Most recent update:8/4/2004; 6:26:13 AM

 Saturday, July 10, 2004

Radio's being uppity again ... again

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LUDI: Rogueclassicism Cultural Compatibility Index

Okay ... here's the skinny. Terry Teachout has an arts blog called About Last Night in which he has come up with a sort of test/index which reveals whether your artistic tastes are the same as his. The idea is that you are presented with a list of "If you had to choose between ..." choices, make your choice, and compare them to his. This a.m., Michael Hendry came up with a similar test -- the Classical Culture Compatibility Index -- and inspired me to come up with a parallel Rogueclassicism Cultural Compatibility Index, which will  follow below.

I've tried to avoid duplication with Michael Hendry's list (I think there might be one or two similar items) and his is rather more literature-oriented than mine, so perhaps it would be interesting for folks to try his test first, then mine, and find out where on the Classicist - Rogueclassicist spectrum they fall (as if these were the two extremes ... they aren't, of course). In any event, here's my list; you should make your choices (either 'column a' or 'column b'); if you're not sure what the reference is, it's okay to leave it blank:

If you had to choose ...

    1. AC/DC or Metallica
    2. Agrippina or Messalina
    3. Agrippina the Elder or Agrippina the Younger
    4. AIA (and their journal) or APA (and their journal)
    5. Alcestis or Antigone
    6. Altar at Pergamum or Ara Pacis
    7. Amphitheatre or theatre
    8. Aristophanes or Menander
    9. Aspasia or Phryne
    10. Atlantis Myth or Atlantis Mystery
    11. Augury or Hepatoscopy
    12. Black Figure or Red Figure
    13. Burrito or Taco
    14. C/conservative or L/liberal
    15. Caligula or Heliogabalus
    16. Cato the Elder or Cato the Younger
    17. Centaurs or Lapiths
    18. Cicero's Philippics or Demosthenes' Philippics
    19. Clash of the Titans or Jason and the Argonauts
    20. Clodius or Clodia
    21. Codex Justinianus or Codex Theodosianus
    22. Coke or Pepsi
    23. Colosseum or Circus Maximus
    24. Column of Trajan or Column of Marcus Aurelius
    25. Dick Dale or the Ventures
    26. Drip or Perk
    27. Echoes du Monde Classique or Mouseion
    28. Encolpius or Odysseus
    29. Exekias or Amasis Painter
    30. Fagles or Lombardo
    31. Firefox or IE
    32. First Triumvirate or Second Triumvirate
    33. Forum or Agora
    34. Frank Zappa or Frank Sinatra
    35. Garzetti or Scullard
    36. Gladiator or Spartacus
    37. Gods of Olympus or Mythic Warriors
    38. Groucho Marx or Karl Marx
    39. Hannibal or Pyrrhus
    40. Hellenistic or Classical
    41. Herodotus or Thucydides
    42. Historia Augusta or Diogenes Laertius
    43. Hockey or Football (American, Canadian, or European)
    44. Html Tables or CSS Tables
    45. Inscriptions or Papyri
    46. James Frazer or Joseph Campbell
    47. Jesus of Nazareth or The Passion of the Christ
    48. Junius Brutus or Marcus Junius Brutus
    49. Laptop or Desktop
    50. Lefkowicz or Bernal
    51. Lindsay Davis or Steven Saylor
    52. Livy or Tacitus
    53. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla) or Marcus Aurelius
    54. Martha and the Vandellas or The Supremes
    55. Martial or Catullus
    56. Mary Anne or Ginger
    57. Metamorphoses or Amores
    58. Monica Belucci or Elizabeth Taylor
    59. Mosaic or 'Fresco'
    60. Much Music or MTV
    61. Opera (browser) or Opera (music)
    62. Pausanias or Strabo
    63. PC or Mac
    64. Philip of Macedon or Alexander of Macedon
    65. Piercing or Tattoo
    66. Plato or Aristotle
    67. Play Station or Nintendo
    68. Pompeii or Ephesus
    69. Pompeius Magnus or Alexander Magnus
    70. Porphyry or Pentelic Marble
    71. Rape of Lucretia or Rape of the Sabine Women
    72. Rolling Stones or Beatles
    73. Sappho or Sulpicia
    74. Schliemann or Evans
    75. Second Cup or Tim Horton's
    76. Second Style or Third Style
    77. Simpsons or Family Guy
    78. Sirens or Circe
    79. Spartan or Athenian
    80. Steak or Chicken
    81. Suetonius or Plutarch
    82. Sulla or Marius
    83. Sybilline Oracles or Oracle at Delphi
    84. Tacitus or Dio
    85. Teubner or Oxford
    86. The Browning Version or The Emperor's Club
    87. The Warriors or O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    88. Tiberius Gracchus or Gaius Gracchus
    89. Tiberius or Claudius
    90. Trajan's Letters to Pliny or Pliny's Letters to Trajan
    91. Troy (the movie) or The Odyssey (the movie)
    92. Valerius Maximus or Aulus Gellius
    93. Van Halen or 'Van Haggar'
    94. Vespasian or Severus
    95. Virgil or Homer
    96. Wheelock or Ecce
    97. Xena or Wonder Woman
    98. Yugioh or Magic
    99. Yura of the Demon Hair or Naraku
    100. Zenobia or Boudicca

