LETTER DU JOUR: Cicero to Appius Claudius Pulcher, August 29, 51 B.C.

ad Familiares 3.6

Background: Here we see Cicero at his ingenuous/diplomatic/political best (you decide). He has been sent as governor of Cilicia at a time when Rome is sliding down the slippery slope into Civil War between Pompey and Caesar. The addressee of this letter, Appius Claudius Pulcher, comes from one of Rome's most powerful families and is likely connected politically to Pompey. ACP has just spent two years as governor, fleecing the provincials (including, but not confined to, keeping money provided by Rome for the billeting of soldiers and simply forcing citizens to put soldiers up). As such, it probably isn't surprising that he wants to avoid meeting Cicero -- who has a history of prosecuting corrupt governors -- when the latter comes to take up his position. Cicero, as always, is more afraid, however of how ACP's avoidance might be perceived back at Rome, and so writes this letter making it clear that ACP knows Cicero's nose is out of joint, so to speak, but also asking him to 'make it look good' if the subject comes up at Rome and trying not to completely alienate someone who can do damage to him politically. It's worth noting that under the mentioned lex Cornelia, ACP had to leave the province within thirty days (from August 1), so there really is no possible way Cicero and ACP could have met without violating the law. It's also interesting to note that ACP would be brought up on charges of de maiestate shortly after his return,  by P. Cornelius Dolabella, who would be betrothed to Cicero's daughter Tullia at some point during his governorship in Cilicia.

Translation (Shuckburg via Perseus)

When I compare my course of action with yours,
though in maintaining our friendship I do not
allow myself greater credit than I do you, yet I
am more satisfied with my conduct than
with yours. For at Brundisium I asked Phania--and
I imagined that I saw clearly his fidelity to you
and knew what a high place he had in your
confidence--to tell me to what part of the
province he thought you would like me to come in
taking over the succession. Having been answered
by him that I could not please you more than by
going by sea to Sida, although the arrival
there was not very dignified and much less
convenient for me on many accounts, I yet said
that I would do so. Again, having met L. Clodius
in Corcyra--a man so closely attached to you,
that in talking to him I seemed to be talking to
you--I told him that I meant to arrange for my
first arrival to be at the point at which Phania
had requested that it should be. Thereupon, after
thanking me, he begged me very strongly to go
straight to Laodicea: that you wished to be on
the very frontier of the province, in order to
quit it at the first moment: nay, that, had I not
been a successor whom you were anxious to see,
you would most likely have quitted before you
were relieved. And this last agreed with the
letter which I had received in Rome, from which I
thought that I perceived how much in a hurry you
were to depart. I answered Clodius that I would
do so, and with much greater pleasure than if I
had had to do what I had promised Phania.
Accordingly, I changed my plan and at once sent a
letter in my own writing to you; and this, I
learnt from your letter, reached you in very good
time. With my conduct I am, for my part, quite
satisfied; for nothing could be more cordial.
Now, on the other hand, consider your own. Not
only were you not at the place where you might
have seen me earliest, but you had gone such a
distance as made it impossible for me to overtake
you even, within the thirty days fixed by, I
think, the Cornelian law. Such a course of
action on your part  must appear to those
who are ignorant of our feelings to each other to
indicate one who, to put it at the mildest, is a
stranger and desirous of avoiding a meeting,
while mine must seem that of the most closely
united and affectionate of friends. And, after
all, before reaching my province, I received a
letter from you, in which, though you informed me
that you were starting for Tarsus, you yet held
out no uncertain hope of my meeting you.
Meanwhile, certain persons, I am ready to believe
out of spite--for that is a vice widely spread
and to be found in many--yet who had managed to
get hold of some plausible grounds for their
gossip, being unacquainted with the constancy of
my feelings, tried to alienate my affection from
you, by saying that you were holding an assize at
Tarsus, were issuing many enactments, deciding
actions, delivering judgments, though you might
have guessed that your successor had by this time
taken over your province--things (they remarked)
not usually done even by those who expect to be
relieved shortly. I was not moved by the talk of
such persons; nay, more, I assure you, that if
you performed any official act, I was prepared to
consider myself relieved from trouble, and to
rejoice that from being a government of a year,
which I regarded as too long, it had been reduced
nearly to one of eleven months, if in my absence
the labour of one month were subtracted. One
thing, however, to speak candidly, does disturb
me--that, considering the weakness of my military
force, the three cohorts which are at their
fullest strength should be absent, and that I
should not know where they are. But what causes
me most annoyance of all is that I do not know
where I am likely to see you, and have been the
slower to write to you, because I was expecting
you in person. from day to day ; and meanwhile I
did not receive so much as a letter to tell me
what you were doing or where I was to see you.
Accordingly, I have sent you the commander of my
reserve--men, Decimus Antonius, a gallant officer
and possessed of my fullest confidence, to take
over the cohorts, if you think well, in order
that, before the suitable season of the year is
gone, I may be able to accomplish something
practical. It was in that department that I had
hoped, both from our friendship and your letter,
to have the advantage of your advice, of which I
do not even now despair. But the truth is
that, unless you write to me, I cannot even guess
when or where I am to see you. For my part, I
will take care that friends and enemies alike
understand that I am most warmly attached to you:
of your feelings towards me you do appear to have
given the ill-disposed some grounds for 'thinking
differently: if you will put that straight I
shall be much obliged to you. That you may also
be able to calculate at what place you may meet
me without a breach of the Cornelian law, note
this--I entered the province on the last day of
July: I am on my way to Cilicia through
Cappadocia: I break up the camp from Iconium on
this last day of August.  With these facts
before you, if you think by reckoning days and
routes you may meet me, please settle at what
place that may be most conveniently done, and on
what day.

