Most recent update:5/2/2004; 9:26:11 AM

 Tuesday, April 27, 2004

CHATTER: U.S.-as-Rome Redux (sort of)

Here's a different sort of spin on the U.S.-as-Rome metaphor from the Washington Dispatch:

This is the stage at which democracy is in trouble. Prior to the foundation of the Republic, the greatest society in history was the Roman Empire. The first Romans loved the quiet life. Rome started off as a kingdom. After expelling Tarquin the Proud, it enjoyed 500 years as a stable and productive Republic. However, a power-grab by members of leading families, allied to a culture of imperialism, led to the sidelining of the Senate and the emergence of the Emperors, in whom all effective power rested. Concentration of power in the hands of one individual, or a small group of individuals, was the first step on the end of the road. The middle class disappeared, leaving only the very rich and the very poor. The people thus stagnated, making it one of the duties of the state to provide entertainment and sustenance for them. At the height of its power it had no real organised competitors, but did for itself from within.

One wouldn’t suggest for a moment that cheap gas and cable are the same as bread and circuses- the American people are way too smart for that. However, when groups grab power for themselves to make laws out of nothing, as the courts have done with Roe – v – Wade and Goodridge; when those charged with upholding good governance think nothing of removing an allocation given for one cause to another in direct violation of the constitution, as Bob Woodward alleges in Plan of Attack; when civic leaders treat their business like an entertainment for themselves, to the exclusion of the people; and when the hordes are already massed at the gates of Rome, like Attila – then one can seriously fear for what the new Caesars have done.

Before Julius Caesar launched his power grab, he was part of the first triumvirate along with Pompey and Crassus. Crassus was the one of the wealthiest men in Rome, who had made his name with the severity with which he had put down the rebellion of Spartacus. Under his watch, thousands of the Sparticist criminals were crucified along the Appian Way.

However, Crassus did not consider his achievement complete. Like all Roman leaders, he needed a military victory, which is why he led his legions to complete and utter disaster against the Persians, at Carrhae in modern Iraq.

There’s a lesson in there for some one. It is that the people must cherish their traditions, for they cannot rely on their leaders to do so.

500 years as a stable Republic? Okay ... we'll skip that 'struggle of the orders' thing ... we'll forget about the Gracchi ... we'll overlook the Social Wars ... we'll forget about Marius and Sulla ...

8:03:09 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Another Hair Razing Tale

These things seem to come in waves ... here's another piece on hair in the ancient world, this time focussing on barbers. Inter alia, the Hampton Union sez:

Barbers were introduced in Rome in 296 B.C., after it was shown that having a beard could be hazardous to a soldier’s health. The opponents of Alexander the Great began grabbing soldiers’ beards and dragging them to the ground to kill them. Alexander ordered that all soldiers be clean-shaven. The fashion spread to the nobility, and barber shops became the place where men gathered and talked about current events.

When I first read this, I thought -- wow, news really travelled slowly to Rome. But some poking around found a somewhat clarificatory (is that a word?) passage from the Elder Pliny, talking about when shaving was introduced to Rome:

 in Italiam ex Sicilia venere post Romam conditam anno CCCCLIIII adducente P. Titinio Mena, ut auctor est Varro; antea intonsi fuere. primus omnium radi cotidie instituit Africanus sequens; Divus Augustus cultris semper usus est.  [Natural History 7.59.211 ... Latin text courtesy of Lacus Curtius]

[sc. Barbers] came to Italy from Sicily, 454 years after the foundation of Rome, having been introduced by P. Titinius Mena, according to Varro; before that [the Romans] were unshaven. Scipio Africanus was the first of everyone to be shaved on a daily basis. The deified Augusts always used his razor.

