Spike Lee shows how to “do the right thing” via Aristophanes

Grabbed from today’s Vulture:

Chiraq Will Be a Musical Comedy, Will Definitely Feature the One and Only Yeezus


Spike Lee’s Chiraq movie will not just be a gritty look at violence in Illinois, but rather a musical comedy, Screen Daily reports. The movie will feature Kanye West, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Cusack, in a reimagining of the ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata, by Aristophanes. In a modern twist, the movie will reportedly revolve around a woman’s quest to put the kibosh on gang violence in Chi-Town’s Englewood neighborhood; the ChicagoTribune speculates that Chiraq‘s story will probably adhere to the play’s conceit that there will be no sex till the violence ends. The movie is set to go with Amazon, but Screen Daily adds that Lee & Co. have plans to release the project in theaters. No date has been set, and there’s been no confirmation regarding Common’s and Jeremy Piven’s rumored roles. But there will definitely be music, Yeezus, and (no) sex, which may be all you need to make a deal at Cannes, right?

A humorous take on Hercules’ reputation as a “ladies man”

From this week’s New Yorker:

The Eight Serious Relationships of Hercules



In his eighteenth year, Hercules, son of Zeus, went forth from Thebes to seek fame and glory. He was welcomed by the King of Thespiae, who had heard of Hercules’ great strength, and hoped that the youthful hero would ignite the fancy of his eldest daughter, who had exclusively been dating jagoffs. And Hercules saw that Penelope was quite attractive, and, to the King’s delight, a great passion was born. But, as the months passed and the King continued to hover, Hercules started to grasp the inky depths of Penelope’s daddy issues, and at times he could not tell if he was her boyfriend or some kind of peculiar erotic proxy. And so Hercules was distressed but not altogether surprised when he returned one day from the hunt only to find that Penelope was gone—fled to Ithaca with one of the aforementioned jagoffs.


Read on at the New Yorker online…

Today on WNPR: Purging memory in ancient Rome and the modern Soviet Union

Historical Deletion and Censorship

Listen to this show at cpbn.org or at 90.5 FM in the Hartford area.


What happens when a ruling party flat-out removes any proof of a person’s or community’s existence?

This hour, we take a closer look at the history of deletion and censorship. We learn about the ancient Roman practice of damnatio memoriae and explore more recent attempts to erase people, places, and things from the history books.

Post your comments below, email Colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin.


  • Eric Varner – Associate Professor in the Departments of Art History and Classics at Emory University
  • Marianna Tax Choldin – Mortenson Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; member of the Committee to Visit the Library at the University of Chicago; author of A Fence Around the Empire: Russian Censorship of Western Ideas Under the Tsars and The Red Pencil: Artists, Scholars, and Censors in the USSR
  • Michael Pilato – Globally recognized mural artist and owner of pilatomurals

Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

A twist on “publish or perish”: Classicists on last week’s “Forever”

Now that the fall television season is upon us, new series are trying to establish their bona fides. For ABC’s “Forever”,  the past is always important: its protagonist Henry, an NYC medical examiner, is reborn every time he dies–which has been happening for several hundred years, giving him cause to reminisce about the historical development of New York City and WWII, among other topics. Last week’s episode drew our attention even further back in time, with a murder mystery centered on academic jealousy over the authorship of the scholarly paper “Last of the Latin Lovers”.

Forever Classics


Why look back to classical antiquity? Because it is revealed that the man who has been stalking Henry claims to be another immortal–who is 2000 years old!


Aristotle, Inventor of Science? Yes, says Professor Armand Leroi!

Today’s “Books” discussion on Tom Ashbrook’s radio program “On Point” features Armand Leroi, professor of evolutionary development biology at Imperial College (London). Professor Leroi explain the core assertions of the new book “The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science” and responds to the calls and online comments of listeners to the show. You can also read an excerpt from Professor Leroi’s book on the “On Point” website.

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts reorganizes its ancient Greek art collection

This story courtesy of Professor Jonathan Elukin in the History Department:

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts Rethinks Its Greek Classics

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has reorganized its Greek ancient art collection by theme.

What’s the way to see classical art—by the year or by the theme?

For a century, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has chronologically organized its collection of ancient Greek art, dated largely between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C. But on Tuesday, the museum will open three interconnected permanent galleries, in renovated space, which will feature 230 pieces thematically divided into “Homer and the Epics,” “Dionysus and the Symposium” and “Theater and Performance.”

“These themes are at the heart of Greek culture,” says the museum’s curator of Greek and Roman art, Christine Kondoleon.

Read more of this Wall Street Journal story by Lucy Feldman here…

Laugh as the Romans Laughed

Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor of the New Yorker, regularly posts a newsletter online. This week, his dispatch highlights the world’s oldest joke book: the Philogelos, or “Laughter-lover” which was written in Greek. Mary Beard, one of the most famous and prolific Classicists alive, agreed to discuss some of the jokes for his newsletter, starting with one delivered recently by a British stand-up comic:

“A few years ago, the English standup comic Jim Bowen presented a show with jokes that were based entirely on the one surviving ancient joke book, the Philogelos. It’s a collection of some two hundred and sixty short gags, written in Greek; it probably dates, in the form we have it, to the fifth century A.D., but some of the jokes go back centuries earlier. I particularly like the one about the thuggish, philistine Roman who destroyed Corinth in 146 B.C. When he was overseeing the transport of the precious antiques that he had looted from the city, he said to the ships’ captains: ‘Don’t break anything, or you’ll have to replace it.'”

Read on, at the NewYorker.com.

Enter the Labyrinth with Theseus–in a comic book!

As Robert Ito reports in the 8/30/14 issue of The New York Times, Toon Books has released a comic book retelling the famous Greek myth “Theseus and the Minotaur” by Yvan Pommaux, and Daniel Tandarich’s fifth-grade students at Brooklyn’s P.S. 124 love it!

Theseus Toon Books

This pedagogical experiment affirms the vision of Francoise Mouly, the New Yorker‘s art editor and creator of Toon Books. Soon Toon Books will release a retelling of Orpheus in the Underworld!