Latest update: 9/1/2004; 6:30:41 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem iii kalendas septembres

Monday, August 30, 2004 7:49:20 AM

~ Freedom of Expression National Monument

An interesting bit from Newsday ... first some explanatory bits:

Donna Thomas went up the red ramp and, speaking through a mammoth red megaphone, made her petition public.

"Bring the boys home," she hollered. "I love you, David."

He is her firstborn, a Navy man, 33, dispatched in the desert. On a postcard from him that came in last week's mail, he wrote: "I love you and thank you for the prayers for our safe return.... P.S.: It's hot here."

Standing in Foley Square under the megaphone, a temporary art installation entitled the "Freedom of Expression National Monument," Donna Thomas pulled Lt. David Van Dyke Thomas' latest postcard from her pocketbook where she keeps it for reassurance and to conjure a feeling that he is right beside her. It read "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and pictured a small collection of placid desert scenes, a more authentic postcard than the last, which the lieutenant had cut from an empty cardboard box of spaghetti and successfully shipped to the other side of the world.


The megaphone, placed smack in a hub of government and commerce, was financed with philanthropic and taxpayer dollars. Its utility rests in allowing any citizen to walk up, whisper or belt out a message of her choosing, a complaint or accolade or ambivalent expression, the silly and the earnest.

And here's the reason it gets mentioned in rogueclassicism:

"Read Thucydides." That's what Patrick Stayer, a graduate student in classics at Columbia University, said on his second romp up the ramp.

Thucydides? "It's a historical text about the folly of aggressive warmongering," he said.

"Oooh. That's good," said Kristy Ardell, a jobless former toy-maker roaming the city that day with Stayer. [more]


Monday, August 30, 2004 7:38:09 AM

~ Latin Alive and Well in Utah

From the Deseret News:

Lillian Zarndt is no ordinary high school teacher. First off, there are the pink heels with rhinestone buckles. Then there's the music of Bach playing in the background as she introduces herself, and this funny rule about no textbooks until her students earn them.

