Thursday, April 01, 2004
LUDI: Tenth Anniversary
MISSING MANUSCRIPT ENDS CENTURIES OF SCHOLARLY CONTROVERSY
(Vatican City). Staff in the Vatican Library announced
today the discovery of a complete book including the
missing portion of the ancient historian Tacitus' Annals. Tacitus
lived in the first century A.D. and his work is an important
historical source for the early Roman empire.
"What we seem to have is a complete codex of the Annals,
including the missing sections dealing with the emperor Caligula
and the early reign of Claudius," said Vatican spokesman Benito
The book itself was discovered when shelving was being replaced
in one of the many reading rooms of the Vatican Library. "We knew the book
existed because it appears in catalogs dating from the fourteenth
century, but it seems to have fallen behind some shelves years ago
"What's really exciting, however, is how much light it sheds
on the early Roman Empire. Scholars consider Tacitus to be quite
accurate and this discovery sheds new light on a number of controversies."
Among the new information is the date of Christ's crucifixion, which is said
to have taken place in 41 A.D., shortly after the emperor Claudius
came to the throne. Although the codex was discovered over a month
ago, the Vatican delayed announcing it until Good Friday, which
"Outside of the importance for Christianity, the text also
is surprising in the portrait it paints of the supposedly `mad'
emperor Caligula. Scholars have, for example, argued often over
Caligula's building a boat bridge across the Bay of Naples. Usually
it is seen simply as a sign of his insanity. Tacitus tells us,
however, that it was in fact a military exercise conducted shortly
after Caligula's failed attempt to cross over to Britain. It appears
that the soldiers were afraid to cross the English Channel by boat
and the boat bridge was designed to allow them to march across.
Unfortunately Caligula was murdered before he could attempt it."
Mr. Trovato did not reveal when the text would become
available to scholars, but did say that a number of publishers
had already been in touch with him.
THIS DAY IN ANCIENT HISTORY
- 114 B.C. -- dedication of Temple to Venus Verticordia ("Venus who turns hearts")
- 286 A.D. -- Maximianus is elevated to the rank of Augustus
- 1994 -- the spirit of rogueclassicism is born
CHATTER: Hair Length and Military Success
From the Chattanoogan, and it's actually dated March 31 so I think they're serious:
War is hair. Such was the view of amateur war historian Arnold Rimmer, whose brief comments on the subject were first aired on the BBC-TV program Red Dwarf in 1993.
Mr. Rimmer, now deceased, was speaking in the context of a response to an unprovoked rocket attack on a mining company vehicle, but his views about the history of hairstyles in armed conflict are relevant to the current war on terror.
"Perhaps you'd like to explain to me why it is that every major battle in history has been won by the side with the shortest haircuts," Mr. Rimmer asked.
"Think about it - why did the US Cavalry beat the Indian Nation? Short back and sides versus girly hippie locks."
There were exceptions in the Indian wars, but they tended to prove the rule. General Custer broke with US military custom with his long flowing mane, which was eventually separated from his head by the Indians at Little Big Horn.
During the English Civil War, which lasted from 1642 to 1649, Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads defeated the Cavaliers of the king. The Cavaliers had long hair, fought on horseback and wore fancy clothes. The Roundheads had very short hair (thus the nickname) and wore plain and simple clothes.
Going back farther in time, the introduction of shaving by the Greeks coincided with the military conquests of Alexander the Great.
Barbers from the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia in southern Italy introduced the practice of shaving to the Romans in the third century BC. Until then the Romans were mostly ungroomed.
The short haired, clean shaven Romans then ran roughshod over the unkempt masses of Europe and Asia. The practice of shaving the head clean arose during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
When Roman hairstyles became lax the empire began to deteriorate. Longer hair became fashionable again under the emperor Hadrian, who grew a beard to hide his disfigured face and wore a wig of curly hair to conceal his baldness.
Roman hairstyles reached their most flamboyant stage under the Flavian emperors Titus, Vespasian and Domitian. By then the writing was on the wall and the decay of the military was ensured. [more]
CHATTER: Nice Gig
Here's a nice Classical postgrad situation:
It’s not just elite athletes who will be taking part in this year’s Olympic Celebrations in Greece. Victoria University honours student Geoff Ardell, will also be there, thanks to an agreement between Victoria University and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
Geoff Ardell is the first New Zealander to participate in the International Olympic Academy’s seminar on Olympic Studies for Postgraduate Students, which will be attended by 35-40 selected students from throughout the world and held in Olympia during June and July.
Victoria University and the New Zealand Olympic Committee have signed a Cooperation Agreement in Olympic Studies, which has helped to facilitate Geoff’s application.
The seminar is a forum for study into the Olympic Philosophy (Olympism), the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games. These studies involve both the Ancient Games and contemporary Olympic issues. In its 12th year, the seminar has proven a unique catalyst in Olympic Studies, having encouraged academic interest from all over the world.
A graduate of Victoria’s Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies in 2003, Geoff is enrolled in the Classics honours programme and is studying Latin literature and classical history. He also participated in the annual field trip to Greece, run by the Classics programme in 2003. This trip involved an intensive course of study on the archaeology of all the major Greek sites, including the major ancient games sites. The trip also inspired his thesis topic: The Olympic Games and State Formation in Ancient Greece.
