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Tom Holland’s Ancient World
Posted March 10, 2011 to photo album "Tom Holland’s Ancient World"
As a primer for The Eagle, an award-winning historian gives us list of top ten ancient films.
Frederico Fellini’s adaptation of a picaresque novel written by Petronius, Nero’s ‘arbiter of elegance’, is the most convincing portrait of ancient Rome ever shown on screen––precisely because no effort is made to approximate to realism. Scenes materialise and fade like visions in a dream, as a host of sexual complexes are given a thorough work out. Nymphomaniacs and hermaphrodites, castration and impotence, brothels and public sex: all are given a delirious prominence. Some of these themes are the exclusive reflection of Fellini’s own obsessions––but many do indeed derive from Petronius. Particularly notable is the feast hosted by the parvenu freedman Trimalchio: one of the most memorable scenes in ancient literature, and an episode to which Fellini proves himself more than equal.