Latest update: 9/1/2004; 6:24:03 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Roman Ships From the Gulf of Naples

I'm not sure whether this is one of those that we had hoped would get coverage in English, but here's the AP report via Yahoo:

Archaeologists exploring the bottom of the sea off the island of Capri have found the wrecks of three ancient ships that once plied the Mediterranean between Rome and northern African colonies.

Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani took a mini-submarine tour Thursday to see the latest additions to Italy's rich archaeological heritage, which were found earlier this month.

The wrecks were found off the island in the Gulf of Naples at a depth of about 430 feet, said private TV Canale 5, showing underwater footage of the finds on Friday.

A starfish rested on piles of amphorae, the slender terra cotta storage containers the ancient Romans used to transport goods, and colorful fish darted through the openings between the relics.

Archaeologists said one of the wrecks, from the 1st century, had been transporting goods on the route between Rome and what is now Tripoli, Libya.

A second ship, also from the first century, sank with a load of the containers, which were typical of those used to transport fruit, while the third vessel, from the 4th century, was laden with similar vases containing a popular condiment of the time based on a kind of fish sauce. [more]

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 9:10:51 AM

~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem viii kalendas septembres

  • Opiconsivia -- rites in honour of Ops, an old Italian earth deity and usually considered the spouse of Consus
  • 79 A.D. -- death of Pliny the Elder in the wake of the eruption at Pompeii
  • 325 A.D. -- Council of Nicaea comes to an end, having come up with the Nicene Creed, the 'Twenty Canons', etc..
Wednesday, August 25, 2004 8:35:03 AM

~ John Kerry: Miles Gloriosus?

A rogueclassicism reader sent this one along (thanks RMB!) ... The Washington Times has some ClassCon in the conclusion to a piece on John Kerry's military record:

The Greeks had a word for it: alazon. Also the title of a play by Aristophanes, it denoted a character who tells us more than the truth, much more. He is a man who deceives and is self-deceiving. In his play, Gen. Lamachus embodies this flaw. Besides being boastful, he is vain and conceited. He desires women, wealth and reputation. He prides himself in his possessions as symbols of his expertise. 

    This trait, this character evolved into the Roman Miles Glorious, as portrayed by Plautus. The "braggart soldier" was self-absorbed and humorless, blinded by his own ego, with a necessary sycophant nearby to reinforce his alpine opinion of himself. 

    At the end of "Miles Gloriosus," the title character, his true nature revealed, says:"Fool, fool that I am! Now see what an ass they've made of me." 

    John Kerry, a naval miles gloriosus, has had his true nature revealed by Swiftvets For Truth. Yet he continues to play out his movie role for groups such as the VFW.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 8:13:30 AM

~ Latin Exams in the UK: Update

Alas, the report from the Times isn't promising:

GCSE and A-level classics exams appear to be doomed in state schools despite a plea from the Government.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) examination board, which has decided to withdraw Greek and Latin from 2006, has rejected a last-minute appeal from Stephen Twigg, the Schools Minister. Courses which begin next month will be the last to be examined by the board.
Mr Twigg said that state schools pupils would be disadvantaged by the decision and accused the board of failing to consult teachers adequately.

More than 5,000 students took Latin and Greek with the board last year. It accounted for half the 1,029 students taking GCSE Greek and a third of almost 10,000 who sat Latin. Only 263 students sat A-level Greek last year, of whom 89 took AQA papers.

One other board, the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR), still offers Latin and Greek, but classics teachers say that AQA’s syllabuses are used more often in state schools because they are better for students without prior knowledge of the languages.

In a letter to Mr Twigg, seen by The Times, Mike Cresswell, the board’s director-general, said that there was “no case for reconsidering”.

The board’s education and training committee had favoured the move by “an overwhelming majority”, he said. “Members felt that the AQA could no longer sustain the losses arising from these examinations given the very low and still declining entry for Greek and the comparatively low entry for Latin.

“The very low demand for these qualifications is evident from the entry figures.”

Mr Twigg wrote to Mr Cresswell last month saying that students should have the opportunity to study classics if they wished after the first Commons debate for 17 years on the future of classics.

Mr Cresswell emphasised that the board was an educational charity “whose only purpose is to contribute to education”, adding: “However, AQA also takes very seriously the need to ensure that its operations are cost-effective.”

Peter Jones, spokesman for the National Co-ordinating Committee for Classics, accused the board of putting financial concerns ahead of its responsibility to offer pupils a diverse range of qualifications. Classics was at risk of being driven out of state schools, he said. “This is an exam board that examines more than anyone else and should be in a position to cross-subsidise to keep choice available.”

The AQA is the largest of the three main exam boards in England and awards half of all GCSEs. It is dropping other subjects, including GCSE archaeology and Russian.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 8:07:46 AM

~ Phoenician Tombs in Sardinia

Hopefully we'll hear more about this in English ... La Gazzetta di Mezzogiorno reports on the discovery of some 230 Phoenician tombs, dating from around the fifth century B.C.. A huge precinct dedicated to some female divinity (speculated to be either Cybele or Demeter) and vaguely-described finds from later periods have also been found. Wednesday, August 25, 2004 8:03:38 AM

~ Atlantis-in-Cyprus Update

The Mail reveals the latest in Robert Sarmast's efforts to 'prove' that Atlantis lies off Cyprus:

THE government has lost the rights to a documentary of an Atlantis expedition to the island by an American scientist, but the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is a clear winner having received hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of publicity worldwide for a £10,000 investment in the project.

