May 22, 2007

Tuesday, May 22
Informal Smoker
Tower Club Bar

Tuesday, June 5
University Series
Speaker: Ted Foss

About the Cigar Society

ONE OF THE OLDEST AND greatest traditions of the University Club is the discussion of intellectual, social, legal, artistic, historical, scientific, musical, theatrical, and philosophical issues in the company of educated, bright, and appropriately provocative individuals, all under the beneficent influence of substantial amounts of tobacco and spirits. 

The University Club Cigar Society embraces this tradition and extends it with its fortnightly Informal Smokers, monthly University Series lectures, and quarterly Cigar Society Dinners, in which cigars, and from time to time pipes and cigarettes, appear as an important component of our version of the classical symposium.

The Informal Smokers meet at the round table in the Tower Club bar.  There are no reservations or cover charges, and each member signs his own chit for drinks a l carte.  Sometimes a theme is published in advance, but the table talk always strays.  The format of the Cigar Society University Series includes cocktails at 5:15pm, a lecture or reading starting at 5:30 sharp for about thirty minutes, and discussion and more cocktails to follow.  Premium open bar and light snacks are included in University Series events; members sign a chit for $30 and guests may pay $40 (inclusive) in cash.

All University Club and Tower Club members and their guests are invited to all Cigar Society events. To be included in the Cigar Society's mailing list, write to the Secretary, Curtis Tuckey, at

Informal Smoker: Tuesday, May 22, Tower Club, 5:15 pm

Club member Clifford Yuknis (DePaul '71), who has seen the movie 300 (as I write this) at least 47 times, has been persuaded by your secretary to take the substantial sums he earned from his recent Gone Wild franchise and invest it in the production of a bloodily masculine yet historically and philosophically appealing war movie.  At our next meeting, Cigar Society regulars and nascent scriptwriters Alexander "the Great" Sherman (Classics, Princeton '97) and Darius "the Third" Gill (Wisconsin, '87) will unveil a treatment of their original screenplay, 334.  The story is based on their namesakes' Battle on the Granicus River, in which after a potentially disastrous blunder on Alexander's part he rallied to defeat Darius's armies in an overwhelming victory on May 22, 334 BC.  

Alexander (Sherman) and Darius (Gill), emulating the duo of Affleck and Damen (who co-wrote and co-starred in Good Will Hunting), are reportedly undergoing extensive abdominal development work with University Club chief trainer Tim Behland, in preparation for the blue-screen auditions that may commence later this summer for Yuknis Productions.  Recommended reading for Tuesday's discussions are Frank Miller's 300 and Plutarch's The Battle on the Granicus.

We shall assemble at the round table in the Tower Club bar, 5-7pm.  Drinks are la carte, and there is no need to RSVP for these Informal Smokers.  Bring your own cigars, or take advantage of the new Cigar Society Humidor Μολών Λαβέ.

University Series, Tuesday, June 5, Tower Club, 5:15 pm
Theodore N. Foss, club member and associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago, will be addressing the Cigar Society on current scholarship in the field of Jesuits in China.  Cocktails at 5:15, lecture at 5:30, discussion to follow at 6:00.  $30 includes open bar and light hors d'oeuvres.  Bring your own cigars.  RSVP to Laura Herold, Tower Club Manager.

Between 1585 and the end of the eighteenth century a total of some 600 European men traveled to China as Jesuit priests and brothers.  Debating religion and philosophy, investigating and describing Chinese culture and society, carrying out scientific inquiry, translating Chinese texts and translating European works into Chinese, and ingratiating themselves into elite society, the Jesuits left a lasting record.  Among other topics, Professor Foss will touch on the introduction by Europeans of tobacco into China, and display a snuff box given by the Jesuits to the Emperor of China.  Recommended reading: Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, by Liam Brockey (Harvard Press, 2007), a new book in the Club library.

Dr. Foss (AB Pomona '72, PhD Chicago '79, University Club '81) is Associate Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago.  He previously held positions as Assistant Director of the Center for East Asian Studies and Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University, Co-founder and Associate Director of the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History at University of San Francisco, and Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Reading for May 22

The battle on the Granicus

The Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea describes the battle in section 16 of his Life of Alexander.  The translation below was made by Mr. Evelyn and belongs to the Dryden series.

