Latest update: 4/3/2005; 2:39:37 PM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca


Back to Christie's, where the following will be on the block tomorrow. Here's a very nice piece ... it's a ring from Constantine's time. According to the official description, such rings were commonly given to officials and/or soldiers mark special occasions -- in this case, the New Year. The inscription obviously says FIDEM ... around the hoop of the ring is inscribed D[omino] N[ostro] Constantino Augusto N[ovo] AN[no]:

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 8:31:31 PM::
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The Pittsburg Post-Gazette (ye gods, you must soak people when you say that out loud) has a nice feature on the Ancient Coins in Education program. Here's the incipit:

The thin, circular objects are smaller than a dime. They are a dull dark gray, and don't look special, at first glance, but 64 third-grade pupils are very excited about them.

The disks are ancient Roman coins made of bronze, and the pupils are patiently brushing them and soaking them in distilled water or olive oil to reveal the secrets hiding beneath centuries of crusty grime.

Pupils at St. Louise de Marillac School in Upper St. Clair received their coins about four weeks ago. They took them home for their Thanksgiving holiday to continue the cleaning and identification process. They brought them back to school last week to report on their progress.

Some still looked like crusty blobs. One boy reported that he could see a snake on a portion of the little coin, and another said he could see legs on one side of his.

"Be patient and don't give up," teacher Zee Ann Poerio told her pupils.

Mia Gilardi, of South Fayette, triumphantly displayed her coin, with images visible on both sides. With the help of her parents, teacher, and a Web site, the coin has been identified. It's a bronze coin bearing the image of a Roman Ruler Valentinian I. The coin was struck in 365 A.D.

"Mia is the first person in the class to clean her coin," Poerio said. "She is the youngest person ever to clean and identify a coin in the ACE program. Sometimes you have to look at hundreds of coins" on Web sites to identify a coin.

The Ancient Coins for Education program started in 2001. More than 70 schools in the United States and Canada, and one in Europe, are participating in the program. Most, if not all, of those are high schools. Poerio believes St. Louise pupils are the only elementary school participants.

Although the coins are ancient they are not worth much, at least not in a monetary sense.

"The coins come from a period of great inflation," Poerio said. "Because there are so many of them, they aren't valuable" except as learning tools. Most of them have been found in Europe, including in the Czech Republic.

The ACE program was started by coin collectors and dealers who participated in an Internet chat room. ACE is a nonprofit program that makes ancient, uncleaned coins and teaching materials available to teachers with the help of donations from coin lovers.

More (there's a bit on the resurging popularity of Latin at the end) ... It's probably worth noting that the AIA is against this sort of thing -- for all the wrong reasons. The AIA has had a longstanding policy against the sale of antiquities of any kind, in the belief that such sales only promote the looting of sites. I'm not sure how long this has been the policy, nor do I really care because clearly it hasn't had any effect whatsoever on reducing looting of sites. Indeed, in a twisted sort of way, it's policies like this that actually promote looting (as do laws of nations which automatically make anything found the property of the state). The big problem is that there is a market for the stuff and there will always be a market for the stuff. Unless there are legitimate outlets for the sales of such items, resort will be had -- perhaps even by museums -- to less-than-reputable outlets. That's how life works. It seems to me that the UK's Portable Antiquities program, which compensates metal detectorists for their efforts, makes far more sense. People are encouraged to report their findings to the government ... if it's declared treasure, they are compensated. If it isn't, it's theirs.

But let's turn away from the 'market' for a second and think realistically. There are piles and piles and piles of these coins available (if you don't believe me, go to eBay ... heck, go to my basement where I've got a couple of dozen soaking in distilled water even as we speak). Let's imagine that, instead of making their way to the market by whatever means they happened to, they were given to a museum. What is the museum going to do with thousands upon thousands of Constantinian bronzes? Throw them in a box? File them in some corner? Use them as a doorstop? Or, perhaps, toss them in the trash (! ... I've heard rumours). But put those same little green lumps in the hands of a teenager and you can give them a tangible link to the ancient world which no amount of book-larnin' or toga party can match. C'mon AIA ... it's time you were less dogmatic and recognized the good that some organizations -- such as ACE -- are doing for the very discipline you represent.

