Latest update: 11/1/2004; 4:39:37 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

kalendas octobres

  • rites in honour of Fides on the Capitoline -- these involved a procession of the flamines in a "two horse hooded carriage" to the shrine. The flamines had to bind themselves up as far as their fingers as a symbolic gesture that fides (good faith) had to be kept.
  • rites associated with Juno Sororia at the tigillum -- although a number of false etymologies associated this ritual of passing under a beam (the tigillum) with the tale of Horatius murdering his sister, it is more likely originally some sort of 'coming of age' ritual for Roman girls
  • 331 B.C. -- Alexander defeats Darius at the Battle of Gaugamela (according to one reckoning)
  • 208 A.D. (?) -- birth of the future emperor Severus Alexander

::Friday, October 01, 2004 5:34:04 AM::

~ Review from BMCR

Michael Simpson, The Metamorphoses of Ovid.

::Friday, October 01, 2004 5:10:10 AM::

~ And some Pedantry of My Own

This sort of thing always makes me cringe ... especially when the source is a university press release:

"Medea" is the work of one of antiquity's great poets, Euripedes, who wrote almost 90 plays.

Well, what else are you going to do when you are the poster boy for swollen feet?

::Friday, October 01, 2004 5:08:03 AM::

~ A Bit o' Pedantry

The Daily Tribune has a piece of pedantry which has never made sense to me. Here's the incipit:

It will take one heck of an eraser, one at least 225,000 miles long, to eliminate the most famous instance of the mistake that we are going to talk about today. But, frankly, I don’t believe that anybody is ever going to eliminate that error, even though it’s well documented and has a name and a face. More later.

That spacious error (pardon the pun, as you will soon see) came to mind this past week as I was watching a History Channel presentation on those ingenious Romans of antiquity. Marvelous inventors — although they never thought of stirrups for horses, which always bothers me — the Romans “constructed over 500 aqueducts between 226 B.C. and 350 A.D.,” according to the program, to convey water to Rome itself. The water was diverted from sources as far as 57 miles away to serve the needs of the Roman populace — marvelous ingenuity.

But that information is incorrect. Not that I care to argue with the professional historians who, I am sure, have counted a whole lot more Roman aqueducts than I will ever see. In fact the only Roman aqueduct that I have seen real close up was the one I stood under about a month ago in Croatia, staying out of the sun while tour group leader Bob McDonald tried to figure out how he had gotten us lost — again. But that’s another story.

Anyway . . . the History Channel got its aqueducts right; of that I am sure. But the channel got its A.D.’s wrong; of that I am, also, sure.

You may have learned that A.D. stood for “after death,” while B.C. stood for “before Christ.” That’s half right, the second half. The abbreviation A.D. — and note that both are abbreviations, which demand the periods after the capital letters — stands for the Latin phrase anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord,” while B.C. does, indeed, represent “before Christ.”
So that’s what the abbreviations stand for, but the two cannot be placed similarly in dates. Properly used, the B.C. appears directly after the year. So, “Caesar crossed the Rubicon River in 49 B.C.” literally 49 years prior to the date given for the birth of Christ.

On the other hand, correctly placed, the A.D. appears before the year, as in “William invaded England in A.D. 1066,” again literally “in the year of our Lord, 1066.” Placed after, the abbreviation would make little sense with the date, as in “1066 in the year of our Lord.”

So what we're saying -- and what numerous professorial types have said to me -- is that a pair of words coming from a language with a very flexible word order, all of a sudden must be placed in a definite order when used in an English sentence? And, of course, we've all seen A.D. placed after the year a zillion times in our lives and know exactly what it means; doesn't usage change the language? And if we're so pedantic about that, how come no one seems to be as pedantic about the abbreviation C.E., which doesn't even indicate the word 'year'. Grumble.

::Friday, October 01, 2004 5:05:37 AM::

~ Why Did Minoan Culture Collapse?

The Greek government is going to fund a series of studies designed (apparently) to see if the theory about earthquakes contributing to the demise of Minoan civilization has any merit. From Kathimerini:

The Culture Ministry has given the go-ahead for a seismological study that might help provide a scientific answer to one of the most tantalizing questions of Greek archaeology: What caused the collapse of the flourishing Minoan culture on Crete some 3,500 years ago?

Late on Tuesday, the ministry’s Central Archaeological Council agreed to let Greek and international earthquake experts study the ruins of Knossos, the largest of the Bronze Age palatial complexes built by the Minoans.

Scientists will also dig trenches across existing faults in the area of Archanes, a few kilometers to the south, in a bid to record the area’s seismic history. They will not be allowed to excavate in Knossos itself, where no faults are known to exist, but will thoroughly map the area.

The team will be headed by Athanassios Ganas, a remote sensing and geology researcher at the Geodynamic Institute of the National Observatory of Athens.

The destruction of Knossos, around 1450 BC, has been tentatively attributed to an earthquake possibly linked with a vast volcano eruption on the island of Santorini.

::Friday, October 01, 2004 4:54:34 AM::

~ Final Alexander Trailer Out has the 'final' version of the Alexander trailer; not bad, although it does appear Angelina Jolie looks a bit young to be Olympias ....

::Friday, October 01, 2004 4:43:49 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

6.00 p.m. |HINT| Hadrian's Wall
Why did the ancient Romans build a stone wall across England from sea to sea? This look at Emperor Hadrian's Wall suggests that it had to do with military necessity and the ego of Hadrian himself.
7.00 p.m. |HINT| Julius Caesar: Master of the Roman World.
Profile of one of the world's greatest military minds, ancient Rome's Julius Caesar, who romanced Cleopatra, invented the 12-month calendar, and expanded the boundaries of the empire, before being assassinated by senators fearful of his growing power.

9.00 p.m. |HISTU| Birth of the Roman Empire
In 198 BC, the classic military conflict between the Ancient World's two dominant military systems took place in a chain of hills called Cynoscephalae (Greek for "Dogs' Heads") in Thessaly, Greece. King Philip V led the Macedonian phalanx, the fighting force that conquered the world under Alexander the Great. Titus Quinctius Flaminius led the Roman Legion, the classic mobile heavy infantry unit that was to hold the Pax Romana for centuries to come. The two sides met in the fog in a battle that ended the Second Macedonian War.

HINT - History International

HISTU - History Channel (U.S.)

::Friday, October 01, 2004 4:27:50 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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