In the meantime, Darius's captains, having collected large forces, were encamped on the further bank of the river Granicus, and it was necessary to fight, as it were, in the gate of Asia for an entrance into it.

The depth of the river, with the unevenness and difficult ascent of the opposite bank, which was to be gained by main force, was apprehended by most, and some pronounced it an improper time to engage, because it was unusual for the kings of Macedonia to march with their forces in the month called Daesius. But Alexander broke through these scruples, telling them they should call it a second Artemisius. And when Parmenion advised him not to attempt anything that day, because it was late, he told him that he should disgrace the Hellespont, should he fear the Granicus.

And so, without more saying, he immediately took the river with thirteen troops of horse, and advanced against whole showers of darts thrown from the steep opposite side, which was covered with armed multitudes of the enemy's horse and foot, notwithstanding the disadvantage of the ground and the rapidity of the stream; so that the action seemed to have more frenzy and desperation in it, than of prudent conduct.

However, he persisted obstinately to gain the passage, and at last with much ado making his way up the banks, which were extremely muddy and slippery, he had instantly to join in a mere confused hand-to-hand combat with the enemy, before he could draw up his men, who were still passing over, into any order.

For the enemy pressed upon him with loud and warlike outcries; and charging horse against horse, with their lances, after they had broken and spent these, they fell to it with their swords. And Alexander, being easily known by his buckler, and a large plume of white feathers on each side of his helmet, was attacked on all sides, yet escaped wounding, though his cuirass was pierced by a javelin in one of the joinings. And Rhoesaces and Spithridates, two Persian commanders, falling upon him at once, he avoided one of them, and struck at Rhoesaces, who had a good cuirass on, with such force that, his spear breaking in his hand, he was glad to betake himself to his dagger. While they were thus engaged, Spithridates came up on one side of him, and raising himself upon his horse, gave him such a blow with his battle-ax on the helmet that he cut off the crest of it, with one of his plumes, and the helmet was only just so far strong enough to save him, that the edge of the weapon touched the hair of his head. But as he was about to repeat his stroke, Clitus, called the black Clitus, prevented him, by running him through the body with his spear. At the same time Alexander dispatched Rhoesaces with his sword.

While the horse were thus dangerously engaged, the Macedonian phalanx passed the river, and the foot on each side advanced to fight. But the enemy hardly sustaining the first onset soon gave ground and fled, all but the mercenary Greeks, who, making a stand upon a rising ground, desired quarter, which Alexander, guided rather by passion than judgment, refused to grant, and charging them himself first, had his horse [...] killed under him. And this obstinacy of his to cut off these experienced desperate men cost him the lives of more of his own soldiers than all the battle before, besides those who were wounded.

The Persians lost in this battle twenty thousand foot and two thousand five hundred horse. On Alexander's side, Aristobulus says there were not wanting above four-and-thirty, of whom nine were foot-soldiers; and in memory of them he caused so many statues of brass, of Lysippus' making, to be erected. And that the Greeks might participate in the honor of his victory he sent a portion of the spoils home to them particularly to the Athenians three hundred bucklers, and upon all the rest he ordered this inscription to be set:

Alexander the son of Philip, and the Greeks,
except the Lacedaemonians [4],
won these from the barbarians who inhabit Asia.

All the plate and purple garments, and other things of the same kind that he took from the Persians, except a very small quantity which he reserved for himself, he sent as a present to his mother.  [ continued ]

Respectfully submitted by
Curtis Tuckey, Secretary



With pipe and book at close of day
Oh, what is sweeter, mortal, say!

University Club Cigar Society Officers for 2007. David O'Connor, King.  Gerald I. Bauman, Treasurer.  Curtis Tuckey, Secretary.  J. Douglas Johnson, Liaison to Chicago Croquet Club (Honorary). Jeffrey Dean, Chair of the Subcommittee concerning Pipe Smoking. Alexander Sherman, Metropolitan Philosopher. Thomas S. O'Brien, Stentorian. John H. Nelson, Herald.