Annotated text at Perseus ...

Latin text via the Latin Library ...



::Sunday, August 31, 2003 2:03:32 PM::
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TTT: More from Mary Harrsch

If you enjoyed MH's 'Virtual Julius Caesar' (see yesterday's listings), you'll also enjoy her:

Virtual Alexander the Great

Virtual Cleopatra

They're a bit less complex, but still kind of fun.

::Sunday, August 31, 2003 9:31:49 AM::
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pridie kalendas septembres

  • 12 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Gaius (Caligula) at
  • 40 A.D. -- Gaius (Caligula) celebrates an ovatio after his
    attempted military campaigns in Gaul and Britain
  • 161 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Commodus (and his twin,
    Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus)

::Sunday, August 31, 2003 9:26:44 AM::
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TTT: Virtual Julius Caesar

So I'm busy trying to track down all the bloggish sorts of things I can find which have to do with Classics and I come across a series of sites (blogs, etc.) put together y Mary Harrsch, whose work I don't recall ever having seen before and, I confess, had never heard of (if I had and have since forgotten, please forgive me!). While I'll reveal some of her other work over the course of the weekend, I just have to point out her Virtual Julius Caesar site, which quite possibly is the coolest thing since Pompeiian garum. You can actually chat with Caesar and he'll turn the conversation into something he can respond to. As you chat, in another window will open websites dealing with the topic of conversation. Definitely worth a look.

::Saturday, August 30, 2003 2:27:17 PM::
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ante diem iii kalendas septembres

  • 490 B.C. -- battle of Marathon (one possible date)
  • 37 A.D. -- dedication of the Temple of Augustus (and associated
    rites thereafter)

::Saturday, August 30, 2003 8:03:54 AM::
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NUNTII: Labours of Hercules

Twenty or so years ago, Seattle artist Michael Spafford made two huge murals depicting the Labours of Hercules to adorn the House of Representatives chambers. They were removed a few years later after complaints that they were too "offensive and sexually suggestive" (and, of course, things that are offensive and sexually suggestive have no place in government ...). In October, however, the murals will be 'redeployed' in Centralia College's Corbet Theatre. Read more in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ...

::Saturday, August 30, 2003 7:53:19 AM::
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NUNTII: Roman Ruins at Edinburgh

An Explorator passed this one along for inclusion in Sunday's issue (thanks LA!). The Roman site of Cramond (whence came the famous Cramond Lioness, soon to return to its find site) is revealing more of its secrets. A dig in progress has uncovered pieces of pottery, remains of a Roman road, and some defensive fossa. More in the Edinburgh Evening News ...

::Saturday, August 30, 2003 7:15:05 AM::
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EXHIBITION: Coming of Age in Ancient Greece

An Explorator reader (thanks UB!) sent me a link for an exhibition reviewed in Explorator a few weeks ago. The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College is hosting Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood From the Classical Past and has put up a nice companion website. While they don't show everything in the exhibition (obviously), each page at the site does have an image of at least one of the artifacts from the show (they don't enlarge, darn it!). The Resources page is definitely worth a look for those who like looking at pots and the like and there is a good selection of ancient quotations about childhood to which you can also add your own (properly cited, of course). Last, but not least, if you've got some time to kill, there are three flash-based jigsaw puzzles based on items from the exhibition (Medea's Children is kind of difficult, by the way, if you're lacking coffee and full of antihistamines). Enjoy!

