Most recent update:4/1/2004; 5:09:24 AM

 Monday, March 29, 2004

EXHIBITION: Adriano Le Memorie al Femminile

Just in passing ... very interesting-looking exhibition announced by the Italian Ministry of Culture in Lazio ... check out this bichrome statue of Matidia the Younger:


The chiton is in a dark stone called bigio morato; the rest is marble (possibly Parian). More info at Culturalweb (in Italian)
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ante diem iv kalendas apriles

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NUNTII: Nuntii Latini

Forgot to post the latest headlines from YLE's Nuntii Latini:

Maxima in Finnia calamitas vehicularis (26.3.2004)

Negotiatores Finni Bagdati occisi (26.3.2004)

Mundum non esse tutiorem (26.3.2004)

Memoriale Matritense (26.3.2004)

Comitia Hispaniae parlamentaria (19.3.2004)

Putin praesidens iterum creatus (19.3.2004)

Audi ...

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Evan W. Haley, Baetica Felix. People and Prosperity in Southern Spain from Caesar to Septimius Severus.

Carlo Avvisati, Pompei: Mestieri e Botteghe 2000 anni fa.

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CHATTER: Sons of Beckett

The Sons of Beckett theatre troupe sound like fun:

Members of the Sons of Beckett Theatre Company call themselves "rebels without a budget," but these thespians have a cause: challenging audiences to see live theater in a new way.

In small, intimate productions, the 20-member troupe -- whose founders met as students at California State University, Northridge -- stages shows that tackle complex psychological and political themes.

Sound boring? Think again.

Healthy doses of humor and a touch of the unexpected keep audience members on their toes throughout the performances.

Imagine Sophocles' "Oedipus the King," as a vaudeville-style musical with a four-part harmony barbershop quartet called "The OediPals." (The troupe sells an original-cast recording CD for $5.)  [...]

Sons of Beckett finances its productions through ticket sales, personal contributions and the odd donation, Wienckowski said. Most of the troupe's members still have day jobs in fields ranging from special education to home mortgage loans.

Currently, the troupe is working to establish its not-for-profit tax status and preparing a contemporary summer drama and a fall production of "Antigone," set in the 1990s Seattle grunge scene, with King Creon imagined as a Bill Gates-like character. [more from the L.A. Daily News]

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CHATTER: The Lessons of Greek Tragedy

A lengthy column at Tech Central Station ponders the American attitude toward failure and what lessons Americans should learn from Greek Tragedy:

A glance at the life of an investor like Warren Buffet certainly makes such claims plausible. If he offered you a stock tip, would you hesitate for a moment before acting on his advice? Yes, the man has had set backs, but what were these compared to his triumphs?

America has a rich history of such men, and I have no desire to detract from their contribution to our cultural heritage. Yet there is a genuine danger in assuming that because a man has been successful up until now that he will continue to be successful, and it was this danger that the ancient Greeks encapsulated in the concept of hubris.

Hubris is a tricky idea for us to grasp. We tend to translate it as overweening pride or extravagant ambition, with an emphasis on a lack of modesty or humility in those who possess it. But the ancient Greeks were not a people for whom modesty counted for much. Boastfulness was a trait of their character, and nothing that anyone needed to apologize for; and we will miss the essential component of the Greek idea if we insist on seeing hubris as a departure from our own notions of correct deportment. For the Greeks, the man who suffers from hubris is not more self-centered or willful than a man who doesn't. He has simply been luckier.

That was the primary significance of hubris -- it was what happened to a man when he had been successful too long; he began to think that success, at least for him, was the natural state of things. Everything had always gone his way before -- why shouldn't it continue to go his way? It was not an ethical lapse, but a cognitive blind spot, and it arose from the inability to picture one's self as failing.

In Herodotus' magnificent history of the Persian wars, there is a speech in which the brother of the Persian king tries to talk his royal sibling into abandoning the ill-fated project of invading the Greek peninsula, and in the argument he makes he put forth as powerfully evocative image: It is the tallest tree in the forest that the lightning strikes -- not the rudest or the most arrogant tree, but simply the tallest.

But what crime did the tallest tree commit that justified its doom and destruction?

It did not know where to stop.

That, for the Greeks, was the essence of hubris. Oedipus' crime is not that he is boastful about his ability to solve difficult riddles -- after all, he not only solved the riddle of the Sphinx, he also solved the riddle of his own ill-starred destiny. He had a right to boast, and no self-respecting Greek would have denied him this. His problem was simply that, like the tallest tree in the forest, Oedipus did not know when to stop.

