Latest update: 10/1/2004; 5:10:47 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xii kalendas octobres

Monday, September 20, 2004 5:58:11 AM

~ Roman Railroad Gauge Rears its Ugly Head Again

An account of a museum exhibit somewhere down in Polk County, Florida quotes a local historian as saying:

"There's an idea in design about things being to human scale," he said. "For instance, today's railroads are built to a gauge of 4-feet, 8-1/2-inches. That gauge dates to Roman times and corresponds to the width of the chariot wheels that the Romans used. The Romans settled on that dimension because it was human scale. It was useful. Well, design engineers of the late 19th century realized that you could only design something to be just so small before it was too small."

I haven't seen the old story about the gauge of railways supposedly dating back to the Romans in a long time, but it remains omnipresent on the web. A couple of examples can be found here (where it is presented in a very convincing fashion) and here (which is the anecdote the claim is usually attached to). This old canard has appeared on the Classics list several times; I refer the reader to this post (by amicus noster AK) which provides a good round up of the various discussions.

Monday, September 20, 2004 5:25:11 AM

~ NJCL Competition

The Winchester Star has some coverage of a local student's success at the NJCL thing this summer:

Emma Leahy walked away from a six-day Latin competition this summer with four gold medals and 27 ribbons.

The National Junior Classical League rotates its annual convention among 46 states with chapters. This year, the University of Richmond hosted the event.

Last year, her first of studying Latin, Emma, a home-schooler, won at the state level, which allowed her to compete at the national convention in San Antonio.

She brought home five firsts, two seconds, four thirds, and three fourths, earning 10th place overall in graphic arts, second overall in creative arts, and sixth overall for individual achievement.

In July, on her home turf in Virginia, the now 12-year-old competed at the national level and did even better.

Her booty included 17 first-place awards, two seconds, and seven thirds.

Her overall standings also improved. She was first overall in both graphic and creative arts and sixth place in academics.

There were 1,350 student delegates at the convention, according to Emma’s mother, Cindy Leahy.

About 200 adult sponsors and chaperones also attended.

In addition to various academic tests, dramatic readings, oratorical contests, and costume events, students could also compete in making models, maps, sculptures, cartoons, dolls, and textiles.

There were also sports events and chess tournaments.

“It’s a combination of fun and scholarship. I don’t know another place that has it,” Cindy Leahy said.

Team competitions included the certamen, a contest similar to the television program “It’s Academic.”

Teams of four students attempted to answer 20 questions covering Latin grammar, Roman life and history, geography, and mythology. They had to beat the clock and other contestants.

Emma was one of the team members for Virginia’s novice certamen team, specializing in mythology. Her first place in the mythology academic testing put her in good stead, because she was teamed with three students from Flint Hill Academy in Vienna.

Wins in four rounds of play brought the Virginia team to the finals, competing against an experienced team from Florida and the 2003 gold medal-winning team from Texas.

Certamen team members practiced and studied for weeks prior to the convention, Cindy Leahy said. They also had daily practices during the six-day convention, in addition to their various individual competitions.

“Their dedication is impressive,” Cindy Leahy said.

The Virginia team members pulled out a win on the 20th and final question and brought home gold medals.

“The excitement evoked a championship sports event,” Cindy Leahy said.

Emma’s performance won her the Lillie B. Hamilton Award, for the highest overall achievement in three of the four areas of competition.

It also brought her the first-place Sweepstakes Trophy for overall achievement and a full scholarship to next year’s convention.

Monday, September 20, 2004 5:15:06 AM

~ Higher Education ... a Couple of Centuries (or so) Ago

At American Daily there is an essay pondering what Thomas Jefferson advice in regards to education; inter alia:

In choosing a path for education and for life, Thomas Jefferson outlined a course of education for one Peter Carr over two centuries ago. His recommendations, by today’s standards, are remarkable.

In a letter from Paris dated August 19, 1785, he advised the young Peter to “begin a course of ancient history, reading everything in the original and not in translations.”

“First read Goldsmith's history of Greece … [for] a digested view of that field … and then take up ancient history in the detail, reading the following books in the following order: Herodotus, Thucydides ,Xenophonti s Anabasis, Arrian, Quintus Curtius, Diodorus Siculus, Justin.”

