Latest update: 4/4/2005; 4:11:57 AM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca

LAST POST: At the Auctions

Something different for tonight. Some folks might be familiar of the works of the 18th century artist Giovanni Pannini, who incorporated the ruins of Rome into many of his paintings. Coming to auction at Christies are a pair of pen-and-ink pieces by Pannini (or one of his students) entitled "Washerwomen among the ruins" and "Soldiers conversing among ruins". Ecce (I link to the smaller image ... a larger version is available at the 'official page'):

I can't quite tell whether these are genuine ruins or the product of the artist's imagination (is it Nero's Domus Transitoria?). The official page is not helpful in this regard.

::Friday, November 14, 2003 8:48:25 PM::
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NITPICKING: Pliny Photographicus

An article on the history of photography at the photography site (n.b. NOT by's Ancient History Guide, N.S. Gill) has a couple of paragraphs of note:

Sophocles, well over 400 years before the birth of Christ, wrote of the need to keep light-sensitive substances in darkened rooms, although this was a metaphorical rather than a scientific statement. Vitruvius in the first century BC noted that red lead (minium, Pb304) rapidly turned black in sunlight.

The first existing reference to the light sensitivity of silver salts comes almost two thousand years ago, when Pliny (23-79 AD) makes a reference to what is probably silver chloride being darkened by the sun or moon. The darkening by moon is unlikely, but the Greeks in general were not great experimenters, rather recording what others had told them and speculating about things. Like many tales these may have gathered some additions by the time they reached the philosopher. What it does show is that someone had noticed the darkening of silver salts by light.

Okay ... here's what I want to know (i.e. I can't find):

1. Where does Vitruvius say this about minium?

2. Where does Sophocles say what is claimed of him?

And here's the nitpicking:

1. Pliny wasn't Greek.

2. Pliny wasn't what we would call a philospher.

3. If the 'Greek' didn't do the experiment, who did? What sort of 'experiment' do modern authors expect the Greeks or any other ancient culture to conduct? How would you know whether something was the result of an experiment and/or observation or something 'taken from someone else'?

Rogueclassicists want to know ...

::Friday, November 14, 2003 8:26:34 PM::
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NUNTII: Theatre of Dionysus to be Restored

From today's Kathimerini:

The ancient theater under the Acropolis of Athens where the most famous plays of antiquity were first performed nearly 2,500 years ago is to be partially restored to allow seating for an estimated 4,000 modern spectators.

Under a decision late on Wednesday by a board of senior Culture Ministry architects and archaeologists, work will initially be carried out on the central three and best preserved of the 13 blocks of stone seats in the cavea of the Theater of Dionysus. In theory, the restoration, which will use 75 percent ancient material and 25 percent new additions, could be finished by the end of next year. Providing ministry officials are satisfied, work will then continue on the rest of the theater which in ancient times could seat up to 17,000 people.

More  (with historical stuff) ... . Of course, this is being announced now as a foil to the Olympia thing. No doubt objections to major Olympic events being held at an archaeological site will be answered with "we hold theatre performances at ancient theatres all the time". Sure, but you don't have tens of thousands of people along with television crews and what have you. More important, you aren't providing the world's ne'er-do-wells with an audience and an easy target ...

::Friday, November 14, 2003 8:09:10 PM::
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CHATTER: Alexander Adopted?

In today's scan there turned up an item from which suggests that Alexander the Great had been "adopted" (the piece appears to originally date from ack in April). A quick bit of Googling suggests this is a widely held belief which is oft-repeated at several sites dealing with adoption (click on this to get a pile of them). As far as I'm aware, Alexander was the son of Philip and Olympias; when Philip was offed, Alexander was roughly 20 years of age. Whence comes this idea that Alexander was "adopted" is beyond me.

::Friday, November 14, 2003 8:03:29 PM::
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REVIEWS: The Latest from BMCR

Giovanni Alberto Cecconi, Commento storico al libro II dell'epistolario
di Q. Aurelio Simmaco.
Biblioteca di studi antichi 86.
 (review in English)

J. L. Lightfoot (ed.), Lucian, On the Syrian Goddess.

::Friday, November 14, 2003 7:48:29 PM::
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FOLLOWUP: Lost Play by Aeschylus

Folks wondering about the 'lost' play of Aeschylus being put on by the Theatre Company of Cyprus, mentioned earlier, might be interested in tracking down the fragments which the play is based on. As it happens, there is a useful footnote on the web ... In an online article, Pantelis Michelakis, "The Spring Before It Is Sprung:
visual and non-verbal aspects of power struggle in Aeschylus' Myrmidons"
 we read as footnote 1:

The trilogy and the title Achilleis are not attested in ancient sources. They are however widely accepted by modern scholars; see the relevant literature in S. Radt, Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, Vol. 3. Aeschylus (Göttingen 1985) 113. For reconstructions of the Achilleis see W. Schadewaldt, 'Aischylos' Achilleis' in id. Hellas und Hesperien (Zurich 1970) 308-54 [=Hermes 71 (1936) 25-69]; H. J. Mette, Der Verlorene Aischylos (Berlin 1963) 112-21; V. di Benedetto, 'Il silenzio di Achille nei Mirmidoni di Eschilo' Maia 19 (1967) 373-86; B. Döhle, 'Die Achilleis des Aischylos in ihrer Auswirkung auf die attische Vasenmalerei des 5. Jahrhunderts' Klio 40 (1967) 63-149; B. Snell, Szenen aus griechischen Dramen (Berlin 1971) 1-24; O. Taplin, 'Aeschylean Silences and Silences in Aeschylus' HSCPh 76 (1972) 57-97; A. Kossatz-Deissmann, Dramen des Aischylos auf westgriechischen Vasen (Mainz 1978) 10-32; A. H. Sommerstein, Aeschylean Tragedy (Bari 1996) 338-48.

