SVR review section

Roman arts, sciences, architecture and literature, and the modern creative efforts inspired by them. This is the home of our famous Roleplaying Thread. >({|:-)

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SVR review section

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Wed May 12, 2004 3:07 pm

Salvete!

This is an idea that has been floating around for quite some time here, but I thought I'd share it with you and get it started!. There is a lot of media available on Antiquity, in the form of books, websites, comics, videogames or movies. Since we are looking at these phenomena from a unique perspective, as a Roman-themed community... why not have our own review section? It would work fairly simple, actually. For the project to work, the reviews should have some standardised format.

For example:

[TITLE]

[PUBLISHER / DATE / TYPE OF MEDIA]

[NAME OF REVIEWER]

[TEXT (varying from half a page to ...)]

As a small note, I should add that the idea is that anything can be reviewed, including material that is from the '60s or '70s (or the 19th century, whatever ;))... it doesn't need to be recent.

You can then either post your reviews here for additional comments, or send them straight to me or the aediles.

So what do you think? I have a few ideas already ;).

Valete!
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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Wed May 12, 2004 8:06 pm

Great idea. With the movie Troy coming up, we can see people coming to look for reviews or info on the movie or the story behind the movie.
Personally, i would like to reread the Illiad before watching the movie Troy. I saw the mini-series Helene of Troy, but didn't appreciate it that much.
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My two sesterces

Postby Aldus Marius on Thu May 13, 2004 2:19 am

Avete amici!

I am in a unique position to share my thoughts on Roman comic-books, both those with a Roman hero or theme and those merely possessing some Roman elements. I've made a special effort to collect these over the last decade.

I'm thinking right now of two in particular: A pair of Timejumper issues in which we are treated to a sympathetic and nearly-accurate portrayal of the Romans besieged at Dura Europos; and the issue of Zero Hour in which we were introduced to the original Alpha Centurion. (I like this one better than the one who appeared in the "Trial of Superman" arc, and yes, I've got those too. A little comparison/contrast, anyone...?) >({|;-)

First known Roman sequential narrative art: Trajan's Column. How's that for a Roman comic strip? [g]

In amicitia (and off to excavate my stacks),
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steven saylor

Postby ariadne sergia fausta on Mon May 24, 2004 11:18 pm

Everyone who is interested in republican rome should read Steven Saylor. This author has written a series of books about Gordianus, a private detective in the first century BC. In this political turmoil, the most important politicians in Rome ask for his assistance in delicate matters. The great thing about this books is that the plot of each of them consist of a famous scandal, like Catiline's conspiracy (Catiline's riddle), the murder on Claudius (murder on the Appian way), and "Roscius Amerinus" case, you know, the one by which Cicero became famous. Saylor himself is a historian, and he knows the intrigues perfectly. As an "expert" in the whole catilinian affair, it was nice to see which parts in the modern book were based on Cicero or on Sallust. But ancient sources don't tell everything, and even historians find many aspects were they must fill the gaps of the ancient sources, and so does Saylor. He never contradicts the classical authors, but every book has a marvellous and unexpected swing at the end. His writing skills are outstanding, and for readers who don't like politics, Gordianus has a warm but strange family life, and has more than once close contact with Roman upperclass ladies like Claudia en Fausta Sulla.
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Review: AD&D Glory of Rome

Postby Aldus Marius on Thu Aug 25, 2005 10:15 am

Salvete amici,

This might appeal to the conlusores (fellow-Gamers) among you. My copy's thoroughly beat-up, the cover's faded and has to be retouched once a year, and it made the move in a Laptop case so's my helper would offload it immediately upon arrival and take it straight into the house.

Do you get the idea that I like this book?? >({|;-)

Title: THE GLORY OF ROME (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Historical Campaign Handbooks)
Publisher: TSR, Inc., 1993
Format: Trade Paperback, 8.5" by 11", 96pp
Reviewed by: Aldus Marius Peregrinus

TSR recently (1993; remember, I think on an archaeological time-scale) published the Glory of Rome historical campaign handbook. By that time, I'd been running my Sub-Roma campaign for over a year, and had had to come up with my own rules tweaks to adapt AD&D to a Roman setting. It was interesting, and instructive, to see how many of my ideas were thought up independently by their stable of dedicated gamers after extensive Roman research. It was also entertaining to see what they'd missed, and how many of my fixes remain uniquely mine.

Pluses: They definitely did their homework on this one. I got the feeling that we were all reading the same books; the Osprey military-history handbooks and Colleen McCollough's First Man in Rome foremost among them. (I even thought I recognized some of the artwork.) You will find in here the Legionary subclass (called a 'kit', nowadays, but quite distinct from mine); my source for Gladiators and Charlatans; and the first-ever description of the Christian cleric in game terms. Quite a bit about ancient magic, superstition, and folklore (curse tablets, protective amulets, love potions...all things which the Romans believed in). New skills, equipment, and so on; a really nice map of the Empire (no Hexes!) showing its historical development; and, above all, a genuinely great job of converting a game meant for medieval fantasy to a mostly-urban environment where travel was a little safer and a lot more widespread than at any point in the Middle Ages.

