Sorgente: Bloggers Unite for Peace
Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie, was a young aristocrat and poet, the youngest son of the Marquess of Queensberry. He looked like an angel: fragile, with a very pale complexion, blonde hair and blue eyes, but often appearances can be deceptive and this case was no exception. The story of his relationship with Wilde began in 1892. Bosies’s cousin, Lionel Johnson, had lent him a copy of “The Picture of Dorian Gray“, and after reading it “fourteen times in a row” he wished to be introduced to the author and so at the end of June 1891 Lionel Johnson accompanied his cousin in Tite Street and introduced him to Oscar Wilde. At the end of June 1892 Douglas needed Oscar’s help, because he was being blackmailed. Oscar, thanks to his lawyer George Lewis, solved all and since then they started to date and by the end of December 1893 they had become inseparable. The rumors about their lives ran all over London. The writer had little desire to hide that relationship and Bosie was even more eager to show it, as he wanted everyone to know that he was Oscar Wilde’ s “favorite”. In a letter to his friend Robert Ross Oscar writes:”My dearest Bobbie, Bosie has insisted on stopping here for sandwiches. He is quite like a narcissus – so white and gold (……..)Bosie is so tired: he lies like a hyacinth on the sofa, and I worship him”. Oscar was even introduced to Bosie’s mother, Lady Bracknell, and he made her one of the characters of his most popular comedy: “The Importance of Being Earnest“.
However, Bosie was not that “angel” he apparently seemed to be, but rather, he was usually described by his closest friends as spoiled, reckless, insolent and extravagant. He used to spend money on boys and gambling and expected Wilde to contribute to his expenses. It was Bosie who introduced Oscar to the circles of young male prostitutes, rent boys who were readily available in spite of (or perhaps because of) the moral climate of the straight-laced Victorian Period. Wilde did nothing but follow him dispensing money, gold or silver cigarette cases and other gifts. He once said that attending these young guys was like “feasting with panthers. Alfred Taylor (son of a manufacturer), Sidney Mavor (future priest), Maurice Schwabe and Freddy Atkins, Edward Shelley for a short time and Alfred Wood, a boy of seventeen, who blackmailed him obtaining 30 pounds, were some of those “panthers” who crowded Wilde’s chamber.
Since 1893 Wilde preferred to stay in a hotel to avoid scandals in order to meet freely and secretly his young lovers, but Douglas, instead, was not interested in hiding at all: he always entered from the main entrance. His friends were concerned and disappointed mainly because Bosie’s imprudent behavior exposed Oscar to very serious risks: it openly violated the “Criminal Law amendment Act” of 1885 , an amendment which made “gross indecency” a crime in the United Kingdom. His friend Pierre Louys visited Wilde in the hotel with his wife Constance, who tearfully pleaded her husband to come home, but it was a failure.
Wilde’s first serious risk was the case of Philip Danney, a sixteen year old son of a colonel who on Saturday went to bed with Douglas, with Wilde on Sunday and on Monday with a girl at Douglas’s expense. When the young man then returned to school, he was not able to produced a justification for the school days he had missed, the whole thing was discovered. His father went immediately to the police, but on the advice of his lawyer, as the guy seemed unwilling to make the name of Wilde, he realized that it was better not to act, even because his son risked to be imprisoned. After a furious fight with Oscar, Alfred Douglas left for Cairo, while Wilde hid in Paris and somehow he regained a certain serenity and he also went to applaud the poet Paul Verlaine, who had recently been released from prison after his troubled vicissitudes with Rimbaud. At that time he also found his creativity back, as he wrote among other things “The Canterville Ghost“, but the sudden return of Douglas ended his desire to write. Once again everything was as it used to be.
Alfred’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, had tried in vain to convince his son to end the relationship, furthermore he was disappointed as Bosie had left Oxford without achieving a degree and he could not see any prospect of his taking up a proper career. He threatened to “disown [Alfred] and stop all money supplies” and to “make a public scandal ” if he continued his relationship with Wilde. Alfred ‘s answer was “I detest you” on a postcard. It was clear that he would take Wilde’s side in a fight between him and his father. Queensberry also planned to throw rotten vegetables at Wilde during the premiere of The Importance of Being Earnest, but, forewarned of this, the playwright was able to deny him access to the theatre.Queensberry, now exacerbated, publicly insulted Wilde by leaving, at the latter’s club, a visiting card on which he had written: “For Oscar Wilde posing as a somdomite“–a misspelling of “sodomite.”
