Friday, June 17, 2011

I have been reading ‘I Claudius’ by Robert Graves and what a totally absorbing page turner it is. It’s another book that’s been on the shelf since the year dot and I only got around to reading it now because Douglas left it lying on the breakfast room table and I casually picked it up, but am so glad I did. I remember what fans we were of the television series and I remember so much of it, reading the book now. All the performances were spot on and memorable images keep coming to mind. One doesn’t say that too often about television programmes. In fact would like to see the series again having now read the book. Will also have to get the sequel ‘Claudius The God.’
George Leybourne, aka Champagne Charlie about whom Chris has written a biography, ‘The heaviest of Swells,’ sang a song called ‘It’s the same thing Over again,’ or ‘There’s nothing new under the sun,’ and I am about once more to indulge in a breach of copyright by quoting an interesting piece from Mister Graves’ book. Here it is -
“The informers about this time began to accuse wealthy men of charging more than the legal interest on loans one and a half percent was all they were allowed to charge. A deputation went to him (Tiberius) and pleaded that everybody should be allowed a year and a half to adjust his private finances to conform with the letter of the law. Tiberius as a great favour granted the request. The result was that all debts were at once called in and this caused a great shortage of current coin. Tiberius’ great idle hoards of gold and silver in the Treasury had been responsible for forcing up the rate of interest in the first place, and now there was a financial panic and land values fell to nothing. Tiberius was eventually forced to relieve the situation by lending the bankers 1000000 gold pieces of public money, without interest, to pay out to borrowers in exchange for securities in land.”
What do you make of that? History repeats itself and we never learn. Of all the deadly sins, sheer unadulterated greed as shown for example by today’s bankers must surely be the most destructive.
I think I will have to go back now and read Colleen McCullough’s epic work on the Caesars which I enjoyed so much first time round.
From the Romans to the Greeks – The Olympic torch has been to Apokoronas but not to Vamos. When I read that I immediately sent off an e-mail asking why (not that I was particularly interested in seeing it but the signs were ominous) and was informed that the decision was not made by our new council but by the Olympic Committee to keep to towns on the Ethnic Highway which of course Vamos is not. So the torch stopped off at Vrysses, Georgopoli and Kalyves, each visit followed in usual Greek fashion with music, dancing, eating and drinking. I suppose if one was really that interested one of the towns might have been worth a visit but, as it is, we passed.

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