Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Sarah Evans Chronicles Pt 325 'Victory of Faith'

Re: Re:
Mr Sheldrick
To: Sarah Evans


I don't know the answer as to which is correct Sarah and I don't think that you will ever find out. In our particular case, where the questions in the exam on Leni are so generic it is much better to concentrate on the big picture rather than technicalities like these. Just say there is controversy over just who commissioned it and also about just how happy she was to do it and mention the two versions of events. To be quite honest it is worth more marks. It shows that you are thinking as an historian.

A copy of this film has only been recently found. It was thought to have been lost forever. Why did it vanish??? Why such scketchy details about its making???? Because... it was a big embarrassment for Hitler by 1934 and for Riefenstahl many years later when she didn't want to know the Nazis any more.

The BIG BIG problem was that film made Ernst Rohm look good!!!

Victory of Faith was a record of the 1933 Nazi Party rally at Nuremberg. Released in early 1934, the film was enthusiastically promoted by the Nazi Party as a masterful piece of art in presenting itself to the German people. Later that same year, however, Hitler had his "Night of the Long Knives" and had Rohm, who had leading role at the 1933 rally - second only to Hitler - killed. Overnight, Rohm became persona non grata, and all references to him were obliterated from the public record (Hatshepsut style! lol). As a result, the thousands of prints of Victory of Faith in circulation across Germany were tracked down and destroyed. But just as the Nazi regime was eradicating memories of its 1933 celebration, party leaders were preparing for the next Nuremberg rally, on the calendar for September 1934. Again, Riefenstahl was commissioned to film the proceedings; the result was Triumph of the Will and that got all the publicity.

Now that is the big picture that you should talk about in an essay!


Mr S

From: Sarah Evans
To: Mr Sheldrick
Sent: Sun, 30 May, 2010 9:01:51 PM
Subject: Re: Re:

sir! i'm still really confused.
ok, so 'sieg des glaubens' is 'victory of faith'. i'm confused about when she was asked to make it and what her reaction was (her commission for the film is one of the syllabus points). one textbook says hitler asked her in feb 1933 and she declined, but later reconsidered. and the other one has something about goebbels asking her in may 1933. i'm not sure which textbook to go with?

From: Mr Sheldrick
To: Sarah Evans
Sent: Sunday, May 30, 2010 8:32 PM
Subject: Re:

hey Sarah!

She did make a Nazi film in 1933 - SIEG DES GLAUBENS
First performance: 01 December 1933 - a documentary film about the NSDAP's 5th Reich Party Congress, which was held in Nuremberg from August 30th until September 3rd 1933.

SOS Iceberg also came out in August of 1933 - but that was am adventure film that she had worked on in 1932.

These are the only two Leni films I can find records of in 1933.


Mr S

From: Sarah Evans
To: Mr Sheldrick
Sent: Sun, 30 May, 2010 6:50:31 PM

hey sir :)
another question: the textbook (Mason) says that hitler asked leni to make a nazi film in feb 1933, that she declined, and then later in that year said yes. according to the webb and broadbridge handouts, leni left germany a few days after hitler became chancellor, she met goebbels in may 1933 and he suggested a nazi film to hitler (which according to his diaries she was eager to do) and then in august 1933 hitler asked her how preparations were going and she claims she said she couldn't do it and didn't know about it. what's right? some combination of the two?? i'm confused :(

Friday, May 28, 2010

Enough of this Bovine discrimination!!!

Cows have rights too Da-Hee! They just can't be popped off every time a crazed Japanese guy, who doesn't 'even' know the war is over, decides to shoot one Carmel.

Cows are people too!!

And one day they will rise up and claim their rights! God help any Japanese soldier from WW2 who is still out there when they do.

Watch this and join with me in the Bovine Liberation Movement (BLM)!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Never give up! Never give in!

On December 17, 1944, the Japanese army sent a twenty-three year old soldier named Hiroo Onoda to the Philippines to join the Sugi Brigade. He was stationed on the small island of Lubang, approximately seventy-five miles southwest of Manila in the Philippines, and his orders were to lead the Lubang Garrison in guerrilla warfare.

As Onoda was departing to begin his mission, his division commander told him, “You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that’s the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you to give up your life voluntarily.” It turns out that Onoda was exceptionally good at following orders, and it would be 29 years before he finally laid down his arms and surrendered.

In February of 1945, just a couple months after Onoda arrived on Lubang, the Allied forces attacked the island, and quickly overtook its defenses. As the Allies moved inland, Onoda and the other guerrilla soldiers split into groups and retreated into the dense jungle. Onoda’s group consisted of himself and three other men: Corporal Shoichi Shimada, Private Kinshichi Kozuka, and Private Yuichi Akatsu. They survived by rationing their rice supply, eating coconuts and green bananas from the jungle, and occasionally killing one of the locals’ cows for meat.

It was upon killing one of these cows that one of the soldiers found a note some months later. It was a leaflet left behind by a local resident, and it said, “The war ended on August 15. Come down from the mountains!” The Japanese guerrilla soldiers scrutinized the note, and decided that was an Allied propaganda trick to coax them out of hiding. It was not the only message they encountered; over the years, fliers were dropped from planes, newspapers were left, and letters from relatives with photos. Each attempt was viewed by the soldiers as a clever hoax constructed by the Allies.

The Lubang Islands, PhilippinesOnoda and his men lived in the jungle for years, occasionally engaging in skirmishes and carrying out acts of sabotage as part of their guerrilla activities. They were tormented by jungle heat, incessant rain, rats, insects, and the occasional armed search party. Any villagers they sighted were seen as spies, and attacked by the four men, and over the years a number of people were wounded or killed by the rogue soldiers.

In September of 1949, over four years after the four men went into hiding, one of Onoda’s fellow soldiers decided that he had had enough. Without a word to the others, Private Akatsu snuck away one day, and the Sugi Brigade was reduced to three men. Sometime in 1950 they found a note from Akatsu, which informed the others that he had been greeted by friendly troops when he left the jungle. To the remaining men, it was clear that Akatsu was being coerced into working for the enemy, and was not to be trusted. They continued their guerrilla attacks, but more cautiously.

Three years later, in 1953, Corporal Shimada was shot in the leg during a shootout with some fishermen. Onoda and Kozuka helped him back into the jungle, and without any medical supplies, they nursed him back to health over several months. Despite his recovery, Shimada became gloomy. About a year later, the men encountered a search party on a beach at Gontin, and Shimada was fatally wounded in the ensuing skirmish. He was 40 years old.

For nineteen years, Onoda and Kozuka continued their guerrilla activities together, living in the dense jungle in make-shift shelters. Every now and then they would kill another cow for meat, which alarmed the villagers and prompted the army to embark on yet another unsuccessful search for the men. The two remaining soldiers operated under the conviction that the Japanese army would eventually retake the island from the Allies, and that their guerrilla tactics would prove invaluable in that effort.

Nineteen years after Shimada was killed, on October of 1972, Onoda and Kozuka had snuck out of the jungle to burn some rice which had been collected by farmers, in an attempt to sabotage the “enemy’s” food supply. A Filipino police patrol spotted the men, and fired two shots. 51-year-old Kozuka was killed, ending his 27 years of hiding. Onoda escaped back into the jungle, now alone in his misguided mission.

News of Kozuka’s death traveled quickly to Japan. It was concluded that since Kozuka had survived all those years, then it was likely that Lt. Onoda was still alive, though he had been declared legally dead about thirteen years earlier. More search parties were sent in to find him, however he successfully evaded them each time. But in February of 1974, after Onoda had been alone in the jungle for a year and a half, a Japanese college student named Norio Suzuki managed to track him down.

When Suzuki had left Japan, he told his friends that he was “going to look for Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the abominable snowman, in that order.” Onoda and Suzuki became fast friends. Suzuki tried to convince him that the war had ended long ago, but Onoda explained that he would not surrender unless his commander ordered him to do so. Suzuki took photos of the two of them together, and convinced Onoda to meet him again about two weeks later, in a prearranged location.

When Onoda went to the meeting place, there was a note waiting from Suzuki. Suzuki had returned to the island with Onoda’s one-time superior officer, Major Taniguchi. When Onoda returned to meet with Suzuki and his old commander, he arrived in what was left of his dress uniform, wearing his sword and carrying his still-working Arisaka rifle, 500 rounds of ammunition, and several hand grenades. Major Taniguchi, who had long since retired from the military and become a bookseller, read aloud the orders: Japan had lost the war, and all combat activity was to cease immediately. After a moment of quiet anger, Onoda pulled back the bolt on his rifle and unloaded the bullets, and then took off his pack and laid the rifle across it. When the reality of it sunk in, he wept openly.

