Real life

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The crest of a centurion’s helmet. The only one that has survived until our days. It was found in the Vindolanda site and is currently exhibited in the Roman Army Museum

What thrills me more when visiting museums exihibiting pieces coming from the Roman Empire times are the everyday objects.

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A female slipper and a soldier boot. Vindolanda.

For instance that beautiful woman’s slipper, belonging probably to the wife of the prefect of Vindolanda’s camp.

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Boots and shoes found in Vindolanda
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Fragment of a crystal cup decorated with a gladiator’s scene

How many nights the commander of the fort held this cup in his hands while yearning for the sun of his native land during the cold northern winter nights?

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And how dissapointed his wife was when opening the wooden boxes containing this pottery service from Gaul that arrived to destination broken to pieces?

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Who combed their hair with these?

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How many wounds were healed with these surgical instruments?

IMG_1733The particular chemical composition of Vindolanda’s soil, very poor in oxigen, has allowed the conservation of objects in leather and wood. I am sorry that the picture does not render the idea, but the leather bag above has a very modern design and is quite functional. You can see also an absolute up-to-date backpack below.

IMG_2116Maybe one of the Vindolanda letters were written with one of these. You can read them here

For instance, the famous letter of Claudia Severa to Sulpicia Lepidina

“Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival, if you are present (?). Give my greetings to your Cerialis. My Aelius and my little son send him (?) their greetings. (2nd hand) I shall expect you, sister. Farewell, sister, my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail. (Back, 1st hand) To Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Cerialis, from Severa.”

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Collateral effects

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This is the most intriguing of the collateral effects of my trip to the Northern frontier of the Roman Empire… The whim of learning to write in latin cursive.

 

The perfect trip

the other side of the wall
The other side of the wall
Ashcroft Guest House - Haltwhistle
Ashcroft Guest House – Haltwhistle
Room with a view
The view from our room
Nymphs Temple Chesterholm Gardens
Nymphs Temple – Chesterholm Gardens – Vindolanda
Hadrian's wall - Housesteads crags
Hadrian’s wall from Housesteads crags
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The Black Bull – Haltwhistle. I’m sure the girls will miss our generous tips.
Vindolanda
Rests of Vindolanda Roman Fort
Walltown
Walltown – Northumberland National Park
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Me in frikism-extasis (camouflaged with the head of emperor Hadrian) in Vindolanda. The funny thing is that I’ve learnt later that several cohorts of the VIth legion were destined to Vindolanda for some time.
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Mile Castle 37 Hadrian’s Wall

The Eagle

the eagle title

The obvious choice today of my DVD library for my afternoon-film has been “The Eagle”, just to get into the Hadrian’s Wall-mood. This 2011 film (as 2010’s “Centurion”) talks about the myth of the IXth Legion which supposedly vanished in ancient Caledonia around the year 120. Reality, as happens most of times, is less epical. The story of the disappearance of the IXth, as many others during Roman times, is much more a tale of bureaucracy than heroism. Roman legions changed name, were cancelled or transferred according to the needs or the whims of the emperors. The IXth legion, which was based in Eburacum (current York) in fact disappeared from Britannia the year 120 AD, but to be transferred to Noviomagus Bataviorum (in the Netherlands) and then transferred to the East, in the current Armenia, until the year 135 AD, when it was dissolved by Emperor Hadrian.

To go back to the film, I like some parts of it and find ridiculous others. I like very much the reconstruction of the Roman fort in the beginning of the film. As a curiosity, when I heard in the cinema the dubbed Channing Tatum pronouncing the name of his character (Marcus Flavius Aquila), my jaw dropped a pair of inches, as the protagonist of my still unfinished fanfic and lifelong fatigue is called Marcus Fulvius Aquila. A mere coincidence (Romans were not famous for the variety of their names), but which made me chuckle. As I was saying, I enjoy the arrival of Marcus to his new garrison, the first fight against the Britons and the taestudo formation.

Centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila and his men making a taestudo
Centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila and his men making a taestudo

Films do not have to be historical essays to entertain me. I always mention “Gladiator” as a film full of historical horrors and incredible mix-ups which do not impede me to enjoy it and place it in my top ten of favourite movies. Therefore, the horses with stirrups or the improbable architecture of uncle Aquila’s villa were not what made me move nervously in my seat in the cinema or close my eyelids when watching the film after lunch: it’s all the “seal-warriors men” stuff that gets on my nerves and specially the chase to the protagonists, with those tireless Highland Mohawks running faster than horses. Fortunately there is Mark Strong in the screen to make me forget them for a while.

Mark Strong looking a bit too much Al Pacino
Mark Strong looking a bit too much Al Pacino

Mark Strong is the Stakhanovist of the screen. One day, checking my dvd collection I realised that he is one of the top five most present actors in my library. His role in this film, Guern, the ex-Roman legionary of the IXth, is not one of the usual Strong’s characters, the slightly psychotic, but a honest man who regains his honour making  the ultimate sacrifice defending the lost eagle.

I will be off line until Thursday. When I was in London my phone had a problem of communication with British wifis and most of times could not connect. According to the website one of the man commodities in my B&B in Haltwhistle is a wifi network; if it works I will post pictures through Instagram. But, honestly speaking, I need to switch off completely at least for three days and a half. Maybe to compensate the new social media life of Richard Armitage (first rule of Wormwood Scrubs blog: always mention HIM without purpose).

 

Narcissus

 

Narcissus copy copyThe only similarity between the mythological Narcissus and Richard Armitage is their beauty, no trait of character in common. Nevertheless I could not help to title this edition “Narcissus” as, in chapter number 4 of the second season of Spooks, Richard delight us with another of his love glances that I guess was the same one that Narcissus gave himself to his image reflected in the pond.

I wanted to write a post about Spooks season 8, but the elderly fangirl in me forbids me to do so, as I am not able to write anything intellegible nor sensible in front such an overdose of beauty and talent. I have three chapters left to watch, but let me tell you, that black-leathered Lucas, helmet in hand, “delivering” a parcel is something that I won’t be able to forget for a loooong time (and that I hope would be an special guest in one of my crazy-dreams).

vlcsnap-2014-08-21-20h10m22s104Audio/video comment to the above screencap:

do do that voodooo that you do so well…

By the way… happy birthday, Mr. Armitage.

Tribute to Col. Brandon

BRANDON

 

The verses are of the poem Col. Brandon reads Marianne when she is recovering of her illness. I’ve heard it several times, but I don’t understand it completely. Shouldn’t be another negative particle after “may”, so that two negations make an affirmation? Written like this I understand that it is impossible to find something lost even if searching it, but I guess that the poet meant just the contrary.

Can you please help me, English-speaking readers?