Most recent update:2/1/2004; 11:07:40 AM

 Tuesday, January 13, 2004


I'm just cleaning up some obviously expired items from back in August and I can't help but notice that the NJCL convention received a pile of media coverage; the APA convention: none. The AIA had a couple of items ...

Perhaps part of the outreach activities of the APA should be to alert one or two news organizations (or some freelance journalists) that it is something to cover ....

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idus januariae

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CHATTER: ex Cathedra?

In the ongoing (it seems) controversy over the use of ephedra, I had never thought of this point which was made in a letter to the editor of the Herald Tribune:

The root of "ephedra," according to the Greeks, comes from the feminine singular noun "hedra," meaning an innocent seat or chair, as in a bishop's cathedra or a university chair, a symbol of authority. Ephedra itself means a "sitting at or by: a siege, blockade," equivalent, in Latin, to "obsessio," which in psychiatry is the neurosis characterized by the persistent intrusion of unwanted thoughts ("thoughts that annoyingly confront one").

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NUNTII: Ancient Bio-warfare

Newsday has an item on ancient biochemical warfare in the ancient world  which largely draws -- of course -- on Adrienne Mayor's latest tome. It also talks to Victor Davis Hanson about something which directly pertains to Classics! Here's some in medias res stuff:

Victor Davis Hanson, a professor of classics at California State University at Fresno and an expert on ancient warfare, says he views Mayor's scholarly account of early biochemical weapons as sound and "very imaginative," a welcome contribution to the field of classical studies.

Hanson says Western culture has tended to label some forms of combat as less-than-heroic - missile weapons, for example - because the labels derive from a classical Greek perspective that anything other than hand-to-hand combat was somehow cheating, a bias that led to ambivalence even over unpoisoned arrows.

"Our moral hierarchy is a direct descendant of Greek values," he says. "We have trouble with off-and-on fighting, terrorism, assassinations, stealth - not that we cannot be adept at it. It's just that it's not what we idolize or romanticize."

In the primordial Greek past, Perseus, Hercules, Jason and other heroes were romanticized by defeating the grotesque embodiments of evil - cyclops, medusae, hydras and furies, among them. But even heroes have their dark sides and can abuse power, use morally questionable methods and mistreat others, making them valuable vehicles for the morality lessons codified in works such as Homer's "Iliad" and "The Odyssey."

The early dilemmas posed in mythic form would be recorded eventually in the annals of historians as combatants put their growing knowledge to practical - if controversial - use. The first recorded instance of poisoning an enemy's water supply, for example, appeared in the sixth century BC in the Sacred War, when a number of city-states, Athens among them, attacked the Greek harbor town of Kirrha.

"They were besieging this town for having taken advantage of a sacred site, for not respecting the sacred site of Apollo," Mayor says. And since the aggressors called it a sacred war, she adds, the label lent a certain justification to the use of the unconventional warfare. [the whole thing]

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AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Herod the Great
Explores the life of King Herod, the great builder who left behind
Masada and Temple Mount. Was he a great king or a ruthless killer?

8.00 p.m. |HINT| Blood and Honor at the First Olympics
Explores the first Olympic Games in 776 BC organized by the Greeks.
Bodies were broken and literally trampled to death in these "games",
where winning was everything.

8.30 p.m. |DCIVC| Meet The Ancestors: Princess of the City

HINT = History International

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)

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Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

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