Latest update: 9/1/2004; 6:23:26 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
CONF: The Trojan War: The Sources Behind the Scenes

The Trojan War:  The Sources Behind the Scenes
Art Archaeology Cinema Literature Myth

September 17-18, 2004

at the University's Memorial Union and Elvehjem Museum of Art

Free and open to the public

@ the University of Wisconsin ... Conference Website

Monday, August 09, 2004 3:11:33 PM

LUDI: Herculympics

This one's kind of lame, but if you've ever wanted to play a Flash game where you're Hercules and get to do things like outswim giant squid or see how far you can throw a Minotaur, the BBC has a download for you. Enjoy! (or get frustrated ... whichever you prefer). Monday, August 09, 2004 2:08:11 PM

NUNTII: Olympian Ode in Greek

T'other day I bewailed the fact that the Olympian Ode composed for the Olympics by Dr Armand D'Angour, Classics Fellow and Tutor at Jesus College did not seem to be in Greek. Dr. D'Angour has kindly contacted me an pointed me to Oxford's official press release, which has background and links to the ode in Greek and English (as pdfs). If you just want to go directly to the Greek or English pdfs, feel free. Monday, August 09, 2004 1:18:40 PM

AWOTV Alert: On the Passionate Eye

I just happened on a preview of this and it looks good:

Monday August 9 and Tuesday August 10, 2004 at 10pm ET on CBC Newsworld

This two-part documentary special is a mix of genres - adventure, history and sport-designed to bring to life the history of the Olympic Games. Thirty international athletes have been selected to compete in the actual events that first took place more that 2,000 years ago: foot races, javelin, discus, wrestling and pentathlon.  For a period of two months, the athletes will train with renowned coaches and archaeologists, who will ensure that every detail of the original Games is recreated with historical accuracy. Giving up personal effects and modern athletic garb, the athletes will don tunics and immerse themselves in the culture of fourth century Greece BC.  The training is hard, as well as the way of life: no electricity or hot water, tents for shelter, and frugal meals. The final competition will be filmed as a live sporting event-but in a world set 24 centuries back in time.

Champions of Olympia is directed by Philippe Molins for Gedeon Programmes of France.

It's being shown in Canada as part of the 'Passionate Eye' documentary series on Newsworld (you know ... the news station that doesn't have that much news on it, but with the best 'crawl' in the business). Hollywood Reporter suggests there are other parts to the series, so we'll keep our eyes open ...

Monday, August 09, 2004 1:09:33 PM


ante diem v idus sextiles

  • rites in honour of Sol Indiges on the Quirinal Hill
  • 480 B.C. -- Spartan forces under Leonidas fight a suicidal delaying action against Persian forces at Themopylae (date needs confirmation)
  • 48 B.C. -- The forces of Julius Caesar defeat Pompeius Magnus at Pharsalus
  • 117 A.D. -- official announcement that Trajan had adopted Hadrian as his successor
Monday, August 09, 2004 9:20:11 AM

CHATTER: Olympics Opening Ceremonies

More details from an AP report in the San Francisco Chronicle in regards to the Olympics opening ceremonies:

A Trojan horse. A giant statue of the goddess Athena. Mythological figures sailing through a lake on the Olympic stadium infield.

Friday's opening ceremony of the Athens Games will pay homage to Greek history and the classical period that gave birth to the Olympics.

The ceremony was supposed to be a national secret, but details leaked out after a dress rehearsal Sunday night with an audience of about 35,000 people -- including employees of the Athens organizing committee and volunteers.

A taxi driver, who got a rehearsal ticket because his niece is working on the show, told The Associated Press the audience saw one third of the three-hour ceremony.

The driver, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the infield of the stadium was flooded at one point and that a giant statue of Athena -- the city's protector -- rose into the stadium through a hole in the middle of the field.

The set then turned into a mountain, topped by an olive tree, and volunteers danced around in ancient costumes, he said. Hundreds of musicians beat drums and a performer dressed as a centaur -- half man, half horse -- shot an arrow intended to look like a comet.

At another point in the show, the taxi driver said, mythological figures sailed on a boat -- perhaps symbolizing the ancient story of Jason and the Argonauts, in which the hero and his crew hunt for the legendary golden fleece.

The dress rehearsal also included a Trojan horse. In Homer's epic, The Iliad, the horse concealed Greek troops who sacked the city of Troy.