By the time he formally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1974, Onoda had spent twenty nine of his fifty two years hiding the jungle, fighting a war that had long been over for the rest of the world. He and his guerrilla soldiers had killed some thirty people unnecessarily, and wounded about a hundred others. But they had done so under the belief that they were at war, and consequently President Marcos granted him a full pardon for the crimes he had committed while in hiding.

He returned to a hero’s welcome in Japan, but found himself unable to adjust to modern life there. He received back pay from the Japanese government for his twenty-nine years on Lubang, but it amounted to very little. He recorded his story as a memoir, entitled “No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War,” then moved to Brazil for a calm life of raising cattle on a ranch.

In May of 1996, Hiroo Onoda returned to Lubang, and donated $10,000 to the school there. He then married a Japanese woman, and the two of them moved back to Japan to run a nature camp for kids, were Onoda could share what he learned about survival through resourcefulness and ingenuity. Reportedly, Onoda is still alive in Japan today.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

These are from Lillian! "Cruel" Lillian!

No matter how bad your day has been it has got to have been better than the one that this poor dog has had!!!!

How do you spell utter humiliation???? lol

Velvalee Dickinson

When she first came to the attention of the FBI in 1942, the woman who would become one of the most hapless spies of World War II had the look of a schoolmarm and a feckless story to match. The daughter of wealthy parents, Dickinson had gone to Stanford University, but had never made much of a success at anything since. The university accused her of taking some books from the library and refused to award her diploma when she finished her studies in 1918. A brokerage firm in San Francisco she and her husband operated went bust. She tried being a social worker for a few years, then in 1937 moved to New York, where she took a job selling dolls at Bloomingdale's—dolls had been a girlhood hobby.

Even the exclusive doll shop she was able to open on her own the next year was a mixed story; though located on fashionable Madison Avenue and catering to a wealthy clientele of collectors seeking rare and antique dolls, the business was apparently struggling, and Dickinson was constantly borrowing money to keep it afloat.

The only flamboyant streak in her life was her conspicuous habit of attending social functions at the Japanese consulates in San Francisco and New York, clad in traditional Japanese attire. She had apparently found an entrée into Japanese American social circles through the many Japanese farmers in California who were customers of the brokerage business, and soon she was entertaining consulate officials in her home as well.

Two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the FBI began intercepting a strange series of letters, mailed from different addresses in the United States, to a Señora Inez Lopez de Malinali in Buenos Aires, Argentina. All had been returned, undelivered, to their senders. All described, in almost comically suspicious language, antique dolls the writer had recently found. "I just secured a lovely Siamese Temple Dancer, it had been damaged, that is tore in the middle, but is now repaired," read one. Another told of receiving "an old German bisque Doll dressed in a Hulu Grass skirt."

It didn't take FBI analysts very long to match up the "dolls" with recent U.S. naval ship movements into and out of repair yards on the West Coast. The dolls' nationalities referred to the type of ship (Siamese were aircraft carriers); the doll with the hula skirt matched a ship recently arrived in Seattle from Hawaii.

All of the supposed senders emphatically denied writing the letters. But the references to dolls got one of them thinking about Velvalee Dickinson, from whom she had ordered several dolls. The FBI discovered that the four other women whose names appeared on the letters were clients of Dickinson's New York shop as well. Investigators also found that Dickinson's money troubles had seemed to stop suddenly in late 1941.

When the FBI arrested Dickinson in January 1944, they found $13,000 in hundred-dollar bills stashed in her safe-deposit box, the currency traceable to funds obtained by Japanese officials before the war. At first Dickinson insisted that her husband, who had recently died, was the brains of the operation. But, facing a possible charge of espionage, she agreed to plead guilty to the lesser offense of violating mail censorship in exchange for revealing all she knew. She had been paid $25,000—a huge sum at the time—by the Japanese naval attaché, Ichiro Yokoyama, who supplied her with the simplistic jargon code and the address of the Buenos Aires letter drop.

Under the pretext of searching for dolls to acquire for her shop, she and her husband had traveled back and forth between the East and West Coasts in early 1942, gleaning information about activity at naval yards mostly through casual conversations with unwitting locals. Unfortunately for Dickinson, no one let her know that her contact in Argentina had been exposed and had fled shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack—which was why all of her reports bounced back to America, and into the hands of the FBI.

Dickinson served seven years of a ten-year sentence before being released in 1951. Three years later she vanished from public sight.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

These cheered me up after Pearl Harbor! lol

Am I a big 'wus' ?

Well.... yes! But...

1. I turned off Pearl Harbor because it made me physically sick. I expected it to be the same as every other version that I have seen of this movie. I don't like the sight of blood ( I have nearly fainted "each & every" time that I attended the births of my own children - sad but true & even further back when I had to cut up a rat in Year 11 Bio. - I would never make a nurse or doctor) and this Japanese version was over the top. I have seen the American / Australian version so many times but it is nothing like this one. Pearl Harbor is usually rated "M" - which I can show to senior students, but this one should have been rated "MA" - which I can't. So I pulled the plug!

2. So... this raises some issues. Why would the Japanese version be so violent and yuck?? Well, maybe they want you to walk away from this and think war is horrible, where as you walk away from our version thinking "God bless America". Why do I like the "nationalistic" version and hate the "anti-war" one from Japan?

3. Am I a hypocrite???? Shouldn't I (as a historian) love the version that is the closest to the historical truth??? I am sure that the Japanese version is closer to historical truth... war must be as horrible as this... but I think it is revolting and I don't want to watch it. Maybe I only like "nice" history, maybe that's why my speciality is statues of Queen Victoria???

4. I went to a conference last year where a guy had a go at a lady from the Imperial War Museum in London about the lousy way the museum re-created life in the trenches of WW1. She hit back by asking him if he "really" wanted people who visited walking out with trench foot and shell-shock??? Maybe this Pearl Harbor was a bit like that for me, just a bit too real for me to cope with.

SO over to you... what do you think????? I am really interested in what you think. Yep, I accept I am a wus! But what do you think? Did this version upset you as much as it did me??? If it didn't why didn't it???

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

But does Bear love the dog??? "Yuuuummmy" says Bear! lol

It's Unbearable!

John Hanson

I agree with Bek! While George Washington was the first president elected under the Constitution, I don't think he was the first president of the United States.

In 1781, the last of the thirteen original colonies ratified the Articles of Confederation. Not long after, the Congress unamimously elected John Hanson of Maryland as President with the title "President of the United States in Congress Assembled". Even George Washington himself referred to Hanson as "the president" at the time. Six more presidents were elected by Congress before the current Constitution was ratified so Washington was possibly the 8th president.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This is Sparta!!!!!!!!!!

The Spartans

A nation of fighters - A Transcript of today's episode of The Spartans

When we think of ancient Greece, we almost invariably think of Athens. This is where the blueprint for Western civilisation received its first draft. Philosophy and science, art and architecture, democracy itself – all these have their roots there. But there's more to the story of ancient Greece than Athens.

Unlike Athens, Sparta can't boast of its philosophers and politicians and artists. It became famous for two things: its frugality – which is where we get our word 'spartan' from – and its fighters. In everyday Sparta, these two were intimately linked.

The whole of Spartan society conformed to a strict code of extreme discipline and self-sacrifice. Their aim was to create the perfect state protected by the perfect. Although Spartan hard-line ideals don't have the charisma of Athenian culture, they have meant as much to Western civilisation as the ideals represented by the Parthenon. Down the centuries, the Spartans have inspired a diverse range of people. Anyone with a plan for a utopia has cherry-picked their ideas – Plato, Sir Thomas More, the French revolutionaries, American pioneers, Adolf Hitler, even the founders of the English public school system. They all turned directly to the Spartans for ideas and inspiration.

So the story of the Spartans is also, in a way, the story of ourselves. It's the story of how many of the values that we hold dear were first found in a warrior state on the mainland of Greece 2,500 years ago.

The Spartans' history is highly dramatic – and it has a setting to match: the Peloponnese, a huge peninsula crowned by rugged mountains and scored by deep gorges, which forms the southern-most part of the Greek mainland.

The ancient Greeks thought of it as an island – and seen from the northern side of the Gulf of Corinth, it does have a brooding, closed-in feel, cold-shouldering the outside world.

Long before the Spartans of our story arrived on the scene, this part of the world was making history. Many of the Greeks who fought in the Trojan War more than 3,000 years ago came from here. King Agamemnon, the leader of the Greeks, came from Mycenae, in the eastern Peloponnese. And to the south, in the city-state of Sparta in the region known as Lakonia, was the palace of Menelaus and his wife Helen – for Helen of Troy, whose beauty caused the Trojan War, had once been Helen of Sparta.