If you didn't figure it out, all the first choices are the rogueclassicist's. So if you add up the number of items from column 'a', you get where you are on the RCCI. Have fun ... comments (via email) welcome, of course.

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NOVEL: Steven Saylor's latest

The Globe and Mail has a brief review of Steven Saylor's latest installment in the Gordianus series:

I adore the Lindsay Davis series of comic mysteries set in ancient Rome, but I'm also a big fan of this more serious series. This is the 10th book featuring Gordianus the Finder, and it's superb. From the exceptional attention to historical detail to the development of character and plot, which is based on real history, it's a treat to read.

The year is 48 BC. Caesar and Pompey are at war, and both think that the key to success -- and world domination -- is Egypt. Pompey plans a last stand on the banks of the Nile. Caesar goes to meet him and is bewitched by a queen named Cleopatra, and we all think we know what happened after that.

But Saylor isn't about to sit on his historical laurels. Gordianus is in Egypt in search of a cure for his seriously ill wife. Then his long-lost son is accused of murder, and Gordianus must seek the truth and present it for the judgment of Caesar. Just as Caesar must decide who is the rightful ruler of Egypt, his adored Cleopatra or her brother, the "living God," Ptolemy.

All the action takes place in a time of great upheaval both in Rome and Egypt, and Saylor, an excellent scholar, makes the most of it. This is a great getaway novel.

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CHATTER: Bush and Aeneas

Peter Jones latest column in The Spectator begins thusly:

As George Bush continues to battle with the problems of Iraq, he could do worse than read Virgilís Aeneid (19 bc), in which Virgil applauds Romeís world-wide dominion, but does not discount its human cost. Defeated by the Greeks, a band of now homeless Trojans under Aeneas flees the burning city and, assured by the gods that a new land awaits in the West, sets out on the high seas to find it. False leads take them to Crete and Sicily, and then a storm drives them to Carthage, where the queen Dido seems likely to persuade them to settle, till the gods warn Aeneas off and Dido commits suicide. After a visit to the underworld to visit his father Anchises, who reveals to him the whole future of Rome, Aeneas and his men arrive in Italy. The local king Latinus, aware from prophecies that Aeneasí arrival means great things for him and his people, offers Aeneas the hand of his daughter Lavinia, but the local suitor Turnus raises an army against the Trojan newcomers. After much bloodshed, Aeneas kills Turnus in single combat and the Aeneid ends. [more]

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NUNTII: More on that Roman Road

Yesterday we had a brief item on the discovery of a section of Roman road in/near London ... the Independent gives us a few more details:

An undiscovered Roman town may exist in south-west Essex, according to archaeological evidence being uncovered in London.

