Most recent update:5/1/2004; 5:36:23 AM

 Friday, April 02, 2004


I'm finally making the jump to high speed internet and will be installing it (as well as a home network) this weekend. As such, there is potential for problems, of course, so rogueclassicism might not be updated over the next couple of days as frequently as it usually is; Explorator and the Ancient World on Television listings might also be affected. Apologies in advance for any inconvenience/withdrawal which might occur as a result. You can always poke around in the archives ...

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ante diem iv nonas apriles

  • 13 A.D. -- Augustus writes his will, leaving most of his estate to his wife Livia, and the future emperor Tiberius
  • 303 A.D. -- martyrdom of Polycarp of Alexandria
  • 305 A.D. -- martyrdom of Amphianus in Lycia
  • 306 A.D. -- martyrdom of Appian in Phoenicia

5:56:56 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Veni, Vidi, Vici

The intro to a piece in the Star (South Africa) on the question of publishing disturbing pictures in the press caught my eye:

Veni, vidi, vici. Julius Caesar made war sound so simple, so clean, with these three little words in which he described his invasion of France.

He came, he saw, he conquered, and no doubt the Romans cheered when they heard the news.

er ... no ... It wasn't the invasion of France. It was his lightning-campaign in 47 B.C. against Pharnaces, the king of Pontus, at Zela. Half a world away.

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CHATTER: What to Do With A Classics Degree

I don't know if this is something peculiar to Classics, but I often got the impression while at university (in various capacities) that Classics courses tended to attract a disproportionately sizeable population of mature students. So what do these mature students do with their degree? Run for state senate, of course:

 It's not unusual for a politician to crave attention, but state Senator Jo Ann Sprague has a unique way of getting it.
The 72-year-old Walpole Republican is sure to show up at a press conference in one of her 10 eye-catching red suits so constituents can easily find her on television.

And her recent decision against running again for her seat in November, abiding by a self-imposed three-term limit, carries the trademark label of a politician who rather enjoys standing out in a crowd.

So it should surprise no one, then, that at an age when many people have moved to warmer climates for retirement, Sprague is looking to make her next move in politics, even with plenty of time left in her last term.


"The hard votes are standing by the governor on his vetoes," she said. Recently, she backed his veto of a budget measure to reimburse nursing homes for the cost of kosher food.

"That was a really tough one for me," she said. "It seemed like we were being mean-spirited and stingy, but in these times, you have to make those sort of decisions."

Then again, Sprague enjoys mulling over complicated topics. At 50, she earned her bachelor's degree in classical studies, which required her to read Homer's "The Iliad" in Greek.

"I don't know why I chose that field," she said. "I guess I wanted to be part of an exclusive club." [more in the Boston Globe]

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CHATTER: Popular Perception?

A wine columnist in the Hartford Advocate waxes on his admiration for the Romans, and gets most of it wrong, near as I can tell. Dixit inter alia:

I have a great warmth for the Romans and all that they have given us -- aqueducts, plumbing, words like "bellicose," efficient tax collection, to name a few. I think what is hard for us to grasp about the Romans, is that they were very concerned with virtue without being overly concerned with what we would understand as morality . It might not be virtuous to sleep with your brother's wife (although it was certainly done), but it wouldn't be immoral to have a few slaves as an aperitif. I wonder if we haven't drifted that way ourselves a little. "Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue." That was one of Seneca's observations. Does it ring a bell? There was one rule for Romans, another for everyone else. "We are mad, not only individually but nationally. We check manslaughter and isolated murders; but what of war and the much vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples?" asked Seneca. Well, Seneca, the answer is that non-Romans don't count. Pass the vino and shut up.

A nice family day out in the Roman world, the equivalent of Seaworld I guess, was a day in the Coliseum, watching slaves being gored by wildebeests and so on. I'm sure everyone was polite as they queued up to buy tickets too. Being Roman was of value, but the sanctity of all human life, on which our post-Christian morality is loosely based, simply wasn't an idea they held as we do. So to suggest that, say, (as we enter Easter and reflect) the notion that a particularly severe Roman governor would feel guilt over the death of a hirsute troublesome proto-hippie from Judea is a bit of a stretch. That being so, you have to wonder what purpose the perpetuation of such an absurdly ahistorical notion serves. Here endeth the lesson.

Well, I hope you didn't pay too much for it ...


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The hype about the Troy movie is starting to pick up. alerts us to a couple of new items, including a new trailer at Reuters Television (of all places!)  and a new poster at Movie City News, to wit:

5:11:26 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Mellon Emeritus Fellowship

I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Mellon Emeritus fellowship, but a Classicist at the University of Chicago just received one:

Three emeritus professors from the University have received Mellon Emeritus Fellowships. Recipients are: W. Ralph Johnson, Bernard McGinn and Tetsuo Najita.

The Emeritus Fellowship program is intended to support the research activities of outstanding scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences who, at the time of taking up the fellowships, will be officially retired but continue to be active in research.

In this inaugural year of the program, the fellowships were awarded to 16 scholars nationally and include funds for research and other expenses.

Johnson, the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Classical Languages & Literatures, Comparative Literature and the College, will use his Mellon Emeritus Fellowship for research on his book, Propertius: the Growth of a Poet’s Mind. The book’s theme is Propertius’ “insistence on the sovereignty of the individual, especially when it is threatened by autocratic ideology.”

It will discuss the “evolution of erotic ideology in Republican Rome,” where “lovers began behaving like the love poems they read, and the poems kept mirroring the way glamorous lovers performed their amative styles: life imitates art imitates life.”

Ultimately, Johnson will address what occurs “when this sort of poet collides with a society he has come to find restrictive. The poet takes on more than he can handle, he overestimates his strength and his influence, he ends up beaten É but out of this collision the poems survive and flourish as a testament to the idea of freedom, so the poet is not exactly vanquished after all,” Johnson explained.

Johnson has examined the technique and meaning of the great Latin poets and has asked fundamental questions about what poetry is and does. His book, The Idea of Lyric: Lyric Modes in Ancient and Modern Poetry, was praised for “its chiseled brevity, its beauty of style, its critical intelligence and its infectious love for all Western literature.” His book, Darkness Visible: A Study of Vergil’s Aeneid, explores the ironic art of an epic poem in praise of a morally ambivalent empire.

Johnson earned his Ph.D. in classics at the University of California at Berkeley and taught at Berkeley and Cornell University before joining the Chicago faculty in 1981.  [University of Chicago Chronicle]

Congrats to Dr. Johnson! (How do you fit all that onto a business card?)

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AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest

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