Archive for September, 2007

Giotto’s World Champion "O"

Posted in art, history with tags , on September 13, 2007 by Philonous

There’s a (probably apocryphal) story that the Pope was thinking of commissioning some painting or other and sent a messenger to Giotto in order to get some sort of proof of his being able to draw. Giotto apparently turned from what he was doing, drew a perfect circle freehand on presumably some sort of paper and handed it to the messenger as proof of his skill.

Now you can be world champion circle drawer!

300

Posted in movie on September 12, 2007 by Philonous

Good God. Sorry in advance for the rant that is about to take place.

For those who have had the good fortune to have been spared the torment of this film, it is about the invasion of Greece by Xerxes and the Persians and their repulsion at the battle of Thermopylae. The film 300 takes the historical events of Thermopylae and twists them into a hideous battle between the democratic and brave abdominal muscles of the Spartan few against the towel headed slavery loving antics of the Persians. The massive innumerable hordes of Persians attempt to subjugate what will become the cradle of “Western Civilisation” with overwhelming numbers of slave-soldiers… Can the Spartans save the possibility of freedom and democracy in the 21st Century?

Only… This isn’t what happened at all. Ironically, after the battle of Thermopylae, the Peloponnesian War almost saw Sparta destroying the cradle of civilisation that was the Athenian empire. Most people do not seem to be aware of this period of ancient history and so it seems to me that this sort of skewed and biased portrayal is genuinely damaging in the context of the so called ‘war on terror’. The portrayal of an entire nation of Persians (Iranians) as barbaric and brutal is a dangerous oversimplification which simply exacerbates Occident vs. Orient cultural misunderstanding.