Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shield of Aeneas: Rome's Greatest Hits

Hi there, Billy Mays here with an exciting new product!
Don't you just love the soothing sounds of the Roman Republic? Remember how the catchy tunes of the old kings made you get up and dance? Well now you can get all the greatest hits of Rome on one record! Call now, and you can get The Shield of Aeneas, a collection of all of Rome's chart-topping moments!
For only three payments of 65.99 denarii, you can own the greatest moments of Roman history on one piece of bronze! It includes these memorable hits:
-"Mother's Like the Wolf" (Romulus and Remus)
-"Fat Bottomed Sabine Women" (Rape of the Sabine Women)
-"Walk This Way...and That Way" (Execution of Mettus)
-"Bright Side of the River" (Cocles destroying the bridge)
-"Cloelia (You're a Fine Girl)" (Cloelia's escape)
-"Three Little Birds" (Manlius and the sacred geese)

And even the recent hit, "Smoke on the Water" (Battle of Actium)

Order now and get a free set of god-forged war gear, including a sword, helmet, corselet, greaves, and spear!

*Also protects you against weaponry. Not for use on household turntables.


So I hate to bring you guys back to Rome, but I'm in class at the moment and we're looking at the shield of Aeneas and i got chills about how cool this it. As described in Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneas' mother Venus brings him this war equipment forged by her husband (but not his father, come on), the focus of which is the shield. I translated this passage before in high school and of course it made no sense. Now, though, I can see this is really cool. The shield has been sculpted to show what are quite literally the greatest moments in Roman history.
Now, this is all happening before Rome is even founded, how can these things be on a shield, you may ask. Well, it was sculpted by Vulcan, and he too has powers of prophecy, so he put all the greatness that would be Rome onto this shield. (If this seems confusing, try translating from Latin. The tenses...this happened in the past but it's written like we're there but these scenes take place in the future that is also to us past...WHAT?!! Thanks, Mr. Early.)
There's even more to this shield. Virgil was writing the Aeneid for a few reasons, and one of them was to praise Augustus. He achieves this very well by putting the Battle of Actium at the very center of the shield. This suggests to the reader that the Battle, which defeated Antony and Cleopatra and ended over a century of civil war, is the culmination of Roman culture. This event is the ultimate point of Roman history. Now, this is part propaganda in Augustus' favor, but it's still pretty cool.
So, if you want the greatest moments of the Roman Republic, the Shield of Aeneas is the way to go. If you want to know more about any of those "songs" I mentioned, leave it in the comments and I'll get back to you.

And now, Please Consider The Following:

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

This collection of books, written for about the sixth-grade reading level, are a really great way to introduce kids to the world of mythology. The story focuses on Percy Jackson, a half-blood (that is, half mortal and half god) who is in danger from the monsters of mythology as he starts to find out who he is. As it turns out, mythological figures appear wherever the center of Western Civilization is, so America becomes the setting of the story. For example, Olympus is at the top of the Empire State Building, and the entrance to Hades is in Los Angeles.
He enrolls at a summer camp for others like him, from daughters of Athena to sons of Ares. Here, he meets a satyr, learns from Chiron, and comes to dislike Dionysis. Soon he is given a quest and is soon caught up in prophecies that put the weight of the world on his shoulders (yep, he appears too).
The series is fast paced, an easy read, and funny. If you are familiar with Greek mythology, you'll appreciate how the gods and other figures are depicted. Riordan does an amazing job taking the often conflicting myths and puting them in modern terms.
Four of the five books are released, the final one will be published May 5, 2009.

Bringing this back around, in the novel Percy is given a watch by his half-brother, a cyclops. Pushing a button turns it into a full-size shield, on which is depicted the adventures which Percy and his friends go through in the course of the story. Pretty sweet, huh?

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