Latest update: 11/1/2004; 4:39:41 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem iv nonas octobres

  • fast in honour of Ceres -- in 191 B.C., consultation of the Sybilline books ordered a fast to be held every five years in honour of the Roman goddess Ceres, who presided over grain and harvesting. By Augustus' day, the fast was an annual event which curiously coincides fairly closely with the Athenian Thesmophoria.
  • ludi Augustales scaenici (day 2 -- from 19-23 A.D.)
  • 1909 -- birth of James. B. Pritchard ("Biblical" archaeologist and author of The Ancient Near East, among other things)

::Monday, October 04, 2004 5:55:04 AM::

~ Classical MacArthur Fellows

This past week, the MacArthur fellowships were announced and I only was able to look at the complete list on the weekend; alas, no direct Classical content this time around, although Byzantinist Maria Mavroudi comes close. Anyhoo ... here are some past recipients under the rubric Classics:

Hanson, Ann Ellis
Obbink, Dirk
Palaima, Thomas G
Vlastos, Gregory

I also note under the rubric Archaeology and Epigraphy:

Alcock, Susan E.

There may be others (I don't know everybody!).

::Monday, October 04, 2004 5:46:13 AM::

~ Brothel to be Restored

From the Scotsman:

A SERIES of erotic murals decorating a brothel in the buried city of Pompeii were closed off yesterday for a £250,000 makeover.

The paintings depict the services on offer in the Roman city before it was buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79.

Souvenir stalls selling copies of the images do a brisk trade from the one million visitors a year who come to the town.

But now time has begun to tell on the fading images and the rooms of the Lupanare (Latin for brothel) are being closed for a year-long renovation project.

Experts hope that the restoration work will also uncover other erotic murals in the brothel.

Yesterday Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, superintendent of Pompeii said: "The Lupanare is the most visited part of Pompeii and with the restoration work we hope to bring to life the colourful frescoes that are there.

"They are rough, hand drawn images and although they are still visible, time has begun to tell on them and they are in need of restoration so they can be presented in a better light and be better appreciated by the million visitors we have here every year."

The Lupanare was uncovered in 1862 during excavation work in the buried city of Pompeii.

::Monday, October 04, 2004 5:25:21 AM::

~ Homerathon @ William and Mary

If you're going to be near William and Mary this weekend, you might want to catch this:

On Saturday one can start the day with a dash of ancient Greek literature by stopping by the "Homerathon" in the Crim Dell Amphitheatre, which lasts from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sponsored by the Classical Studies Club, students will be continually reading in fifteen minutes shifts the Greek poetry of Apollonius Rhodius's "Argonautica," Hesiod's "Works and Days" and "Theogony" in both the original Latin and Greek and in English translation.

"We will be reading at the Crim Dell theatre, and it's right on the way to the football game, so we get a great exposure. In the past we have had President Sullivan read, [and] occasionally professors read from related departments, history, English and sometimes parents of other students, who took Latin or Greek, or had it forced upon them, when they were students," President of the Classical Studies Club senior Rob Schwieger said.

The club hopes that the marathon reading will interest other students in taking classes in the Classical Studies Department, and possibly bring back fond memories for parents of their days in school deciphering these ancient texts.

"Many people refer to Latin and Greek as dead languages. In a sense this is true, [but] they can only truly be dead if there isn't anyone who enjoys doing events like this, and bringing [out] the best and brightest literature of the early western world," Schwieger said.
[from the Flat Hat]

::Monday, October 04, 2004 5:15:57 AM::

~ The Death of Alexander: Yet Another Theory

The Independent reveals an apparently new theory (I've never heard it before) that Roxane was in on Alexander's death; here's a sizeable excerpt:

But the latest theory suggests he was the victim of a plot by his wife, Roxane. She is said to have poisoned him with what was then a little-known toxin taken from the strychnine plant.

