The Eagle of the Ninth
Tomorrow I am off to the Cheltenham Literary Festival, to do the series of gigs as Guest Director there.
The first event, on Saturday afternoon, is a session of discussion with Kevin (Last King of Scotland) Macdonald and Maria Wyke on Roman movies. The prompt for this is KM's forthcoming film, The Eagle, which adapts Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth for the big screen. I read this book (or, I think, had it read to me) when I was a small child.. and remember the story of the lost ninth legion, and the quest of Marcus to find out what happened to his lost dad (is that right?) with huge warmth, though haven't been back to it since.
So I have bought a new copy to read on the way there. The text is still a bit of a closed, or slightly ill-remembered, book. But I have skimmed through and the pictures are just the same as I recall, including the dreamy wood-cut of Marcus as the frontispiece.
The idea will be to link the forthcoming film to the whole tradition of Romans on film that Maria knows about... back to Spartacus and beyond.
Anyway, after that there are other events in my strand that I have plugged before: the Ancient Booker prize debate (with some no more curious offerings on the shortlist than in a modern Booker), and the How to Read a Latin Poem slot...
This is the high risk, exciting new-style literary festival offering. Llewelyn Morgan and myself, actively chaired by Peter Stothard, will be doing a 'master class' on Catullus 85 and Horace Odes 1, 7 (the Plancus Ode).
I dont think that there has been another lit festival in the UK that has ever featured Latin in Latin....and, as if to celebrate, we shall be having the Latin original of those poems up on digital traffic signs in Cheltenham, not to confuse motorists but to amuse and entice festival goers.
And that's my whole weekend. Back to Cambridge on Sunday night.