The heroes of the Trojan War, their lavish palaces and possessions, the beauty of Helen – all offered a standard against which the later Spartans would measure their own actions and aspirations.

At some point in about 1200 BC, all this disappeared.

No one knows for sure what happened – earthquakes, tidal waves, slave revolts have all been blamed. But all over the eastern Mediterranean, the world of Helen of Troy disappeared in a cataclysm of fire and destruction. A remnant clung on for a few hundred years, but finally the Dark Ages came to Greece and the thread of history snapped.

At some point in those centuries of darkness, new people came out of the north, seeking more hospitable lands. They were called the Dorians, and they brought with them a new Greek dialect, their sheep and goats and a few simple possessions. They settled all over the Peloponnese, and some found their way to Lakonia and the lands that had once belonged to King Menelaus.
It had been a journey worth making. The people who came to Lakonia must have thought they had found a Shangri-la. The plain of the Eurotas river was, north to south, 50 miles of precious, flat, fertile farmland. And the river ran through it all year round. In land-hungry Greece, where 70% of the land couldn't be farmed and what was left was squeezed between the mountains and the sea, that was a lot of elbow room.

To the west were the spectacular Taygetos mountains, rising to more than 8,000 feet (2,440 metres) in places. Patches of snow still lingered while down on the plain spring was turning into summer. The slopes once teemed with game – deer, hare and wild boar, rich pickings for the new arrivals.

But statistics don't convey the most striking quality of this place: the sense of security. Everywhere you look, you're bounded by hills. The feeling is one of enclosure – not claustrophobia, but safety. You feel that everything you could possibly want is here – if you can just lay claim to it and keep the rest of the world at bay.

And so the herdsmen traded in their sheep for olive trees, and settled down. A new Sparta came into being, and the new Spartans built a temple, the Menelaion, to honour the legendary king and his wayward wife.

In the period of renewal following the Dark Ages, new city-states like Sparta appeared all over Greece. They varied in size and power, but had one thing in common: they were all communities governed according to a set of mutually agreed laws and customs. The rules by which people agreed to live varied, but their aim was broadly the same: to create good order and justice and to protect against chaos and lawlessness.

In Sparta today, archaeologists are still piecing together the story of the people who first came here some 3,000 years ago and created an ideal city – a utopia. It's not an easy task because they left relatively few clues behind.

Unlike the Athenians, the Spartans were famous for not building, not making things and, in particular, not writing about themselves. Nearly every account we have of the Spartan way of life was written by an outsider.

Some of these writers resented Sparta's power, some were in awe of its traditions and achievements, and some were given to exaggeration – and there was much about Sparta that lent itself to exaggeration. So of all the cities and civilisations in the ancient world, the Spartans remain the most intriguing and the most mysterious.

Take, for example, Sparta's kings. Since time immemorial, Sparta had been ruled by not one but two kings – two royal houses, two royal lines, twice the potential for the rows and wrangles to which all monarchies are prone. The Spartans explained this unique arrangement by claiming that their kings were direct descendants of the great-great grandsons of Heracles (Hercules), the strongman of Greek myth. According to the legend, it was this pair of twins who wrested control of the Peloponnese from the descendants of King Agamemnon.

The stories that people tell about themselves are always revealing. This tale of a land-grab by a pair of aggressive usurpers, themselves descended from the most macho man in mythology, sent out a worrying message to Sparta's neighbours.

And it wasn't long before the Spartans started throwing their weight around, seizing control of the whole of the Eurotas valley, enslaving non-Spartan inhabitants or categorising them as perioikoi – 'those who live around' or 'neighbours'. In the rigid apartheid-like system that came into being there, the perioikoi would become a disenfranchised caste of craftsmen and traders, the economic muscle of the Spartan utopia.

But sorting out their immediate neighbours was just the first phase of Sparta's aggressive expansionism. Despite the generous acres of the Eurotas valley, Sparta, like the rest of Greece, always suffered from land hunger. Other city-states dealt with the problem by establishing colonies throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. This Greek diaspora would eventually spread as far west as the Strait of Gibraltar, and as far east as the Crimea in the Black Sea.

Sparta came up with its own take on colonisation: it looked west and began to wonder what opportunities lay on the other side of the Taygetos mountains. It was there that they would go to satisfy their hunger for land. It was there that their Shangri-la would reveal its dark underside. For it was there that a slave-nation would be created to serve the Spartan master-race.
The journey through the gorges of the Taygetos mountains is as spectacular now as it must have been some 2,800 years ago when the armies of Sparta headed west in search of conquest.

Several days' hard march would have brought them to the territory of the Messenians on the other side of the mountains. The Spartans weren't coming just to take their land – they wanted to take away their freedom, too. They intended to turn all the Messenians into helots. This word translates as 'captives', but it came to mean, more bluntly, 'slaves'.

Slavery in ancient Greece was an accepted fact of life. But slaves were supposed to be foreigners – barbarians who spoke no Greek and so were obviously suited by nature to be slaves. The enslavement of fellow Greeks and on a massive scale was something else. The crushing of Messenia set Sparta apart from the rest of Greece.

It also shaped the kind of place Sparta became – wary of unrest, paranoid about revolt.

Enslaving the Messenians was no easy task. It took two full-scale wars, each lasting 20 years or more. We know something about the second one because we have an eye-witness to the events – one of the first identifiable eye-witnesses known to history. He was called Tyrtaeus:

It is a fine thing for a brave man to die when he has fallen among the front ranks while fighting for his homeland.
Let us fight with spirit for this land and let us die for our children, no longer sparing our lives.
Make the spirit in your heart strong and valiant, and do not be in love with life when you are a fighting man.

Tyrtaeus was a Spartan soldier and a war poet. His poems were battle cries, delivered with the directness of a sergeant major putting some backbone into shirkers and faint-hearts.

The kind of fighter that Tyrtaeus addresses in his poems was the hoplite – an infantryman armed with an 8ft (2.4m) spear and a round shield. By the end of the 7th century, practically all Greek cities had their own contingents of hoplites. They were not full-time professional soldiers. They were generally farmers, who swapped ploughs and spades for spears and shields in defence of their communities. By standing side by side with their neighbours and taking part in the fight, these militia-men demonstrated not just their courage but their status as citizens.

Like the Minutemen of the American Revolutionary War who forged a republic on the ends of their rifles, hoplites were more than just fighters: they were agents of profound social change.

Olympia was home of the famous games. It was also the unofficial shrine of the hoplite fighter – for this was where he would come to dedicate his arms to the gods in thanks for a victory. The 'House of Bronze' must have been thick with the stuff, judging from the number of shields, helmets and breastplates found here, and now on display in the museum.

The round shield – hoplon – was the cardinal item of equipment, and it was from this that the hoplite probably derived his name. He held it by thrusting his left arm through the central armband – the porpax – and gripping the antilabe, a leather thong attached to the rim, in his fist. It was made mainly of wood, and weighed around 20lb (9 kilograms), which was quite a weight to carry through a day's fighting. But to let your shield drop or fall in battle was the ultimate disgrace.

Hoplite fighting was a team effort: half your shield was for you, the other half for the man to your left. The hoplites would form into densely packed ranks, collectively called a phalanx, seven or eight deep and perhaps 50 shields across. Co-ordination and discipline were important, but most important of all was trust: if your neighbour broke and ran, you would be left exposed to the spear- points of the enemy.

When two phalanxes met, there was a natural tendency for each line to edge to the right as the men tucked themselves behind their neighbours' shields. It was at moments like this that the discipline of the phalanx threatened to collapse. To be effective, you had to hold your ground.

Tyrtaeus had some helpful advice for Sparta's nerve-wracked hoplites:

Those who dare to stand fast at one another's side and to advance towards the front ranks in hand-to-hand conflict, they die in smaller numbers and they keep the troops behind safe.

There wasn't much in the way of tactics once the shield walls came together. The battlefield all but disappeared in a dust cloud as the two opposing masses of bronze and muscle heaved against each other. The rear ranks provided the traction, pushing forward like rugby players in a scrum.

It was in the front three ranks, within range of the enemy's spear points, that things got deadly. It was there that a hoplite would come face to face with the snake-haired gorgon, emblazoned on the shield of the enemy just inches away. The goddess's stare was said to have the power to petrify people, and in the stabbing frenzy of battle, many must have felt as if their limbs were turning to stone.

Crude it may have been, but hoplite fighting had far-reaching consequences. In the heaving sweaty, noisy mêlée, neighbours chose to stand together in support of the common good. It was an act of citizenship, and to take part in it was as much a privilege as an obligation.