::Friday, August 29, 2003 8:03:52 PM::
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Again, we're rooting around in the legal documents (i.e. wax tablets) of the Sulpicii found at Pompeii (TSulp 12), this time to one dating from August 29, some time in the early 40's (Gregory Rowe offers 40, 43 or 44 A.D.):

original text:

 [ ] 
 [ ]A[ ] 


in basil[ica] ante cur(i)am 
hora prima HS MM dari 
stipul[a]tus est L(ucius) Lucretius 
Firmus miles cohortis X[I]II
(cohortis) M(arci) Sal[vi F]irmi spo[p]ondit 
L(ucius) Ael[ius Repenti?]nus 
Actum Capuae IIII K(alendas) Sept(embres)  
T(ito) Axio T(ito) Mussidio Polliano co(n)s(ulibus)


... in the Basilica in front of the Curia at the first hour, Lucius Lucretius Firmus, a soldier in Marcus Salvus Firmus' Thirteenth Cohort, stipulated that he promised Lucius Aelius Repentinus 2000 sesterces.

Transacted at Capua, August 29 in the consulships of Titus Axius and Titus Mussidius Pollianus.


Gregory Rowe clearly has a different version of this inscription than that which is available from the EDH. He prefaces his translation with:

Bonded commitment to appear made by Lucius Aelius Valentinus ...

In line 8 he also restores Lucius Aelius Valentinus as opposed to the EDH's L. Aelius Repentinus (I should have noted in our previous installment from the TSulp archive that Rowe did the same thing there).

In other words, he is suggesting the inscription began vadimonium factum ... and that this document is what is best described as a 'promise to appear' in a civil case (what we might loosely call "bail"). It seems likely that the dispute centres on the ownership and/or purchase of the slave boy Felix mentioned in the previous inscription from the archive.

An excellent brief article on vadimonium is:

Ernest Metzger, "Evidence for Ladungsvadimonium"

Dr. Metzger, of the University of Aberdeen, is also the editor of, which is arguably the most extensive collection of Roman Law resources available on the www.

further bibliography at the EDH ...

::Friday, August 29, 2003 7:28:06 PM::
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NUNTII: What Would Jesus Speak?

"Paleojudaica" has alerted me to a short essay in Forward waxing on what language Jesus would have spoken. It can best be summarized as Aramaic, with small Greek and still less Latin.

Read the essay ...

::Friday, August 29, 2003 7:12:42 AM::
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REVIEW: Ernst Junger, Storm of Steel

While the tome under question is a novel about WWI, there is a passing reference to the Iliad and Odyssey for comparison purposes. It might be useful in a complit environment.

Read the full review in the Telegraph

::Friday, August 29, 2003 7:03:22 AM::
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ante diem iv kalendas septembres

  • 29 A.D. -- beheading of John the Baptist (traditional date)
  • 70 A.D. -- Romans enter the Temple at Jerusalem (ditto)
  • 112 A.D. -- death and deification of Ulpia Marciana, sister of the emperor Trajan

::Friday, August 29, 2003 6:51:40 AM::
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TTT: Parallels Between 'Our Times' and Diocletian's

Daypopping just came across an interesting article (.pdf) on the political parallels between the time of Diocletion and the present day. The source is another political magazine, Ideas on Liberty, and the author relies mostly on Will Durrant and M. Rostovtzeff, so you can probably figure much of it out already.

Harold B. Jones, "Homeland Security Circa AD 285" Ideas on Liberty (April, 2003)

::Friday, August 29, 2003 6:46:41 AM::
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TTT: Origins of Labor (or Labour) Day

The "" has a guest feature by William Harris on the origins of Labor Day. Interestingly for all concerned, there isn't a thing Classical about it and the North American/Australian incarnation dates back only to the 1880's or so.


::Friday, August 29, 2003 6:34:36 AM::
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NUNTII: Macedonian Cemetery Found

An Explorator reader (thanks LA!) has passed along news of what has been found at the dig at Archontiko (near Pella), Greece, this summer. The most spectacular finds, which I hope we'll be hearing much, much more about include burials of 80 or so Macedonian warriors, adorned with gold, along with their wives. The cemetery dates from the second half of the sixth-century B.C.. And apparently there are 300+ other (unlooted) burials there as well! Read more in EKathimerini ...

::Friday, August 29, 2003 6:15:27 AM::
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CAVE: Editorial Warning

Over the next few days I'm going to be experimenting with one of the features Radio includes with their blog software which allows me to create 'categories'. The idea here is that I can set up a section that just has job listings, calls for papers, etc. and hopefully I can then close down my advertisement-laden lists at Yahoo. As such, if you are a frequent visitor to this site (as I hope you are!) you might find some strange posts every now and then as I try to figure things out. Thank you for your patience.

