October 23, 2003

LAST POST: At the Auctions

We're in a bit of a rush tonight (interim report cards go home tomorrow), so I'm not being as diligent in my scanning tonight. Still, we can't leave without a look at another piece from the Heidi Vollmoeller Collection being auctioned off at Christie's in the next week or so. Here's a nice fifth century Attic white ground lekythos featuring a female lyre player:

The catalogue page ...

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NUNTII: Peter Jones

This week, Peter Jones in the American Spectator waxes about the tribunus plebis:

Mr Blair has promised to ‘listen to the people’. Would a Roman-style tribunus plebis, ‘tribune of the plebs’, help him to do so? The early years of the Roman republic (traditional foundation date 509 bc) were characterised by stormy relationships between the ruling patrician families and the non-patrician plebs. In 494 bc the plebs set up their own assembly, separate from the patrician Senate, and appointed their first tribunes ‘to counter the power of the consuls’ (Cicero). In time this plebeian assembly with its tribunes became fully assimilated into the republican system; decisions of the plebs became binding on the whole population, and the tribunes were installed as members of the Senate with the power of veto over any Senate business. Polybius, the second-century bc Greek historian of Rome, says of these tribunes: ‘They are bound to do what the people resolve and chiefly to focus on their wishes’.

More ...

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NUNTII: Are Them Fighting Words?

Not sure if they are or not, but I'm sure someone will think so ... this piece from AGI relates some comments made by Italian president Carlo Ciampi:

"The universality of the Latin-Roman world, permeated by classical Greek culture, has been met in the ideals of European unification; in the will to overcome particularism and national egoisms." Speaking in these terms at an Italianist convention, at the Italian Cultural Institute, the Presidente of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, concluded his two day official visit to Rumania. In the presence among others of the Rumanian Foreign Minister, Mircea Dan Geoana', Ciampi emphasised how, "Latin is a language that talks about man, society, and rights" and due to this, "to defend the Latin linguistic heritage means also talking about identity and European cultural identity."

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NUNTII: High Tech Teaching

I'm sure this isn't news to a pile of rogueclassicism readers, but it is a fact of Classics in the 21st Century that a lot of such teaching is done via computers/distance education. The University at Buffalo Reporter has a feature on distance learning from that institution and the 'showcase' class is described thusly:

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Donald T. McGuire, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Classics in the College of Arts and Sciences, was teaching a class of about 30 high school teachers in Rochester the ins and outs of World Civilization instruction. The fact that he was doing it from a comfortable, high-tech engineering classroom in Bell Hall on the North Campus with about five of his own students present is due mainly to the resources and partnerships made available through Distance Education and Videoconference Operations (DEVO), a division of the Office of the Chief Information Officer. DEVO makes virtual classrooms and the attendant technology needed to support them possible through high-speed networks, both on and off campus. When these technologies are combined with UB Learns, "hybrid courses"—interactive video or videostreaming combined with content management software like Blackboard™—offer a variety of services to students who elect to take classes off-campus.

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NUNTII: Bactrian Hoard

There have been scattered mentions of late that the famed "Bactrian Hoard", once thought purloined (or worse) by the Taliban, has turned up safe in Afghanistan. There seems to be some skepticism however ... this Radio Free Europe report  is one of many (perhaps this weekend I'll collate all the info):

Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai says 20,000 gold objects dating as far back as Alexander the Great's conquest of Afghanistan in 327 B.C. were found when he ordered that a sealed vault in his presidential compound be forced open.

The vault also reportedly contains other treasures from the Kabul Museum that were thought to have been vandalized by the Taliban or looted by the various militia forces that controlled Kabul during the past two decades of war.

Andrew Meadows, a curator for the British Museum's massive collection of ancient Greek coins, says initial news reports are too sketchy to verify from which historical periods the artifacts might date.

But Meadows says he and other British Museum experts are eager to see photographic documentation of the Afghan collection: "The British Museum will be delighted to help in any way we can in identifying and helping to catalogue this material if a request comes."

Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani says he was with Karzai in the vault when it was first opened in August. He says it was clear the vault had not been entered for decades -- despite the efforts of the Taliban and others to find the collection.

Ghani says the treasure probably was locked away for safe keeping when the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated shortly before Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Significantly, the artifacts have never been publicly displayed anywhere in the world. Ghani has been quoted as saying he believes it may be the most important collection of antiquities outside of Egypt. It is said to include many gold coins and plates, weapons studded with precious jewels, a golden crown, and a solid gold pendant of Aphrodite.

The artifacts are believed to be those excavated in 1978 by Soviet archaeologist Viktor Ivanovich Sarianidi from six tombs at a necropolis in northern Afghanistan known as Tilya Tepe, or the Golden Hill.

Though Karzai has said the Sarianidi artifacts are "all there," the identity of the objects said to be in the vault have not been verified by experts outside of the Afghan government.

More ... [and no, Andrew Meadows is not related to me ... as far as I know; it would be handy if he were!]

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ante diem x kalendas novembres

  • 42 B.C. -- the forces of Marcus Antonius defeat those of
    Cassius and Brutus in the second Battle of Phillipi; Brutus
    subsequently commited suicide
  • 12 A.D. -- the future emperor Tiberius celebrates a triumph for
    his victories in Pannonia and Dalmatia

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STARS: I Thought That Was Pegasus

Well, actually, I didn't ... I didn't know what it was, but there sure were a lot of stars out the other night. As you might suspect, some of them were Pegasus, and the Pioneer Press has a nice article on how to find Pegasus and assorted hangers on in the night sky (assuming you're not light pollutioned out) along with the story that goes with them, id est:

Cepheus and Cassiopeia were the mortal king and queen of ancient Ethiopia. While Cepheus was a mellow guy, Cassiopeia was as vain and power hungry as they come. She ruled with an iron fist.

