Latest update: 10/1/2004; 5:10:38 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xviii kalendas octobres

  • ludi Romani (day 10 )
  • equorum probatio -- the official cavalry parade of the equites (in conjunction with the above)
  • 23 A.D. -- death of Nero Claudius Drusus (Drusus the Younger), son of the emperor Tiberius and Vipsania Agrippina
  • 81 A.D. -- official dies imperii of Domitian (recognition by the senate)
  • 208 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Diadumenianus?
Tuesday, September 14, 2004 6:06:09 AM

~ Ides Idiocy

As folks probably have noticed, there's a tendency amongst those uninitiated into the mysteries of Classics to assume that the 'ides' of any month is the fifteenth and I think it might be worth documenting this ignorance here in the hopes that, by some sort of Murphy's law, such references will suddenly cease. Here's an example from today's Daily News from an art exhibit opening in Dedham:

"Self Portrait as Owl" is not presently on display, but the Museum of Bad Art will be opening a new exhibit starting tomorrow night at 6:15. The title of the exhibit is "Beware of the Ides of September" and will include MOBA classics like "Sunday on the Pot With George," "Mama and Babe" and "Pablo Presley."

I'm assuming the exhibit opens tomorrow in the belief that tomorrow (the fifteenth) is the Ides. But we all know the rhyme:

In March, July, October, May the Ides are on the 15th day ...

... all other months (including September) have the Ides on the 13th.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 6:00:47 AM

~ Erotic Review Resignations

Okay ... I admit I have never heard of the Erotic Review, which was apparently recently-acquired by a more-well known (but defunct?) men's magazine, but a chunck of a report in the Scotsman on recent resignations caught my eye:

The Erotic Review’s Scottish correspondent, Peter Clarke of that ilk, says it was an agreeable, if exhausting, sinecure. "We regarded it as a sort of evening class for Eng.Lit buffs, but we doubt the calibre of the writing will be its defining characteristic in future. It is a sad end to an extended party."

Rowan Pelling, the editor, from Berwickshire, led the mass resignation. An emotional but resigned Pelling told us: "Peter Clarke’s pieces were normally too filthy for us to use, and his tendency to submit articles in Latin was a self-imposed handicap". Clarke’s classicism was honed studying the graffiti at Pompeii.

Ahhh ... the good old days, when a degree in Latin was required to understand the dirty jokes ... and you could write a dissertation on them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 5:51:22 AM

~ Rome Redux

From the Telegraph comes word that the European Union is already billing itself as a revived Roman Empire(!):

The European Union is poised to overtake America to become the premier superpower, according to an EU exhibition launched yesterday in the heart of Brussels.
The pop-art collage mounted in a tent outside the European Commission narrates 50 years of EU history and projects events into the future in an unusually frank display of European ambition.

Segments sketched across 80 yards of canvas predict that the 21st century will be the "European Century" as the EU pushes its borders deep into Eurasia, North Africa, and the Middle East and comes to dominate world affairs through its vast "legal and moral reach".

Under the heading the "Roman Empire returns", it says the EU will be renamed "The Union" once it grows to 50 states over the next three decades. [more]

Interesting how American journalists spin the Roman Empire as being 'evil' in some way in a political context while the EU clearly sees a positive side ...

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 5:45:49 AM

~ Classical Inspiration?

Well, this is clearly the strangest appeal to ancient precedent to the ancient world I've read in quite a while ... in a response to a query/complaint from a business woman that people pay more attention to her, er, endowment than she'd like, we read:

I think you should use your breasts to your advantage. Have you ever heard the saying, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it”? Many people seem to think that a woman can’t be successful and respected in the work place if she’s sexy and alluring – which is total rubbish, the most powerful women in the world used their sexuality to their advantage. Look at Cleopatra – to win the crown and keep her country free, she used her charms and sex appeal to win the support of Julius Caesar, later bearing him a son. After that she won the protection of Rome through an affair with Mark Anthony.

Cleopatra was also highly educated and possessed an impressive intellect, being a student of philosophy and international relations. What you have is always going to be noticed by men, no matter how you try to dress it down, so instead of fighting it and being ashamed and depressed, use it. Be confident, sexy and intellectual, and soon enough you'll be surpassing.

... and yes, that response came from a woman.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 5:40:00 AM

~ Crane Dance

An interesting press release about research into why humans do a 'Crane dance' has some ClassCon:

Zooarchaeologist Russell (an anthropologist who studies the role of animals in the lives of ancient peoples) adds: "Cranes of various species are found all over the world, with the exception of South America and Antarctica, and so are human crane dancers. They were at ancient Chinese funerals and Okinawan harvest festivals. The Ainu of Japan, the BaTwa of southern Africa and the Ostiaks of Siberia did costumed crane dances. Plutarch writes that Theseus and his companions, after they slew the Minotaur and landed in Delos, performed a crane dance."