::Thursday, August 28, 2003 7:09:31 AM::
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This is, I believe, the oldest Latin inscription ever found in Egypt. It dates from 116 B.C. and was found on the tiny island of Philae (in the Nile). It documents the visit of a group of Roman travellers who, as tourists are wont to do, decided to 'leave their mark' behind for posterity.

original text:

[ ] ACV[ ]VS [ ] F TER 


[C(aius)] Acu[ti]us [-] f(ilius) Ter(etina)
hoc venit primus
a(nte)d(iem) V K(alendas) Septembris
Q(uinto) Fabio C(aio) Licinio co(n)s(ulibus)

M(arcus) Claudius Varus

Sp(urius) Varaeus N(umeri) f(ilius)
hoc venerunt
a(nte) d(iem) V K(alendas) Septem(bres) co(n)s(ulibus)
Romae Q(uinto) Fabio C(aio) Li[cinio]


Gaius Acutius, son of ? from the Teretina tribe got here first on August 28, during the consulship of Quintus Fabius and Gaius Licinius. Marcus Claudius Varus and Spurius Varaeus, the son of Numerus came here on August 28, during the consulship at Rome of Quintus Fabius and Gaius Licinius

personal commentary:

This is the sort of inscription which provides an immediate link to the regular folk of the ancient world. You can just picture Gaius racing to get to the island first and make his mark. Then his two pals catch up and have to 'top' him, so they make sure that folks know they came from Rome.

Bibliography at the EDH ...

The UNESCO site has an article which mentions these (and other) inscriptions from Philae and environs.

::Thursday, August 28, 2003 6:44:47 AM::
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LUDI: Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance

Fans of computer games set in the ancient world (I'm currently working my way through Legion) will want to keep an eye open for Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance, coming soon from Acclaim. Games Domain has a preview ...

::Thursday, August 28, 2003 5:49:09 AM::
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NUNTII: The NJCL News Keeps Pouring In!

The Clarke Time-Courier has a nice feature on Emma Leahy, a sixth-grade homeschooled student who is also a student of Susan Shearer. Emily did very well and took home 14 ribbons and other assorted hardware ...

::Thursday, August 28, 2003 5:37:13 AM::
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ante diem v kalendas septembres

  • rites in honour of Sol and Luna near the Circus Maximus
  • 29 B.C. dedication of the ara Victoriae in the Curia
  • 430 A.D. -- death of St. Augustine
  • 1797 -- birth of Karl Otfried Muller

::Thursday, August 28, 2003 5:30:07 AM::
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This is something I hope will be a regular feature ... an inscription dated to the date of entry in the weblog (or even a letter of Cicero). This particular inscription of a judicial decision was found among the legal documents of the Sulpicii at  Pompeii and dates from 38-54 A.D./C.E..

original text:



[L(ucius) Lucr]etius Firmus
[denu]ntiavit L(ucio) Aelio
[Rep?]entino uti puerum 
Felicem servum in potesta
te sua haberet 
actum Capuae
VI K(alendas) Sept(embres) T(ito) Axio T(ito) Mussidio
Polliano co(n)s(ulibus) 


Lucius Firmus ordered Lucius Aelius Repentinus to retain the boy Felix as a slave under his authority. Transacted at Capua on August 27 in the consulship of Titus Axius and Titus Mussidius Pollianus.

I have just noted (thanks to Google) that my translation of this document is virtually identical to that of Gregory Rowe, who has a running translation  of the Tabulae Pompeianae Sulpiciorum online as a .pdf document. Rowe has an excellent in-progress site of his research into the so-called Murecine Tablets (the present inscription is taken from that collection) ... definitely worth a look.

further bibliography at the EDH ...

::Wednesday, August 27, 2003 5:44:11 AM::
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HOWLER: Education is a Bitter Pill

Under that headline in a rant to the editor at the Salt Lake Tribune, we read "Education is derived from the ancient Greek word educare which meant "to bring forth out of."" The letter concludes "Want real reform? Ask the students!" Er ... no. But it wouldn't hurt to ask the teachers 

::Wednesday, August 27, 2003 5:00:09 AM::
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NUNTII: Classical Influence on Martin Luther King Jr.

With the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech coming up, the rogueclassicist was wondering how he might incorporate it into this space. Turns out others have pondered King's Classical influences as well, including the University of Florida's Lewis Sussman, who has an article (not online) on the subject in the current issue of Classical Bulletin (which I didn't think was still publishing!). There's a nice summary in AScribe, however, in which we are alerted to King's (obvious?) connection to the Antigone and various other Classical influences. Read more (the site was very wonky this a.m.) ...

(noted in passing: Classics is alive and well at UF!!)

