Latest update: 9/1/2004; 6:23:31 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
ADMINISTRIVIA: Changes @ rogueclassicism

With any amount of luck (?) today you might get to see rogueclassicism's new look. As previously mentioned, I've decided to stick with Radio (they actually have a timetable of developments for the next few months) -- what's taken so long is deciding on what I want it to look like, and then deciding whether to go to a pure CSS design, to use tables, or some combination of the two. Since the new rogueclassicism will sport a three-column look, and since three column layouts in CSS seem to be largely an article of faith (in that they don't work properly with all browsers ... I don't want to lose any of my audience!) amongst the codemeisters, I'll spend much of today fiddling with a combination of CSS and tables in Dreamweaver. As such, you might be visiting while strange things are going on ... Wednesday, August 11, 2004 8:11:51 AM


ante diem iii idus sextiles

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 8:05:41 AM

CHATTER: Ancient Atkins Diet

National Geographic has a lengthy article on the dietary regimes followed by ancient Olympians:

The 2004 Athens Olympic Games begin on Friday. Over the course of the 18-day event, 24,000 athletes, coaches, and officials will wolf down almost every food imaginable, from Brazilian fish stew to Asian stir-fried vegetables. Most competitors will follow highly specialized diets and consume sports drinks, gels, and energy bars to boost their performance.

The modern Olympics have radically changed from their debut in 776 B.C., when the cook Koroibos won the only sporting event: a footrace. But even then, ancient athletes were concerned with what they ate—and some even followed a meat-heavy, Atkins-style diet.

Now food historians are studying ancient Greek and Roman texts to learn about the diet of the first Olympians—and about the roots of Mediterranean cuisine.

Archaeologists have been able to uncover food remains from ancient Egyptian sites, thanks to the region's arid climate, said Louis Grivetti, a food historian from the University of California at Davis.

And while few food remains have been found in Greek excavations, "there is a wealth of information available through ancient Greek and Latin texts," the historian said.

Grivetti is focusing his own research on the ancient text The Deipnosophists (also known as The Philosophers' Banquet), a 15-volume tale of a lengthy feast written around A.D. 200.

The writer, Athenaeus, was a Greek from Naucratis, an ancient city southeast of present-day Alexandria, Egypt.

In his work, Athenaeus describes an unusual banquet, one where diners talk about where food comes from, discuss its quality, and note its geographic source. The meal is a feast for gourmands, and each person provides the literary citations for his comment, Grivetti said.

While 1,500 texts are cited by Athenaeus, only 15 percent of those exist today. Taken together, however, these remaining works present a picture of the finest in Mediterranean cuisine, along with insights into how food was prepared, eaten, and incorporated into daily life and thought.

Ancient "Atkins" Diet

In the time of ancient Greece, the diet of regular folk consisted mainly of breads, vegetables, and fruits. Fish was the most common meat eaten in this seafaring region.

Ancient Olympians came from the upper social strata in Greece, since wealthy families could feed their children more protein-rich legumes and meats to build muscle.

The earliest records point to a cheese- and fruit-based diet for the first Olympic athletes, but somewhere along the line, dietary emphasis shifted to meat, Grivetti said.

While much of what's known about the diet of ancient Olympians comes from other sources, the Deipnosophists tells the tale of the wrestler Milon of Croton, who won competitions at six different Olympics:

Milon of Croton used to eat 20 pounds [9 kilograms] of meat and as many of bread, and he drank three pitchers of wine. And at Olympia he put a four-year-old bull on his shoulders and carried it around the stadium; after which, he cut it up and ate it all alone in a single day.

—Theodorus of Hierapolis, On Athletic Contests, cited by Athenaeus in The Deipnosophists

According to food historian Francine Segan, an ancient Olympic runner won several competitions while following a meat-only diet. "This started a meat-only craze," Segan said, noting that other diet tips for athletes included avoiding bread right before competition and eating dried figs.

Segan studied The Deopnosophists and other ancient texts while researching her latest cookbook, The Philosopher's Kitchen, published this month by Random House.

