Saturday, April 6, 2013


The Brussels Business took me in by its usage of the Trojan Horse. I may be the only person on the planet who would fall for this ruse. But, on the search for interesting classical mythological usages,
you know, I rented the film via iTunes to take on a long flight last week. Then I watched it. (This is more than I can yet say for Argo, which I must watch in the eight days or forefeit my $3.25 rental fee.)

The Brussels Business is a moderately(-plus) interesting documentary that unveils the growing culture of lobbyism that surrounds and pervades the European Parliament in Brussels. Directors are M. Lietaert and F. Moser, two Austrians, I gather from other credits given. While I liked the film, I must say that a viewer like me could have dealt with a less dramatic build-up to the revelation that lobbyists are actively working the backscenes of the EU. A very articulate film lays it all out. A pair of activitsts from the Corporate European Observatory, Olivier Hoedeman and Erik Wesselius, are the principal talking heads, but several lobbyists and politicians and commissioners join in the spinning of the tale. You get the feeling throughout that you would very much like to have dinner with Hoedeman especially. And I feel like I'd like to pat the back of Siim Kallas, the VP of the European Commission, who undertook a three-year uphill struggle to limit the secretive dealings of lobbyists in Brussels. Part of me, however, wanted to ask the participants whether they were actually surprised that there are lobbyists in Brussels. The musical buildups want you to feel surprised.

I think the film could have been half as long and really gripped my interest. As it was, I turned it off a couple of times; but felt drawn back to make it to the end.

Big question for MythMatters: What's the usage?
   About 2/3 through the film — I couldn't rewind because I was a cheap-skate iTunes renter! — the film introduces the usage of the Trojan Horse. It comes about by their citation of a speech delivered in 1945 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a televised speech delivered from the Oval Office in which FDR disclosed legislation that would curb the activities of Washington lobbyists. He had seen through their insidious plans and was warning the American people to join forces against the threat.
  Moser/Leitaert see the lobbyists' siege on Brussels in much the same light.
Whatever it is, I fear lobbyists even when they bring gifts.

That last, of course, is the great line from Vergil's Laocoon in Aeneid 2:
           Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos, et dona ferentis.
The line is sometimes turned into something like "I fear the Greeks bearing gifts." Don't forget, though, to get that wonderful adverbial "et" when you render the Latin into English: "even when they bring gifts!"

Good to see that myth still matters.

I won't say I grappled with the taxonomy of this usage. I was a bit torn as to whether I should assign the usage to Moser/Lietaert or whether I should dig further and get the name of the poster's designer. It's a lovely image. That ominous horse rising over the European Parliament and the besieged town of Brussels. In the end I baled. Perhaps, indeed, the reference should go to FDR. However, I'll snag the YouTube of the Oval Office Speech and give that a separate entry sometime soon. Argo, though, must come next.

Ciao da Napoli.

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