::Wednesday, August 27, 2003 4:38:18 AM::
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This Day in Ancient History

ante diem vi kalendas septembres

  • Roman festival of Volturnalia (probably to be identified with the river divinity of the Tiber)
  • 479 B.C. -- Greek forces defeat Persian forces under Mardonius at Plataea (trad.?)
  • 413 B.C. -- lunar eclipse which caused hesitation amongst Athenian forces under Nikias in Sicily; the subsequent delay ultimately led to their destruction

::Wednesday, August 27, 2003 4:16:30 AM::
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NUNTII: Interesting Mosaic Project in the News

Latin teacher Rebecca Chode's Latin 3's and 4's are engaged in a very interesting project: recreating some of the marine mosaic scenes from the House of the Faun (Pompeii). They used an indirect method and hopefully some day we'll get to see photos (someone send them along if they're already available!). Full story in the Hingham Journal ...

::Tuesday, August 26, 2003 8:16:20 PM::
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TTT: Article on Augustus

Lin Ouyang, "The Achievements of the Divine Augustus"

A nice overview of what Augustus achieved and how. Teachers will definitely want to read this one -- it's term paper length, has references, and is rather good!

::Tuesday, August 26, 2003 8:10:26 PM::
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NUNTII: Sporting the Sicilian Nonno Look!!

Tearing up the newswaves today is shocking news ... evidence from Britain suggests Romans may have -- gasp -- worn socks in their sandals! At that dig in south London wherein they found that tin of "face cream" a few weeks ago, archaeologists have excavated the foot of a bronze statue which appears to be sporting both sandals and socks. No word yet on whether they found the Bermuda shorts and T-shirt to complete the ensemble. Plenty of coverage of this one pouring in and the headline writers are having a field day (as did I ... by the way, I'm married to a Sicilian):

Roman Crimes of Fashion Revealed (BBC)
Socks-Appeal of Ancient Rome (
Roman Sock Shock (Sydney Morning Herald)
Roman Foot Reveals Fashion Blunder (CNN)
No Socks Please -- We're British (Megastar)

::Tuesday, August 26, 2003 5:18:16 PM::
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NUNTII: Movie Gossip

Forgot to mention this one yesterday. Debuting at the forthcoming Toronto Film Festival will be The Human Stain, all about a disgraced Classics professor who has an affair with a younger woman. As such, our next 'Classicist image' (replacing Kevin Kline, of course) will be Anthony Hopkins and the love interest is Nicole Kidman. Source ...

::Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:39:30 AM::
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OPED: Why Study Latin

For most of the people who are reading this blog, there is probably no problem coming up with a list of reasons to study Latin. The National Committee for Latin and Greek has downloadable brochures available on that very topic, and other such lists are omnipresent on the web, e.g.,  at William Harris' site, the Somerset Hills School District site, and the University of Notre Dame, to name but three. One of the big reasons (and justifications) for Latin in schools has always been 'to improve your English vocabulary'. Today, however, I came upon an OP-Ed piece which takes this further.  According to Mary Colalillo, a student majoring in Mathematics and Classics at Purdue, there is a link between Latin and liberty. Writing for a libertarian (I think? I'm Canadian, so I'm not quite sure) website, she makes the connection between the abuse and misuse of language by tyrants and how Latin trains the mind to know what words really mean or don't mean. Read the whole article at ...

That Classically-trained people do pick up on the subtleties of the English language should be no surprise to long-time members of the Classics list or regular readers of Dr. Weevil ... now if we can just convince my school board on the benefits of Latin ...

::Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:28:50 AM::
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NUNTII: Seeds Sown in Latin Class

Regular readers of Explorator and/or the Classics list will be aware of the discovery in the past few weeks of traces of Caligula's palace in Rome. While I think the jury is still out on some of the claims associated with the palace as presented in the press (more on that later tonight), today I learned the dig was conducted by a group called the American Institute for Roman Culture, which I have never heard of before. The Huntington Herald-Dispatch, however, does have a nice piece on the founder of the institute -- former Huntington High School student Darius Arya -- and the Latin teacher who clearly inspired him -- Lois Merritt. As the editor of the Ancient World on Television, I also note that Darius was influenced by watching movies about Rome on television after school (n.b. for those wondering ... the AWOTV listings will be resuming this weekend)..

::Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:05:46 AM::
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NUNTII: More Movie Gossip -- Gladiator II

Okay ... coffee's ready but is too hot to drink. So I meander to Chuck the Movie Guy's site and find he's done a recent audio interview with Ridley Scott, ostensibly about the upcoming not-classical-in-any-way movie Matchstick Men. At the end of the two-minute interview (requires RealPlayer) he asks him about rumours of Gladiator II. The response: it will be out in 2005. Elsewhere, we find that Russell Crowe probably won't come back from the dead, but the movie will probably focus on that precocious little princelet who survived at the end.