BYU professor Roger Macfarlane listens in on a Latin class at Provo High School. He says Latin is making a comeback in public schools.
      And finally, there's the subject she teaches: Latin.
      The dead language, right?
      Wrong, says Zarndt.
      "This language is so powerful and inspiring," she tells her students at Provo High on Friday, their first day. "You will have synapses shooting off in your brain you never had; you will have insights and 'ah-has' you never had."
      Long considered stuffy, irrelevant and tedious, Latin is making a comeback. The number of students taking Advanced Placement Latin nationally is nearly double what it was a decade ago, and in Utah, 10 high schools now teach Latin. Two of those schools — Provo High and Vernal's Uintah High — introduced Latin this year.
      "Latin is one of those things that fell away in public schools, but now it's coming back," said Roger Macfarlane, a Latin professor at Brigham Young University and a member of the Classical Association for the Middle West and South (CAMWS), an organization that tries to reintroduce Latin to high schools. "The pendulum is swinging back."
      At the turn of the century, 44 percent of U.S. students took Latin, largely because it was the official language of the Catholic Church. By 1962, the Vatican had agreed to allow churches to use native languages, and the number of American students studying Latin had dropped to just 7 percent.
      Educators say there are two reasons for its resurgence: It seems to help students score higher on tests, and new teaching methods have made the language easier to learn and apply to other subjects.
      In 1997, students taking Latin scored a mean of 647 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test verbal exam, compared with the national average of 505, according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
      Jeremy Demmitt, a Provo High senior in Zarndt's class, said he hopes Latin helps him prepare for college and a career as a lawyer.
      On his first day in class, Demmitt worked on a Latin crossword puzzle, studied a map of Rome and marveled at the number of English words with Latin roots.
      "The real reason Latin is coming back is that the old style of teaching Latin has been pushed aside," said Ginny Lindzey, chair for the CAMWS Committee for the Promotion of Latin. "The old way of teaching grammar the first two years, the emphasis on math and using some intricate code to put sentences together, those days are gone because only the nerds survived.".
      Instead of memorizing lines from Virgil's Aeneid, for example, students can now read Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" in Latin. Other Latin teachers mix in lessons on Greek and Roman government. Some have students build Roman tombs out of clay, while others encourage students to talk about current events in Latin.
      "We read stories about Romans with soap opera type characters, in their own words. We read what they wrote about life, love, politics and depression," said Lindzey, a junior high school Latin teacher in Austin, Texas. "It's thrilling."
      Some 60 percent of English words come from Latin, which is why educators like Lindzey say it helps students with vocabulary. Latin also has a simple, consistent and logical grammatical structure, which makes it useful in helping students learn to read or understand English grammar, which is much more complex.
      "We can't say that all English words are based on Latin or Greek, but a whole lot of them are," Macfarlane said. "If you can understand how Latin works, you're way ahead in understanding how English and other languages work."
      At Uintah High School in Vernal the Latin class filled up so fast the school had to open a second section.
      The class was the idea of former deputy Uintah County attorney Wes Baden, who has volunteered to teach it for free.
      "I don't think Latin would be coming to Uintah High School if we didn't have someone volunteering to teach it," said Principal A.J. Pease. "We're so tight with money, I don't know if we even would have considered it."
      Costs are the greatest challenge those who promote Latin face, Lindzey said. Her organization tries to recruit new Latin teachers each year.
      "Right now, everybody's budget is tight, and they don't have enough Latin teachers," she said. "When a Latin teacher retires, they're hard to replace."
      If Latin doesn't help students improve test scores after a few years, it will most likely be cut, Pease said.
      Like Baden, Zarndt volunteered to teach Latin this year. Zarndt, Provo High's German teacher, grew up studying Latin and Greek as a student in Switzerland, where she learned that both languages presented what she calls a "world view."
      The Romans were conquerors, she said, while the Greeks were creators. These philosophies are reflected in their languages. By studying Latin, she told her students on their first day, they would learn to see the world in new ways.
      "I'm so glad you're investing in yourself and giving yourself this gift," she said. "You will discover constellations in your spirits you didn't know were there."

Monday, August 30, 2004 7:31:26 AM

~ Rakhi and Alexander

A tale about Alexander the Great which some folks might not be aware of (I wasn't) ... from International Reporter:

This festival is known as “Rakshabandhan” which was initially started in North India and it then spread into South India, particularly in Gujarat state, where Baldeva is considered a special associate power of Lord Vishnu. It is said wherever and whenever Lord Vishnu takes incarnation; His special power is always associated with him separately, in any form like Baldeva with Lord Krishna and Lakshmana with Lord Rama.

This festival is celebrated by praying for protection from evil to Baladeva, an associate incarnation of Lord Vishnu, part of the holy trinity of Hindu Gods.

That’s why it falls on a day called ˜Baladeva Poornima,” the full moon day of Lord Vishnu. Many parts of India still celebrate the festival the old way by fasting and praying to Lord Vishnu for necessary protection since He is the Sustainer of the Universe.(Shiva is the Destroyer and Brahma is the Creator!!)

In recent history, this festival has evolved into a major festival to commemorate the abiding ties between siblings of opposite sex. The simple ceremony has the woman tying a rakhi, which may be a Colorful thread, a simple bracelet, or a decorative string around the wrist of her brother(s).

It has a historical significance, those who have read the Indian History when Alexander the Great invaded India and fought with King Poras. It is said that a close lady who was associated with Alexander the Great took an advantage of this tradition. She went to King Poras and adopted him as her religious brother and got a promise that he would not kill Alexander in the battle field. King Poras gave the promise.

There was a clear occasion when Poras could kill Alexander but he did not do that simply because of the promise that he had given to the lady who had tied rakhi on his wrist. Alexander was shocked when King Poras left him alive and did not attack him while he became unarmed in the battle field.

