Friday, January 30, 2015

Classic Claudius

I'm always amazed how many people, especially under 40 have never seen the one-of-a-kind TV series "I, Claudius." There are so many fascinating aspects of this series. I saw it when I was in my early 20s, and so much of the dialog has stuck in my head. For instance, whenever I hear anyone describing gardening as a hobby I can't help but think of episode 11 of the series. Claudius's wife Messalina is competing with Cilla, the "president of the guild of prostitutes" to see who can fornicate with the most men in a single evening (Messalina wins.) Cilla argues with Messalina's lover, the actor Menister about getting paid:

     MESSALINA
...it was sporting of you to accept the challenge. 
     CILLA
Sporting? I see (turning to Menister) there's no money in it. 
     MENISTER
You're here for the honor, woman - and to defend your reputation. 
     CILLA 
Would you defend yours for nothing, Greek? (turns to Messalina) Lady, I'm a professional, I work for money. The honor I gladly leave to you. 
     MENISTER
What a (unintelligble) she expects to be paid, and in this company.
     CILLA 
The difference between you and me, actor, is you're a snob and I'm not. And the difference between this great lady and myself is that my work is her hobby. My hobby happens to be gardening, for which I don't expect to be paid.

Classic.

I was re-watching "I, Claudius" because I had remembered that David Robb, the Scottish actor currently performing as Dr. Clarkson on Downton Abbey, had played Claudius's brother Germanicus. He actually didn't have that many lines though. Derek Jacobi, who played Claudius, and Robb would perform together again in the BBC's 1980 production of HAMLET - Robb played Laertes to Jacobi's Hamlet.


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