I'll stop ranting now ...

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 7:01:58 PM::
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NUNTII: Antiquities Smuggler Nabbed

From Kathimerini:

An Italian with suspected links to international antiquities-smuggling rings has been caught in northern Greece with a hoard of illegally excavated ancient coins and other artifacts, police said yesterday.

Following a tip-off, Mario Vonnia, 59, was arrested in a house in the Thracian town of Komotini, in possession of 619 gold, silver and copper coins dating from the sixth century BC to the Ottoman occupation.

A thorough search of the house revealed another 49 artifacts — including pottery shards and copper jewelry — hidden away in various caches, together with a pistol and ammunition. Police believe the suspect intended to smuggle the antiquities abroad. Vonnia was charged with breaches of the law on antiquities and firearms. All Greek antiquities are state property, and only registered collectors may hold ancient artifacts.

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 6:26:21 PM::
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CHATTER: Valedictory Addresses

The Age has a feature on how the valedictory addresses of public figures ain't what they used to be. Among the exempla cited:

But the public farewell isn't what it was. History's canonical goodbyes, like those of Socrates ("Calm yourselves and try to be brave"), Cato the Younger's ("Am I still at the age when you can accuse me of leaving life too soon?"), Charles I ("I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown"), and even the anarchist Bartolomeo Vanzetti ("I am suffering because I am a radical, and indeed I am a radical") and the murderess Martha Beck ("My story is a love story, but only those who are tortured by love can understand what I mean"), have been in the shadow of death.

Socrates' last words are in the Phaedo. I'm not sure of the source of Cato's pronouncement ...

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 6:20:56 PM::
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NUNTII: Hellenistic Graves Found

A somewhat vague item from the Athens News Agency:

Fifty-one ancient graves dating from the archaic to the Hellenistic
eras have been found in the ancient city of Neo Skopos in Serres, where
part of the necropolis has been uncovered.

Other graves have been discovered on the western side of the
present-day settlement in the past.

According to archaeologists, the majority of the graves are empty and
several have been looted, though some of them contain clay urns and
copper jewellery that have been transferred to the Serres
archaeological museum.

They also show that burial was preferred during funeral rites in the
archaic era, while funeral pyres prevailed in Hellenistic times.

Hopefully more details will be forthcoming.

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 6:08:32 PM::
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ROGUECLASSICISM: The First One Hundred Days

Today marks rogueclassicism's one hundredth day! Back when we
officially launched, I had said that I was going to reveal the
whole non-sordid story of how rogueclassicism came to be.  I got
a bit sidetracked (between school, a course I'm required to take by
the now ex-provincial government, a nasty bout of the flu which is now
in the news, and ongoing assaults on my depressed immune system by
colleagues and students who apparently cannot read the huge "No
Perfume or Cologne" signs posted around my room), and since we
seem to be at a low point in the news cycle, now seems to be a good
time to get caught up. I apologize in advance for the length of this
post -- perhaps it will help someone with their insomnia (maybe me!).

Originally, I had absolutely no intention of creating a blog. My
goal was to create a 'popular' magazine devoted to Classics and
Ancient History -- something that would provide real 'outreach'
and which would fill an obvious lacuna on the magazine stands of
North America. The plan was to create a magazine -- in semi-glossy
tabloid format -- which would be bimonthly and include four or five major
articles written by scholars and learned layfolk aimed at a popular
audience. There were to be semi-regular columns dealing with ancient
technology, ancient astronomy, a regular 'how to' column (e.g.'How
to Read an Inscription'), a Classically-themed crossword and
wordsearch, and numerous other things (I blabbed about this much on
the Classics list and the Latinteach list if you really want more

