The site of the Resurrection

There is historical evidence to suggest that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem really was erected on the site of Christ’s Empty Tomb.  Go here for a series of panoramic 360-degree virtual tours of both the exterior and the interior of the church. (Be sure to click the smaller boxes for the various interior views.)

HT: David Mills

A new Shakespeare play discovered?

Well, not exactly, even if the claims are verified. From ‘Shakespeare’s lost play’ no hoax, says expert | Culture |

It has thrills, spills, sword fights, violent sexual assault and – to modern ears – a terrible ending, but the little-known 18th century play Double Falsehood was propelled into the literary limelight today when it was claimed as a lost Shakespeare.

Professor Brean Hammond of Nottingham University will publish compelling new evidence next week that the play, a romantic tragi-comedy by Lewis Theobald is – as the author always maintained it was – substantially based on a real Shakespeare play called Cardenio.

Hammond has been backed in his assertion by the Shakespeare publisher Arden and there are unconfirmed rumours that the play will open at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre in Stratford when the venue reopens after its three-year closure.

The claim represents 10 years of literary detective work by Hammond. “I don’t think you can ever be absolutely 100% but, yes, I am convinced that it is Shakespeare,” he said. “It’s fair to say it’s been something of an obsession. You need to ask my wife but a fair few of my waking hours have been devoted to this subject.”

Theobald’s Double Falsehood, or The Distrest Lovers was first performed in 1727 at the Drury Lane theatre in London, along with the remarkable claim that it was based on Shakespeare’s “lost play” Cardenio, which was first performed in 1613. Theobald claimed to have three original texts of Cardenio.

Double Falsehood went down well with audiences, but it was badly received by expert observers who dismissed Theobald as a hoaxer. Alexander Pope, in particular, was scornful but the two were committed enemies. “Theobald was the author of a volume in 1726 called Shakespeare Restored which was a hatchet job on Pope’s editing of Hamlet,” said Hammond. “In that volume Theobald made it pretty clear that he considered himself superior to Pope.”

The denunciation became accepted as fact: Theobald was little more than a hoaxer, albeit an audacious one. The play then went largely to ground apart from a performance in 1846 when – after the audience shouted “author? author?” – a plaster bust of Shakespeare was brought out. It was laughed off stage.

The play reads like Shakespeare, but reworked Shakespeare. Hammond called Double Falsehood a “flawed play”, adding: “This version of the Shakespeare play has been doctored. Theobald cut out material that he didn’t think appropriate, but this was quite common. Shakespeare was very frequently rewritten in the 17th and 18th centuries.”

The play is much shorter and more bitty than a normal Shakespeare play and there are no long speeches. But there is plenty of action that centres on two men and two women, including an aristocratic villain called Henriquez who ravishes the virtuous young girl Violante. By the end he has repented and is strikingly forgiven by all.

At most, this is saying that a lost Shakespeare play, “Cardenio,” may be behind Lewis Theobald’s 18th century play “Double Falsehood.” Theobald said that it was and that he actually had copies of the missing play. To say this is not a hoax means that Theobald was not a hoaxer, not that this is an actual play from Shakespeare.

I am highly skeptical. For one thing, Shakespeare never wrote any tragi-comedies! This was a genre quite popular at the time, in which characters could be of noble birth and get killed, while arriving at a happy ending. This hybrid genre was pioneered by the writing team of Beaumont & Fletcher. These tended to have little literary merit–we would call the genre “melodrama”–although, ironically, this would be the genre that would win out, to the point that most of our “dramas” today are neither comedies nor tragedies but tragi-comedies.

Shakespeare stuck to comedies and tragedies, and though he bent those genres considerably (especially comedy), he stayed away from the melodramatic tragi-comedies. In fact, he makes fun of them, as well as other mixed-genre hybrids, in Hamlet, in which Polonius comes up with “The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited” (Act II. scene ii. line 243). If “Cardenio” was a tragicomedy, of course, then Shakespeare did write one, but I find it, while possible, quite unlikely. But I’ll be interested to see Professor Hammond’s evidence.

HT: Joe Carter

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

A day to remember that even Europeans were evangelized by missionaries. So honor, pray for, and give money to missionaries today.

Also, salute the Irish for saving civilization by preserving books, keeping learning alive, and converting the barbarians. Thus bringing the Dark Ages to an end and ushering in the Middle Ages. (Note: Do NOT confuse the Dark Ages with the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were the end of the Dark Ages, which began with the Fall of Rome.)

Some say that we have entered a new Dark Age, another time of social breakdown with a new kind of barbarism. If that is so, how can we do today what St. Patrick and the Irish did back then, namely, save civilization?

The Falerian Schoolmaster

My daughter Joanna, a Latin teacher, told me a great story from Livy.  It can give us a new word for a teacher who harms students or uses them for his own ends.