The CTO yesterday denied reports that it had offered Robert Sarmast a total of £50,000.

But the American told the Cyprus Mail that this amount had been promised and that it would have given Cyprus the rights to the documentary of the expedition he hopes to launch late next month.

“This money was going to give Cyprus the rights to the film,” said Sarmast, who admitted he had been banking on the investment to help with the expedition. He said he was “not really co-operating” with the CTO now, although it did hand over £10,000 initially.

He said the remainder never materialised and that he was not given any explanation.

“We are doing with less (money),” Sarmast said, adding that be believes when he finds something the CTO will once again express an interest.
Sarmast added that the amount the CTO did invest had worked out as a very good business deal for them.

According to source in the CTO, the £10,000 had bought Cyprus an unprecedented amount of advertising on a global scale, with the huge interest generated by Sarmast’s book Discovery of Atlantis: The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus when it was published last year.

“We never gave £50,000 to Mr Sarmast nor ever promised £50,000.We are not thinking about £50,000. There is no £50,000,” a CTO official said in response to press reports yesterday.

“We absolutely believe that Cyprus benefited from the £10,000. We received promotion in the media in various countries that was worth much, much more than this amount. I can’t begin to name the media that mentioned Cyprus and I’m talking big names.”

In his book, Sarmast claims that Cyprus matches Plato’s famed account of Atlantis, a mythological ancient civilisation, in two of his dialogues with Greek philosophers Timaeus and Critias.

He claims he is able to back up Plato’s descriptions with a scientific survey of the eastern Mediterranean basin, which took place in the 1980s, and which produced the most accurate data about the topographic structure of the Levantine Basin and the Cyprus Arc.

The data was acquired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association in 1999 and used, he said, to create the most accurate bathymetric maps of the sea floor stretching between Cyprus and Syria.

Sarmast said yesterday he hoped to launch a 10-day expedition late next month. It will centre on a 17-km area, 85 km east of Cape Greco. “I don’t have an exact date yet,” he said.

FWIW, the expedition-to-be has an official website, with some bad links and is best accessed via the page which provides a biography of Sarmast (how does he get designated a scientist?) and assorted interviews. Worth a visit if you're procrastinating something ...

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 7:56:28 AM

~ Fancy Yourself a Scipio?

From DailyGame.Net:

Every now and then you stumble across a little-publicized title that’s an incredibly pleasant surprise. Such is the case with The Punic Wars: A Clash of Two Empires, which is a very good strategy game. On first glance it reeks of Warcraft lite, but a deeper time investment mines the gems that can be found in the depths of the pre-Christian wars between ancient Carthage during the height of the Roman Empire.

The Punic Wars: A Clash of Two Empires provides you with two main adventure campaigns in addition to the typical single-map battles you can select as a single player. The first campaign places you as the general of the Carthaginian army, tasked with driving the Romans out of modern-day Spain. The second requires you to do the bidding of the Roman Senate and destroy Carthage. A detailed introduction sets the tone for the multiple-stage campaign, and the overall campaign is quite challenging. In theory this is also where the “role playing” aspects come into the game, but other than giving you a name and a set of objectives, there is very little opportunity to deviate from the linear progression.

As a result, the focus of the gameplay is on real-time strategy aspects, and that’s where The Punic Wars delivers. Train armies, harvest resources from neighboring villages and parlay slave labor to build your grand armies. Fighters come in several flavors, including simple spearmen, archers, various magi and the occasional hero, and there’s even a war elephant. Sound familiar? It is. But not as similar to the other 2D strategy games as you might think. This strategy game actually requires that you develop a strategy, and not the shallow “build and conquer” RTS game plaguing the market today. [more ... including screenshots]

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 7:39:00 AM

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Powerful Gods of Mt. Olympus 
A fascinating exploration of the myths of the 12 great gods who overlooked classical Greece from atop Mount Olympus. Why did the people of ancient Greece accept them? Was their power political or divine?

8.00 p.m. |HISTU| Tyrants on Trial
How will Saddam Hussein be prosecuted? Who will get the opportunity to decide his fate? Does Saddam have any options? We take a look back in history, from ancient times to the present, at what the world had done with deposed tyrants. Some were executed, some jailed for life, and others exiled. As you will see, the history of deposed dictators has been at times violent, bizarre, and certainly checkered. And we sit down with Saddam's lawyer for a peek into the surprising defense strategy. 
11.00 p.m. |HISTU| The First Olympics
In Ancient Greece, many city-states staged athletic games, but history will always remember Olympia. Beginning in 776 BC, and for every four years after, battlefields emptied and warriors flocked to the famous arena, where the desire for victory and glory in the name of Zeus left many broken bodies. We visit ruins of the temples and the baths, where victorious athletes, glistening with olive oil and sweat from the Olympic sun, wore their laurel wreaths with pride and honor.

Channel Guide

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 7:22:01 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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