In other words, these fragments are not a 'new' discovery. See also the review of  Pantelis Michelakis, Achilles in Greek Tragedy in a recent edition of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review.

::Friday, November 14, 2003 7:40:36 PM::
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ante diem xviii kalendas decembres

  • equorum probatio ("parade of the equites")
  • ludi Plebeii (day 11)

::Friday, November 14, 2003 5:45:00 AM::
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GOSSIP: More Alexandriana

Okay ... now I'm becoming officially confused. In a piece from the Washington Times about the new 'military hero' type which Hollywood is currently promoting we read with regard to Russell Crowe:

Mr. Crowe is now positioned to get a jump on rediscovered antiquity by playing Alexander the Great. (The last prestigious actor to play the Macedonian conqueror was Richard Burton, nearly half a century ago.) The director of the new Alexander project is Oliver Stone. Thus, today's leading screen personification of the traditional martial virtues and their pre-eminent debunker are set to collaborate on a warrior epic in the grand style. The results should reveal much about the status of the warrior archetype in film today.

Has anyone told Colin Farrell yet?


::Friday, November 14, 2003 5:34:02 AM::
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A gossipy piece in the Herald Sun about Eric Bana doesn't really say much of interest, but it does include this shot from Troy:


Apparently Odysseus and crew were rather handy ...

::Friday, November 14, 2003 5:20:29 AM::
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NUNTII: Aeschylus' Achilles to be Performed

Tons of coverage of this one  ... Cyprus' National Theatre Company believes it has reasonably-faithfully restored Aeschylus' (lost) drama, Achilles:

Cyprus's national theater company, Thoc, plans a modern-day world premiere of Aeschylus's Trojan War story Achilles in Cyprus next summer. The play will then be performed in Cyprus and Greece.

Scholars had believed the trilogy to be lost forever when the Library of Alexandria burned to ashes in 48 BC.

"But in the last decades archaeologists found mummies in Egypt which were stuffed with papyrus, containing excerpts of the original plays of Aeschylus," Thoc director Andy Bargilly told Reuters.

Drawing on references to the trilogy by other ancient playwrights and the recently discovered papyrus texts, Thoc and researchers believe they have the closest possible adaptation of Aeschylus's masterpiece.

"This is a new production, based on a very ancient text," Bargilly said.

More ... (more links will be in this weekend's "explorator", due out on Sunday)

::Friday, November 14, 2003 5:14:21 AM::
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NUNTII: Haghia Sophia Plundered?

If anyone can fill in some details on this somewhat puzzling item that appeared in two editions of the Macedonian Press Agency's wire yesterday, I'd be grateful:

Even the graves in Agia Sophia in Istanbul were violated by
sacrilegious raiders and antiquity smugglers, who stole a valuable
manuscript written in Assyrian, thus completing the destruction carried
out on the holy relics by time and indifference. Images of crumbling
holy tombs and relics in bits from Warehouse 31 of Agia Sophia, were
shown for the first time after 50 years by Turkish journalist  Ugur
Dudar, in the Arena show, to be shown on the D channel.

Were these recent actions?

::Friday, November 14, 2003 5:08:45 AM::
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NUNTII: Alexandrian Precedents

A month or so ago we reported in "explorator" about a lawsuit being pursued by an Egyptian professor to recover the gold and other accoutrements taken from Egypt by the Exodussing people of Israel. A piece in the Jerusalem Post cites a precedent involving Alexander the Great  to point out the folly of this, inter alia:

The academic who claims to be filing this class-action suit is perhaps unaware that this tactic was attempted before - in fact, it was employed over 23 centuries ago, when Alexander the Great ruled both Egypt and the Land of Israel.

The Talmud in tractate Sanhedrin relates that Egyptian representatives appeared before Alexander and asked that he demand from the Jews the return of all of the wealth taken by them when they left Egyptian slavery a millennium earlier. Alexander sent a notice to the Jewish elders in Jerusalem asking for a representative to present the Jewish side of the dispute.

The rabbis sent a man by the name of Gavha, who was small in stature but very clever. His defense was that if one were to start down the slippery road of adjudicating ancient claims, then the Egyptians still owed the Jews for centuries of slave labor. Alexander, no fool himself, realized the morass that he had placed himself in by agreeing to judge the case, and decided to dismiss the matter altogether

::Friday, November 14, 2003 5:04:04 AM::
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Apologies to all for not posting last evening ... I had to attend our school's Confirmation.

::Friday, November 14, 2003 4:59:28 AM::
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AWOTV: On TV Today

9.00 p.m. |HINT| England's Great Wall
"Stretching roughly 80 miles across northern England, Hadrian's
Wall split the country in two, serving as a barrier against Pict
marauders. Did the Roman army build the wall to protect their
new province, or as some historians argue, to build-up the
phenomenal ego of Emperor Hadrian, which was nearly as big as
the wall itself?"

::Friday, November 14, 2003 4:58:33 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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