Latest update: 9/1/2004; 6:23:21 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
NUNTII: Punic Ships Near Sicily

We hoped there would be more in English on this one ... the Times updates us on remains of Punic ships found off the coast of Sicily:

AT LEAST 25 warships that were destroyed in one of the ancient world’s greatest sea battles have been discovered in shallow waters just off the coast of Sicily.

Sebastiano Tusa, superintendent of archaeology at Trapani in western Sicily, said that the wrecks, which weremostly hidden by fine sand in the Stagnone lagoon on the coast at Marsala, dated from the battle of the Egadi islands in 241BC, when the Roman fleet defeated the Carthaginian fleet at the end of the First Punic War.

One of the sunken Carthaginian ships was found 35 years ago and restored by Honor Frost, a pioneering British underwater archaeologist.

But Professor Tusa, an expert in underwater archaeology, said that as many as 50 ships, most of them Carthaginian, had gone down on “that fateful day in March 241BC”.

Leonardo Nocitra, a geologist involved in the team monitoring the site, said that the outline of a second ship had been spotted by his nephew, then a student, while swimming near Marsala.

“It was an electrifying moment,” Professor Nocitra recalled. “We organised an expedition and sure enough there was the ship, lying beneath the sand at a depth of only 2m, about 40m offshore.”

He said that 24 more hidden vessels had been detected, but their existence was known only to “a handful of experts” because of the danger of unauthorised treasure hunters. Fabio Granata, head of culture for the local council, said that instead of excavating the ships, which would expose them to damage from contact with the air, the authorities proposed to build a “state of the art museum” in which visitors would be able to use underwater cameras to “explore” the ships by remote control.

Elizabeth Fentress, an archaeologist and research fellow at the British School at Rome, said that the sunken fleet must be mapped, and the idea of showing it to visitors without exposing the ships to the air was “brilliant”.

The only risk of an underwater archeology museum, she said, was that “the publicity will attract unscrupulous divers and treasure hunters”.

However, Honor Frost, who last year visited the Marsala museum where the Punic warship is displayed, said that she had been shocked to find it was in “a terrible state of decay” and had not been properly conserved.

The timbers and the “extremely rare” inscriptions and markings found on the structure risked being lost altogether, she said. [more]

Saturday, August 07, 2004 7:00:59 AM

CHATTER: Code 46

The Star-Ledger reports on a movie called Code 46 which seems to take its impetus from Sophocles:

While ancient Greek literature is usually pretty low on the summer movie radar, this season has brought two diametrically different takes on the stories of Homer and Sophocles.

"Troy" retold "The Iliad" with the gods and monsters blotted out, emphasizing the warrior element of the saga. It was a spectacle that hearkened back to Hollywood days of yore, filled with epic clashes and chiseled heroes.

On the opposite end of the Greek spectrum is "Code 46," a future shock love story with Oedipal implications. The world of tomorrow depicted in the film is as mythic as the sprawling battlefields of "Troy," but reality has been altered without an army of CGI technicians. The main special effect in the movie is director Michael Winterbottom's ingenuity.


The story centers on an illicit relationship between an insurance investigator (Tim Robbins) and a woman who forges immigration documents (Samantha Morton). Because the detective's lady fair is a clone of his mother, their tryst is a violation of Code 46, a law that prohibits genetically linked men and women from procreating. [more]

Saturday, August 07, 2004 6:31:58 AM

CHATTER: Boudicca Background

The buzz about Boudicca is still coming into my mailbox ... for those who want a bit of a refresher on Boudicca, the BBC has an article on her revolting behaviour (the article seems to be advertising a television programme):

In AD60, Britannia - the Roman Empire's newest province - exploded into revolt.

After 17 years of occupation, a massive rebellion brought imperial rule to the brink of collapse.

An uprising was led by Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni. The Roman historian Cassius Dio, describes her as "most tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh".

Boudicca's husband Prasutagus had signed a treaty with Rome that allowed him to keep a degree of autonomy over their tribal lands in today's Norfolk.

But when Prasutagus died, this cosy arrangement collapsed. Tacitus, a Roman historian whose father-in-law served in Britannia at the time, tells us that on Prasutagus' death Rome confiscated his kingdom.

Boudicca herself was flogged and, in a piece of horrific depravity, her young daughters gang raped.

London calling

At the time, the majority of Rome's forces in the province were in north Wales, busy crushing an army of Druids. So Boudicca had the ideal opportunity for revenge.

She led her tribe and other allies towards Camulodunum, today's Colchester, the capital of Britannia.

The town had no defences, and Boudicca's army burnt it to the ground and massacred the entire population, including those who tried to hold out in the massive temple of Claudius.

To make matters worse, the only Roman troops close enough to help were ambushed and annihilated by Boudicca as they raced to Colchester.

So in the space of a few days, the Roman capital had been destroyed and the only legion in the east of the province annihilated.
Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough

The Roman governor Suetonius Paulinus ordered his infantry to march back down Watling Street - which is now the A5 - while he went ahead with cavalry.

Meanwhile Boudicca moved towards the bustling commercial centre, Londinium, today's London.

Paulinus got to London before Boudicca, but quickly realised the hopelessness of his position.

London had no wall and was indefensible. That was a failing of the Romans: they believed that as the civilizing force - there to win the hearts and minds of Britons - that they needn't bother fortifying the cities.

After all, who would attack them? Certainly not the people they were there to enlighten.

So Paulinus ordered London's evacuation and rode north.

When Boudicca's army arrived in London, they slaughtered anyone who had been foolish enough to stay and burnt the town. Romans were tortured, hanged and skewered. [more]

Saturday, August 07, 2004 6:24:32 AM

REVIEW: From Scholia

P. J. Davis, Seneca: Thyestes Saturday, August 07, 2004 6:20:02 AM

1. n. an abnormal state or condition resulting from the forced migration from a lengthy Classical education into a profoundly unClassical world; 2. n. a blog about Ancient Greece and Rome compiled by one so afflicted (v. "rogueclassicist"); 3. n. a Classics blog.

Valid HTML 4.01!

Valid CSS!

Site Meter

Click to see the XML version of this web page.