Most recent update:5/2/2004; 9:26:16 AM

 Friday, April 30, 2004

CHATTER: Brian Rose and Troy

With the big flick on the way, no doubt Brian Rose (and Manfred Korman) will be getting more attention in the press. The Cincy Post seems to be first off the mark in regards to Rose:

When Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom bring the tale about the Greek siege of Troy to the big screen later this month, Brian Rose will be watching with special interest.
Rose, a University of Cincinnati archaeologist who is arguably one of the nation's top experts on Troy, has participated in archaeological digs at Troy for the past 15 years. With Manfred Korfmann of the University of Tuebingen in Germany serving as director of the Troy excavation, Rose and his UC and international colleagues have worked to uncover the real nature of the wars waged at Troy.

Because he's literally breathed the dust of Troy, Rose says there's no doubt he will see the film when it is released May 14. "How could I not?" he says.

But he acknowledges he will likely watch with a more critical eye than the average viewer.

"I won't be looking at the acting or the narrative," he says. "I'll be looking at the historical accuracy of the costumes, the sets and the architecture."

Rose says he finds it odd that he hasn't heard who "Troy" filmmakers consulted in making the movie.

"As I look at the trailer, I can see what books they were looking at in order to construct the walls the way they did and the armor the way they did,'' he said. "But someone will have had to have pointed toward those books, and I'm interested in finding out whom they chose.

"We publish an excavation journal every year, called Studia Troica, of which 13 volumes have so far appeared. -- Someone associated with the film will have had to read our excavation journals. They will also have looked at evidence for late Bronze Age armor and weapons, from archaeological sites in Greece."

The movie relates to the story told by Homer in "The Iliad." That was based on the legend that in about 1200 B.C., a prince of Troy kidnapped the beautiful queen of a Greek kingdom.

In response, the Greeks sailed to Troy and attacked the city, but were able to subdue it only after 10 years of warfare -- and then via trickery.

The Greeks, the legend goes, built a large, hollow, wooden horse as a supposed gift to Athena, goddess of war.

Greek warriors hid inside the horse, and when the Trojans dragged it into their city hoping to accrue the benefits of the gift to Athena, the Greeks crept out of the horse's belly at night and sacked the citadel.

In truth, several cities have been superimposed, one on top of the other, at the site over the past 4,500 years. Troy 1 is a small simple Bronze Age settlement. Troy 6 is a later Bronze Age site most often associated with the so-called Trojan War.

That epic maybe should not be taken as gospel, Rose said.

"We shouldn't necessarily think that just because in 'The Iliad' one war of 10-year duration is described, that it was based on one war of 10-year duration," he said.

"It's conceivable, since you had many wars that occurred at Troy during the Bronze Age, involving many different opponents, that a number of these wars and a number of the opponents, over the course of several hundred years of oral tradition, became conflated, merged, into one war and one opponent over a very short period of time.

"From the middle of the third millennium B.C. through battle of Gallipoli in 1915, we're talking about nearly 4,500 years of warfare," he said.

The fighting at Troy occurred "largely because of where it was located," at the mouth of the waterway that effectively links the Aegean and Black seas.

One of the more recent theories about the wars is that both Greece and the Hittites, the people from a kingdom in central Turkey, wanted a trading zone along the western coastline of Turkey.

"Some would interpret wars that occurred at Troy in the late Bronze Age as a trade war, in effect between the Greeks and the Hittites, and the Trojans just happened to be in a position between the two," Rose said.

In short, there's "no evidence whatsoever" a war was fought at Troy over a beautiful woman. On the other hand, there's no evidence to the contrary.

There's also no evidence that the Greeks sneaked into Troy inside the belly of a wooden horse.

"Even in the Greek period, they had questions about whether the (Trojan) horse had really existed or whether it was simply a creation of Homer's imagination," Rose said.

His work carries on UC's connection to ancient Troy, which dates to the 1930s, when UC archaeologist Carl Blegen led the second of three major excavations that have dug at the ancient city.

Over the years, Rose and the Troy excavation team have unearthed statues of the Roman emperors Augustus, who ruled at the time of Christ, and Hadrian, who ruled in the Second Century A.D.


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NUNTII: Death of Heinrich Schliemann

So what killed HS? The Scotsman tells us:

A fondness for frequent swims in the sea may have brought on an ear condition which led to the death of a famed archaeologist who discovered the ancient city of Troy, a doctor claimed today.

Heinrich Schliemann, considered the founder of modern archaeology, died in 1890 from a brain abscess caused by an infection that developed following ear surgery, Dr Hinrich Staecker said in Baltimore, USA.

Staecker, who specialises in hearing loss, presented his findings at an annual conference at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where doctors propose their theory for the cause of death of a historic figure.

German-born Schliemann had a passion for the works of the Greek poet Homer, including the account of the battle at Troy in The Iliad.

In 1873, he excavated remains of what is now thought to be the ancient city of Troy, located in modern Turkey.

But he suffered from a bony growth in his left ear canal that is related to cold-water exposure, Staecker said. He also liked to swim frequently in the nearest body of water – even in winter.

The condition caused intense ear pain, headaches and hearing loss until the pain became unbearable. It spread to the mastoid bone of his skull and Schliemann, then 68, underwent a new surgery technique to treat it.

His German ear specialist said the operation was a success, but about a month later Schliemann experienced pain and deafness in his left ear while in Paris. From there, he went to Naples, where he collapsed in the street and died.