Gripes: After reading the massively pan-cultural description of the Heraldry proficiency in the 2nd Ed. Players' Handbook, I was shocked to find GOR denying Romans access to this skill. If "the shield-emblems of African tribal chieftains" qualify for such study, how much more appropriate must be the shield-emblems and standards of the Legions, or the signet-rings of noble families, or the width of the stripe on a magistrate's toga? Also, I think they missed a major opportunity to bring magic into the setting via the clerics. Things like the Palladium, the Seven Shields of Mars, and the Eagles of the Legions must be extremely powerful artifacts (especially under the Tome of Magic's rules regarding 'faith-magic'); but to hear TSR tell it, there's not enough mana in the Roman world to set off a smoke alarm. Just because the wizards can't get to it...

Favorite feature: The book's got Roman auctoritas--"In any instance of conflict between the Players' Handbook and this Supplement, the Supplement shall take precedence in a Roman campaign setting..."--in Ciceronian legalese, even! All in all, a strong recommend.

This supplement is for AD&D 2nd Edition, so may be a little hard to come by nowadays. Check used bookstores and anywhere that sells used games. They should be obtainable online too, as all the version-jumpers are still trying to get rid of their older stuff.

In fide,
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Review: Alexander

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sat Sep 03, 2005 11:23 pm

Salvete amici

I don't know how many of you have seen the movie Alexander. Well I bought it on DVD. I didn't get the chance to cath it in the cinema.
Title: Alexander
Released by Warner Home Video
Cast: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Rosario Dawson, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkings, Jared Leto,....
Format: DVD
Review by Quintus Aurelius Orcus

Well what can I say about a movie so much talked about. There can be one thing be said about this movie and that is that Oliver Stone had a difficult task at hand portraying Alexander as he was thought to be, not how people nowaydays tend to think he was.
If you look at the cast, you can see that this movie had everything to be a huge success; a great cast, great story and terrific battle scenes. I wonder why so many people don't like this movie. I thought critics would love it for the more accurate portrayal of ancient Greece and Alexander. The characters are more human, than what we see in Troy. But the critics were more critical to Alexander than to Troy. Most critics bash Alexander. And most people tend to agree with them. Afteral, Oliver Stone had to put Alexander's life on screen in a 3 hour long movie. Granted, you can only do so much with movies, because it is a limited medium. The books by Valerio Massimo Manfredi as an example of how it could be done. But this is a time where most people don't have much time to read or don't like to read at all and prefer to see a movie. And in my opinion, this is a movie, you have to know something about the history of Alexander the Great in order to follow it. This is also a movie where one must shed their ideas on Alexander the Great, because this Alexander is far more realistic than anything I have seen so far. In my opinion, this movie is better than Gladiator. Here may lie the problem for so many people. In a sword and sandel movie like Troy, Gladiator, we are not used to see the heroe of the movie to be bisexual, emotional and at times paranoid and delusional. Colin Farrell clearly shows his acting skills here as the deeply troubles, passionate Alexander who has the dream to conquer the known world. And he did. Olympias, the mother of Alexander (played by Angelina Jolie) is exactly how I thought her to be; spiteful, passionate and obsessed with her son and his rise to power. She would do almost anything to make sure that her son gets the throne, but would not kill Phillipus to do so. Even though she was rumored to be behind it. Than again, Phillipus had many enemies among the Greeks, Persians and even under his fellow Macedonians. Olympias did kill Phillipus' new wife and newborn son to make sure that the throne goes to Alexander and nothing will challenge his power. One downside of the entire movie is: the accents. The fake Brittish and Russian among others accents are annoying at best.
What was great was the Oliver Stone did not try to explain how Alexander really died since there is much debate about it. One thing we do know that Alexander's had his role to play in the events leading up to his death. He drank far to much wine. When he was sick, he ordered the doctors to give him the medicine to cure him in higher dosisses than permited. Alexander riscued his life by trying to cheat death and heal quicker, a fatal flaw on his part. All of this was not shown in the movie itself. I may have mentioned it earlier. This is not a movie for everyone to enjoy. This is not your standard action, adventure movie where its full of battle scenes and all. No, in the 3 hours, only a few battle scenes are shown and what they show is truly amazing. Oliver stone overdid himself in these sequences.
But between the battle scenes and the drama, there is much dialoge about the world, politics, etc...
I can understand why so many people and critics were disappointed with this portrayal of Alexander's life. It is totally different from the rest that comes out of Hollywood. Thank the Gods that there are still filmmakers who dare to challenge the accepted standards by making movies lik Alexander and Oliver Stone's movie have certainly been movies who challenge the viewer to be more critical. I had run ins with the negative reviewers of Alexander. Several themes show up in their complaints about this movie: religion, sexuality and ideals of how a hero or Ancient Greece is like. From the moment it went into production, this movie has stirred up controversy about the bisexuality of Alexander among other things. All I can say is, watch the movie yourself and judge it for yourself.
valete optime

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Re: My two sesterces

Postby Cleopatra Aelia on Mon Sep 05, 2005 8:45 pm

Ave amice,

Marius Peregrine wrote:I'm thinking right now of two in particular: A pair of Timejumper issues in which we are treated to a sympathetic and nearly-accurate portrayal of the Romans besieged at Dura Europos; and the issue of Zero Hour in which we were introduced to the original Alpha Centurion.


Please review these comics in more detail and state also their exact titles, series etc. Would love to read stuff like that.
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