Most recent update:6/1/2004; 5:08:32 AM

 Sunday, May 02, 2004

CHATTER (NUNTII?): The Truth About Troy

I suspect this bit from the Independent is more hype than history, but, for what it's worth:

The legend has dominated Western culture for more than 3,000 years - the kidnapping of the most beautiful woman in the world, the thousand ships sent to bring her back, and the bloody 10-year war that followed.

Now a leading British historian claims that the true story of Troy is finally about to be uncovered.

Bettany Hughes, currently making a television series about ancient Greece, says that a number of recently unearthed clay tablets hold "the keys" to the compelling tale of Helen, Paris and the siege of Troy.

The famous story - originally told in Homer's epic poem The Iliad - has always been considered more myth than reality. Now, says Ms Hughes, a collection of shattered tablets discovered beneath the Greek city of Thebes could completely overturn that belief.

"There is no doubt that this discovery is one of the keys that will unlock the story of Troy," Ms Hughes said yesterday. "The tablets that have been rescued at Thebes mean we are having to re-draft the Bronze Age map. What is emerging is a picture of a world remarkably close to that described by Homer."

The fragmented tablets, inscribed in the ancient script known as Linear B, have been dated back to the 13th century BC - the period when the Trojan war is supposed to have been fought. A number of pieces are still emerging from the site.

"It's fabulously frustrating," said Ms Hughes. "The tablets are slowly, slowly being deciphered, but it is like putting together a massive jigsaw."

Promisingly, the tablets already decoded mention a number of key names from Homer - including lost or vanished cities that supplied ships for the famous fleet led by Agamemnon and Achilles. This, says Ms Hughes, is highly significant, as the tablets pre-date Homer's supposedly fictional work by around 500 years.

"Up until now, no one has written seriously about the characters in The Iliad: the people who make it live and breathe," said Ms Hughes, who has been working on a biography of Helen for the past four years. "Evidence like this means that at last we can start to draw lines between the three points of the triangle - the archaeological, textual and literary sources." [more]

Bettany Hughes, for the record, has been described as  "the thinking-man's eye-candy presenter", which probably means she won't be taken seriously no matter what the evidence. On the other hand, she does hold a BA and MA (hons) in Ancient and Modern history and she did put together a decent documentary on the Spartans for the U.K.'s Channel 4, based on Paul Cartledge's work (a post - show online chat transcript is available), and which also appeared on this side of the pond on  PBS last summer. Whatever the case, I haven't heard of any 'recent' discoveries of "clay tablets" from Thebes ... the latest I've heard of are a bunch of such things from the "Armoury", but that was almost a decade ago (is a decade 'recent'?).

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CHATTER: YLE's Colloquia Latina

While poking around YLE's site for some info, I came across their Colloquia Latina page, which is a forum where folks converse in Latin on a variety of subjects. Definitely worth a look!

2:27:24 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: YLE's Nuntii Latini

Here's the latest (again, to me) headlines from Radio Finland's Nuntii Latini:

Unio Europaea amplificatur (30.4.2004)

Memoria cladis Chernobyliensis (30.4.2004)

Institutum Romanum Finlandiae semisaeculare (30.4.2004)

Hereditas veteranorum - patria libera (30.4.2004)

Dux ordinis Hamas occisus (23.4.2004)

Status Libyae melioratus (23.4.2004)


* nota bene: next week I'm going to experiment with posting Radio Finland's stuff as it is posted on their site; I previously didn't do this because I was on dialup and it took me forever to connect ... high speed access has obviously changed things for the better.

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NUNTII: Nuntii Latini from Radio Bremen

Radio Bremen's monthly Latin news is up with a summary of events (and other items) for the month of April:

In Iraquia rebellatur

ANC in electionibus Africae Meridianae vincit
Welteke ad otium perfugit
Capitis velamen vetitum

Germanicus Bavaricus

Congressus philologorum classicorum Coloniae habitus

Detectio magni momenti

MEMORABILIA Dies Sancti Floriani
NOTABILIA Castra Romana explorata

Audi legeque at the Radio Bremen page ...

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NUNTII: Akropolis World News in Classical Greek

The authors of this fine service returned from hiatus a couple weeks ago, but I seem to have forgotten last weekend to mention it ... in any event, here's the latest (to me) headlines from Akropolis World News:

The role of Finland in World War II (1st part)

Burned libraries along History (5th and last part)

Burned libraries along History (4th part)

Burned libraries along History (3rd part)     

Burned libraries along History (2nd part)

Incidentally, if you're looking for the first part of the 'Burned Libraries' series, it's still available.

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CHATTER: Erica Jong and Sappho's Leap

Palo Alto Weekly has an interviewish sort of thing with Erica Jong:

Erica Jong calls the subject of her eighth novel a cross between Madonna and Sylvia Plath -- like the Material Girl in her colossal fame and like the tortured 20th-century poet in her ferocious truthfulness and legendary suicide.

The person in question is Sappho, the Greek erotic poet whose songs were performed throughout the ancient world. Her images of love and desire have lasted for centuries and have inspired poets, songwriters and Jong.

"She invented the whole vocabulary of erotic love," Jong said in a recent phone interview from New York City. "She wasn't following a tradition that existed; she created the tradition. She created the metaphors that you still hear in songs today -- 'A fire runs over my flesh. I freeze. I burn.' Sappho was a very passionate woman."

