Category: classics

Beautiful poetry

I awoke this morning to a beautiful gift from Kitty.

Kit’s the poet I always wished I could be. Seriously, her poetry is so beautiful and vivid, it takes my breath away.

And she wrote this for me.

Another Ariadne

I have seriously talented friends.

Theseus: completed

Last Friday, after many glitches and a great deal of emotional stress, I printed out my dissertation and handed it in.

I am happy with it. I am confident that I did everything I could to make it perfect, and there is nothing I would change. That’s all one can ask for, right?

Now it only remains to be seen what other people (namely my supervisor and two other markers) think about it and if I get a decent grade.

It was my life for an entire month. When it was done I was both immensely relieved and strangely empty. I had no idea what to do with my time anymore.

Luckily, packing came along to keep me busy. That and Firefly.

I’m proud of myself. For finishing this and for getting this far. This is the physical manifestation of all of the work I have done in the last 5 years, and everything I have learned.

And, believe it or not, I think I finally found my niche. Yes, I could talk about pots, myths and political myth making forever.

Theseus: a democratic hero

Title page

It's so beautiful!

180 pages

Where beauty is existence

I’m not an art historian. Or, at least I thought I wasn’t. I seem to have turned into one recently, since my current essay and dissertation topics both rely heavily on Greek art.

I’ve never been the one to suggest a visit to an art gallery. But I have a lot of friends who love art, and I find their passion contagious. I enjoy visiting with them, but I when I go alone I just get bored. Which is why I was surprised to realize that some of my favourite experiences on my trip last month were art galleries.

That might be because I visited some of the best galleries in the world.

I finally got to go back to the Louvre, and see the sculpture that I fell in love with six years ago.

Eros and Psyche, photo by me

When I first saw Eros and Psyche by Antonio Canova, I was amazed. I didn’t know that a piece of marble could be so beautiful. I never dreamed that a sculpture could be so real, could evoke so much emotion.

Close up of Eros and Psyche, photo by me

Undoubtedly, half of what I fell in love with was the portrayal of the myth. The Eros and Psyche story is one of my favourite Greek myths. It’s a tragic love story with a beautiful ending, and I think the sculpture captures that perfectly. One of those “love conquers all” stories.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I kind of love renaissance art. Especially sculptures. It isn’t that surprising, considering the renaissance was about reviving classical themes. Classical themes which I love. And classical art, which according to my choice in topics this semester (the emergence of Hellenistic portraiture and portraits of Alexander the Great), I apparently love too. Like this:

The Nike of Samothrace, photo by me

And this:

Laocoon and his sons, photo by me

Though I don’t love Rome, there’s no arguing that it has some of the best museums in the world. I could spend days in the Capitoline Museum. Or the Vatican Museum. It was amazing to finally see things I had been studying in class for years, like the statue above of Laocoon and his sons. I saw all of those in January. It was amazing.

This time, we went to a different kind of museum.

The Borghese Gallery is a privately owned collection. They get to make up their own rules. Rules that I’m not a huge fan of. You have a scheduled time you’re allowed to go in. You have to leave ALL bags, including purses, at the coat check. And you can’t take photos of the art.

It’s a good thing they have such an amazing collection.

Bernini was the second sculptor I fell in love with. The Borghese has some absolutely amazing pieces by him. Since I couldn’t take pictures, these aren’t my own.

Bernini's David

The Borghese is set up in a different way, too. It occupies a 17th century villa, and the building itself is a work of art. The rooms are all different. But each one has a centrepiece, or two. The masterpieces are here, and the lesser (but still amazing) works are on or against the walls.

Bernini's Apollo and Daphne

And my absolute favourite was this one:

Bernini's Rape of ProserpinaA close up:

Close up of Bernini's Rape of Proserpina

Breathtaking.

$20,000 and all I got was a BJ

gradhat

I think we can all agree that I look damn fine in that grad cap. Not something easily accomplished. However, you’ll notice my “you’re an idiot, take the picture” smirk as well. You should have seen the first few shots.

So as of today have a Bachelor of Journalism in Journalism and Greek and Roman Studies. That’s right, I can now be “Heather Montgomery, BJ.”

