Latest update: 4/4/2005; 5:42:24 AM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca

NUNTII: More Saddamania

A comment from a Classicist in the New Hampshire Gazette:

Mark Morford of Leeds, who's son U.S. Navy Capt. Peter Morford, returned in November from the Persian Gulf, where he was commander of the nuclear reactor aboard the USS Nimitz, expressed surprised and relief that Saddam had been captured.

''I didn't expect it in the slightest,'' said Morford, 73, who was born in Sri Lanka to British parents. He said he first heard of Saddam's capture while listening to a speech by British Prime Minster Tony Blair.

Morford, a former classics professor at Smith College, said seeing images of lice being picked out of Saddam's hair was ''Greek tragedy, and then some ... there is a feeling that it's amazing to see how the mighty have fallen,'' Morford said.

''Frankly Saddam is a footnote,'' said Morford. ''He had to be caught, but there are still a lot of very nasty people out there.''

Morford said he spoke to his son yesterday about Saddam's capture. ''He was very circumspect - he wasn't saying very much,'' said Morford of his son.

Rogueclassicist types might remember Mark Morford as one of the first classicists to make good use of the web as a teaching tool. His Augustus: Images of Power page at Virginia was put up back in 1995, I believe.

::Monday, December 15, 2003 8:56:22 PM::
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NUNTII: Latest in the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles Saga

The Greek government wants to take the issue to court:

Greek bar associations will ask the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights to rule on their country's long-standing demand for the return from Britain of the Elgin Marbles, an official said on Monday.

"The relevant papers should be finished by the end of year," Yiannis Stamoulis, the lawyer preparing the case, told AFP.

Stamoulis was asked by the presidents of Greece's bar associations to prepare the complaint.

The news came as Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis was to hold talks in London with British counterpart Tony Blair on a number of issues, including the claim to the archaeological find.


"The marbles are property of the Greek state. Greek citizens can therefore seize the court because their individual right to enjoy cultural riches where they belong is violated," Stamoulis said.

More ....  Having read the Convention documents, I really fail to see where this case will have any standing; there is no 'individual right to enjoy cultural riches' ...


::Monday, December 15, 2003 8:47:48 PM::
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REVIEW: From H-Net

Published by (October, 2003)

M. Oldfield Howey. The Horse in Magic and Myth. Reprint edition.
Mineola: Dover, 2002. xii + 238 pp. Bibliographies, index. $12.95
(paper), ISBN 0-486-42117-1.

Reviewed for H-NILAS by Marion W. Copeland, Center for Animals and
Public Policy, Tufts University

Renaissance: Or, Maybe What Goes Around Ought to Come Around

In his preface to the 1923 edition of this book, M. Oldfield Howey
tells readers that the original impetus to collect the materials
included in _The Horse in Magic and Myth_ was the surge of interest
in "spiritual matters" that followed World War I.  Yet his
collection of myths and folk tales related to "one of the most
widely diffused ... sacred and magical symbols," the horse, remains
informative and suggestive for twenty-first century readers whose
interests in the horse and in myth are likely more secular.[1]
Because he admittedly "touches little more than the fringe of the
subject," Howey has and will continue to provoke "further inquiries
and new discoveries" (p. v).  His slim volume leaves open all of
British and European, Near and Far Eastern literature and lore since
1923 and the whole rich spread of the traditions, native and
colonial, of the Americas to other collectors and explorers.

I found his insights and the materials he offers perhaps even more
stimulating while reading this new Dover edition than I found them
nearly twenty years ago when I first read Howey as part of my
preparations to teach the first of the several animal studies
literature courses I devised before retiring from full-time teaching
at Holyoke Community College (Holyoke, Massachusetts).  "The Horse
in Literature and Art" didn't require my "Intro to Lit" freshmen to
read Howey, but our discussion of works like Peter Shaffer's
_Equus_, D. H. Lawrence's novella _St. Mawr_, and even Anna Sewell's
_Black Beauty_ benefited from insights I had gained reading both
Howey's _The Horse in Myth and Magic_ and his _England's Horses and
Ponies_ (a discussion of breed history).  Like Sewell, Lawrence, and
Shaffer (and unlike my urban and suburban students), Howey knows
horses and can help the horse-deprived touch the physical as well as
the symbolic and mythic (and perhaps even the spiritual) power of
the horse.  (Actually, I didn't rely on Howey for that; instead, I
required a field trip to touch living, breathing horses to help my
students feel that power!)

