Latest update: 9/1/2004; 6:23:48 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xv kalendas septembres

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 8:53:30 AM

~ CONF: Diplomats and Diplomacy in the Roman World

The Fifth E. T. Salmon Conference:

Sheila Ager, University of Waterloo
Clifford Ando, University of Southern California
Corey Brennan, Rutgers University
Rudolph Haensch, University of Cologne
Werner Eck, University of Cologne
Jean-Louis Ferrary, University of Paris-I
Martin Jehne, Technical University of Dresden
Christopher Jones, Harvard University
James Rives, York University
Alexander Yakobson, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2004, 6-8 pm
Welcome Reception - West Room, McMaster Faculty Club


Registration 8:30-9:30

9:30 Official Welcome: Dr. N. Rahimyeh, Dean of Humanities, McMaster

9:45 Sheila Ager, University of Waterloo, "Roman Perspectives on Greek Diplomacy"

10:45 Coffee

11:00 M. Jehne, Technical University of Dresden , "Diplomacy in Italy Before the Social War"

12:00 Lunch - CIBC Hall

1:30 Alexander Yakobson, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "Foreign Policy and Public Opinion in the Late Republic"

2:30 Corey Brennan, Rutgers University , "Embassies Gone Wrong"

3:30 Coffee

4:00 Jean-Louis Ferrary, University of Paris-I, "Apres l'ambassade a Rome: diffusion et application"

7.00 Banquet - Faculty Club


Registration 8:30-9:45

9:45 Rudolph Haensch, University of Cologne , "Not Official, but Permanent: Roman Presence in Client-States"

10:45 Coffee

11:00 C. Ando, University of Southern California, "Ambassadors, Aliens, andthe Integrity of the Empire"

12:00 Lunch - Charters restaurant

1:30 James Rives, York University, "Diplomacy and Identity among Jews and Christians"

2:30 Christopher Jones, Harvard University, "International Diplomacy in the Roman Empire"

3:30 Coffee

4:00 Werner Eck, University of Cologne , "Diplomacy as Part of the Administrative Process in the Roman Empire"

... seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 8:46:25 AM

~ APA Employment Listings

The APA has posted its August Positions for Classicists and Archaeologists ... Wednesday, August 18, 2004 8:39:05 AM

~ JOB: Concordia - Hellenist (tenure track)

The Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics at Concordia University invites applications for a tenure-track position in Classics, Greek Studies. We are seeking applicants with a concentration in one of the main areas of Classics (Greek archaeology, ancient culture, history or literature), with a secondary interest in Roman culture. Candidates should have competence to teach ancient Greek at all levels. Applicants should have a PhD, proven excellence in teaching, and an active research profile.

Subject to budgetary approval, we anticipate filling this position,normally at the rank of Assistant Professor, for July 1, 2005. Review of applications will begin on November 15, 2004 and continue until the position is filled. Applications should consist of a letter of intent, a curriculum vitae,copies of recent publications, a statement of teaching and research interests and objectives and three letters of reference.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. Concordia University is committed to employment equity.

... seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 8:37:11 AM

~ UPenn and the Ancient Olympics

Here's some breadcrumbs to follow ... a piece in the Philly Inquirer about UPenn prof David Romano's trip to Athens led me to a sort of online journal wherein he documents his day-to-day activities, making connections to the ancient Olympics. That, in turn, led me (back) to UPenn Museum's excellent ancient Olympics website, which they've updated for these games. Enjoy! Wednesday, August 18, 2004 8:33:17 AM

~ John the Baptist's Cave?

Folks have probably already seen something on this and wondered why we hadn't mentioned it, but a UK researcher claims to have found a cave associated with John the Baptist. We have been hesitant to post anything about it because the myriad posts on it so far have been pretty much devoid of any real Classical connection. But now we get a report from News in Science, which actually sought out the opinion of a Classics prof on the subject:

A quarter of a million pottery shards from small jugs, an underground pool, a foot-washing stone and wall carvings unearthed in a large cave west of Jerusalem could be the first archaeological evidence for the existence of John the Baptist, a U.K. researcher says in a forthcoming book.

But a U.S. classics professor and expert in the origins of Christianity said the cave was more likely to have been used by pilgrims who came to the Holy Land as religious tourists eager to be baptised just like Jesus.

In his book The Cave of John the Baptist U.K. archaeologist Shimon Gibson says the cave presents the first evidence that can be directly linked to the gospels and to a major figure in the birth of Christianity.

