Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo’s main gardening task this Saturday before Memorial Day is to give the lawn a weed n’ feed treatment and, honestly, I can’t bring myself to inflict a post on you just about that.

Instead, a little Hollywood History of the World musing.

Last evening Ol’ Robbo watched “The 300 Spartans” (1962).  For a war movie, it seemed to me fairly bland and wooden, but appeared to be a reasonably accurate (at least according to tradition) depiction of the Battle of Thermopylae and the run-up to it.  I guess Richard Egan (Leonidas) was something of a minor beefcake back in the day but I found him sleazy-looking.  (UPDATE DEUX:  No, that’s the wrong adjective.  Sorry.  What I mean is that he just didn’t project Ancient Greek royalty to me.  He looks more the hard-bitten sergeant in a WWII film, or perhaps the bad-guy hired gun in a western.)  I also suppose poor Ralph Richardson (Themistocles) just needed the money.  David Farrar (Xerxes) looked too much like Vincent Price to really be taken seriously.

Here’s the thing:  The film makes much of the alliance and dalliance between Xerxes and Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus (the lovely and talented Anne Wakefield).  As the story develops, it becomes increasingly clear that while outwardly supporting him, she is actually trying to manipulate Xerxes into calling off his invasion of Greece.  Indeed, according to the movie, she had just persuaded him, after his forces’ initial defeats, to turn around and go home when news of the secret goat track to the rear of the Spartans’ position came in, causing Xerxes renewed hope of Persian victory.  The show goes on after all and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s been a while, but I don’t remember this from my historickal readings.  That Artemisia (in good faith) warned Xerxes not to commit his naval fleet to battle at Salamis and then saved her own neck in that fight by pretending to turn traitor and then escaping, yes.  But I don’t recall her coming into the tactical story of Thermopylae.

Ol’ Robbo needs to pull out his Herodotus again, I guess.  Not that I mind:  I reread him probably every three or four years and evidently this is a sign it’s time to do so again.


Ol’ Robbo mentioned last week that he might be able to give you some foxgloves today.  Over the years I’ve encouraged them to seed themselves in one corner of my garden, with various results.  The past few years have been rather lean, but for some reason, possibly the very mild winter we had, this spring they’ve really taken off.  Ol’ Robbo truly loves foxglove, and hopes you do, too.  Enjoy!


I believe there are a couple of yellow ones on the way up as well.