Thursday, February 26, 2004
THIS DAY IN ANCIENT HISTORY
n.b. I believe I have messed up the dates as amicus noster GP has pointed out to me offline. Because of the leap year, yesterday technically should have been
ante diem bis vi kalendas martias
and today's date and events:
ante diem v kalendas martias
- 50 A.D. -- the emperor Claudius adopts the future emperor Nero
- 116 A.D.-- supplicatio pro salute Traiani (day 1)
- 138 A.D. -- the emperor Hadrian adopts the future emperor Antoninus Pius
- 284 A.D. -- martyrdom of Victorinus and companions
apologies for any confusion ... this will only happen every four years or so ...
CHATTER: More Passion Stuff
An excerpt from a transcript from an interview on Jim Lehrer's Newshour on PBS:
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the other issue you raise, Professor Cunningham, is the accuracy question, and of course much of the controversy there is focused on the portrayal of Jews. Can you flesh out what has bothered you there?
PHIILIP CUNNINGHAM: Well, there are two dimensions to that as well. First of all, there are many scenes not found in the New Testament in which Jewish characters inflict violence on Jesus; for example, he is thrown off a bridge in chains as he is being brought before the high priest. There is also some severe violence there that the New Testament certainly doesn't present at that juncture.
In addition, and more historically significant is the fact that Pontius Pilate is clearly subordinate in power to Caiphas, the high priest. If not subordinate, he is certainly intimidated by him. He tells his wife in a scene that also is not found in the Gospels, that he is afraid Caiphas will lead a revolt against Roman rule unless Pilate complies with Caiphas insistence on Jesus' execution.
Now we know historically that Caiphas was effectively appointed high priest by Pilate and in fact was more fearful that the Romans would destroy the temple as it indicates in John Chapter 11 than he would have been in leading any revolt, which was not in his power to do. The power relationships between the two are almost totally reversed from what we know historically.
Cunningham, for the record, is a professor of theology at BC. Perhaps that is why I am confused by the above statement ... as I remembered it and according to Josephus, Antiquities 18.2.2 (in the online translation), Caiaphas was appointed by Pilate's predecessor, Valerius Gratus. Perhaps significantly, Vitellius would later (as consul) deprive Pilate of his procuratorship and Caiaphas of his high priesthood.
I guess it's more of a preview than a review:
When it comes to writing plays that stand the test of time, Shakespeare has nothing on Euripides, who wrote the tragedy Alcestis about 2,000 years, give or take, before the Bard even started to fill a folio.
Alcestis tells the Greek myth of Admetus, king of Pherae, and his wife, Alcestis who, in a deal with the gods, agrees to die in her husband's place. This weekend, the Binghamton University Theatre Department is bringing the drama to Watters Theater on campus.
Tom Kremer has made a career of instructing theater majors at BU but says taking on the role of Admetus has been an education for the teacher. It's Kremer's first stab at a classical Greek tragedy -- and a chance to work alongside his students.
"By performing with the students, I learn a lot from them," he said. "I learn better ways of teaching them; I learn how they actually, really see the craft of acting."
Returning to BU to direct and act as Alcestis in the production is Lydia Koniordou, arguably the foremost tragedienne of the Greek stage. Koniordou first came to BU in 1999 to direct and act in another Greek tragedy, Electra, as part of the Anderson Center's "Homage to Greece."
However, her Alcestis is not set in Greece.
"We have placed the performance in the post-Civil War period because there are analogies and similarities considering the different ages and different times. There is a similar social condition with the country coming out of a war with a lot of destruction, economic crisis and new values," Koniordou said. "We chose this period to create a bridge from our time of today and the period of Euripedes, to bring the story closer to our time so we can both identify it and have it at a safe distance and have the sense of the myth and legend." [more]
A potentially interesting piece of work:
If ancient Romans observed Family Day, their celebrations would have included wet nurses, slaves and possibly many others who had no blood relationship, according to new University of Calgary research.
A landmark analysis by classicist Dr. Hanne Sigismund Nielsen of more than 4,500 inscriptions on Roman tombstones shows that our concept of the Roman family needs to be broadened to include much more than just parents, grandparents and children.
"Roman families did not at all look like our family structure today," says Nielsen, who spent more than 10 years examining the Latin inscriptions. "Quite a few family relationships existed by choice and were not at all contained in the biological family." For example, slaves were often related to their masters by choice, families frequently included foster parents or children, and wet nurses were especially honoured.
"Whereas we might say, 'He has a face only a mother could love,' the Romans would have said, 'He has a face only his wet nurse could love'," Nielsen says. The bond was so strong with wet nurses because mothers surrendered their children to them for the first three years of a child's life.
Nielsen has written a book about her research titled Roman Relationships: The Evidence of the Epitaphs, which is currently under review for publication. Although the epitaphs have been documented and compiled in reference books, until now nobody has comprehensively described and analyzed them. Nielsen assembled a database of 4,500 complete inscriptions out of a total of 40,000 epitaphs, many of which are only fragmentary. [more]
This looks like interesting stuff, although I'm not sure if it is really "landmark" as the article suggests ...
AWOTV: On TV Today
8.00 p.m. |HINT| Arms in Action: Slings and Spears
Produced in partnership with England's Royal Armouries located in
the Tower of London, this series action-tests weapons and armor
through the ages. We construct an ancient slingshot and see why it
survives as a street-fighting weapon in the Middle East, and follow
the unbroken history of the spear from mere stick to Roman pilium to
9.00 p.m. |HISTC| Disasters of Athens
This episode tells the story of the Peloponnesian Wars and the
battles that raged on land and sea between the Athenians and the
Spartans. The Spartan policy of annual invasions gave scant reward
for ten years, but the occupation of Decelea and the defeat of the
Athenian fleet at Aegospotami in 405BC finally paved the way for
success; Athens was besieged and captured and a Spartan-backed puppet
regime was installed.
HISTC = History Television (Canada)
HINT = History International