::Monday, August 25, 2003 7:07:36 AM::
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NUNTII: More Movies

So I'm waiting for my coffee to come up and decide to poke around to see what's happening with other films of the new millennium's version of the sword and sandal epic. Ecce! a piece from the Hartford Courant turns up, all about a forthcoming exhibition called Braveheart: Men in Skirts, which traces historical fashion trends for men. Inter alia, the article claims "Keanu Reeves is in discussions to play the Roman emperor Constantine" and I start to wonder what the heck a movie about Constantine would be like, so I poke around for more info. It appears that the Courant's reporter didn't look into things deeply enough as it is clear that Reeves is going to be playing John Constantine, in an adaptation of a comic series called Hellblazer which is elsewhere described as "Dirty Harry set in the occult world". That makes more sense and seems more in line with the sorts of roles Reeves tends to take on.

Meanwhile, all the movies about Hannibal that are supposedly in the works don't seem to be getting very far. According to Greg's Previews at the Yahoo site, the Denzel Washington piece was looking for a screenwriter as of the end of July. The same source elsewhere  has an interesting rumour that Ridley Scott was approached to direct the one supposedly starring Vin Diesel -- as if RS would even consider VD in the starring role. Another director touted appears to have been Ron Howard, who obviously isn't known for this sort of thing. What's more interesting, however, is the note that Sony -- who also seems to have some other mentioned-in-passing Hannibal project kicking around -- likely won't finance two movies about the same subject. This leads to speculation, of course, that the 'mentioned-in-passing' project is probably more serious and Vin Diesel will be dumped somewhere along the way for a rather more serious actor.

::Monday, August 25, 2003 6:47:19 AM::
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NUNTII: Alexander the Great flick II

The other Alexander the Great flick is casting about for someone to play the young Alexander. The 'old' Alexander will be played by Leonardo DiCaprio (yikes!) while Nicole Kidman will play the role of 'Olympia' (I hope that's a typo in the source). This one is directed by Baz Luhrman, who brought us the visually interesting Moulin Rouge. See FilmStew for a somewhat lengthy article ...

::Monday, August 25, 2003 6:22:56 AM::
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NUNTII: Alexander the Great flick

As some might be aware, there are two Alexander flicks in the works. Details of one seem to be more solid and bode fairly well. One will be directed by Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK) and have Colin Farrell in the starring role. Angelina Jolie has signed to play Olympias (I think that works!) while Anthony Hopkins will play Ptolemy. It's set to hit the screens in December 2004. Windy City Media is the source for this ...

::Monday, August 25, 2003 6:14:31 AM::
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NUNTII: Troy Out in May

According to the Hollywood Reporter, which seems to have rather high hopes about the upcoming flick starring Brad Pitt, Troy will be in theatres May 14. Read more (it's buried in news about other upcoming movies) ...

::Monday, August 25, 2003 6:04:25 AM::
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The coverage continues to trickle in, this time about Maureen Rideout and her Tewksbury Memorial High crew. Noteworthy in this piece is the designation of Latin as the "mother of all languages". Read more ...

::Monday, August 25, 2003 5:45:13 AM::
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VETERES: Nicholas Hammond

I should have mentioned this in the David Grene piece. When I originally envisioned this blog (actually, it was originally supposed to be a magazine, but more on that later), I thought it would be a good thing to have a semi-regular (i.e. when I found stuff) feature on the lives of the Classicists who have gone before and have "completed their bibliographies", as one might say. Hence the epithet 'veteres'.

Nicholas Hammond (who died in March, 2001)  was what might be called a "Classicist's Classicist", being the co-editor of one edition of the Cambridge Ancient History and the Oxford Classical Dictionary as well as the author of several other works. But what's even more interesting about him is his service during WWII, which is the stuff of Indiana Jones-type movies. Here's one of the nicer obituaries you'll ever read in the Guardian ...


::Sunday, August 24, 2003 8:42:47 PM::
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TTT:  Milman Parry

Harvard Univesity's Library Notes  (November, 2002) has an interview with David Elmer, the assistant curator of the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature. In the interview, he gives a nice overview of Parry's work with oral literature and what is going on with the collection. Read more ...

::Sunday, August 24, 2003 4:25:09 PM::
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VETERES: David Grene

David Grene was a prominent Classicist at the University of Chicago who passed away in September, 2002. The University of Chicago put out an excellent obituary which gives good insight into the life of the man whose translations of Greek tragedy and Herodotus have been standard fare in and out of academia for decades. Read more ...

