Latest update: 4/4/2005; 5:47:50 AM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca


::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 8:09:32 AM::
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ante diem ix kalendas januarias

  • 3 B.C./B.C.E.. -- birth of the future emperor-for-a-little-while

::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 8:08:06 AM::
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AUDIO:  Father Foster

The Latin Lover's Christmas program has Father Foster begin talking about some Christmas Cards folks might want to keep the eye open for, but then he gets into translating some phrases associated with Christmas into Latin. Then we get to hear some Latin hymns while Veronica appears to try to stump FF by making him translate some English into Latin. More music (Gregorian Chant et alia) follows ...

Audi ...

::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 8:05:02 AM::
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CHATTER: Debating Point has a piece by Tony Blankley on miscalculations during major military conflicts. In passing he mentions as an exemplum:

The history of warfare is replete with all forms of miscalculations made by people who were every bit as smart and cunning as we think we are today. In the Peloponnesian War of the 4th century B.C., Alcibiades, the brilliant and brave Athenian, overplayed his strong hand and brought complete defeat for Athens and the end of her golden age.

Wow ... can we really blame Alcibiades for the outcome of the Peloponnesian War (did he 'overplay his hand'?). I'll have to think about that one ...

::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 7:46:32 AM::
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NUNTII: Christmas and the Colossus

Here's a very interesting piece from the Independent, reproduced in its entirety, which suggests the December 25 date for Christmas is tied to the consecration of the Colossus of Rhodes:

Archeologists say they have traced the origins of the first Christmas to be celebrated on 25 December, 300 years before the birth of Christ. The original event marked the consecration of the ancient world's largest sun god statue, the 34m tall, 200 ton Colossus of Rhodes.

It has long been known that 25 December was not the real date of Christ's birth and that the decision to turn it into Jesus's birthday was made by Constantine, the Roman Emperor, in the early 4th century AD. But experts believe the origins of that decision go back to 283 BC, when, in Rhodes, the winter solstice occurred at about sunrise on 25 December.

The event was preserved by academics on Rhodes or in Alexandria, and seems to have been passed to Caesar by the Hellenistic Egyptian scientists, who advised him on his calendrical reforms.

The date was chosen because the emperor seems to have believed that the Roman sun god and Christ were virtually one and the same, and the sun's birthday had been decreed as 25 December some 50 years earlier by one of Constantine's predecessors, the Emperor Aurelian. He, in turn, seems to have chosen 25 December because, ever since Julius Caesar's calendar reforms of 46 BC, that date had been fixed as the official winter solstice, even though the real date for the solstice in Caesar's time was 23 December.

Dr Alaric Watson, one of the British historians involved in the current research and author of the major book on the period, Aurelian and the Third Century, said: "Constantine's choice of 25 December as the day on which to celebrate the birth of his divine patron, Christ, must be viewed in terms of the tradition on which Aurelian had drawn and which may well have originated in the celebration of the winter solstice at Rhodes some six centuries earlier.

"Constantine clearly saw his divine patron, initially Sol Invictus but later Christ, in much the same way as Aurelian had done. The imagery of Christ, like that of the ruler cults of the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, owed much to solar theology."

Jesus's real date of birth is not known, although various different pre-4th century traditions and computations put it either in the January to March period or in November.

::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 7:42:06 AM::
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CHATTER: Equine Caligular Comparanda

Journalists are forever bringing up the popular version of the Caligula-and-his-horse story, usually rather ineptly. Today, however, we read of the New Zealand horse Bonecrusher, who is to make his last public appearance:

Bonecrusher's enormous athleticism won him 18 races, nine of them group one level, and $2.54 million, finishing almost every race with his trademark tongue sticking up the side of his head.

He had a cult following way beyond the periphery of racing.

In 1986 the then Sports Minister, Mike Moore, declared him an official New Zealand sporting ambassador, quipping: "I'm the first to elevate a horse since Caligula [referring to the notorious Roman emperor who made his horse a senator]."

After retiring from public appearances, Bonecrusher will retire to a paddock. Through the last decade the horse, known to his handlers as Red, has been kept fit by owner Peter Mitchell's wife, Shirley, and their daughter Sharlene and is still immensely popular in Australia when he makes a public appearance.

Source (love the photo!)