And sure enough, one easily finds the relevant passage in Plutarch's Life of Theseus at the Internet Classics Archive:

Now Theseus, in his return from Crete, put in at Delos, and having sacrificed to the god of the island, dedicated to the temple the image of Venus which Ariadne had given him, and danced with the young Athenians a dance that, in memory of him, they say is still preserved among the inhabitants of Delos, consisting in certain measured turnings and returnings, imitative of the windings and twistings of the labyrinth. And this dance, as Dicaearchus writes, is called among the Delians the Crane. This he danced around the Ceratonian Altar, so called from its consisting of horns taken from the left side of the head.

Actually, I've often wondered if 'Crane dances' were connected to the Roman lusus Troiae ...

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 5:31:58 AM

~ Indiana Teacher of the Year

The Indiana Teacher of the Year is none other than Latin Teacher Sharon Gibson. From the Hendricks County Flyer:

Latin is the root of many languages, and many students take the class to help them prepare for the SATs and college. But at Brownsburg High School, students take the class because Sharon Gibson is the teacher.

"She's a really good teacher," said Lizzie Gladson, a junior in Gibson's class. "She's one of the few who can explain things well."

Gibson, who is helping other students understand gerund phrases, barely notices as Gladson and three of her classmates take the time to talk about their teacher.

"She really cares that you do well," said Kaylee Newby, also a junior.

It's this kind of endearment that inspired several of Gibson's students to nominate her for Wal-Mart's Teacher of the Year program last year. Last spring, Gibson was named the local teacher of the year. To thank her students, she then took the time to enter the state contest. On Aug. 30, Gibson was surprised to learn she was named Indiana's teacher of the year. Now, she's up for the national award.

Russell Hodgkins, principal at the school, said Gibson's dedication and hard work over the years have proved she earned this award and the $10,000 that came with it.

"We know that Sharon has excelled year after year in her profession," he said. "She is completely dedicated to teaching Latin. She has a level of enthusiasm that is unsurpassed by anyone. Latin has become so popular here with the kids we had to hire another teacher."

Gibson doesn't seem overly concerned with the award. She said the money she won is being used to create a scholarship for seniors, and if she wins the $25,000, that will become part of the scholarship fund as well.

"It just seems right to give it back to the kids," she said. "It was nothing I did. The kids did it all."

Gibson started teaching at BHS in 1979, and has been teaching for about 40 years. This year will be her last year as a full-time teacher, though she said she will return to teach the seniors and she's teaching a Latin class online to students from all over the world.

"I'm not really retiring," she said. "I'm just changing locations."

Teaching Latin, Gibson said, seemed like a logical choice to her.

"I like foreign languages," she said. "They're like a big code and I love codes. As a little girl, I was always writing notes in code and trying to solve codes. Latin is more than a language. It's a way of life. If I can change their lives, then I've succeeded as a teacher."

Gibson said the most important part of teaching is making sure the students give something back to the community. She accomplishes this by working in several volunteer groups, and inspiring her students to do the same.

In 2003, she formed the Granbuddies Program that pairs students up with senior citizens who are living alone and need a companion.

"The kids love it," she said. "They can't wait to see their buddies."

The national teacher of the year award won't be announced until later this year.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 5:17:40 AM

~ Pearls Before Swine

A pile of folks sent this one in (thanks to all!) ... it's a Pearls Before Swine comic with a Classics bent (September 13). Today's installment also continues in the same vein ... Tuesday, September 14, 2004 5:02:23 AM

~ Reviews from BMCR

Robert Mayhew, The Female in Aristotle's Biology. Reason or Rationalization.

Olivia Remie Constable, Housing the Stranger in the Mediterranean World. Lodging, Trade, and Travel in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Susan Guettel Cole, Landscapes, Gender, and Ritual Space: the Ancient Greek Experience.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 4:47:12 AM

~ AWOTV: On TV Tonight

8.00 p.m. |PBS| Infinite Secrets Christie's, New York, 1998: In a blaze of publicity, an extraordinary item was put up for sale. To the untrained eye, it was nothing more than a small and unassuming Byzantine prayer book, yet it sold for over $2 million. Its real value lay not in the prayers, but in a much earlier, spidery script that lay hidden almost invisibly beneath them. This turned out to be the oldest and most authentic copy of a compendium of works by the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes, lost for more than a thousand years. Scientists are now using cutting-edge imaging techniques to unlock the secrets of this time capsule and gain a unique insight into one of the greatest minds the world has ever known. [check local listings] Tuesday, September 14, 2004 4:44:00 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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