Latest update: 11/1/2004; 4:39:47 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem viii idus octobres

  • ludi Augustales scaenici (day 4 -- from 11-19 A.D. and post 23 A.D.)
  • ludi Augustales scaenici (day 6 -- from 19-23 A.D.)
  • 3rd Century A.D. -- martyrdom of Reparata

::Friday, October 08, 2004 6:00:57 AM::

~ Bad Taste?

Not sure if it's in bad taste, but the regular occurrence of the name of the State Coroner in Cyprus and his 'official statements' always start a smile to make its way to my face. E.g., this just came in:

State coroner, Sophocles Sophocleous, dismissed any suspicions of foul play ...

I always imagine that the death certificates in Cyprus all have as their cause of death: Fate.

::Friday, October 08, 2004 5:57:20 AM::

~ Classics Exam Disrupted!

Never did like this sort of thing (which really isn't as original as the perps probably thought):

Three students stormed out of an exam and ripped up test papers last Friday, causing a dramatic scene in a Classics 221 class.

At least, that is how it appeared to the average University of Tennessee student. As it turns out, these three attending classes were not UT students at all. In fact, they were not even from the state of Tennessee, but rather were Michigan natives who thought attending classes at UT would be entertaining.

Three friends from Detroit - Nick Hagewood, 25; Brandon Lietke, 19; and Steve DuCharme, 25 - hit the road Sept. 30 and headed down to Tennessee from Michigan for the weekend. They decided to make a stop at Ohio State along the way and party there, before driving through the night. The trio made it to UT's campus around 9 a.m. Oct. 1.

"Once we hit the Tennessee border, it was 9 a.m. so we pulled over and started drinking," Lietke, sophomore at Michigan State University, said. "We walked around campus to look for where to go."

Hagewood added, "Our goal was to find a big lecture. We wanted to try to get the students an extension on some kind of assignment so they could party all weekend."

The Michiganders were first spotted by students in McClung Museum as they waited to take their classics exam. The three asked other students for Scantrons and pencils. Once the professor walked in, the theatrics began.

Witnesses said the first guy stood up and announced to the class, "I can't take this anymore. I'm hungover, my girlfriend dumped me and I just can't take it."

The professor told him he would have to take an "F" if he didn't complete the exam, so the "student" dramatically ripped his papers up and stormed out.

Minutes later, the next guy stood up and said, "Wait, if he's not taking it, I'm not taking it" and fled the room. Soon after, the third of the Michigan boys stood up and said, "So does this mean we have an extension?" and followed with an equally dramatic exit.

"I felt kind of bad because we had a substitute that day," Tabitha Collins, a sophomore who witnessed the spectacle, said. "At first, I thought she was in on it. She finally said, 'If any one else is going to walk out, please do so now.'"

Collins said that for the rest of class she kept looking around to see if anyone else was going to leave.

"There was this one guy to my left, and I seriously thought he was going to leave, too, but he never did," she said.

The Michiganders didn't stop their fun-filled day of UT classes with Classics 221. They made their next stop at a Geology 101 lecture. They made their entrance to class a bit late, armed with large drinks and a huge white board and markers. Collins happened to be in this class, too. [more]

::Friday, October 08, 2004 5:49:51 AM::

~ Job: Hellenist @ Ohio State (tenure track)

The Department of Greek and Latin invites applications for a tenure-eligible position with specialization in Greek at the rank of Assistant Professor starting September 2005.  The candidate must have the Ph.D. or be able to assure its completion by June 30, 2005.  Promise in teaching and scholarship is essential, and evidence of accomplishment in both is desirable.  Teaching responsibilities will include a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses at all levels, including courses in the original languages and courses in Classical literature in translation, mythology, and ancient societies and cultures.  Candidates should send a complete dossier, including a curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample of no more than 30 pages.  Review of applications will begin on November 1, 2004, and continue until the position is filled.  Applications should be sent to: Search Committee, Department of Greek and Latin, The Ohio State University, 414 University Hall, 230 North Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210-1319.  The Ohio State University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer. Women, minorities, Vietnam-era veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

... seen on AegeaNet

::Friday, October 08, 2004 5:45:23 AM::