7:54:15 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


ante diem v kalendas maias

  • ludi Florales ... a.k.a. Floralia (day 1) -- a festival originally ordered in response to an interpretation of the Sybilline books in 238 B.C., it fell into desuetude only to be revived in 173 B.C.; it was a general festival of drinking and other merriment in honour of Flora, who presided over (of course) flowers and their blossoms (Chloris is also mentioned ... I'm trying to figure that one out).
  • 4977 B.C. -- birth of the universe, according to the calculations of Johannes Kepler

6:03:48 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

TOC: Classical Quarterly 54.1 (May 2004)

K. B. Saunders, Frölich's table of Homeric wounds

Emma Aston, Asclepius and the legacy of Thessaly

Matthew R. Christ, Draft evasion onstage and offstage in classical Athens

V. I. Anastasiadis, Idealized [greek] and disdain for work: aspects of philosophy and politics in ancient democracy

M. F. Burnyeat, Fathers and sons in Plato's Republic and Philebus

Gabriela Roxana Carone, Reversing the myth of the Politicus

D. F. Bates, A note on Plato Politicus 285d9-286b1

Ariana Traill, A haruspicy joke in Plautus

Thomas D. Frazel, The composition and circulation of Cicero's In Verrem

Jon Hall, Cicero and Quintilian on the oratorical use of hand gestures

John T. Ramsey, Did Julius Caesar temporarily banish Mark Antony from his inner circle?

Mark Toher, Octavian's arrival in Rome, 44 b.c.

Emily A. Hemelrijk, Masculinity and femininity in the Laudatio Turiae

S. J. V. Malloch,The end of the Rhine mutiny in Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dio

Laurel Fulkerson, Omnia vincit amor: why the Remedia fail

Steven J. Green, Playing with marble: the monuments of the Caesars in Ovid's Fasti

John G. Fitch, Textual notes on Hercules Oetaeus and on Seneca's Agamemnon and Thyestes

Shannon N. Byrne, Martial's fiction: Domitius Marsus and Maecenas

Christopher P. Jones, A speech of the Emperor Hadrian

Howard Jacobson, Medea 1250: [greek]

Julia Lougovaya and Rodney Ast, Menis and Pelex. Protagoras on solecism

Roger Brock, Aristotle on sperm competition in birds

Matthew Leigh, A pun in Antiphanes (fr. 225 K-A = Ath. 60C-D)

Mikael Johansson, Some notes on [greek] in the inscription from Troizen

J. H. Hordern, Cyclopea: Philoxenus, Theocritus, Callimachus, Bion

Krystyna Bartol, What did he do? Clearchus on Philoxenus (Ap. Ath. 1.5f-6a = Clearch. fr. 57 Wehrli)

Nigel Holmes, Ferimus

Martin Ferguson Smith, Lucretius 5.1105-7

Howard Jacobson,Aeneid 1.567-8

L. B. T. Houghton, The wolf and the dog (Horace, Sermones 2.2.64)

Elena Merli, On the number of books in Ovid's Metamorphoses

John T. Ramsey, The Elder Seneca, Controversiae 2.1.1: sub domino sectore

Howard Jacobson, Seneca, Epistulae Morales 12.5: rulers and roofs

Nigel Holmes, A note on Seneca, Quaestiones Naturales 6.1.5

Francisco Barrenechea, The star signs at Brundisium: astral symbolism in Lucan 2.691-2

Kent J. Rigsby, Peregrinus in Armenia

P. Murgatroyd, The ending of Apuleius' Metamorphoses

Francesco Ademollo, Sophroniscus' son is approaching: Porphyry, Isagoge 7.20-1

D. Woods, The Constantinian origin of Justina (Themistius, Or. 3.43b)

Shaun Tougher, Julian's bull coinage: Kent revisited

T. J. Leary, Anth. Lat. 36 De Euryalo: a sole surviving solace?

What a great issue ... even better is the fact that all this stuff appears to be available (as .pdfs) online at the Oxford site. Enjoy!

5:48:36 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Raffaele Grisolia, Oikonomia. Struttura e tecnica drammatica negli scoli antichi ai testi drammatici.