Over the course of a year or so, I looked into the feasibility of
such a publication. While I was doing so, the APA came out with its
'popular' effort, Amphora, but it still struck me as being rather
inaccessible since you pretty much had to be a member of the APA to
know about it. Other such publications were regularly brought to my
attention (e.g. the Ontario Classical Association's Labyrinth, and
the Friends of Classics' ad Familiares...). Again, these publications
came close to fitting the bill, but were largely inaccessible or at
least not nearly as "out there" as the publication I was envisioning.
To make a long story short, I investigated the feasibility of such a
publication from a financial standpoint and it was workable,
depending on the format (the semi-glossy tabloid was a sort of happy
compromise) and the print run. I took a course in Pagemaker and
was/am in a position to do layout for such a publication. What I
wasn't in a position to do was provide startup funds and the initial
costs -- in Canada, such funds are not generally available from the
government. And since I wasn't in an academic milieu, I wasn't in a
position to apply for any grants that might be available from that
source. Strike one. Second, starting up such a publication would
necessitate bringing other people on board to handle the 'everyday'
things such as managing subscriptions, dealing with advertising, and
seeking permissions for photos and news stories. Strike Two. Finally,
and perhaps most exasperatingly, when I repeatedly mentioned this in
various fora, there seemed to be some excitement expressed by non-
academics, but overall, the lack of any input/support from academics
was virtually non-existent (there were a couple of exceptions). Strike

Meanwhile, while all this was going on, blogs started taking off. I
didn't really take them too seriously, at first, since the vast
majority of them seemed to be political rants about whatever was
going on. Increasingly, however, I was being contacted by owners of
blogs (and other websites) asking for permission to post something
from Explorator or my Ancient World on Television listings. In
addition, I was constantly coming across material that I could put in
Explorator, but if I did, it would overwhelm the archaeological side
of things. An additional irritation was that Explorator was apparently
being ignored on a pile of lists that it appeared on -- I
would post an Explorator, then later that evening someone would post
an article which was mentioned in Explorator earlier that day
(without attribution, so I assumed Explorator wasn't being read -- I
assume I'm killfiled by a pile of folks).  Even so, it
slowly dawned on me (after someone explained it to me ... I didn't
catch on at first), that I had access to a pile of content which
other folks were interested in. If you add in content that I post to
some other lists I own (and will soon be discontinuing), including
job listings, conferences, calls for papers and the like, a blog
began to look more and more like the right vehicle.

So I started looking into the possibility of a blog. At the time,
the software of choice was (and probably still is) Movable Type.
Unfortunately, my ISP charges for installation of such items on the
server and, in any event, I didn't want to get into the inevitable
interminable sessions waiting for technical support to forward me to
someone who knew what they were doing. Eventually I looked into
Blogger, and it seemed like a good thing. I even played with some
possible titles like Acta Diurna and Amaneunsis (I think my early
attempts might be still kicking around on the web). But what I
didn't like about Blogger was that huge ad at the top of the page.
I was already annoyed (and still am) that Yahoo puts ads on top of
my Explorators and AWOTV listings, with the result that many issues
seem to be flagged as spam by many ISPs (I'm currently looking into an
alternative for this, by the way). Of course, Blogger has an option
wherein you pay to get rid of the ads. Unfortunately for them, when I
wanted to start rogueclassicism up, they were having technical
difficulties of some sort and every time I tried to do this, the
service wasn't available (in hindsight, the service not being
available seems to be a frequent feature of Blogger blogs, so perhaps
fate was sending me a message). I ended up going with a product
called Radio and the rest, as they say, is blog history.

If you're wondering whence came the name, well, rogueclassicist has been my
Yahoo i.d. for ages. At some point in my life I recall watching a television
program which described a rogue elephant as one who "looked like other
elephants, smelled like other elephants, but didn't act like other elephants"
(or something like that). Since I had forever been getting on my fellow
Classicists' nerves on various lists about this, that, and the other thing and was
always pushing and promoting the use of technology for things like outreach,
publication, and so on -- a voice crying in the wilderness (or so it often
narcissistically seemed to me) -- the application of the appellation
rogueclassicist seemed to fit. When it came to be blogtime, rogueclassicism
also seemed to fit, but I felt it necessary to gloss the term with that
definition set you can read at the top of the page.