When the background of rakhi was narrated to him after he defeated King Poras,how King Poras had given a promise to spare his life in the battle field, he was thrilled and highly appreciated the gesture.

After winning the battle, Alexander reciprocated in the similar way. He asked Poras, what treatment should be meted out to him? The defeated King Poras replied “As kings do with other kings.” Alexander the great was happy to hear the reply and restored his state to him by keeping in mind the value of rakhi which one of his associate women had tied on the wrist of King Poras and he promised in return Alexander’s life protection in the battle field.

In Rakhi festival and its rich tradition, India leads the way and the immortal story of Poras and Alexander is always remembered on this day.

Monday, August 30, 2004 7:24:51 AM

~ Roman Remains Under a Football (Soccer) Field

I dunno ... it seems to me that every time some football club in the UK does renovations, they seem to dig up Roman remains. Today, from the Sun, we hear of a club in Swindon:

A JUNIOR football team have dug themselves into a financial hole after discovering Roman remains under their pitch.

Highworth Football Club in Swindon, Wilts, unearthed the remains of a courtyard, coins and pottery when they were building a new pavilion.

Archaeologists were called in and the club is now facing a £35,000 bill to have the relics removed.

Club chairman Bernard Berry said: "It's not fair we should have to cover these costs. Archaeology is nothing to do with us.

"We just haven't got that kind of money. We can't expect parents to pay the extra cash."

The club, which has more than 200 players aged six to 16, approached English Heritage for help but were told there was no cash available.

Monday, August 30, 2004 7:21:45 AM

~ James Tabor on Shimon Gibson

Last week when the story of Shimon Gibson's discovery of a cave apparently associated with John the Baptist broke, many bloggers -- including myself -- marvelled at Gibson's 'luck' in making these spectacular finds. James Tabor responded with a message to the ANE list and has given me permission to post it and Gibson's response to a review of Gibson's book (which I am doing in the interests of 'balance') ... first Dr. Tabor's letter:

I am not on the ANE list though I have a friend who forwards posts to me.  I don't know if this list accepts "guest" posts.  If not, I understand.  I just wanted to respond to some of the discussion about our excavations of the Suba cave and why Gibson has argued that the ritual activities in the cave go back to the first century, and thus might be connected to practices of John the Baptist himself...

First, those of you who know Shimon Gibson and his quality of work, whether excavating or publishing, can testify that he does not do sloppy, sensational work.  In fact, I have seldom worked with anyone who is more careful with material evidence in terms of methods of digging, collection of evidence, and scientific evaluation.

Several have posted the opinion on this ANE discussion list that the cave can be explained as a 4th century pilgrim site.  I have also begun to see this "explanation" cropping up here and there in some preliminary responses reported by the media.  I take it that those expressing such views are basing their judgments on an AP newspaper story with no consideration of the most basic material evidence found in the excavation.  Clearly, if the material evidence we uncovered in our three years of digging supported that conclusion Gibson would have adopted it.  He is no fool.  The truth is, that explanation simply does not explain the material evidence we found as we uncovered the various levels down to the original floor. We have spent many hours talking, debating, and yes, struggling to explain the complexity of this cave. Our technical volume on the dig will come out next year with the IES, but in the meantime Gibson has provided a semi-popular book, out this week, that actually does do a pretty good job in at least outlining and surveying the evidence as a whole, and attempting to correlate it with the historical/textual traditions about John the Baptist. In a sentence, the connection to the 1st century rests on the ceramic evidence, which is in turn connected to ritual activities associated with water purification rites and other ceremonies that were clearly going on in this period. Those who find Gibson's hypothesis weak need to suggest plausible alternatives that take into account such evidence and offer more persuasive explanations related to what was found. The 4th-5th century pilgrim hypothesis misses the mark totally when all is taken into account.  It is part of the story, but only one part, in terms of the long history of this cave, its varied use, and its earlier connection to ritual activity.

