Latest update: 11/1/2004; 4:39:38 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Ancient Pomegranate Found

This one's bouncing around the AP Wire (this via the Miami Herald):

A scientific dig has uncovered four pomegranates believed to be 2,500 years old preserved inside a woven basket nestled in a bronze vessel, a Greek archaeologist said Friday.

The fruits were found at an archaeological dig in the area of Ancient Corinth, about 63 miles west of Athens.

"They were preserved because the vessel was closed very well. The oxidization of the bronze functioned protectively, so no microorganisms developed and destroyed them," Panayiota Kasimi, the archaeologist in charge of the dig, told The Associated Press.

Archaeologists have been digging in a search for antiquities ahead of the construction of an area railroad line. Such digs are common before major construction projects.

The pomegranates were placed in a special refrigerator for further study, Kasimi said.

Archaeologists would not allow the fruit to be photographed.

... and not one mention of Demeter, Kore,  or Eleusis ...

::Saturday, October 02, 2004 7:59:25 AM::

~ Euripides' Electra as Mexican Comic?

From an interview in the Austin American-Statesman with Canadian filmaker Guy Maddin:

I've read how the film has roots in Greek tragedy, though I see more inspiration from antique horror movies, like the silent "The Hands of Orlac" with Conrad Veidt.

I really enjoyed ("Orlac"), and Conrad Veidt has amazing hands. I wanted to remake it for years, so I had that as a central metaphor, the idea of a person who's given himself over to someone else's hands and can't control his life anymore. That reminded me of how I manage my own life. And then I read Euripides' "Electra," which is like reading a Mexican comic book, a real delight, pulpy and fun. There I discovered much hysterical vengeance and a lot of my own life as well. I gobbled it up and said this is what I want to do. I've been criticized for so many years for making incomprehensible stories, so I'm taking this 2,500-year-old Euripides play and hanging my own autobiographical episodes on this sturdy, proven, enduring framework. It's a nifty fit.

Folks wondering about Mexican comics (as I did) might profitably read this little essay.

::Saturday, October 02, 2004 7:45:22 AM::

~ Losing Your Marbles

A piece in the Guardian about the Elgin Marbles used a variation of the oft-heard (in my circles, anyway) phrase 'losing one's marbles' which sent one writer off to search for the origins of the phrase. Here's an excerpt:

The reference to marbles caught a reader's attention. "What is the derivation of this phrase? Why should losing one's mind be associated with marbles?" In this particular case, the reviewer offered what amounted to an explanation and qualification of its meaning: "In my view, Campbell has many admirable qualities, but was undoubtedly going through a bad patch which made life for the rest of us (the prime minister, for example) almost impossible." The context is the angry turmoil attending the Gilligan affair.

It is not a phrase that crops up in the Guardian very often and it is usually used with a non-serious or jocular intent. One of its fairly rare appearances - almost five years ago - was in a headline that read: "Why losing one's marbles isn't all bad." The story was about the Elgin marbles.

The reader's query nicely coincided with the arrival on my desk of a new book by Nigel Rees, A Word in Your Shell-like: 6,000 Curious and Everyday Phrases Explained (Collins, £16.99) - a treasury of stimulating excursions and digressions in the English language.

Rees actually explores but dismisses the association of the phrase with the Elgin marbles. "At the popular level," he says, "most people believe the phrase derives from a joke. When Lord Elgin brought back his famous marbles from the Parthenon and they ended up in the British Museum in 1816, the Greeks were hopping mad (and, indeed, remain so). But, with all due respect and however entertaining, this is not an origin to be taken seriously."

According to Rees, "almost everyone" agrees that the expression is American in origin and he notes that the Oxford English Dictionary finds it first recorded in the journal American Speech in 1927. In fact, the OED (Supplement, 1976) provides the actual example from American Speech: "There goes a man who doesn't have all his marbles."

Rees explores the possible association of the phrase with the French meubles, "furniture, movables" (which the OED describes as a false translation), and asks, "Could one imagine 'to lose one's marbles' coming from the idea of losing one's 'mind furniture'?" He quotes in support two sayings that use furniture as an indicator of mental well-being or the lack of it. One is from a correspondent in Cheshire who notes there the expression, "He's got all his chairs at home"; and one from a correspondent in Yorkshire who wrote, "If someone is a bit lacking in the head, we say that they haven't got all their furniture at home." Hence, Rees suggests, "a home without furniture is empty, so 'lost one's marbles' = empty-headed, no longer at home, no longer 'there'." [the whole thing]

What I find somewhat interesting is that *I* never even thought to associate the phrase with Elgin ...

::Saturday, October 02, 2004 7:35:16 AM::

~AWOTV: On TV Today

Nothing of interest ...

::Saturday, October 02, 2004 7:13:14 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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