A large Roman road has been found heading out of London towards what is now the village of Chipping Ongar, 11 miles west of Chelmsford.

Archaeological evidence suggests Chipping Ongar was an important communications hub in Roman times and probably the site of a small town.

Excavations in Leyton in the London Borough of Waltham Forest have unearthed a Roman highway with a gravel surface about six metres wide. Roman wheel ruts have been found in the road surface. Two metre-wide drainage ditches run either side of the road.

The highway was probably built for military purposes, but would have also served small towns and large country estates.

At Chipping Ongar, the road appears tochange direction towards the small Roman town located at what is now Great Dunmow, 22 miles west of the important Roman city of Camulodunum (Colchester).

The road was discovered by developers building and refurbishing houses and flats as part of a seven-year, £15.2m housing programme.

It is likely this road was built soon after the Romans conquered south-east Britain AD43 and was in use for several hundred years. The Romans constructed a network of roads andtowns and,although most have been located, a number of towns known from ancient literary sources have never been found. [more]

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CHATTER: Finds in Athens

One of my frustrations over the past few years while Athens has been doing Olympic construction is the relatively few numbers of news articles relating what archaeologists are finding. We're still not getting a lot of details in the popular press, but an AP Wire report in the Miami Herald suggests that many of the finds are suddenly on display:

Archaeologists have now come up with a new way to deal with the massively expanding inventory of ancient Greek and Roman remains - outdoor museums.

Museums displaying antiquities exactly in the position they were discovered are springing up around the city center, offering passers-by a novel, and free, window into more than 25 centuries of the city's buried past.

"We've created small, new archaeological sites in the city ... the public has reacted positively," state archaeologist Olga Zachariadou, who heads many of the roadside projects, told The Associated Press.

The latest additions include 1,800-year-old Roman baths uncovered near Greece's parliament, now protected by a glass roof. Nearby remains of an ancient route that passes a graveyard and was used for more than 1,000 years can be viewed through pyramids of non-glare glass.

"These small Roman baths, which were used by the public, were in very good condition so we decided to restore them," Zachariadou said. "You can see the chambers were cold, warm and hot water were used."

She added: "Moveable objects are taken to museums but if you discover something like a section of a wall it is better to display it where it's found."

On-site displays became popular when Athens opened a new subway system in 2000, with layers of the ancient city featured at central stations. An extension to a station near the ancient Acropolis Hill was delayed for two years by excavation work.

Antiquities have turned up everywhere. While building the city's new airport, new roads, and even at Athens' main Olympic complex - creating more mini-museums and displays from perhaps the largest excavation in modern history.

The outdoor exhibitions have won supporters overseas who say that history is being made more accessible.

"Displaying (antiquities) near the place of their discovery does make a lot of sense," said Michael B. Cosmopoulos, professor of archaeology at the University of Missouri in St. Louis.

"I would like to believe that this trend is not (temporary), but it reflects a change of attitude in presenting archaeological work, in that it preserves the close association between the find and its context."

Zachariadou said additional money given to archaeological services before the Aug. 13-29 Olympics had helped fund the projects, but said it was difficult to calculate the overall cost because of the number of agencies and construction companies involved.

Keeping antiquities outdoors, she added, also requires public support.

"Unfortunately some people throw garbage at the sites and this upsets us quite a lot," Zachariadou said. "If things are not in a museum they require much more maintenance ... and we don't have the resources to send people to keep up these areas every day."[more]

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CHATTER: Origins of the Modern Olympics

Since we're talking about the Olympics (see below) folks might be interested in this press release on a book by Classicist David Young on de Coubertin and all that:

 When the summer Olympic Games begin in Athens next month, the event will mark a return not only to the games' ancient roots but also to its modern ones.