The food historian said she became interested in ancient Mediterranean foods while researching an earlier cookbook that recreated the food of Shakespeare's time. "During the Renaissance people were trying to rediscover the ancients," she said. "So I thought, Let's go back to the source."

Segan said one of the surprising things she learned while researching her latest book was that many common foods of today, like corn, chocolate, and vanilla, are products of the New World.

Dishes in The Philosopher's Kitchen recreate cuisine from ingredients ancient cultures had available. For example, Segan's recipe for tart cherry lasagna reflects what was available in ancient Greece. While tomatoes might seem like a Mediterranean tradition, they became incorporated into the cuisine much later, she said. [more]

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 7:59:12 AM

BLOGWATCH: Agesilaus II @ Ancient Biographies

Robert Greaves has the first part of a biography of Agesilaus II of Sparta. Wednesday, August 11, 2004 7:52:32 AM

ARTICLE: Early Christian Manuscripts

At the SBL site:

Larry Hurtado, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 7:49:28 AM

CHATTER: Roman Sky Tonight

One of my kids is really into identifying constellations lately, which, of course, we try to encourage so I check out Earth and Sky's Tonight's Sky page to see what we might see. The sky, of course (again), is full of Greco-Roman mythology, but I couldn't help but see that tonight's sky seems to have a particularly 'Roman' quality to it. We can start with Saturn being visible -- Saturn, of course, being an ancient Italian agricultural deity who was eventually loosely identified with the Greek Kronos. Venus is also visible, the ancestrix to Aeneas and, we are told, Julius Caesar and his clan. Castor and Pollux -- the twin divinities who were credited with bringing victory at Lake Regillus in 496  B.C. and from whose temple the equites were reviewed in the time of Augustus -- will be low in the sky, but still visible. Finally, we have Perseus, and I know that it ultimately refers to that Greek guy who dallied with Andromeda, but in the Roman context we can imagine it refers to the Macedonian king who was the focus of Roman attention in the Third Macedonian War (171-168 B.C.) and 'brought to heel' by L. Aemilius Paulus.

Just a few things to ponder while waiting for  the Perseids ...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 7:45:21 AM

AUDIO: Father Foster

Not sure if the problem is at my end or at Vatican Radio's, but I can't get this week's version of the Latin Lover to launch in Real Player. Apparently the talk is about Lourdes in ancient times and the story of Bernadette told in Latin. Wednesday, August 11, 2004 7:27:52 AM

BLOGWATCH: A Few More Blogs

Another slow news day, so it seems salutary to point out a few more blogs that have come to my attention of late. ARLT is the blog of the Association for Teaching Latin (no, I can't figure out the R either) and has been going strong, apparently, for a couple of months. It's UK-based and has covered a pile of subjects classical.

[Update: NW (thanks!) informs me that the ARLT was originally the Association for the Reform of Latin Teaching ... they apparently decided they'd had enough 'reforming' a few years ago and changed the name, but kept the acronym]

I can't remember if we've ever mentioned the Bayou City Perspective blog, which is more of a 'standard' blog but wanders into the Classical sphere regularly. Most notably, it is currently presenting in serial form a translation of Xenophon's Anabasis (they're up to 2.2). [I note Blogographos has recently mentioned this too!]

Also on the 'can't remember' list -- but pointed to by Classics in Contemporary Culture -- is the occasionally Classical (to borrow a phrase I first saw at Blogographos) Seven Roads. Most notable of late is a post entitled A Boeotian and a Gentleman (on Basil Gildersleeve on Pindar).

It's good to see Nephelokokkygia is back in operation, now using Wordpress (but apparently having problems with css stylesheets?) , and the other day posted something about Greek Accents.

We should also point to Dr Weevil's recent Amusing Coinage post, who takes as his point of departure someone's claims about "zenophobia" (sic).

More on other blogs in the Classical Blogosphere anon ...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 7:25:31 AM


Diane J. Rayor, The Homeric Hymns. A Translation, with Introduction and Notes.

Andre Tuilier, Guillaume Bady, Jean Bernardi, Saint Gregoire de Nazianze, Oeuvres poetiques. Tome I. Partie 1. Poemes personnels II, 1, 1-11.

