Latest update: 4/4/2005; 8:46:45 PM
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NUNTII: Bogus Petronius Quote Raises Its Ugly Head

The Sydney Morning Herald relates a political dispute which includes this:

At Evans Shire Council, Councillor Peter Stark points to the wisdom attributed (some say wrongly) to the ancient Roman Petronius Arbiter, as the most likely explanation: "We trained hard, but every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be re-organised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing inefficiency and demoralisation."

I'm sure the editors at the SMH did the requisite fact checking and due diligence and probably did a Google search for the quotation. And true enough, "some" do "say wrongly". Being a rogueclassicist, however, I can appeal to sources with rather more auctoritas, namely, the collective wisdom of the Classics list wherein the Petronius Arbiter quote has surfaced on numerous occasions. For example, in a discussion whether it would be useful for us to 'proscribe' sites (create 'warning lists' to prevent non-professionals from finding bad info on the list), Al Kriman mentioned a site (no longer around alas, but I think it is incorporated into the previous link) which, among other things associated with this quote, pointed out the huge date range ascribed to Petronius' floruit.

Even before that, however (almost a decade ago), Professor O'Donnell assigned the authorship of "Ben Trovato". Benito Trovato is the famous Italian researcher who found the lost bits of Tacitus. Didn't hear about it? Well, here's an email from a rather younger version of your editor to that very same Classics list. (note the date).

Sorry ... it's just so hard to take the Petronius Arbiter quote seriously, especially after wallowing in Pravda (even if the latter did sort of get it right).

::Tuesday, September 02, 2003 8:27:18 PM::
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NUNTII: Pravda Gets it Right ... Sort Of

Pravda's English online edition is one of the sources for the infrequent "Don't Eat that Elmer" section of my "explorator" newsletter. This section is devoted to journalistic coverage which isn't, well, quite as accurate as one would hope. To that end, when today's news scan turned up an article in Pravda called "Elephants are Cleverer than Humans", I was immediately skeptical, but wondered what it had to do with ancient Rome. A little (very little) digging found out that Pravda had, in fact, reprinted a section of a story available "freely" on the web by one Der Voron. Elsewhere on the web, however, it tends to sport more enticing titulature, such as "Elephants Were Created By Extraterrestrials" or "Aliens Engineered Elephants", which Pravda surpisingly decided to eschew for some reason. In any event, the Pravda piece (and the others) include the following two quotes:

An example is described in ancient Roman documents. An elephant, recently captured in the wild and brought to Rome, was fighting with a rhino, and suddenly he saw a brush with sharp metallic rods that was lying around. The elephant immediately picked it up and, with the rods, pricked out the rhino's eyes. After that, the elephant trampled the blind and disoriented rival.

Another example from ancient Roman documents: An elephant was punished for not following all of his trainer's orders. The following night this elephant was observed voluntarily repeating the exercises to improve his performance skills.

The source for these tales (imagine my surprise) actually turns out to be the elder Pliny, who devoted the opening chapters of Book VIII of his Natural History to matters elephantiacal. You can read the original Latin via Bill Thayer's Lacus Curtius site, or Philemon Holland's rather florid 17th century English translation courtesy of James Eason.

For more on Roman elephants in the ancient Roman world, there are available on the web a couple of excellent articles by Jo-Ann Shelton:

"The Display of Elephants in Roman Arenas," ISAZ Newsletter 21 (May, 2001), 2-6 (pdf)

"The Identification of Elephants with Enemies: Why Elephants Were Abused in Ancient Rome"



::Tuesday, September 02, 2003 8:04:59 PM::
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COMING SOON: Ancient Greece gets the Cahill treatment

Perusing the Sacramento Bee's list of forthcoming books we find:

"Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea" by Thomas Cahill (Doubleday): The acclaimed historian ("How the Irish Saved Civilization") explores the contributions ancient Greek society made to the Western world.

It's due out in October ... I'm sure that sound you hear is the breaths of a thousand lungs bating. Or the air conditioning.



::Tuesday, September 02, 2003 6:52:45 PM::
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NUNTII: Be Like Socrates

Amherst College's new president made his opening convocation address and identified Socrates as a model for his students and Amherst College in general. Read more in the Daily Hampshire Gazette ...

::Tuesday, September 02, 2003 6:45:31 PM::
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BLOGGING 101: What is a Blog?

By way of introduction:

According to a study commissioned by AD with research firm Ipsos-Reid, only 17% of American adults are aware of blogs, and only 5% claim to have read one. The awareness of blogs skews towards men; 21% of male Internet users report they’re hip to the blogosphere, while only 13% of women are. Financially, visitors to are either rich or poor; those making under $25,000 or over $100,000 a year are over-represented, while middle-income visitors are under-represented.

