Most recent update:7/1/2004; 5:37:00 AM

 Thursday, June 10, 2004

wow ... 14 items before I even finished my first cup of coffee ... now that's blogging ...
6:01:51 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

TTT: Vicipaedia

Most internet-savvy folks are probably aware of the existence of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia (often of dubious merit and/or accuracy). Today, Language Hat alerts us to the existence of a Latin language Vicipaedia, apparently put out under the same auspices (there are a pile of different language versions). The articles tend to be rather simply written, and might be usable in a class situation. On the other hand, wouldn't 'vicipaedia' be translated as something like "I have conquered nasty stuff"? (cognate with paedor?).
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ante diem iv idus junias

  • 17 B.C. -- ludi Latini et Graeci honorarii (day 6)
  • 38 A.D. -- death of Drusilla, the much-beloved sister of the emperor Gaius (Caligula)
  • 86 A.D.. -- ludi Capitolini (day 5)
  • 120 A.D. -- martyrdom of Gaetulius and companions at Tivoli
  • 204 A.D. -- ludi Latini et Graeci honorarii (day 7)

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LUDI: de brevitate

From the Seattle Times comes this anecdotish thing:

A teacher felt brevity was an important trait. She asked her fourth-grade students if they could tell something about Socrates. A little boy raised his hand and said: "He lived a long time ago. He was very bright and insightful. He gave long speeches. His friends poisoned him."

I'm sure most people know someone who might benefit from the hint contained therein ...

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NUNTII: Free Iliad

An interesting sponsorship deal involves Peter Jones:

The true story of Troy is being made available to schools, thanks to the work of a North-East scholar.

A translation of Homer's The Iliad by former Newcastle University classics lecturer Dr Peter Jones is being offered free of charge to schools under a sponsorship deal with oil company Kerr McGee.

The story of the Iliad is the basis for the current film blockbuster Troy, though the movie has made some adjustments with the original story.

But Dr Jones is hoping the film - and interest in Greek civilisation spurred by this summer's Olympics in Athens - will encourage children to re-discover the original.

"There should be an immediate interest in The Iliad because of the film Troy. The film misrepresents parts of the story and it is interesting to compare them.

"But it's also the first work of Western literature and that's a great reason for children to read it.

"It's a cracking story for one thing, and it also speaks to us about a whole range of issues: anger and pride, war and peace, pity.

"They're all very relevant today and they're what Homer's The Iliad is all about. It's an instantly accessible story as well."

Dr Jones was a senior lecturer in Greek and classics at Newcastle University and is the founder of the Friends of Classics charity. [more from IC Newcastle]

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CHATTER: Latin Oration At Harvard

Nice piece in the Crimson about Pankaj Agarwalla, a Classics grad at Harvard who has been chosen to deliver the school's Latin oration:

Pankaj K. Agarwalla ’04 knows what the Roman poet Catullus meant when he wrote, “Amat victoria curam,” or “Victory loves diligence.”
Agarwalla, known on campus as “PK,” earned highest honors from the Classics department and was selected from among ten candidates to deliver the Latin oration today at Harvard’s 353rd Commencement—a testament to his hard work and love of Classical antiquity, according to teachers and friends.

A self-proclaimed Hellenist who studied both ancient Greek and Latin in college, Agarwalla will wax poetic about the social and intellectual development of the average Harvard student in a speech titled “De Hominis Harvardiensis Decursu,” which means “On the Evolution of the Harvard Student.”

Unlike the somber stuff of Cicero, ancient Rome’s most famous orator, Agarwalla says his speech is lighthearted.

“It’s a mockery of hominid evolution,” he says. “I go through each year and make jokes about each type of student.”

Michael B. Sullivan, a resident tutor in the Classics at Dunster House who advised Agarwalla on his grammar and syntax, says the speech is unique because it combines “scientific and humanistic points of view.”

“This is an oration that should appeal to chemists and classicists alike—provided the chemists have a translation, of course,” Sullivan says.

The Latin oration is a hallowed tradition that dates back to the first Commencement ceremony at Harvard in 1642.

In preparation for the 5-minute oration, which will be delivered from memory, Agarwalla has had speech lessons at the American Repertory Theater and can be found on certain afternoons rehearsing at Memorial Church.

“I’m really working on the gestures,” he says. “It’s pretty cool. I feel almost like Cicero. I have a cap. I have a gown. It’s kind of like a toga.” [more]


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CHATTER: Naming Stadia

From the sports pages ... slightly ill-informed, as often:

In the oldendays, stadiums were named after either the locale or the team that played there. Even the ancient Romans knew the wisdom in this, perhaps refusing to sell the Colosseum naming rights to Togasoft Inc. for the latest in outerware.

