A five-century-old love story

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Strangely, the name ‘Botticelli’ had been echoing in my mind relentlessly since a few weeks. There were other painters like him, too who lived in the exact age as he did like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Yet, I keep thinking of this guy, just because I found his love-story unique. There are many theories about the identity of the beautiful lady in all of his paintings… and the most legit-seeming and romantic answer seems to be… Simonetta Vespucci, ‘The Beauty Queen’ of her age in Florence. She is rumoured to be unrivalled in terms of beauty, but the poor woman died at an early age – at about 22 years old. Sad, isn’t it?

The Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli: Wikimedia Commons

Unearthing a five-century-old love story seems exciting enough, and so I see that people want to believe that it’s Simonetta who was in his paintings. Botticelli had also willed himself to be buried along with her upon death – which is evidence enough for many historians that he was in love. This passionate story is something that I could not find in Leonardo’s and Michelangelo’s lives – they’re rumoured to be homosexuals, which is even proved in the case of the latter from his own poems – but the duo were better researchers and liked to exhume corpses and stuff to study the human anatomy in detail.

Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci – painted by Botticelli
-Taken from the Wikimedia Commons-

But Botticelli? He looks more like a man of love, to me… he looks like he lived for Simonetta, for, he had never painted any other woman after he had laid his eyes on her. Even after her death, she is seen in numerous paintings of his. She died in 1476, and yet, Botticelli’s works that came much, much later contained her portraits only, when it came to painting a woman. Many historians call it the face of a nymph which Botticelli might have used, but there’s no proof for anything, is there? Sure, Michelangelo seemed to have some woman as his ‘friend’ later in his life who meant a great deal to him, but it didn’t look like they really had an affair or something, though Michelangelo is said to have regretted not kissing her on her face. And Leonardo… man, I wish I could just listen to his brilliant theories and lectures – research was his only wife, and that is pretty much obvious to all of us.

Now, one thing that keeps me confused is the question ‘how did all the men of Florence try to get to her when Simonetta was married?’ ‘Was Marco, her rightful husband, really weak?’ And there seems to be no good answers for questions like these… and is left to speculation by the addled minds of the masses. If Marco was really a dedicated husband, he would have never allowed the ‘great fighting tournament whose winner would get Simonetta’ from happening. After all, she was his wife, was she not?

Yet, the ruling Medici brothers seemed to approach her…

Yet, the youngest Medici won her by winning the jousting tournament…

No one knows what happened after that. This is when Botticelli comes to my mind. He is never mentioned at all at this point, because, let’s face it: a painter, however romantic he wanted to be, could not afford to fight powerful men. He could only paint a portrait of her and stand undetected in a corner of the crowd.

I wonder what he would have felt when the lady of his dreams was ‘won’ by someone else… by someone he knew and respected. Would he have not shown any feelings at all? Alas, news of Botticelli’s every reaction cannot survive the ages, and here I am, thinking of what poor Botticelli would have done that very day.

 This site discusses about Botticelli’s legendary love story, which could be true, and which was an inspiration or this blog post. Of course, men all over Florence would have given a similar reaction, and I’m probably being apathetic towards them right now, but I don’t know them well enough to think from their perspective. I can only empathize with Botticelli, because, let’s face it: he’s famous, and I can know only about him. Yet… the fact that he declared to be buried along with her seems to be telling something about his unending love even decades after the Beauty Queen of Florence passed away…

Alessandro Filipepi. Sandro Botticelli. A name so fine. A name of love. A name that bore the title ‘very fine painter of the Italian Renaissance era’ along with two of his peers, Michelangelo and Leonardo.

Yet… he’s different.

 And love made all the difference.

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Whose poetry alone survived…

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Yesterday, in Maria’s blog, I read a post in which she had written about John Keats. Intrigued, I googled a bit about his life and came back to write a post on him myself. I was inspired to write about him because life had nothing but hurdles to offer him, yet, he had accomplished a lot within the short span of his stay on earth, unlike many of us.

John Keats was born in the eighteenth century, and was the eldest of the four children his parents birthed. His father died when Keats was very young, leaving the family devastated. His mother, however, doesn’t seem like a woman who stuck to the moral etiquette, and didn’t stay around her children for long, either. She ran away from her family, leaving her children to be tended by her mother.

But when she later came back, she couldn’t stay with her children for long, because The Mass Killer of the olden times, tuberculosis, had got to her. This might have come to Keats as a heavy blow, but he continued studying. It must have been very hard for him, dealing with an unforgiving life… his parents dead, his siblings in need of care, himself all alone… but still, he wrote poems! He had a deep interest in the arts and architecture, and even after he left school to study surgery, his mind always kept coming back to poetry.

And he did write many poems.