Given that, it seems like a good thing to give readers a sort of introductory course in 'blogging' and start off with the obvious question: "What is a 'blog"? Well, a 'blog is a shortened version of "weblog" which, as its name might possibly suggest if you drink enough coffee and stare at it long enough, is a website which is updated on a daily basis which may or may not provide facilities for readers to post comments.

Originally, it seems, most things which we would now call a 'blog fell into two broad categories: 1. a personal diary someone put online so that folks could follow all the intricacies of their lives  or 2. a website where folks could vent their political spleen and express their satisfaction/dissatisfaction with politics (especially U.S. politics), the media's coverage of it, or both. In the past year or so, however, 'blogging' has become a bit of a phenomenon (as opposed to a fad ... I think anything that lasts beyond three years mustn't be a fad anymore) with journalists jumping on the bandwagon, e.g., lest they be outeditorialized. At the same time, however, there has been a slow emergence of "culture blogs" and similar websites which really have nothing to do with politics or journalism and which also aren't engaging in the sort of self-indulgent navel-gazing that seems to characterize other blogs. There are, example, a number of  'blogs out now which cover various aspects of the arts scene ...I found that American Demographics tidbit, e.g.,  by first reading a "culture blog" called Out of Lascaux, which referenced an Arts Journal "blog" called About Last Night which cited the originating blog as something called 2 Blowhards (which also provides a good example of another feature one gets with blogs: related blogs tend to 'feed' off each other in terms of providing actual content and/or something to comment about).

The other feature about many blogs (but not this one; more on that later) is that they provide a facility for readers to comment. If you were to visit some of the blogs mentioned in my sidebar (that's the thing on the right hand side ... you might have to scroll to see it), such as "dr. Weevil" or "cronaca", you would see that after each entry there is a hyperlink which allows readers to add their comments to what the author/editor of the blog has written.


::Tuesday, September 02, 2003 4:57:18 PM::
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Today is the "official" launch of rogueclassicism, although it's already had a thousand or so visitors in its preview stages (thanks, by the way). What you can expect to find here on a regular basis are my "This Day in Ancient History" feature (where applicable ... some days, nothing seems to have happened!), a subset of my weekly Ancient World on Television listings, news items which may or may not appear in my Explorator newsletter, and 'support material' for those (and other) features in the form of links to interesting websites dealing with the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. When available, there will be an Inscription du jour and/or an Epistula du jour (the latter generally Cicero, for obvious reasons). Job listings in Classics, Ancient History, and Ancient Languages will also be fair game, along with Calls for Papers and Conference mentions. I'm also hoping to incorporate book and game reviews also into the process. In short, if it touches upon the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds, it's fair game for rogueclassicism.

Most weekdays should find it being updated a couple of times a day (sunrise and sunset), although on weekends it might be updated semi-continuously, if such a thing is possible physically and/or grammatically, so feel free to visit it frequently  -- actually, I'm sort of hoping that it will be a 'homepage' for many of you, especially those who have a computer within a Classics or Latin classroom.

The updates later today will include (among other things) a sort of 'introductory course' in 'blogging', the sordid (well, okay, not really) sordid tale of how this blog came about and details on how to get the most out of rogueclassicism.

Have a great day and good luck to all those teachers and students who are beginning that annual cycle yet again today ...

::Tuesday, September 02, 2003 5:18:12 AM::
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ante diem iv nonas septembres

  • 31 B.C. -- Octavian defeats Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra at
  • 490 B.C. -- Pheidippides runs to Sparta for help against
    Persians at Marathon (one traditional date)

::Tuesday, September 02, 2003 5:02:29 AM::
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TTT: Word of the Day

"" is experimenting with a "Word of the Day" feature this month. Inter alia, Ancient History Guide N.S. Gill says,

The point of the selections will be the Greek or Latin roots rather than the etymology of each word. In other words, some of these words may have passed into English more directly from French or Spanish rather than Latin or Greek, but that information will not be included.

Check it out ...

::Tuesday, September 02, 2003 4:54:52 AM::
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1. n. an abnormal state or condition resulting from the forced migration from a lengthy Classical education into a profoundly unClassical world; 2. n. a blog about Ancient Greece and Rome compiled by one so afflicted (v. "rogueclassicist"); 3. n. a Classics blog.

Publishing schedule:
Rogueclassicism is updated daily, usually before 7.00 a.m. (Eastern) during the week. Give me a couple of hours to work on my sleep deficit on weekends and holidays, but still expect the page to be updated by 10.00 a.m. at the latest.

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