Latest update: 4/4/2005; 5:42:28 AM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca

AUDIO: Father Foster

I haven't had a chance to listen to this one (doing course stuff tonight), but Father Foster appears to be talking about all the wonderful things Mussolini did in revealing various aspects of ancient Rome.

::Tuesday, December 16, 2003 8:43:48 PM::
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CHATTER: Seen in Passing

An article on various nightspots in Sydney (Australia) suggests:

And if you're a classicist, Faraone's dirty martini (Tanqueray gin or Chopin vodka with three olives and a dash of extra brine) will make you throw away your car keys.

I'll assume folks have already heard the well-known joke ...

::Tuesday, December 16, 2003 8:39:01 PM::
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TTT: Dig that Helike

The January/February issue of Archaeology has a feature on the dig at Helike ... here's the abstract.

::Tuesday, December 16, 2003 8:27:53 PM::
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CHATTER: Send in the Squirrels

Why buy nuts for the holiday season when you can read them online (and or watch them on TechTV)? Here's article by Michael Tsarion, who is a guest on Tech TV's Unscrewed tonight ... the title tells you pretty much all you need to know The Atlanteans: Tutors or Tyrants?


::Tuesday, December 16, 2003 8:23:21 PM::
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ante diem xvii kalendas januarias

::Tuesday, December 16, 2003 5:31:41 AM::
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NUNTII: Saddam Analogies IV

The appeals to precedent keep pouring in ... here's the (Michael) Browning Version, from the Palm Beach Post:

The pattern and paradigm of the fate of the fallen potentate are the careers of numerous Roman emperors, men who ruled much of the known world yet who often perished miserably and painfully.

The second to wear the imperial purple, Tiberius, was allegedly suffocated with pillows in bed at the urging of his presumptive heir, Caligula. Caligula in turn was assassinated by his own guards in a tunnel atop the Palatine hill in Rome, which can still be seen today. His successor, Claudius of I, Claudius fame, was said to have been poisoned with mushrooms. Next came Nero, who, after having his own mother killed, was killed by a slave at his own request -- he didn't have the courage to use the dagger himself -- while fleeing Rome. His last words were Qualis artifex pereo, "What an artist is dying!" Nero's three successors were all assassinated within the space of a single year, so that 69 A.D. became known as The Year of the Four Emperors.

Caracalla's death was the ignoblest, perhaps: He was killed while moving his bowels beside the road, or, as historian Edward Gibbon primly puts it:

"Having stopped on the road for some necessary occasion, his guards preserved a respectful distance and Martialis approaching his person under a pretence of duty, stabbed him with a dagger.... Such was the end of a monster whose life disgraced human nature, and whose reign accused the patience of the Romans."

The last days of a tyrant are presciently described by Plato in the ninth book of his Republic, as a kind of living death. The description rings as true for Hitler as it does for Hussein, even after 2,400 years. The italics are supplied:

"He who is the real tyrant, whatever men may think, is the real slave, and is obliged to practice the greatest adulation and servility, and to be the flatterer of the vilest of mankind. He has desires which he is utterly unable to satisfy, and has more wants than any one, and is truly poor, if you know how to inspect the whole soul of him: all his life long he is beset with fear and is full of convulsions and distractions, even as the State which he resembles.... He has to be master of others when he is not master of himself; he is like a diseased or paralytic man who is compelled to pass his life, not in retirement, but fighting and combating with other men...

"His soul is dainty and greedy, and yet alone, of all men in the city, he is never allowed to go on a journey, or to see the things which other freemen desire to see, but he lives in his hole, like a woman hidden in the house, and is jealous of any other citizen who goes into foreign parts and sees anything of interest....

"He grows worse from having power; he becomes and is of necessity more jealous, more faithless, more unjust, more friendless, more impious, than he was at first; he is the purveyor and cherisher of every sort of vice, and the consequence is that he is supremely miserable, and that he makes everybody else as miserable as himself."

::Tuesday, December 16, 2003 4:52:35 AM::
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NUNTII: Saddam Analogies III

Journalists the world over continue to struggle to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge of the ancient world by making analogies about Saddam's capture. Today it's Philip Kennicott in the Washington Post who suggests, inter alia:

His capture, without a fight, no doubt has extraordinary power for the Iraqis who hate him. But the great leader brought low is a more complex image than has yet to be acknowledged.

"It destroys his myth of being Nebuchadnezzar and Saladin, and the noble, chivalrous Arab leader," said Francis Brooke, a Washington-based adviser to Ahmed Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council.

Perhaps these images will negate the connection to Nebuchadnezzar and Saladin, if not in Hussein's mind, then in the minds of however many Iraqis still believe the myth. But within a more Western-oriented context, the capture of a leader is not necessarily the end of his power or his story. The king in irons, from Herodotus's Croesus to Shakespeare's Richard II, is more the fulfillment of a certain kingly destiny than it is a negation of kingly power.

Herodotus, in "The Histories," made the end of the great king Croesus a new beginning for the man. "Fourteen years he had reigned and fourteen days been besieged, and he had indeed fulfilled the oracle, in that he had destroyed a mighty empire -- his own," the historian wrote of a potentate who in an earlier age bedeviled much the same patch of planet as Hussein. Croesus is placed alive on a funeral pyre, but speaks so eloquently, and sagely, about the transience of fortune that another king, Cyrus, takes pity and commutes the sentence. Croesus emerges not as a king humiliated but as a man who passed through kingship into greater wisdom.

Richard II undergoes much the same transformation. After mocking and abusing the best of his realm, he is landed in prison. "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me," is the nugget of his learning. Saddam Hussein, we are told, spent the last few years writing romance novels.

Hussein is not Richard II. The Shakespeare character was essentially a fiction. Today, his crimes are mostly forgotten and outrage at his tyranny diluted in the morals of a different age. It would be farce to think, or care much, that Hussein, like Shakespeare's Richard, will find wisdom in his downfall.

But there is a nagging human habit that transcends sympathy or empathy, a kind of curiosity and pity that is a natural check and balance to hatred. By far the most extraordinary image of a despot in defeat is Xerxes, from Aeschylus's "The Persians." Only eight years after the pivotal and desperate battle of Salamis, which helped save the Greek world from Persian invaders, Aeschylus wrote a play that, rather like a tape loop on CNN, has a strange, static, captured-in-time quality. There is no plot to speak of, just a richly imagined vision of the Persians lamenting their loss. Without precedent and with few imitators down through the last 25 centuries, Aeschylus humanized, and made objects of pity, the very people and king who had threatened his world with annihilation and slavery.

So ... is Saddam Croesus?

::Tuesday, December 16, 2003 4:46:36 AM::
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AWOTV: On TV Today

11.00 p.m. |HINT| Pompeii: Buried Alive
"Exploration of the archaeological site of the city that was
encrusted by incendiary ash when deadly Mount Vesuvius erupted
in 79 AD. Archaeological director Baldasarre Conticello takes
viewers on a tour of Pompeii's ruins, and visits Herculaneum,
which was destroyed by Vesuvius at the same time."

HINT = History International

::Tuesday, December 16, 2003 4:24:10 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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