In Defense of Gorgo, Queen of Sparta

 

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Bitches get stitches

In 2016, when Civilization 6 was announcing leaders that would be present in the game, there was a vocal uproar from the video game community over the selection of Gorgo as a leader of Sparta/the Greek civilization. And though she was accompanied with other Greek historical darling Pericles, her announcement was met with anger for being chosen over her husband Leoniades and for, well, being a woman. While that particular complaint has arisen, transparently, along with any female leader announced for the game (I see you, haters), I’d like to offer a polite reminder that though a large portion of boys suffering from an inferiority complex (and who’ve been collectively creaming themselves over Leoniades’ painted abdomen since the release of 300 in 2006) might be remiss in knowing, Queen Gorgo of Sparta was a badass in her own right too, k thx.

Gorgo Hate

YouTube being YouTube

It’s no surprise that the Spartans have a particular sheen of cultural mythos surrounding them, holding a torch of fascination since pretty much the inception of obsessive interest. Laconophilia, love/admiration of Sparta, began as a cultural phenomenon as far back as the Persian Wars–when Spartans were still readily punting dignitaries–and carried on through much of history, re-surging along with other movements of Classical reclamation as during the Renaissance (or through the assholery of Heinrich Schliemann). And much of that famous Spartan toughness comes from their culture of Exemplum, a concept I do have plans to cover while on my Greek kick. (Yes, I do actually have an outline/plan for posts, don’t quote me on this). Keeping all this in mind, Gorgo of Sparta emerged in the annals of western history (one in which, at this time primarily written by Greek scholars, tended to exclude women) as a legendary figure who exemplified the sassy rough-edges of the perfect Spartan and fostered intrigue amongst their frenemy Athens.

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Best History Things of 2018

Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates with the World Cup trophy following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia

Favorite historical photo of the year is my bae Mbappe’ with the France World Cup win!

Happy New Year, dear Histastrophe followers! I wanted to take the time before aggressively drowning the rest of my night away in whiskey and Yahtzee to give you my personal favorites of History Things from this past year. Sure, this is just my opinion alone, but I think you’ll find that I have great taste regardless and that you’ll be fairly familiar with some of the below or, if not, will go out and make it so! Without further ado–the Best History Things of 2018:

Book: Circe by Madeline Miller

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Madeline Miller has been making a name for herself over the years by writing beautiful narrative works on Ancient/Classical Greece history particularly ground in mythology! Circe follows the tale of the famous witch who became entangled with Odysseus in The Odyssey and intertwines many other well known Greek Mythological tales into the story. It’s wonderfully written and fun to read–you’ll catch yourself guessing or picking up on all of the little Greek Mythology references!

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world. – Summary from the Publisher Little, Brown and Company

 

Video Game: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

This one is a no brainer, but Ubisoft has since shifted their action series into full on Open World/RPG experiences with extensive world maps and quests which have kept me busy for a few months now with no end in sight. AC: Odyssey follows Kassandra on a quest to learn more about her family and topple a mysterious influence over the Hellenic world while navigating the war torn political and military landscapes of The Peloponnesian War. Along the way, you’ll run into famous Classical Greek figures like Socrates, Pericles, and Herodotus. Yes, please.

 

TV Show: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

A disturbing and yet intriguing mini-series, Ryan Murphy follows up with another American Crime Story focusing on the string of murders perpetrated by Andrew Cunanan in the mid-to-late 90’s which ultimately ended in the cold blooded murder of famous Fashion Designer Gianni Versace. The series mostly follows the life and crimes of Cunanan with an intoxicatingly twisted portrayal by Darren Criss, which he won an Emmy for this year.

 

Movie: The Favourite

Watch. This. Movie. Director Yargos Lanthimos isn’t everybody’s cup of tea–The Lobster and Killing of A Sacred Deer being divisive among many circles despite being personally loved by me. But The Favourite is compelling enough to be pleasing to almost anyone as long as they don’t have any problems watching three ladies on-screen connive and manipulate one another in depraved, sexual and political games. Set in the court of England’s Queen Anne with the feuding Sarah Churchill (Yes, that family of Churchill) and Abigail Masham, the script is packed with witticisms and the anachronisms are clever–yet, in case you’re having too much fun laughing at the absurdities showcased in the film, Yargos is quick to slap the audience with a much needed reality check when appropriate.