Arnaldo Biscardi, Scritti di diritto greco. A cura di Eva Cantarella e Alberto Maffi. Universita degli Studi di Milano.

Suzanne C. Hagedorn, Abandoned Women. Rewriting the Classics in Dante, Boccaccio, & Chaucer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 6:53:44 AM

CHATTER: Shot Put At Olympia

While I'm still rather diffident about holding an Olympic event at an archaeological site, the Toronto Star describes what will happen at Olympia rather nicely:

For one day during the Olympics, the Games will go ultra-retro, reaching back to the dawn of antiquity for their setting and their ethos.

In an inspired move, the shot put — both men's and women's — will be held at Olympia in the Peloponnese, 280 miles west of Athens, next Wednesday. That will bring the Games full circle, back to the womb.

A little weird and revisionist, though, because the shot put was never on the sports menu in the ancient Olympics.

Throwing events were limited to the discus and the javelin.

But either of those objects — which travel farther than a lead-filled ball — might conk a spectator in the head, take an eye out maybe, given the modest dimensions of the original facility and the proximity of the stands.

That would be stands literally. There aren't any seats around the patchy old stadium, never were.

This isn't a theatre or a hippodrome.

The Greeks of old squatted or lounged on the gently sloping mounds around the narrow track, up to 45,000 of them, the spillover making do with nose-bleed vantage points on Kronios hill, not much farther-flung than the 500 level at the SkyDome.

Assuming the squat position has been deemed good enough for a contemporary audience, too. Actually, check that.

A small number of seats will be erected, those for the exclusive use of dignitaries and International Olympic Committee poobahs, so they might more comfortably set down their bottoms. Perhaps helots might also be dispatched to fan them with palm fronds?

"It is all meant to maintain the authenticity of the site," says Sophia Hassapis, general manager of the facility. "It's not a venue, it's an archaeological site, one of the most important sites in the world."

This is sacred ground. And in keeping with the pre-history feel of things, all measurements will be taken manually, the results posted on a hand-operated scoreboard.

There's no glitz, no pinging technology, just a pure and pristine environment, although a new training field has been constructed adjacent to the site, where nothing had stood previously.

Athletes — including Canadian entrant Brad Snyder — will be housed in a building usually occupied by the International Olympic Academy.

For true veritas, the shot putters should compete naked. But they won't.

Also in sync with the ancient theme, tickets to the shot put are free to the pre-registered. The finals are already sold out. In a burst of civic pride, more than a third of the local population — which numbers only about 1,800 — has signed on as volunteers for the event.

One day of reawakened glory.

It was here, in the sanctuary of Zeus — not even a real city but an isolated religious complex — that the Olympics made their ancient debut in 776 BC, the entire competition limited at first to just a footrace or two.

The ancients, wisely, had no need of synchronized swimming and beach volleyball, although the sports menu eventually expanded to fill five days after the summer solstice.

The marquee event then, as now, was their version of the 100-metre race — a straightaway sprint down the 192-metre length of the stadium, from a stone-embedded start line to a stone-embedded finish line. Waiting to enter the stadium, the nervous (and naked) athletes would pass under a series of arches upon which was engraved typical locker room graffiti of the day: "For a good time in Athens, call ..." No, really, it went more like this, as discovered by archaeologists: "I'm the most handsome of all." To which an unimpressed opponent retorted in limestone scrawl: "So he thinks." [more]

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 6:49:44 AM

AWOTV: On TV Today

9.00 p.m. |HINT| Lost Civilizations: Greece: A Moment of Excellence
Journey back to Athens, where the world's first democracy took seed,
as Pericles ushered in a Golden Age of unparalleled learning in
philosophy, architecture, science, art, and drama, when small city-
states in Greece rose from obscurity to ignite one of the most
spectacular explosions of cultural achievement in Western
Civilization's history. Learn why the modern world still clings to
the ideals of Ancient Greece for intellectual and aesthetic
inspiration. Sam Waterston narrates.

HINT = History International

Wednesday, August 11, 2004 6:41:09 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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