I’m the only one who’s actually excited to go to graduation. This is probably entirely because up until about two weeks ago I didn’t know if it was going to happen. The last three months have been hell - Okay, honestly the last four years have been hell - but here I am. And I’m damn proud of myself so I’m going to take this chance to indulge a little and look back at what I’ve accomplished in the last four years, academically at least.

I went into Journalism for a number of reasons. I have always wanted to be a writer, it’s “my thing” - it’s what I have always done and always will do. It’s a part of me, I couldn’t stop writing anymore than I could stop breathing.

But I’m not the bravest person in the world. I tend to over think things and I’m far too logical to just decide to be a writer and live for that. I need to have something else, something more stable to fall back on. And so I applied to a number of schools and a number of different English and History programs. Journalism was my last choice on my application.

Then I got an early acceptance and a nice entrance scholarship to Carleton University’s School of Journalism. The minute I mentioned this program to anyone they were impressed. Carleton has arguably the best journalism program in the country and your high school grades have to be pretty high to get in. They also cut the class in half after first year, meaning that the 100 people with the lowest marks don’t get into the second year of the program.

So, I decided to go to Carleton for Journalism. I had dreams of being a great journalist, of changing the world like Seymour Hersch or Edward Murrow.

These dreams were very quickly crushed by the “sink or swim” style of J-School. I have to say that I have hated most of what I did for journalism, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it.

I can’t do anything half-assed, I don’t know how. And so I decided to make the most out of my journalism degree if I was going to stick it out. I worked for a media monitoring company for a year (getting up at 4am is painful), I was on staff at the weekly university newspaper for two years as a photographer and the Photo Editor. I freelanced for multiple magazines and newspapers (and got paid too!) and I got a cushy little freelance gig for University Communications. I produced a TV news show, shot, edited and wrote several TV pieces, anchored a radio show, produced a documentary and wrote countless news stories, features and sidebars. I am a decent journalist - how can I not be after four years in one of the hardest programs? It’s just that I don’t really like it.

But I’ve learned so much from it. If I look back to the person I was four years ago, I barely recognize her. That girl could never cold call the government or stand in front of a TV camera. I was shy. Painfully so. Never a public speaker, I tended to be happy to fade into the background.

Journalism forced me to step outside of that comfort zone. Perhaps that’s why I hated it so much. But it made me into a much stronger, more confident person.

It got me my museum job. A  journalism degree is proof that I can communicate - I can talk to people and convey information in a way that people actually understand. I can research - our teachers always joked that a journalist’s job was to become an expert on any subject in a matter of minutes, or at least to pretend they were.

It taught me so much about writing. Before university, I could ramble wordily with the best of them - a degree in English would have just kept me in that academic comfort zone. But journalism taught me the value of each word.  That words should be chosen carefully for the exact effect, not cheapened by overuse.  It taught me that the point of writing, of communicating, is for other people to understand. It taught me to write at a Grade 3 level, and I resented it every step of the way. But now I look at my writing and I know that I’m better for it.

The trade off for my suffering through journalism was that I declared my double major in Greek and Roman Studies. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would love my history classes. This way I got to revel in the half of my course load I loved while bearing with my journalism classes.

I’m glad I didn’t just do a degree in Classics. Now I have something that I think is more valuable and certainly more unique. I have a history degree and the ability to communicate, which is so often lacking in academia. I have a knowledge of the world and how it works - our world, not just 2000 years ago.

That being said, I’m thrilled to be done journalism and to move into what I now know I truly love - history.

And I’m graduating with High Honours, too.

all my life i’ve been searching for something…

Picking out classes for next year. So far:

JOUR4000 - the stupid generic J class we have to take.
JOUR4207 - Professional Practices: Television Reporting
JOUR4201 (or something) - Specialized reporting.. either Arts or Science. Maybe Social Issues? Really, whichever one someone will take with me. I know I will hate whichever one I choose.
JOUR4208 - Video Documentary
CLCV2300 -Introduction to Archaeology
CLCV3201 - Studies in Greek History (the Spartans!!)
CLCV4something - some type of fourth year classics class that I have no idea what the topics are yet. Or when they are. Or anything.

This is a good distraction from the sadness in me right now. Dreaming of the future always is. Plus side is, got the official letter offering me $2500 again for next year. So at least that’ll pay for my summer courses. Money stresses me out. But I should get paid (finally) on Thursday.