Monday, June 07, 2004
THIS DAY IN ANCIENT HISTORY
ante diem vii idus junias
- the 'inner sanctum' of the Temple of Vesta was opened to the (female) public
- ludi piscatorii (?) -- a private festival celebrated by fishermen
- 17 B.C.. -- ludi Latini et Graeci honorarii (day 3)
- 20 A.D. -- Nero Julius Caesar, son of the emperor-in-waiting Germanicus, dons his toga virilis; a congiarium is given to the people as well
- 86 A.D. -- ludi Capitolini -- a festival involving poetic contests, inaugurated by Domitian based on something done by Nero (day 2)
- 204 A.D. -- ludi Latini et Graeci honorarii (day 4)
CHATTER: VDH Ponders Epaminondas
Victor Davis Hanson answers questions from his readers, inter alia:
Do you attribute the defeat of the Spartans at Leuctra more to the unorthodox leadership of Epaminondas, i.e. deep columns on the left of his formations? Or was it the final straw for a Spartan culture already in decline from its own inability to adapt in general and manage the resources acquired from conflict in the prior decades?
Hanson: I wrote about that at length in an old article in 1988 in Classical Antiquity and again in the Soul of Battle. Of course, both factors played a role at Leuctra. But the definitive appraisal of Epaminondas has not been written—the most remarkable man of action the ancient world produced.
True ... for those wanting to know more, there's a nice article (culled from Encyclopedia Britannica?) about Epaminondas online at the Hellenic Data Server.
CHATTER: Another Troy Review by a Classicist
Classicist Bruce Thornton has a review of Troy up at Victor Davis Hanson's website. Inter alia:
The film's worst offenses, however, are its reduction of Homer's complex characters into melodramatic clichés. In Homer, Agamemnon is a portrait of what happens when a man's character and virtue aren't up to his power, a political lesson the Greeks returned to in tragedy, history, and philosophy. In the movie, he's a moustache-twirling villain with no interior conflicts. Likewise with Homer's Hector, who embodies the tragedy of being second best and then thinking he can achieve more than his fate and talents allow. When Hector kills Patroclus, knowing full well whom he has killed and who will seek to revenge the death, and then puts on the armor of Achilles, he stakes a claim that he ultimately knows he can't fulfill--to be Achilles, that is, to be the best. The changes made by the movie destroy this tragic complexity, and leave out the powerful scene of Hector's realization of his delusion and folly in the moments before his fatal duel with Achilles. [more]
BLOGWATCH: @ Martialis
We mentioned the Martialis blog on the weekend, but in case you missed it, Nick Wilshire is posting a poem of Martial every day, with translation. There's a facility to comment on the translation as well ... whatever the case, he's up to 1.3 now ...
CHATTER: Double Take Excerpt
This showed up in this a.m.'s scan:
The old record for aged pacing geldings was 1.51.1, which was established by Odysseus A ... [source]
I still wonder why you'd name a harness horse after someone who took ten years to reach their goal. Then again, if Odysseus were an old gelding, he probably wouldn't have tarried with Circe so long ...
NUNTII: Roman Bracelets Missing
The disarrayed state of the basement of the Cairo Museum has been mentioned roughly once a year in the popular press. Here's a piece, e.g., from Reuters:
Hawass said the more than 100-year-old museum had been the store for most finds from foreign archaeological digs since it was built, but poor curatorship meant items were often difficult to find or lost amidst the piles of boxes.
"The basement in Cairo museum is like a maze of corridors... No one knows anything about it," he told Reuters.
A search is currently under way for 36 Roman bracelets, discovered in 1905, which have apparently disappeared. Hawass said they were last recorded as part of a exhibition that returned from Japan in 1984.
"I sent all papers to the district attorney to find out about the case, but I believe personally that the bracelets are in the museum," he said, blaming the disappearance on poor curatorship.
While the artifacts are being cataloged, the basement will be renovated so the items can be properly stored on their return. The renovation will enable the museum to reduce the size of its permanent display to improve its design, Hawass added.
"We are going to have a basement like the basement of the British Museum that you can put artifacts, numbered, cataloged, and we are training the curators for the first time to understand what is the meaning of a curatorship," he said.
Sounds like my basement ... except my plans are for a state-of-the-art coffee bar ...
AWOTV: On TV Today
5.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Ancient Warriors: The Macedonians
7.00 p.m.|DTC|Stolen Treasures
Looting archaeological sites hoping to find antiquities to sell in
the lucrative market of ancient art is illegal, but big business.
Hear the story of how a piece of ancient Egyptian art was looted and
smuggled from Egypt and eventually sold in the U.S.
7.00 p.m. |HINT| The Ancient Gold of Troy
Since WWII, one of the world's most fantastic fortunes was believed
lost--its priceless heirlooms from the time of the Homeric legends a
casualty of war. But when the cache was found in a secret vault in a
Russian museum, an international uproar ensued over who owned the
ancient treasure. Join us as we follow the journey of Troy's gold.
9.00 p.m. |HISTC| HISTORY OF MISTRESSES (I)
Examine some of the most intriguing, scandalous sexual affairs in
history. This three-part series is the definitive guide to the age
old story of the mistress in Western society. Through compelling
testimony, rare archive footage and evocative dramatization, this
series presents some of the most fascinating and powerful mistresses
of all time from Cleopatra and Nell Gwyn to Camilla Parker-Bowles and
CHATTER: Olympic Preparations
A piece in the Rockford Register Star has a piece on various Olympic preparations under way and inter alia mentions:
Today, the 4th century B.C. monument to the goddess Athena looks like a hardhat zone.
Scaffolding encases the Parthenon. To the southwest sits some kind of construction vehicle, maybe a forklift. It's bright orange. Next to the Parthenon's muted yellow columns, it looks like an accident.
The makeover is just one of many for a city preparing to be seen by the world in August. The restoration has not come without controversy, a trend that seems to follow anything that touches the 2004 Olympic Games.
Marble chunks the size of office desks are strewn around the grounds of the Acropolis, this hilltop site that contains the Parthenon and other remnants of the Golden Age of Greece.
This is a new age. Some of this marble is waiting for the hands of a sculptor to mold it into a column or frieze. White now, the marble will be painted to match the yellow of the Pentelic marble that built most of these monuments.
"Everything you see is being done for the Olympics," says guide Lydia Mahera. "This is the Acropolis. It has to be spruced up. It's the first thing anyone sees."
Mahera, a history teacher and archeologist, explains that her bretheren are divided on the wisdom of rebuilding parts of the Parthenon and other monuments.
"I find this brutal," she says. "I'm an archeologist. I don't believe this can happen. But the archeologists are split in two. Some say it's good to see it" as it was in antiquity.
"I'm in favor of those who say leave it the way it is, in ruins."
Rebuilding parts of the Parthenon and other monuments?