Latest update: 10/1/2004; 5:10:28 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem vii idus septembres

Tuesday, September 07, 2004 5:39:30 AM

~ Alexander Desktop

In case you haven't checked, the Alexander Desktop is now available. It's kind of neat ... it has things called 'conquest coins' which will be regularly added (I assume you have to click on 'updates' fairly regularly). It's essentially a nice ancient looking map of Alexander's conquests; not sure of some of the spellings of places (who is Al Guptos? I know ... I know) but it's aesthetically-pleasing enough. The background music gets annoying after a while (it reminds me of some video game ...) but can be turned off. Actually, there's a pile of things you can change wallpaper-wise etc. (what ... Roxanne but no Olympias?). There's a link to the trailer as well ... kind of weak. We'll see where it all goes ... Tuesday, September 07, 2004 5:33:50 AM

~ Quote du Jour

Reuters has a thing on Afghanistan with one of those sentences that always make me cringe/laugh/whatever:

Alexander the Great conquered hill tribes in what was then the Persian empire en route to India before his death in 323 BC. 

Of course ... if he had done all that after his death, he'd need a more descriptive adjective.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004 5:11:34 AM

~ Northwest Classics Society

Nice to see 'non-professional' Classics organizations getting some press coverage ... this from Seattle Times:

While many people were at home watching modern Greeks cheer on athletes at the Athens Olympics, a few preferred to sit in a basement meeting room at the Good Shepherd Center, engrossed in a contest between two ancient Greeks.

Their teacher Alan Rawn had just posed the question: Who do you prefer as the greater hero: Achilles, the brave warrior in "The Iliad;" or Odysseus, the shrewd sailor wending his way home in "The Odyssey"?

While most of us haven't pondered such a question since high school (if we ever did), Rawn's adult students and fellow members of the Northwest Classics Society relish such debates. These are not erudite snobs, nor experts, but "regular" people. And though it may not be a fashionable pursuit these days, they're happy to take a break from TV, the Internet and other modern diversions, and plunge into dusty poetic yarns spun in ancient Greece some 2,000 years ago — for no reason other than pure enjoyment.

Hunched over their well-thumbed translations of Homeric texts, the students in Rawn's August class on "The Odyssey" voiced strong opinions on the two mythic figures.

Linda Hill of Bothell voted for Odysseus because "he's a husband, and a father, and a warrior and a statesman."

But Rawn pointed out that many ancient Romans considered the fabled Greek sailor a "scurrilous, conniving, out-for-himself politician." He added, with a chuckle, "Whether you prefer 'The Iliad' or 'The Odyssey' says a lot about you."

It would be hard, though, to pigeonhole the scores of people who have spent their free time taking Rawn's evening courses. It's a varied lot, as are those who've joined the Northwest Classics Society (NCS) to take advantage of the organization's lectures, book groups, movie nights and other activities (including its twice-a-year solstice parties).

Hill, for instance, is a middle-age high-school chemistry instructor who chose to take a class on Dante's "Inferno" with Rawn, "because both of my kids were reading and learning all this stuff that I wished I had known."

Trey Gorden, a young technical writer at Boeing, also got hooked on the classics through Rawn's courses. And joining Gorden and Hill in the "Odyssey" discussion were an accountant, a special-education teacher and others working in professions far removed from the seemingly rarified world of Great Books.

That was just what Rawn hoped for when he began teaching his seminar-style classes through the Experimental College of University of Washington in the mid-'90s.

"These aren't for credit, so you don't have to worry about passing tests and doing papers," Rawn explains. "They're just about reading and discussing these exquisite works of literature. To me, that's one of the best things you can do. It's really entertaining."

Hill, active in NCS for about two years, agrees. "It always surprises me when people don't enjoy this. It's just so much fun to have a bunch of people who are eager and open to learning new things, reading the same books and talking about them together."

She also appreciates the society's diversity: "This is one of the only groups I've been part of that's not one demographic. We've got male and female, single and married, young and old."

James Clauss, chairman of the Department of Classics at University of Washington, sees the value of Rawn's informal approach to heady tomes.

"I think it's great," says Clauss. "He's making them accessible to some of the people we don't reach."

Rawn's teaching style may strike some as unconventional. Openly opinionated, he's an avid debater and provocateur — egging others on to puzzle out more enigmatic passages of a text and engage in friendly arguments with him over interpretation.

But Rawn's credentials as a classicist are solid.

A fifth-generation Seattle native, he first encountered Homer as a grade-schooler reading an illustrated children's version of "The Iliad." Later, while attending Colorado College, he went to Greece on a study-abroad program and became enthralled by modern and ancient Greek language and literature.[more]

The NCS has a webpage of course ... I wish they'd put past issues of Armchair Classicist online ...

Tuesday, September 07, 2004 5:06:48 AM

~ Battlefield Epiphanies

A new article from Digressus 4 (2004):

Wheeler, Graham. 'Battlefield Epiphanies in Ancient Greece: A Survey.'  (pdf)

Digressus bills itself as the 'internet journal of the Classical World' and has turned out some pretty interesting stuff so far.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004 5:00:21 AM

~ Reviews from BMCR

Marcello Marin, Claudio Moreschini, Africa Cristiana. Storia, religione, letteratura.

Axel Gebhardt, Imperiale Politik und provinziale Entwicklung. Untersuchungen zum Verhaltnis von Kaiser, Heer und Stadten im Syrien der vorseverischen Zeit.

Jason Davies, web page coordinator, Medicina Antiqua.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004 4:50:51 AM

~ AWOTV: On Television Tonight

Nothing of interest ... Tuesday, September 07, 2004 4:47:29 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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