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Tag Archives: Plato

Orpheus and the Can-can

How on earth could the Can-can dance have anything to do with the myth of Orpheus?

I’m sure you’ve heard and seen the Can-can before, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 150 years, here’s a demonstration:

The Can-can was a type of bawdy Parisian dance popular in the nineteenth century, and it could be performed to a variety of musical settings. Now this is where the classical connection comes in. The most famous tune for the Can-can, the one shown above, was written in 1858 by Jacques Offenbach for his operetta Orpheus in the Underworld. The dance was originally titled the Infernal Galop and was first performed (with the famous tune) by actors pretending to be the Olympian gods and Orpheus’ beloved Eurydice.

Australian production of Orpheus in the Underworld. Picture by Lisa Tomasetti (Source) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/music/orpheus-in-the-underworld-returns-more-fun-than-before/story-fn9d2mxu-1226588535775

Australian production of Orpheus in the Underworld. Picture by Lisa Tomasetti (Source)

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When Classics students talk with Theology students

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Theology students have it harder in other areas, but not in learning Greek. While I’m struggling through Plato and Herodotus, they’re generally translating shorter, more straightforward sentences. The nerve of them! Don’t they have to deal with bizarre verb forms, multiple dependent clauses, and the general uppitiness of the writers? Instead, they’re translating the stuff that sweaty-armpitted fishermen wrote so that other unwashed fisherman could understand. The New Testament was written in Koine so that it would be wonderfully accessible to anyone who would listen. But don’t take my word for it. Learn Attic, and it may drive you temporarily insane: Koine Greek is a cinch.

Ancient Atheism

Ancient Atheism

We take atheism for granted today; the ancients took theism for granted.

Of course, that’s a sweeping generalisation. But the first part holds true for most university students today, and it has often led students to assume that the greatest ancient philosophers, politicians and authors were atheists at heart too. That is, until they find evidence to the contrary. The assumption – and I may be treading on some toes here – even pervades scholarship, particularly in studies on Roman religion, where well-respected scholars have treated Roman religion as little more than a convenient charade for the elite, a tool they cynically used to manipulate the masses.[1]

But how prominent was atheism in Greek and Roman thought?

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