So says a University of Florida classics professor who argues in a just-published book that the Frenchman long credited with originating the modern Olympics actually got the idea from, among others, a Greek philanthropist. Normandy native Baron Pierre de Coubertin assiduously promoted himself as the lone force behind the Olympics - and deliberately obscured the contributions of Evangelis Zappas and a handful of other, now mostly forgotten Greek and British advocates for the games, says David Young.

"He took an idea that others had been failing at, but working at for decades - he took that idea and claimed it as his own and made it work," Young said. "The credit for the Olympics really goes to the good luck and hard work of several people."

Young's book, "A Brief History of the Olympics" was just published by Blackwell Publishing. It contains a history of the ancient Olympics as well as Young's revisionist history of how the modern ones began. Young first presented his arguments about the origins of the Olympics in his 1996 book, "The Modern Olympics: A Struggle for Revival."

The first modern international Olympic games were held in Athens in 1896. Coubertin, a French aristocrat and physical education advocate who founded the International Olympic Committee, remains officially enshrined as the games' sole founder.

"Coubertin was a very active sportsman and practiced the sports of boxing, fencing, horse-riding and rowing," according to the committee's Web site. "He was convinced that sport was the springboard for moral energy and he defended his idea with rare tenacity. It was this conviction that led him to announce at the age of 31 that he wanted to revive the Olympic Games."

Left unsaid in this and other traditionalist histories, according to Young, is that Coubertin got his idea from several earlier proponents of an Olympic revival. Prominent among these were Zappas and British physician William Penny Brookes, both of whom organized national game festivals modeled on the ancient Olympics, Young said.

The Zappas Games of Athens began in 1859, four years before Coubertin was born. They were inspired by the writings of Panagiotis Soutsos, a Greek poet who saw the Olympics as a way of helping Greece return to its pre-eminence in Europe, Young said. A British version of the national Olympic games were first held in London in 1866, he said.

Both featured ceremonies, rituals and competitions, such as foot races, wrestling, jumping and javelin throwing. Neither drew competitors from outside their native countries, but that hardly disqualifies them from Olympic status, Young said. "People will say, 'Well if all the athletes in the Zappas games were Greeks then they weren't international, and so they weren't really Olympics,' but then I'll then I'll ask, 'Do you say the original ancient Olympics weren't really Olympics either, because all of the participants were Greeks?'"

Although the games were held periodically, neither series persisted into the 1900s, Young said. That said, Brookes proposed holding International Olympic Games as early as 1881 and worked diligently to persuade Greek authorities to hold it in Athens through the early 1890s, Young said.

Young based his conclusions on exhaustive research of newspaper articles dating back over a century, correspondence, minutes of organizational meetings for early Olympic events and other primary sources in England, Switzerland and Greece. He said his research - which he launched after learning of the Zappas games while researching a book on the origins of amateur sports - shows that Coubertin not only knew about the British and Greek games but also maintained a long friendship with Brookes, whom he visited in England in 1890 and saw the "Much Wenlock" Olympics that Brookes developed.

Despite that, Coubertin's "Olympic Memoirs," never mentions a word about Brookes, Zappas, or either of the earlier British or Greek games.

"Coubertin never said anything bad about Brookes, but he wouldn't admit what Brookes had done," Young said. "Brookes died three months before the 1896 games, and by then Coubertin wasn't even answering his (Brookes') letters. And he denied in print that there had ever been any Zappas games."

Alexander Kitroeff, an associate professor of history at Haverford College in Haverford, Penn., and the author of the just-published book, "Wrestling with the Ancients: Modern Greek Identity and the Olympics," credits Young with being the first scholar to cement the important role of the pre-Coubertin Olympics.

"He's the one that really documented these claims that the Zappas Olympics were an inspiration to Coubertin, and he was able to expose the fact that Coubertin was unwilling to acknowledge his antecedents, including both Zappas and Brookes," Kitroeff said. [AScribe]

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CHATTER: Naked Olympics

To the uninitiated, it might sound like something Howard Stern would come up with, but, of course, the ancient Olympics was pretty much made up of nude events. According to the BBC, a Classics prof has attempted to revive the practice to a certain extent:

You wouldn't fancy trying it at Gateshead.

