Latest update: 11/1/2004; 4:40:05 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xiv kalendas novembres

  • Armilustrium -- a festival in honour of Mars which officially (it seems) brought the campaigning season to an end. The Salii (the dancing priests of Mars) were likely heavily involved with their characteristic dance and with the storage of their figure eight shields. A lustratio (purification ritual) also took place on the Aventine, with the goal of removing the 'blood guilt' the army had taken on that year.
  • 202 B.C. -- Scipio Africanus defeats Hannibal at Zama.

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 5:38:21 AM::

~ Vergil in South Africa

This one has popped up a zillion times in my mailbox over the past 24 hours ... seems a lawyer in a spectacular trial in South Africa quoted Vergil in a way which, well, wasn't quite to the judge's liking. From IOL:

South African lawyers, schooled in the Roman Dutch legal tradition, are fond of tossing off the odd Latin phrase in court.

But they are seldom challenged by a judge on the quality of their Latin - as happened to prosecutor Billy Downer at the beginning of the second week of the Schabir Shaik trial.

Downer, a senior counsel and former Rhodes scholar, last week launched his presentation of the State's case with the apt opening line from the Roman poet Virgil's epic, the Aeneid: Arma virumque cano.

Downer translated this as "I tell of arms and man", but at the start of business on Monday, Judge Hilary Squires, who has already shown he has a sense of humour, asked Downer gravely whether the "cano" was not better translated as "sing".

Downer defended himself valiantly, arguing that while he was aware "sing" was the literal meaning, he was using the word poetically.

One would struggle, he said, to find "sing" in many translations.

"I'm glad to find an acquaintance with the classics in the law enforcement agencies," said Squires with a smile. "You don't want to amend?"

"I'm sticking by my guns this time," said Downer.

He also pointed out to the judge that some members of the media had last week identified Virgil as a Greek, rather than Roman.

Rhodes University classicist John Jackson told Sapa "cano" did mean sing.

"But it's as poets sing: it can be taken in a fairly loose way. Literally it (the phrase) means 'Of arms and the man I sing'."

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 5:26:39 AM::

~ Reviews from BMCR

Marcello Marinucci, Batracomiomachia. Volgarizzamento del 1456 di Aurelio Simmaco de Iacobiti.

Vincenza Celluprica, Cristina D'Ancona, Aristotele e i suoi esegeti neoplatonici. Logica e ontologia nelle interpretazioni greche e arabe. Atti del convegno internazionale Roma 19-20 ottobre 2001.

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 5:22:59 AM::

~ Colin Farrell on Playing Alexander

An excerpt from an excerpt of an interview with Colin Farrell in GQ (via Yahoo) on playing Alexander:

On playing Alexander: "I just felt very lonely and very sad," says Farrell of taking on the character. "That [Alexander] never got to a place of comfort, a place of joy, a place where he ever felt like he was achieving enough. He was never surrounded by the love that he really wanted, even though he was lauded and applauded and deified. He may have worn it on the outside, but he never felt it on the inside."

Director Oliver Stone on casting Farrell as Alexander: "I was looking for a young god, who could act .... An Alexander who could walk into the room and look in the eyes of any man, and he could move them to be beyond themselves." He continues, "It's a combination of masculinity and, at the same time, beauty and femininity. It's a beautiful balance if you can pull it off."

Costar Angelina Jolie on how she thinks the role helped Farrell: "[the tough role] helped him become more of a man. I know it was hard, the hours were hard, and the physical labor was hard, and he was allowing all his demons to come through ... but I was kind of secretly sitting in the corner, excited, happy for his pain, knowing that it would make him grow."

I guess Farrell comes from that generation where 'feelings' were more important when learning history than facts ...

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 5:17:19 AM::

~ Ancient Statue Found

From Kathimerini's "In Brief" section:

A fishing boat captain handed in to the Lavrion coast guard a bronze statue which he claims to have caught in his nets off Serifos on Thursday, the Merchant Marine Ministry said on Saturday. The statue, which weighs between 60 and 70 kilos and is 1.43 meters tall, is missing some limbs and has been passed on to archaeologists for inspection.

We assume more details will be forthcoming ...