Coming back to Howey now is for me a rediscovery of a moment when I
made a decision that seemed merely practical (how to jazz up a
required literature course for myself as well as my students) but
turned out to be life-changing for me (and actually for at least one
student who has gone on to dedicate her life to working for the
welfare of animals).[2] Once I had seen how focusing on animals in
literature could energize teaching and learning, I never turned
back.  A whole new approach grew to dominate my scholarship and
imagination, bringing together two passions of my life, animals and
teaching, that had, before that, seemed wholly separate. While other
readers will not share that thrill, Howey cannot help but kindle in
contemporary readers the awe that horses have sparked since time
immemorial in the imaginations of humans fortunate enough to have
shared their worlds either in the wild or in the domestic sphere.

Early in Howey's collection it becomes clear that the association he
makes between horses and spiritual forces beyond human control is an
ancient association made by humans in many cultures all around the
planet.  In the tales he retells that force burns brighter than any
efforts humans have made to domesticate or use the horse to augment
their own status and prestige.  One reason for that is that Howey
has both an empathic appreciation of the horse's mind and an
aesthetic appreciation of the horse's physical power and beauty.
And both are deeply embedded in the magical/mythic attributions all
cultures touched by the horse have recognized in the species.  In
such cultures "the horse was esteemed as the medium of expression
most favoured by the deities."  In fact, many north Europeans and
Britons kept "certain horses ... in their sacred groves, untouched
and free from any sort of mortal labour."  Their spiritual and
political leaders (often one and the same) would go to "observe
their neighings and whinnyings," which they believed presaged things
to come (pp. 156-57).

In cultures from the ancient Assyrian and Babylonian through the
Greeks and Romans, where the horse was used rather than being
venerated in the wild, it was not used as a beast of burden but
rather as a warrior who was understood to participate decisively
with its rider or driver in battle--as a full partner, not a
vehicle, as horses have often been perceived in modern times.
Perhaps now that technology has released the horse from that role, a
process that was well underway even in 1923 when Howey wrote, human
attitudes toward the horse as well as other nonhuman beings will
return to that early veneration and respect.

Similar beliefs are at work in the _Iliad_'s account of Achilles'
horses, Xanthus and Balius.  The latter responds to Achilles' rebuke
for having left Patroclus's body on the battlefield with words as
well as tears, the goddess Juno having enabled "the noble Xanthus
... to speak what was in his heart and unburden himself of his sad
foreknowledge that Fate had also ...  decreed his loved master's
death."  It was--and remains--significant to my understanding of the
horse's role in literature that Howey comments at this point:

"The reader should note that Xanthus was not a mere mouthpiece used
by Juno.  The goddess enabled him to speak, that he might give vent
to the crowding, bitter thoughts of his _own_ heart.  This story
should be compared to the biblical narrative of Balaam's ass, where
the same thought is expressed.  The long pent-up emotions and ideas
confined in the animal's mind by its inability of giving them voice
[at least in utterances that other than psychic humans could
understand], suddenly released by the angel's power, and pouring
forth in indignation at the injustice of its master and his
blindness to the spiritual world around them, is the point
emphasized." (pp. 159-60)

This combination of spiritual prophecy (which often takes the form
of satire in more modern works) and revelation of man's inhumanity
to those over whom he claims dominion is at the core of narratives
drawn, so to speak, straight from the horse's mouth, from the Old
Testament and the _Iliad_ to Apuleius's _The Golden Ass_ through
Swift's Houyhnhnms, Sewell's _Black Beauty_, to Hughes's _Sweet
William_ and Smiley's _Horse Heaven_.