“The next will be of Roman history”, says Jefferson [to include, Livy, Sallust, Cæsar, Cicero's epistles, Suetonius, Tacitus, and Gibbon].

After laying that foundation, the youth should move on to a study modern history.

But this was not all. Greek and Latin poetry ought to be studied daily. “[Y]ou have read or will read at school, Virgil, Terence, Horace, Anacreon, Theocritus, Homer, Euripides, Sophocles”, Jefferson said. “Read also Milton's "Paradise Lost," Shakespeare , Ossian, Pope's and Swift's works, in order to form your style in your own language.”

A study of morality was part of the program, as well. “[Read] Epictetus, Xenophonti s Memorabilia ; Plato's Socratic dialogues, Cicero's philosophie s, Antoninus, and Seneca.” [the whole thing]

Interesting that Polybius wasn't mentioned in there ... and that Gibbon would have been relatively 'new' (it first appeared in 1776, I believe).

Monday, September 20, 2004 5:09:48 AM

~ Scholia Review

D. R. Shackleton Bailey (ed. & tr.), Statius: Thebaid and Achilleid. Monday, September 20, 2004 4:54:32 AM

~ Reviews from BMCR

Luc Brisson, Jean-Francois Pradeau, Plotin. Traites. Vol. 1: Traites 1-6. Vol. 2: Traites 7-21. Vol. 3: Traites 22-26.

Julien-David Le Roy, The Ruins of the Most Beautiful Monuments of Greece.

Monday, September 20, 2004 4:51:25 AM

~ CONF: Ancient Galilee

From October 23-25, 2004 Yale University is hosting an international conference

"The Ancient Galilee in Interaction - Religion, Ethnicity and Identity".

All information on program, registration and housing is available on Housing reservation ends on September 23.

All scholars working in the fields of history, religion, literature and archaeology of the ancient Galilee and the interested public are welcome to register (registration is free).

For additional details or questions please contact

Jürgen Zangenberg

... seen on the ANE list

Monday, September 20, 2004 4:48:48 AM

~ CONF: Varietates Lectionum: Approaches to Roman Religion

Varietates Lectionum: Approaches to Roman Religion
A Conference at the University of Mississippi

Saturday-Sunday, October 23-24, 2004

The Department of Classics at the University of Mississippi will host a national conference presenting new approaches to Roman religion on Saturday, October 23 and Sunday, October 24, 2004. A broad range of papers will be presented from scholars specializing in philology, religion, art history, archaeology, and ancient history.  Karl Galinsky of the University of Texas at Austin will provide an introductory address and Clifford Ando of the University of Southern California will close the proceedings.
Please join us  next month in scenic Oxford, MS.

Scheduled speakers include

Jeffrey Brodd, California State University, Sacramento
Kathleen Enz-Finken Minnesota State University
Jonathan Fenno, University of Mississippi
Edward Gutting, University of Mississippi
Eric Orlin, University of Puget Sound
Jennifer Rea, University of Florida
Jonathan Reed, University of La Verne
Kimberly Reiter, Stetson
Greg Snyder, Davidson College
Barbette Spaeth, College of William and Mary
Mary Thurkill, University of Mississippi

Lodging:  moderately priced lodgings in Oxford include a hotel right on campus (The Inn, (http://http//, a nearby bed and breakfast (Oliver-Britt House, 662-234-8043), or a motel close to campus and the Oxford town square (Downtown Inn, 662-235-3031).

We are charging a modest registration fee -- $35.00 for faculty, $25.00 for students, which will cover the cost of coffee breaks, as well as a reception and dinner on Saturday evening, October 23, plus transportation to and from the Memphis airport for those traveling by air.

A registration form for the conference is attached.  Please return it with your payment (checks made payable to The University of Mississippi)  to the address below. For more information, or hard copy of the registration form, please contact us at the address below or at these email addresses:,,

The Department of Classics
The University of  Mississippi
University, MS 38677

662-915-1152, 662-915-5544, 662-915-7020

FAX 662-915-5654

... seen on the Classics list

Monday, September 20, 2004 4:47:13 AM

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest. Monday, September 20, 2004 4:44:38 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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