Saturday, February 28, 2004
THIS DAY IN ANCIENT HISTORY
ante diem iii kalendas martias
- Equirria -- a horse-racing festival in honour of Mars traditionally ascribed to Romulus
- Amburbium -- a 'moveable feast' which may or may not have actually been held on this day, but does seem to have happened near the end of February. A sacrificial procession was led around the boundaries of the city as a rite of purification.
- 116 A.D. -- supplicatio pro salute Traiani (day 3)
CHATTER: That Caracalla Look
Artnews Online has a nice piece on the Met's bust of Caracalla ... here's the incipit:
The George Bush action doll made its debut in September, with the president clad in a flight suit, to commemorate his landing on an aircraft carrier off San Diego last spring. This particular genre of portraiture may seem infelicitous to some, but the tradition of heralding civic leaders as military heroes reaches back to antiquity. No artists were more accomplished at this than Roman portrait sculptors, who at times risked their lives to capture the likeness of a ruler who wanted to burnish his claim to the imperial throne.
Born in A.D. 188, Caracalla was a rough-and-ready soldier, son of the Libyan-born emperor Septimius Severus. His father’s portraits retain the beard and long curls of a contemplative philosopher-emperor, a fashion introduced by the Antonine dynasty in the 180s, but Caracalla’s violent assumption of the throne in 211 was heralded with portraits showing the usurper with close-cropped hair, ready for a helmet at a moment’s notice, and an unfussy stubble beard. These two differences mark a formal break with the last generation of portraiture. Caracalla’s new look was an overnight success and dominated Roman art for a century, until the emperor Constantine (A.D. 312–325) allowed his hair to grow out a bit in a mop top, recalling portraits of the emperor Trajan and his golden age (A.D. 98–117). [more ... includes photo]
CHATTER: Say What?
From the Fort Morgan Times:
These classes will help people become more secure in their faith and show them how to reach out to people around them, especially teens, church spokesman Devin Christensen said.
"Our children are confused by what they hear," he said. "In today's world people are deluged with conflicting information. Even strong Christians aren't sure why they believe what they believe or how to explain that the Bible can be trusted. The Bible is questioned daily."
The New Testament is the only book of antiquity that has nearly 25,000 original manuscripts, Christensen said. The closest one to is it Homer's "Iliad" with 643, he added, and Plato's writings have only seven original manuscripts.
Hmmm ... no wonder your children are confused by what they hear ...
REVIEW: Sapphic Stuff
The Australian has a review of the three Sappho books that seem to be reviewed as a triad everywhere (i.e. the ones by Erica Jong, Margaret Reynolds, and Anne Carson). The whole review is worth reading, of course, but here's an interesting excerpt:
With this trio we have pretty much all bases covered: Sappho for classics lovers; Sappho for feminists; and Sappho for the soft-porn market. The customary thing, when confronted by such signs of renewed interest in a classical work or figure, is to applaud. But the Jong and the Reynolds seem about things other than Sappho the poet, while the Carson translation misses some important qualities of her poetic voice: the sensation of intense intimacy.
Here is a recent translation of the famous fragment 31 (it was also rendered into Latin by Catullus). In it the poet decants her feelings for a young girl sitting beside her bridegroom; we are looking at chick-lit circa 600BC, and yet the sensations will be familiar to anyone who has ever suffered in love.
In my eyes he matches the gods, that man who sits there facing you - any man whatever - listening closeby to the sweetness of your voice as you talk, the sweetness of your laughter: yes, that - I swear it - sets the heart to shaking inside my breast, since once I look at you for a moment, I can't speak any longer, but my tongue breaks down, and then all at once a subtle fire races inside my skin, my eyes can't see a thing and a whirring whistle thrums at my hearing cold sweat covers me and a trembling takes ahold of me all over: I'm greener than the grass is and appear to myself to be little short of dying ...
Carson, in aiming for a strictly literal translation, ends up with something inelegant and elliptical: "oh it/ puts the heart in my chest on wings/ for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking/ is left in me/ no: tongue breaks and thin/ fire is racing under skin/ and in eyes no sight and drumming/ fills ears/ and cold sweat holds me and shaking/ grips me all, greener than grass/ I am and dead ..."
Carson is a wonderful poet and a classicist too, but the contortions of syntax and the shorn pronouns serve here to knock out planks in the footbridge that links us to Sappho. It reads, against the translator's intentions, like a poor attempt at modernisation. The poem, however, is too innately modern to be modernised.
Perhaps someone should tell Luke Slattery (the reviewer ... rumoured to be off to Paris soon), that Carson is translating the Greek, not the translation ...
