Most recent update:6/1/2004; 5:08:57 AM

 Friday, May 21, 2004

ante diem xii kalendas junias

Agonalia -- a rite held several times during the year involving the rex sacrificulus sacrificing a ram in the Regia

rites in honour of Vediovis

429 B.C. -- birth of Plato (traditionally-assigned date)

194 A.D.(?) -- Septimius Severus acclaimed as Imperator

293 A.D. (?) -- elevation of Galerius to the rank of Caesar by Diocletian

1920 -- birth of John Chadwick (The Decipherment of Linear B)

1929 -- death of Rodolfo Lanciani (Pagan and Christian Rome)

1953 -- birth of Don Fowler

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CHATTER: Night of the Living Dead Languages

Another 'Night of the Living Dead Languages' is being put on ... this time at UC Davis:

The Classical Studies Association of UC Davis will resurrect the Greek and Latin languages Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Winters Community Center.

In Dramatic Antiquity: An Evening of Classical Theatre, 20 students studying classical civilization will perform scenes chosen from tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides in Greek, and scenes from comedians Seneca and Lucian in Latin. Also, students will recite chosen works from Roman poets Ovid, Horace and Catullus.

The students are quick to note that the plays are relevant, even if most were written over 2,000 years ago.

"We deal with all these issues today," said director Joel Renter, a junior majoring in classic civilization. "They are timeless. That's what makes them classic."

According to the students involved, the ancient works resonate more than modern artwork because of their pathos and truth. Unlike most movies, there are no villains in Greek tragedy. Every character acts with the belief that what he or she is doing is the best action.

"The ancient Greeks and Romans were really exploring man's condition," Renter said. "Now, oftentimes theatre and movies are set up for performance, spectacle or shock-value."

Although the comedy pieces were written millennia ago, they will not be without humor. Senior classical civilization majors Grianne Grant and Kyle Felder perform a scene from Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead in which Hermes, the messenger god, tries to tax Charon, the boatman who ferries the dead in the underworld.

"Lucian is absolutely funny; it could have been written last week," Grant said. "Two things have been funny throughout history - death and taxes."

Theater companies rarely reproduce classical works in their original languages and with original set designs and costumes. As little of the actual action happens onstage, the language must carry the drama.

Greek tragedy was written in poetry, and performing the works in the original language allows the audience to hear the tone and rhythm, which cannot come through in the English translations.

Whether or not they understand a word of Greek or Latin, the audience members experience the same action as the Greek audience. Also, the audience may read the supertitles to follow the speech.


Grant said that bringing the works to life, rather than analyzing them in a classroom, has been one of the best parts of the production. But flooring the crowds of professors and students at the CSA conference, who had never before seen anything like this performance but knew the works verbatim, has been the best part for Grant. [California Aggie]


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CHATTER: Roman Days at Onalaska Middle School

Another edutaining day for Middle Schoolers:

Eighth-graders at Onalaska Middle School donned togas and traveled back in time to the heady days of the Roman Empire last Friday.   
The Roman Days festival included a Roman feast, a toga fashion show as well as a student performance of the death scene from William Shakespeare's best known play about ancient Rome, "Julius Caesar."

"This is the culmination of the eighth-grade students' Roman history unit," social studies teacher Greg Hilker said.

It was a circus, literally. The students transformed the athletic field into Circus Maximus, named for the stadium where Roman's held chariot races.

Nine groups of students built their own chariots with the help of their technology education teacher, Rex McNown.

"He was such a great help to the kids," Hilker said. "Whenever they needed help with their chariots they just went to him."

The students constructed their chariots out of a variety of materials. Some held together better than others.

While each was unique there was one thing they all had in common - no horses. One student got to ride while the others provided the horse power.
It was a photo finish at Onalaska Middle School’s 11th annual Roman Days celebration. Two teams of eighth-graders were neck and neck, but Team Maxey, in the black shirts, pulled ahead to win the chariot race. They were racing for a classmate hospitalized after a brain tumor operation. Photo by Paul Sloth 
A group of students calling itself Team Maxey won the chariot race even though they were working on their chariot until 10 p.m. the night before and despite the fact that they lost one of their teammates, after the first race, due to an injury.
[Onalaska Community Life]

There's a nice photo of the chariots in action ... folks on the LatinTeach list might be interested ...


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CHATTER: Roll the Bones

From one of those 'question and answer' columns comes a brief history of dice:

How long have games of dice been around? Who invented dice anyway?

Dice are thought to be our oldest gaming device. One of the earliest references in English is by Ordericus Vitalis (1075-1143), who wrote that "clergy-men and bishops are fond of dice-playing.''

Greek dramatist Sophocles credited Palamedes with their invention; Palamedes taught games of dice to soldiers at the siege of Troy 3,000 years ago.

However, the historian Herodotus claimed dice were invented by the Lydians during the days of King Atrys, while the Roman historian Plutarch believed dice had been developed by the Egyptians.

Bone and ivory dice, similar to the ones we use today, have been found in tombs in the area of Thebes, but the Romans used two types of dice: the cubic ''tesserae'' and an oblong gaming piece called "tali.''

Some modern historians believe that dice were developed initially by shamans who used them for divination long before anyone used them for gaming or gambling. [Daily Times]

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AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest
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