Most recent update:4/1/2004; 5:07:16 AM

 Thursday, March 18, 2004

NUNTII: More Latin in the Scotsman

The debate continues ... sort of:

LATIN and ancient Greek are on course to die out as academic subjects in Scotland according to leading education figures.

The prediction comes in the wake of Strathclyde University’s decision to scrap the last available course for students to qualify as classics teachers.

Fiona Hyslop, the SNP’s education spokeswoman, warned that the decision is a turning point in Scottish education. "This is a short-sighted approach that could kill off the classics in Scotland. We need to look at creative and inventive ways of sustaining these subjects," she said.

"At a time when we are looking to bring in more diversity in Scottish education and there’s a growing demand for thinking skills, we need to think again.

"As somebody who did Higher Latin, I would say it was one of the most useful subjects I did."

Judith Sischy, the director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said that news of the planned axing of the course at Strathclyde has upset many heads of classics departments.

She said: "I don’t feel there has been sufficient consultation, and it seems premature when I understand that in Europe and the US the classics are coming back into fashion and being revived."

Predicting that schools may have to recruit teachers from south of the Border, Mrs Sischy said: "As a nation, we should be able to cover all these subjects. I think feelings will be strong if we lose this course for ever."

She suggested that the private and state sector could pool teachers in minority subjects, in order to retain a spectrum of choice for pupils. Schools could become specialist centres for classes on campus and possibly online.

Kristina Woolnough, the chairwoman of Parents in Partnership, said that many parents may be saddened by the disappearance of the classics from the curriculum.

"Any reductions in pupils’ options would be a severe loss, and loss of these subjects has a particular price."

Ms Woolnough pointed out that knowledge of Latin and Greek is important and useful when studying subjects such as law, botany, modern languages and medicine.

She added that they also offer students a better understanding of the English language.

Calling for a wider debate on the future of classics, Ms Woolnough said: "If Scotland wants to consider itself part of Europe, classics does offer the linguistic basis. It shows a willingness to take on all languages."

Judith Gillespie, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said that the declining number of pupils and students reading the classics at school and university suggests that it could be too late to prevent them disappearing from the curriculum in Scottish schools.

She said: "I think the classics are gone, and I don’t think most people are going to care a tuppeny toss. People have voted with their feet.

"These subjects are not seen as having market value. This is the market economy in action."

In 2000, 346 candidates sat Higher Latin, but two years later the numbers had dropped to just 257. Mrs Gillespie added that Scotland is poorer for the decline of classics: "I think we have lost an important link with a previous culture, and one of the great benefits was that it encouraged a rigour of thinking, a discipline and an exactness. There is too much sloppiness now."

David Eaglesham, the general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, who studied both Latin and Greek, said he personally would be saddened by the possible disappearance of the classics. But he added that schools were also gaining new subjects such as computing.

Announcing the funds for each higher-education institution yesterday, Roger McClure, chief executive of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council said universities across the UK have taken "tough decisions" to concentrate their funds on areas of greatest demand.

Departments such as chemistry and physics have been closed, and many departments have pooled their resources with departments in other universities.

Citing Polish as a minority subject "for which demand may increase as new countries join the EC", he said the funding council and institutions may consult on ways to protect certain subjects for the long term.

Tony Williams, who runs the Strathclyde classics course, was unavailable for comment.

Academics and other supporters have begun writing to the Scottish Executive in a move to save the course due to be axed this summer.[source]

If someone would send me the address to others could write, I'll gladly post it here.

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CHATTER: Seen in Passing

Here's an interesting quote:

But, Dubya admits no error, offers no apologies, strides Caligula-like through the wreckage he's created and has little to offer the public except a smirk and even more lies - about job creation, about the war, about the environment, about the horrors of September 11, 2001, about everything important to the general public. [source]

I wonder how one "strides Caligula-like" ... do you need special shoes?

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ante diem xvi kalendas apriles

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JOURNAL: Akroterion 45 (2000)

I'm not sure whether this is the latest edition of Akroterion, but it's the latest one posted to their website, and since it's such a slow morning (and I don't want to shovel the last bit of the snow dump we received), here's some articles of interest from that edition (all are .pdf):

Aspects of the ancient Greek symposion - W J Henderson

Alexander die Grote se leër en die oorlogstres-sindroom, 326 v.C. - L Cilliers & F P Retief

The individual and society: An organising principle in Horace's Epodes? - S Thom 

Aspects of multiculturalism in the Mulomedicina of Vegetius - M R Mezzabotta† 

Whistling in antiquity - A V van Stekelenburg

Vicious dogs: A case study from 2000 BC to AD 2000 - J C Zietsman

Poisons, poisoning and the drug trade in ancient Rome - L Cilliers & F P Retief

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AUDIO: Father Foster

Dang ... I totally forgot about this. Last week after my rant about 105 Live not changing its website, a rogueclassicism reader (thanks RD!) did some digging and found they had changed their website and the Latin Lover segment has its own chunk of cyberspace! What's nice about the page is that it has the past three or four editions of Father Foster's stuff easily available, so if you miss a week, you can catch up!