Against the advice of his closest friends, Wilde was convinced by Bosie to sue the Marquess for libel in a private prosecution. It was the wrong choice. Queensberry was arrested, but he not only avoided conviction demonstrating in court that the charge was not true, but Wilde found himself involved in a new trial with the accusation of “gross indecency”. Witnesses, private letters, it had not been difficult to find evidence. Three days after the beginning of the trial, on April 29, Wilde wrote from prison a moving letter to Bosie, who had gone to Paris in the meanwhile. On 25 May 1895 Wilde was sentenced to two years and three months of hard labour, first at Pentonville, then Wandsworth, then in the famous Reading Gaol
The relationship with Lord Douglas was now finished. Bosie had finally abandoned Wilde, probably for fear of being disowned by the family. In 1902, Douglas married Olive Eleanor Custance, heiress and poet. They had a son, Raymond, who suffered from a severe form of schizophrenia and died in a nursing home in 1964. The marriage ended soon in a legal separation, but there was no divorce. In the last years of his life, Douglas lived mainly thanks to his maternal inheritance. His father, in fact, had squandered much of his fortune. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he left London and took refuge with a couple of friends in Lancing, West Sussex, where he died of heart failure in 1945.
Whenever we think about the prodigious monuments of the past like Stonehenge, the pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, The Mohai of Easter Island, for example, we cannot but see them as surrounded by an aura of magic. Some of them are huge tombs erected for the pharaohs or the rulers of the time, but for what concerns many others we may just suppose the reason why they were erected. Take the case of Stonehenge: was it an observatory, a temple, a market place or a truce ground? Who knows? However, they were all thought to be huge as if they were meant be seen not only by people as symbol of the terrifying power of the ruler, but by somebody above, as link between the earth and the divinity. That is why they were usually built on plains, deserts or on the top of the hills: they had to be clearly visible to the gods. One clue that the builders were often with their nose up to the sky is the alignments chosen for these monuments, which seem to follow astronomical events like solstices, equinoxes or in the case of the pyramids of Giza it has been said that they “were a terrestrial map of the three stars of Orion’s belt“. One thing is for sure, the makers of the past knew the laws of nature very well, with such a degree of precision that sometimes cannot be surpassed by modern engineers with all the technological devices at their disposal. One of these cases is at Abu Simbel.
Abu Simbel is a village in Nubia, southern Egypt, near the border with Sudan.There you may find the two Abu Simbel temples, which are very likely the most impressive, fascinating temples I have ever seen in my life ( I live in Rome, remember ;) ). They are two massive rock-cut temples situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230 km southwest of Aswan. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his beloved queen, the beautiful Nefertari, to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh.The main temple was dedicated to two sun gods, Amen-Re and Re-Horakhte. Standing 100 feet (33 metres) tall, the temple was carved into a sandstone mountain on the banks of the Nile. Four colossal statues of Ramses, each 66 feet (22 meters) high, guard the entrance to the temple. Rising to the pharaoh’s knees are smaller statues of family members: his mother, Nefertari, and his son . A second temple at Abu Simbel is dedicated to Nefertari and the goddess Hathor. It seems that Nefertari, who was already sick and exhausted by the long navigation down the Nile, died as soon as she entered the temple.
On passing to the interior, a shadowy light emphasizes the mysterious and evocative atmosphere of the place. Going through a vast rectangular hall flanked by eight Osiris pillars ten meters tall arranged in two rows, representing Osiris with the features of Ramses, you reach the sanctuary, the most intimate and secret part of the temple: a small room, four meters by seven, where the statue of the deified Ramses II sits together with the triad of “Ptah”, “Amen-Ra” and “Harmakhis”. It is in this place that the so-called “miracle of the sun” happens: twice a year, the rising sun penetrates the heart of the mountain and illuminates the statues in the sanctuary gradually flooding them in light. It takes about twenty minutes for the light to pass. According to the ancient Egyptians, the sun rays would thus recharged of energy the figure of pharaoh. Ptah is never struck by the sun’s rays, in fact, he is the god of darkness and the dead. This event happened twice a year, the 21st of February and the 21st of October, the former seems it was the day of Ramses’s birth, while the latter was the day he was crowned .
