Latest update: 12/2/2004; 4:50:40 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day In Ancient History

kalendae novembres

  • ludi Victoriae Sullanae (day 7)
  • 82 B.C. -- Lucius Cornelius Sulla is victorious over the Samnites at the Battle of the Colline Gate
  • 36 A.D. -- major fire at Rome
  • 1903 -- death of Theodore Mommsen
  • 1993 -- death of A.N. Sherwin-White (The Roman Citizenship, among other things)

::Monday, November 01, 2004 5:18:07 AM::

~ Hallowe'en Origins

Interesting how misinformation seems to come and go in waves. Last year, for example, we were deluged with claims from various newspapers making claims such as this, from the Magic City Morning Star:

By the year 43 A.D., Romans had conquered most Celtic territory. During their rule, the Romans combined Samhain with two of their own Roman festivals, Feralia and Pomona. Feralia was held in late October, when Romans honored the passing of the dead. Pomona was a festival honoring the goddess of fruit and trees, during the harvest. Pomona’s symbol was the apple, giving speculation to the tradition of “bobbing for apples,” on Halloween.

Perhaps the drop in the number of such articles is due to our posts last year  (here ... and here) on the subject? Nahhhh ... we're not high enough in the relevant Google search terms. Oh well.

::Monday, November 01, 2004 5:11:07 AM::

~ Eumenes

Over at, there's a nice biography of Philip of Macedon's pal Eumenes ...

::Monday, November 01, 2004 5:01:57 AM::

~ Dear Socrates

Philosophy Now has a column called Dear Socrates, in which the decomposed philosopher engages in a dialog of sorts/gives advice (this month's version is a discussion with a certain A. Theist over whether Socrates believes in the gods.) ... there's an archive of previous posts.

Actually, it was seeing Philosophy Now on the magazine stand which convinced me that a magazine devoted to matters Classical could make a go of it. I still think that ...

::Monday, November 01, 2004 5:00:15 AM::

~ Persian Royal Road

Persian Journal has a nice little feature (with a map) of ancient Persia's Royal Road. Here's the incipit:

According to the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus (5th century BCE), the road connected the capital of Lydia, Sardes, and the capitals of the Achaemenid empire, Susa and Persepolis. From cuneiform texts, other royal roads are known.

Herodotus describes the road between Sardes and Susa in the following words [History of Herodotus 5.52-53].

As regards this road the truth is as follows. Everywhere there are royal stations with excellent resting places, and the whole road runs through country which is inhabited and safe.

1. Through Lydia and Phrygia there extend twenty stages, amounting to 520 kilometers.
2. After Phrygia succeeds the river Halys, at which there is a gate which one must needs pass through in order to cross the river, and a strong guard-post is established there.
3. Then after crossing over into Cappadocia it is by this way twenty-eight stages, being 572 kilometers, to the borders of Cilicia.
4. On the borders of the Cilicians you will pass through two sets of gates and guard-posts: then after passing through these it is three stages, amounting to 85 kilometers, to journey through Cilicia.
5. The boundary of Cilicia and Armenia is a navigable river called Euphrates. In Armenia the number of stages with resting-places is fifteen, and 310 kilometers, and there is a guard-post on the way.
6. Then from Armenia, when one enters the land of Matiene, there are thirty-four stages, amounting to 753 kilometers. Through this land flow four navigable rivers, which can not be crossed but by ferries, first the Tigris, then a second and third called both by the same name, Zabatus, though they are not the same river and do not flow from the same region (for the first-mentioned of them flows from the Armenian land and the other from that of the Matienians), and the fourth of the rivers is called Gyndes [...].
7. Passing thence into the Cissian land, there are eleven stages, 234 kilometers, to the river Choaspes, which is also a navigable stream; and upon this is built the city of Susa. The number of these stages amounts in all to one hundred and eleven.

This is the number of stages with resting-places, as one goes up from Sardes to Susa. If the royal road has been rightly measured [...] the number of kilometers from Sardes to the palace of [king Artaxerxes I] Mnemon is 2500. So if one travels 30 kilometers each day, some ninety days are spent on the journey. [more]

::Monday, November 01, 2004 4:54:02 AM::

~ A Different Find from Bulgaria

Given the spectacular finds of late in Bulgaria, the claims in this one are interesting. From Novitne:

The skeleton of a pre-historic human believed to represent the first agricultural civilization existing on Bulgarian land was unearthed near the village of Ohoden, Vratsa district, northwest Bulgaria.

Archeologists found the skeleton on the riverbank of the local Skut River. The finding was approximately dated back 9,000 years, which makes the "Bulgarian farmer" five centuries older than the already known humans to have lived on the Balkan Peninsula.

The farmer's skeleton was revealed during excavation works in a pre-historic village unearthed from a depth of 2 m. The village seemed to be very well preserved after being devasted by a big fire.

Archeologists said quoted by Bulgarian National Radio that the people living on these lands in pre-historic times were the first to invent ceramics and to build thermally isolated solid houses. They were convinced that the Ohoden finding would redraft the history of human civilization.

Do I detect a note of 'rivalry' in this one?

::Monday, November 01, 2004 4:51:14 AM::

~ Review from RBL

Will Deming, Paul on Marriage & Celibacy: The Hellenistic Background of 1 Corinthians 7 (pdf)

::Monday, November 01, 2004 4:48:40 AM::

~ Review from Scholia

Jon Hesk, Sophocles: Ajax

::Monday, November 01, 2004 4:46:49 AM::

~ Lucretius at Random

This was the first thing caught in this a.m.'s scan ... from the beginning of a piece in the New York Times:

As concerts go, this one was pretty random.

And intentionally so.

As part of an academic conference on the idea of randomness, the pianist Emanuele Arciuli performed a thoughtful program of works at the Italian Academy Teatro at Columbia University on Friday night.

Before the concert, well-appointed theorists of happenstance sipped wine and chatted, while a computer projected random numbers onto a wall and a prerecorded male voice recited an ancient philosophical tract by Lucretius.

... I wonder what section of Lucretius was recited ...

::Monday, November 01, 2004 4:38:51 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

10.00 p.m. |HISTU| The Kings: From Babylon to Baghdad 
The history of the hotspot now known as Iraq was written in blood. Ancient kings leading the world's first armies fought for total control of the fertile lands of Mesopotamia. Their cities and empires, the earliest on earth, rose and fell through warfare, invasion, and conquest. In the modern age, Iraq provided a stage for European imperialism and more recently, a focal point in U.S. foreign policy. Our 2-hour look at this historical ground zero recounts its story through its leaders, from Sargon the Great to Saddam Hussein, and brings its history to life with compelling dramatic recreations, captivating location photography, and archaeological artifacts. Notable historians, scholars, experts, and policy makers draw connections and relevance between ancient and modern Iraq through its government, culture, and religion.

HISTU = History Channel (US)

::Monday, November 01, 2004 4:32:13 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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