Music Monday: “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”

Hi, everyone. I thought I’d take you all back to the world of Bayou Fire this week. Lee Benoit‘s music was in heavy rotation while I wrote the book, and his band was the one I had in mind during the scene in which Amos and Diana are dancing at Mulate’s. Enjoy!

No Laughing Matter? What the Romans Found Funny – Antigone

Plautus flexes his metacomical muscles more frequently and overtly than Terence does, but the Romans clearly had a soft spot for breaking the fourth wall in theatre, busting the artifice wide open by overtly commenting on it. Both Plautus’ and Terence’s plays include Prologues, in which the audience watching the play are directly addressed in a self-aware manner, much like a master of ceremonies. But it is within Plautus’ stories as well that characters talk about what they are doing as if they were directing, writing, or starring in a play. In a famous soliloquy, the titular character in Pseudolus (“The Liar,” 191 BC) deliberates on how to secure money for his master Callidorus in the language of literary invention: “Now I’ll be like a poet, taking the tablet on the knee, searching for what doesn’t exist, but still managing to discover it, making verisimilitude of a lie” (402–4).

No Laughing Matter? What the Romans Found Funny – Antigone

Click through for an interesting look at ancient Roman comedy, and how it relates to today!

Pompeii tomb reveals formerly enslaved man’s rise to wealth and power | Ars Technica

Archaeologists rediscovered Marcus Venerius Secundio’s tomb in the ancient cemetery, or necropolis, of Porta Sarno in the eastern part of Pompeii, where tourists aren’t allowed. His tomb was large and imposing, with a colorfully painted facade depicting green plants on a blue background; traces of the paint still cling to the stone even after 2,000 years. It was also sealed so well that its occupant’s remains had partially mummified, preserving some soft tissue and a few tufts of white hair, along with some scraps of fabric.

Because Pompeii is both amazingly well-preserved and extensively studied, archaeologists were able to match the name inscribed over the tomb’s entrance to a name on wax tablets in the house of a banker named Lucius Caecilius Jucundus, across the city from the necropolis. The banker’s tablets recorded Marcus as a “public slave” who worked as a custodian in the Temple of Venus, which once stood at the western end of town (that’s almost certainly where the second part of his name, Venerius, comes from). But at some point he became a libertus, or freedman, and began to build a new life for himself.

Slavery in Rome wasn’t always a permanent state, and many liberti went on to build relatively prosperous lives for themselves. Evidence of their history persists all over Pompeii. And the libertus Marcus evidently did quite well for himself indeed; the epitaph carved into the stone over his tomb boasts that he once sponsored four full days of theatrical performances for the people of Pompeii, given in both Greek and Latin.

That seems like an odd thing to brag about on your tombstone, but for affluent Romans, sponsoring public entertainment like plays or gladiatorial matches provided a way of showing off while also cementing one’s popularity and fame. It was philanthropy as both advertisement and power move, a la Carnegie and Rockefeller. By bragging about the plays he’d sponsored, Marcus was asserting that he’d been a mover and shaker in his day.

Pompeii tomb reveals formerly enslaved man’s rise to wealth and power | Ars Technica

2,000-Year-Old Roman-Era Chandelier is One-of-a-Kind! | Ancient Origins

An exceptionally rare, 2,000-year-old Roman-era chandelier has been unearthed at an archeological dig in Spain’s Elda Valley. The now preserved ancient artifact once swung from the ceiling of a large social space providing light to opulent Roman parties and lush banquets.

Last lit in the 1st century AD, the round lamp has a half meter diameter and holders for 32 candles. Eva Maria Mendiola, who respectfully restored the light, told The Times that before it was put on display at the Elda Museum in Alicante, Spain, researchers were able to learn volumes about its origins. Perhaps most importantly, the restorers found the name “Lucius Eros” branded on other artifacts that were discovered with the chandelier – the name of the Roman-era craftsman who hand crafted the light.

2,000-Year-Old Roman-Era Chandelier is One-of-a-Kind! | Ancient Origins