1 Dec 2010 11:45
Re: Paul Jennings (was: "Patriotic etymology", which was : snowy Venice )
Ralph Hancock <ralph.hancock <at> GMAIL.COM>
2010-12-01 10:45:28 GMT
2010-12-01 10:45:28 GMT
Pleased to find another Paul Jennings enthusiast in David Schaps. I do have a copy of _The Jenguin Pennings_, and a scanner, so here is the whole piece, for purposes of scholarly study, I hasten to add in case a copyright lawyer is breathing down my neck. RH ------------------------- QUO VADIS? IN the first half-hour after I have left a theatre I am always convinced that I am going to write a play. It is a curious sensation, because I never know what the play is to be about. I just have a general impression, and yet at the same time a very clear one, of dramatic confrontations, of sharp, agonized words cutting into the hearts of a tense audience, without ever knowing what the words actually are. This doesn't happen at the cinema. There is too much machinery in the way. However moving the film, one will also have seen a newsreel (when I go it always seems to contain a waiters' race in Paris) and a trailer, with little cameos of people being slapped, or surprised in embraces. One remembers all the time that the film is just one more activity of this teeming world. Yet this week, utterly illogically, I was inspired to write a film, too. I wasn't actually inspired by the film, but by the stills and posters on the muffled way out; for these were to advertise M.G.M.'s _Quo Vadis?_ They all looked curiously unreal. I thought of the queue in togas at the studio restaurant, of the obvious gap between modern America and ancient Rome. And it was then that I thought of my film, which will bridge this gap by having the dialogue in Latin. It is called _Balbi Murus -- The Wall of Balbus_. It is the story of a young engineer, Balbus, who has been commissioned by a Government agency, known by its initials S.P.Q.R., to build a wall, that the city may be defended against the Carthaginians. It is the story of his love for Julia (Balbus amat Juliam) who is the daughter of Marcellus, a prominent member of the S.P.Q.R. It also tells of the lone fight of these three against big-time graft in the heart of the world's mightiest empire. But read on. The film opens with Marcellus making a passionate speech to the wavering S.P.Q.R., who have already delayed their decision about the wall for three years. He warns of the danger from the Carthaginians, and ends with a great peroration. This is above politics, he says. 'Hoc est aliquid magnum, majus omnibus nobis. Per totam orbem, sunt milia milia populorum; parvi populi, solum similes nobis, cum hoc spe in cordibus suis.' ('This is something big, bigger than all of us. All over the world there are millions of people; little people just like you and me, with this hope in their hearts. . . .') The S.P.Q.R. applaud warmly. The contract is given to Balbus, and it is while they are crowding round to congratulate him that he first sees Julia. It is love at first sight. 'Nonne* aliquis tibi dixit te pulchram esse?' ('Did anyone ever tell you you're beautiful?') he asks. He dates her for the evening. 'Ego te feram ad parvum locum quem cognosco, solum nos duo.' ('I'll take you to a little place I know, just the two of us.')' Ubi fuistis omnem vitam meam?' asks Julia. ('Where have you been all my life?') But this idyll is shattered by the machinations of a grafter called Caesar Romerus, of whom he has already been warned by Julia, 'Iste homo est periculosus' ('That man is dangerous'). Romerus puts the word about that Marcellus, who is a stone merchant, is supplying Balbus with faked stones, made of plaster, for the wall. Balbus, angered by the rumours, goes down to inspect the wall, and finds to his horror that they are faked stones. That night, dining with Julia, he is moody. 'Num† est altera mulier?' ('Is there another woman?') she asks. He confesses his doubts about her father's honesty, and there is a quarrel in which he accuses her of making love to him to shield Marcellus. 'Nolo talem amorem.' ('I don't want that kind of love.') 'O mel, da mihi fracturam, et tibi demonstrabo quod non est vere.' ('Gee, honey, give me a break, and I'll prove it isn't true.') 'Mel, debes audire,' she implores. ('Honey, you've got to listen.') But Balbus is unmoved. He rises stiffly. 'Hoc est vale' ('This is good-bye'), he grates. Broken-hearted, Julia walks home alone. She hears voices coming from a cellar, and listens. It is Romerus and his associates, who are in league with the Carthaginians, plotting to substitute more fake stones. Startled, she cries, 'Sic illud est ludus tuus.' ('So that's your game.') Romerus hears the intruder, and she is caught. 'Tu mane ex hoc, soror' ('You stay out of this, sister'), he snarls as she is kidnapped. Next day, in a Rome worried by the news that the enemy is throwing forces across the river, a repentant Balbus is frantic at Julia's disappearance. ... It would spoil the suspense of this mighty drama to reveal how Balbus, on bail awaiting a corruption charge with Marcellus tracks down Romerus and rescues Julia. 'Cape illud' ('Take that'), he grits, as his fist rams home on the grafter's chin; and how the pair, dishevelled but reunited, arrive at a dramatic moment in the trial of Marcellus. But look out for the posters: Nunc, BALBI MURUS, maximum spectaculum omnis temporis. (Now, THE WALL OF BALBUS, the greatest spectacle of all time....) ---------------------------------- * Question expecting the answer 'Yes'. † Question expecting the answer 'No'. You are receiving this email from the scholarly discussion list CLASSICS-L because you have requested to subscribe to CLASSICS-L. You may leave the list at any time by sending a "SIGNOFF CLASSICS-L" command to LISTSERV <at> LSV.UKY.EDU.