To fight as a hoplite, you had to have the kit, and while few could manage a magnificent outfit, the basic panoply – shield, spear and helmet – was within reach of around a third of the city-state's able-bodied male population. Being able to afford to fight was terribly important. Aristotle said: 'Those who do the fighting wield absolute power.' In other words, if you didn't fight for your community, you couldn't expect to have a stake in it.

So, on the day of battle, while well-to-do land-owners paraded in the front rank in their bespoke armour, a dirt farmer's eldest boy, taking his place somewhere in the back with his grandfather's dented helmet and his uncle's battered shield, would be determined at all costs to maintain his family's standing as citizens.

The Spartans finally defeated and enslaved the Messenians in about 650 BC. For the next 300 years, the latter would be forced to slave in the fields of their Spartan masters 'like asses, worn out by heavy burdens', according to Tyrtaeus.

But now that Messenia had been won, the critical question for the Spartans became, then and for centuries to come: how would they keep it?

Elsewhere in Greece, city-states were being torn apart by civil war between rich and poor. With the spoils of Messene up for grabs, the chances of that happening in Sparta were greatly increased.

To keep their paradise safe, the Spartans chose to act in a totally radical way. From now on, they would dedicate themselves to the creation of a perfect society, and it would be modelled on the hoplite phalanx – disciplined, collective and unselfish. There was going to be a revolution in Shangri-la.

Every revolution needs a great leader. Sparta's was Lycurgus – the 'wolf worker'. He may or may not have existed. In fact, so vague are his outlines that most historians now dismiss him as a myth. But for the ancient Spartans, he was very real. He was a miracle worker who created a unique social system on the advice of the gods themselves, a blueprint that would turn Spartan society into one of the most extreme civilisations of the ancient world.

To keep the Messenian helots subdued and, just as importantly, to stop themselves from falling out over the spoils of war, the Spartans decided to dedicate themselves to becoming the most formidable, disciplined and professional warriors that Greece had ever seen. The whole of Spartan society became, in effect, a military training camp.

Spartan men would neither farm nor fish, manufacture nor trade. They would simply fight. And when they weren't fighting, they would train. And when they weren't training, they would socialise with their fellow fighters rather than with their own families, to bolster the solidarity and cohesion of the phalanx.

The single-mindedness and thoroughness with which they pursued this programme was extreme, radical and typically Spartan. Being born Spartan was not enough. All male Spartans had to earn their citizenship through long years of competitive struggle, and through surviving one of the most gruelling training systems ever invented.

The first test came early. A ravine a few miles outside the centre of Sparta was known as the Apothetae – the 'Deposits'. It was also called the 'place of rejection', because newly born Spartan boys were thrown into the ravine if they were judged unfit to live.

Infanticide was common throughout ancient Greece. Unwanted babies – usually girls – were left on hillsides. Sometimes they would be placed in a basket or protective pot so that there was at least a chance of someone coming along and taking the child in.

In Sparta, things were, as ever, different. Boys rather than girls were the likeliest candidates for infanticide. The decision about whether the child lived or died was not left to the parents but was taken by the city elders. And there was no possibility of a kindly shepherd rescuing a newborn child after it had been 'placed' down here. The decision of the city elders was final, terminal and absolute.

Such state-sponsored eugenics has won Sparta many admirers over the years. Here's what one 20th-century leader had to say on the subject:

The abandonment of sick, puny and misshapen children by the Spartans was more humanitarian and, in reality, a thousand times more humane than the pitiful madness of our present time where the most sickly subjects are preserved at any price only to be followed by the breeding of a race from degenerates burdened with disease.

No prizes for guessing that these are the words of Adolf Hitler.

Surviving the Apothetae was just the start for the boys. At the age of seven, they were removed from their families and placed in a training system called the agoge, which means, literally, 'rearing'. The children were treated little better than animals.
For Spartan boys, one of the classrooms of the agoge was the wild foothills of the Taygetos mountains. They were organised into 'herds' under the command of an older 'boy herd', who was responsible for discipline and punishment. Denied adequate clothing, they slept rough throughout the year – and, in winter, temperatures could drop below freezing. Kept on short rations, they were expected to steal to supplement their food. Anyone caught stealing was flogged – not for the theft itself, but for being an unskilful thief.

It was more of a trial by ordeal than an education.

One of the more famous Spartan legends concerns a young boy who allows his intestines to be gnawed away by a fox that he has stolen and concealed, rather than cry out or let the animal go. In the retelling, the story usually becomes a straightforward tale of endurance and moral toughness. Restored to its original context, however, it sounds more like a half-starved, brutalised boy dying from an excess of bone-headed obedience.

The Taygetos also provided the backdrop for one of Sparta's most controversial and disputed institutions: the krypteia or 'secret service brigade'. Membership of this was reserved for boys who had shown particular promise. Hard cases would be sent out into the wilds with basic rations and a knife. By day, they would lie low and, at night, would infiltrate the valley below, murdering any helot they caught.

For some historians, this vision of adolescent lynch mobs roaming the countryside is simply too lurid to accept. But a reign of terror – random, vicious and unprovoked – is precisely the kind of tactic that might keep a large slave population quiet.
Although Sparta encouraged the collective spirit, it placed a higher value on individual achievement. The boys were tested constantly – against each other and against their own limitations.

The competitive nature of the Spartan system found its most extreme expression at the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia. If a boy survived his first five years in the agoge, he would go there at the age of 12 for a brutal rite of passage.

On the altar, cheeses were placed – the sort of homely nourishing foodstuff that young boys on short rations would have found irresistible. The challenge was simple: to steal as many cheeses as possible. But in front of the altar was a phalanx of ephebes – boys in their 20s – carrying whips. Their instructions were to protect the altar, showing neither mercy nor restraint.
Indoctrinated with the tenets of endurance and perseverance, and determined to excel in this public display, the 12-year-olds would brave the gauntlet again and again. Meeting the whips face on, they would have suffered the most horrific injuries. The weakest never left alive.

The sheer brutality of a system seems alien. But it's not just modern audiences who find the Spartans shocking. The philosopher Aristotle argued that they turned their children into animals, while other contemporary Greeks pictured them as bees swarming round a hive, stripped of their individuality.

It's been a popular conception of Sparta through the centuries, but one that misses an important point.

Taking part in any mass activity can be fantastically unifying. We all recognise that feeling if we're part of a Mexican wave in a football crowd, singing in a choir or joining a protest march. As individuals, we are not diminished by the crowd. We become stronger; our reach is greater; our sense of self is magnified.

That was the underlying appeal of the Spartan system as a whole: the possibility of transcending your limitations as an individual and becoming part of something bigger and better.

From the age of 12, the boys' training became, if possible, even more exacting. Reading and writing were taught 'no more than was necessary', but music and dancing were regarded as essential.

The battlefields on which hoplites clashed were once memorably described as the 'dancing floors of war'. A phalanx that was able to move together in a coordinated way made for a formidable dancing partner.

So the Spartans spent many hours perfecting what was known as 'war music', a kind of rhythmic drill in which changes in direction and pace were communicated musically. The Spartans earned the reputation for being 'the most musical and the most war-like of people'.

At the age of 20, with their training nearing completion, Spartan males faced their most crucial test: election to one of the common messes – dining clubs – where they would be expected to spend most of their time when they weren't training or fighting.

But even if you had survived the brutal apprenticeship of the agoge, entry to these exclusive gentlemen's clubs was not guaranteed. Election to a mess was by the vote of existing members. You could be blackballed if it was felt that you didn't measure up – and that would be that. You would become a failed Spartan, consigned to a living hell of exclusion and public humiliation.

If, on the other hand, you were elected, you would receive from the state a share of land and a quota of helots. You were now one of the homoioi – one of the peers, the warrior élite at the top of Sparta's hierarchy.

The common messes, which lay a mile or so from the centre of Sparta, were an essential part of the city's social engineering, intended to keep discord and civil strife at bay. Old and young mixed here, easing generational conflicts – a constant source of friction elsewhere in Greece. More importantly, rich and poor met on an equal footing, the differences between them hidden by a rigorously enforced code of 'conspicuous non-consumption'.

In egalitarian Sparta, the rule was: even if you've got it, don't flaunt it. This was applied to everything from houses to clothes, even to food. In the common messes, the dish of the day, every day, was a concoction made of boiled pigs' blood and vinegar, known as melas zomos, 'black soup'.

The joke goes that, on being told the recipe for black soup, a man from Sybaris – a city in southern Italy infamous for its luxury and gluttony – said he now understood why the Spartans were so willing to die.

Spartan frugality may have shocked their contemporaries, but to a modern audience, their diet – leaving aside the black soup – sounds nutritious and healthy. Their land was very fertile, producing figs and quinces among other fruits. It was also a rich hunting ground. Compared to the diets of their neighbours – and enemies – the Spartans' comprised a much higher proportion of meat.

