Author Archive for cudozier

Scholars Respond to Racist Backlash against Black Achilles, Part 3: What Makes a Homeric Hero a Hero?

This is Pharos’ third post responding to racist criticism of the BBC/Netflix miniseries Troy: Fall of a City, in which a black actor plays Achilles. Our first post discussed Greek attitudes toward Africans in order to show that ancient audiences would have had no problem with a black Achilles, and our second post addressed the Iliad’s description of Achilles’ hair in order to show that the text does not definitively exclude a black Achilles. This post argues that the BBC’s decision to cast a black man to play Achilles should be understood as a modern extension of ancient epic’s flexibility in the representation of heroes. Read More→

Scholars Respond to Racist Backlash against Black Achilles, Part 2: What did Achilles look like?

This is Pharos’ second post responding to the racist criticism of David Gyasi being cast to play Achilles in the BBC/Netflix miniseries Troy: Fall of a City. Pharos documented that criticism here and here, and the first part of our response addressed ancient Greek attitudes toward Africans.

Racist commentators accuse the miniseries of erasing the white racial identity of Achilles by casting a black man to play him. As evidence for this racial identity, they claim that the Homeric epics describe Achilles as having blonde hair. We set aside the obvious point that one should not invest too much in the supposedly “true” hair color of a mythical person. In what follows we assess evidence for how ancient audiences would have understood these descriptions of Achilles’ hair to show that it is not possible to base a racial theory on the color terms used in the Homeric epics to describe Achilles’ hair. Read More→

Scholars Respond to Racist Backlash against Black Achilles, Part 1: Ancient Greek Attitudes toward Africans

In February of 2018, the BBC broadcast an eight-part miniseries, Troy: Fall of a City, that told the story of the Trojan War. Netflix later released the miniseries in the United States. The casting of David Gyasi, a British-born actor of Ghanaian descent, to play Achilles provoked a storm of racist criticism on social media and racist sites. There has been less controversy around other characters played by black actors, such as Zeus, Athena, Aeneas, Patroclus, and Nestor. Soon after the show started airing in the UK, Pharos contributor Tim Whitmarsh wrote a refutation of many of the racists arguments being made, which he followed up recently with a more detailed critiquePharos, too, documented the racist backlash against the show and over the coming days will report on the responses we received from specialists working on Greek epic. The volume and complexity of the response was such that we have decided to split our response into several posts. Read More→

Misogynist argues that Rape of the Sabines established “Female Privilege”

Purple Motes is the personal blog of a contributor to the misogynist site A Voice for Men whose work Pharos has documented previously. Perversely subtitled “a journal of whimsy and hope,” Purple Motes frequently invokes Greco-Roman antiquity in support of its particular breed of misogyny: exposing the supposed anti-male bias of the contemporary world and all the ways women enjoy special privileges. For example, a post from 2016 entitled “Sabine Women win Pyrrhic peace for Roman men argues that the Rape of the Sabine Women was beneficial for the women involved and established the foundations of discrimination against men that “Men’s Rights Activists” claim persists into the present day. Read More→

Nazi leader “re-brands” the Nazi salute as “Roman salute”

Jeff Schoep is the “commander” of the National Socialist Movement, one of the founding organizations of the Nationalist Front coalition of neo-Nazi groups. At a rally in Georgia on April 21st, 2018, reporter Christopher Mathias asked Schoep, “can we talk about the Nazi salutes your friends are giving on the stage?” In a video of the exchange taken by Mathias, Schoep disputed the term “Nazi salute” and said it was, instead, a “Roman salute.” Read More→

“Great European Leader” Hitler compared to Alexander the Great

Jason Jorjani, the founder of the xenophobic and neo-fascist site that Pharos has previously documented, called Hitler “a great European leader” like Alexander the Great in footage taken by an undercover agent of the British anti-extremist group Hope not Hate. This and other footage of Jorjani and his associates can be viewed in a New York Times article reporting on Hope Not Hate’s investigation. Read More→

Lucretia invoked to illustrate the desirability of being raped

“Feminists are Hysterical About Rape Because No Man Wants to Rape Them” is a recent headline on the misogynist site Return of Kings, whose appropriations of Greco-Roman antiquity Pharos and others have documented. The article mocks the #metoo movement, accuses women of “manufacturing stories about sexual assault and rape,” and celebrates the “days of Vikings, global conquests, and crusades, where raping and pillaging were common” because women raped in that period “fulfilled their biological imperative…to pass on the strongest genes possible to her offspring.” The article features Hans van Aachen’s painting of The Rape of Lucretia (pictured below) in order to support the claim that being raped is desirable and to perpetuate the myth that only attractive women are raped. Read More→

Further racist backlash against “Black Achilles”

In January Pharos documented a racist site commenting on the casting of David Gyasi to play Achilles in the BBC’s miniseries Troy: Fall of a City. The racist backlash against this casting has not, however, been confined to this one site. With Netflix streaming the miniseries in the US beginning on April 6th, we are updating our survey of racist commentary on the show. Pharos contributor Tim Whitmarsh has already written an excellent response to many of the arguments found on the sites below for Radio Times. Our responses are now available. Read More→

White Supremacist Site celebrates Pericles’ Funeral Oration

Augustus Sol Invictus, who was the headline speaker at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and whom the SPLC and Pharos have previously documented, publishes a website called The Revolutionary Conservative. The site’s mission statement endorses violence against Muslims, including “reconquista,” and against those who protest hate groups. Articles on the site promote anti-semitic paranoia about Jewish influence over the media and banking. One of the organizations listed on their “confederates” page of “colleagues, peers, brothers-in-arms, and friends” is a call-in show that can be reached at the number 424-3-GO-NAZI. They also have a page for Thucydides’ account of Pericles’ “Funeral Oration.”  Read More→

Macrobius said to reveal unspeakable “gynocentric reality”

A Voice for Men is a platform for the “men’s rights movement.” It has recently been added to the SPLC’s list of hate groups for its advocacy of “male supremacy” and their “vilification of women” that “makes them no different than other groups that demean entire populations, such as the LGBT community, Muslims or Jews.” They also post frequently about Greco-Roman antiquity: a post on A Voice for Men claims that Macrobius’ Saturnalia reveals the “gynocentric reality” of the fifth century CE, when this fictional account of the conversation at an elite dinner-party was composed. In Macrobius’ time, according to the post, there were greater “constraints on men’s behavior” than on women’s. Read More→


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