::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 7:36:36 AM::
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CHATTER: Socrates, Plutarch, whatever

As might be expected, over the past few days there's been a flood of Christmas pieces with their obligatory tip of the pilleus to the ancient world. Here's the incipit of first one that caught my eye -- from a Nigerian newspaper -- I think it speaks for itself:

The Sybaritic and hedonistic zeitgeist that has now become the idiosyncratic concomitant of Christmas celebrants redound to the pasteurized truism that, the monolithic spiritual epiphany of Christmas is now sunken in the quagmire of Dionysian exuberance. Hence, the Greek philosopher Socrates said in his Plutarch: “Bad men live that they may eat and drink whereas good men eat and drink that they may live”. The bacchanalian debauchery during Christmas season is morally nauseating.

Looks like someone got a Thesaurus for Christmas ...

::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 7:29:38 AM::
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NUNTII: Latin in the Economist

I'm doing a bit of catching up today, posting some things I meant to post on Sunday (during my technical difficulties) and trying to give you enough content to keep you happy for a couple of days when I'll probably be away from the computer. The first is that 'Latin is alive and well' piece from the Economist which I mentioned in "explorator". Here's the incipit:

So you thought that irksome language was dead?

TO SCARY music, a furtive Jewish nationalist of the first century paints on a wall the words Romanes Eunt Domus. A centurion enters:

Centurion: What's this, then? ? ‘People called Romanes they go the house?’
Nationalist: It—it says, ‘Romans, go home’.
Centurion: No, it doesn't. ‘Go home’? This is motion towards. Isn't it, boy?
Nationalist (being savagely beaten): Ah. Ah, dative, sir! Ahh! No, not dative! Not the dative, sir! No! Ah! Oh, the...accusative! Domum, sir! Ah! Oooh! Ah!
Centurion: Except that takes the...?
Nationalist: The locative, sir!

The scene, from “Monty Python's Life of Brian”, marked the apotheosis of Latin in film—until last March. At that point Mel Gibson, star-turned-director, announced that his new film “The Passion”, about the last hours of Christ, would be made entirely in Latin and Aramaic. At first, the hero of “Thunderdome” and “Lethal Weapon” did not even want subtitles. When he realised that audiences needed to know, just roughly, what the characters were saying, he reluctantly backed down.
The milites in their caligae are now being coached in barrack-room conjugations by Father William Fulco, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. They are taking to it quickly, he says; sometimes too quickly, with a steep slide into Italian-waiter accents. Italian is in fact his rough guide for pronunciation of first-century Latin, about which there is much debate. Subtitles will still be waived for soldier-talk, which Father Fulco has derived from graffiti found in Roman camps. You could argue, as he does, that Greek would often be more appropriate, and that the conscripted troops in Judea spoke little Latin. But, as the language of an oppressive superpower, Latin can't be beat.

The remainder ...

::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 7:24:48 AM::
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AWOTV: On TV Today

2.00 p.m. |A&E| Helen of Troy (part 2)
"Movie. In this epic story of love and war, a young Trojan
warrior Paris and the beautiful Helen risk everything to be
together, sparking ancient history's greatest war. After
countless warriors had died on both sides, the Greeks, led by
Agamemnon, use history's most infamous trick--the Trojan Horse--
to breach the walls of Troy. Starring Sienna Guillory as Helen,
Matthew Marsden as Paris, Rufus Sewell as Agamemnon, Stellan
Skarsgard as Theseus, and John Rhys-Davies as King Priam of

4.00 p.m. |HISTU| Jesus of Nazareth, Pt. 1-4
"Movie. In this reverent depiction of the life of Christ,
director Franco Zeffirelli uses the Gospel accounts and an all-
star cast to mighty effect. Beginning before the Nativity, Part
1 stars Olivia Hussey as Mary and Yorgo Voyagis as Joseph. The 3
wise men are portrayed by James Earl Jones, Donald Pleasence,
and Fernando Rey. Christopher Plummer plays King Herod Antipas,
who has John the Baptist (Michael York) put to death. (1977)
[they're showing all four parts one after the other]

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Guardian of the Ages: The Great Sphinx
"A visit to the famed ancient monument that combines the body
of a cat and the head of an Egyptian pharaoh. Computers recreate
the statue's original appearance, while experts try to identify
the ruler."

9.00 p.m. |HINT| Time Team: Cirencester
"Around 1,700 years ago, Corinium--modern day Cirencester--was
the second-most important city in Roman Britain after Londinium.
By about 300 AD, it had developed into a bustling, wealthy city.
Time Team was drawn to Cirencester by the opportunity to
excavate in the gardens of a number of properties near the
center of old Corinium. Though it has been said that you can't
put a shovel into the ground in Cirencester without unearthing
Roman relics, Time Team adds their 2-spades worth! "

HINT = History International

A&E = Arts and Entertainment

HISTU = History Channel (US)

::Wednesday, December 24, 2003 7:11:13 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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