Free from the need to make a living (thanks to their helots), free from the anxieties of ill-health (thanks to their healthy diet and rigorous keep-fit regime), free from the pressure to 'keep up with the Joneses' (thanks to their egalitarian code), the Spartans could be said to be a people who knew the 'good life'.

More importantly, they were entirely new kinds of human beings: citizens. The Spartan system was one of the first in Western history to define what citizenship meant.

Sparta was the first society to offer a social contract based on duties and rights, and it was introduced there 100 years or more before Athens – the so-called 'cradle of democracy' – had even started thinking along similar lines.

The myth of Lycurgus ends on a prophetic note. Having persuaded his fellow citizens to adopt his radical rule book, he made them swear not to meddle with anything until he returned from a consultation with the gods at the religious site at Delphi.
The oath was given, Lycurgus departed ... and never came back, sealing with his own, voluntary death the Spartans' oath.
As explanations go, this is on a par with the rest of Lycurgus's mythical life, but at least it attempts to explain one of the most puzzling facts about Sparta: that, having embarked on a radical social experiment, this revolutionary city-state would soon become the most hide-bound and conservative in the whole of ancient Greece.

Change was coming – but it was originating beyond Sparta's borders. In 480 BC, disturbing news reached the Spartans: the Persian empire was on the move. A huge invasion force was heading west by land and sea, bent on subduing the troublesome Greeks. The time had come to see whether Sparta's celebrated warriors would live up to their fearsome reputation – and save the Greek world from the threat from the east.

Archaeology came relatively late to Sparta. It wasn't until 1906 that a British team began the first systematic excavations. In 1925, they made a major discovery: a striking life-sized bust of a Spartan warrior dating from the 5th century BC. When it was discovered, one of the Greek workmen said unhesitatingly, 'This is Leonidas.'

Leonidas was Sparta's super-hero – the king who, with 300 warriors, made a doomed last stand against the might of Persia in the pass at Thermopylae.

These days, the warrior presides magisterially over the museum in Sparta – they still call him 'Leonidas', though the name is safely within quote marks. The enigmatic smile is a convention of sculpture from this period, but it definitely gives him a Mona Lisa-type quality. The eyes are blank, but would probably have been inlaid with precious stone. The posture is puzzling – he seems to lunging forward so much that he looks like he might topple over.

But, all in all, he conforms to the heroic Spartan ideal, right down to his facial hair – for one of Lycurgus's more pernickety rules was that the upper lip should be clean-shaven and the beard long.

We know very little about the real Leonidas. He was a member of the Agidai, one of the two aristocratic families that supplied Sparta with her kings. He had been on the throne for 10 years when the Persian juggernaut began to roll west.

Persia was the regional superpower of the eastern Mediterranean – a vast empire stretching from present-day Afghanistan to the Aegean. The Greeks were an insignificant but increasingly troublesome presence on the western limits of the empire, inciting rebellion among the king's Greek subjects in Asia Minor.

In 499 BC, a major rebellion ended in the destruction of the royal city of Sardis. This was too much for the Persians. They demanded oaths of loyalty from all the Greek city-states. Some caved in, but others followed the defiant examples set by Sparta and Athens. When Persian heralds went there demanding water and earth as tokens of submission, they were executed – an act of sacrilege and a declaration of war.

King Darius made the first move. In 490 BC, he landed a punitive force on the Greek mainland at Marathon, only to see it sent packing by Athens and her allies. When Darius died, it was left to his son Xerxes to avenge the insult. Around the year 485, he began assembling a massive invasion force to sort out the Greek problem once and for all.

The Persians set out, by land and sea, early in 480 BC. The land army was so vast that, according to the Greek historian Herodotus (who lived during this time), it drank whole rivers dry. Herodotus also reckoned that the combined Persian forces numbered more than 1.5 million men. A more sober estimate would put the ceiling at 300,000 – far more than enough to crush the minnow-like city-states of Greece.

When the Spartans learned that a Persian invasion was imminent, they asked the oracle at Delphi for advice. The oracle was a kind of messaging service for the gods, delivered through the mouth of a possessed priestess.

The Spartans were unswervingly pious, so what they were told now must have worried them greatly:

Hear your fate, O dwellers in Sparta of the wide spaces.
Either your famed great town must be sacked by Perseus' sons [the Persians] – Or the whole land of Lacedaemon
Shall mourn the death of a king of the house of Heracles.

Beneath the flowery language, the advice was straightforward: capitulate.

But despite the dire warning, Sparta decided to put itself at the head of the resistance to the invasion. As the Persian army swung south towards the Greek heartland, a Greek force, under the command of King Leonidas, headed north to stop their advance at Thermopylae – the 'gates of fire'.

In 480 BC, Thermopylae was a natural bottleneck. The road south squeezed past the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Today, the mountains are still there, but the sea has retreated a few miles. To this place came a force of 7,000-8,000 Greek hoplites from half-a-dozen city-states. They rebuilt a wall that ran across the narrowest part of the pass, and hunkered down behind it, aiming to halt the Persian advance in its tracks.

Geography favoured the Greeks. Despite the overwhelming odds, the position was not hopeless. If the Persian advance could be slowed here, it would give the Greeks a chance to organise more formidable defences, on land and sea.

But for Leonidas in overall command, and for the 300 Spartan warriors who had accompanied him, Thermopylae was more than a strategic strong point. It was the place where they intended to show the world what it meant to be a Spartan.

For the first three days of the battle, the Greeks held off the Persian advance, sheltering behind their wall and then counter-attacking in hoplite formation. Three times, the Persians attacked; three times, they were beaten back.

Xerxes had almost given up hope when he was told of a secret path that crossed the mountains and came out behind the Greek defences. When Leonidas discovered that the Persians were on their way, he knew the game was up and, before long, the Greeks would be surrounded. While there was still time for them to escape, Leonidas dismissed his allies, setting the stage for one of history's most celebrated last stands.

In reality, the Spartans weren't entirely alone. Leonidas kept with him 400 troops from Thebes, a city thought to be dangerously pro-Persian. There were also 700 fighters from Thespiae, as determined as the Spartans to go down fighting. Finally, there were the Spartans' own helots, who had no choice but to stay by their masters' sides. But this was Sparta's show, and the parts played by others, willingly or unwillingly, were bound to be overshadowed.

On the final morning, the Spartans followed their usual pre-battle rituals. They stripped naked and exercised. They oiled their bodies and combed out each other's long hair. They wrote their names on small sticks and tied them to their arms – an ancient form of 'dog-tags' that would allow their bodies to be identified later. Persian spies, observing these strange pre-battle rites, reported back to Xerxes, who thought them laughable.

In the morning, the Persian king poured a libation to the rising sun and then ordered the advance. The Greeks under Leonidas, knowing that the fight would be their last, pressed forward into the widest part of the pass. They fought with reckless desperation – with swords if they had them and, if not, with their hands and teeth – until the Persians, coming in from the front and closing in from behind, overwhelmed them.

Militarily, Thermopylae was insignificant. The Persian advance, delayed for less than a week, was soon rolling south again. A far more important battle took place shortly afterwards in the bay of Salamis, where a Greek fleet, led by Athens, destroyed the Persian armada. It was a scrappy, hit-and-miss affair, but Salamis marked the beginning of the end for the Persians' invasion, and the following year, they were finally driven out of Greece.

But in the aftermath of victory, it was the doomed heroism of Thermopylae that captured the imagination.

The 300 were buried at Thermopylae and honoured with an inscription that still echoes down the centuries:

Go tell the Spartans,
Stranger passing by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.

Thermopylae was a stage on which the Spartans performed the role for which they had spent their lives training and preparing. They had shown the world the kind of place that Sparta was and the kind of men it produced. They had fulfilled the ideals of their city and justified the claims of their utopia.

And by doing that, according to Herodotus, they had 'laid up for the Spartans a treasure of fame in which no other city could share'.

Leonidas's stage management certainly paid off. Today, in the Louvre in Paris, you can see the Spartan king and the 300 at Thermopylae captured in all their nobility by the French revolutionary painter David.

The Spartans certainly impressed Hitler. In February 1945, he told Martin Bormann:

And if, in spite of everything, the Fates have decreed that we should once more in the course of our history be crushed by forces superior to our own, then let us go down with our heads high and secure in the knowledge that the honour of the German people remains without blemish. A desperate fight remains for all time a shining example. Let us remember Leonidas and his 300 Spartans! In any case, we are not of the stuff that goes tamely to the slaughter like sheep. They may well exterminate us. But they will never lead us to the slaughter house!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You Could Soon Be Smelling Like Hatshepsut!