You have to know that the Abu Simbel temples do not sit in their original location. Because of the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, rising waters flooded a number of important archaeological sites along the banks of the Nile and dislodged thousands of people who lived in the area. Even the temples of Abu Simbel were threatened, therefore, Members of the United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) coordinated a massive construction project that moved the temple back 690 feet to its present site. Piece by piece, the two temples we cut into massive blocks of sandstone up to thirty tons and were carefully reassembled on a new steel and cement “mountain,” safe from the water’s edge. And you know what? Despite the measurements, calculations, technology, well, it has not been possible to reproduce “the miracle of sun” when it was originally planned, that is, the 21st of February and October, but the days of illumination have shifted by one !! :D
In the heart of the Villa Borghese park, hidden among the trees and surrounded by a lavish vegetation, you may find one of the most unexpected sights, for sure: the Globe theatre. Yes, that Globe: a full-scale reproduction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, copied from the original designs, and almost identical to the one that now stands on London’s South Bank. Rome’s version of the Globe was built over the course of three months and inaugurated in 2003 to celebrate the centenary of Villa Borghese. The theatre is designed in a circular shape with a stage that juts out into the middle of the audience, and an open roof (that’s why the theatre is open in the summer and early autumn seasons). It’s built of oak and has a capacity of 1250, including the standing space in front of the stage, which are, of course the cheapest places.The entire project was financed by the Silvano Toti foundation – the late Silvano Toti was a builder and patron of the arts.
Gigi Proietti, one of the most outstanding Italian actors, has been the artistic director of the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre since 2003, but he has never acted in any of the plays. Of course, Elizabethan comedies and tragedies are mostly represented, in fact the special architectural features and the essentiality of the scenes allow a cathartic relationship with the works of the English Renaissance drama. I can say that for sure, as, only few days ago I went to the Globe with some of my students and colleagues to see the morning representation of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” directed by Chris Pickels.
When the old Bard wrote “All world is a stage“, he had not considered one little detail: in the world many languages are spoken. This edition of “The Comedy of Errors”, in fact, was the first English-speaking production at the beautiful Globe theatre in Rome, only, the public was not exactly made of native English speakers and the plot of this play not so easy to follow. The story of two pairs of twins – masters and servants – who not only had the same features but also the same names, Antophilus and Dromio, led to many misunderstandings not only on stage but also among the public. Tell me, who is he? Antipholus of Syracuse or Ephesus?Mah?? However, the language of art won eventually, so that everybody was able to enjoy the many very funny moments of the show. The Bard is always right, after all.
I did love the company of actors, all of them. The Bedouin Shakespeare Company, is a touring company founded in 2012 by two enthusiastic young actors, Edward Andrews and Mark Brewer, with the patronage of the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi. Their main aim is to bring the universal themes and language of Shakespeare in the countries around the world, that’s why they were not at all uncomfortable with a non native English-speaking public. Their “Comedy of Errors” premiered at the Silvano Toti Globe in Rome to fly out to the UAE and then finishing in London at the Arcola Theatre, November 1st. Therefore, you are still in time to enjoy a great show and don’t forget to visit the Globe, next time you come to Rome!!! :)
I have always enjoyed tv series, more than movies, actually. Once you are engaged in the plot, the protagonists become your new companions for a long time. Therefore, I’ve been walking in the streets of N.Y. with four girls talking about sex and men and craving for a certain Mr Big for almost six years and when the series ended, I went to Seattle and bumped into gorgeous Doctor Mcdreamy at Seattle Grace Hospital. I cannot hide that I am more attracted by the sentimental on tv series, so when Shonda Rhimes, inexplicably, decided to make Doctor Mcdreamy die, I guessed it was high time to look for something else. Hence, about a month ago, my attention was surprisingly caught by a tv series, which, I may say, is really far from being regarded sentimental, but rather, deals with the darkest and wicked side of human nature, one of the most prizewinning drama series ever, as a matter of fact: House of Cards.
Based on the novel of Michael Dobbs, House of Cards is the U.S. adaptation of the U.K. miniseries of the same name.The story of Claire (Robin Wright) and congressman Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is set in Washington and mostly in the secret chambers of the White House. Disappointed for not having been appointed Secretary of State as promised by the President Garret Walker in exchange for his support, Francis and Clare make a pact to destroy Walker and his allies. The great protagonist of this series is, actually, the boundless ambition of the couple, who plots for a position of greater power using whatever means possible; ambition that won’t be yet satisfied even when Francis eventually succeeds in achieving the presidency of the U.S.A. . The story was so involving that Mr Run and I found ourselves galloping in a marathon made of 39 episodes that we were able to conclude in the record time of only a couple of weeks. However, while I eagerly followed the events, I couldn’t but find the dynamics of this couple somehow familiar, as if I had already known those guys, till, in a scene, when I saw Claire’s ruthless determination in aiding and encouraging her husband as he seemed to falter, I recognized them both. Hidden under that allure and fancy clothes, here they were again: the Macbeths.
