Most recent update:7/1/2004; 5:36:07 AM

 Sunday, June 06, 2004
NUNTII: Nuntii Latini

The latest from Radio Bremen's version of Nuntii Latini:

Tormenta ab Americanis in Iraquia adhibita

Köhler praesidens Germaniae factus
Unio Europaea decem civitatibus aucta
Bremenses principes ludorum pedifollicorum
Iohannes Baptista Bremam reversus
Puer orbis terrarum carissimus

Cursus post tria milia annorum mutatus
Aliquid novi de bello Troiano
NOTABILIA: De rebus Romanis a Romulo usque ad Augustum gestis


5:08:42 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Akropolis World News

The latest headlines from Akropolis World News in Classical Greek:

60th anniversary of Normandy Landing - Ronald Reagan dies at 93

5:05:27 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Nuntii Latini

The latest headlines from YLE's Nuntii Latini pages:

Al-Jawar praesidens Iraquiae (4.6.2004)

De minis litoris Estoniae (4.6.2004)

Dies militum paci tuendae (4.6.2004)

Panthera pardus orientalis (4.6.2004)

Novum culmen mundanum (4.6.2004)

Harri Holkeri munus deponit (28.5.2004)


5:03:46 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: The Travails of an Editor

An editor at the Daily Times of Pakistan finds solace in adopting an Homeric attitude (via Aldous Huxley) toward current events:

Reading the Pakistani press is not easy. Nearly every writing is a dirge: the abysmal condition of the Muslims near and far; the perfidy of the United States; how the government doesn’t function in this country; how generally everything’s bad from roads to schools, civic amenities and the general behaviour of the people, blah, blah, blah. It’s almost like we are all part of an interminable funeral procession.

As the editor of these pages, this fact hits me between the eyes everyday. From letters to the editor to op-ed articles, I hear a lament. I wait for a letter that is witty, well-written, is not about politics and perhaps quotes Taryn Manning as saying how devastated Britney Spears was when she (Manning) told her that the Japanese symbols tattooed on her hipbone were meaningless gibberish (Newsweek actually did, so it must be something important!). Ditto for articles. But it doesn’t work. Now I have Iraq coming out of my ears, and Kashmir, and India-Pakistan relations, and politics, and Abu Ghraib...the list is long.

Why this obsession with such seriousness, a constant marsiya, if you will? Granted, things are bad; in fact they will quite likely get worse before they get any better — if at all, that is. (Remember Eliot’s line ‘And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse’?) But does this mean all of us should begin to look as grave as an undertaker?


The point clearly is not about disrespecting the dead or becoming insensitive to the tragedies of life, even the anomie of modern, urban existence but to learn to laugh, if not as a matter of habit then at least occasionally.

Aldous Huxley wrote a superb essay, ‘Tragedy and the Whole Truth’. His point is that tragedy comes into being when an artist isolates a ‘single element out of the totality of human experience and use[s] that exclusively as his material’. This means tragedy is ‘separated out from the Whole Truth’. And what does that mean?

Huxley begins with an example from Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, at the point where Scylla at the mouth of her cave has devoured six of Odysseus’ companions. What does Odysseus and his remaining companions do? That’s where Homer’s Whole Truth, as opposed to Tragedy, comes into play. Writes Huxley: “Later, the danger passed, Odysseus and his men went ashore for the night, and, on the Sicilian beach, prepared their supper — prepared it, says Homer, ‘expertly’. The Twelfth Book of the Odyssey concludes with these words: ‘When they had satisfied their thirst and hunger, they thought of their dear companions and wept, and in the midst of their tears sleep came gently upon them.’”

Huxley notices, correctly and very incisively, that while they wept after the tragedy, as everyone would have, they didn’t forget to cook their supper and expertly too. And once the supper had been cooked, there was no point in weeping immediately so they ate and drank to ‘satiety’ before mourning the dead. And then, sleep came gently upon them and the day was over.

But how does this relate to what I started with. Fully, I dare say. We are all writing Tragedy when we put pen to paper (or in most cases when we work our fingers to the bone on a keyboard) even as we live lives that are the Homeric Whole Truth, lamenting only after we have eaten and drunk to satiety ere slumber’s chains have bound us.

Are we heartless, as were Odysseus and his companions? No, we are plain human; so were they. Mourning burns calories just like any other activity, so it’s better to eat and drink before one begins to weep. Life itself is about movement. Tragedy may not manifest this truth within its selective confines, but Truth does. And all of us live this truth every day of our lives. So why can’t some of that truth spill over onto these pages? Must we don an Apollonian mantle for public appearances?

