Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: The Year of Ancient Greece!

Happy New Year, Loyal, Loyal (Loyal) Readers!

2014 is shaping up to be a GREAT year for Ancient Greek enthusiasts! There are several projects that are coming out this year that have to do with our favorite time in history, and all of them cover different mediums. Let's look at three of them:

First, 300: Rise of an Empire is shaping up to look crazy cool!

Next, indie developer Alien Trap is creating a 2D side-scrolling game based on Ancient Greek stories and art, called Apotheon.

And finally, author Gary Corby is coming out with his latest book, The Marathon Conspiracy.

All-in-all, it's looking like 2014 will be a great year for fans of Ancient Greek history. I hope to cover all of it in the coming months, so keep it locked to this blog for more information (and hopefully more information on my Themistocles novel)!

Edit: I have some exciting news! It turns out that W. Ruth Kozak's debut historical novel about Alexander the Great, SHADOW OF THE LION, is due out this summer! I've followed her blog for quite some time, and am so happy that Shadow if finally being published. I highly encourage you to check out her blog, then support this talented writer but buying a copy of the book!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Ancient Greek Football.

Today is the first day of the American football season, and while couch potatoes everywhere are settling in to watch their favorite teams, I thought it would be fun to blog about the world's first "American" football team: the Spartans!

Molon Labe?

No, I'm not talking about the Michigan Spartans, sports fans. I'm talking about the actual Spartans, the military men of Southern Greece with their long hair and menacing scowls. As it turns out, they may have had their own version of football--or at the very least--rugby!

According to ancient authors, the Spartans (both men and women) played a game called EpiskyrosJulius Pollux explains the game as thus:

"This is played by teams of equal numbers standing opposite of one another.They mark out a line between them with stone chips; this is the skuros on which the ball is placed. They then mark out two other lines, one behind each team.The team which secures possession of the ball throws it over their opponents who then try to get hold of the ball and throw it back, until one side pushes the other over the line between them. The game might be called a Ball Battle."

In Sparta, the game was played during an annual festival and involved five teams made up of fourteen players. Being Spartans, there's no doubt this game probably got violent. In fact, according to later accounts of these ancient ball games, players would often end up on the ground while attempting to get control of the ball , and even spectators weren't safe; one poor fan ended up with a broken leg when he got caught in the middle of a play!

Ancient football.

Not much else is known about Episkyrossave that the balls may have been made from inflated pig bladders and you were not allowed to cross the middle line, the skuros. It should also be noted Episkyros (or versions of it) were played in other city-states as well. In fact, there was also another ball game known as Harpaston or Phaininda. Harpaston is the Greek word for handball, coming from the verb harpazo, meaning "to seize" or "to snatch." Eventually these games would be combined by the Romans to create the game Harpastum, which may be the origins of both our European and American football games today. 

At any rate, now you know that even the Ancient Greeks enjoyed a good ball game...although I wonder if their fans were nearly as rowdy??

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 19, 2013

300: Rise of an Empire IGN Cast Interview!

I'm excited to share that today my co-workers got to interview the cast of 300: Rise of an Empire, which comes out next year. The interview features Sullivan Stapleton (Themistocles), Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes) and Eva Green (Artemisia).

To learn what they had to say about the film, go here!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July, Readers!

Today is a good day to reflect on how important our freedom is, and why we should never take it for granted. Today is ALSO a good day to celebrate democracy in general, which thanks to Themistocles and the Ancient Greeks, was saved in its infancy during the 2nd Persian War.

The specific incident I'm talking about is of course the battle that took place in the strait between the small island of Salamis and the Attic peninsula in September 480 BCE. It is in this narrow, windy straight that a small Greek fleet managed to defeat the much larger Persian navy. Herodotus credits the Athenian general Themistocles with cleverly orchestrating this showdown, first by tricking the Persian king Xerxes into battle, then luring the Persian fleet into the strait, where forceful winds would cause the enemy triremes to collide and thus allow the Greek ships to ram them as they floundered helplessly in the water. The plan was a success, and after the battle the devastated Persian fleet retreated from Greece. This marked a major turning point in the war, and the next year the Persians would be defeated for good at the battles of Plataea and Mycale. Athens' fragile democracy (which had been founded less than twenty years before) was saved.

So let's drink a toast to our Republic (for that is what America actually is), and to Democracy (which is the foundation of all our freedoms)!

*For more information on the Battle of Salamis, check out Barry Strauss' amazing book The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece--ande Western Civilization

Friday, May 10, 2013

Themistocles: The Movie (Latest Update)

It looks like we'll be waiting awhile to see Themistocles on the big screen.

According to IGN, the "sequel" to 300 is being pushed back from August of this year to March 2014.

On the one hand, I'm glad because I want this movie to be as awesome as its predecessor. On the other hand, I'm a bit worried by all the delays and lack of information regarding this project. Though Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution claims the film is "on track to become all that audiences have come to expect from the franchise" I'm still a little nervous. Hopefully we'll learn more about 300: Rise of An Empire soon.