The Underwoods like the Macbeths are devoted only to one god: power. The crown of Scotland becomes the presidency of the U.S.A. here. The White House is Francis and Claire’s playground, where the people, who somehow are connected to them, are cards, whose only function is to make them win the game, but they do not hesitate to throw them away, as soon as they are no longer useful. Merciless, manipulative, the Underwoods don’t know the word gratitude and their success is the result of a perfect symbiosis which does not follow the rules and moral of common couples. “I made you president“, Claire reminds her husbands at a certain point, but those words could have come from Lady Macbeth’s lips as well : without her support, Macbeth would be still there, trembling, talking nonsense and with the evidence of the murder of King in his hands. Yes, she had made him king.
The Underwoods like the Macbeths are a childless couple. These two women don’t give the impression of having have a real motherly attitude, as they only seem to be willing to nourish their plans of power and revenge: “I have given suck, and know/how tender ’tis love the babe that milks me ” Lady Macbeth says referring to the plan to kill king Duncan. Her murderous plan is being personified as a baby nursing on her evil soul. However, while Macbeth and lady Macbeth’s inability to have children affects their relationship negatively and it is one of the factors that plays a part in the decline of their relationship, motherhood has never been part of the plans of the Underwoods, who don’t seem to display any real regret, at least, not yet.
Differently from Macbeth and any Shakespearian play, in House of Cards there is not the eternal battle of good versus evil. In fact, all the characters of the series, with different degrees and no exception, are predatory, cruel and inhuman like the wolves of the Latin proverb “Homo, homini, lupus” ( “a man is a wolf to another man”). In Macbeth , for example, King Duncan’s benevolent, virtuous nature makes Macbeth’s murder more infamous and reprehensible if possible, while in the series, the equivalent of Duncan, president Garret Walker, is two-faced, weak and even ingenuous sometimes, hence unworthy to rule. The political murder plotted by the Underwoods, therefore, can’t have the same moral meaning of Macbeth’s action and you cannot but stay by their side, enjoying the company of the wolves and why not, even becoming one of them.
Clare Underwood and Lady Macbeth have in common an exceptional, burning ambition, but while the latter eventually becomes mentally deranged when the pace of events becomes too much for her, for the former, being the wife of the President is not enough to satisfy her thirst of power. She wants more, therefore her ambition seems to mine the stability of the couple in season 3 and we have to wait for 2016 to know more. In the meantime, would you be so kind to suggest me a new tv series worthy of my attention? Thanks :)
“Am I in paradise or on the moon?” I wondered, while I was gazing outside my cabin as the ship was languidly slipping into the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, Europe’s southernmost fjord. Actually, those words were not so original as it was exactly what George Bernard Shaw quipped when he first visited these places and before him, a worshipper of nature like Lord Byron had fallen into the spell of such an enchanted spot.
A year ago I had complained so much about the extraordinary cool and rainy Italian summer, that I am sure that the gods that govern the climate and the winds had decided to punish me with the hottest and most infernal summer ever this year. Mr Run and I had tried to reverse our fate, escaping from that tremendous oven Rome had become, to go to Venice and sail for a cruise to the Adriatic sea. But gods are not easily cheated, so a nasty demon called Charon kept on pursuing us everywhere we went : Venice, Trieste, Split, Dubrovnik; till one early morning we thought we had finally made him lose our tracks, when we saw this like in a dream :
As the sun was rising, we could see distinctly the silhouettes the mountains that surrounded us. A sense of euphoria pervaded us, as we imagined the feeling of the fresh breeze on our skin. While we were magically floating on the waters of the inlets, sleepy villages mirrored in the sea and even our huge cruise ship seemed to sail more silently than ever so as not to disturb the beatitude of their rest.
The steep hillsides of the Bay of Kotor are littered with Greek, Roman, and Illyrian ruins and dilapidated Venetian Gothic buildings, signs of the Venetians domination that lasted more than four centuries from 1420 to 1797.
Once arrived at the port of Kotor all our illusions instantly faded away in a blink: Charon was already there sneering at us. The melting heat of that late July was just unbearable.
The walled city of Kotor has been an important Mediterranean port since Roman times. In the heat of the day, when every sensible person was enjoying a siesta or diving in the clear waters of the bay, we dragged ourselves to the old town to visit its architectural riches: the Pima and Drago palaces, the clock tower, and the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, a twin-towered Romanesque beauty consecrated in 1166.