Staecker said Schliemann was a “recalcitrant and non-compliant patient” who didn’t listen to his doctors and discharged himself from the hospital in order to be with his family in Greece.

Staecker, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and surgeon at the VA Maryland Health Care System, studied Schliemann’s personal letters and medical records in his research.

The archaeologist was the son of a poor pastor, but he made fortune in the indigo trade. He was the 10th historic figure to be diagnosed at the conference, others including Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander the Great and Mozart.

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CHATTER: A.E. Housman

Since in the past we've honoured AEH's natal day with presentation of his Fragment of a Greek Tragedy, it seems similarly appropriate to mark the anniversary of his death with a presentation of  his translation of Horace Odes 4.7, a.k.a. Diffugere Nives. Rather than reproducing it here (it appears to be still under copyright), we will link to an interesting reading of the poem by William Maxwell, the erstwhile editor of the New Yorker and novelist. The actual reading begins at roughly 2.30 of the presentation. You can just read the text here, but it's somehow more poignant to have a nonagenarian read it to you ... all courtesy of

Here's the Latin original, courtesy of the Latin Library:

Diffugere niues, redeunt iam gramina campis
     arboribus comae;
mutat terra uices et decrescentia ripas
     flumina praetereunt;
Gratia cum Nymphis geminisque sororibus audet              
     ducere nuda chorus.
Inmortalia ne speres, monet annus et almum
     quae rapit hora diem.
Frigora mitescunt Zephyris, uer proterit aestas,
     interitura simul              
pomifer autumnus fruges effuderit, et mox
     bruma recurrit iners.
Damna tamen celeres reparant caelestia lunae:
     non ubi decidimus
quo pater Aeneas, quo diues Tullus et Ancus,              
     puluis et umbra sumus.
Quis scit an adiciant hodiernae crastina summae
     tempora di superi?
Cuncta manus auidas fugient heredis, amico
     quae dederis animo.              
Cum semel occideris et de te splendida Minos
     fecerit arbitria,
non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te
     restituet pietas;
infernis neque enim tenebris Diana pudicum              
     liberat Hippolytum,
nec Lethaea ualet Theseus abrumpere caro
     uincula Pirithoo.

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pridie kalendas maias

ludi Florae (day 4) -- 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

250 A.D. -- martyrdom of Maximus at Ephesus

304 A.D. -- beginning of Diocletianic persecutions under Galerius

311 A.D. -- Edict of Toleration of Galerius

1936 -- death of A.E. Housman

5:45:20 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

... fortunately it's a slow news day because this blog doesn't want to update again ... and again
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CHATTER: Susan Greenfield

I'm sure our friends across the pond will forgive some of us former colonists for not knowing who Susan Greenfield is, but even so, the Guardian has a profile of her and she does have an interesting Classical connection:

Susan Greenfield is not a fellow of the Royal Society. She has very little to say about that. On the other hand she is a force in British science, and she knows it. She is a professor of pharmacology at Oxford, which even in the bitchy world of British academics counts for something.

She is also a baroness and a member of the House of Lords, one of the "people's peers" appointed by Tony Blair to put oomph into the upper chamber. She has launched three academic start-up companies, named Synaptica, BrainBoost and Neurodiagnostics, all of which are concerned with aspects of Alzheimer's disease.

To cap all that, she is director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, whose base is in Albemarle Street, Piccadilly, London. This is the laboratory founded by Count Rumford, the man who 200 years ago gave the world the coffee pot, the kitchen range and a proper theory of heat. Its first lecturer, Humphry Davy, started discovering elements seemingly at the rate of one a week. Thomas Young, another lecturer, overturned Newton's theory of light, developed a modulus of elasticity that engineers still use today, and started deciphering the Rosetta Stone. And a third, Michael Faraday, launched the modern world by demonstrating the power of electricity.


She is festooned with honorary degrees, she has served on the Royal Society's council for the public understanding of science, she has been awarded the Royal Society's Faraday medal. Last year the French gave her the Legion d'honneur ("They just said lots of very nice things, I think it was for my general contribution to science ... as you might imagine I am very proud and delighted.")

She is also an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. And this year, she says proudly, she is president of the Classical Association. "They alternate," she says. " They have a professional classicist and then every other year they have someone with some kind of claim to classics." She began her university studies in classics.

She was born 53 years ago into a Jewish family, in London. Her father was an electrician, her mother a dancer. She started at Oxford with entrance exams in classics, and Greek studies got her interested in philosophy. "At Oxford you have to do philosophy with something. So I did psychology: obviously I couldn't do physiology, I didn't know what it was," she says. "Then I changed to straight psychology and that is how I got to work on the brain and so on." [more]

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CHATTER: Bobby Jones Redux

Last night we posted a somewhat tenuous (it appears) Classical connection with Jim Caviziel's participation in a movie about golf legend Bobby Jones ... this morning, we can make the connection just a bit stronger (not much, though):

Northam -- who has worked hard on his American accent since the days of "Happy, Texas" -- is very good as Hogan. Malcolm McDowell, playing a local sportswriter, gives the film some aged wit as well. (The vision of the movies' most famous Caligula, walking the links with its most famous Jesus, is a trivia question waiting to happen.) [Star-Ledger]

That's quite the 'history what-if' thing too ... I'm sure Caligula would be taking lots of mulligans; Jesus would have no problem with the water hazards. The big theological question, though, would be whether Jesus would shoot par ...

4:48:21 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

Nothing of interest (so my fellow Canucks are free to get their taxes done before the deadline!)

4:29:51 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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