Located on the property of communal farm Kibbutz Tzuba, about 4 kilometres from John's birthplace of Ein Kerem, the cave was carved in the Iron Age, between 800 and 500 BC. Its pool at the bottom would have been used from the start for bathing rituals.


The cave is set to become one of the most controversial finds in Christendom, with some scholars hailing it as one of biggest breakthroughs for Christian history and others questioning it.

While the carvings, the foot washing stone, the remains of the small water jugs used in baptismal rituals and the closeness to John's home town provide strong circumstantial evidence, no inscription has been found that would conclusively link the cave to John.

Professor of classics and director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin, L Michael White, was cautious of the findings.

"As an archaeologist and biblical historian I would be very cautious of these new 'discoveries' until more evidence is presented," he said.

According to White, the site is most likely a place of veneration created in the period between the 4th and 6th or 7th centuries AD by Christian pilgrims who began to come to the Holy Land to see such legendary places.

"That would also account for the fact that there are ritual implements and baptismal pools installed in the cave. They would have been part of the first tourist trade: get baptised just like Jesus did. The Byzantine style paintings would go along with the veneration," White said.

As I mentioned in a post on the Classics list the other day, Shimon Gibson seems to make an awful lot of spectacular discoveries which get a lot of press attention.  Last December, e.g., he found the remains of someone who had suffered from leprosy/Hansen's disease; he was associated with the find of a bit of New Testament verse in a tomb associated with the father of John the Baptist; he came up with a new theory on where Jesus walked carrying his cross. I believe the 'leper' story was originally hyped as the find of a shroud of someone who might have witnessed the crucifixion. Dr. Gibson obviously has a good publicist ...

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 8:19:10 AM

~ Digging the Agora

The Herald Progress has a piece on some local students' participation in the dig at the Athenian Agora. The incipit:

Athens has spent its time in recent years preparing for the Olympics in hopes of creating chapters for its future.

Eight current and former Randolph-Macon College students spent this summer searching for Athens’ past.

Through the generosity of the Richmond Panathenaic Society, every year R-MC students are offered the chance to dig in the trenches of the history rich Athenian Agora.

The Agora is similar to the Mall in Washington, D.C., said John Camp, director of the Agora excavations and R-MC classics professor.

Located at the Athenian Agora in antiquity were various governmental buildings and public memorials.

"What makes the Athenian Agora special for us is that this is where democracy was first invented and practiced," Camp said.

The American School for Classical Studies has been excavating the area since 1931, but this year’s group is digging around the Painted Stoa. This colonnade was adorned with paintings and is thought of one of the first public museums. The area was a hangout for Athenians who needed to trade their wares. The philosopher Zeno used the area as a classroom, Camp said.

"I do not think there is a more important site in the Mediterranean," Camp, who is in his 39th season at the Agora." It's the center of one of the most important cities of antiquity, and we get levels dating from 1500 BC to 1500 AD, so the range of material is always interesting." [more]

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 7:54:57 AM

~ Vergil in the LEGAMUS Series

The Daily Review Atlas has one of those 'what our faculty are up to' pieces on Thomas Sienkewicz' and LeaAnn Osburn's new Vergil reader:

A Monmouth College professor and an alumna of the college have joined forces to complete a text for Latin students entitled "Vergil: A LEGAMUS Transitional Reader."

Tom Sienkewicz, the Capron Professor of Classics at Monmouth, and LeaAnn Osburn, a 1972 graduate, were assigned to produce a work in the LEGAMUS series that allows students to make a transition from elementary or intermediate Latin into reading the authentic Latin of Vergil.

"(The series') purpose," wrote the University of Massachusetts' Kenneth F. Kitchell Jr. in the book's foreword, "is expressly and solely to address those very things which make the transition to reading a given author difficult ... It is the hope of the authors and editors that this series will bring more students into direct contact with the beauty and inspiration reading these authors can provide."

Published by Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., the 136-page paperback contains about 200 lines of selections from Vergil's Aeneid.

Passages are accompanied by pre-reading materials, grammatical exercises, complete vocabulary, notes designed for reading comprehension and other reading aides.

Osburn studied under the late Bernice Fox at Monmouth and has taught Latin at Barrington (Ill.) High School for many years. Since Sienkiewicz arrived at Monmouth in 1984, the duo has collaborated on a number of projects.

"It is our hope as authors that the text will enable future students of Latin to appreciate the poetry of Vergil," said Sienkewicz.