One day, when Queen Cassiopeia was sunning herself on the beach, she called out to Poseidon, the god of the sea, and boasted that she was more beautiful than Poseidon's wife and all his 10 daughters combined. The god of the sea was so insulted he sent a giant sea monster to swim to shore and wipe out all of Cassiopeia's people and the kingdom. While Cassiopeia didn't really much care about her lowly subjects, she wanted to hang on to her castles and riches.

She consulted with Cepheus, who suggested they consult with a wise oracle. The wise one advised them to chain their daughter, Princess Andromeda, to a boulder on the beach, sacrificing her to Cetus. That would satisfy the sea monster enough so he wouldn't wipe out the kingdom. So that afternoon, the king and queen took Andromeda out for what she thought was a great day at the beach. When they arrived on the sandy shores, they quickly chained her arms to a boulder and then ran off … What a mom and dad!

Andromeda saw Cetus coming and tried to rattle out of her chains but couldn't. Luckily, her hero was on his way. Perseus, the son of Zeus, was flying back from a mission wearing the winged shoes of Mercury. He was carrying with him the head of Medusa, a gorgon so ugly that if you glanced at her for just one second, you would turn to stone. When he saw the beautiful princess chained to a boulder with the sea monster closing in, our hero used his head and the head of Medusa. He grabbed it out of his bag and shook it at Cetus. The sea monster was immediately "stoned" and sank back into the ocean like an anchor.

That's when the story really gets bizarre. There was still blood dripping from the severed head. As it hit the ocean, it magically produced a winged horse that answered Perseus' every command. The horse flew to Andromeda, chewed off her chains and, after she hopped onto its wings, brought her to Perseus. Perseus and Andromeda soon married, and Perseus named his new horse Pegasus.

When the flying horse grew old and was just about ready for the glue factory, the gods on Mount Olympus placed Pegasus in the stars with the figure of Princess Andromeda hitching a ride on his wing to commemorate the winged horse's greatest achievement.

The whole thing ...

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NUNTII: 113 Years of Editorial Freedom

So runs the motto of the Michigan Daily, which has a feature on Wolverine tight end Tim Massaquoi opening thusly:

Ancient Greek and Roman history aren't exactly easy subjects. When it comes to learning about them, it helps to relate the people and events of that time period to what is going on today.

Michigan tight end Tim Massaquoi relates them to the sport he plays and loves. Massaquoi, who says his favorite Greek mythological character was Aries, the god of war, associates ancient battles with modern-day battles on the gridiron.

"When it comes to war, (Aries) was always scheming," Massaquoi said. "He's got strategies. You know he's thinking about the mental part of war rather than the physical part of it.

"You can relate that to football. It's kind of like a chess game."

The junior says he wants to become a teacher in these subjects after graduating from Michigan. But before he starts writing up his first lesson, he still has some football to focus on.

Ah yes ... editorial freedom. Sometimes it really gets your goat though ...

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NUNTII: Not Your Stereotypical Classics Guy

Most of us probably grumble inwardly when presented with the stereotypical view of what someone 'into Classics' is like, knowing full well we Classics types reflect rather more variations (in terms of style, music preferred, fashion, tattoo and piercing preferences, etc.) than most folks would generally suspect. So it warms my liver to have the search engines pick up a piece all about Scipio Garling, which includes:

On a cool summer morning Garling sits down at a shady cafe table with a couple of comic books to talk about his love of a good storyline, why he wanted to start a discussion group of people whom have never meet, and Superboy's genetics.

  "I'm still not sure I consider myself a collector," he says. "I'm a reader. Comics themselves are just objects, it's the stories in them that matter."

For a man who can read Greek, Latin, French and Spanish it was hard for others to understand why his favorite genre was the comic book. "I had people shocked," he says. "How could a Phi Beta Kappa classics scholar from an Ivy League college be into comics?"

His answer was simple, "How can a classics scholar not be into comics? They're the Greek myths of today."

The stories in both the classics and comics, he says, are parables for life. Comic books are ways of discussing abstract ideas while making them, "lighter, brighter, louder with clear lines drawn around characters."

Although not every comic book is going to be a Philosophy 101 textbook Garling says, "Like any literature part of it what is there and part of it is what you bring to it."

There's more, of course ...

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NUNTII: Verulamium Saved From the Plough

The 24 Hour Museum is breaking the news that the site of Verulamium has been saved from the ravages of farmers' ploughs:

The agreement, announced on October 22, will ensure that fields covering part of one of the country’s most important archaeological sites, near St.Albans, are taken permanently out of cultivation and converted to permanent pasture. Ancient hedgerows that had been removed to facilitate cultivation will be re-instated.

"I am pleased to announce the completion of these important negotiations. It is wonderful to know that the internationally important archaeology of Verulamium is safe at last,” said English Heritage Chief Executive, Dr Simon Thurley.

There's some good photos awaiting those who want to read more ...

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AWOTV: On TV Today

11.00 p.m. |HINT| Foot Soldier: The Barbarians
"Profile of the savage fighters who surrounded and then
conquered ancient Rome, ushering in the Dark Ages. Hosted by
Richard Karn."

HINT = History International

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Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

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