15 March, 2007


I'm not a fan of the Spartans. Really! A little more than a week ago, I was attempting to tease my wife and son by making fun of an apparent Russian fondness for the term Спартак (lit., "Spartak"), which is the name of a major Russian soccer team as well as of a brand of Russian sneaker. My wife bore patiently through this, and let me get as far as pointing out to our son that the Spartans began every year by declaring war on their neighbors. Just when I thought I was on a roll, she disarmed me. Not Spartak as in Sparta, she corrected, but Spartak as in Spartacus.

Short, brief, and effective. Worthy of a Laconic wit.

This, by the way, is what happens when you try to use your brain to figure something out, rather than look up the facts. On the page for FC Spartak, under the section History, we read clearly that

[its founder] proposed the name that was derived from Spartacus, a slave who led a rebellion against Rome, and was inspired by eponymous book by Raffaello Giovagnoli.

As for Sparta, the ancient Greek city state has lately been taking a beating in some weblogs I read, apparently because Frank Miller decided to lionize them in the film 300. To be fair, the point of these bloggers is probably less to demean Sparta than to counter Miller's imagery, but I'm picking up a bit of vehemence in their entries, to say nothing of their sheer number. I've been trying to correct what I see as excesses, and I'm probably making as big a fool of myself as I did with Spartak. Cheers! :-)

I hadn't so much as heard of this film before all these weblog entries began to appear, but I don't doubt its lack of merits. We're talking about a film based on a graphic novel of Frank Miller. This is the same fellow who blessed us with Sin City, which had as bleak an outlook on the meaning of life as I can ever recall reading. I want those two hours of my life back!

On the other hand, Frank Miller is also the source of the graphic novel Batman: the Dark Knight Returns, which was not so bad, actually.


Clemens said...

Yep - good old Spartak. My favorite ballet by the way. I even bought a video of the Bolshoi's production of it. It's great.

And, actually, I think I really did mean to demean the Spartans Jack! Sorry.

There's just one too many towns named Sparta in the old Confederacy for my comfort (and I say this as a descendent of slavers who grew up saluting the Stars and Bars while whistling Dixie).

You are, however, undoubtedly right to point out that there are a few twists in the Athenians psyche too. I'll have to think about it some more. Certainly the Spartans have been held at times as the ideal western civ should emulate often enough. Their popularity seems to come and go.

I don't think you can fully disassociate Miller's 'Sin City' (which I believe you hated?) and his fascination for the warrior ethos as embodied by the Spartans. My young friend Clovis, e.g., who loved '300' thought 'Sin City' was the greatest movie of the year! I was impressed by 'Sin City's' artistry but very uneasy about its contents. Didn't and don't understand how critics who loved 'Sin City' hated 'Passion of the Christ' for its violence. And now don't seem to like '300' very much at all.

btw - any chance you will see '300'?

jack perry said...

A ballet, too? Man, I'm out of it.

I believe you hated [Sin City]?

More or less. I stayed awake, but I felt pretty slimy after watching it.

Not much chance I'll see 300. Frank Miller doesn't need my money, and I also don't attend films unless I can take my son. He's 10, and even if he were 20 I'm not sure I'd want to take him. He wouldn't need me anyway...

Clemens said...

Yeah - we use Clovis, the teenager who attached himself to us for unknown reasons, as an excuse to see things like 'Sin City' and my four year old friend Maeread as an excuse to see children's movies. So far I prefer the children's movies.

Don't know what I would do if I had real kids. Destroy the TV set, certainly.