Most recent update:5/2/2004; 9:26:12 AM

 Wednesday, April 28, 2004

CHATTER: Cashing in on Troy

The British Museum knows a good tie in when it sees one ... according to the BBC:

The British Museum has announced plans to stage an exhibition to tie-in with the summer blockbuster Troy.

Discover Troy, which opens on 12 May at the museum in central London, will feature weapons from the Greek Bronze Age, alongside Greek vases and plaques.

Five costumes from the film, as worn by stars like Brad Pitt and Peter O'Toole will also be on display.

The film, which is based on Homer's epic tale, is released in the US on 14 June and in the UK on 21 May.

The Discover Troy exhibition forms part of the British Museum's Greek Summer programme.

Troy Day, on 19 June, will explore the making of Wolfgang Petersen's film with a speech by his son Daniel Petersen, who has followed the production since its inception. [more]

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CHATTER: Soldiers as Storytellers

The ClassCon in this one from VOA is marginal, but it's an interesting concept/premise:

A new federal program will help American soldiers learn to be storytellers. The National Endowment for the Arts has launched Operation Homecoming, a series of writing workshops for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The workshops will be taught by some of America's most prominent writers and poets.

Operation Homecoming began with a conversation between two poets. Dana Gioia, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, was talking with his fellow poet Marilyn Nelson, who'd been teaching at the United States Military Academy.
"We were talking about how separate in American culture the literary communities and the military communities were. And we said, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could find some meaningful way of bringing them together?' And we got the idea of creating writing workshops for the returning soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq as a way to bring their experience into literature," he said.

Workshops in fiction and non-fiction will be open to U.S. military personnel and their families, at bases across America and elsewhere in the world. The instructors will include poet Marilyn Nelson, as well as Tom Clancy, the author of best-selling technothrillers, and the award winning novelists and short story writers Bobbie Ann Mason and Tobias Wolff. Follow-up tutorials will be given over the Internet. Dana Gioia believes the project will benefit the soldiers helping them bring clarity to their experience. But it will also be a gift to history and literature. "In an age of electronic media, of e-mails, of cell phones, we may be creating one of the most significant archives of the war, not as politicians have seen it, not as the press has seen it, but as it's been experienced by the individuals who participated. And I'm very confident that we will discover some amazing new literary talent," he said.

A sampling of the work will be assembled into an anthology, adding new voices to an age-old tradition. Dana Gioia says western literature was born with the Greek poet Homer's two war epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Military combat has been a favorite theme of writers and poets ever since. [more]

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GOSSIP: Boudicca Flicks

Little snippets of stuff keep showing up in the scan in regards to projects revolving around a Boudicca film. Now this comes in suggesting four such flicks are in the works:

Hollywood has fallen for Boadicea, one of Britain's greatest women, in a big way -- no less than four projects are in the works about the warrior queen's life.

Paramount Pictures, Dreamworks and Icon Pictures each have scripts in production, Empire Magazine reported Wednesday, with a fourth work titled My Country being shopped among studios.

Mel Gibson reportedly is producing the Icon project, Warrior, which casts Boadicea as a peasant girl who rises to military fame and posthumously is named queen.

Paramount's project is titled Warrior Queen. Dreamworks' is Queen Fury. [more from Big News]

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NUNTII: Forma Urbis

The BBC has a feature on Stanford's efforts to digitize the Forma Urbis Romae:

Progress has been made in piecing together the Forma Urbis Romae, a map of Rome carved into stone slabs about AD 210 but later broken into fragments.

Measuring 18m by 14m, it was originally hung in the Templum Pacis, one of the ancient city's major public landmarks.

The map was remarkably accurate but researchers looking for new sites to excavate in Rome had only managed to fit back together a few of the pieces.

A Stanford University computer program is now being used to aid restoration.

So complicated is the jumble of parts that for decades the map pieces have been referred to as "the biggest jigsaw in the world".

In doing so, we have created the largest and most detailed model of a cultural artefact

Every few years, a researcher has suggested a match between two pieces. And now, the new computer program produced by Stanford's Dr David Koller has found seven high-probability matches and a host of other possibilities.

"When David put up a slide of his findings at a recent conference there was an audible gasp from the audience," said Professor Marc Levoy, also of Stanford University.

With the new computer analysis, experts are predicting a huge expansion in knowledge of the map and a new insight into ancient Rome.

The Forma Urbis showed almost every feature of the city from the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus, where the chariot races took place, down to individual shops and even staircases.