That said, this week's edition comprises a 'whistlestop virtual tour' of the Area Sacra of Rome -- an area of four temples of uncertain dedication. What's interesting is they associate the area with Julius Caesar and identify where Caesar was assassinated, among other things.

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G.R. Boys-Stones (ed.), Metaphor, Allegory and the Classical Tradition: Ancient Thought and Modern Revisions.

Irene S. Lemos, The Protogeometric Aegean: The Archaeology of the Late Eleventh and Tenth Centuries B.C

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NUNTII: Meditating Madrid

Admad Sadri ponders things ancient and modern in in the Lebanon Daily Star:

This is my third sleepless night in Athens. This is also the second time I am leading a group of American students through 3,000 years of Greek history, from the fall of Troy circa 12th century BC to the fall of Constantinople 551 years ago. The first is elegized by Homer and Virgil. The second is remembered by my colleagues at an American school in Athens who have chosen 1453, the year of Byzantium’s fall at the hands of the Ottomans, as their security code. You punch in the fateful date and the word “disarmed” appears on the pale green screen. In “Greek time,” place and myth bleed into each other, and into you. Walk on a beachhead named Marathon, cross the Corinth straight in the Peloponnesus or get off at a train station named Argos and we will see how you can keep the three separate.
This land was invaded by my ancestors under Darius and Xerxes. Herodotus referred to the first as the “great king” and characterized the second more as a tragically impetuous man than a malevolent enemy. In the name of revenge, this land invaded mine under a driven warrior and a “wannabe” Greek of Macedonian origin. Iranians, however, remember Alexander not as the ruthless invader he was but as the sage Iskandar who crossed their land in search of the land of darkness and the Fountain of Youth. Unlike us moderns, apparently neither side thought dehumanization of the enemy was necessary for warfare. Iran was a great empire, but it was not unique. There were others both older and greater. Greece was never an empire, but it was a culture unique in its intellectual achievements. In the words of W.H. Auden, the classical Greeks did not teach us how to think, but how to think about thinking. They had full-fledged enlightenment millennia before our modern enlightenment. All the same, and at the very same time that they produced immortals likes Parmenides, Euripides and Thucydides by the dozens, the Greeks were also busy destroying themselves in foolish, internecine warfare. To defend the freedom of their petty city states from each other they surrendered the freedom of Hellas to the Macedonian upstarts. Is there a lesson in what is absolutely sublime and utterly ridiculous in human nature that we can’t learn from the Greeks?

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AWOTV: On TV Today

8.00 p.m. |DISCC| Ancestors of the Ancient Rome - The Etruscans
Extraordinary finds in northern Italy reveal the startling story of
Europe's original hedonists and first superpower; the fun-loving
Etruscans invented two spectator sports - gladiatorial combat and
chariot racing.

8.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Tomb Of The Warrior Prince

9.00 p.m. |DCIVC| The Most Evil Men in History: Caligula (12-41 AD)

9.00 p.m. |DISCC| Marvels of the Roman Roads
Explore the engineering, construction and purposes of the road
system of the Roman Empire.

9.00 p.m. |HINT| Foot Soldier: The Vikings
A look at the sea-going warriors who attacked Europe with savage
fury and violence. These raiders and traders, explorers and settlers
set sail from Denmark, Norway, and, Sweden during the Scandinavian
expansion (800-1050 AD). Goes beyond the myths to find out if the
Vikings really wore horned helmets and took drugs before going into
battle. Richard Karn hosts.

9.00 p.m. |DISCU| Barbarians: The Battle for Rome
On plush land surrounding the Mediterranean, the Republic of Rome
became an empire that stretched from ancient Palestine to Britain. If
not for the excellent weapons and vicious looting of the Germanic
"barbarians", the Empire may have endured.

9.30 p.m. |DCIVC| Ancient Warriors: The Legends of Rome

Channel Guide

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Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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