On a related note, Howey observes that "Indian myth generally seems
to speak of the horse as a fully developed self-conscious creature
with powers (e.g. of speech) which it certainly does not now
normally possess, existing long anterior to the creation of man" (p.
213).  It is typical of Howey's open-mindedness that he qualifies
the horse's voice as a power it "does not ... normally possess,"
leaving room for the possibility that the horse (and perhaps all
other beings) continues to speak although most humans have grown
progressively more deaf to their voice(s).  Indeed that possibility
lends even more significance to horses in literature like Balaam's
ass and Black Beauty, whose voices we can hear because their human
creators retained the imaginative power both to hear and to recreate
their voices for readers less aware.  They serve as our hearing
ears, our guides.

I have long felt that Howey's observation that "[i]n British
symbology the dark horse indicates uncertainty, an unknown quantity,
an individual who is surrounded by mystery," explains Sewell's
choice of color for her narrating equine.  It is a shorthand way of
reminding her readers that there is more to a horse than fashionable
or utilitarian portage--more to any nonhuman individual.  Her
welfare message is obvious and, unfortunately, still necessary.  Her
deeper message about human perception of the species with whom s/he
shares the planet is less so and, consequently, a direct challenge
to the anthropocentric culture story that developed between those
early days of allowing sacred horses their freedom in return for
their wisdom and our own time and place in which domestic animals of
all breeds, humans and non, share the same captivity.

Howey does not mention Sewell or Black Beauty.  He does refer to
Swift's Houyhnhnms who, I think, bring readers much the same wisdom.
Certainly a number of Howey's varied sources also speak to the
wisdom to be gained from the horse.  I would like to think that more
readers--especially those associated with NILAS--will respond to the
message today than could in 1923.  Come to think of it, perhaps
Howey's original impetus still pertains: something in the human
make-up, call it soul or imagination or mind, longs to encounter the
nonhuman "Other," perhaps especially the equine Other.  And, because
that is so, the forces of myth and magic Howey returns us to have
the power to affect the evolution of the human/animal bond in
particularly positive ways, making this new edition of _The Horse in
Magic and Myth_ well worth any reader's time, horse lover or not.


[1]. One caution:  the contemporary reader (or at least this one)
needs to keep in mind that Howey himself was deeply involved in the
spiritual renaissance he mentions.  He believed in metempsychosis
(the transmigration of souls), for instance.  While at the root of
prohibitions against the taking of life, even those of insects and
plants, in many non-Western traditions as well as in the beliefs of
the Pythagoreans and Greek Skeptics, the tradition retains a solidly
anthropocentric core.  The human soul is the focus and Howey
believes the "lower animals" yearn to be reborn as humans with human
souls.  For him nonhuman bodies are prisons from which their captive
souls wish release (particularly relevant is his discussion of
animal suicide on p. 219).  Such notions strike me as being at odds
with the evident love of and firsthand as well as scholarly
knowledge about horses that informs the majority of Howey's
observations but may simply reflect the distance between 1923
Britain and 2003 United States.

[2]. Those who attended the NILAS conference in Ohio this past
summer may remember Heidi O'Brien, who now works at NAHEE (National
Association for Humane and Environmental Education) and spoke as
part of the Humane Education panel.  Heidi was not in that class,
but in a subsequent animals in literature class, and claims the
experience was responsible for her choice to become a professional
animal advocate.

        Copyright (c) 2003 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits
        the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit,
        educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the
        author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and
        H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For other uses
        contact the Reviews editorial staff:

::Monday, December 15, 2003 8:23:55 PM::
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REVIEW: From H-Net

Published by (October 2003)

Peter Brown. The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and
Diversity, A.D. 200-1000
. Second edition. The Making of Europe
Series. Oxford:  Blackwell, 2003. x + 625 pp.  Maps, notes, tables,
bibliography, ndex. $29.95 (paper), ISBN 0-631-22138-7.

Reviewed for H-Catholic by John Howe, Erasmus Institute, University
of Notre Dame

Although second editions rarely merit reviews, this one does.  The
original _Rise of Western Christendom_'s 368 Arabic-numbered pages
are now 625.  Three maps have become ten. The appended chronological
tables have evolved into ten separate chronological inserts
prefacing individual sections as well as into an expanded set of
"coordinated chronological tables" at the end.  Yet all these
impressive quantitative changes may still be less important than the
qualitative ones.

