Latest update: 11/1/2004; 4:40:06 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xiii kalendas novembres

  • 480 B.C. -- Battle of Salamis (one reckoning; seems a bit late)
  • 127 A.D. -- ludi votivi decennales pro salute Augusti
  • c. 250 A.D. -- martyrdom of Maximus of Aquila
  • 1952 -- death of Michael Rostovtzeff (author of The Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire and the Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World among other things)

::Wednesday, October 20, 2004 5:42:05 AM::

~ Father Foster

This week, Father Foster chats about the origins of the word 'sport' and comments on matters athletic and ancient.

::Wednesday, October 20, 2004 5:32:39 AM::

~ Classical Revival

The Village Voice notices the sudden revival of popularity of Greek subject matter on the stage... here's the incipit of a lengthy article:

    To go by the sheer number of Greek characters traipsing across our stages right now, the ancients have become our truest contemporaries. Though we're still a month away from the release of Oliver Stone's Alexander (starring Colin Farrell in a mini-tunic), New York is already in the grip of a classical revival. The Hellenic Festival (presented by the New York Public Library) has just kicked off a lecture and multi-arts program that celebrates the birthplace of Western culture. From choreographer Jane Comfort, who recently unveiled her Persephone at the Joyce, to performance artist John Kelly, who's reviving his Orpheus-inspired Find My Way Home this winter, everyone's getting into the Athenian act.

With an October lineup that includes three productions of Aristophanes (Lysistrata, Acharnians, and Peace), at least one Euripides (Hecuba), and two works inspired by Sophocles (The Antigone Project and The Gospel at Colonus), Off-Broadway seems to have gone retro in the extreme. Between the threat of terrorism and the war in Iraq, we're all apparently in desperate need of a whopping catharsis—or at least a few old-comedy laughs at the rulers driving us to the brink of catastrophe.

But what sort of guidance do we hope to get from our illustrious Attic predecessors? Clearly it's something more than a moldy lesson on hubris. We come seeking enlightenment, never mind that we haven't a clue how to stage the tragedies, and the comedies pose translation challenges more baffling than any Sphinx (topical jokes apparently lose their freshness after 2,500 years). Tell us, revered Greeks, how our society can escape its current nightmare. Hell, for the promise of a little consciousness-raising, we'll even sit yet again through the saga of an unfortunate king whose old lady turned out to be his mama.

The irony—a Greek specialty—is that, in our headlong rush for classical wisdom, we sometimes forget that the ancients were every bit as stumbling as we are. By the time Euripides was in his prime, Athenian glory was already in decline, thanks to an imperial foreign policy, the repealing of civil liberties that seems always to accompany war, and perhaps most corrosive of all, the debasement of language by those prepared to distort reality to further their own selfish political ends.

In Paideia, the monumental study of the relation between ancient Greek character and culture, Werner Jaeger describes (by way of Thucydides) how "leaders, both democrats and aristocrats, constantly repeated the catchwords of their parties, but were not really fighting for any high ideal. Greed, ambition, and the lust for power were the only motives for action, and when the old political ideals were brought up they were used only as shibboleths for this or that party."

Chillingly familiar? Yet the one great difference that separates their tarnished Golden Age from our own gold-plated one is the presence of contemporary artists like Euripides and Aristophanes to raise questions about the warping of democratic values and ideals. If the tragedies and comedies suddenly seem so pertinent now, it's not because they have answers for our particular woes, but because they were written in a similar state of roiling frustration and turmoil. Their legacy of critical imagination and dissenting intellect is their chief gift to us—even if, in their own day anyway, they had little effect on the maniacal turn in historical events.

For Loretta Greco, the new artistic director of the Women's Project, returning to the Greeks via modern-day adaptations of Antigone seemed like an ideal way to open her first season. She asked five playwrights (Tanya Barfield, Karen Hartman, Chiori Miyagawa, Lynn Nottage, and Caridad Svich) to "redream the Sophocles myth" into 15-minute plays, and then brought on five directors (Annie Dorsen, Dana Iris Harrel, Anna Kauffman, Barbara Rubin, and Liesl Tommy) to stage the results. (The production, which began previews last week, opens on Monday and runs through November 7.)

"It had been years since I'd read the Sophocles, and what struck me, beyond the play's structural elegance, was how contemporary it felt," says Greco. "A woman radically stands up to authority and ends up making a difference. Given the political climate today, I find it hopeful to remember the power of an individual female voice. I also wanted to create an event that would allow for dialogue between our audience and these 10 fantastic theater artists who are all women and whose voices need to be heard."  [more]

::Wednesday, October 20, 2004 5:03:33 AM::

~ Alexander in Sogdiana

On your newsstands now is the latest Archaeology Magazine with a nice article on Sogdiana in Alexander's time. There is an abstract online.

