Thursday, 19 April 2018

End of Term, Continued

The term may be over, but the deadlines remain.  Besides the pile of marking that awaits, I have a conference paper to write, two book chapters to finish/tweak, a pile of research grants to review, a volume's worth of Phoenix articles to read, and a webinar to think about.  And all of this is due by the 10th of May. 

All that being said, and perhaps not surprisingly, I want to start with Netflix.  I waited with eager anticipation for the arrival of the new Troy show.  The first episode left me wanting, though I was surprised by how varied the quantity of myths connected to Troy they included (death of Menelaus' father, Paris' first love as a shepherd, the Odysseus' madness and his son story).  Because I wasn't enamoured, and all I really want to do is travel the stars, Lost in Space stole me away a little into episode two of Troy.  I'm more than halfway through, and am thoroughly enjoying it.  Admittedly, I tend to like shows like this more for how they stir my imagination (what would it be like to travel the stars) than anything else. 

Anyway, I did manage to go back to Troy, and I think the second episode was thoroughly enjoyable, at least what I've seen so far.  Although Agamemnon was underwhelming at first, once the issue with the winds cropped up, and the decision was made to sacrifice his daughter, I was impressed with how they presented it.  I wondered too, like the fate of the Trojans as a whole, if it was somehow more emotional (for me the viewer) because I knew what was going to happen.  To have to meet Iphigenia, and see how she reacted to her father's confession - and his anguish, Clytemnesra's pain, Odysseus' subterfuge:  that scene to my mind was something else.  Suffice to say, I'm now hooked, even if I've always wished the Trojans had won.  They may have left out ole smelly-foot's abandoning (Philoctetes), or the thrilling landing on the shore at Troy, but I'm looking forward to what comes next.  It's definitely something I'll be using in myth class next year - and Troy as a whole will be getting much more attention. 

Over the next few days, I need to do some thinking about Procopius, as I'll be participating in the Virtual Centre for Late Antiquity's first webinar on Monday (10:30...or 10am CST) on said historian.  We have a few bigger themes that we're going to discuss, and I guess I should get a better handle on where I land on all of them, or even if there is somewhere I land.  I don't want to give the game away - is it possible to build up suspense for a webinar on Procopius - but they're big issues, some I've been thinking about for the purposes of this SSHRC grant that is getting closer to its end.  Along those lines, rather than spilling the beans, I'd like to highlight a question I asked an undergraduate student (Dan Russell) who defended his honour's thesis just a few days ago:  how would you approach the subject if you didn't have Procopius?  Because the central item (Procopius book one sequel) that will emerge from the grant deals with him, I've started wondering that myself.  How would a monograph-length account of military matters in the sixth century East Roman Empire look if you didn't have Procopius?  To some degree, I'll be answering this in my follow-up, which will focus more specifically on limitanei (think all these trips to Jordan).  But it's easier to do in that case as you have inscriptions, papyri, and the physical remains of fortifications, some of which have been fully excavated.  What do you do if you want to focus on matters that pertain to war and that have a direct impact on the heart of the state, and the central activities that an army is engaged in?  Battle would be difficult, though not impossible, without Procopius:  you'd still have Maurice, Pseudo-Joshua, and Agathias for instance.  You could even cover aspects of Justinian's reconquest thanks to authors like Malalas, Corippus, and the author/s of the lives of the Popes.  It would be easier still if you used Theophanes, though given he both quoted and paraphrased Procopius it would seem a bit like cheating.  This (leaving out Procopius) is an easier question to ask/issue to tackle if you're not interested in war.  It's much more difficult if you are.  Would anyone read/accept an article on the things Procopius covers that doesn't include Procopius? Maybe I'll do a post on this over the weekend to get me thinking about the webinar.

I'm going to stop there.  For all the challenges I faced with my Roman army (and myth) class this year, the former's essays were just about the best, collectively, I've ever read.  I'm not sure if this is because I've gone soft, I've forgotten past years, they're cheating (some), or the abstract/outline assignment actually worked, but I'm pleasantly surprised.  And with that, I'm going to do some Procopius reading/thinking, at least when I'm not thinking about the Jets' playoff run - one more tangent.  I seem to have reached a stage in my sports-fan life when there are very few teams that I really care about (i.e. there used to be so many more):  number one the Sens (Ottawa Senators), two the Jets (Winnipeg Jets), and three the Jays (Toronto Blue Jays).  I used to be much more into certain national team things, and random teams from other sports, but really it's Sens, Jets, and then Jays.  Who was I kidding?

Till next time...

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