~ This Day in Ancient History
... nothing; not even a well-attested martyr (unless you count Astericus, who was martyred in 223 A.D.). By way of consolation, here's an obscure little item with a tangential bit of ClassCon ... on this day in 1858, Offenbach's opera "Orphee aux Enfers" debuted in Paris. Part of the opera includes the "cancan", which apparently derives from the French word for 'duck' (i.e. canard), because the dancers so prominently displayed their, er, tailfeathers.
::Thursday, October 21, 2004 6:10:02 AM::
~ In Rush ...
... we're in a rush this a.m. (I slept in! Who would have thought that possible? I haven't done that since I was six or seven, believe it or not.), so my morning scan isn't as thorough as I'd like.
::Thursday, October 21, 2004 6:02:08 AM::
~ More Honours for Alden Smith
Dr. Alden Smith has been given the designation 'Master Teacher' at Baylor. An excerpt from a general article about all the recipients:
A Pennsylvania native, Smith studied for two years at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome before receiving his bachelorís degree magna cum laude from Dickinson College in 1981. He earned a masterís degree from the University of Vermont in 1983 and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990. Smithís teaching career began at Vermont, followed by appointments at Penn and Rutgers University, where he was an assistant professor from 1990-94. He joined the Baylor classics faculty in 1994 and has served as chair of the classics department since 1999 and director of the University Scholars program since 2000. He also serves as director of the Baylor in Italy summer study-abroad program. He was named director of the honors program and associate dean in the Honors College in September.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Smithís scholarly interests are in Latin poetry, specifically the poetry of Virgil and Ovid. His books include Poetic Allusion and Poetic Embrace in Ovid and Virgil, published in 1997 by the University of Michigan Press, and The Primacy of Vision in Virgilís Aeneid, which will be published in 2005 by the University of Texas Press.
Smith has been the recipient of several teaching awards, including the American Philological Associationís Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics (2003), the Sonny and Virginia Wallace Award for Outstanding Teaching (2001), Baylor Honors Program Professor of the Year (2000), Sigma Chi Award for Outstanding Instructor at Rutgers (1992) and the Deanís Award for Distinguished Teaching at Pennsylvania (1986).
... on which ... Something I've always found strange about academe and Classics is that while there seems to be a prevailing attitude/perception that teaching is less important than the number of articles/books one has written, Classics departments seem to have a disproportionate number of 'Master Teachers' (or their equivalent). Purely anecdotal observation, of course ...
::Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:57:07 AM::
~ Harry Potter in Greek
An opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal on the impending release of Harry Potter in Greek begins thusly:
Later this month, in a publishing event unlikely to be marked by midnight release parties or round-the-block lines of adoring fans, a new Harry Potter book is due out from Bloomsbury--in Ancient Greek ("Hareios Poter Kai he tou Philosophou Lithos").
Why did they do it? "Well, the Latin translation was such a success," a Bloomsbury spokesperson deadpanned, that they thought they'd give Greek a try as well. That's right. There's a Latin version already ("Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis"). In fact, over the past few years, Harry Potter books (especially the first) have been quietly translated into scores of languages, some of them obvious and sensible, some of them, like the Welsh version, downright odd.
For his part, Andrew Wilson, the retired British secondary-school teacher who translated "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (as the first Harry Potter book is titled outside the U.S.) into the language of Plato for Bloomsbury, wouldn't be surprised if J.K. Rowling, the author of the best-selling series, was behind the decision to translate it into Ancient Greek, a language so dead that modern Greeks are fond of saying of it, "It's Greek to us!"
Ms. Rowling, according to Mr. Wilson, "was so thrilled with the way that kids who had never read anything before read Harry Potter" that she hopes Master Potter's exploits will have the same effect on dead or dying languages that its promoters claim they have had on reading in general.
So can Harry Potter's magic also bring back the linguistic dead? Well, the Latin translation was by all accounts a big hit as books in Latin go. And the Ancient Greek edition improbably spent several days as the No. 1 seller on Amazon.com when it opened up for preorders this summer, suggesting that someone outside of Mr. Wilson's immediate family is prepared to plunk down $15 or so for the hardcover edition.
In one sense, the mere act of translating Harry Potter into dead languages helps to breathe some life into them. The translation is "probably the longest bit of Ancient Greek that's been put together for the last few hundred years," and maybe longer than that--possibly "a millennium or more," Mr. Wilson notes. And if nothing else, "Hareios Poter Kai he tou Philosophou Lithos," will give struggling students of classical languages something to read besides Aeschylus and Aristotle.
And it might, just might, inspire someone somewhere to learn a little Ancient Greek so he can have a look at the book. Mr. Wilson expressed that hope when he told me, "If the Greek Harry Potter points only one or two people in the direction of classics, I'll be happy." It could happen; no one who gives credence to the more lavish claims of Mr. Potter's boosters would doubt his abilities to revive even Ancient Greek as a read language.
But why do those who go to the trouble of mastering the subtleties of Herman Weir Smyth's "Greek Grammar" in the first place do it? One does not master Smyth's chapters on "The Declension of Substantives"--a sample: "If the nominative singular ends in alpha preceded by a vowel . . . or [the letter "rho"], alpha is kept throughout the singular"--simply to read stories about wizards. The language of Plato and Homer is learned to read Plato and Homer, not--whatever her many charms and virtues--J.K. Rowling. [more]
::Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:52:34 AM::
~ Roman Bathhouse Discovered
Here's a press release posted to the Britarch list:
Roman Bathhouse discovered at Turnershall Farm dig
As the field archaeologists from St Albans Museums reach the end of the
third excavation of the Roman Villa & Burial site at Turnershall Farm,
Wheathampstead they have just discovered a bathhouse.