::Wednesday, October 20, 2004 5:00:08 AM::

~ Course: Papyrus Restoration


                              (July 4-9, 2005)

    The Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi Papirologici of Lecce University is organizing the Third Papyrus and Parchment Restoration Course, that will take place from July 4th to July 9th, 2005. The Course will consist of both theoretical lectures and practical exercises on papyri and parchments given by Prof. Mario Capasso, Prof. Virginia Valzano, Director of Coordinamento S.I.B.A. at Lecce University and by Leonardo Marrone, restorer.
    The Course is open to anyone interested in the conservation, treatment and restoration of papyri and parchments in ancient and modern times, and to the virtual restoration of such materials. Those interested in enrolling can send their application, curriculum vitae and phone number to the Centro di Studi Papirologici by mail (Palazzo Parlangeli, via V.M. Stampacchia, I-73100 Lecce, Italy, tel. 0039 0832 294606, FAX 0039 0832 294607) or e-mail ( before March 31st, 2005. For those accepted on the course the ¤ 200,00 registration fee must be paid by May 31st, 2005 by bank transfer to the following bank:

    Monte dei Paschi di Siena
    Piazza S.Oronzo, 73100 Lecce

addressed to: Dipartimento di Filologia Classica e Scienze Filosofiche of Lecce University

    c/c: 606460.84
    ABI: 1030
    CAB: 16002

Please indicate your name and the name of the Course ("Corso di Restauro 2005") in the remittance. A certificate of attendance will be given to all the participants.

... seen on the ANE list

::Wednesday, October 20, 2004 4:56:02 AM::

~ CFP: Classical Language Teaching

Current Issues, Future Strategies: Classical Language Teaching at University
Central Meeting Room 15
The Open University, Milton Keynes
Saturday 15th January 2005
10:30 – 16:30

The conference aims to provide a forum to discuss issues of concern in language learning and teaching in Higher Education, but participation from teachers in schools and colleges is very welcome. Further offers of papers are warmly welcomed. The proceedings of the conference will be made available in an edited publication. There will be no registration fee for attending and some lunch will be provided. The programme for the day and details of the contributors will be made available in the near future.

For more information and/or offer of a paper, contact

Dr David Fitzpatrick
The Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology
Department of Classical Studies, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Tel: 01908 659630, Fax: 01908 653750, E-mail:

... seen on the Classics-Teaching list

::Wednesday, October 20, 2004 4:53:46 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

8.00 p.m. |HINT| Secrets of Archaeology: Greek Cities in Italy
Nearly 2,800 years ago, a group of Greek settlers landed on the coast of Italy, an event that marked the start of the process that created Magna Graecia--(Latin for Greater Greece)--Greek colonization of Southern Italy and Sicily. Explore the computer-recreated streets of the original Greek colonies as we walk through Cumae, Pasteum, Puteoli, and Neapolis, reconstructed using the most advanced computer graphics.  

8.00 p.m. |PBS| Quest for the Phoenicians
They are the 'bad boys' in the Bible, and their seafaring skills are legendary. But who exactly were the Phoenicians, what became of them and what was the secret of their success? National Geographic sets out to solve this mystery through the pioneering work of three very different scientists. Armed with a revolutionary ROV, the first robotic deep sea 'archaeologist' capable of deep-water excavation, Dr. Robert Ballard is on the trail of Phoenician shipwrecks. Meanwhile, in a cave at the bottom of the rock of Gibraltar, a Spanish archaeologist is excavating the site where Phoenician sailors stopped to pray before venturing into the open ocean. And from Lebanon to Tunisia, geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells is searching for Phoenicians — in the DNA of their descendants. These stories converge to paint a new portrait of the Phoenicians, their accomplishments and their ultimate defeat by the Romans. [check local listings]

8.30 p.m. |HINT|Secrets of Archaeology: Travels through Greece
By the 2nd century AD, Greece had long been steeped in myth, tradition, and a rich history that made it a major tourist destination even then. In this episode, we travel with a Roman senator as he journeys to artistic and cultural treasures of Greece, including Corinth's welcoming agora (the center of civic activity), the acoustically perfect Theater at Epidaurus, and the famous sporting competitions and chariot races of Olympia, as well as its majestic Temple of Zeus. Experience the cutting edge of archaeological exploration as we explore these celebrated ancient sites and see them as only the original inhabitants could. 

10.00 p.m. |DISCC| Myth Busters: Ancient Death Ray
Jamie and Adam reflect on one of the world’s oldest urban legends -did the Greek scientist Archimedes set fire to a Roman fleet using only mirrors and sunlight?; moving to more modern times, have you ever tried to remove the fetid funk of a skunk?

Channel Guide

::Wednesday, October 20, 2004 4:48:49 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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