But the elite athletes of the ancient world, it seems, were made of sterner stuff.

Olympic runners took to the track without so much as a loincloth to protect their modesty.

Instead of "faster, higher, stronger", perhaps the motto should be "impractical, uncomfortable, unmentionable".

Not according to classicist Stephen Instone. The game-for-a-laugh academic forewent the benefits of clothing as he competed in a race against a group of professionals - all in the name of research.

His 100-metre sprint was done during the preparation of the BBC Two programme First Olympian, to be shown later this month.

Dr Instone, who bared all on Loughborough University campus despite the fact that it was winter, told BBC News Online: "If you are trying to recreate aspects of the ancient Olympics, when it comes to running you have got to run naked.

"I lined up with quite a few semi-international sprinters. I'm 49 and they were about half my age. They all had lycra on, while I had to run unencumbered.

"I just tried it to show you can run perfectly well naked. People these days say it's difficult from a practical point of view.

"At least I proved it could be done."

Dr Instone, a club runner himself, came last.

He did not record his time - as the ancient Greeks were also unable to do so - but finished without any side effects.

He added: "Some academics think the Greeks did it to avoid getting too hot and, as they were notoriously unashamed of nudity, they felt they had nothing to hide.

"On the other hand, the Olympics were a religious occasion, dedicated to Zeus, king of the gods. Perhaps it was seen as purer to run naked."

Of his own run, Dr Instone said: "It was very cold. In some conditions, like a warm summer's day, it would be very pleasurable.

"I normally go running in Richmond Park. If I tried it there, I might get thrown out."

It was not the first time Dr Instone, an honorary research fellow at University College London, had confronted the slings and arrows of public disapproval in his quest for the truth.

Another part of the ancient games involved men in full armour running 350 metres as quickly as possible.

Dr Instone said: "I tried it once about 10 years ago in Regents Park, with a saucepan for a helmet and a dustbin lid for a shield. It was quite arduous doing that and gave me a headache.

"It brought out how a lot of the ancient Greek events were of military origin. A lot of it was associated with pain and endurance. The Greeks believed in 'no pain, no gain'."

Although the modern Olympics - at least in theory - are supposed to be more about the taking part than the winning, the opposite was true of the original games, which started in 776BC.

In fact, their ambition was as naked as their bodies.

Dr Instone said: "It wasn't like being British now, where coming second is considered quite good. Back then, it was considered a total disgrace.

"Some writings describe the loser having to go home by back alley ways to avoid other people. It was part of the Greek shame of defeat.

"Winners would bring back a great deal of reflected glory."

He added: "In many ways the ancient Greeks were very effective. They might not have been as good as today, but there's no doubt they were clever."

The thing I've always wondered about is wrestling ... one of the 'side effects' of real wrestling without a helmet appears to be significant cauliflowering of the ears. I wonder if the ancient Greeks suffered from cauliflowering of other, er, protruberances ...

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CHATTER: Greek Feasts

A piece in the Financial Times bewails the apparent inability of the West to enjoy feasting and has an incipit about the Greek practice:

At times I fear that we in the West are in danger of becoming a society of dullards, too preoccupied with the anxieties of food production to enjoy an all-out ebullient feast.
For in order to deserve the name, a feast must include something over and above copious food. There must also be exuberance in colour or perfume, entertainment or generosity, music or extraordinary circumstances. And there should always be the possibility of the event taking over, with the guests allowing themselves to be swept into the proceedings.

Now, however, we have a prime opportunity for feasting on a grand scale, led by a nation that has an ancient pedigree in the art.

From the footballing triumph at Lisbon last week to the Olympic Games next month, there will undoubtedly be displays of exuberant Greek behaviour, and lots of people means lots of food. So will there be re-enactments of ancient Greek feasts? Perhaps, but what were they?

