Most recent update:7/1/2004; 5:37:17 AM

 Friday, June 18, 2004

ante diem xiv kalendas quinctilias

... nothing ... not even a decent martyr

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ARTICLE: Jewish and Hellenistic Law

Saw this one mentioned at the Philo of Alexandria blog:

Joseph Modrzejewski, Jewish Law and Hellenistic Legal Practice in the Light of Greek Papyri from Egypt

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CHATTER: SuperPatres

In anticipation of the upcoming fatherfest, the Almeda Times-Star ponders history's superfathers, inter alia:

THEN THERE is Homer, characterized as the "Father of Epic Poetry." Homer doesn't appear to have had a last name, which probably made him hard to find in the Greater Sparta phone directory.

Hippocrates is called the "Father of Medicine" and spent years working on his handwriting until it became completely illegible.

Hippocrates, like Homer, was a Greek, and is generally considered to be the first real doctor in history.

The Greeks are champs at producing SuperFathers. The list includes Herodotus, the "Father of History," Aristophanes, the "Father of Comedy" and Oedipus, who came pretty close to being his own father.

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CHATTER: Now the U.S. is Troy

I'm sure we'll see a few more in this vein ... the U.S.-as-Rome thing gives way to the U.S.-as-Troy:

First, there are some technical problems with the movie: factual things like 10 years of war are collapsed into 12 days, and both Sparta and Mycenae, inland cities, are put on the coast. But these are not serious, and "Troy" is done rather well.

The essentials are right, and the lessons of "The Iliad" are still there. For this story is much more than the blood, guts, sex and violence that are bringing in those crowds. The story of the fall of Troy has lessons for our generation, lessons about the self-deceit of pride, the violence and uncertainty of war, and the arrogance of ambitious men.

In case you missed the movie or you never did get around to reading "The Iliad," the Greeks band together purportedly to get back Helen, the seduced queen of Sparta.

But in reality, Helen is cover; everyone has his own agenda. Achilles wants everlasting fame. Agamemnon wants power and wealth. Priam, king of Troy, played wonderfully by Peter O'Toole, is old, dependent on his advisors and too prone to indulge his immature son, Paris. Hector, the older brother, is the only good guy in this story, and he dies.

"The Iliad" is the story of all of them making human mistakes. Priam's mistakes are, however, the most costly, for he is the king and principal decision maker. Priam is careful. He always consults his military advisors and the priests of Apollo before he makes his mistakes. We, and Hector, his son, know that they are mistakes even as he makes them.

The point that I think is most important to us today is the place of Priam's military advisors and the soothsayers or priests of the god Apollo, the patron of Troy. Priam's military advisors assure Priam that their army can hold out against anything and that they can win the war. Those advisors are full of bluster and themselves and obviously wrong.

Similarly, Priam, a religious man, demands assurances from the priests, and they repeatedly tell him that the omens are right and predict victory under the protection of Apollo.

The applications to today are obvious. We were assured that our military could control the situation in Iraq, that the Iraqis would welcome us, that we needed only a few troops and that democracy in Iraq would spread to neighboring countries. In effect, they are evil, God is on our side, and good must prevail.

In fact, as in "The Iliad," everyone in this sorry mess of a war has his own agenda. The weapons of mass destruction and planting democracy are again thin cover for the real agenda. The goal of those waging the Iraq war is the oil income and profits based on the presence of American troops in this oil-rich region. As Agamemnon was seeking control of the Aegean Sea, so America is seeking to control the Persian Gulf.

George Bush is the well-intentioned but hapless Priam who is watching everything go wrong. He will very likely be lost in the flames of his own policy. Ahmad Chalabi is the chief priest making up the necessary omens to advance his agenda though some Christians also aspire to that role. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is the prideful military advisor guaranteeing victory without effort. In "The Iliad," such men at least died fighting for the mistakes they made. [more from the Lebanon Daily News]

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CHATTER: Classical Shorts

A performance at MSU looks interesting:

“Classics in Shorts,” featuring hilariously abbreviated versions of seven classic plays, opens tonight for a four-day run behind the MSU Auditorium, as the second of three shows of the MSU Summer Circle Theatre.

The shorts take on the feeling of Classic Greek theater wrung through the absurdities of sketch comedies like “Saturday Night Live.”

“I’ve taught these classics for many years,” says director and interim Theatre Department chairman Frank Rutledge, “and I thought it would be fun to look at them from a different perspective. Yet this is still very much in the Greco-Roman tradition of making mockery of the gods.”

The main part of the program features one-act versions of “Oedipus,” “Medea” and “Eurydice,” with shorter takes on Pyramus and Thisbe, Electra, the Trojan Women and a one-minute version of “Hamlet” by Tom Stoppard. The program runs 90 minutes without an intermission.

The one-acts, mostly written in the 1990s, update the ancient plots with contemporary aspects. “Oedipus” is a Bill Clinton satire, with Creon and Tiresias as spinmasters concerned with photo ops and cover-ups. The Wendy Wasserstein “Medea” provides a doo-wop chorus in Greek style, while “Eurydice” is a New Jersey bride who has died on her wedding day and is sought by Orpheus in the underworld, with Pluto not helping much.

All this is performed by six multi-talented actors who have been seen a lot in the past season: Jason Bever, Jessica Bradley, Patrick Hickey, Sarah Reule, Erin Roe and Robert White. “They’ll all be wearing shorts, like they’re camp counselors,” says Rutledge.[more]

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Gordon Campbell, Lucretius on Creation and Evolution: A Commentary on De Rerum Natura Book Five, Lines 772-1104.

Milena Minkova, Terence Tunberg, Readings and Exercises in Latin Prose Composition: From Antiquity to the Renaissance. With Answer Key.

Jan Stacker, Princeps und miles. Studien zum Bindungs- und Nahverha+ltnis von Kaiser und Soldat im 1. und 2. Jahrhundert n.Chr.

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AWOTV: On TV Today

3.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Hidden History of Rome with Terry Jones

7.00 p.m. |HISTU| Hadrian's Wall 
74-miles long and 2,000 years old, Hadrian's Wall winds over the
hills and valleys of Northern England, marking the northernmost
extent of a long-dead empire. Built of stone and mortar by Roman
soldiers, it is the most significant Roman ruin in England. Ordered
built by the Emperor Hadrian around the time of his visit in 122 AD,
it was more a permanent demarcation and less a defensive barrier.
We'll visit this archaeological treasure, which teaches us much of
what the Roman era was like for Britain. 
9.00 p.m. |DTC| Secrets of the Colosseum
Visit the ruins of this massive triumph of Roman building and
engineering for clues to its ingenious design. Built in a remarkably
short span of 10 years, the structure combined travertine stone,
iron, concrete, brick and lava rocks from nearby Vesuvius.

Channel Guide

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Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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