There is no more terrifying scene in all of literature than the fatal moment when Oedipus wife and mother begs him to stop seeking the truth about his own identity, and hers. She knows what is coming; the chorus knows what is coming; the audience knows what is coming; even Oedipus knows what is coming. But he cannot bring himself to stop. He cannot turn away at the threshold of the truth that will destroy his life and the lives of all those he holds dear.

That is hubris.

So what relevance does this have to Americans today?

Like the ancient Greeks, we are a highly competitive people, who prize victory and triumph. We like to win, and we admire winners, just as they did. We may not write spell-binding rhapsodies to victorious teenage athletes, like the poet Pindar, but in compensation we offer them million dollar contracts for promoting breakfast cereals and sneakers. Like them, when we look to match a man with a mission, we want the man to have a history of successful accomplishments, and not of failures. [more]

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CHATTER: Strait Rhetoric

The Singapore Straits has a column with a pile of variations on the rhetorical term repetitio, with some ancient exempla, of course:

'FAIL. Fail again. Fail better.'

Those were the words that playwright Samuel Beckett wrote on a card and placed on his desk. If he had written simply 'I must revise' or 'One can only approximate the best, but one must try', nobody, including himself, would have remembered the statement.
This kind of repetition of 'the same word (or words) in the same grammatical form with the same meaning' is called in rhetoric (you guessed it) repetitio.

Another example of this figure of speech is that line in Ecclesiastes: 'Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity'.

More specialised forms of repetitio include the polyptoton - 'the repetition of the same word or root with different grammatical functions or forms', as Mr Arthur Quinn explains in his Figures Of Speech, a dictionary of rhetorical terms.

Examples include: 'Nothing is enough to the man for whom enough is too little' (Epicurus); 'Quis custodiet ipsos custodes' or 'Who shall guard the guards themselves?' (Juvenal). [more]

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CHATTER: Alexander and Cricket (sort of)

Another use of the ancient world in the sports pages to lend an air of something to a big upcoming match:

Multan, despite possessing a state-of-the-art stadium and Inzamam-ul-Haq, is not really a cricket centre. It's one of the oldest cities in the subcontinent, a place famed for its pirs, dargahs, and abiding faith. On the bus here, the man sat next to me had mentioned that it was also known at Madinat-ul-Auliyah - the place of the devout.

It also occupies an important place in history. The story goes that Alexander the Great and his mighty army fought a savage battle here in 325 BC, and it was an arrow fired by a local archer that pierced Alexander's lung. He would never recover from the injury, dying as a result of it and alcoholism on his way back home two years later.

This particular contest is unlikely to be anything like as fierce in nature, though a defeat would be an arrow through some Pakistani hearts. [from Cricinfo]

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NUNTII: Another School Project

The students at Knotty Oak Middle School were strutting their ancient stuff recently:

For one day, the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology descended from their mountain home to mingle with mere mortals.

And for that day, sixth grade students at Knotty Oak Middle School wore the white togas and floral crowns of royalty.
The Ancient Greek Unit's culminating event last Friday showcased the fruits of students' month-long labors with a wax museum, cultural artifacts and presentation of the well-known journey of Odysseus for school administrators, family members, community and the school at large.

"The children chose to show what they know," explained Vanna Donoyan, a sixth grade science teacher.

Rather than taking a pencil and paper test, students from the Evolution Team - with three core teachers and 76 students - decided to present an "active" rendition of their learning, she said. By answering questions and sharing knowledge, students take a "more powerful" test.
"There's a lot of learning that goes on," explained Donoyan. "They learn those latent talents ... those artistic talents. We love to really cater to all the talents of all the children."

In the wax museum, costumed students posed near posters explaining their character. Although students prepared a short speech, their wax figure could only "come to life" after visitors had made a small donation. This part of the event benefits the homeless as a community service project, explained Donoyan.

One sixth-grader chose to portray Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love. The goddess' symbols, she said, are roses and doves and legend held that Aphrodite possessed a magic girdle that could make people fall in love.

Another group of students chose to study the drama and style of Greek plays. They memorized lines and donned paper beards, masks and tinfoil weapons to enact scenes from the journey of Odysseus.

"Put in your mind that you are in Ancient Greece," Donoyan told the audience. "People went to the theater for leisure and entertainment, but also to learn something." [more from the Coventry Courier]

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AWOTV: On TV Today

8.30 p.m. |DCIVC| Ancient Warriors:The Celts

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)

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