Danteblogging – Canto XXXI

Canto XXXI
Canto XXXI is a transition canto between the last of the Malebolge and the bottom of Hell, where the traitors are punished. The mechanism here is again the cooperation of a monster. In Canto XVII the pilgrims rode flying Geryon. Here Virgil talks Antaeus, giant opponent of Hercules, into lifting them down the cliffs between the last of the Malebolge and frozen Cocytus. He does it with an interesting offer – Dante, who is living, can offer Antaeus a morsel more of recognition:

Don’t make us seek Typhon or Tityus.
  This man can give you what you long for here,
  so bend and do not turn your face askew,
For in the world he can still bring you fame.

The sin of the giants is to have tried to replace the gods – or to have rivaled God, in the case of Nimrod the Mighty Hunter, builder of the Tower of Babel. Antaeus complies, silently.
Dante compares the giants to city towers – most specifically to the Garisenda tower in Bologna (one of Bologna’s twin towers) and to the watch towers circling a fortress at Montereggioni (near Siena). The 16th C illustration I uploaded certainly picks up on the latter.

Image from Alessandro Vellutello’s 1544 commentary – I think I found it at Wikimedia, though I’ve downloaded a number of versions this summer to turn into presentations in the fall.

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Balcony. Light Rain. Talking Heads.

And you’ll love me till my heart stops
Love me till I’m dead

Ineffable. It’s really the triangle in the lead-in to that couplet that does me every time. Always makes me wonder what the troubador music was really like.
The All beige 1984 version.
The totally David Byrne-indulgent version (I don’t blame Jools Holland). Don’t you wonder if all those pretty British lady-string players knew who this old guy was in 2004?

Observer Effects

I’m sure my psychologist friends could explain this one to me – but why is it that most evenings I have dinner and then…nothing. And don’t mind. But when I say to myself “I will go in tomorrow for bloodwork for my annual physical so I can have nothing but clear liquids fom now until then” I am suddenly looking toward the refrigerator every other minute or so?

The terror and the pity of the Mainstream Media

The Washington Post sells Newsweek for $1 to a 91 year-old with no background in media. Yeah – he’s going to revitalize a faded brand to save it for the Democratic party (his wife is a member of the House of Representatives). “Harman added that his “primary responsibility” will be building a succession plan for Newsweek to hand it over to his children or an outside owner upon his death.”
He’d better work fast – statistically he doesn’t have long.
Funny, the WaPo story doesn’t give the price. The Daily Beast does.
Jon Meacham, fellow McCallie alumnus, will resign. Well, on his watch the magazine collapsed. “The Post Co.’s magazine division — chiefly, Newsweek — earned $31.4 million in 2007 but reported a $47.5 million operating loss in 2009. Newsweek has 1.5 million subscribers, down from its high of 3.2 million.” Not that it’s his fault, entirely – but the switch to even more Democratic-orthodox opinion and less news didn’t arrest the slide.

Massive Roman canal discovered

100 yards wide qualifies as massive.
It never ceases to amaze me what hasn’t been excavated that’s sitting right under our noses — but there you have it, resources for digging are finite.

Scholars discovered the 100-yard-wide (90-metre-wide) canal at Portus, the ancient maritime port through which goods from all over the Empire were shipped to Rome for more than 400 years.
The archaeologists, from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton and the British School at Rome, believe the canal connected Portus, on the coast at the mouth of the Tiber, with the nearby river port of Ostia, two miles away.
It would have enabled cargo to be transferred from big ocean-going ships to smaller river vessels and taken up the River Tiber to the docks and warehouses of the imperial capital.

Here’s the excavation website: the Portus Project.
The most fun may be their page on Visualizing Portus – there are some fun animations.