~ Job: Kenan Eminent Professor @ UNC

The Department of Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been authorized to search for a distinguished senior colleague to join the Department as Kenan Eminent Professor of Classics. The area of specialization is open, but an attempt will be made to complement the Departmentís current and continuing strengths. We seek a scholar with an international reputation for excellence in research, and a demonstrated commitment to teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as potential for intellectual leadership and strong service. Nominations are welcome. Women and minority scholars are encouraged to apply. UNC Chapel Hill is an EOE employer. We will begin to consider applications on December 1, 2004, and continue the search until the position is filled. Please send a letter of interest, a curriculum vitae, and the names of four persons who would be willing to write on your behalf, to: Professor James O'Hara, Chair, Kenan Search Committee, Department of Classics, CB# 3145, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3145. E-mail inquiries should be addressed to: The Department's website is at://

... seen on the Classics list

::Friday, October 08, 2004 5:42:34 AM::

~ Roman Water

This story is actually going on three years old but turned up in today's scan because it's mentioned in the sidebar of another (unrelated) story. From Science Daily:

Contrary to common opinion, the Romans had several systems for the supply and drainage of water. The Romans preferred small-scale provisions such as cesspits, wells and rainwater tanks. The residents only constructed a water supply network or a sewerage system if these were not effective.

Research carried out at the University of Nijmegen reveals that the Romans came up with various, often pragmatic, solutions to their water problems. For example, the Italian town of Ostia has got many wells but no cesspits. The groundwater there is too high for cesspits. The water would seep through the piled up stones of the cesspit and that would cause a filthy mess. Therefore Ostia has a sewerage system.

The sewer in Ostia is particularly beautiful and has remained perfectly intact. It is so well preserved because it has always remained underground and that is still the case. The only disadvantage is that it is full of toads. This makes research in the sewer something of an Indiana Jones experience, especially as it is easy to get lost in it.

In Herculaneum, like Ostia a Roman town, the inhabitants did not construct such cesspits. The ground there is too rocky for draining away urine and faeces.

Pompeii, the third city visited by the archaeologists, has both a sewer and a drainage system for rainwater. The latter is currently being examined in the Netherlands.

Small elevations in the streets of Pompeii guided away the rainwater. Sometimes the elevations were not enough and the inhabitants chose to allow the rainwater to flow through the sewer. For example at the forum, the central square, rainwater flows into the sewer for the simple reason that people did not want the inconvenience of rainwater on such a lively square. [more]

::Friday, October 08, 2004 5:40:10 AM::

~ Appropriate Diction

Over at Laudator, which obviously seems to always have something interesting, there's an item on Diction Appropriate to Character Type which augments Dover's study of language and character in Aristophanes.

::Friday, October 08, 2004 5:33:36 AM::

~ Greek Coffins

All sorts of coverage of this story (see this weekend's Explorator for the collected links) ... archaeologists are agog at the discovery of a couple of 3,000 b.p. coffins near Corinth which suggest "the ancient Greeks may have been more technologically advanced than previously thought". From

THE discovery of two large limestone coffins dating back 3,000 years could indicate that the ancient Greeks may have been more technologically advanced than previously thought, an archaeologist said today.

Each of the coffins, also known as a sarcophagus, was found in Ancient Corinth and dates back to 900 to 875 BC - a period known as the early Geometric period.

The name derives from the art of the period, mostly found on pots, with its characteristically linear designs and dots and lines forming zigzags and angles.

Guy Sanders, in charge of the digs carried out by the American School of Classical Studies, said the enormous weight of each coffin - 3.33 tonnes and 1.8 tonnes - suggests the ancient Corinthians must have used a mechanical system to lower the sarcophagi into graves instead of sheer muscle power.

"To lower the sarcophagus into place in a controlled movement ... requires some kind of temporary superstructure over the grounds so they can control the vertical movement of the stone," Sanders said.

The American School has been conducting digs in Greece since 1896. Ancient Corinth is located about 100km west of Athens.

"Either they had 40 or 50 people at the end of a rope or they had some kind of mechanical fashion of lowering it in a gradual control drop. For that you need some kind of primitive or basic gearing system," Sanders said. [more]

Er ... maybe they had some bulls or oxen?