BTW, Gibson's book, far from being some popular sensational "wash" of the subject (to use a bad pun), is actually a rather substantial, thickly layered, treatment of not only the cave but of the whole complex of traditions about John the Baptist both literary and "on the ground" in Israel/Palestine (monasteries, churches, sacred sites, etc.).  On this measure alone it provides us with a compendium of valuable materials that as far as I know exists no where else.  I find it a fine piece of work by every measure and the treatment of the cave is handled in an engaging way that allows the reader to "participate" in the unfolding discovery and our deliberations to make sense of it all. I hope when the dust settles we can all get down to the business of discussing the evidence. There is enough in this "popular" book to sustain a good beginning and as the years pass I trust that more light will be shed on this site as experts from all areas carefully examine the more technical treatments to come.

James Tabor

... and now Dr. Shimon Gibson's response to a review of his book on the subject:

I enjoyed reading Goranson's quick review. The general book title (and especially the subtitle) was not my call, but was decided upon by the publishers who seemed to prefer the bombastic to the subtle). I agree that the subtitle is unfortunate, but in the end it is what is in the book that counts. In regard to the various points he raises: the SPCK version of Joan Taylor's book that I have does not include the subtitle "The Immerser". I do refer to Joan Taylor's article from PEQ in Note 3.37. True, the "Onomasticon" would best have been dated to the early fourth century, though no exact date for this work exists, but I do give the full dates for Eusebius on the previous page (AD 260-340). Yuval Goren is going to kill me: yes I put in an incorrect surname on page 134. However, these are all minor points (to be corrected in future editions of the book) and while Goranson says he is still not "persuaded" about the first century remains, there is no convincing argument made against the main archaeological discoveries and their interpretation as put forward in the book. At the same time, I agree that scholars will need to see the proper scientific final report on the cave so that they can assess all of the finds sensibly and I can now see that there is some urgency in doing this as quickly as possible. By the way, the criticism that some have made (not Goranson) that I shouldn't have published a popular book before the scientific publication, is something I discount vehemently. Indeed, others have done so before me: Yigal Yadin and Nahman Avigad published popular books on their Masada and Jerusalem Jewish Quarter excavations, and sadly both these excavators never got to see the scientific final reports on their sites which are now slowly coming out. The good thing is that the preparation of the final scientific monograph on this "Cave of John the Baptist" is well advanced and James Tabor and myself hope to have it in press by 2005.

Perhaps this subject matter  is more the purview of our colleagues at NT Gateway and/or Paleojudaica, but this seems to be an area where our blogs overlap.

Monday, August 30, 2004 7:18:38 AM

~ NPR Interview With Shimon Gibson

Shimon Gibson was on Weekend Edition Sunday, talking about the John the Baptist cave discovery. Monday, August 30, 2004 7:07:40 AM

~ CFP: Ancient Studies: New Technology III

The third biennial conference on the topic of "Ancient Studies -- New Technology: The World Wide Web and Scholarly Research, Communication, and Publication in Ancient, Byzantine, and Medieval Studies" will be held December 3-5, 2004, at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA. All topics relating to the use of the web, the internet, and computer tecnology in scholarly and pedagogical endeavors are welcome. Topics relating to all scholarly and pedagogical disciplines (e.g. philology, history, art history, archaeology, computer science, library science, religious studies, philosophy) as well as interdisciplinary topics are welcome. Sample topics of interest could include (but are not limited to) 1) the digital museum; 2) the digital classroom; 3) the digital scholar; and 4) theoretical issues such as "knowledge representation".
        300-word electronic abstracts dealing with these issues and with other ways in which the WEB can help to promote classical, ancient, Byzantine, and medieval studies may be directed to Ralph Mathisen, Program Chair, at and (snail-mail: Department of History, 309 Gregory Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801). Deadline for receipt of abstracts is August 31, 2004.
        Programs for previous conferences may be consulted at: (2000 Conference) and (2002 Conference). The website for the upcoming conference is located at

