Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New Hercules Film
I realised ealier this morning that this summer it will be two years since the great Classical Studies Fiasco of 2003.
This realisation was spurned by the broadcast last night of a new Hercules movie on NBC. I followed along - at points, just barely - in Robert Graves 'Greek Myths. I was impressed with the beginning of the film, how they pretty accurately portrayed the factions within the House of Perseus and the circumstances that led to Hercules' birth.
This brings up a point about the ancient Greeks that I never realised until I studied their language. "Hercules" is Latinised, "Heracles" is the Greek form, and it means "to the glory of Hera." Which is ironic, becuase Zeus got Hercules conceived to spite Hera. There's something similar in Xenophon's Anabasis, where he calls ostriches "strothoi megaloi," or "big sparrows."
After the birth of Hercules, however, the film presented a mish-mash of accuracy and contemporary fiction. Which is not to say the film was not enjoyable, but the Nemeian lion was not a sphinx, and it certainly did not have the ability to morph into a beautiful woman. But Hercules did kill it by wrestling it and cutting its throat with its own claws.
I could go on. Most of the film was like this, a little accuracy, a little creative license. But the end of the film was all license. I acknowledge though, that in order to have a film of reasonable length, they had to do something to bring it to a close, and they did a pretty good job of making it interesting.
And I didn't have any problems at all with the actor who played the lead.