::Friday, October 08, 2004 5:25:59 AM::

~ D.M. Michael Grant

Michael Grant died this week; here's the obit from the Telegraph:

Professor Michael Grant, who died on Monday aged 89, was a don at Cambridge, Professor of Humanity (Latin) at Edinburgh, and vice-chancellor at the Universities of Khartoum and Queen's, Belfast, but was best known as a prolific populariser of ancient history who published nearly 50 books on the Greeks, Romans and early Christianity.  
Grant was always a lucid and erudite writer, who took the view that a study of the classical world was both "infinitely worth studying in its own right, without any consideration of modern analogies" and also that "without Latin, people are handicapped because they do not understand their past, and cannot therefore effectively plan their futures".

This attitude did nothing to impede his range, nor his appeal to the ordinary reader as well as the academic professional. As well as scholarly publications on the coinage of Rome (he was a distinguished numismatist), he produced biographies of Julius Caesar, Nero, Herod, Cleopatra, Jesus, St Peter and St Paul; accounts of the literature, history, art, mythology and social life of Greece and Rome; and found time to examine the Middle Ages and ancient Israel.

Books such as The Twelve Caesars (1975) and Gladiators (which was reissued recently after Ridley Scott's film) sold well in Penguin editions and enabled him to boast of a position as "one of the very few freelances in the field of ancient history" and, for the last 30 years or so, to work from his home in Italy.

The first of his general surveys, Ancient History (1952), and its companion Roman Literature (1954) immediately made clear his gifts of clarity and scholarship. Myths of the Greeks and Romans appeared in 1962, was twice updated, and was followed by Roman Myths. The Climax of Rome (1968) dealt with the neglected period of Rome after the second century AD; The Ancient Historians (1970) summarised the development - the invention, almost - of history; The Army of the Caesars (1974), The Twelve Caesars and The Roman Emperors (1985) covered the rule and supremacy of Rome.

But there was scarcely an aspect of ancient life which did not receive Grant's attention: The History of Rome (1978); The Jews in the Roman World (1973); Art in the Roman Empire (1995); The Classical Greeks (1989); The Hellenistic Greeks (1990) and many more were ground out by his pen.

Michael Grant was born in London on November 21 1914, the only son of Colonel Maurice Grant, who had served in the Boer War and later wrote part of its official history, before covering the Balkan Wars for the Daily Mail and rising to become an obituarist - though he was sacked for failing to get up in the night to update Kitchener's obituary in 1916. His mother Muriel was of Danish stock, and descended from Jorgen Jorgensen, who staged an unsuccessful coup in Iceland in 1809.

After day school in Queen's Gate, young Michael went on to prep school at The Grange, Surrey, where he found conditions Spartan, before going to Harrow, where he captained his house at cricket and spent three years in the Classical Sixth form, being taught by the headmaster, Dr (later Sir Cyril) Norwood, and E V C Plumptre.

The latter was a precise figure. When discussing the novel Quo Vadis - which took its title from the reputed words of the resurrected Christ to St Peter - he commented: "A classical Roman would have said Quo Is. What a pity that our Lord spoke such late and inferior Latin." Grant also made visits to Rome's ancient sights, which made an immense impact on him.

He went up to Trinity, Cambridge, in 1933, where he wasted his first year, but buckled down after failing to be shortlisted for a scholarship. Having won a slew of awards and graduated, he compiled a thesis as a research student (later published as From Imperium to Auctoritas), and travelled widely - aware that the impending war would soon make that impossible. In 1938, Grant was duly elected a Fellow of Trinity.

But then, as Grant noted in his autobiography My First Eighty Years (1994): "There was a singularly unpleasant war on in 1939-45 and . . . the Army seemed the right place to be in." Within a fortnight of the outbreak of war, he was in uniform, having met a brigadier from Military Intelligence. Grant spent his last evening at Cambridge with a friend "whose elder brother was soon afterwards shot dead at Catterick, when he returned to camp after dinner and forgot the password".

He trained with Anthony Blunt, who went into MI 5 ("a most unsuitable job, as it turned out, to give to him") and then worked beside David Niven as a duty officer at the War Office, where he was once compelled to rouse the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Lord Ironside, to tell him of the invasion of Norway and Denmark. He opened his call with the day's codeword, "Viking", to be greeted with the answer: "What the hell are you talking about?"