Will keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Themistocles: The Movie Update

Hello, Faithful and Patient Readers!

My Themistocles novel is still on the way, and I've been getting good advice on what the novel needs to make it great (one day I WILL put a snippet up on this blog for people to read). In the mean time,  if you're hankering for some Themistocles news right here and now, then I have something fun for you!

Check out IGN's article on 300: Rise of an Empire!

The Battle of Salamis?

Themistocles (played by Sullivan Stapleton) is the star of the film, and according to director Noam Murro, he's "...a battle-scarred...warrior, [and] at the same time he's a politician. He's not the king. He has to rule in a democracy. It's a different complexity of character." 

Themistocles is indeed a complex character, and certainly not your "typical" hero. In fact, what fascinates me about Themistocles is that he'd lie, cheat, steal, beg, borrow and fight to get what he wanted. So it will be interesting to see how he is portrayed in Rise of an Empire.

Looking forward to the sequel to 300? Let me know in the comments below! :D

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A New Point of View.

Gaah! Has it really been a month since I last posted here? Where does the time go??

At any rate...

Greetings, Patient Reader!

If you're reading this then you're incredibly wonderful and I love you for sticking with me through thick and thin. This Themistocles novel hasn't been easy. (It's been in progress since 2005--that's over seven years now!!!) When you take on someone larger-than-life like Themistocles however, you feel rather obligated to get things right. The man was in many ways the Ancient Greek equivalent of Winston Churchill (well, except Churchill didn't go over to the enemy's side after the war was over), and tackling his life story can be rather intimidating.  Luckily I've had support along the way, and hope that someday I can announce right here that the novel is finished and ready to turn into an agent.

At any rate, after talking to various people about how to tackle such a charismatic person, it was suggested to me that perhaps it might be easier to explain Themistocles through the eyes of someone who knew him. Someone who could appreciate his greatness but also see his faults. And so--without giving too much away--I've decided to try a new POV, and so far have had some success. Not only is this new POV more balanced, but it gives me a chance to explain the customs and beliefs of the Ancient Greeks without clubbing the reader over the head with too much exposition.

Of course, it's still not that easy. Motivation and urgency are the things that keep readers happy, and I want to make sure that my new character has both, because that way a lot of other factors fall into place, making my job as a writer easier.

So wish me luck, Awesomely Patient & Supportive Readers! I'm going to try a new direction with my novel, and hopefully it will pay off, or at the very least educate me on the best way to write a story. :p

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Why, Themistocles. Why???

Ah, character motivation. That thing that keeps a novel going. That element that keeps the reader turning the pages of your book long after their bedtime. The proverbial glue that holds a story together. You don't have much of a story without a well-motivated character...and therein lies my challenge. I know what my main character does. I don't know WHY.

If you've read Herodotus (or Plutarch) then you're fairly familiar with Themistocles, the architect of Ancient Athens' wildly successful navy. He is a controversial character in many ways, most especially because of the way in which he got things done. That is what makes him so interesting. He'd lie, cheat, steal, beg, borrow and charm if it meant getting what he wanted. The thing I don't clearly understand is WHY. What drove him to be that way? Why did he believe a navy was more important to Athenian power than an army? Why did he choose to go over to the Persians after being chased out of Greece? So many questions and no answers.

Now, the interesting thing is as a historical fiction writer I have the opportunity to fill in the blanks. Alas, I've yet to come up with a motivation that drives Themistocles from one event to the next. I'm tethered by real history, and am having a hard time fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. So MANY interesting things happen during Themistocles' life (the birth of democracy, the Persian wars, etc.) and I want him to be a part of it all. But finding reasons for him to do so are proving difficult. Even when I come up with a good reason for him to WANT to be a part of something, I'm having a hard time coming up with reasons for other characters to want to include (or exclude) him.

Any fellow writers out there who have a similar experience? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Ancient Musings: Out With the Old, In With the New.

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers!

Themistocles welcomes you to 2013!

2013 is finally here, so without further ado it's time  to make some awesome writing resolutions!

1) Finish Themistocles' Story
Yes, after seven years of trying to get it right, I've decided to just get it done. The truth is, this is my first novel and it's more important to write it than to try to get it perfect the first time. That's been hard for me to accept, but I think once I do, the writing process will get easier for me. And hey, maybe it will be better than I think! ^_^

2) Write More Blogs
There are times when this poor blog has been utterly neglected. Mostly because it's been such a struggle getting my story on track. But I realize that just by writing more blogs I can feel more in tune with both my story and the writing community at large.

3) Comment More on Other Blogs
 I tend to visit people's blogs but don't always comment. I need to let fellow writers know they have my support!

4) Broaden My Reading Horizons
I've been so immersed in reading history books that I rarely read fiction anymore. If I'm going to write a (historical) fiction book, I need to read more fiction!

5) Broaden My Writing Horizons
I should try poetry, short stories and write more articles in order to try out different styles and see what works for me. Should be fun!

What are your writing resolutions, Readers? Let me know in the comments section below! ^_^