::Sunday, August 24, 2003 4:18:18 PM::
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VARIA: Teacher Tributes

It is clear the personal divinities of the rogueclassicist do much to drive interesting little tidbits to his computer monitor. Just now there arrived, e.g., a page from the University of Milwaukee, which a couple of years ago was celebrating its sesquicentennial and asked for submissions of tributes to teachers who had influence UM graduates. There aren't a lot there, but the majority, it seems, are either Latin or Classics teachers  Read more ...

::Sunday, August 24, 2003 4:13:27 PM::
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NUNTII: NJCL ... the view from Indianapolis

The Indianapolis Star is the latest newspaper to wade in with coverage of the NJCL. Congrats to Sharon Gibson, who is clearly going above and beyond for 'the cause'.

::Sunday, August 24, 2003 4:07:12 PM::
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NUNTII: More National Junior Classical League News

This morning's research for Explorator turned up a couple of more items related to the NJCL:

The Herald-Democrat (why don't news sites put the name of their city on the page??) reports "Sherman High School senior Jill Reddish earned second place in Greek Life and Literature at the recent National Junior Classical League competition held in San Antonio ..."

The Victoria (Texas) Advocate waxes,  "A creative approach to promoting the Latin language and classical history earned the Memorial High School Junior Classical League a national award in early August ..."

I wonder what it would take to get the NJCL the same sort of television coverage as the National Spelling Bee. I doubt TSN (the Sports Network up here in Canada) would cover it, but at least we could get bumper clips on Headline News, no?

::Sunday, August 24, 2003 10:24:28 AM::
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TTT: Roman Invasion of Britain

Dana Huntley, "The Coming of Rome"

In this article culled from British Heritage, the author argues that the Roman invasion of Britain  "represented a turning point which was no less significant than William the Conqueror's victory ten centuries later."  A nice summary of the impact, if you don't mind wading through the popups.

::Sunday, August 24, 2003 10:17:05 AM::
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TAN: So what is a Classicist anyway?

Are you tired of trying to explain what a classicist is? According to the hyperdictionary, here's a pile of synonyms you can use, which should be helpful:

academician, antiquarian, antiquary, antique collector, antique dealer, antique-car collector, archaeologist, archaist, bookman, clerk, colossus of knowledge, dryasdust, genius, giant of learning, humanist, Jonathan Oldbuck, laudator temporis acti, learned clerk, learned man, literary man, litterateur, lover of learning, man of learning, man of letters, mastermind, medievalist, mine of information, Miniver Cheevy, philologist, philologue, philomath, philosophe, philosopher, plain stylist, polyhistor, polymath, Pre-Raphaelite, pundit, purist, savant, scholar, scholastic, schoolman, student, walking encyclopedia

... or perhaps not.

::Saturday, August 23, 2003 1:51:15 PM::
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TTT: Deaths in the Iliad

As often, while waiting for something to download I meandered onto the web and  came across an interesting website to distract me for a few minutes. The  Deaths in the Iliad site by Ian Johnston, adapted by Carlos Parada. catalogs everyone who dies in the Iliad and usually says who killed them. Casualties are categorized in various ways (I didn't realize, e.g., that Helen had so many suitors who died trying to recover her!).  Pages are a bit slow to load if you're on dialup, but worth the wait.

::Saturday, August 23, 2003 1:17:27 PM::
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NUNTII: Leo Strauss Watch

Adbusters is the latest to jump on the Leo-Strauss-as-messiah-of-the-necon movement. There's nothing really new here, including the media's general penchant for concentrating on smallish details and blowing them into some sort of major philosophy. I would have thought Adbusters would have known better. Read the piece ...

::Saturday, August 23, 2003 12:33:30 PM::
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NUNTII: National Junior Classical League

Who says Latin/Classics is boring? This piece about Penny Cippolone and the 50th anniversary of the NJCL suggests otherwise. It also has some useful numbers for those who think Latin is on the decline.  More from the Chicago Tribune via WXXI ...

::Saturday, August 23, 2003 9:37:24 AM::
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NUNTII (sort of): The Protagoras Principle

By now, most folks are probably thinking the U.S.-as-Roman-Empire has become canardish, so it's somewhat refreshing to see a different area of Classics being mined for inspiration in a journalistic opinion piece. In this one, the guile of Protagoras is trotted forth as a model for certain aspects of the Middle East 'Peace process'. More in the Jerusalem Post ...

::Saturday, August 23, 2003 9:22:22 AM::
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NUNTII: Suetonius in the Washington Post

Columnist Jonathan Yardley (not to be confused with the Classicist of the same name, I presume, who first taught me Latin!) still finds Michael Grant's translation of Suetonius' Twelve Caesars "compelling", with much to say to a modern audience. Full story in the Washington Post ...

