Friday, March 30, 2012

The Battle of Artemisium: The Movie!

After a loong period of silence, there's finally some more information on the sequel to the movie 300, which is apparently now being called 300: The Battle of Artemisia. The bad news? Er, the title should be called The Battle of Artemisium. (Strike one for marketing and/or IMDB.) The goods news? Apparently the focus is not on Xerxes (as the original title Xerxes suggests) but on none other than our hero of Salamis --and Artemisium, of course-- Themistocles! If you're not familiar with the battle itself, here's a quick run-down:

In 480BCE the Persian Empire, under the leadership of their king Xerxes, invaded Greece under the guise of avenging the Persian loss at the Battle of Marathon ten years previous (in which the Athenians and their Plataean allies stopped an earlier invading force). Out of over 1000 of the Ancient Greek city-states, only about 30 agreed to try and stop the Persians. The leaders of this small resistence were the Spartans under King Leonidas (known for their military state) and the Athenians under Themistocles (known for having the largest naval fleet amongst the allies).

The first serious attempt to stop the Persians was made south of Thessaly, where the Greeks coordinated a land and naval defense against the invaders. The narrow pass at Thermopylae was held by the disciplined Spartans while the Straights of Artemisium nearby were occupied by the equally disciplined Athenian navy. The battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium took place simultaneously over the course of three days sometime in late August, and though the Spartans were finally defeated and the Athenians forced to retreat, they both managed to inflict serious damage on the enemy. The allies re-grouped on the island of Salamis just off the Attican coast, and it was there that they managed a stunning naval victory over the Persians, thus literally turning the tide of war in their favor.

Of course the movie is meant to be over-the-top and will have very little basis in historical fact, but it's still exciting to see this little-known battle get the attention it deserves. It's also wonderful to read that not only will Themistocles be featured prominently in the movie (played by Sullivan Stapleton), but other notable figures like Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus will be in the movie as well (played by Eva Green). I suspect Artemisia will be the wily seductress in the movie, which is a bit eye-rolling, but as long as she still comes across as strong and independent (which is far more true to her historical self)then I'm just happy she's there. Also, for those who are curious, Rodrigo Santoro will indeed be revising his role as King Xerxes.

The movie is set for 2013, and I for one am stoked!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Themistocles: Fact Over Fiction.


Once again sorry for neglecting my poor little blog, but I promise you I haven't given up on the fight to tell a really cool story starring Themistocles. I'm just SUPER PICKY about how I want it to go. Without a proper theme/plot/motivation, the story won't make sense. So I want to make sure I'm 100% on board with any ideas that I come up with before piecing the story together. (I'm also going to go back and look at older chapters and stuff with fresh eyes. Perhaps I have more plot/theme/motivation for Themistocles than I think!)

Still, all this struggling makes me wonder if it wouldn't be easier to just write a modern biography on Themistocles. With over 100 books on Ancient Greece and Persia, I certainly have a good starting point! Of course, I'm not a historian, but it would be fun to try. Yet then my imagination would be shackled to cold, hard facts, and when it comes to Themistocles, they are very few facts out there. Maybe it's safer to go with my imagination--which if I can manage to finally dedicate myself to one overall theme for my book will serve as a way to get Themistocles' name out there. And better yet, I'd be in a good company!

Speaking of which, for those who are interested in reading about Themistocles right now, I highly recommend Gary Corby's Ionia Sanction and Scott Oden's upcoming Serpent of Hellas! I also highly recommend their other books on Ancient Greece, especially Memnon, Men of Bronze and The Pericles Commission. Lovers of Ancient Greece won't be disappointed!