Note: I had a really hard time picking a fave for Historical movie of 2018, there has been a lot of great movies that have come out this year. Other contenders are Vice, Operation Finale, Mary Queen of Scots, First Man, Colette, Outlaw King, BlacKKKlansmen, and Green Book to name a small few.

 

Podcast: You Must Remember This

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Though this podcast debuted by Slate in 2014, everyone is looking for a podcast recommendation, right? Host and writer Karina Longworth delves into Hollywood and Film History of the Silver Screen Era with some modern takes and comparisons with today’s world. Narrated and told as if you were gossiping together at an Oscar’s Viewing Party, listen to this if you want to get the dish on all of the scandals and drama of Hollywood’s past.

http://www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com/

 

News: 8-Year Old Girl Pulls Sword From Lake of King Arthur’s Excalibur

Saga Vanecek standing in lake Vidöstern in Tånnö, southern Sweden

ALL HAIL QUEEN SAGA!

 

Histastrophe Post: The Nose Goes: When Octavian Meets Alexander the Great

My most popular and visited post of this year goes to When Octavian Meets Alexander the Great. Apparently, folks are super interested in both the whereabouts and fate of Alexander’s corpse in 2018!

The Nose Goes: When Octavian Meets Alexander the Great

It starts like any whimsical joke, so Octavian meets Alexander the Great. And, naturally, the end of it is marked with a well-placed punch. Not least of all, the humor in it accented by the fact that Alexander is, well, super dead. To bring us back to this moment in time, Octavian who is soon…

And with that, thank god 2018 is over. Happy New Year!

It’s All Greek to Me!

 

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Physical representation of my writing discipline.

 

Gather around the hearth, my friends. I have a story to tell!

There was once a proud blogger who panicked when she realized that she was about to reach 100 published posts. This was a crowning achievement, she thought, and so she wanted to do something special to celebrate this momentous occasion. Perhaps I should do an extensive essay on my blog’s tagline and prove it do-able — 

Because even monkeys can write a paper on Misogyny, Aristotle, and Middle Age Europe.

Oops, yeah. That blogger is me.

I have a tendency to buckle under pressure, especially when it is self-imposed. I envisioned this research being something akin to an amateur thesis, the scope of it so grand! I was ramping up to it with my posts such as Illuminating the Dark Ages, and had another planned to cover the contentious Great Man Theory, and then to round out with a state of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages before I hit you with my epic take.

But, alas, I have failed to do so. Not because I can’t write it–but because I can’t commit to doing it. I don’t feel like it. History for me is a muse and he takes me through various phases of interest and right now, I must admit, my headspace is about nearly 2,000 years in the past from where I need to be in order to successfully pull off this ‘golden post’.

Yeah, I’m talking about Classical Greece.

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Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey came out and if you’ve been following my blog all these years (Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!) you know already that I’m versed primarily in Classical Antiquity. So for a role-playing video game with an open world concept functioning like a sandbox where the developers researched every painstaking detail to fill their map with as close to accurate representations of historical locations as it is possible for any of us to know–I’m all over that in a heartbeat.

The consequence being, however, that this is pretty much all I feel like writing about right now. Which brings me to the problem with this ‘Golden 100 Post’. I haven’t updated my blog in the past month, despite an interest in doing so (just not on the purposed topic I had planned!) because I’m literally 2 posts away from hitting 100. Well, now 1 away with this one. With my proposed celebratory essay, this didn’t leave room for me to dabble and post about anything else! So, to allow myself the freedom to again write about anything in History that I find fascinating (or humorous) enough to share with you–I’m going to let myself off the hook on the celebration post. I’ll get to it when I’m good and ready! I can certainly still clap for myself on reaching 100 with or without the sweating over a research essay I’m not earning a letter grade for!

So in the meantime, you can expect some Ancient/Classical Greek inspired posts from me as I continue to gallivant around in a video game and am reminded of things I’ve always wanted to touch on our look into deeper for myself. And the good news is, I’ll get to introduce you to Aristotle a bit more too before I start retroactively blaming him for a bunch of bullshit.

Thanks for sticking around with my general assholery and lack of a coherent update schedule–I’m about to get a little Greeky with it.