But shortly after the fall of Rome, it is thought that the lower part of the map was torn from the wall, probably to be burned in kilns to make lime for cement.

It may have lain for centuries as just a heap of jumbled fragments, occasionally plundered for other building works.

During the Renaissance, some recognised its importance, but still the pieces continued to be dispersed.

"The map will never be fully recovered; no more than 15% of it survives and that is in 1,186 pieces," Professor Levoy told BBC News Online. [more]

Visit the project website.

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ante diem iv kalendas maias

  • ludi Florales ... a.k.a. Floralia (day 2) -- 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
  • 12 B.C. -- consecration of the signum et ara Vestae on the Palatine; it was a shrine built by Augustus as pontifex maximus to house the palladium (maybe) which Aeneas brought from Troy
  • 32 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor-for-a-little-while Otho
  • 1st century -- martyrdom of Aphrodisius and companions in what would become Languedoc
  • 304 A.D. -- martyrdom of Pollio in Pannonia

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AUDIO: Father Foster

This week Father Foster comments on the various languages with the moniker 'Latin', such as 'thieves' Latin', 'pig Latin', and 'dog Latin'. Of most use, however, is the distinction between 'new' Latin and Classical and even differences between Latin authors. Interesting that there's no mention of the Vatican dictionary ...

5:34:46 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Roman Tileworks Found

I've been hanging on to this one in the hopes more details might come out, but it doesn't appear such are forthcoming. icSurrey provides a teaser to something from the Surrey Mirror:

HISTORIANS in Reigate have been entrenched in a major dig in the town after uncovering a Roman tileworks.

The discovery has been made in Doods Way and is thought to date from the second or third centuries.

But the archaeologists have been battling against the clock, for they had only until last weekend to complete their excavation before demolition gangs move in and demolish the house, Rosehill, on the site.

What they found was an elaborate furnace system with flues made from finely-decorated hollow bricks. The outline of much of the structure was in place.

County archaeological finds recorder, David Williams, said that it was an important discovery. The tiles would have been used in important buildings in Roman London.

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CHATTER: What Have the Greeks Ever Done For Us?

The Scotsman has a handy list of 20 things we can thank the ancient Greeks for ... here's the first ten:

1 Democracy: The cherished idea flowered in the 6th century BC when power was first passed to the people. Or rather, the ten per cent of Athens’ population who classified as citizens - women, slaves and foreigners did not make the grade. The remainder, men of 18 years and over, were divided into local groups - the "demoi" - who were then represented on the city’s major council or parliament of 500 called the "boule". In addition, 40 times each year the people (the ekklesia) met in their thousands to vote on issues of both foreign and domestic policy.

2 Love, actually, is Greek: The Goddess of Love in Greek mythology is Aphrodite who was born in the sea off Cyprus, conjured from the foam produced by the severed genitals of Zeus’s grand-father, hurled there by his son. Not the most auspicious of starts in life, though Aphrodite subsequently thrived, going on to become not only the Goddess of Love but, in the eyes of the Spartans, also a Goddess of War. So, by default, she was the Goddess of Married Couples.

3 Philosophy: The entire canon of western thought: Marx, Descartes, Derrida are all balanced on the shoulders of three men. Aristotle (384-322 BC), who stood on the shoulders of his master Plato (429-347 BC) who was propped up by Socrates (469-399 BC). The latter was a veteran of the Peloponnesian War and when he was sentenced to death by drinking hemlock, he showed future generations how to die with dignity.

4 Geometry: The ancient phrase "Beware Greeks bearing gifts" was coined to describe the dubious present of the Trojan horse, and any school pupil baffled by Pythagoras’ theorem is likely to turn up his nose at their gift of geometry. The word is derived from the term "geometria", meaning the measurement of the earth, a discipline which Euclid, who was actually from Alexandria in Egypt, first studied at Plato’s Academy. In case our weary pupil wishes to nurse any further grudges, mathematics was also the Greeks’ fault.

5 The Secret Police: The Gestapo in Nazi Germany and the KGB of Stalin’s Russia can trace their antecedents to Sparta, the original military state. The heroics of the ancient warrior race are justly celebrated at Thermopylae. It was here that 300 Spartans held off a Persian army of 150,000, and left the moving inscription: "Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by/That here obedient to their words we lie". But their society was one of great cruelty. A percentage of the Helots - their slaves - were slaughtered each year and at night an elite group known as "the kryptia" would seek out and execute trouble-makers.