Brown claims to have revised his original work in order to deal with
"the veritable 'dam burst' in the study of late antiquity and of the
early Middle Ages which has taken place within the last five years"
(p.  1).  But there may be more to this story.  The first edition
was far from perfect.  In my undergraduate early medieval class, it
flopped:  it presumed too much, covered too much ground too quickly,
failed to drive home its major themes, and awkwardly combined a
wide-ranging topical approach with a rough chronological framework.
Without specifically noting the fact, Brown's second edition of _The
Rise of Western Christendom_ systematically attempts to correct
these deficiencies.

Brown now sets the book into its historiographical context by means
of a greatly expanded introduction (three pages have become
thirty-four).  He clearly indicates his intent to describe the
triumph of Christendom, but not the Rome-centered Western
Christendom that was the subject of Christopher Dawson's famous work
of that title.  Brown will present the triumphs of a host of
"micro-Christendoms," not only in his primary subject area, the
Latin West, but also, when comparisons seem useful, in a broader arc
that extends all the way to China.  In Brown's view, different
Christianities helped define different peoples (passim, but
especially p. 3).  Such a perspective may seem a little
old-fashioned when compared to the work of those scholars who insist
on the alterity of the Middle Ages, but Brown insists
unapologetically that transitional Christianities were important
steps on the way to our own world, the first manifestations of what
would ultimately develop into a distinct western Christendom.

Although Brown basically retains his original structure and
narrative, he has made significant changes.  He now introduces
people, places, and concepts in ways that take very little for
granted.  For example, as in the first edition, Brown begins by
invoking Bardaisan (fl. 222), a Christian philosopher of Edessa
whose treatise on free will both evokes and takes for granted a
wide-ranging world of Christianities.  Now, however, we no longer
read only of "Edessa (modern Urfa, Turkey)" but of "Edessa (modern
Urfa) [which] now lies in the southeastern corner of Turkey, near
the Syrian border."  Then Brown goes on to explain the city's
relationship to the Fertile Crescent, to today's archaeological
landscape, and to the ancient urban landscape that once surrounded
it (bringing forward some material that had appeared later in his
original narrative). A half sentence has become a whole page!
Thanks to Brown's gift for vivid description, the result is not too
heavy handed.  And now even the most clueless reader should be able
to imagine Edessa as an actual place. Also typical of the new
edition is the way that, after Brown has discussed Bardaisan, he
takes additional space to explain exactly why that opening anecdote
prefaces the book and how it epitomizes the book's perspective.

On the simplest level, these changes are reflected in more explicit
transitions.  In front of or following Brown's magnificently flowing
sentences, we now find added signposts (or perhaps in some cases
bill boards):  "Distant Britain was one such slow moving society"
(p. 76);  "Even what now seems most 'barbarian' in the jewelry of
the time was, in fact, produced by Roman emperors for the senior
officers of the Roman armies!" (p. 101); "Education was as important
as miracles" (p. 427).  Now cross references abound, systematically
directing readers to any character or incident previously mentioned.

Changes in chapter structure provide more signposts.  One is the
division of what had been part 2, "Divergent Legacies: A.D. 500-750"
into part 2, "Divergent Legacies, 500-600," and part 3, "The End of
Ancient Christianity: A.D. 600-750."  Alas, although this appears to
promise a chronologically tighter narrative, most of the material in
the new part 3 actually pertains to events prior to 600.  Subtitles
have been added, albeit not into the index.  They can be helpful,
but are more arbitrary than organic when the prose has not been
recast enough.  For example, a subchapter on "The Conquest of the
Cities" (pp. 77-80) begins with an initial page on Constantine's
churches, does eventually note the importance of cities to the
spread of Christianity, but then finishes up with Athanasius and
Ambrose.  Subtitles do not suit all literary styles.  While reading
this book, I began to dread the prospect that someday an
enterprising publisher would decide to insert them into Brown's
masterful Augustine of Hippo.