It is situated approx. 50m SW of the early 2nd century villa and is a
small structure, approx. 5m square, with a plunge pool next to a room
heated by a hypocaust. One piece of Roman glass has been found in this
trench, which leads to speculation that the heated room had a window.
This room also has a coarsely tessellated floor (the rooms in the villa
had finely tessellated floors, but no mosaics) and also dates to the 2nd
It is not yet known if this is the bathhouse for the wealthy family
living in the villa or, more likely due to its size and distance away
from the villa, was meant for the workers and slaves on the estate.
The 2004 excavation has increased our knowledge of this site and has
found evidence of continuous settlement by high status peoples from the
late Iron Age to the mid Roman period. From the Iron Age there are round
houses and evidence for coin minting and in the Roman period there is a
two storey corridor villa with fine red tessellated pavements and close
by are two burials, extraordinarily rich in grave goods, dating from
The site continues to raise as many questions as discoveries. In the
Iron Age layers there are many burnt spots in the ground indicative of a
lot of small fires, not for pottery production, but possibly for glass
making, there is a small enclosure of this area. Around the whole site,
including the villa, there is a very large enclosure of approximately
150m x 140m, which would have dominated the landscape.
Reflecting on the cumulative results of the excavations so far, Simon
West, Field Archaeologist comments that "this site is unusual in that
there is not a single phase of building, but all the structures have
been put up over 300 years. The owners then moved away from the site,
demolishing everything in the process, so that we find the villa has
been completely robbed and there are far fewer finds than would be
The museum service continues to be indebted to the landowner Mr Titmus,
who continues to allow the excavations to take place in his fields.
Discussions are still taking place over the possibility of a 4th
excavation next summer, which would investigate more of the archaeology
shown by the geo-physics surveys, follow up indications of several other
buildings and possibly find another bathhouse closer to the villa. The
museum service is also grateful to the metal detector Dave Phillips, who
in 2002 first found the Roman burials and brought the site to the
attention of the museum.
The Welwind and Hatfield Times also has an article -- with a photo (not much to look at, I'm afraid).
::Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:49:20 AM::
~ JOB: Latin Poetry @ Yale
The Department of Classics, Yale University, intends to appoint a tenured professor in the field of Latin language and literature with a strong preference for a scholar whose research interests are in poetry; the appointment would begin July 1, 2005. Evidence of distinction in both scholarship and teaching is required. Applications and nominations should include a curriculum vitae and the names of at least four referees. Yale University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Yale values diversity in its faculty, staff, and students and strongly encourages applications from women and underrepresented minorities. Applications and inquiries should be sent by December 15, 2004, to Professor Christina Kraus, Chair, Search Committee, Department of Classics, Yale University, 344 College Street, P.O. Box 208266, New Haven, CT 06520-8266.
... seen on the Classicists list
::Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:44:57 AM::
~ HBO's Rome: Update
From the New York Times:
ROME - In an ancient courtyard cobbled with hand-laid stones, a troop of toga-clad legionnaires are marching in step to the shouted orders, in Latin, of their commander. Past the Temple of Vesta, past the Senate, past the Arch of Janus and the 10-foot public calendar that ring the Forum.
The monuments are wood and fiberglass, but as with everything HBO seems to undertake, the detail and quality in recreating 50 B.C. for its new series, "Rome," scheduled to be broadcast next fall, are dazzling. The set occupies nearly all of the film studio Cinecittà, just outside Rome, and on a recent tour, even Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, the modern-day emperor and media magnate, pronounced the production superior to his own efforts to reproduce antiquity on a set in Tunisia.
Still, even for a cable network that has made its reputation on taking risks, "Rome'' represents a huge gamble. With its "Sex and the City'' over and "The Sopranos'' off the air until 2006, and having just dominated the Emmy Awards once again, HBO is facing increased pressure to meet audience expectations for buzz-making shows. And now the responsibility for creating what HBO executives like to call a water-cooler show - a program that makes waves and creates talk - lies disproportionately on the shoulders of "Rome,'' which looks nothing like HBO's contemporary, urban hits.
"We've got a lot at stake here,'' acknowledged Chris Albrecht, HBO's chairman and chief executive, in an interview after a recent visit to the set, timed to the announcement that Italy's RAI television would also broadcast "Rome.'' "We've got a great opportunity to get it right, but we only get one shot.'' The pressure has been showing.
The series tells the story of Julius Caesar through the eyes of two of his soldiers, portraying both the upper and lower classes of ancient Rome in gritty, graphic detail. But two months after production began last spring, the network suddenly pulled the plug at the end of June, sending the director, Michael Apted, and an executive producer, Stan Wlodkowski, back to Los Angeles for a seven-week unplanned hiatus.
When shooting resumed in the middle of August, the show had a new producer, a new director and an altered sensibility. The HBO executive who was shepherding the project, Anne Thomopoulos, was sidelined as the entertainment division president, Carolyn Strauss, took more direct control.
Mr. Albrecht explained that when the network chiefs finally looked at the early rushes, it was not what they had hoped. "We had to go back and redo the foundation,'' he said. "Weeks later, when we saw the stuff cut together, we realized we needed more extras; there was not enough set dressing.'' [more]
::Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:43:23 AM::
~AWOTV: On TV Today
7.00 p.m. |HINT| The Rise of Christianity: The First 1000 Years
On January 1, 800 AD, Pope Gregory crowned Frankish King Charlemagne, declaring him the new Holy Roman Emperor. A new Christian Europe emerges from the Dark Ages. In the East, there's a renewed effort to convert the world. Though by 1000 AD, all Europe seems united in Christianity, new wars with Islam loom ahead.
9.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Lost City Of Pompeii - Secrets Of The Dead
HINT= History International
DCIVC=Discovery Civilization (Canada)
::Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:26:46 AM::