He even managed to fall in love with a woman – Isbella Jones – and began writing sensual poems thinking of her, young as he was. And later, he fell in love with another woman – Frances Brawne – who would’ve become his wife, had he not died. When John and Frances were getting intimate, and were slowly but surely falling in love, life decided that John had lived long enough without any mishaps and there had to be something to interrupt his smooth going. And so, his brother, Tom Keats, fell sick… and life had succeeded in preventing Keats from enjoying life further, preventing him from being carefree.

Yet, his love towards Brawne had never once changed. He wrote her letters telling her how much she meant to him, but Tom Keats’ death had brought even more gloom into his life. Imagine having nursed a tuberculosis patient in vain. But she continued to be his distant dream, and he hers. As his health went down, Keats was advised by his doctor to go south and live in better climatic conditions, and so he went, leaving poor Brawne alone, but Rome did nothing to prevent his downfall. He lay in bed for many months, sick.

This site says: Keats’ agony was so severe that at one point he pressed his doctor and asked him, “How long is this posthumous existence of mine to go on?”

One fine day, he finally extricated himself from the mortal flesh that bound his poetic soul and floated towards the gates of heaven. And that marks the end of the 25-year old poetic celebrity. He had written about three volumes of text before he died. Could I be able to do that? Doubtful. But none of his work was popular back then. His books had starting being published only four years before his death… and he had sold only 200 books until he died. But a few decades later, people dug out his work and began appreciating them. Thus, his works were able to survive, though he was not.

Looking at biographies like these make me feel that I’m a freaking parasite living off my parents’ hard work, and more than that, it makes me guilty because I haven’t achieved anything yet in life. Even though Keats died at the tender age of 25, he had written so much that he could finally die in peace. His poems would one day find their way to the world packed with awed fanatics. But if I die tomorrow, I will die as a plain old ordinary South Indian who whiled off her time in the net. Not that I even have the eligibility to be compared with this genius, but I’m just trying to face the facts here.

Sources : Wikipedia and Biography.com.

Evolution of the Tamizh language

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 Shivs photography - Tamil Script in Brahadeeshwarar temple.

Shivs photography – Tamil Script in Brahadeeshwarar temple.

Inspired by a line from a worried student’s recent post, I decided to write a blog post on ‘the origin of the language’, but later changed my mind… I finally decided to write about the Tamizh language instead, since this would be a rarely discussed topic.

Anglicization of the word ‘Tamizh’ has resulted in ‘Tamil’, because the letter ‘’ (‘zha’ is not even the correct spelling. It simply has no equivalent in any language that I know of…) is difficult for the non-Tamizhs to pronounce. Nowadays, it seems like the Tamilians themselves are not being able to pronounce it properly – my mother is a very good example. She pronounces it as ‘ya’ instead, just like a few people do. There’s no blaming her, anyway. She was raised in a completely different city, far away from where her parents’ hometown was. She never studied Tamil, even in her school. She took up Hindi and Telugu instead.

Alright… I seem to be going out of track.

It seems that Tamizh has evolved through three major stages: Old Tamizh (Tamizh Brahmi), Middle Tamizh, and the modern-day Tamizh.

Inscriptions of Old Tamizh in caves and pottery date back to the 3rd century BC. It was the only non-Sanskritized language back then… Pure, and full of itself, very much unlike the present-day form. It is said to have been evolved from the proto-Dravidian language that had been spoken millennia ago. This language must have been the origin of Tamizh. Tholkaapiyam seems to be the oldest work in Tamizh Literature, and its oldest parts were written in about 1st century AD.

Then came the Middle Tamizh (called Sen-Tamizh in Tamizh, meaning ‘superb or best’ Tamizh… pardon my translation, it’s very rough…) at around 8th century AD. Middle Tamizh underwent major transitions and was Sanskritized, hence the similarity with other languages in modern India. The Pallavas seem to be the reason for this transformation in the language. Most temples that have survived the millennium have inscriptions on them, and they must’ve been written in Middle Tamizh. I have tried to comprehend the letters and try to form words, but failed to do so. Many such inscriptions can be found in the Brahadeeshwarar temple, also called as the big temple, which had been constructed at around 1010 AD by the most revered king, Rajaraja Cholan, for constructing this fantabulous temple.

It seemed odd… I could almost figure out a few successive letters in the temple, but never understood their meaning when they were put in succession. I mean, there seemed to be no continuation, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why the few letters that looked a bit like the modern ones would carry a different pronunciation. Maybe they did not, after all. I’m not a language analyst or whatever. Anyway, experts might be able to translate it out and find sense in it, so it doesn’t matter if I can’t understand those alien-ish yet familiar script. I’d like to learn to decode translate it, though.

Most temples that stand strong until now had been constructed when Middle Tamil prevailed. In Sen-Tamizh, the use of the letter ∴ had ceased, Wikipedia tells me. It’s funny, because even in modern Tamizh, when we learn the letters, this symbol is still found, but no one ever uses it… in Tamizh. That letter has recently found a use, and by putting it beside the letter ‘pa’ will make it ‘fa’. And this is needed because English has the letter ‘F’, and if an English word has to be written down in Tamizh. Because of the extended use of English in Tamizh Nadu, this letter is gaining popularity again because most of the shops put up even English words in Tamizh letters on their boards.