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 5:13:21 AM::

~ Rome v. the Caledonii

Apparently the precursors to the modern-day Scots were a somewhat more formidable force than our ancient sources would indicate. From the Scotsman:

WHEN the all-conquering armies of ancient Rome failed to subdue the northern end of Britain, there had to be a good reason.

So the Romans decided it was not the primitive barbarians known as the Caledonii who had defeated them, but the vast impenetrable forest covering the country now known as Scotland.

However, a new book to be released next month on the history of Scotland’s woods claims this idea was invented by Roman writers to preserve the image of the empire’s "invincible" legions.

According to Professor Chris Smout, the Historiographer Royal, it was an early example of political spin used to explain failure, and a tactic used by the Romans to cope with defeat against the German tribes.

Prof Smout, of St Andrews University, said: "The great Caledonian forest? I don’t think it ever existed. I think it was a story the Romans put about to explain why they didn’t conquer Scotland.

"There had been a time when Scotland was covered with what might be called the Caledonian forest, but that was many hundreds of years before the Romans arrived.

"I don’t believe for a minute it was still there. It was a story got up by a bunch of Italians. They used the forest once before with the Germans."

He also reports another, less successful attempt to explain why the recalcitrant northern tribes remained undefeated.

"They [the Romans] say the Scots used to live underwater and breathe through reeds, then spring up and attack," Prof Smout said. "But nobody would repeat that because it is so absurd."

Prof Smout said that evidence from fossilised pollen showed Scotland had once been covered by a large forest.

But he added: "All the evidence shows this reached a maximum about 5,000 years ago, which was 3,000 years before the Romans arrived."

Lawrence Keppie, emeritus professor of Roman history and archaeology at Glasgow University, said it was clear that, north of the Forth-Clyde line, the Romans "had to fight".

He said: "There were parts of the world that the Romans thought were economically not worth it, and I’m pretty sure Scotland was one of those.

"Tacitus says after the battle of Mons Graupius [a Roman victory] they had trouble flushing the enemy out of the woods. I don’t think he meant anything more than that, but there are other authors who’d never been to Britain who talk about the ‘impenetrable forests’."

But Adam Powell, a field officer for the charity Trees for Life, which is dedicated to replanting the Caledonian forest said:

"There has been scientific work done which would indicate that forests were very much more extensive in the Scottish Highlands than they are currently."

And Mr Powell said that whatever the extent of the forest, there was at least a suggestion that the local tribes may have viewed woodland as a natural defensive stronghold.

"There are some differences of opinion over the name Caledonian. Some say it is Roman but others say it is from the Gaelic Coile Dun, meaning woodland fortress," he said.

"It could be the people who lived here considered it to be a big safe forest they could hide in."

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 5:09:01 AM::

~ More Classics Blogs

Blogographos alerts us to the existence of a couple of new (?) Classics blogs. Ironyage is the product of a couple of grad students at Brown (what, no rss feed?). Atriades is a blog for the discussion of instruction in Classics. We'll get them in the Blogwatch in the near future ...

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 5:05:33 AM::

~ CFP: Classics: An Education for the New Millennium

The Nipissing University Classics Club is an undergraduate organization within the Nipissing University Student Union which encourages the preservation and promotion of the study of Ancient Greece and Italy.

The club will be hosting a scholarly conference entitled "Classics: An Education for the New Millennium" at Nipissing University and the Best Western North Bay from June 2-4, 2005.

The conference is intended to fill a gap between the levels represented by the Ontario Student Classics Conference and the Classical Association of Canada's annual meeting. It has several distinct goals which are as follows:

1. It will serve as a career fair for those considering graduate school and/or future employment as high school teachers or professors of Classics. Specialists from BEd programs will be available to answer questions regarding the possibility of using Classics as a teachable subject. Professors, M.A. and Ph.D. students and those who have pursued non-traditional career paths after an education in Classics are invited to discuss their experiences with undergraduates. Just as the club members are full partners with the organizer in the planning of the conference, so too will our undergraduate guests be full participants in all events.

2. It will serve as a justification for the continuation and expansion of Classics at the high school and university levels. Speakers are invited to explain how Classics courses enhance any chosen field of study, why we need the lessons of the past to prepare young minds for the future, how we use technology to study the old in exciting new ways and how we collaborate on cutting-edge research with our peers in Classics eand with other scholars across disciplines.

