Latest update: 10/1/2004; 5:10:48 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xi kalendas octobres

  • Mercatus -- still stocking the cupboards after the ludi Romani
  • 490 B.C. -- battle of Marathon** (yet another reckoning)
  • 490 B.C. -- the Athenian polemarch Callimachus dies during the Marathon campaign** (contingent on the above, obviously)
  • 19 B.C. -- death of Publius Vergilius Maro
  • 37 A.D. -- the emperor Gaius (Caligula) is given the title pater patriae
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 6:00:16 AM

~ Cameras and the Gods

This is kind of interesting in context ... over at Ars Technica there is a piece commenting on plans in Chicago to put a bunch of surveillance cameras downtown for security reasons (they're thinking of doing the same in various places in the 'Golden Horseshoe' area of Ontario as well). What's interesting is this bit:

Is it really a totally new concept? Let's hear what a Greek writer of the 5th century BCE had to say about crime prevention and the need for laws to be backed by the fear of a set of intelligent, all-seeing eyes that never sleep:

When the laws kept men from openly doing acts of violence, it seems to me that they did them in secret. And a man--someone shrewd and wise--first had the thought to invent fear of the gods for mortals, so that there would be something fearsome to evil people, should they do or say or think anything in secret.

Therefore, he introduced the divine as a daemon [in the benign, non-"demonic" sense of the word, sort of like a UNIX daemon], blooming with undying life, looking with its mind, thinking quite a lot, paying close attention to these things, and having a divine nature, one who will hear and see all that is said among mortals and will be able to see all that is done.

If you plan some evil silently, you will not escape the gods' notice in these things, for there is much understanding in them... He set the gods in the heavens above... He placed such fears all around people, and... he well established the daemons in a conspicuous place and stamped out lawlessness with laws. -- Critias, Fragment B25. (Note that some attribute this fragment to Euripides.)

I guess the photoradar at various intersections fits into this category as well. Now if I can just find a Classical precedent for my license plate renewal thing being not mailed to me, so I didn't renew my license (a year ago!), so I got a ticket (of course; my insurance that I had in the car had expired as well ... the new one was in the mail that day), but when I went to the 'kiosk' to renew, it refused to accept it and told me to go to the main office, so I did but the office had moved, so when I got there and had all the forms done and had stood in line for an hour I had hope, but then was told I needed to get an emissions test, so I mentioned my car was less than five years old, but they told me they do it on three-year-old cars now, so I mentioned how the provincial Liberals had campaigned on eliminating these tests, but they haven't.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 5:42:05 AM

~ Museum for Hercules' Head

From Payvand:

Perching for ages on a wind-swept mountain top in Behistun near the bas-relief of Dariush I, a stone statue named Hercules’s Head is restored and would be kept in warehouses until a planned museum is built in Kermanshah, west of Iran, Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency reported.

The sculpture had been chiseled out of the Behistun mountain face during the reign of the Seleucids and was discovered in 1958 by British workers who had been constructing a road between Hamadan and Kermanshah, but their machineries inadvertently decapitated the statue, making it the most flamboyant part of the work.

“Right now its restoration project has finished and it has been stacked in the warehouses of the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO),” said Fathollah Biniaz, an expert with the project.

A replica of the sculpture has also been made and would likely be attached to the bust in near future, he added. Its color is rather darker to indicate the head is not as old as the bust.

In 1958 after some initial restoration the Hercules’ Head was fixed in its original place and was soon robbed, but the smugglers were nabbed before escaping the country. It returned home in 1991, though artifact hunters stole it yet again. This time it was, unfortunately, split into two halves.

The Behistun inscription is approximately 15 meters high by 25 meters wide, and 100 meters up a cliff from an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana). It is extremely inaccessible as the mountainside was removed to make the inscription more visible after its completion. The text itself is a statement by Darius I of Persia, written three times in three different scripts and languages: two languages side by side, Old Persian and Elamite, and Akkadian above them.

King Darius ruled the Persian Empire from 521 to 486 BC. Some time around 515 BC, he arranged for the inscription of a long ode of his accession in the face of the usurper Smerdis of Persia (and Darius' subsequent successful wars and suppressions of rebellion) to be inscribed into a cliff near the modern town of Bisistun, in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains of Iran, just as one reaches them from the Kermanshah Plain. The inscription was illustrated by a life-sized bas-relief of Darius, two servants, and ten one-meter figures representing conquered peoples; the god Ahura Mazda floats above, giving his blessing to the king. One figure appears to have been added after the others were completed, as was (oddly enough) Darius' beard, which is a separate block of stone attached with iron pins and lead.

The first historical mention of the inscription is by the Greek Ctesias of Cnidus, who noted its existence some time around 400 BC. Also Tacitus mentions it and includes a description of some of the long-lost ancillary monuments at the base of the cliff, where a spring is located. What has been recovered of them is consistent with his description. Diodorus also writes of "Bagistanon" and claims it was inscribed by Queen Semiramis of Babylon.

There's an accompanying photo at the site as well, but the piece really isn't much to look at. On the history of the inscription and its 'discovery', see the nice little article at

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 5:27:32 AM

~ CONF: Fordyce Mitchel Memorial Lectures

Department of History
University of Missouri-Columbia
Fordyce Mitchel Memorial Lecture Series
The 2004 Mitchel Memorial Lecturer is Mogens Herman Hansen, speaking on the topic "The Demography of the Greek Polis." His talks are as follows:

Monday October 11
7.00 p.m.: Public Lecture: "Was Athens a Democracy: A Comparison between Ancient Athenian and Modern Liberal Democracy" (Tate Hall 22)

Tuesday October 12
4.00 p.m.: Mitchel Lecture 1, "The Shotgun Method Used to Establish the Total Number of Inhabitants of the Ancient Greek Poleis" (Tate Hall 103)

Wednesday October 13
4.00 p.m.: Mitchel Lecture 2, "The Population of Walled Poleis" (Tate Hall 103)

Thursday October 14
4.00 p.m.: Mitchel Lecture 3, "The Proportion of the Population Settled in the Hinterland of a Polis and the Carrying Capacity of the Various Regions" (Tate Hall 103)
All lectures are free and open to the public. For further details, please contact:
Prof. Ian Worthington
Tel. (573) 882-0780

... seen on the Classics list

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 5:02:56 AM

~ Review from Ancient Narrative

"NIKETAS EUGENIANOS: A Byzantine Novel. Drosilla and
Translated with an Introduction and Explanatory Notes by Joan B.
Burton. (pdf) Tuesday, September 21, 2004 4:59:47 AM

~ AWOTV: On Television Today

9.00 p.m. |DCIVC| The Mystery of the Parthenon

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 4:41:43 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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