Today, the naming rights go to the highest bidder, or at least to the highest-bidding company not under federal indictment. [more from the Arizona Republic]

Of course, its real name was the Flavian Amphitheatre ... the naming rights of all Roman public buildings seem to have gone to the builders/financiers, as is often the case today.

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REVIEW: A Melian Dialoguish Thing

Not sure if it was the Melian dialogue, since it wasn't mentioned specifically, but it probably was in there somewhere:

The lower level lecture/exhibit hall at the Onassis Cultural Center in the Olympic Towers in mid-town Manhattan was filled to capacity on Thursday, June 3rd, with a crowd of erudite history buffs who came to witness an unprecedented event. An event, right out of the pages of ancient History, to be exact, Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, which came alive via a masterful narration and the powerful readings of four actors, each one of whom acted out their roles as representatives of various city-states. The city-states they represented were involved in the debate that was to determine whether there was a way to avoid the conflict which ultimately proved unavoidable between the two mightiest states in Greece.

It’s a matter to ponder as Spartans debate whether they should go to war and Pericles advising Athenians not to yield to Spartan threats. The two sides expose the issues and considerations which often in history have led competing states to battle. Perciles delivers his famous funeral oration, setting forth the highest ideals of the civilization of classical Athens. Sterling professor of Classics and History at Yale, Donald Kagan did the introduction and the analysis, with dramatic readings executed by actors from the Yale School of Drama, directed by David Muse. Brad Heberlee portrayed the Corinhian representative, apparently the most corrupt of the antagonist state-allies and that which greatly contributed in sparking the war. Next came Remy Auberjonois with his impresonation of Sthenelaidas, an Ephor of Sparta who countered the charges of the Corinthians by offering his views of the argument in terms that could have very well been used in today's society. Paul Niebanck was the Athenian envoy and Remy Auberjonois reappeared as Pericles in his Funeral Oration.
[Hellenic News]

Remember Auberjonois on Benson?

UPDATE: Several readers (thanks!) have written in to point out that Remy is not the guy who was in Benson; that was his father, Rene. Apologies for adding to the confusion which probably exists elsewhere on the net as well.

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CHATTER: Free Will ClassCon Astrology

The Village Voice has a feature -- not sure whether it's regular or not -- called Free Will Astrology. Here's yesterday's advice for Scorpio:

Aeschylus, the seminal playwright of ancient Greece, wrote over 90 plays, but most did not survive the ravages of time. The evidence for his renown has consisted of just seven works. Recently, however, archaeologists have discovered an eighth, Achilles. It was on a papyrus scroll stuffed inside an Egyptian mummy. This summer, a theater company in Cyprus will stage the play for the first time in over 2,000 years. I urge you Scorpios to be alert for ways this story can serve as a metaphor for your personal quest in the near future. What old but dynamic parts of your life have been all but lost? How can you regain access to them and make them work for you now?

I foresee an incipient new ClassCon 'therapy' emerging from this ... (can you foresee something that is incipient?).

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CHATTER: On the Origin of Novenas

An interesting piece searching for the ancient origin of the novena mentions, inter alia:

The origin of the novena in our Church's spiritual treasury is hard to pinpoint. The Old Testament does not indicate any nine-day celebration among the Jewish people. On the other hand, in the New Testament at the Ascension scene, our Lord gives the apostles the Great Commission and then tells them to return to Jerusalem and to await the coming of the Holy Spirit. Act of the Apostles recounts, "After that they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet near Jerusalem — a mere Sabbath's journey away. Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer" (Acts 1:12, 14). Nine days later, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost. Perhaps, this "nine-day period of prayer" of the apostles is the basis for the novena.

Long before Christianity, the ancient Romans also celebrated nine days of prayers for various reasons. The author Livy recorded how nine days of prayers were celebrated at Mount Alban to avert some evil or wrath of the gods as predicted by the soothsayers. Similarly, nine days of prayers were offered when some "wonder" had been predicted. Families also held a nine-day mourning period upon the death of a loved one with a special feast after the burial on the ninth day. The Romans also celebrated the parentalia novendialia, a yearly novena (February 13-22) remembering all departed family members. Since novenas were already part of Roman culture, it is possible that Christianity "baptized" this pagan practice. [more from the Catholic Herald]

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NUNTII: Greek Inscription from Sicily

A brief item (in Italian) from some Italian cultural site (which doesn't seem to have its name anywhere obvious) mentions the discovery of a Greek inscription at Segesta which is helping to identify one corner of that ancient city's agora ...
4:58:22 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: All that 'Golden Ratio' Stuff

While I don't know of any professional Classicist who has 'bought into' that whole 'golden ratio' thing supposedly figured out by Euclid, I have seen it mentioned in plenty of popularizing books and/or documentaries (especially those gushing over the Parthenon). Even so, this 'debunking' piece from the Mathematical Association of America is a good read:

The enormous success of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code has introduced the famous Golden Ratio (henceforth GR) to a whole new audience. Regular readers of this column will surely be familiar with the story. The ancient Greeks believed that there is a rectangle that the human eye finds the most pleasing, and that its aspect ratio is the positive root of the quadratic equation

x2 - x - 1 = 0

You are faced with this equation when you try to determine how to divide a line segment into two pieces such that the ratio of the whole line to the longer part is equal to the ratio of the longer part to the shorter. The answer is an irrational number whose decimal expansion begins 1.618.