Geoff is thrilled to be given this chance to return to Greece, and was particularly excited when he realised he will be the first New Zealander to attend the seminar.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to visit Greece again while I am still studying,” he says.
“This trip will really help me with my thesis work on state formation and the Olympic Games – and it’s a wonderful opportunity to experience the buzz of the modern Games as well.” [Scoop]
CHATTER: Classical Precedent
This one is interesting ... the U.S. Supreme Court cited the Antigone (among other things, of course) in a case seeking release of photos that Vince Foster was murdered:
“Law enforcement documents obtained by Government investigators often contain information about persons interviewed as witnesses or initial suspects but whose link to the official inquiry may be the result of mere happenstance. There is special reason, therefore, to give protection to this intimate personal data, to which the public does not have a general right of access in the ordinary course.”
While family members are not “in the same position” to assert privacy rights as an individual who is the subject of government records, Kennedy conceded, he added:
“We have little difficulty, however, in finding in our case law and traditions the right of family members to direct and control disposition of the body of the deceased and to limit attempts to exploit pictures of the deceased family member’s remains for public purposes.”
The justice cited the play Antigone by the Greek dramatist Sophocles, among other authorities, for that proposition. [Metropolitan News-Enterprise]
CHATTER: Roman Ghosts?
Something else to worry about when your dodging paintballs in Teesside, I guess:
Ghostbusters now have a chance to prove, or disprove, a theory - and then scoot quickly away!
Bruce Wallace believes his paintball site at Scotch Corner has a ghost, and until now nobody has dared to attempt the night ghost course.
But now that his company, Paintball Games, has bought five quad bikes he is hoping someone will pluck up the courage.
"In addition to our paintball area we now have a cross-country track, a safari course and a trials course for the quad bikes," he said.
"But the night ghost run goes through a lot of trees, and we believe there might just be something there we don't want to know about - there are some strange noises."
The paintball site covers 48 acres behind Scotch Corner Hotel and is close to a tumulus - or burial mound.
"In AD 71 the Romans took control of the North when they beat the Brigantes, a great Northern Celtic tribe at the Battle of Scotch Corner," said Mr Wallace.
"One of their main forts was just to the north of Scotch Corner, at a place called Stanwick St John.
"With all of that bloodied history who knows what lurks in the area?" [more from IC Teeside]
NUNTII: Another Classicist in Charge
Gregson Davis takes the helm of Humanities at Duke:
Gregson Davis is the quintessential humanist.
A scholar of literature from both ancient Rome and the contemporary Caribbean, Davis is poised to assume the position of dean of the humanities for three years beginning July 1, under future dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences George McLendon.
Davis will take on a portion of the responsibilities of current Dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences Karla Holloway; Professor of Psychology Susan Roth will head the social sciences division.
"In broader terms, I am very committed to fostering the notion of a 'global' or more inclusive concept of the humanities," Davis said. "'Inclusive,' for me, means genuine universality both in spatial, [or] geographical, and temporal terms. For the latter, this implies equal attention to past as well as present cultural configurations and their interrelationships."
Davis will undertake the management of a division that houses some of the most popular departments at Duke, including English, philosophy and the foreign languages.
"These are a group of top-10 departments in the country in humanities, and there is great strength overall," said William Chafe, current dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Davis takes control of the division in a time when the humanities face a number of potential problems. There has been a nationwide decline in the number of students majoring in the humanities, as well as what Peter Burian, chair of the department of classical studies, called "stringency in the budget" at the University.
"It is important to address the decline in the majors in the humanities and find effective ways of attracting good students," Chafe said. "[Davis] will need to develop courses that attract students to the humanities and generate long-term interest."
Long-term interest in the humanities is evident in Davis' own history, from his much-decorated undergraduate career as a classics major at Harvard University to his numerous publications on writers ranging from Derek Walcott to Catullus, from Aime Cesaire to Jane Austen. He is currently working on a book analyzing Vergil's pastoral poetry.
At Duke, Davis holds the title of Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities and teaches courses in both the classical studies department and the literature program. Davis preceded Burian as chair of the classical studies department from 1999 to 2003, and before that, he was chair of the department of comparative literature and then the department of classics at Cornell University, where he worked from 1989 to 1994. [more from the Chronicle]
AWOTV: On TV Today
6.00 p.m. |HISTC| Greece:Journey of the Gods
After worshipping the pagan gods of Antiquity, Greece converted to
the Christian God. The monks built imposing monasteries nestled in
the most remote nooks, rugged coastal cliffs, volcanic islands and
peculiar high-rising rocks. The traveller will uncover traces of the
Byzantine Empire and its heritage through Mount Athos, the awesome
Meteora Mountains and the spiritual island of Patmos.
8.00 p.m. |HINT| The Rise of Christianity I
The story of the crucifixion of Jesus, Paul's preachings to the
Gentiles, the crackdown by Roman authorities, the conversion of
Constantine, and the fall of Rome to the Goths in 461 AD.
10.00 p.m. |HINT| The Rise of Christianity II
The glory of the Eastern Roman Empire, the challenge of Islam, the
dawn of the Dark Ages, and the coming of the Holy Roman Empire, which
converted Europe to Christianity about 1,000 years after the death of Jesus.