::Friday, August 22, 2003 9:01:58 AM::
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TTT: Michael Parenti on the Assassination of Julius Caesar

Michael Parenti is a political activist and author of the recently-published The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome. Last month he gave a book talk in San Francisco and reveals much about his book. I'm not sure he's as 'cutting edge' as he seems to think he is (does any modern historian still believe the goal of the assassins was to restore the Republic?), but it's an interesting 'booktalk' nonetheless. As an 'outsider', no doubt, this will lead to some sort of television documentary.  Windows Media from the Brightpath Video site ...

::Friday, August 22, 2003 8:51:18 AM::
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NUNTII (sort of): Interview with Donald Kagan

Back in May, NPR's Talk of the Nation had an excellent 40+ minute interview with Donald Kagan all about the lessons learned from the Peloponnesian War and how it still might speak to us today. Listen to it here (the Windows format worked best for me) ...

::Friday, August 22, 2003 8:33:58 AM::
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NUNTII: Portland Vase a Renaissance Product?

One of the many 'treasures' of the British Museum is the so-called Portland Vase. It's a cameo sort of thing which is usually dated to the late first century B.C.. Now a leading ancient art historian is claiming it is actually a product of the Renaissance. Full story from the BBC ...

::Friday, August 22, 2003 8:20:20 AM::
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NUNTII: Ancient Port of Agrigento Found

An Explorator reader has sent in a link to a brief item on the discovery of the ancient port of Agrigento, which may include a temple. Full (but short) story ...

::Friday, August 22, 2003 8:17:01 AM::
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NUNTII: It's not really news anymore, but Scientific American has a lengthy article on the geological processes which helped the Pythia at Delphi do her stuff:

John R. Hale, Jelle Zeilinga de Boer, Jeffrey P. Chanton and Henry A. Spiller, "Questioning the Delphic Oracle " Scientific American, August 2003.

The reason it isn't really news anymore is that, by my reckoning, the authors have been dining out on this story since at least 2000 (not that there's anything wrong with that), and some earlier news items on it are still alive, to wit:

National Geographic (August, 2001 webnews)

Washington Post (February 4, 2002)

New York Times (March 19, 2002 ... abstract)

I wonder what inspired the various Sybils (or were they inspiring something as well?).

::Thursday, August 21, 2003 9:40:56 AM::
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The American Rhetoric site is a repository of speeches in text and audio form which seem to be very useful. There is some ancient stuff there, but the most useful section appears to be audio clips of some 200+ examples of 38 rhetorical figures in use, mostly taken from movies and commercials. Definitely worth a look ...

::Thursday, August 21, 2003 9:08:59 AM::
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TTT: outlines how Sparta became Athens major rival

Sparta's Rise to Power

::Thursday, August 21, 2003 8:54:56 AM::
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NUNTII: New Acropolis Museum Rankles Locals

The new museum being constructed to house the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles is supposedly destroying a pile of ancient artifacts in the process. Full story ...

::Wednesday, August 20, 2003 4:47:54 PM::
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TTT: tells us all about the guy who gave rise to the term 'Pyrrhic victory' 

King Pyrrhus of Epirus

::Tuesday, August 19, 2003 2:16:48 PM::
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TTT: has a somewhat out of date look at Roman marriage:

Ferrero, Guglielmo. "Women and Marriage in Ancient Rome." The Women of the Caesars. The Century Co.; New York, 1911.

::Tuesday, August 19, 2003 2:15:11 PM::
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This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xvi kalendas septembres

  • Roman festival of Portunalia
  • rites in honour of Janus at the Theatre of Marcellus

::Sunday, August 17, 2003 8:37:27 PM::
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TTT: Warrior Challenge

Last spring PBS had a series called "Warrior Challenge" in which various military types donned the gear of Romans, Vikings, Knights, and Gladiators (apparently not Romans). The companion website is still definitely worth a look and includes, among other things, a nice virtual tour of the Colosseum.

::Sunday, August 17, 2003 8:27:30 PM::
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TTT: Doctoral diss. about Roman Religion online

Jan Theo Bakker kindly informed me that he has made his 1994 doctoral dissertation available on the web in .pdf format. Here's the full citation:

J.Th. Bakker, Living and Working with the Gods. Studies of Evidence for Private Religion and its Material Environment in the City of Ostia, Amsterdam 1994.

::Sunday, August 17, 2003 8:21:53 PM::
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TTT: Noted in passing

Salon has an interesting quote about Latin ... can't say as I agree with it.

::Sunday, August 17, 2003 8:14:18 PM::
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