6 Ostracism: To be ostracised from a group or, as it is described today, "sent to Coventry", is a Greek invention, which required the spurned party to depart from the city walls and live in exile. This law of banishment was first introduced in 508 BC but was first used almost 20 years later in 487 BC. The term is derived from ‘ostraka’ the fragments of pottery on which the unfortunate nominee’s name was inscribed.

7 The Marathon: What a poor Athenian messenger tackled out of necessity, millions now do for fun. Following the battle of Marathon at which the Greeks broke the Persian army, losing just 192 men to their opponents 6,000, a messenger was dispatched to run the 25 miles back to Athens to announce the city’s salvation and their success. It was a feat he doggedly achieved before dying of exhaustion. If only he’d had a pair of Nike Air, a baseball cap and an i-Pod ...

8 Alexander the Great: Before Colin Farrell dyed his hair blond and slipped into a leather skirt, a young Greek (well Macedonian actually) led an army of 40,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry on a mission to conquer the known world. Today the battle tactics and wisdom of Alexander, who was a pupil of Aristotle, are studied by business leaders who adore his direct approach. When faced with the riddle of the Gordian Knot, which prophecy decreed could only be unravelled by he who would rule Asia, Alexander paused for a second before slicing it in two.

9 The Olympic Games: The first gathering of top athletes drawn from the Hellenic world was in 776 BC and afterwards, every four years, they would return to Olympia to compete for crowns of wild olives in events such as chariot racing, wrestling, boxing and the pentathlon. There is no mention in recorded history of a competitor being banned for steroid abuse.

10 The Muse: Artistic success in ancient Greece was not 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. Instead, creative ideas were bounteous gifts bestowed by the Muses, a group of nine goddesses who were each responsible for a particular endeavour.   They were Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (the flute), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (hymns), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy) and Urania (astronomy). Unfortunately they were last reported seen bound up and locked in JK Rowling’s basement. [more]

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NUNTII: Roman Helmet Up for Auction

I totally forgot there was a major auction coming up ... fortunately the Scotsman reminded me:

A rare ancient Roman helmet was expected to make history today by fetching a record price when it is sold at auction.

The iron, copper and brass “Mouse” Helmet, which dates from the late 2nd Century AD, has an estimated price tag of £350,000 to £500,000.

It is the highest pre-sale estimate ever put on an ancient helmet and auction house Christie’s were confident bidding will reach this at the London sale.

That would easily trounce the current world record price ever paid for an ancient helmet of £100,000.

The helmet was part of the late Austrian businessman Axel Guttmann’s private collection of ancient arms and armour which he painstakingly built up over 25 years at his Berlin home.

It was one of a raft of ancient treasures from the Classical world including weaponry, armour, and gladiatorial artefacts being sold by his relatives today.

Head of Christie’s Antiques, Sarah Hornsby, said there has been a flurry of interest in the helmet from private collectors.

“It’s a spectacular object,” she said. “There are only two of this particular helmet in the world, one in a Bonn museum and this one, which is the only one in private hands.

“The fact that it’s so well preserved is amazing as the core of it’s iron and usually these decay very rapidly so there aren’t many surviving.

“And the fact that because the ornaments on it are very elaborate it was obviously for some very high ranking officer in the army.

“There is a name on the back of it for a Julius Mansueti and there’s some speculation, because the helmet has two little birds on it, he was associated with the Roman Praetorian Guard who guarded the emperor Julius Caesar.[more]

You simply have to see the photo of this thing:


Here's the info page from Christie's ... I'll post more over the next few days.

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AWOTV: On TV Today

8.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Secrets of Ancient Empires: First Armies

9.00 p.m. |DISCC| Unsolved History: Roman Colosseum
Completed in 80 A.D., the Colosseum was inaugurated with 100 days of
games showcasing gladiatorial contests, wild beast hunts, public
executions and variety shows.

10.00 p.m. |HINT| Time Team: Beauport Park, Sussex  
A Roman bathhouse unearthed near a huge mound of iron slag near the
golf course at Beauport Park, Sussex, England, leads host Tony
Robinson (Baldrick in "Blackadder") to ask: "What is a Roman
bathhouse doing here completely on its own, 40 miles from the nearest
Roman town?" The search for other Roman buildings is on. There could
be a lost city or forgotten fort, and Time Team, aided by surveyors,
geophysicists, and even a dowser, have just three days to find it.

Channel Guide

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Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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