The modern Tamizh had evolved around the 17th century, and must be very much different from the proto-Dravidian language that it had originally evolved from. It has adapted itself to the English-type punctuations, which was not allowed in Old and Sen-Tamizh. And today, people in different districts of the state speak different dialects (that too, colloquially), mingled with English. And I’d probably be the worst of all, speaking a mixed language of colloquial Tamizh, English, Telugu, Hindi, Korean and a little bit of whatever language I learn whenever and ultimately calling it… ‘Tamizh’.

I actually make new words combining two languages. No one else except my mother can understand that. (Or maybe they could, if they knew both the languages that I use to create my new word)…

Alright, back to relevancy.

So… Modern Tamizh, I’d bet, is nowhere near the beautiful, independent language that it used to be. Though the language has undergone a lot of change, I doubt the script and the letter-structure had been completely modified. It seems that the Old Tamizh still has an influence on the modern-day Tamizh, because Tamizh script is different from the other languages. Hindi, Telugu and the others seem to have the same kind of letters, but Tamil has very few. It’s very unique. And I know this because I have learnt all three specified.

And Malayalam must have originated from/split from Tamizh, too, because it has a similar letters. And we must be thankful to the Pandiya and Chozha (Chola) dynasties for preserving and enriching the Tamizh culture and literature, and the Chera kings for doing the same to Malayalam.

But with the modern-day English craze, the ancient language of the Tamils that is sometimes even compared with Sanskrit will soon evolve into something else, and might also bring a few English and other words into its vocabulary.

Source: Wikipedia.

Why Michelangelo Disliked Leonardo da Vinci

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Do read the original post, because the comments are equally interesting to read! 🙂

Reading this wonderful post felt like receiving a New Year’s gift to me!

The Best Artists

Michelangelo and Leonardo felt “an intense dislike for each other,” says their biographer Vasari. He doesn’t say why.

There is only this story from an anonymous manuscript called the Codice Magliabecchiano:

“As Leonardo, accompanied by [his friend] Giovanni di Gavina, was passing the Spini Bank, near the church of Santa Trinità, several notables were assembled who were discussing a passage in Dante and seeing Leonardo, they asked him to come and explain it to them.

Santa Trinità Church, Florence ( Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license photo)

At the same moment Michelangelo passed and, one of the crowd calling to him, Leonardo said: ‘Michelangelo will be able to tell you what it means.’ To which Michelangelo, thinking this had been said to entrap him, replied: ‘No, explain it yourself, horse-modeller that you are, who, unable to cast a statue in bronze, were forced to give up the attempt…

View original post 1,484 more words

Of Historical Fiction

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I have recently encountered a historical fiction novel in wattpad (I wanted to write a novel based on the Romans and so I was on the look for Roman historical novels when I found this one), which is not even totally completed (yet) but I have seemed to grow an affinity towards it like no other. I had been drooling over the author’s subtlety and the way with which she breathed life into each character. Envious I was, of course, but I had also become her fan. Titled ‘War Prize’, the writer has shown the best of romances I had ever come to like. Do read it, it’s free: War Prize. It shows the love between a lost Roman girl and a Briton. I love it, I love it, I love it! I’ve probably become so insane that I know not how to wait for the chapter updates! Go take a look at it right away!

Okay. I’ll stop drooling over someone else’s work and come to my own.

Lately, I have been researching a bit about the fifth century in Europe, trying to base my novel there. I have come to find that the Romans can be quite intriguing, but then, so will be the Britons and the Greeks. About the Anglo-Saxons, I know not, as I have not researched much about them. But the Huns, the Goths and the Vandals seem to have an interesting impact on Europe that I have decided to include at least one of these tribes in my novel.

I love it when a novel has ships, pirates, love, sea, emperors, empresses, kings, queens, princes and princesses, simplicity, subtleness, challenges, adventure, mystery, affection, war, vengeance and a romance so subtle that the most erotic moment in the book is when the male protagonist just touches the hand of his love, or when he removes her veil. Subtle romances such as those are the best in my opinion. The writing has to be brilliant if this has to be achieved, though.

I am further going to read a few piracy novels and see how they’re written, as I have no idea how to describe the insides of a ship. I would be delighted to write one such piracy novel sometime in the future.

This novel is going to be written by keeping beautiful writing in mind if not anything else, and if I write it well I will be rewarded with a ‘book publishing’, I believe. My love for historical fiction makes me research and write more, even though I have no steady plot at the moment.

And even when I do not write, I can always read novels pertaining to the said era. I love historical romances, so if you are one of those writers, hesitate not to tell me about your book! 🙂