I’m away at a conference all next week so I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to post anything. I had hoped to leave y’all with a really nice, long, detailed post like my Troy post below, but unfortunately I got sidetracked watching one of the longest Wimbledon finals in history (I think I actually cried a few tears for Andy Roddick at the end of that). So I’m afraid this is all I have time for before I finish my packing and get sorted for the conference. This episode of Buffy is not really related to Classics – basically, it has one joke relating to Classics in it that I find so funny I decided to base an entire post around it. It does have some universal themes though, which can be applied to Classics as much as anything else and in fact, considering the nature of ancient historical writing – often more interested in telling a good story than reporting accurately – and classical epic poetry, it could be considered particularly relevant to classical history.
I’m not a huge fan of season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for various reasons,* but ‘Storyteller’ is a work of comic genius and includes the funniest Classics-related joke in Buffy history (OK, that might not be that hard, but still). This is the epidsode in which Andrew, ex-supervillain, tried to record the gang's work for posterity, but his version of events is a bit... interesting.
I’m sure Andrew’s fantasy set-up with the library, the armchair and the fireplace is making fun of something, but I think it must be an American programme that I haven’t seen.
Andrew is trying to leave a legacy for future generations, which is a decent enough idea – the Greeks would certainly have approved. Only Buffy has a problem with it – everyone else quite sensibly points out that it would be nice to have a record of their achievements if they do manage to save the world (as an historian, obviously, I approve of this sentiment).
Much of this story revolves around the Hellmouth, which always strikes me as very underworld-y. ‘Hell’ is a Christian concept, but classical mythology always put Hades, the land of the dead, firmly underground. That’s about where the similarity ends though.
The bit with the wind machines around the breakfast table really has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Suffice to say, it is completely hilarious. It doesn’t seem to be on YouTube at the moment, though there’s a tiny clip in the promo.
The intense feeling of relief experienced by the viewer when Andrew moves away to discuss how boring Buffy’s speeches have become is a testament to just how tiresome her seventh season speeches were.
Anyway, I am spending far too long on things that are not, strictly speaking, Classics related (though the themes of storytelling and how we record our own lives have an obvious relevance for anyone working in any historical field). We eventually come to a flashback showing Andrew and Jonathon in Mexico, explaining how Andrew came to stab his best friend to death, and that is where we see the reason this episode appears on a Classics blog. Andrew has been led astray by the First Evil in the form of his late friend Warren (long story), who has
promised him that, if he obeys its orders, the three of them will all be reunited and will live as gods.
This is Andrew’s idea of what it would be like to live as gods.
He’s got the laurel wreaths and white robes from classical mythology, and mixed them with instruments that might be classical lyres (like the one Nero played) or might be angelic harps. He’s placed the whole thing in a field of beautiful flowers which presumably is meant to be the Elysian fields, or something similar. The gold is pretty self-explanatory; I don't know where the unicorn came from, and I think it would be best not to ask. It is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen (though this may say more about my sense of humour than anything else).
Anyway, a whole bunch of other stuff happens and Buffy eventually has to force Andrew to stop telling stories and face up to his own actions and their consequences. Really though, Andrew doesn’t need to stop telling stories – he just needs to tell the right ones. Buffy has a point though. Romanticising horrible things can become a serious problem when the romantic story becomes the only story and the nasty reality gets forgotten. I could suggest all sorts of real life examples, but I’m sure you can think of them yourselves.
And so, I'm off to the conference, which should be very interesting (its about Classics in children's literature). I'll try to get another post up if I can, but otherwise, I'll be back next week.
*The potential Slayers are so annoying I want to rip my own arm off and throw it at them (thank you Friends for that line), Buffy herself becomes a cold and emotionless walking soapbox, they still can’t work out how to deal with Spike, the First Evil was never my favourite villain anyway and the ubervamps are just dull. And I have never yet forgiven Buffy the Vampire Slayer for season six.