I say, weep if you must, but pick up a few recipes and tips for wining and dining from Irfan Husain. His advice comes free to everyone. We pay him so you can enjoy!

4:31:27 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Homer in MessengerSpeak ... reactions

Last week we mentioned the MessengerSpeak version of the first five books of the Iliad. The Telegraph has a piece on it (finally) which includes some scholarly reactions:

Andrew Cunningham, an English teacher at Charterhouse school and a former GCSE examiner, said: "The whole point of studying great works of literature from any language or culture - whether it is The Iliad, Beowulf or the King James Bible - is to feel the words resonate over the centuries," he said.

"This rendering of The Iliad into a blunt text message style will inspire no one. 'Muse, wot hapnd wiv Achilles?' is a fair example of just how bland the style is.

"We are constantly being told by the educational establishment just how bright, intelligent and hard-working today's young people are. To assume that they can only approach Homer in bland, bite-size chunks like this is to insult their intelligence. We are robbing them of the same sense of discovery that so inspired Keats."

The Microsoft version of The Iliad is the latest example of the spread of text message language.

Examiners have reported pupils answering GCSE questions entirely in text message shorthand and The Telegraph revealed recently that A-level candidates were using slang words without realising it.

Bernard Lamb, a lecturer at Imperial College London and the chairman of the Queen's English Society, described the Microsoft version of Homer as "appalling".

He said: "It should be totally condemned. It dumbs everything down to a very low level, giving no idea of the majesty of language in the original.

"Children already have difficulty spelling simple words, so to have a huge international organisation promoting 'wot', 'woz' and 'wiv' is extremely unhelpful for spelling - and clear diction."

Some teachers argue, however, that text message language is a fact of life and makes The Iliad, thought to have been composed in the eighth century BC, more accessible to young people.

Geoffrey Fallows, the president of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, which has 1,500 members, was "completely unbothered" by the bite-size Homer.

He said: "The Iliad is a complicated story that has difficult and unfamiliar names, so if you know a bit of it through the film or other versions, it will make so much more sense. The present generation communicates all day and all night in this peculiar speak and that is a fact of the modern world."

A spokesman for Microsoft said: "We hope that no one has taken offence and apologise if anyone has. We would encourage people to read the full book as it represents a true classic, but if they want to have a quick bit of fun, we would also encourage them to check out our version."

Interesting that the English types have more problems with it than the Classicist ...

4:18:03 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Reichardt on Asper on Reichardt

Andrea Cucchiarelli (trans.), La veglia di Venere. Pervigilium Veneris.

4:13:30 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

REVIEW: From Scholia

P. J. Rhodes, Ancient Democracy and Modern Ideology
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CHATTER: Another Site for Atlantis

Looks like Robert Sarmast isn't going to get all the Atlantean attention this summer ... from the BBC (and yes, my mailbox is filling up with this one):

A scientist says he may have found remains of the lost city of Atlantis.
Satellite photos of southern Spain reveal features on the ground appearing to match descriptions made by Greek scholar Plato of the fabled utopia.

Dr Rainer Kuehne thinks the "island" of Atlantis simply referred to a region of the southern Spanish coast destroyed by a flood between 800 BC and 500 BC.

The research has been reported as an ongoing project in the online edition of the journal Antiquity.

"Plato wrote of an island of five stades (925m) diameter that was surrounded by several circular structures - concentric rings - some consisting of Earth and the others of water. We have in the photos concentric rings just as Plato described," Dr Kuehne told BBC News Online.

Dr Kuehne, of the University of Wuppertal in Germany, believes the rectangular features could be the remains of a "silver" temple devoted to the sea god Poseidon and a "golden" temple devoted to Cleito and Poseidon - all described in Plato's dialogue Critias. [more]

1:37:55 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Newsletter: AWOTV

The weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings have been posted. Enjoy!
1:33:01 PM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NEWSLETTER: Explorator

The latest Explorator has been posted ... Enjoy!

[more updates later today ... my kid's soccer game was rescheduled and I've got to dash out the door]

8:26:53 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT|Lost Civilizations: Greece: A Moment of Excellence
Journey back to Athens, where the world's first democracy took seed,
as Pericles ushered in a Golden Age of unparalleled learning in
philosophy, architecture, science, art, and drama, when small city-
states in Greece rose from obscurity to ignite one of the most
spectacular explosions of cultural achievement in Western
Civilization's history. Learn why, the modern world still clings to
the ideals of Ancient Greece for intellectual and aesthetic
inspiration. Sam Waterston narrates.
8:25:31 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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