My new favorite object

This porcelain miniature from the Frankenthal Porcelain Manufactory in Frankenthal, Rhineland-Palatinate is my new favorite object in the Met. It depicts, in a charming and cheerful fashion, a scene described by Herodotus (1.214) in which Tomyris, queen of the Massagetae, has Cyrus’ severed head dipped in blood, declaring “I warned you that I would quench your thirst for blood, and so I shall.”

Tomyris with the Head of Cyrus, Frankenthal Porcelain Manufactory, Germany, ca. 1773. MMA 1982.60.205. The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982.

I love the juxtaposition of gruesomeness and whimsicality. I really like the dog who is taking  a strong interest in the goings-on. I also appreciate the (18th century) period detail, such as the buckled shoes. The whole thing looks like something my grandmother would own.

In memoriam Christopher Plummer (1929-2021)

Normally I only commemorate academics on this site, but sadly enough, there have been some distinguished exceptions lately. Today I want to say a few words about one of my very favorite actors, Christopher Plummer, who died yesterday. Plummer was one of the most dignified actors I have ever seen. Thus, he equally at home playing Commodus (in The Fall of the Roman Empire, 1964) or Rudyard Kipling (in The Man Who Would Be King, 1975).

And who could forget General Chang, from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)? Hamlet is better in the original Klingon, after all…

He was also, arguably, the best part of Alexander (2004), an otherwise hideously dreadful film, in which he played Aristotle.