CHATTER: Victor Davis Hanson
A rogueclassicism reader sent this one in (thanks RB!) ... In his latest column for the National Review, Victor Davis Hanson cites a Classical precedent (something he hasn't done much of lately, for some reason) for the notion of "preemption":
Preemption is a concept as old as the Greeks. It perhaps was first articulated in the fourth book of Thucydides's history. There the veteran Theban general Pagondas explained why his Boeotians should hit the Athenians at the border near Delium, even though they were already retreating and posed no immediate threat. The Boeotians did, and won — and were never attacked by the Athenians again. On a more immediate level, preemption was how many of us stayed alive in a rather tough grade school: Confront the bully first, openly, and in daylight — our Texan principal warned us — before he could jump you as planned in the dark on the way home.
AWOTV: On TV Today
8.00 a.m.|HISTU| Ancient Inventions
Was the concept for the computer invented in the 20th century...or
perhaps thousands of years ago? Scholars present evidence indicating
that our ancestors may have conceived such innovations as flight,
brain surgery, steam power, batteries, and the computer, hundreds,
and even thousands of years before their time. We test the truth of
the old saw "everything old is new again" in this salute to the
inventive spirit of mankind.
10.00 a.m.|HISTU| Judas: Traitor or Friend?
He was one of the 12 apostles, one of the elect. Yet for 30 silver
coins, Judas Iscariot turned on his teacher and closest friend.
Historians, psychologists, theologians, and religious scholars
investigate Judas's childhood, relationship with Jesus, and
monumental decision that would characterize him for all time. Did
Judas believe his betrayal would force Jesus to display his divine
power and thereby prove he was the Messiah? Or was he acting on
directives given by Jesus to fulfill a prophecy?
2.00 p.m.|HISTU| Pompeii
August 24, 79 AD. A day like any other day in the thriving Roman
resort town of Pompeii, sheltered in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius.
Then, the volcano erupts and lava engulfs the city, preserving it in
time. Historians walk us through the daily life of this ill-fated
7.00 p.m.|HISTU|In the Footsteps of Jesus: The Lost Youth of Jesus
Thousands of Christians make pilgrimages to the Holy Land yearly to
visit sites connected to Jesus. But are they authentic? The search
for the historical Jesus began with the first pilgrim--Constantine
the Great's mother Helena Augusta. Scholars have been trying to prove-
-or disprove--her amazing claims ever since. Traveling to Bethlehem,
Nazareth, and Sepphoris in the footsteps of Jesus, we run into heated
debate about where he was born, baptized, and grew up, and reveal
startling new discoveries.
8.00 p.m.|HISTU| In the Footsteps of Jesus: From Galilee to Jerusalem
Following in the footsteps of Jesus, we dig for the truth behind
"accepted" Holy Land sites and review archaeological controversy
about these important religious places. We examine: an Israeli
scholar's 1987 discovery of the lost city of Bethsaida, where Jesus
called his first disciples, healed a blind man, and fed the
multitudes; a boat on the Galilee's shoreline dating to the time of
Jesus; a house in Capernaum that may have belonged to St. Peter; and
the possible grave of Lazarus.
9.00 p.m.|HISTU| In the Footsteps of Jesus: The Way of the Cross
The search for evidence of Jesus's life moves to Jerusalem and the
traditional sites associated with his final days. Deep beneath the
city, we explore the buried remains of Herod's temple and tread a
pavement where Jesus may have walked. Delving into the mysterious
histories of the Cenacle Room, Gethsemane, and Roman Praetorium, we
investigate the latest archaeological theories concerning probable
sites of Jesus's last supper, arrest, and trial. Does science support
or refute the Biblical accounts?
10.00 p.m.|HISTU| The Passion of the Christ
How true is Hollywood to history? What are the real stories behind
the people and events portrayed? Featuring interviews with
historians, the director, producers, actors, and film clips, we
compare history with Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ", "a
vivid depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life with
James Caviezel and Monica Belluci." Our panel delves into the
controversy around the film, including charges of anti-Semitism, and
finds out why Jesus speaks in Latin and Aramaic.
11.00 p.m.|HISTU| In the Footsteps of Jesus: The Mysteries of Golgotha
Recounting the final footsteps in the life of Jesus, we explore the
traditional sites of his crucifixion and burial. Does the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre truly contain the Rock of Calvary and Jesus's
tomb, or could the Garden Tomb be the authentic site? We investigate
the most recent archaeological evidence and learn how it may finally
answer this fascinating question.
HISTU = History Channel (US)