Most recent update:5/1/2004; 5:37:00 AM

 Friday, April 23, 2004


ante diem ix kalendas maias

  • Vinalia -- a sort of ancient Roman Beaujolais Nouveau festival
  • 248 A.D. -- third day of celebration of Rome's 1000th anniversary
  • ca. 304 A.D. -- martyrdom of George at Lydda

5:31:19 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Roman Coin Die Found

Swissinfo has an article in Italian (I thought it might turn up in English if I waited a few days, but it hasn't) on the discovery of a Roman coin die at Windisch, which is the current name for the ancient Roman legion camp of Vindonissa. The die itself dates from 23 to 25 A.D./C.E. and is important because it confirms that Tiberius coined money at Vindonissa. Up to this point, it had been believed that (at this time) the Romans only coined money at Rome or Lyons.

5:28:26 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Cheney as Alcibiades

People's Weekly World has an opinion piece in which someone tries to make connections between the U.S. and Athens of Socrates' day:

When I was a 17-year-old freshman at the Cornell College of Architecture, I was required to take an elective in the College of Liberal Arts every semester. I suppose this policy was intended to make us little brutes “better-rounded,” but it had unintended consequences, at least for me.

I took Philosophy 101, and in it I was introduced to Plato’s “Apologia” (supposedly Socrates’, but written by his pupil, Plato). I thought this was pretty hot stuff and proceeded to read all the writings of Plato I could get my hands on. Then, to the consternation of my professor, a liberal academician of his (the early ’50s) era, I wrote a paper praising the works of Plato and espousing the very principles for which Socrates was asked to drink the hemlock. “The Need for an Intellectual Aristocracy,” I think I titled it, and I was roundly (and rightly) chastised by my professor for falling for such a line of bunkum.

I forgot the incident and Socrates’ indiscretion until some 40 years later when I read I. F. Stone’s “The Trial of Socrates.” Socrates, I learned, had been the darling of the aristocracy precisely because his teachings lent philosophical legitimacy to their own oligarchic impulses and had thus had a hand in fomenting three coups against the government of Athens in the last ten years of his life, prior to his suicide by popular demand.

We in the United States have fallen victim to another such attempted takeover. Unfortunately, history repeats itself but always with enough of a twist that present dangers are seldom recognized as having historical precedent. Today we are suffering from a new dementia. The connections with Athens in 399 B.C. are tenuous, but I see history repeating itself nonetheless.

We have Cheney instead of Alcibiades, but the same intellectual opportunism is at work.[more]

4:56:38 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: The Function of Classics

An opinion piece in the Telegraph which seems to be reviewing a book about the role of the House of Lords -- or at least what it means to be part of Britain's aristocracy -- has some interesting comments towards the end on the education of that class (at least in former times):

But he seems to be fatally confusing the influences that prompted this kind of philanthropy with the class that imbibed them. Those influences were, in brief, Christianity and classical antiquity.

The public schools inherited a classical tradition of education that goes back to the Renaissance. If you were educated to think of Athenian democracy as the ideal, well, it was based on the notion that the lot might fall to you to take up public office.

If you learned Latin from Cicero's book, On Duties, then you'd nurse few doubts about your role in the state. Latin and Greek come with baggage about the function of the citizen - and it was absorbed by pupils at grammar schools quite as much as at Eton. 

4:50:49 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |DTC| Forever and Ever
Witness Byzantium's end and a cast of characters ranging from Tsars
to Sultans. Observe the continued influence and survival of Byzantium-
-among the most influential cultures in world history. [n.b. DTC is
repeating this whole series beginning tomorrow at 11.00 a.m. if you
miss an episode]

8.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Quest for the Lost Civilization: Ancient Mariners

8.00 p.m. |DTC| Building the Dream
Travel from Rome to Byzantium and listen to the stories of
Byzantium's beginnings--the change from the classical pagan world to
a Christian one--the people, architecture and sculpture.
9.00 p.m. |DTC| Envy of the World
Visit the marvelous material culture of medieval Byzantium--
including everything from ivory and silk to blue fish sauce and
golden bezants. Also, discover how this fabulously rich city was
almost destroyed.
10.00 p.m. |DTC| Heaven on Earth
Examine the period of Iconoclasm, when lethal debates concerning
sacred images were conducted inside Byzantium. Also: the rise of
Islam and the Arabs.

Channel Guide

4:33:05 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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