An explanation for this post: I've been presenting at a multi-disciplinary poster conference all day. My thesis is on whether Romans believed that dreams might foretell the future or provide a way to communicate with gods or the dead. Several times today, people asked me whether I believe that dreams can tell the future. Slightly flustered, I tried to answer, while also trying to explain that that isn't what my research is about - I'm not looking at whether dreams might be divine or not, but whether Roman writers thought they might be divine or not.
Anyway, after an (exhausting!) day of presenting, I thought I'd write a blog about a representation of a Classicist in popular culture. Except I can't think of any! There are plenty of archaeologists, a few scattered Classics teachers, but no professional researchers who are Classicists or ancient historians (or historians either). Its no wonder no one knows what I do for a living.
So the closest I could come was Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Giles works in heritage management (he used to work in 'a British museum, or the British Museum, I'm not sure' - Willow, 'Welcome to the Hellmouth') but his knowledge of ancient languages suggests he must have a classics background, so he's as close as I could get.
When Giles first appears, he seems to be the worst sort of British stereotype - always in tweed, uncoordinated, useless at fighting etc. All that changed in 'The Dark Age', when his dodgey past as a dabbler in dark magics is revealed and he suddenly gains a whole bunch of fighting skills he never had before. Giles is always at his coolest when he's being his nastier alter ago, Ripper - as when he reverted to teenagehood (and his own accent instead of the fake posh one) in 'Band Candy' and when he coldly murders Ben in 'The Gift'. What it says about me, that these are the bits I like, is probably best left unexplored!
As a lone Brit in America (well, except for Spike) Giles gets some great one liners. Two of my favourites are:
'I just think it's rather odd that a nation that prides itself on its virility should feel compelled to strap on forty pounds of protective gear just in order to play rugby' ('Some Assembly Required')
'"Do you like my mask? Isn't it pretty? It raises the dead!" Americans!' ('Dead Man's Party')
Unfortunately for me, if Giles was studying dreams in ancient Rome, he really would be looking to find out whether dreams actually do predict the future. Ancient texts in Buffy (as in most sci-fi and fantasy shows) are used to find out how the magical thingummy of the week works. The ancient text is always absolutely accurate and our heroes are always able to translate it precisely (see earlier post-come-rant on Night at the Museum 2). In my (real) world, no ancient text can be precisely translated, they are very rarely accurate and regularly tell outright lies, and I have yet to discover an ancient artefact or spell with actual magical powers. But I guess that just isn't very interesting!
'Xander, don't speak Latin in front of the books!'