There is a new exhibit opening at the Louvre. In the Denon wing for those that know it, right hand side of the glass pyramid if you are looking from the Tuileries.
Some know that I’m an honours graduate in Classical Civilization and History and so understand this news is like catnip to me. ‘So what’ I hear, where’s the ‘big deal’. Well, the deal, is a complete redistribution of all the artifacts of that period that were in single ‘country’ collections, Egypt 50BCE say. How on earth can they do this. It is quite simple really. They shifted the mindset back to the realities of that era between 200 BC and 500 AD and not on the late medieval. Where the meaning of Roman meant Greek in the first and Egyptian in the second, in their mind, the Roman mind. In that Catullus, Virgil, Homer and Seneca were writing Greek Art in Latin. Much like Shakespeare lifted wholesale from Seneca, the Romans lifted from the Greeks. In painting, we can now see that representational figures were the norm – click the link to the museum above. This taken from the Nile, as seen on the painted sarcophagus of that period. Which took another 1000 years to return to the west after the various iconoclasm’s between 500 and 1200. The mosaics at Ravenna shows the contrasts.
How does this connect with me. Well it makes things far easier to say this or that is Celtic. Or that the derivation of such and such comes from that source. For as it now stands making an argument about the Celts of Ireland or France, one has to break assumptions formed over the last 900 years. But mostly over the last 300 which places the Roman in an ascendant for it fitted very well to the notions of European expansion. Not for nothing is Kaiser and Tzar the very same word as Caesar. Or your basic ‘the winners write the histories’ sort of thing.
It was so bad that until a few years ago the substantial metal working in France pre-Roman couldn’t have occurred since the tribes weren’t sufficiently developed, it had to be imported. That was the thinking anyway. It took the finding of a hoard of bronze cauldrons of such size and decoration, well below any Roman levels in the archaeological stratigraphic that it was rammed down scholars throats such a position was pure hooey. But even still you’ll find in current writings echos of a blatant racism derived from these early assumptions.
I’m really looking forward to calling over for a visit to see what they’ve done. It should be good for the French are excellent at this kind of thing. Well, far better than the English and those in Dublin for they are able to hold the essence without being to distracted. Or to put it in other words. They tend to pick a person and give power to get on with things. Not as here and in London with bloody committees within committees of sub-committees. Where all are getting their per Diem’s such that as much as 80% of a project can be ganneted that way. Heck the only thing I’ve ever seen that matches the vision of the French was the opening of the 30th Olympics a few weeks ago.