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1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

Apollonius of Rhodes, Giovanni Papini, Luis Buñuel

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Is it possible to establish a connection between Apollonius of Rhodes, the writer Giovanni Papini and filmmaker Buñuel? Was Buñuel inspired by Papini in a famous sequence of a famous film of his? Had Papini read Apollonius?

Giovanni Papini (Florence, 1881-1956), Italian writer, first skeptical and then staunch Catholic,  discredited by his fascist affiliation, wrote in 1931 his book "Gog", a series of 70 philosophical and satirical  stories. For many it is their best work. In a chapter entitled "A. A. and WC "tells how he leaves a restaurant  disgusted by the spectacle of the mouths chewing the food, which considered rude brutish and exhibition of insensitivity. He tells to us at  the time:

There will come a time when our habit of eating in company  - outdoors and in the presence of strangers - will cause  astonishment.  The need to engulf fragments of plants and animals  to stay alive, is one of the worst humiliations of our life, one of the most awkward signs of subordination to the earth and death. And instead of  secretly satisfy itt, we consider it as a party, we make it as a visible ceremony, we  offer it as a daily spectacle, with the  indifference of the beasts .

In 1974 the Aragonese and international filmmaker Luis Buñuel filmed the movie "The Phantom of Liberty". In this film there is a famous and memorable scene in which the characters represent openly what we usually do in private and in private what we usually do in common: common defecate in the lounge and eat privately in an enclosure for it. Typically becomes taboo and taboo becomes the norm, inverting and  turning inside out the  reality.

Are Buñuel  inspired by Papini? Probably yes, the Buñuel’s  film is also formed by a series of sequences without connections between them, except for the central theme of freedom expressed in the title.

The matter  seems quite original, but in this objective  to justify the slogan of this website Nihil novum sub sole, I can only quote a passage from Book II of The Voyage of the Argonauts, of Apollonius of Rhodes, (295 BC-215 BC), Hellenistic writer, librarian of the Library of Alexandria and Ptolemy’s  III Euergetes educator. In the poem, the only work of Greek epic poetry from Homer, narrates the mythical journey of Jason and other Greek heroes to Colchis on the Black Sea in search of the "Golden Fleece" (skin of a ram). Among the many territories and countries that they walk, they arrived to a country  of interest for this occasion:

Next they reached the sacred mount and the land where the Mossynoeci dwell amid high mountains in wooden huts,[1] from which that people take their name. And strange are their customs and laws. Whatever it is right to do openly before the people or in the market place, all this they do in their homes, but whatever acts we perform at home, these they perform out of doors in the midst of the streets, without blame. And among them is no reverence for the marriage-bed, but, like swine that feed in herds, no whit abashed in others' presence, on the earth they lie with the women. (The Argonautica, II, 1015-1025) ( An English Translation By   R.C. SEATON, M.A.,   Formerly Fellow Of Jesus College, Cambridge)

Had  Buñuel and Papini read  the poem  by Apollonius of Rhodes? Probably they had read it. In any case, the Greek sources never cease to amaze us.


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