Brown adds substantive background.  For example, we now learn more
about the "fierce mood of Christians in the fourth century A.D."
(pp. 73-74)  and about barbarian ethnogenesis (pp. 102-104).  The
history of the English Church is told rather than assumed (pp.
340-344).  Perhaps too pessimistic is Brown's new description of
early medieval Rome (pp. 429-30; cf. Thomas Noble's _Republic of
Saint Peter_, which is missing here from the notes and

Brown offers new evidence to support his arguments, largely drawn
from recent research.  Criticized on occasion for too readily
accepting literary accounts as objective history and for failing to
take enough of a "literary turn," Brown has now included some pages
on the creativity of the historians of the barbarians (pp. 139-141).
He uses additional archaeological examples from Monte Cassino (p.
221), Gudne (p. 324), and San Vincenzo al Volturno (p. 446).  He
showcases the new research on Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury (d.
690), whose cross-cultural connections exemplify this book's
perspective (pp. 368-371).  His treatment of the Vikings is 20
percent longer (pp. 463-488).  Readers will welcome the fact that
this new edition's notes cross-reference another half-dozen years of
Peter Brown publications.

How different this book is from those second editions which seek to
sell more copies by incorporating just enough changes to render
their originals obsolete!  Not only has Brown updated notes and
examples but he has also systematically restructured the text in
order to make it more accessible to readers.  But to what readers?
Professional historians and students alike will be delighted with
the guidance provided by the new introduction.  All readers will
also benefit from the subtle way that language evocative of the old
"fall of Rome" model has been further diminished and by the way that
the ending has been recast in order to focus attention more clearly
on the book's ostensible subject, the Latin West.  Professional
historians will appreciate the additional documentation.  But
students and an educated public are presumably the intended audience
for the new date charts, subtitles, and background discussions.
This helpful amplification comes at a high cost--a big book has
become bigger still, perhaps fatally unwieldy.  At best students
will probably be assigned selected pieces rather than the full text,
and this will be a pity because the book's major strength is Brown's
overall breadth of vision.

        Copyright (c) 2003 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits
        the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit,
        educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the
        author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and
        H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For other uses
        contact the Reviews editorial staff:

::Monday, December 15, 2003 8:21:58 PM::
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NUNTII: Saddam Analogies II

Yet another ancient precedent cited, this time by John Kass in the Chicago Tribune (which requires 'benign registration'):

Should an international court at The Hague pass judgment on him?

Before we decide, we should consider history and how Alexander the Great dealt with a similar situation in the same region about 2,300 years ago.

It involved Bessus the Satrap.

I was thinking of Bessus as Hussein's humiliated face was shown in the military video after his capture.

Hussein's head was put against a wall and he opened wide and said "ahhh" for a doctor, his mass murderer's mouth as pink as a baby's.

As his matted scalp was searched for lice, the rat's hands fluttered briefly, touching his face, a gesture of helplessness and humiliation by a cruel and bloody man.

I wonder whether Bessus the Satrap fluttered his hands to his face, too, when he was finally captured after leading a deadly insurgency against the armies of the West.

And I'm offering Bessus today as a parallel to Hussein and as one possible answer as to what should be done with him.

Darius III, the king of all Asia, was defeated in the decisive battle at Gaugamela by Alexander's armies, in what is modern-day Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq.

When Darius realized that the battle was lost, he ran like a coward and left his wife and children defenseless.

Later, Darius was captured and murdered by his Persian henchman, Bessus. The murder gave Bessus the chance to set himself up as king of Asia, and he began to lead a violent insurgency against the Hellenic Western armies.

For months and months, Alexander chased Bessus. Alexander ordered his soldiers to dig out every rat hole looking for him. Alexander even crossed the Hindu Kush, a fantastic military accomplishment even by today's high-tech standards.

Through great adversity, Alexander employed his famous tactics and strategy. But his best weapon against Bessus was his indomitable will. What Bessus didn't understand was that Alexander meant business.

Alexander simply refused to quit. His companions and generals understood this, and so did his men. Eventually, his enemies also understood it.