This account is from Plutarch’s version.  Camillus is the noble general of the Roman Republic who is besieging the Falerii:

Now, it so happened that in Falerii there was a school-master who had under his charge a large number of boys, and after their lessons were finished he would take them daily to the outskirts of the town for play and exercise. He constantly assured them that they had nothing to fear from the enemy at their walls, and they followed their master with perfect confidence wherever he chose to lead them. One day he approached the Roman advance-guard, surrounded by all the boys, whom he delivered up to be carried to Camillus. When questioned by the commander, he told who he was, and said “that he preferred the favor of Camillus to the obligations of duty, and that he had come to hand over to him the Falerian children, and through them the whole city.”

The commander was shocked at such base treachery. “War is at best a savage thing,” he said, “but it has its laws from which men of honor will never depart; though desirous of victory, they do not avail themselves of acts of villany.” So saying, he ordered the lictors to tear off the wretch's clothes and tie his hands behind him, then to furnish each boy with a rod and a scourge, with which to whip the traitor back to the city.

Meanwhile, the Falerians had heard of the fate of their boys, [146] and men and women crowded to the gates in a state of distraction, filling the air with their lamentations. Suddenly they beheld the school-master running towards them pursued by his pupils, who did not spare their blows, but shouted and yelled with delight, while they proclaimed the Roman commander “their God, their Deliverer, their Father.” The citizens were so struck by the generosity of Camillus that it was decided in council to send deputies to the noble commander to surrender the city to him. Camillus took time to consult the senate of Rome, who advised him to demand a sum of money of the Falerians, but on no account to accept anything more. Peace was then restored, and the Roman army returned home.

via The Baldwin Project: Our Young Folks’ Plutarch by Rosalie Kaufman.

Can you think of some Falerian Schoolmasters today?

Solomon’s wall unearthed in Jerusalem

In more archaeological news, the wall that Solomon built around Jerusalem has been discovered.

“The city wall that has been uncovered testifies to a ruling presence. Its strength and form of construction indicate a high level of engineering”, [Eliat] Mazar said. The city wall is at the eastern end of the Ophel area in a high, strategic location atop the western slop of the Kidron valley.

“A comparison of this latest finding with city walls and gates from the period of the First Temple, as well as pottery found at the site, enable us to postulate with a great degree of assurance that the wall that has been revealed is that which was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem in the latter part of the tenth century B.C.E.,” said Mazar.

“This is the first time that a structure from that time has been found that may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon’s building in Jerusalem,” she added. “The Bible tells us that Solomon built — with the assistance of the Phoenicians, who were outstanding builders — the Temple and his new palace and surrounded them with a city, most probably connected to the more ancient wall of the City of David.” Mazar specifically cites the third chapter of the First Books of Kings where it refers to “until he (Solomon) had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.

This is especially significant because a whole line of liberal Biblical critics maintains that David and Solomon were mythological. Added to that are Islamic scholars who deny any and all historical claims of Jews to the Holy Land.

HT: Webmonk

Tarquin’s Palace discovered

Six miles from Rome, in the crater of an extinct volcano, archeologists have discovered what is apparently the palace of the Tarquins, the last kings of Rome.  Because of their cruelty, they were overthrown in 510 B.C. and the Roman Republic was born.  From Prince’s Palace Found in Volcanic Crater : Discovery News:

A terracotta fragment of the roof has already been found. It features the image of the Minotaur, an emblem of the Tarquins.

“It's a strong piece of evidence to support the hypothesis that the edifice was built for the Tarquin family,” Fabbri said.

Indeed, the archaeologists do not rule out the hypothesis that the building was home to generations of Tarquins, and believe its last occupant was Sextus Tarquinius.

The son of Rome's last king, the despotic Tarquinius Superbus, Sextus Tarquinius is notorious for having raped Lucretia, the virtuous wife of his cousin Tarquinius Collatinus.

The Roman historian Livy (Titus Livius), who lived 59 B.C.-A.D. 17, recounts that Lucretia, “overcome with sorrow and shame,” stabbed herself after the attack. Her death sparked the revolt that put to an end the kingship of Tarquin the Proud and Sextus Tarquinius' life.

“The people of Gabii murdered Sextus after he entered the town. It is not a coincidence that the lavish building is intentionally destroyed around this time,” Fabbri said.

The Republic featured representative government, civil liberties, the rights of the people, and the rule of law. It lasted nearly 500 years, which is much longer than our republic. But then the Romans grew impatient with its slow workings and turned back to the one-man rule of the Emperors, many of which were Tarquin-like in the extreme. (How odd it is–and it’s all Shakespeare’s fault!–that our popular culture honors Julius Caesar over the defenders of the Republic and of liberty like Brutus and Cato. George Washington, in contrast, put on Addison’s play about Cato’s resistance to inspire his revolutionary army.)

Many people cite parallels with America’s woes to the fall of the Roman Empire. But we should be far more concerned with parallels to what came first: the fall of the Roman Republic.