What Perfumes Did Ancient Egyptians Use? Researchers Aim To Recreate 3,500-Year-Old Scent

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2009)

The Ancient Egyptians cherished their fragrant scents, too, as perfume flacons from this period indicate. In its permanent exhibition, Bonn University's Egyptian Museum has a particularly well preserved example on display. Screening this 3,500-year-old flacon with a computer tomograph, scientists at the university detected the desiccated residues of a fluid, which they now want to submit to further analysis. They might even succeed in reconstructing this scent.

Hatshepsut's perfume is presumably a demonstration of her power. "We think it probable that one constituent was frankincense – the scent of the gods," Michael Höveler-Müller, the curator of Bonn University's Egyptian Museum declares. This idea is not so wide of the mark, as it is a known fact that in the course of her regency Haptshepsut undertook an expedition to Punt – the modern Eritrea, and the Egyptians had been importing precious goods such as ebony, ivory, gold, and just this frankincense, from there since the third millennium B.C. Apparently the expedition brought back whole frankincense plants, which Hatshepsut then had planted in the vicinity of her funerary temple.

The filigree flacon now under examination by the researchers in Bonn bears an inscription with the name of the Pharaoh. Hence it was probably once in her possession. The vessel is exceptionally well preserved. "So we considered it might be rewarding to have it screened in the University Clinic´s Radiology Department," Höveler-Müller explains. "As far as I know this has never been done before."

This world premier will now in all probability be followed by another one: "The desiccated residues of a fluid can be clearly discerned in the x-ray photographs," the museum´s curator explains. "Our pharmacologists are now going to analyse this sediment." The results could be available in a good year´s time. If they are successful, the scientists in Bonn are even hoping to "reconstruct" the perfume so that, 3,500 years after the death of the woman amongst whose possessions it was found, the scent could then be revitalised.

Hatshepsut died in 1457 B.C. Analysis of the mummy ascribed to her showed that the ruler was apparently between 45 and 60 years of age at the end of her life; that she was also overweight, and suffering from diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and arthritis. Obviously for reasons of security, she was laid to rest in the tomb of her wet nurse. In 1903, over 3,300 years later, the famous Egyptologist Howard Carter stumbled upon the two mummies.

However, more than 100 years were to pass before the Pharaoh´s corpse could be identified using DNA and dental analysis in the year 2007.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Death Metal Lyric or William Blake Quote?

This is from Bek. how good is it!!! lol

Death Metal Lyric or William Blake Quote? Have a guess!


1. "Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead."
2. "We are Satan's generation."
3. "As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted."
4. "The road of excess leadsto the palace of wisdom."
5. "The child of burning time has gone. He hasn't come back."
6. "Flames of profligacy, naked bodies flowing in the stream of wild dreams."
7. "The original Archangel or possessor of the command of the heavenly host, is called the Devil."
8. "The sulphur-kingdom, purgatory, hell`s damnation, no man will be perditioned for all time."
9. "Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires."
10. "Every man is therefore guilty of all the good he did."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Did Thutmose III "really" kill a Rhino????

I "now" think that the guy we found on Google may not have been telling the "whole" truth. I think that maybe Jess was right to be cynical about Thutmose III's claims.

Over to you Myth Busters!!! Did Thutmose III really kill a rhino with an arrow/ arrows?????

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Beware the Weeping Angel!

Next weeks Doctor Who episode: Flesh and Stone

Dan Martin: The TV critic for The Guardian UK - Saturday 1 May 2010

"I'm just going to come right out and say it. Flesh and Stone can lay credible claim to being the greatest episode of Doctor Who there has ever been. That's better than Genesis Of The Daleks and better than City Of Death and better than Tomb Of The Cybermen and, yes, better than Blink. It's just ridiculously good – so much that there's scarcely any point in picking out moments because there was an iconic sequence every couple of seconds. Amy's creepy countdown; "I made him say comfy chairs," the oxygen factory; "I think the Angels are laughing"; the moment when the Angel starts to move… You literally have to keep catching your breath."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Humane and timely take on Jesus story

Philip Hensher From: The Australian May 08, 2010

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
By Philip Pullman
Text, 192pp, $32.95

IN the 1920s, serious academic work was being done to analyse the recurrent structures of stories. Among these students was Vladimir Propp, whose Morphology of the Folktale is still a serious and striking piece of analysis.

Propp, after analysing numerous folktales, concluded that they could all be expressed in terms of functions: small narrative units, such as "an interdiction is addressed to the hero", that coalesce into a larger narrative.

Not all units are present in every narrative; however, they always occur in the same order. The striking thing about Propp's work is that it is easily applicable to all sorts of gripping narratives, including real-life news stories. One of the most famous narratives that fulfils it to a surprisingly extensive degree is the life of Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels.

That is to say that the Bible, apart from anything else, knows the value of a good story. Philip Pullman's powerful and immensely resonant new book both drives a pile into the stories of the Gospels and harnesses their power.

The sober words "This is a story" printed on the back cover have a different meaning before and after the book is read.

Before, I presumed that Pullman was warning us off a literalism that would take the book as an attempt at historical truth. After, one realises that he is evoking the magic of a story; something that, in itself, has a kind of artistic sanctity and dignity. This is a long way from simple iconoclasm.

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, to some extent, divides the ethical and the institutional in the history of Christianity and traces them back to a pair of originals, rather than one. Jesus has a twin brother, called Christ. Jesus is liked and loved by everyone, is frank and open.

Christ is shadowy and untrustworthy; he hungers for fame and, when his brother starts to attract attention, he makes a record. He wrote down every word, but resolved to improve the story later.

These written improvements are interesting. Christ has a taste for the miraculous; the episode of the loaves and the fishes was, in reality, only Jesus saying: "See how I share this food out? You do the same. There'll be enough for everyone."

Christ improves on that, tries to perform miracles himself, and emphasises the inexplicable in his brother's story.

Other people have told the story of Jesus with an intention to unearth the human reality that may have lain behind it. Jim Crace's remarkable Quarantine sets out to excavate the experiences that have come down to us as Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness.

Jean-Luc Godard's beautiful film, Je Vous Salue, Marie retells the Annunciation in a contemporary and psychologically realistic setting: Gabriel arrives on a plane with a note-taking small girl in tow.

All such attempts to apply literary techniques to the life of Jesus come ultimately from 19th-century writer Ernest Renan, who insisted in his immensely popular Life of Jesus that Jesus could have a biography just like any other man. The conventional danger courted by such retellings is that with honest intentions, the author, along with his sophisticated modern techniques, may drag along some sophisticated modern attitudes, too, leaving us with a Jesus more clouded than ever.

Norman Mailer's late-period The Gospel According to the Son was, for instance, witheringly described on its publication as the story of "a Jewish seminary student who has converted to Methodism but isn't sure why". And even reading distinguished historical accounts of Jesus' life, we invariably perceive contemporary biases. David Strauss's famous Das Leben Jesu, for instance, with its Pullman-influencing dismissal of the miracles as mythic, is clearly a product of 19th-century rationalism (and none the worse for that). Albert Schweitzer's The Quest for the Historical Jesus, dominated by an interest in apocalypse, could not really have been written much before its publication date, soon before World War I.

Pullman is not attempting a historical reconstruction in the vein of Crace, or to carry out a wholesale cleansing of the miracle-mongers, like Jesus clearing the temple of moneylenders.

After all, as he tells us, this is a story. He loves the storytelling mood of the Gospels, the parables above all, and when the story seems to be best served by the inexplicable, as in the story of John the Baptist's barren mother, no easy explanation is offered.

There is some debunking, of course; the story of the "angel" who announces and brings about Mary's pregnancy with the twins is teasing and very sly.

But mostly, what Pullman is engaged with is an attempt to find a Jesus who is difficult, human, grumpy, funny, and struggling his way towards an ethical position.

Christ, under the guidance of a nameless stranger, codifies and improves on that position, lays the foundation for an immensely wealthy and worldly church, and is persuaded by that stranger that the best basis for the church will be supplied by his betraying his brother to the Romans. Who is the stranger? An angel? A man?

He tells Christ that he is not Satan, but perhaps Satan would always say that.

In an absorbingly fresh rendering of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' message, both radical and paradoxical, is made once again difficult to swallow. In the passage giving a version of the Agony in the Garden, Jesus talks about the horror of the church to come, its marble palaces and its tendency to allow its agents to abuse children.

What he offers in its place is not even pantheistic but a romantic rapture before the facts of the natural world, in which there is no necessity for a god.

"You're not there. You've never heard me. I'd do better to talk to a tree, to talk to a dog, an owl, a little grasshopper."