Athens organizers have refused to reveal details of the ceremony. Now, with details coming out, officials are stressing the real ceremony on Friday will be special because athletes will be there. [more]

Sounds like it might be worth taping ... could be a good 'hook' for a Classical Civ or Classical Myth course.

Monday, August 09, 2004 7:44:34 AM


The Warsaw Business Journal ponders Mark Twain's quotation about death and taxes and includes, inter alia, the following:

The ubiquity of taxes should come as no surprise. Tax has been around since Babylonian times, and history provides the best proof that it is here to stay.

The first recorded evidence of tax dates back to 2350 B.C. Tomb paintings in Egypt depict relentless tax collectors selling delinquents into slavery for failure to pay tax on fish catches and garden produce. The Greeks fought a bloody war against Persia to resist a tribute tax, but then had to impose one to pay for the war.

Ancient Rome had an elaborate tax system which encompassed sales taxes, inheritance taxes and taxes on imports and exports. In the 4th century BC, the Romans built a tax-free shipping port at Delos, which some refer to as history's first tax haven. It was also the Romans who first invented inheritance tax, imposed upon all citizens at the rate of 10 percent, and who introduced imprisonment for tax evasion. [more]

Not sure where the "sales tax" claim comes from, unless it's some sort of variation on the import/export duties thing. It certainly wasn't the modern idea of sales tax collected at the point of sale. As for Delos, they're a couple of centuries early ... Rome didn't take Delos and make it into a tax-free port until 166 B.C. or so. I'm not sure about the "tax evasion" (surely they mean "tax avoidance") thing, but the University of Illinois at Chicago has a page with tax trivia which attributes such things to Constantine in 306 A.D.. I suspect, however, that such things occurred much earlier in the 'tax farming' regime practiced by the Romans (and Hellenistic Greeks) ... people who couldn't pay their taxes could end up in debt to whoever had the contract to farm out the taxes; if they never paid up, they could conceivably end up in debtors prison.

Monday, August 09, 2004 7:39:17 AM

CHATTER: Death at the Ancient Olympics

The BBC has a nice little feature on the darker side of the Ancient Olympics:

In 564BC Arrichion of Phigaleia, the new Olympic champion in the pankration - a cross between boxing and wrestling - received his victory olive wreath posthumously.

Competing for his third Olympic crown, Arrichion had found himself being choked in a stranglehold from behind. Unable to free himself from the ferocious grip, Arrichion managed to grip his opponent's ankle and twist it until it broke.

In agony his opponent submitted, but by then the damage was done - Arrichion's throat had been crushed and even as he was proclaimed the winner, he breathed his last.

Although Arrichion's death occurred in a particularly dramatic way, tales of athletes giving their lives for Olympic glory were not unusual in ancient Greece.

Competitors in the brutal pankration, where choking, finger breaking and blows to the genitals were all permitted, were particularly vulnerable, often succumbing to their wounds days after the games had ended.

But what was it about the ancient Olympics that sparked such desire to win that athletes would accept death before defeat?

According to legend, the Olympics started in 776BC with a single race, a 192-metre dash held at the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia. Then, a runner named Koroibos sprinted ahead of the field to become the first ever Olympic champion.  [more]

Monday, August 09, 2004 7:16:19 AM

CONF: Sculptural Environment of the Roman Near East ...

The Sculptural Environment of the Roman Near East: Reflections on Culture, Ideology, and Power

An International Conference At the University of Michigan and the Toledo Museum of Art, November 7-10, 2004.

Conference Website

Monday, August 09, 2004 7:07:34 AM

AWOTV: On TV Today

6.00 p.m. |HINT| The Odyssey of Troy
What is it about the legendary city that 3,200 years after its fall,
we still try to unravel Troy's mysteries? Scholars attempt to answer
the question by researching the Greek poet Homer, possibly one of the
greatest poets in Western Europe's history, and his epic tale of love
and war, and comparing his text to archaeological sites.
7.00 p.m. |HINT| King Herod's Lost City
Two-thousand years ago, King Herod built a wondrous city by the sea.
For 12 centuries his dream city flourished before it was lost to
time, its treasure buried beneath sea and sand. Caesarea's tortured
history includes transformation from Roman paganism and Judaism to
Christianity, and eventual destruction by conquering Moslems.

HINT = History International

Monday, August 09, 2004 6:49:03 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.

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