Grant was transferred to France, where he had the embarrassing task of organising "nocturnal amusements" for his commanding officer and, exhausted, the next day, lunched with the Duke of Windsor, who - to the commanding officer's horror - wore suede shoes.

He was then transferred to the British Council in Turkey, where he got to know "Cicero", the German spy who was valet to the British ambassador, Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen. Grant attributed Cicero's success to his rudeness, which meant no one suspected him. Grant himself succeeded (by eating a packet of butter before going out to meet ministers) in keeping up with demanding Turkish drinking habits, though not in persuading the country to join the allies. He also got his friend the historian Steven Runciman his first job, at Ankara University.

After the war, Grant and his Swedish wife Anne-Sophie, whom he had met and married in Turkey, returned to England, and after a period continuing his work for the British Council, returned briefly to Cambridge, where he supervised students on Athenian history while Bertrand Russell, who shared the room, relaxed before dinner. But he almost immediately accepted a post at Edinburgh University, where he remained until 1959. Grant relished his time there, though he found that the citizens, despite his name, would not accept him as Scottish because of his patrician demeanour and English background.

He also became a figure of suspicion after taking some students to Rome, where he bought them a drink and took them to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli - thus, in their view, attempting to seduce them with both alcohol and Papist idolatory. He received some teasing for once wearing an overcoat beneath his gown to guard against the cold.

Between 1956 and 1958, Grant took a sabbatical to become first vice-chancellor of the University of Khartoum, which he enjoyed, though arguments over "Sudanisation" and the Suez crisis did much to make his life there tiresome. He later regretted the restrictions imposed on the university by fundamentalist Islam, and the failures of Sudan's government.

From 1959 until 1966, Grant served as vice-chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast, where his dealings with Stormont and with the divisions between Catholic and Protestant students gradually led him to the view that Britain should withdraw from Northern Ireland (though it was not a sentiment he voiced until long after his retirement).

In 1966, encouraged by the experience of the journalist and MP Vernon Bartlett, Grant and his wife moved to Italy, where he bought a 16th-century house from Paolo Rossi, the Minister for Education. It was situated near Lucca, where Pompey, Crassus and Caesar met in 56 BC to hammer out differences which had grown up during the First Triumvirate; it was also convenient for Etruscan remains and for the amphitheatre (dating from 79-95 AD) nearby. From his book-lined study there, Grant continued to turn out numerous works, and also to travel widely, until ill health compelled him to return to England in his last months.

He received many academic awards and prizes from numismatic societies. His Who's Who in Classical Mythology (with John Hazel, 1973) won the Prima Latina. His most recent book was Sick Caesars (2000). He was president of the Virgil Society (1963-66) and of the Classical Association (1978-9). His club was the Athenaeum. He received the OBE in 1946 and was advanced to CBE in 1958.

Michael Grant married, in 1944, Anne-Sophie Beskow, whose father raised the first Swedish volunteers to aid the Finns in the Winter War against the Soviet Union. She, and their two sons, survive him.

::Friday, October 08, 2004 5:17:37 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

9.00 p.m. |HISTU| Boudicca: Warrior Queen
Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 55 and 54 BC, gaining submission of the six eastern Celtic tribes. As the Roman Empire's farthest flung province, its merchants enjoyed a healthy trade with Roman Gaul, and for about 100 years, the tribes were mainly left alone. But in 60 AD, a warrior queen named Boudicca rose in revolt. When her husband died, Boudicca became Queen of the Iceni. Roman administrators tried to control the Iceni by appropriating their land and disarming the tribe. After the Romans flogged Boudicca and raped her two daughters, she raised a mighty army believed to number over 100,000 and took the fight to the Romans. 

9.30 p.m. |HISTU| Battle of Chalôns
Nomadic horsemen led by Attila the Hun race across Europe, cross the Rhine, and ravage Gaul. Former enemies--the Romans, Gauls, and Vandals--band together against "the Scourge of God" under the leadership of the noble Aetius, often called "the last of the Romans." At the Marne River near the city of Chalôns, Attila's forces take possession of a strategic hill. The Huns are expert archers and the battle is fierce. Travel back to 451 AD, and join Attila and his 100,000 men and Aetius and his 160,000 men as they decide the fate of the Western Roman Empire.

HISTU = History Channel (U.S.)

::Friday, October 08, 2004 4:50:56 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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