"Why read Vergil?" asked reviewer Alexander G. McKay, professor emeritus of classics at McMaster University. "Because, judging by these extracts, there are great expectations for the reader, whether novice or lightly tuned adventurer."

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 7:44:27 AM

~ The Literary Side of the Ancient Olympics

Tony Perrottet (The Naked Olympics) has a nice essay in the Village Voice all about the various ancient authors who attended the ancient Olympics and why. Here's a longish chunk from the beginning:

Sports fans are feeling pretty righteous these days. With the Olympics kicking off in Athens, the connection to the ancient Greeks has made every Bud-swilling couch potato feel somehow related to the Apollonian ideal. But we pallid, bespectacled book lovers shouldn't miss out on all the nostalgia. The world has forgotten that literary "happenings" were once an essential ingredient of all ancient athletic festivals; for those well-rounded Greek crowds, the 90-pound-weakling writers could be as compelling an attraction as the beefcake that paraded stark naked around the stadium. In fact, we should thank the first Olympics for several crucial breakthroughs in the Western literary tradition—including the pioneering act of self-promotion by a celebrity-hungry author.

In 440 B.C., a struggling young prose stylist named Herodotus wanted to publicize his newly composed account of the Persian Wars (it was the first work of written history—an experimental literary project if there ever was one). Rather than embark on a multi-city book tour—an expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous venture, dodging pirates and storms around the Aegean—the budding writer came up with a brilliant PR stroke. Why not premiere his work at the hallowed Olympic Games, when the entire social register of Greeks were gathered in one spot?

According to the admiring author Lucian, when the festival had begun—it usually attracted some 40,000 spectators to the remote sanctuary of Olympia—Herodotus waited for a decent crowd to gather in the cavernous Temple of Zeus, then proceeded to recite his golden prose. The audience was utterly transfixed; word raced around the Olympic venue that a hot young author was on the scene. Not only did hundreds of Greek celebrities vie to hear Herodotus read in the five days of the sports festival, but they carried his name after the games to the far corners of the ancient world. "By this time he was much better known than the Olympic victors themselves," notes Lucian enviously—which is saying quite a lot, since athletic champions were revered as virtual demigods by the Greeks, a cross between NFL players and rock stars.

Debuting at the Olympics, it turned out, was antiquity's equivalent of appearing on Oprah.

Writers today can only stand in awe at Herodotus's genius for public relations. He should be remembered as the Father of Self-Promotion as well as of History—making an intellectual leap on a par with Pythagoras's theorems of trigonometry or Plato's separation of the body and the soul. While modern PR methods have been refined by technology, the basic dynamics for unknown authors making a dent in the so-called literary marketplace have remained fairly constant. In fact, as modern writers are expected to shoulder ever more of the grunt work of the book trade—doing everything, it sometimes seems, but turning the actual printing presses themselves—it can feel as if the conditions of ancient publishing are being subtly mirrored, reverting to the time when lonely scribes like Herodotus were obliged to copy and hawk their own papyri.

Recently, as I've been shilling my volume of history around the traps like a Thessalian oil merchant on a street corner, I've tried to draw inspiration from Herodotus's shining example. Whenever I feel exhausted, depressed, or mildly degraded, I picture him nervously clearing his throat in the Temple of Zeus. I've decided that shameless self-promotion is an honorable tradition dating back to the dawn of Western civilization.

That Herodotus's literary innovation occurred at a sporting event should not surprise us. For the ancient Greeks, literature and athletics always went hand in hand, and a well-proportioned, aesthetically pleasing body was considered inseparable from a refined and elevated mind. Young boys were educated at the gymnasium, learning their letters along with their wrestling techniques, and poetry competitions were a part of almost all classical sports festivals. Apollo's games at Delphi, for example, included events in verse recital, choral dancing, and lyre playing. At the top-ranking Olympic Games, dedicated to Zeus, artistic events were not on the official schedule, but they were integral to the experience—especially in the raucous "fringe" festival, where hordes camped out in the fields of the rural Peloponnese, drinking wine and cavorting in the company of sport-loving intellectuals, artists, and brilliant courtesans known as hetaerai. (The chaotic, unsanitary conditions of the five-day bacchanal evoked a badly planned rock concert.)

