Friday, October 06, 2006


Classical Pretension

Gilbert and Sullivan, The Grand Duke:
At this juncture I may mention
That this erudition sham
Is but classical pretension,
The result of steady "cram":
Periphrastic methods spurning,
To this audience discerning
I admit this show of learning
Is the fruit of steady "cram"!
From the same opera:
LUD. I endeavoured to persuade Ernest Dummkopf, our manager, to lend us the classical dresses for our marriage. Think of the effect of a real Athenian wedding procession cavorting through the streets of Speisesaal! Torches burning -- cymbals banging -- flutes tootling -- citharae twanging -- and a throng of fifty lovely Spartan virgins capering before us, all down the High Street, singing "Eloia! Eloia! Opoponax, Eloia!" It would have been tremendous!

NOT. And he declined?

LUD. He did, on the prosaic ground that it might rain, and the ancient Greeks didn't carry umbrellas!
Herr Dummkopf should have crammed harder. Ancient Greek women did carry umbrellas (or their attendants carried umbrellas for them). However, they did so to protect themselves from the sun, not the rain.

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