Having found this number, the story continues, the Greeks then made extensive use of the magic number in their architecture, including the famous Parthenon building in Athens. Inspired by the Greeks, future generations of architects likewise based their designs of buildings on this wonderful ratio. Painters did not lag far behind. The great Leonardo Da Vinci is said to have used the Golden Ratio to proportion the human figures in his paintings - which is how the Golden Ratio finds its way into Dan Brown's potboiler.

It's a great story that tends to get better every time it's told. Unfortunately, apart from the fact that Euclid did solve the line division problem in his book Elements, there's not a shred of evidence to support any of these claims, and good reason to believe they are completely false, as University of Maine mathematician George Markowsky pointed out in his article "Misconceptions About the Golden Ratio", published in the College Mathematics Journal in January 1992. But with such a wonderful story, which marries some decidedly accessible pure mathematics with aethestics, architecture, and painting - a high school math teacher's dream if ever there were one - the facts have had little impact.

But being aware that few people will take note of what I say has never stopped me before. (I was, after all, a department chair in a college mathematics department for four years and a college dean for another eight.) So let's try to separate the fact from the fiction.

First, what do we know for sure about the Golden Ratio? As mentioned above, Euclid showed how to calculate it, but his interest seemed more that of mathematics than visual aesthestics or architecture, for he gave it the decidedly unromantic name "extreme and mean ratio".  [more]

By the way, that's 'x squared' in the formula ... I can't seem to superscript this a.m.

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(P)Review: Childhood in Ancient Greece

This looks potentially interesting:

The Getty has commissioned an original play in partnership with the renowned National Theater of Greece. “The Swallow Song” will debut with four performances at the Getty Center from October 21–24, 2004. Adapted, directed by, and starring Lydia Koniordou, one of the world’s finest classical Greek actresses, the play will combine texts by Homer, Euripides, and other playwrights with music and dance to bring to life scenes of childhood from ancient Greece.

The Swallow Song will coincide with and complement the Getty’s Premiere Presentation exhibition “Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past,” on view at the Getty Center from September 14–December 5, 2004. “Coming of Age” is the first major show to explore the lives of children in ancient Greece, from their roles in the family to their pets, toys, religious rituals, and education. The play is among a series of related events planned to enrich the exhibition.

The production, composed of scenes enacting some of the most important and painful dilemmas faced during childhood, will evoke the theatrical performances of ancient Greece. Spoken sequences of ancient text will be woven together by songs and dances, which draw on the music of youth and growing up. Included are lullabies, laments, and children’s and marriage songs. “The Shield of Achilles” from Homer’s “Iliad” serves as a linking device. Other highlights include verses from “Ion," "Trojan Women,” and “Iphigenia in Aulis,” all by Euripides. [more from AMN]

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NUNTII: Roman Industrial Site in Wales?

The BBC reports:

Experts who unearthed the best preserved example in Wales of a medieval track, have now found what they believe is the equivalent of a Roman 'industrial estate.'

Amazingly they found the Roman relics underneath the same excavation site near Borth, where they made their original discovery of a 1,000 year old track.

The small team of archaeologists claim the discovery could date back to the second or third century AD.

This would make it at least 600 years older than the track which is thought to date back to 900 or 1020AD.

Project manager Nigel Page, of Cambria Archaeology, said the Roman sites were rare because archaeologists had no way of prospecting for them.

"We've discovered what we think is a Roman kiln under the medieval track so we know that pre-dates it," he added.

The track is thought to be about 1,000-years-old

"We think we're starting to uncover an example of a Roman industrial site that probably did some sort of smelting because there are examples of charcoals and other heavily burnt items. [more]

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U. Heidmann (ed.), Poetiques comparees des mythes. De l'Antiquite a la Modernite, En hommage a Claude Calame.

Joseph L. Baird, Radd K. Ehrman (trans.), The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen. Vol. III.

Franziska Egli, Euripides im Kontext zeitgenossischer intellektueller Stromungen: Analyse der Funktion philosophischer Themen in den Tragodien und Fragmenten.

Andreas Willi, The Languages of Aristophanes. Aspects of Linguistic Variation in Classical Attic Greek.

4:44:38 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest
4:28:02 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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