The chapter is presented as a view out of despair; but there is an enormous dollop of hope in it. Of course, it is the sort of hope that would hardly have existed before the last decades of the 20th century. In my view, the beauty and honesty of the position -- is it an ethical position or an aesthetic one? -- dismisses the objection.

Christ lives on. Of course, under the instruction of the stranger, he betrays Jesus to the Roman authorities and, after his death, engineers the "miracle" of the resurrection. With blunt utilitarianism, he and his mentor make us see how very useful both events would be to a growing and authoritarian church; useful, too, one imagines, to let a figure called Judas take the blame for one of these.

It is uncomfortable to go on reading, and see, with all too plausible detail, how the disciples meet Christ subsequently, and start to discuss with hair-splitting ingenuity just why it is that the resurrected Jesus does not have marks in his palm, does not have the broken legs of the victim of a crucifixion, but might have a spear-mark in his side.

In this conversation, we see the beginnings of theology, and the end of a sense of amazement. At the end of the book, Christ, now married to Martha, wonders in despair just what he has done: "This is the tragedy: without the story, there will be no church, and without the church, Jesus will be forgotten."

In Pullman's great trilogy, His Dark Materials, the value of oblivion is strongly stated: the dead flow away with relief and happiness, their consciousness erased and their atoms flowing back into the world. And the virtues of storytelling are praised as strongly, as creatures are entranced or consoled by the power of narrative, which feeds memory.

These two positions, perhaps not contradictory at all, lie beneath The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

Storytelling is the reason people listen to Jesus, and his sometimes puzzling stories are the reason he goes on being remembered and talked about.

Being forgotten and disappearing from memory, however, is not such a bad thing if the alternative is a church "like a palace with marble walls and polished floors, and guards standing at the door".

A good story carries its own means of survival within it; it is the prime example of what Richard Dawkins calls a meme. Perhaps it would be best, however, if even the best of stories, like the real men and women who sometimes people them, were allowed to fade into oblivion and forgetfulness.

To this end, Pullman, with this beautifully written, humane, memorable and resonant story, has contributed not one iota.

Philip Hensher's last novel was The Northern Clemency.

Nazi Foreign Policy

Hitler’s aims:
-          Revise treaty of Versailles
-          unite all German speaking people in one country à (make a greater Germany )
-          living space (lebensraum) -- to be independent

In the east wanted:
-         as far as the Caucasus and Iran
In the west:
-         Flanders ( Belgium ) and Holland

Thought he should rule all Europe because otherwise it would fall apart.
Wanted the Sudetenland because it had:
Coal and copper mines
Power stations
Good framing land
The Skoda arms works, the biggest in Europe
Protection, bohemian Alps and chain of fortresses.
People there spoke German

Wanted Polish Corridor because:
-          divided the country in two
-          German speaking people
The Rhineland :
-          wanted to rearm; control over it again.
Austria :
-          Hitler was Austrian (NB)
-          8 million German speaking people
-          was banned by treaty of Versailles (revise treaty)
-          to help make Germany strong
Nazi ideology:
-          hated treaty of Versailles (harsh and unfair)
-          economic problem is insufficient land to sustain needs of growing population.
-          Superiority of German (Aryan) race
-          Against Jews and slaves
-          Hatred of communism
Planning for conquest:

Achieving doctorial power
Dealing with internal opposition -à having SA, secret police, enabling act
Withdraw from Geneva conference and League of Nations .
Gaining control of army after death of Hindenburg, army or Wehrmacht. SA would be military forces.
Signed a non-aggression pact with Poland . (1934)
Recover economy through the New Plan.
In the long term:
Win over German people through education, censorship and propaganda.
Prepare German youth for future war.
Prepare German economy for war – four year plan –> 1936 – 1940 
Weaken international system
Rearmament, at first secretly, but then openly
Economic planning—
-          overcome depression -- new plan was to satisfy middle and working class.
-          Lay foundations for a stronger Germany .
-          New plan introduced by Schacht:
-         Imports limited
-         Strengthen currency
-         Increase government spending
-         Reduce unemployment: Public works projects
-          Compulsory National Labour Service
-          Conscription (1935)
-          Filling the jobs of Jews and political opponents with unemployed people
Removing and controlling opposition:
Trade unions, workers, women and Jews
National  labour service
German Labour Front – Beauty of Labour and Strength through Joy
To prepare Germany for Blitzkrieg (defeat the opposition quickly)
Were the economic plans a success?

New plan:
-          Reduced unemployment from 6 million to 1.5 million
-          Increased currency value
-          Depended less on imports and this went against world trade project
-          Bad jobs
-          Workers lost rights and were controlled through organisations
-          Work through conscription, no good for economy.
-          Hard workers and loyal people benefited. Lack of consumer goods, long working hours made it bad. Things got better than the depression.

Four year plan:
-          Reduced unemployment
-          Prepared for blitzkrieg instead of bettering people
-          Little consumer goods, not everyone received their promised Volkswagen.
-          Depend on imports for 1/3 of their raw materials -> expansionist foreign policy.
-          Economy prepared only for short termed war.
German rearmament:
Hitler’s aims could not be obtained without armed forces so he worked to make them suitable for war.
Hitler had to rearm to be able to succeed. They had been the only ones to disarm so there can be some sympathy for them. Treaty of Versailles --- reduced army to 100,000 men six warships of over 10,000 tonnes. No submarines or air force.
In secret meeting in 1933, it was decided that 1933-35 Germany would rearm secretly. This would include:
-          300,000 men instead of 100,000
-          1000 aircraft with secretly trained pilots
-          barracks airfields and fortifications
-          new air force - Luftwaffe and 2500 aircraft and 300,000 men

1933 – took Germany out from league and armament conference
army to sign oath of allegiance
signed non-aggression pact with Poland to make it seem as though Germany was no threat
conscription – MARCH 1935 – announced publicly to have 500,000 men
Franco-Soviet pact – 1935 - May 
Anglo/German naval agreement – 1935 June -
This let German navy to have 1/3 of tonnage of British navy and equal tonnage of submarines.
Britain let this happen because it was to happen anyway and this way, Germany would have a limitation.
Stresa Front – admit conscription was bad. Guarantee to protect Austrian independence.
No one stopped German rearmament.
Britain had self-determination problems and did not want to spend on armed forces.
French did not stop because instead they put their money in building forts to defend from Germany at Maginot Line.
Italy was close to taking  an action. Mussolini would not allow Anchluss. Placed his men in threatening positions to warn Germans. 29 – 35 everything was good internationally, but by 1935 everything got uneasy.
Germans wanted the Saar because he wanted to reunite all German-speaking people. Had large resources of coal and iron and railways—resources important for German economy.
1935 plebiscite - 90% of people voted to join Germany after propaganda. After this got courage do admit to conscription.
1936 March – Rhineland , wanted it because it left Germany to open attack from Belgium , Holland and France . Insult to German self-respect. BIG GAMBLE. If French had marched into Rhineland , Germany would have to leave.
France was through political crisis, did not want to risk war. Big division between right winged and left winged. Britain said that Germany had only, “moved into their backyard”
Consequences Rhineland :
-          Treaty of Versailles and Locarno treaties broken
-          Germany was able to build line of forts there  (west wall). So if Hitler broke treaty of
-          Versailles , no military action could go against them.
-          Germany protect Ruhr troops were situated on border with France .
-          Weakened little entente and Franco-Czech treaty
By 1939:
-          Rome-Berlin axis turned into pact of steel.
-          Chamberlain had introduced appeasement
-          Germany was no longer isolated, because of Italy and sympathy Britain and France had.
-          Guarantees issued to defend Poland , Romania and Greece .
Nazi-Soviet pact – start of World War II
Tripartite axis pact Sept. 1940 – Japan Italy and Germany .
Forbidden by Treaty of Versailles because of self-determination. Austrians supported him. Right wing and socialists clashed in street battles, political oppositions. Attempt by Germany failed and many leaders imprisoned. League had promised to defend country, also Mussolini and the Stresa Front.
Hitler’s successes:
-          Nazi totalitarian state and betterment in economy
-          Remilitarisation of Rhineland
-          Cooperation in Spanish civil war
-          Rome/Berlin axis
-          Anti–Comintern pact
Weakness of other powers: Stresa Front collapse, Anglo/German naval agreement. Maginot line, remilitarisation of the Rhineland .
Russia was in Stalin’s purges so was weak.
Leading to Austria :
1934 - First Nazi attempt to take over, failed. Italy defended Austria . Chancellor Dolfuss killed.
Mussolini would not defend Austrians after signing Rome-Berlin axis and Anti-Comintern pact.
Austrian Nazis started trouble.
Hitler made Schuschnigg, Austrian chancellor, restore Nazi party rights and free political prisoners and appoint Seyss-Inquart to be the minister of interior to give him control of police.
“ England will not move a finger for Austria. France could have stopped Germany in the Rhineland .”
Germany demanded postponement to plebiscite.
Seyss Inquart took over when Britain , France and Italy failed to help Austria .
Then invited Germany to restore order of opposing people.
13 march 1938 – announced that Austria and Germany were now a single country.
Austrian opponents were sent to concentration camps.
League nothing
Britain and France opposed but did nothing.
USSR was suspicious of Germany and Czechoslovakia and Poland prepared for a similar state.
Germany stronger.
Italy looked towards Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea . Mussolini was Hitler’s pawn.
The Czech Crisis  1938- 1939
Czechoslovakia was set up after PP settlement, self-determination. From Austria-Hungary . Buffer state against communism. Little Entente – new buffer states. Home of several nationalities. Conflicts amongst them. Slovaks + Germans against Czechs.
Konrad Heinlein --- German in Czechoslovakia that wanted to give Sudetenland to Germany .
Sudaten German People’s Party – Henlein meetings with Hitler and got $$ from him. Hitler supported for transfer of Sudetenland to Germany .
1938, Hitler stronger because:
-          army economy and people prepared for war
-          stresa front failed, Britain agreed to naval agreement
-          remilitarisation of the Rhineland . Security to west.
-          Treaties signed with Italy and Japan .
-          The Anschluss had placed Czechoslovakia like a fish in the jaws of a shark
-          Soviet Union had domestic upheaval to upheaval with Stalin’s purges and the Five year Plans.