Behind the cathedral, the Venetian defensive walls—almost three miles long —snaked up the steep rocky hillside to the ruined 14th-century fortress of St. Ivan. Earthquakes have struck here with devastating effect, but the walls somehow always survived. Kotor also prides itself on never having been taken by force. The Outstanding Universal Value of the Cultural-Historical Region of Kotor made it a UNESCO world heritage site
Around the central Square of Weapons (Trg od Oruzja) you may find shops, boutiques but for once in my life I was more interested in any place where I could sit and and have something to drink.
Unfortunately, being on a cruise, we didn’t have more time to visit all the other precious spots that region may offer, but at that moment we really didn’t mind, as we couldn’t but think about the bliss of the air conditioning on the ship.
Charon decided to remain there; and now that summer is becoming autumn and school is about to start, well, maybe I miss him a bit.
Greek education by the end of 450 B.C. was mostly centred on athletics, grammar but particularly on music. We understand the importance of the latter,only if we think that the word music derives from the Greek word“μουσικός”, Mousikos, that is, relative to the Muses, the goddesses of Greek and Roman mythology who were considered of the inspiration of literature, science, and the arts, hence the very were source of knowledge.The word refers also to “technique”, which also comes from the Greek word “τέχνη” / techne, therefore music is the technique or better the art of the Muses. Originally the term did not indicate a particular art, but all the arts of the Muses, so it was referred to something “perfect” and harmonious. As Plato said:
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.
Musical innovation is full of danger to the State, for when modes of music change, the laws of the State always change with them.
That is why rhapsodes and aedi were held in higher estimation at those times.They were not only the living memory of the history of a country, but they could use the art of all arts to celebrate the deeds of their heroes to impress them in the minds of the listeners. Aedi, in particular, were sacred figures, who were also considered prophets. They were traditionally portrayed as blind, like Homer, for instance. Their blindness allowed them to sharpen their sensitive skills so that they could get in touch directly with the gods (through the eyes of the soul) that inspired them . “Goddess, sing me the anger, of Achilles, Peleus’ son, that fatal anger that brought countless sorrows on the Greeks….”. Homer invoked at the beginning of the Iliad. The Muse spoke through him.
Aedi were part of the so-called face-to-face society. The transmission of the text, in fact, was done orally, with a “performance” in which the aedo was in direct contact with the audience. As he did not have a written text, he became a composer in turn. Oral transmission required the use of a clear and direct language, so there is a great use of similes and the language is characterized by a formulaic style, with many repetitions and the presence in large amount of names as surnames, as well as the so-called topos, that is, the sites where the narration takes place. In case the aedo had forgotten the next stanza ,well, he could “dwell” on what he was still singing using the tools of his trade.
However, these figure were not typical only of the Greeks, the powerful combination of musical rhythm and poetry was well-known in other societies. For instance the Bards formed, along with the Druids and the foreseers, the three priestly castes of the Celts. The Bards were considered the guardians of knowledge and were instructed to store all the traditions and myths of the people. In some regions they were distinguishable from the other two orders for a special cloak they wore. In the Gaelic society a bard was a professional poet, committed to compose eulogies for his lord and if his employer refused to pay the compensation decided, the bard composed a satire against him.
In medieval Ireland there were two distinct group of poets : the bards and the fili. Despite the formers constituted a professional hereditary caste of highly trained, learned poets, they were considered lesser class poets, not eligible for higher poetic roles as described above; while the latters were visionary poets, associated with lorekeeping, versecraft, and the memorisation of vast numbers of poems. They were also magicians, as Irish magic is intrinsically connected to poetry, and the satire of a gifted poet was a serious curse upon the one being satirised. However, it has also been argued that the distinction between filid (pl. of fili) and bards was a creation of Christian Ireland as the filid were more associated with the church.
In Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest, the professional poet was known as a scop (“shaper” or “maker”), who composed his own poems, and sang them to the accompaniment of a harp. In a rank much beneath the scop, were the gleemen, who had no settled abode, but roamed about from place to place, earning what they could from their performances. Late in the 13th century, the term minstrel (from the Latin “ministralis” “retainer”) began to be used to designate a performer who amused his lord with music and song. Minstrels created their own tales, but they also memorized and embellished the works of others. Love, magic, death, war, these were the themes they amused and entertained the high society with, but as the courts became more sophisticated, minstrels were eventually replaced at court by the troubadours, therefore many became wandering minstrels, performing in the streets.