Thomas A.J. McGinn, The Economy of Prostitution in the Roman World: A Study of Social History and the Brothel.

5:36:36 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

REVIEW: From Scholia

Hubert Cancik (edd. Richard Faber & Barbara von Reibnitz), Verse und Sachen: Kulturwissenschaftliche Interpretationen römischer Dichtung

5:34:47 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: The State of Classics In Canada

... can be seen, perhaps, in an in-passing comment in a Toronto Star article about a local computer contract scandal involving City Hall and the brother of a popular Toronto Maple Leaf:

Had Jakobek really wanted a few thousand dollars, Gold said, all he would have had to do was submit petty-cash vouchers for all the breakfasts and lunches it was not his practice to bill to the city. True, Gold said, Jakobek may have previously lied about his involvement with Domi — the key sales rep of the company that won the lucrative computer- leasing contract with the city while he was budget chief.

But that was only once and it's "ancient history." No more relevant to modern times, really, than the musings of Herodotus on the Greek-Persian wars.

In the same edition of the Star is an edited piece originally hailing from the St. John's (Newfoundland) Telegram:

There are researchers who believe that the Oracle at Delphi was a victim of subtle poisoning, that the Greek oracle's predictions were actually caused by the inhalation of ethylene gas.

The shrine where the oracle made her predictions from had a sacred spring, where she would sit in a small chamber and, after falling into a trance, foretell the future.

U.S. geologists have now found that the spring was probably located on a fault line that emitted ethylene gas. The gas was once used as an anaesthetic, and produces a trance-like feeling of euphoria.

In other words, the oracle's enigmatic predictions may have been the result of a gassy Grecian drug trip.

And that brings us to another predictor, the World Trade Organization (WTO), otherwise known as the Oracle at Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, Geneva.

Now, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, the oracle at Delphi made predictions along these lines: "And I know the number of the sands and the dimensions of the sea /And I understand the mute, and hear those who do not speak./Into my brain come the shell of the strong-shelled tortoise/Seething in bronze with the flesh of lambs,/Bronze spread beneath it and covered with bronze above."

The WTO, meanwhile, makes predictions like, "the strengthening of world economic growth in the second half of 2003 is projected to maintain most of its momentum in 2004. Global GDP growth is expected to reach 3.7 per cent in 2004, up from 2.5 per cent in 2003. In line with the predicted economic recovery, global trade could expand by 7.5 per cent in 2004."

It's not quite "strong-shelled tortoise," but it's plenty complicated just the same.

And, just as the Oracle at Delphi was known to give contradictory advice, the WTO does too, covering its bets with caveats like, "Most projections for world economic growth assume a fall in average oil prices in 2004. However, oil markets have often defied the forecasts."

So according to the Toronto Star, Herodotus' musings aren't relevant ... oh, sorry, yes they are ... maybe. Yes. Herodotus. Do the Leafs play tonight?

5:23:22 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Eliza Pinckney

The Kansas City Star has a reviewish sort of thing of a book by Cokie Roberts called The Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. Inter alia we read:

Roberts also was fascinated by the story of Eliza Pinckney, mother of two Revolutionary War heroes and statesmen, Charles and Thomas, who at 16 was operating three family plantations in South Carolina. She was entrepreneurial and determined, constantly experimenting with crops until finally coming up with a winner, indigo. She read Virgil and John Locke and, on the side, helped people write wills, which she realized she wasn't qualified to do.

Pinckney complained at one point that an older woman told her she would never get a husband and threatened to throw “a volume of my Plutarch's Lives into the fire the other day.” [more]

5:14:48 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

Not specifically Classical, but of interest:

5.00 p.m. |DTC| Stolen Treasures
Looting archaeological sites hoping to find antiquities to sell in
the lucrative market of ancient art is illegal, but big business.
Hear the story of how a piece of ancient Egyptian art was looted and
smuggled from Egypt and eventually sold in the U.S.

DTC = Discovery Times Channel

5:03:28 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

Site Meter