The disclosure will intrigue followers of a historical whodunnit which has fascinated scholars down the ages. It may also prompt more interest in Alexander, who is making something of a comeback in the form of two new Hollywood films. Oliver Stone's movie Alexander the Great, starring Colin Farrell and Sir Anthony Hopkins, is released next month. Another blockbuster - with the same title - by the Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is expected out in 2006.

The jealous wife theory is being propounded by Graham Phillips, an author of popular history, who believes Alexander was murdered by Roxane in revenge for taking another wife or perhaps flaunting his homosexual lover, Hephaestion, who also died in mysterious circumstances.

He believes that both Hephaestion and Alexander suffered the classic symptoms of strychnine poisoning. Roxane was one of the few people who could have known about the deadly derivative of the strychnine plant Strychnos nux vomica.

What little is known about Alexander's sudden death starts in Babylon, the cultural capital of the ancient world, with a funeral feast held at the end of May in 323BC in honour of the late Hephaestion.

Roman historians, drawing on original accounts of the banquet, suggest that Alexander was gripped by pain before collapsing. "The initial symptoms were agitation, tremors, aching or stiffness in the neck, followed by a sudden, sharp pain in the area of the stomach," Mr Phillips says in his new book Alexander the Great: Murder in Babylon, published this week.

"He then collapsed and suffered excruciating agony wherever he was touched. Alexander also suffered from an intense thirst, fever and delirium, and, throughout the night, he experienced convulsions and hallucinations.

"In the final stages he could not talk, although he could still move his head and arms. Ultimately, his breathing became difficult and he fell into a coma and died."

Toxicologists at the University of California told Mr Phillips that the symptoms fit those of poisoning by strychnine, a toxin that interferes with the chemical transmitters of the nerves controlling the body's muscles.

Strychnine would have been unknown in the West at the time because it came from a plant that only grew in the Indus valley, where Alexander has visited two years previously, he said.

Roxane, who accompanied Alexander, took an interest in local customs and is said to have visited a sacred grove where small doses of strychnine could have been used by local priests to induce spiritual hallucinations.

"The one person who know about strychnine was Roxane. She was not only in India, she knew about local customs. I came to the conclusion that she could have killed him," he said.

Professor Robin Lane-Fox of Oxford University, who acted as the history consultant for Oliver Stone, is sceptical of claims of Roxane's guilt.

"If you were going to kill Alexander you would want to make sure he was killed on the spot. You wouldn't want to risk a slow death by poisoning which would alert his suspicions," Professor Lane-Fox said.

"We don't know what really killed him. Alexander had many old wounds, he travelled in marshes riddled with malaria, he drank all night. He simply might have had a seizure," he said.

::Monday, October 04, 2004 5:09:49 AM::

~ Review from Scholia

Rush Rehm, The Play of Space.

::Monday, October 04, 2004 5:01:27 AM::

~ Reviews from BMCR

J.C.B. Petropoulos, Eroticism in Ancient and Medieval Greek Poetry.

Luciano Canfora, Histoire de la littérature grecque à l époque hellénistique. Originally published in Italian as Storia della Letteratura Greca (Roma-Bari: Laterza, 1986, 1989). Translated by Marilène Raiola and Luigi-Alberto Sanchi.

Vincenzo Recchia, Lettera e profezia nell'esegesi di Gregorio Magno.

::Monday, October 04, 2004 5:00:36 AM::

~ Quote du Jour

Col. Michael Bogdanos on why he has a love for antiquities:

I worked in my parents' Greek restaurant when I was young. My mother read us The Iliad when we ate souvlakia.

Full interview at U.S. News.

::Monday, October 04, 2004 4:58:13 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest; so I'll take the opportunity to apologize for the meagre update yesterday. Real life intruded more than usual into my e-life and I didn't get a chance to do half of what was on the 'to do' list, including providing more fodder to graze upon.

::Monday, October 04, 2004 4:55:50 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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