... seen on a pile o' lists

Monday, August 30, 2004 6:59:47 AM

~ Medea and Boudicca on BBC 7

The Beeb seems to be getting very Classical of late (if it wasn't already ... NW just recently drew my attention to some programming here. Thanks!) ... what better way to start your Monday off than with an audio retelling of Medea (it's a bit difficult to understand at times), followed up with I, Boadicea. (there might be a bit of overlap as programs from the Beeb seem to always go overtime). In regards to the latter, though, I had to turn it off when I heard her give a date as "Anno Domini" ... Monday, August 30, 2004 6:57:35 AM

~ JOB -- Classical Archaeologist @ UOttawa (bilingual tenure track)

The Department of Classics and Religious Studies of the UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA announces the opening of a full-time, tenure-track position for an assistant professor starting 1 July 2005.

Field of specialization: Archaeology and Material Culture, with competence in the Greek and Roman worlds

$       PhD relevant to the field of Classics is required. Candidates should have sufficient refereed publications (minimum three) to qualify for supervising graduate research at the University of Ottawa.
$       Most of the teaching at the undergraduate level will deal with the archaeology and art history of the classical period, as well as with ancient history more generally. At the M.A. level, teaching will focus on the period of Late Antiquity.
$       Since the department is in the process of focusing its M.A. programme on Late Antiquity (A.D. 200-700), preference will be given to candidates with demonstrated research expertise in this period.
$       The successful candidate will be expected to teach and direct research at the undergraduate and graduate levels in both French and English, and this immediately and competently upon assuming the position. The bulk of the teaching load will be in English.
$       Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience, and consistent with the University's Collective Agreement.
$       All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply;  however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.  Equity is a University policy.  The University strongly encourages applications from women.
$       Applications, including a curriculum vitae, one or two recent publications, and three letters of reference, should reach the department by 17 November 2004. Address to: Dr. Geoffrey Greatrex, Chair, Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa, 70 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 6N5. Tel. 613-562-5714. Fax 613-562-5991. E-mail:

... seen on the Classicists list

Monday, August 30, 2004 6:49:51 AM

~ Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

H. D. Cameron, Thucydides Book I: A Students' Grammatical Commentary.

G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, Athenian Democratic Origins and Other Essays.

Marina Warner, Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds. Ways of Telling the Self. The Clarendon Lectures in English, 2001.

Francois Jullien, Detour and Access: Strategies of Meaning in China and Greece.

Monday, August 30, 2004 6:47:18 AM

~ JOB: Ancient Historian @ USanDiego (tenure track)

The University of San Diego seeks a tenure-track assistant professor in ancient history and culture, beginning September 2005. PhD required at the time of appointment.  Teaching includes a one-semester survey course in world history as well as upper-division courses on Greek and Roman history.  A demonstrated commitment to teaching, research and publication is required.  The field of specialization is open and candidates who can teach advanced courses in art and material culture, social history, or late antiquity are encouraged to apply.  The University of San Diego is a private, Catholic, liberal arts institution that values teaching and dedication to students.  It is an AA/EOE.  Please send a letter of application, c.v., transcript and three letters of reference to Dr. Molly McClain, Chair, History Department, University of San Diego, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110-2492.  Applications must be received by November 8, 2004.

... seen on AegeaNet

Monday, August 30, 2004 6:45:47 AM

~ Scholia Review

Vincent Hunink (ed.), Apuleius of Madauros Monday, August 30, 2004 6:35:05 AM

~ The Odyssey on BBC4

In case you missed it, BBC 4 is broadcasting a dramatization of The Odyssey. You can listen to it for the next ten days in their archives (click on the links under "listen again"). I'm a bit through the first one (there are three) and it's quite good. Monday, August 30, 2004 6:33:15 AM

~ Apologies

Apologies for not having updated yesterday; my mother was visiting and by the time we got her on the plane to go home, and after finding most of my television sources had yet to update their source material (yes, AWOTV is delayed), I had lost the will to do battle with Radio ... Monday, August 30, 2004 6:18:49 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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