Latest update: 10/1/2004; 5:10:26 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem viii idus septembres


Monday, September 06, 2004 8:03:49 AM

~ Labour Day

Last week's Ancient History Guide N.S. Gill took me to task for suggesting there was nothing Classical about Labour Day, citing a comment I had made last year on a guest editorial by amicus noster William Harris. I still don't think there's really anything Classical about the North American incarnation of same, but the article is still worth reading! Monday, September 06, 2004 7:56:37 AM

~ Review from Antiquity

The latest issue of Antiquity has a review article of the following:

The natural history of Pompeii

The Silver Treasure (The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii Vol. IV)

Monday, September 06, 2004 7:33:34 AM

~ Folia Electronica Classica 8

There are some new 'articles in progress' for issue 8 of Folia Electronica Classica. If you can read French, there's some really interesting stuff here ... Brigitte Collard delves into secret codes in the ancient world; Marie-Paule Loicq-Berger looks for Sicily in the works of Aristotle; Michael Martin examines magic in ancient Greece; while (most interesting for my money) Françoise Van Haeperen ponders human sacrifice in ancient Rome (although she doesn't seem to consider whether gladiatorial displays should be considered human sacrifice).
Monday, September 06, 2004 7:26:50 AM

~ Alexander the CEO?

As folks are probably aware (especially if you frequent the bargain bins at your local book megastore), there is a current trend amongst 'business leadership' writers to draw on great personages of the past to provide models for CEO's to emulate. Alexander is a perennial favourite and a piece in the Star-Telegram provides a great example:

When Alexander of Macedonia was driving his armies across Asia, conquering new lands and subjugating myriads of people nearly 2 1/2 millennia ago, he was exhibiting "enactment," says executive coach Lance B. Kurke.

Of course, Alexander didn't know that because, at that time, the term had not been coined by social scientists to explain what great leaders do when they do their thing. Alexander's thing was to lead armies, outwit other military and political leaders and expand the reach of Macedonian hegemony and Greek culture.

That is not to say, however, that Alexandermerely acted on impulse and had no theoretical basis for his actions. After all, he studied under Aristotle, which meant that under his helmet, he had a brain that had been trained to think.

But even Aristotle had never heard of executive enactment. Still, Kurke, president of the consulting firm Kurke & Associates, writes in his new book, The Wisdom of Alexander the Great, that the conqueror of the Persian Empire was a master practitioner of enactment, which Kurke defines as "the process whereby an actor takes an action, the outcome of which changes the world to which that actor subsequently responds."

He explains that the actor -- a leader, manager, parent, general, strategist, politician or coach, for example -- alters the environment, situation, perception or rules, processes ideas or presents a problem.

Kurke writes that at a battle at the River Hydapses on the western border of India near the city of Haranpur in 326 B.C., Alexander, having accomplished the very difficult by getting his army across the swift river, came face to face with the impossible. The opposing army, led by King Porus, outnumbered his 3-to-1 and had 200 war elephants.

They posed a gigantic problem: Most horses abhor elephants' smell and run from it, possibly throwing their riders in the process. Porus' horses, however, had been raised around elephants and trained to tolerate the smell. Alexander's had not, and his cavalry was crucial to his army's effectiveness.

Porus positioned his elephants so that they protected his infantry from Alexander's cavalry, expecting that his own cavalry would wreak havoc on Alexander's infantry. But Alexander used a cavalry feint to lead Porus' cavalry into a trap, changing the battle into an infantry showdown.

To deal with the elephants, Alexander employed his Sogdian mounted archers, men from Bukhara, in Central Asia, who, while mounted, could hit a small target nine times out of 10 at 100 yards.

In minutes, the archers killed all the mahouts, or elephant riders. And in a few minutes more, they had shot all the elephants in their eyes.

Then the javelin throwers advanced and emptied their quivers into the elephants from 50 yards.

"We now have 200 blind, driverless elephants writhing from the pain of having six-foot-long javelins buried up to one foot or more deep in their hides. What would you do in this situation if you were an elephant? Leave, of course. Thus, these two-to-three-ton elephants stampeded among the Indians. The casualties resulted in one of the most lopsided victories in history," Kurke writes.

In that battle, Kurke writes, Alexander used the enactment strategy of reframing the problem: posing another problem that, when solved, renders the seemingly impossible problem moot. Kurke writes that Alexander reframed the hopeless problem of how to defeat an overwhelming opposing army in such a way that the solution had the opposing army destroying itself.

As a modern business corollary to that battle, Kurke cites the corporate war between Eastman Kodak and Fuji Photo Film. Fuji, Kurke says, used Kodak's strength against it. He points out that Kodak photos used true-to-life color but that Fuji found that American consumers preferred colors toward the blue end of the spectrum and used that to beat Kodak in American markets.

Kodak, however, found a weakness in Fuji's distribution system and exploited it by selling its film at the many thousands of kiosks throughout the Japanese rail and subway system instead of through normal distribution venues. [more]

Monday, September 06, 2004 6:48:39 AM

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

1.00 p.m. |DCIVC| MTA: The Lost City of Roman Britain

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.

Channel Guide

Monday, September 06, 2004 6:34:00 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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