Two contrasting images of ancient Greek feasting exist. One encapsulates the golden age when Homer's heroes feasted on vast quantities of sacrificial meat divided with scrupulous impartiality; the Spartan ascetic, the restrained and cultured symposium with its watered- down wine and philosophical discourse, as in Athenaeus' Dinner of the Sophists.

Actually, the ancient Greeks were not really renowned for lavish feasts in the same way as many other cultures: indeed, in the 5th century BC the traveller Herodotus was deeply impressed by the sumptuous feasts of the Persians, who dismissed Greek efforts: "The Greeks when they eat, leave off hungry, having nothing worth mention served up to them after the meats."

A more hedonistic image of ancient Greece can be seen on Attic pottery, where the later Athenians' lascivious, all-consuming passion for fish is lampooned. It impresses on us the rollicking spirit of Dionysus, where lewd satyrs with enormous penises caper about bouncing on goatskins full of wine; where hetaerae play seductively on their pipes and encourage deep drinking of dangerously strong wine from the kothos; where the Greek table had been improved by lemons, pomegranates, yoghurt and saffron brought back by Alexander the Great from his conquest of Persia. [more]

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AWOTV: On TV Today

3.00 p.m. |DTC|Rome: Power & Glory: The Rise
The beginnings of the Roman Empire are shrouded in mystery. Without
armies, palaces, or priests, the Romans conquered and ravaged the
best of other civilizations.

4.00 p.m. |DTC|Rome: Power & Glory: Legions of Conquest
At the height of military power, the Roman Empire stretched from
Scotland to the Sahara. Yet the same traits that created this vast
expansion eventually turned the Roman military into an unwieldy and
self-serving force of destabilization.

4.00 p.m. |DCIVC| The Greatest Journeys: Greece: Journeys to the Gods

5.00 p.m. |DTC|Rome: Power & Glory: Seduction of Power
Trace the evolution of Roman politics from the world's first
representative government through the lives of Gracchi, Julius
Caesar, Nero, and Septimius Severus and into a tumultuous and
theatrical display of power over substance.

6.00 p.m. |DTC|Vesuvius: Deadly Fury
In 79 AD, eruptions from Mount Vesuvius buried the city of Pompeii.
A burning wave of gas shot out from the side of Vesuvius killing the
inhabitants of neighboring Herculaneum in just four minutes.
Archaeologists look to these bodies for historical clues.

7.00 p.m. |HISTU|History vs. Hollywood: King Arthur
How true is Hollywood to history? Through interviews with
historians, cast, and production team, and extensive film clips, we
compare history to "King Arthur", Jerry Bruckheimer Films' and
Touchstone Pictures' spectacular epic tale of one man's destiny to
become king. Antoine Fuqua directs the "untold story that inspired
the legend" with Clive Owen as the reluctant leader, Keira Knightley
as the beautiful Guinevere, Stephen Dillane (Merlin), Ioan Gruffudd
(Lancelot), and Hugh Dancy (Galahad).

8.00 p.m. |HISTU|The Quest for King Arthur
For centuries, the adventures of King Arthur and his fabled court
have dominated the imagination of the western world. But how did this
overpowering legend begin and what truth lies behind the enduring
story of Arthur, King of Britons? In this 2-hour exploration of the
Arthurian medieval myths, we examine the tantalizing historical facts
behind the story of this band of deathless heroes and illuminate the
contemporary quest by researchers to establish if the 6th-century
warlord truly existed. 
10.00 p.m. |HISTU| Banned from the Bible 
In a 2-hour special, we scrutinize ancient writings that didn't
"make the cut" in the battle to create a Christian Bible in the new
religion's first few centuries. Biblical archaeologists and scholars
examine why they were left out and if others might yet be found.
Beginning with the little-known Life of Adam and Eve, we also peruse
the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Enoch, the Gospel of Thomas, the
Protevangelium of James, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Nicodemus,
and the Apocalypse of Peter. 

Channel Guide

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Testing ... 1,2,3

Radio is acting strangely this a.m. ... we might have to rethink stuff today

5:48:12 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

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