As we can see from the classical sources, these ancient Greek sports fans were anything but philistines. They had excellent taste in literature—as did the athletes themselves. Illustrious poets like Pindar were commissioned to write victory odes, which were sung at the great banquets of Olympic champions, while the bronze victory statues erected for every victor were trailblazing masterpieces of Western art. Even Plato was known to have attended the Games (he was an avid wrestling fan, while Sophocles loved handball). In short, the Greek sports crowd was the perfect demographic for a literary premiere—rather like a tanked-up audience at SummerStage today.

In the centuries to follow Herodotus's star turn, cohorts of aspiring Greek authors would follow the maestro's lead, premiering their work at the Games as "the short-cut to glory" (in Lucian's words). If they couldn't grab the main venue of the Temple of Zeus, they would set up their own makeshift booths, pontificating to the gathered crowds, while nearby vendors peddled their books at the going rate of one drachma per scroll. Every genre had its day: Philosophers read brilliant new treatises, poets their polished pearls, orators their formal rhetorical speeches (a beloved literary form in antiquity whose appeal is lost to us now). Professional anecdote tellers, forebears of the late Spalding Gray, trotted out their offerings. And the crowds were as volatile as reviewers today. The talented were hailed with cries of Euge!—Bravo!—and shot to success. But when a tyrant named Dionysus of Syracuse hired actors to recite his poetry in 330 B.C. and it proved to be doggerel, the enraged audience roughed him up and sacked his tent.

Soon the Olympics were choking in words. By the first century A.D., a pagan superstar named Apollonius of Tyana sent an advance guard to the Games to generate some buzz. Crowds thronged his readings, but Apollonius was disgusted at having to share the limelight with novices and hacks. He gave one "literary puppy" a tongue-lashing for daring to debut inferior work—a poem on the divine power of Zeus. ("You are embarking on a subject that transcends the power of mortals," he railed petulantly.) [more]

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 7:39:30 AM

~ Bill Gates and Caligula

This one almost made me spew coffee out of my nose ... the 'progressive' news source Common Dreams has a feature on the number of workers who died during the construction of various Olympic venues. But that's not what put me in a spewing situation -- the report includes the following:

They died so world dignitaries and CEOs could bask in the light of athletic achievement not unlike the Greek and Roman Emperors of old. The only difference between Bill Gates and Caligula is that Caligula threw better parties.

Wow ...

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 7:34:12 AM

~ Roman Town Excavated in Gloucestershire

From the Scotsman:

A forgotten Roman town has been unearthed in Gloucestershire after remaining buried under a farmer’s fields for hundreds of years, archaeologists said today.

The fortified town, which is thought to have been established in the 1st century, could have been home to 1,000 people.

Archaeologists believe the 10 hectare settlement was large enough to have been a regional centre for trade and industry.

Investigations have so far revealed evidence of an entrance gate, industrial works, a road and a large number of houses.

The discovery was made when David Isaac, whose family have farmed at Hall End Farm between Chipping Sodbury and Wickwar for more than 80 years, showed an archaeologist his collection of Roman artifacts.

Three generations of the family had collected a mass of Roman coins, brooches, lead dice, animal bones, pottery and thimbles.

Andrew Young, an associate of the Institute of Field Archaeology and partner in the Avon Archaeology Unit, has been investigating the site for the past three years.

He said: “When I first visited the farm I had no idea what we would find. We did some research and were astonished at the extent of the ruins. It is quite well preserved.”

Archaeologists also found the line of a Roman road, which could have connected Bath and Gloucester.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 7:25:18 AM

~ Paraphrasing Pliny

Pliny shows up in the oddest of places ... this time he's the point of departure for a banker speaking at an investment conference in South Africa:

It is not very often that a central banker gets to comment on his country's economy in Latin. As someone whose undergraduate studies were ancient Greek and Latin, I am delighted to seize the chance.

The Latin I have in mind is Pliny's often-quoted phrase, "ex Africa semper aliquid novi" - always something new out of Africa, by which I think Pliny meant that Africa could always be relied on to spring surprises, by astonishing the world with some bizarre new novelty.

I want today to suggest some reasons why, if Pliny were with us now looking back on the remarkable progress South Africa has made over the past ten years, he would say the opposite. Much of the effort that has been applied to leading South Africa forward over the past decade has been directed to achieving what might be called "normalisation" - the steady process of building the stable political and social and economic structures that are normal for a modern, well-governed country in the 21st century. This is true of our political system, as was evident to all the world earlier this year as, with pride and style, we celebrated 10 years of democracy and held standard normal democratic elections, which were conducted with exemplary calm and good order. It is true, too, of the immense progress that has been in building a genuinely open multi-racial society and progressively alleviating the legacy of social neglect in areas such as education, health and basic living standards. It is true also, very visibly, in the economic sphere, in the huge strides that have been made in bringing South Africa into the frame as a normal, modern, open, competitive, market-based economy.