Papers are accepted in both official languages and should last for 20 minutes. Please send abstracts (10 lines) and any audio-visual requirements to the organizer, Dr. Lisa St. Louis, by November 30. The proceedings will be published and distributed by Pandora Press. Those who wish to have their work considered for publication must submit their presentations in essay format no later than one month after the end of the conference.

Blocks of rooms have been arranged at the Best Western Hotel and in the university residence. Residence rooms are free for graduate student presenters. Plans for hospitality include a gala reception, several group meals and a boat cruise on Lake Nipissing. Further information concerning conference fees and registration will follow shortly at and is available immediately from the organizer at

The club gratefully acknowledges the very generous financial support of Robert E. Hawkins,Vice-President, Academic and Research, Nipissing University.

... seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 4:59:34 AM::

~ CFP: Classical Association of Canada


12–14 May, 2005: Banff Centre, Banff Alberta

GENERAL INFORMATION. The CAC’s 2005 Conference will take place on 12–14 May at the renowned Banff Centre, a residential conference centre in the Rocky Mountains about 90 minutes’ drive from Calgary. Accommodation has been reserved at the Centre for the nights of Wednesday through Saturday (11–14 May). Registration materials and related information will be published in January. All conference information is posted on the conference website:

PROGRAMME. Scholarly contributions in all areas of Classical Studies are welcomed. Presentations should normally not exceed 15–20 minutes, to be followed by discussion. Special features of this year’s programme will include:
— An evening lecture by our guest of honour, Professor Kathleen Coleman (Harvard University); — A session on Greek tragedy in honour of Professor Desmond Conacher;
— The CAC Women’s Network panel on WOMEN AND NATURE. The CAC Women’s Network solicits papers treating Greek and Roman cultures across a broad range of theoretical perspectives. Specific topics for this year’s panel could include: natural imagery in the works of female writers; the interplay of ‘nature’ and ‘femininity’ in ancient authors; women’s natural/biological processes; or natural elements in the iconography of female space.
— A special STUDENTS’ FORUM will be held AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY on WEDNESDAY 11 MAY. The Forum will provide an opportunity for students to meet with each other and with our guest of honour at the start of the conference, and to discuss their work in an informal and constructive setting. Graduate students and those completing undergraduate studies are invited to give presentations of 10–15 minutes concerning their recent or current research. More senior scholars are encouraged to attend and contribute to the discussions. Transport from the University to Banff will be provided at the end of the afternoon.

PROPOSALS should be sent by mail or e-mail, to arrive by 14 JANUARY at the latest, on the form distributed with this notice or downloadable from the conference website. Please send proposals and enquiries to Professor Martin Cropp (CAC 2005), Greek and Roman Studies, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada (e-mail

... seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 4:57:28 AM::

~ Job: Franklin Teaching Fellow @ UGeorgia

Franklin Teaching Fellow: The Department of Classics of the University of Georgia invites applications for a Franklin Teaching Fellow at the rank of Temporary Assistant Professor, to begin August 1, 2005. We seek a broadly trained classicist to teach all levels of Latin and Greek.

This is a postdoctoral teaching appointment administered by the University's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Higher Education. Candidates must have received the Ph.D. at the time of the appointment but no earlier than May, 2002.

Franklin Fellows teach five undergraduate courses per year, participate in a teacher development program, and pursue scholarly research. Starting salary will be at least $33,672, with a full benefits package, plus a small stipend for travel.

Appointment is for one academic year and is renewable for a total of three years. Letter of application and complete dossier (including curriculum vitae, transcripts, and three letters of reference) must be received no later than November 29, 2004. Address all materials to: Chair of Franklin Fellow Search Committee, Department of Classics, Park Hall, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6203.

Selected candidates will be interviewed at the APA/AIA meeting in Boston, MA, January 6-9, 2005. Applications from women and minorities are encouraged. The University of Georgia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

... seen on the Classics list

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 4:55:24 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

11.00 p.m. |HINT| Pompeii: Buried Alive
Exploration of the archaeological site of the city that was encrusted by incendiary ash when deadly Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Archaeological director Baldasarre Conticello takes viewers on a tour of Pompeii's ruins, and visits Herculaneum, which was destroyed by Vesuvius at the same time. 

HINT = History International

::Tuesday, October 19, 2004 4:33:08 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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