1938- Hitler instructed generals to make plans to invade. He told Heinland to make trouble in Sudetenland .
Told generals to make plans to invade. Heinland was to make trouble as riots. Then he was to make impossible demands for independence so the Czech government would reject them and followers could make riots to show that government had no control. Then German army would maintain order, as Czechs had failed to do so.
There were two risks:
Czechoslovakia was well equipped for fighting, army only a little smaller than Germany . USSR and France would help.
France did not have good army and had failed to show resistance in 1936. In 1938 they would do less. USSR was in was with Japan and had economic and political problems. Czechoslovakia also had allies with Rumania and Yugoslavia .
1. Berchtesgaden – where Hitler told chamberlain that it was his last territorial aim in Europe and that he would be willing to go to war for the Sudetenland . Poland and Hungary also demanded borders.
2. Godesburg - Chamberlain went for Hitler to agree with a proposal, but Hitler said he wanted all of Czechoslovakia . Chamberlain returned to Britain to prepare for war.
3. Munich – Mussolini was alarmed and proposed a four-power conference, France, Italy Germany and Britain , Czechs nor Russians were invited.
They agreed to:
-          immediately transfer the Sudetenland to Germany .
-          Later transfer to Teschen to Poland and Ruthania to Hungary .
-          Britain and France to protect rest of Czechoslovakia .
Czechoslovakians were forced to sign the Munich Agreement or face Germany . Czechoslovakia had to sign because had no allies.
Hitler said it was his last claim on Europe and that Britain and Germany would never go to war.
-          weakened Czechoslovakia . made it an easy target in 1939.
-          Hungary , Yugoslavia and Rumania tried to come to terms with Germany
-          Mussolini was encouraged in his ambitions for southeast Europe and looked for closer ties with Germany .
-          Hitler believed Britain and France would not fight to protect rest of Czechoslovakia .
-          Convinced Russians that they could not rely on British and France and would have to make their own arrangements where Germany was concerned.
-          Gave Britain and France time to rearm. Germany also gained time.
End of Czechoslovakia :
Munich ended Czechoslovakia , it was stripped of defences and abandoned.
½ million Germans still living in Bohemia .
1939- Poland was next step for Germany . Anglo/French guarantee to Poland to help if Germany was to invade. Rumania and Greece were also given guarantees.
Appeasement: policy to avoid war with threatening powers, giving in to demands as long as they’re reasonable
Two phases:
mid 20’s – 37 – war must be avoided. Britain and France accepted things fairly unreasonable all together.
Chamberlain believed in taking initiative. Would find out what Hitler wanted and negotiate it.
Beginning of appeasement seen in Dawes and Young Plan and Locarno Treaties.
Why was appeasement reasonable at the time?
-          Essential to avoid war after the glimpses of Sino-Japanese war and  Spanish civil war, war seemed devastating. They were afraid of innocent civilians dying in bombs.
-          Britain was in economic crisis, could not afford rearmament and expenses of Great War.
-          British government supported by pacific public opinion. Italy and Germany had grievances. Britain should show sympathy. Remove need of aggression.
-          League hopeless. Chamberlain thought only way to solve dispute was through face-to-face meetings.
-          Economic cooperation would be good for both. If Britain helped economy with trouble, Germany would be grateful.
-          Fear of communist Russia spreading.
-          Nobody should treat Britain without respect.
-          Britain did want to fight Japan in east at same time as fighting Germany in west.
-          It would give Britain more time to get stronger, make Germany get scared of Britain .
Poland – September 1939:
East Prussia had been split from Germany to create a Polish corridor . Here was city, Danzig , where most people were German.
Hitler convinced Hungary to invade Ruthenia and made Czechs and Slovaks be under German protection, German troops marched into Prague . No more Czechoslovakia . Hitler moved from lebensraum, to correcting the errors of Versailles .
1 week later, Hitler took Memel from Lithuania
Chamberlain realised Hitler had lied, the Sudetenland wasn’t his last territorial objective. Appeasement was not working. Public opinion agreed.
Other Treaties:
-          Dawes Plan (1924)
-         USA lend money to Germany to help pay reparations. France knew she was going to get paid and let the Ruhr go.
-         German currency reorganised
-          Young Plan (pact of Paris ) (1929)
-         Reduce amount of reparations by 75% gave her 59 years to pay.
-         Never worked because of Wall Street Crash
-          Kellogg Briand Pact (1928)
-         First only France and U.S.A
-         Agree not to go to war for 5 years
-         Settle disputes by peaceful means
-         Included: USA ,  Germany , USSR , Italy and Japan .
-          Washington Naval Conference (1922) 
        Limit navies (British, American, French and Japanese)
        Not to build any new battleships or cruisers for 10 years.
        5:5:5:3 ratio always kept
- both created stable economic conditions and optimism about peace. Didn’t reduce German grievances at all.
Poland :
Hitler wanted city of Danzig , where most inhabitants were German and the Polish corridor , which had once belonged to him.
Preparing to invade Poland :
-          March 1939 – Hitler convinced Hungary to invade Ruthenia and Czechs and Slovaks to place themselves under German ‘protection’.
-          Then marched into Prague and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist.
-          1 week later – Memel from Lithuania .
All this went against his promise of the Sudetenland being his ‘last-territorial objective.’ Chamberlain was appalled. He realised appeasement was not working. Hitler had now moved from ‘lebensraum’ to correcting the errors of Versailles . Czechoslovakia no longer had a majority German population.
April 1939 – Anglo-French guarantee to Poland – Britain and France predicted Poland to be the next victim. Hitler had reason to believe that it was a bluff (as previous pacts had failed to work, e.g. Stresa Front, Munich Agreement).
May 1939 – Pact of Steel – Germany and Italy to stand by each other through war. Was issued after Italy invaded Albania who had guarantees from other countries.
Britain and France tried to ask Russia for help, but did not pursue it.
Hitler began to consider possibilities of two front war with Russia in east and Britain and France in West, he was terrified. However, Britain and France turned down Russia ’s treaty of mutual assistance.
German army was only ready to invade Poland , not ready for war. Did not want Czech affair to repeat, he knew there was to be a war, but first he had to isolate Poland .
August 23 1939 – signed Non-Aggression pact with Russia , for Russia not to attack Germany to protect Poland . As a result, Russia would get half of the Polish conquer.
Justifying the Non-Aggression pact:
-          Stalin needed time to prepare for war
-          Germany would be weakened by Britain and France
-          Fear of two-front war with Japan
-          Secured peace for 1 ½ years
-          New land would protect them and help him spread communism
Hitler thought this Non-Aggression pact would make Britain and France less likely to help Poland .
Poland refused to give in to Hitler
-          would fight with determination
-          Every polish house to be a fortress
-          Hitler will have more to lose than to gain
September 1 1939 – Hitler invaded Poland
September 3 1939 – war declared on Germany
Causes of world war two:
-          failures of league
-          Paris Peace settlement effect on eastern Europe
-          appeasement
-          weakness of League
-          effects of great depression
-          Hitler’s invasions
-          Pacts and treaties
-          USSR signing Nazi-Soviet Pact