Judging by the first one hundred days, rogueclassicism does seem to
be a niche success. As of last Sunday, it was receiving an average
of 170 or so unique visitors a day and most seem to stay for an average of
46 seconds (according to that Site Meter thing -- there's a potential
slogan in there: rogueclassicism ... it takes less than a minute). Given
that only 14% of those visitors appear to come from .edu addresses, it
appears I am reaching out to the constituency I had hoped to reach
(although I really do wish more academics would make use of some
features of rogueclassicism in their classrooms -- This Day in Ancient
History, the links to Father Foster, Nuntii Latini, Akropolis World
News, and Radio Bremen all seem to me to be useful from time to time
in a classroom situation. The news items as well provide a tangible idea
of how society is permeated with references and discoveries relating
to the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.)

That said, I'm still not satisfied with rogueclassicism itself. Although
I've settled into a fairly regular publishing shedule (which I'll
eventually post so people can visit when it's most in line with what
they're interested in), there are a number of features that I've
experimented with in the past which I'd like to see as regular
features -- a Ciceronian letter of the day, an inscription of the
day, and an ancient quotation in context are all in this category.
I'd also like to include a regular blogwatch feature (i.e. quick
summary of what's going on at some of the other blogs which deal with
various aspects of the ancient world), book reviews (written by me),
as well as more extensive reviews of television programs (and perhaps
a recipe from Apicius from time to time!). Having recently acquired a
laptop, much of this should come to pass in the very near future
(this post is actually being composed on my laptop while my students
write a test ... seems to work; I might even install my blog software
on this thing, but there are other issues associated with that). So
keep your eye open for more-than-the-current-average of ten posts
a day.

And so that's the tale of rogueclassicism up to a few minutes ago.
Not very exciting stuff and a little too self-indulgent for my
tastes -- perhaps yours as well. Don't worry, it won't happen again.
I hope I haven't scared y'all away and I thank you for your continued

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 6:04:45 PM::
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ante diem iv idus decembres

  • the tribunes of the plebs would enter their office on this day
    during the Roman Republic; Roman emperors also seem to have had this day as the anniversary of their being granted tribunicia potestas
  • 300 A.D. -- martyrdom of Carpophorus
  • 304 A.D. -- martyrdom of Eulalia ("from her early youth she wanted to be a martyr")
  • 312 A.D. -- martyrdom of Mennas and others in Alexandria

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 5:57:42 AM::
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REVIEW: Scipio Africanus

The Boston Globe has a review of this 'epic', produced by Benito Mussolini's son, which is playing at some local theatre (i.e. it's not a new film). I'm pretty sure it is available on video if you seek it out, and it turns up from time to time on TeleLatino up here in Canada:

Propaganda films are less about good moviemaking than the need to persuade; by definition, art takes a back seat to rabble-rousing. It may be a matter of chance, then, that the US War Department was able to tap Frank Capra to make the "Why We Fight" series during World War II or that Hitler could call upon Leni Riefenstahl to make the toweringly scary "Triumph of the Will."

And it may be Italy's lousy luck that Benito Mussolini ordered his untested 21-year-old son Vittorio to produce "Scipio Africanus" and hired the silent-epic hack Carmine Gallone to direct.

The rarely seen results are on view tonight only at the Coolidge Corner Theatre's Video Screening Room, as part of the Channel Zero series of bizarre cinematic effluvia. "Scipio" certainly qualifies. A declamatory swords-and-togas history lesson meant to sway the populace into backing Il Duce's invasion of Abyssinia, the 1937 film was the most expensive Italian film of its time. It won the Mussolini Cup for best Italian film at the 1937 Venice Film Festival -- no surprise -- but was a flop in general release, also no surprise.