It is this commitment to normalisation that has won the admiration of the world. I think it would win Pliny's admiration, too, and that he would see that it is not frivolous novelty, but stable and sensible normality that is South Africa's great achievement. So I think he would re-write his quotable phrase, to suggest that the key ingredient in the immense progress we have made in the past ten years has been, not "semper aliquid novi", but "semper aliquid normalis" - always something normal out of South Africa.  [more]

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 7:22:57 AM

~ Whither Boudicca?

One of the nice things about movie hype is that it often has spinoff effects ... a case in point is the ongoing hype for upcoming Boudicca flicks which has resulted in folks being interested in finding the site of her big battle with the Romans. From IC Coventry:

History buffs in Warwickshire are calling for a new dig to reveal the truth about one of the country's most famous battles.

The bloodthirsty battle between Queen Boadicea and the Romans in 62ADwas recreated by father and son presenting team Peter and Dan Snow in their new TV series Battlefield Britain.

The battle, which saw the slaughter of 80,000 Britons, was for years believed to have taken place in Mancetter - until archaeolo-gist Jack Lucas, of Lutterworth, put forward a new theory in his 1997 book Tripontium.

He proposed the battle had actually happened on Dunsmore Plain - now the Rugby radio station mast site in Hillmorton.

Peter and Dan Snow agreed the battle had not taken place inMancetter - but put forward a new theory proposing the site was actually Paulerspury, near St Albans. They admitted they had no new evidence to

Mr Lucas, who led the excavation of the Rugby Roman settlement Tripontium in the 60s, said the programme had not affected his viewpoint.

He said contemporary reports by historian Tacitus, which described a gorge, a large plain and a large wood on the field, backed up the Rugby theory.

A burial ground of Roman bodies were also found over-looking the site. He said: "They have no more idea than we have. It is purely and simply a guess. The battle has never been confirmed anywhere." [more]

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 7:18:59 AM

~ Yet Another Google Banner

Folks who are collecting will want to add the fencing banner to their collection, although these things seem to be less and less Classically-inspired as the games wear on.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 6:59:23 AM

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Ancient Altered States
An examination of the frightening and even deadly substances that
people have used to alter their consciousness over the centuries.
8.00 p.m. |HISTU| Secrets of the Acropolis
With a thrilling combination of dramatic reconstructions and 3-D
animation, we step back in time to the Golden Age of Greece and the
birth of democracy, to an era of unparalleled human creativity that
produced the magnificent architecture on the Acropolis. Powerfully
evoking the pagan rituals that made the Acropolis the heart of
Athenian life, we explore all four key buildings: the Propylaia, the
Erectheion, Athena Nike, and the Parthenon--the most influential
building in Western civilization.
9.00 p.m. |HISTU| The Colosseum
Nothing symbolizes the Roman Empire at its height or Rome in
magnificent ruins more than the Colosseum. Built in 70 AD, it seated
80,000 people, boasted a retractable roof, underground staging
devices, marble seating, and lavish decorations. It still serves as
the prototype for the modern stadium. The complexity of its
construction, the beauty of its architecture, and the functionality
of its design made it the perfect place for massive crowds to
congregate for the bloody spectacles it contained. 
10.00 p.m. |HISTU|  Athens Subway
Under the bustling metropolis of Athens, an engineering project is
transforming the city--a new underground Metro system to meet the
needs of its modern inhabitants. But to dig stations and tunnels in
the heart of one of the world's oldest sites of continuous
habitation, engineers had to accomodate the largest archaeological
excavations conducted to date in Athens. Thousands of artifacts were
found, spanning more than 25 centuries. We explore the difficult
balance between progress and preservation

10.00 p.m. |HINT| Time Team: Papcastle, Cumbria
When Ray and Helen Buckingham started building work on an extension
to their Cumbrian house in Papcastle, England, they found what looked
like Roman pottery and building-stone fragments. Puzzled, they
contacted Time Team--actor Tony Robinson (Baldrick in "Blackadder")
and his team of archaeologists, historians and other experts. Was the
couple's garden part of a Roman settlement or military staging post?
Time Team has just three days to piece together the surprising story.
11.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Greece: Journeys to the Gods

Channel Guide

Wednesday, August 18, 2004 6:57:50 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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