Friday, 13 April 2007

A Vaniloquentia Celebrum, Libera Nos, Domine

Given the calibre of modern celebrities, it is best not to mention their names without sober purpose, lest one wantonly add — even in the slightest degree — to the extension and endurance of their fame. In the ancient world, Cato the Elder took such a policy to an absurd length, as Robin Lane Fox tells us:
When the traditionalist Cato wrote his history of the origins of Italy, he was so opposed to celebrities that he left out all the major players’ personal names. [1]
That he disapproved even of the celebrity of men whose deeds were great, bears witness to his severity. One can only wonder what he would have said about the kind of celebrity that can be won nowadays simply through a proclivity to chatter like an excitable baboon. I suspect he would have said nothing at all, and just quietly eaten his toga.
.....
[1] Robin Lane Fox, The Classical World (London: Allen Lane, 2005), p.289.

6 comments:

dearieme said...

I happen to be reading RLF's book at the mo. No reference yet to Batson D Sealing.

Deogolwulf said...

Dearieme, you'll have to fill me in on the details of this Batson D Sealing. (Is that his real name?) I've tried googling, but there isn't much information on him. You've mentioned him before, I seem to remember.

D. C. Warmington said...

Would that be Pipistrelle Batson D Sealing, by any chance?

dearieme said...

My memory is a wee bit hazy, but approximately: about 15 years ago, RLF was given a whole page or more of the Saturday FT to bang on about the recent discovery of writings about Jesus by an eye-witness. His source was the American scholar Batson D. Sealing. As I read it out to my wife, I chortled. Then guffawed. Then drummed my heels on the floor. I started to choke and my wife whacked me on the back, until, distracted by the desire to finish the article, she left me to God's care. Poor old RLF. Presumably the FT was flooded with irate or amused calls, and the next week they admitted that he, and they, had been hoaxed. Not quite Hitler's Diaries standard, but still. Mind you, however foolish he is, he's brave. Did you see the telly prog about how he rode in the "cavalry charge" in the Hollywood filming of Alexander the Great?

Deogolwulf said...

I had heard that some historian had involved himself in the action of the film, but I didn't know that it was him.

james higham said...

Ah yes - eaten his toga. Maybe would have thrown up in it? I've just written about two 'celebrities' in a jaundiced manner.