Her amorous adventures are recounted in "Sappho's Leap," (Norton, 2003) Jong's fictionalized account of the poet's life. It is one of several Jong works that will be referenced on Monday when Jong speaks at the Stanford Bookstore on campus. The discussion will focus on American feminism, as it relates to her works and the culture as a whole. Afterwards, Jong and classics scholar Robert Ball will discuss their collaboration on "Sappho's Leap" at Stanford's Annenberg Auditorium.

Best known for her groundbreaking 1973 novel "Fear of Flying," Jong sees plenty of parallels between Sappho and Isadora Wing, her earlier protagonist.

"I've always been interested in women who are heroes, women who go beyond the limits imposed on their lives. My first novel has that, and I think 'Sappho's Leap' has that. And the contemporary novel I'm currently working on has that.

"My Sappho is a kind of female Odysseus who goes on remarkable adventures, even going as far as the Land of the Dead. I think all of my novels have been about women who go beyond the strictures that are put on them." [more]

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CHATTER: Etruscan Chariot on Display Soon

Newsday has some interesting background info on the upcoming display of an Etruscan chariot at the Met:

 When the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveils its new ancient art exhibit space in 2007, Hamilton Township resident Bill Giovannetti will need little background information on the ancient Etruscan chariot on display.

That's because his great grandfather, Isidoro Vannozzi, discovered it over 100 years ago on land he owned outside Monteleone, Italy.

It's a testament to the role immigration has played in the history of New Jersey that at least 100 relatives of Vannozzi _ with last names such as Vannozzi, Giovannetti, Perilli and Benedetti _ live in the Trenton area.

The 65-year-old Giovannetti, who remembers seeing the chariot when it was last on display at the museum in the early 1990s, can't wait to see a piece of his family's heritage out in the open again, this time as the centerpiece of the museum's Etruscan art exhibit.

"It's something that goes back more than 2,500 years ago, before the time of Christ," Giovannetti said.

Pictures of the bronze and ivory chariot, dated at about 550 B.C., show it sporting a green patina and figures of mythical animals and people hammered into its design.

According to Vannozzi family legend, Isidoro Vannozzi found the chariot while digging a basement on his farm, still in Vannozzi family hands, in the region of Umbria north of Rome. Fearing the Italian government would confiscate the chariot, Vannozzi hid it in his barn.

"My father and my uncle would visit their grandparents and end up playing on the chariot," Giovannetti said.

The family story goes that Vannozzi eventually gave the chariot to a pair of Frenchmen in return for two cows. By 1903, the chariot, along with the small artifacts found with it, was on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A $155 million renovation project at the museum, scheduled for completion in spring 2007, will have the chariot dominating a mezzanine gallery overlooking a large, Roman-style court. [more]

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Pascal Vernus, Affairs and Scandals in Ancient Egypt. Originally published as Affaires et scandales sous les Ramses

Tobias Reichardt, Recht und Rationalitat im fruhen Griechenland.

Alexandrine Schniewind, L'ethique du sage chez Plotin.

Nicholas Horsfall, Virgil. Aeneid 11. A Commentary. Mnemosyne Supplement 244.

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NUNTII: Roman Coins Found

A tantalizing brief item from a gardening column at icNewcastle:

Ken Allen sank his spade into the ground to start making a pond in his Gloucestershire garden - and found buried treasure. He dug up 20,000 Roman coins in a perfectly intact ceramic pot just 6m (20ft) from his house.

The coins date from the 4th Century and are priceless.

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BLOGWATCH: @ Victor Davis Hanson's Private Papers

I can't remember how I came across VDH's website (most likely via the Classics in Contemporary Culture blog) but part of it includes a place where he fields questions from fans about matters Classical and otherwise. This week's question and answer:

There is a sign or inscription posted above the portals of an ancient officer-training academy, which reads, "Here is where we learn to use the sword and to tell the truth." Have you come across that mantra in your studies of the ancients? If so, to what empire is it attributed and do you perhaps have a source?

Hanson: I haven’t seen that exact quote; although there are sentiments similar to it in Xenophon’s "Education of Cyrus," where the Persians emphasize veracity and martial prowess; and in Plutarch’s "Life of Lycurgus" as well as Xenophon’s "Constitution of the Lacedaemonians," truth-telling and arms of course are part of the Spartan indoctrination.

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BLOGWATCH: @Nephelokokkygia

Nephelokokkygia alerts us to the fact that the Greek text from Loeb version of the Apostolic Fathers -- which includes writings from Clement (sort of), Ignatius, Polycarp and others -- is now available at the CCEL site.

1:33:49 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NEWSLETTER: Ancient World on Television

The weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings are now available. Enjoy!

1:26:20 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NEWSLETTER: Explorator

The first issue of Volume Seven of Explorator is now online ... enjoy!

9:32:37 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Apologies

... for the lack of updates yesterday ... two things conspired to make yesterday postless: 1) in the midst of a bad reaction to antihistamines (non-drowsy antihistamines now appear to have the opposite effect on me) this silly Radio blog program refused to open ... it continued that behaviour until just a few moments ago -- I'll be moving to Movable Type as soon as I can figure out how to pay for the next level of storage at my ISP which would be required for a Movable Type installation ... 2) my assorted automatic newsfeeds stopped coming; they're still not coming and at this point I'm hoping it's at their end, not mine ... stay tuned.

9:31:22 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

Nothing of interest ...

9:26:47 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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