After relentless pressure and many battles and sieges, the Persians and others who supported Bessus realized that they couldn't take the constant pounding.

They gave Bessus up. It is unknown if he was found in a rat hole, but he was found.

And then Bessus wasn't a leader of anything anymore.

He was stripped naked and he was bound. A wooden collar was put around his neck. He was left on the side of the road for Alexander's armies to pick up like so much garbage.

But he was alive.

Historians acknowledge that it was then that Alexander proved himself not only a great general and killer, but also a wise politician.

Rather than behead Bessus himself, rather than ship him back to Greece in a cage for the amusement of the folks back home, rather than tie him to horses and leave body parts for dogs and birds, Alexander did the smart political thing.

He turned Bessus over to the Persians.

His only instructions were that Bessus was to be tried and punished in accordance with Persian law for the crime of murdering their king.

And so the Persians humiliated Bessus. They scourged him in the Persian manner. They cut off his nose and earlobes in the Persian manner. Then they executed him in the Persian manner.

In turning Bessus over to the Persians for judgment, Alexander showed he was respectful of Persian customs. And so, through ceremony and blood, they bought into Alexander's rule.

I am by no means comparing a freely elected American president to Alexander, nor am I comparing the United States to the Hellenistic world empire of the day.

For one thing, Alexander never had to worry about the consequences of the growing Halliburton profiteering scandal in Iraq.

Bush did the right thing by pursing Hussein. He should take Hussein's capture as an opportunity to do the right thing by canceling Halliburton's contracts.

And I'm not advocating mutilation for Hussein. That's up to the Iraqis.

It shouldn't be up to The Hague. And American soldiers should not be ordered to pump his body full of lead.

Out of respect for the Iraqi people and their customs, let them be the ones to judge and punish Hussein.

::Monday, December 15, 2003 9:46:50 AM::
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ante diem xviii kalendas januarias

  • Consualia -- a festival in honour of Consus which likely involved
    a similar celebration held on August 21 (i.e. horse races, chariot
    races, and garlanding of the steeds)
  • 19 B.C. -- dedication of the ara Fortunae Reducis
  • 37 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Nero
  • 130 A.D. -- birth of the future co-emperor Lucius Verus

::Monday, December 15, 2003 7:36:19 AM::
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NUNTII: Saddam Analogies regularly shows up in my scans because various columnists at the site drop Classical names or events fairly regularly -- unfortunately the comparison is usually not apt or not of sufficient weight for me to include mention of it here. Today, however,  Justin Raimundo opens a meandering piece on the capture of Saddam and its potential spinoffs thusly:

At the end of his long war against the Roman Empire, the rebel chieftain of ancient Gaul, Vercingetorix, was captured and brought in chains to Rome, where he was dragged along the cobblestones of the Appian Way behind a chariot to the "ooohs" and "aaaahs" of the Roman public. And while Saddam, a petty tyrant, is no Vercingetorix – who had at least a few victories to his credit – and Bush is no Julius Caesar, a similar fate awaits the former Iraqi dictator.

::Monday, December 15, 2003 7:09:11 AM::
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An interesting production, as reported by the Harvard Crimson:

The cast and crew of Ajax made admirable use of the small, cramped Kronauer Space this weekend. Spectators were crowded onto benches and many had to sit on the floor, but the fine acting and directing made up for the deficiencies in the space. In fact, the up-close-and-personal seating arrangement increased the impact of the gore, violence and emotion found in this modern adaptation of Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy.

Darkness and crackly music introduced the play. A large bronze shield on the back wall and a yellow curtain hung to the side served as the only set elements. The minimalism of the props provided well-considered contrast to the complexity of the drama. The play also made unique use of audio-visual technology, presenting the suicide of Ajax as a televised clip. The TV’s blurry, black-and-white image made the suicide scene creepier and more powerful than it would have been had it been acted out on stage.

More ...

::Monday, December 15, 2003 6:45:16 AM::
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AWOTV: On TV Today

Nothing of interest to us!

::Monday, December 15, 2003 6:30:12 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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