don't get distracted by the shiny new Richard III novel, To the Tower Born which purports a "new perspective" on the mystery of the Princes in the Tower -- Margaret Beaufort offed them* -- from the point of view of Caxton's daughter, conventiently the best friend of Elizabeth of York. Given that the last book I read about the Princes in the Tower and some random 15 c. girl was this really creepy picture book, it can't be that bad. No, that's not right: it can. I read the prologue, and it promises to be one of those pro-Richard books that makes me think that with "friends" like these, Richard doesn't need any enemies.
*This is not in fact a new idea: this is at least one iteration of it.
ricardienne: (Default)
The food in the dining hall is depressingly bad. I mean, the only things you can count on to be okay are the bagels and the cake. But they're always out of bagels by dinnertime, and I really shouldn't eat cake very often. It's all so gluey, the food. And too salty. Agh! The problem is, I'm still used to meals being pleasant times. Times when I can sit and talk with my family, where I can enjoy the food, and be relaxed. I'm used to looking forward to meals. You'd think that after 14 weeks of eating fairly gross food alone I'd have learned.

And now for the crackpot Harry Potter Theory of the Day:

Reasons why JK Rowling is a Yorkist

I. Nearly-Headless Nick
He was executed in 1492. Whether you buy into my Perkin Warbeck Theory or not, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Henry Tudor (Henry VII) was king during this period. Henry won the Battle of Bosworth by treachery, killing the last Yorkist king, Richard III there.

II. The House of Gaunt
Am I the only one who did a double-take when (s)he saw that chapter heading? The House of Lancaster (Henrys the IV, V, and VI) was famously descended from John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. (The Yorks traced their descent back to the 2nd and 4th sons). The Gaunts of the Potterverse are degenerate near-savages, obsessed with their own right and lineage. These are definitely not the good guys.

III. Neville Longbottom
While we're on the subject of names, the Neville family was major player in the Wars of the Roses, mostly on the side of York. Anne Neville was married to Richard III.

IV. Hogwarts, Hogsmead, The Hog's Head
The Cat, the Rat, and Lovell our Dog
Ruleth all England under a Hog

The White Boar, or Hog (as in the above bit of doggerel) was the emblem of Richard III.

V. Draco
The dragon (L. draco, draconis) was the emblem of Henry Tudor. Furthermore, Henry's colors were green and white, the heraldic verte and argent: the same colors, essentially, as those of Slytherin House.

This is obviously a work in progress, and I realize that there are at least as many arguments the other way, including one gigantic, enormous one. (Points if you spot it!).

The difference between myself and my roommate:

So today she almost went out without a bag. She was going to carry her wallet, key, and water bottle around with her. Why? Because she couldn't find the only one of her bags that matched her outfit. Fortunately, I thought to remind her that she had one which matched her shoes.

I, on the other hand, am liable to say to myself "I'm wearing a brown skirt and a black shirt and can only find a blue pair of socks. Oh well, I don't mind being a bluestocking."

If the first anecdote is telling as far as my roommate's character, it's indicative of mine how many times I've made the above (bad) joke to myself.
ricardienne: (Default)

kal. nov.

…Was 'murdered' in 1492. Which means by Henry VII.

Nearly-Headless Nick was a Yorkist )

I always knew that a true Gryffindor would fight against Henry.
ricardienne: (Default)
It comes to my attention that this journal has been severely neglecting two of its favorite subjects.

I don't think that Snape is evil, I really don't.Some more about Snape )
So, that was a rather long digression. The point I wished to make was that I definitely espouse good!Snape. I also, as is very clear, am a partisan of Richard. I don't believe that he was evil, either. In fact, I've made some comparisons between Richard and Snape in this very journal. But, really, all of those comparisons relate to my perceptions of the characters, not to the characters themselves. Snape and Richard, as I see them, are very little alike, if at all.

The similarity, however, is between an ambiguous to evil Snape and what we might call evil!Richard or Shakespearian!Richard.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

Couldn't this be Snape speaking just after Voldemort's first fall? Everyone's celebrating, everyone's cheerful and happy and relieved. Dedalus Diggle is sending up shooting stars in Kent, etc. etc.