"Scipio" plays like a hamhanded Cecil B. DeMille silent spectacle with speeches dropped in like chunks of fascist architecture. Taking place during the Second Punic Wars, it sets up a Rome devastated by Hannibal's victory on the Plains of Canae and a Senate dithering on how to respond. Enter the young general Scipio (Annibale Ninchi) -- greeted by cheers and upraised salutes -- who proclaims, in a dandy bit of ideological subtlety, "There is no other recourse but to invade Africa."

More ...

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 5:35:06 AM::
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GOSSIP: Hannibal's movie guy has an interview with Vin Diesel, who mentions in passing:

Films like this and I’m scared sh*tless of what Hannibal will be. I’m already prepping all my friends and family, saying, “There’s going to be a time in the next 18 months when I go to shoot this Hannibal character, and I’m going to do my best to channel the character, not even play the part, but literally channel it if that makes any sense on a spiritual level, channel this forgotten character, or all but forgotten character. This general, this third century B.C. Carthiginian general. I’m going to be channeling a lot of anger but different than the Sean Vetter anger or the anger that’s associated to a cause, a greater cause, a cause of a whole civilizations.”

Oh oh ... maybe.

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 5:28:36 AM::
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CHATTER: Always Harping About Something ...

The Guardian has an interesting tidbit:

The sound is eerie, haunting. It is the wind scouring the polar ice, the last sound Scott heard when he stepped outside the tent. There is a tolling like the bells of a drowned church. And a hint of - what? Whale song? Seagulls crying in the mist?

Robert Valkenburgh, the creator of these strange yet remarkable sounds, is standing on a North Sea beach, linked to a stout pole by 50 metres of taut wire hooked to his padded belt. As he moves his body to adjust the tension, the vibrations in the line caused by the wind are amplified by the drum-like resonator that hangs in front of him. From time to time he strikes the wire - now just for the pleasure of it, now to check it's not about to snap.

The instrument he is playing is known as a long-string harp. When the wind slackens, Valkenburgh sets up two Aeolian harps - wooden frames strung with wires that thrum and sing in the breeze. They take their name from Aeolus, Greek god of the wind. The prototype is said to have been a discarded lyre flung into a tree, or, according to a rival legend, the sinews of a dead tortoise.

I didn't know you could make harps to do this ... it would sure beat those wind chimes I had to take down because they kept the whole neighbourhood awake at night ...

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 5:17:35 AM::
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CHATTER: What to Do With A Classics Degree

Our latest installment ... almost sounds like the making of some sort of sitcom:

The criminal justice system is made up of two separate but equal parts. One is the police officer who arrests and investigates crimes; the other is the attorney who defends criminals. This is their story.

When Jacob “Jake” Rush, a UF classical studies graduate, applied to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, he knew heads would turn.

The bleached-blond, self-proclaimed former punk was just out of college when he decided to make the move into law enforcement.

Among those with their eyebrows raised was Jake’s father, Robert Rush, a well-known Gainesville criminal and civil defense attorney.

“I didn’t think he’d approve,” Jake said, as he described his father smacking his own forehead when he learned of the news.

More ...

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 5:02:05 AM::
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AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Incredible Monuments of Rome
"A look at the Colosseum, Pantheon, Forum, and other ancient
monuments that were often places of ritualistic human sacrifices
and torture."

9.00 p.m. |HINT| Time Team: Wadden, Dorset
"When Time Team descended on Wadden in Dorset, England, they
outnumbered residents--the village consists of 5 houses. They
were invited by neighbors David James and Grace Brooks, who
found a huge amount of old pottery in their shared garden during
excavations for a septic tank. The pottery dated from Medieval,
Roman, and Iron Age days. The name Wadden derives from Wode Hill
and dates back a 1,000 years, but what lies beneath the handful
of houses that remain? Time Team has 3 days to find out."

HINT = History International

::Wednesday, December 10, 2003 4:51:42 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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