Click for continuity )
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

This is Snape exactly. He's been tolerated as long as the war was going on: he was useful, as a spy. But no one really liked him. He didn't really have any friends. I doubt whether anyone in the Order really trusted him to begin with. Assuming they even knew he was one of them. And, certainly, no one is going to be inviting him to any celebrations. He's bitter, he's angry, he's hurt, but he's too proud to admit that he's been slighted. So he mutters to himself, all alone, in the shadows.

So I've been putting a fairly benign spin on it so far. Really, you could read the connection as describing an evil Snape. Look at the whole play. Look at the next line: "Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous." This is Snape who has tricked his way into Edward's Dumbledore's good graces. He's playing the loyal supporter as long as it furthers his own desires for power. No, I am not suggesting a correspondence of plot. Even as far as character, Voldemort is a more suitable match for his Richard. But I am interested in Richard and Snape. When they are both evil, they are not dissimilar.

Oh, and, incidentally, Snape Castle (owned and possibly inhabited by Richard), is fairly close to Hadrian's Wall, which was repaired by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, who died in the City of York.

Today has been a fairly good day. In spite of my forgetting my Latin notebook and having to sprint back to my dorm to get it. That was actually okay, because I did it in five minutes, actually making it back into the classroom before the professor arrived.

ramblings about latin )
ricardienne: (Default)

Examine this, if you please.

Yes, that's right. Snape Castle. But that's not all. Snape was the property of the Neville family until the 16th century.

No, that is not the connection I'm making. (Though it is interesting. More proof that Neville is going to get the DADA job (ie the Snape patrimony)? You heard it here first!)

You may or may not remember that after Richard "the Kingmaker" Neville died at Tewkesbury, his extensive lands were divided between his daughters. The younger daughter, Anne, married Richard of Gloucester and brought the northern Neville properties with her. Richard became Lord of the North, where he governed very competently, kept the border relatively peaceful, etc. etc. Middleham, which is not far (I believe) from Snape, was his favorite castle; the North was where he felt most at home.

In other words: Richard III quite probably stayed in Snape Castle at some point in his life. He definitely owned the place.

Although my link between the two was primarily based on the ways that theories they spark, the ways they are viewed, and the problems their characters present to me, there does exist a concrete connection as well. Ha.

(If you are confused as to what this is all about, you might examine this recent entry, being ware of HBP spoilers.)
ricardienne: (Default)
This Call for Action in regards to Severus Snape will spoil HBP )

In other news, look at this really cool piece of HBP art.
ricardienne: (Default)
From today's New York Times:

Image hosted by
ricardienne: (Default)
Richard Plantagenet and those who fell with him at Bosworth Field, 22 August 1485, having kept faith. Loyaulte me lie.
ricardienne: (Default)
First of all, unceremoniously yoinked from [ profile] voglia_di_notte:
Harry Potter Character Meme )

So. As some of you know, summer vacation is a time to read and re-read St. Nicholas Magazine, and immerse myself in good, wholesome, Victorian era children's literature.

This is the summer of the Annoyingly Sappy Historical Ballad. My favorite specimen of which was "Crooked Dick." Stop that right now! I know what lewd thoughts you're having! Stop. No. Bad. This is the 1890's. People don't even kiss eachother on a general basis.
Anway, it is moderately cringe-worthy, but actually presents a fairly decent Richard, for a n essentially Shakespearian model. Here it is:
Crooked Dick )
Well. Amusing, n’est-ce pas?

The idea, of course, is that even evil cannot stand up against the innocent trust of a child. Hmm. So, l could not, of course, resist trying one of my own.

And as I had already made the Severus-Richard comparison in a previous entry (not a comparison of character but a comparison of my reaction to the character), I had a logical subject... yeah, spoilers for HBP, I think.

This is an Unabashed Parody )
There, now. Don't you feel like a better person?


ricardienne: (Default)

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