Latest update: 12/2/2004; 4:51:15 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem iii idus novembres

  • ludi Plebeii (day 8) -- the Jupiterfest continues
  • 109 A.D. -- the emperor Trajan stages a naumachia
  • 304 A.D. -- martyrdom of Athenodorus

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 5:25:18 AM::

~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's selection of words with Classical-language etymologies:

turbid @

accolade @ Merriam-Webster

pinto @ Wordsmith

novenary @ OED

oneirocrite @ Worthless Word for the Day

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 5:19:28 AM::

~ d.m. Stanley Vandersall

From the Daily Nebraskan:

Stanley Vandersall, former chairman of the classics department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, died Saturday at age 87, closing the book on a lifetime dedicated to his love of language.

“I heard him teaching Latin in his home after he retired, and I could tell he loved the words themselves,” said his daughter Diana Rippel.

Vandersall began studying Latin in high school, at the Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, Mass. He continued into his undergraduate studies at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and attended graduate school at Ohio State.

His graduate studies were cut short when he enrolled in the U.S. Navy Japanese Language School. He interpreted Japanese intelligence in Hawaii and Japan from 1943-46.

“As I understand it, the military looked at his record with languages and said he should learn Japanese,” said Tom Winter, associate professor of classics and religious studies at UNL.

Vandersall finished his doctorate at Ohio State after the war, and in 1948 took a position at UNL, where Winter said he was sometimes called “Commander Vandersall.”

Rippel said in addition to Latin and Japanese, her father spoke French, German and Greek.

Valdis Leinieks, professor of classics and religious studies at UNL, said Vandersall taught nearly everything in the department during his 37 years at UNL. At one point, the department only had two professors, so Vandersall taught classics and his older colleague covered religion.

“I would have trouble even deciding what his favorite subjects were,” Leinieks said. “He was teaching everything all along.”

John Turner, professor of classics and Cotner Professor of Religious Studies at UNL, said Vandersall was particularly fond of his first language, Latin, and was proud to have learned it at Roxbury.

Leinieks said that when Vandersall was teaching, he was unlikely to let the class leave until everything had been covered to his satisfaction, often keeping classes 20 minutes late.

“We referred to anyone else who would do that as pulling a Stanley Vandersall.”

True to the archetypal idea of a classics professor, Vandersall rarely was without his tobacco pipe.

“I think his main hobby was smoking his pipe, cleaning his pipe and knocking caked tobacco out of his pipe,” Winter said.

Leinieks said Vandersall also had a love of railroads. He said he would watch trains roll underneath him from the 9th Street overpass, and once rode a passenger train to eastern Canada because the line was about to be discontinued.

After receiving the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award in 1984, Vandersall retired from UNL in 1985. He continued to independently teach a class – “Latin for Retirees” – into the last years of his life.

“After he retired, he had some old-timer friends and they would read Horace together,” Leinieks said. “He never quit teaching.”

Vandersall was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years – Florence Amy Wright – who died in February. Winter said the Vandersalls always were among the last to leave faculty gatherings, and Amy would play piano for those who stayed behind.

“We figured he wouldn’t leave Amy far behind,” Winter said.

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 5:09:48 AM::

~ Bulgaria Hopes to Cash In

Bulgaria is hoping to cash in on those recent spectacular finds. From the BBC:

Bulgaria's ancient Thracian heritage has been thrust into the spotlight this year with a number of key archaeological discoveries in the so-called "Valley of the Thracian Kings".

The find near Shipka uncovered beautiful gold artefacts
The golden treasures are attracting international attention and there is a push to make the Thracian heritage Bulgaria's trademark abroad in a bid to boost tourism in one of the poorer East European countries.

Even the local people cannot believe that Bulgaria, with an income per capita reaching less than a third of the EU average, has managed to unearth kilos of pure gold worth millions of dollars.

But, for many, there is more interest in a tapping a richer vein as property sales to foreign buyers are going through the roof.

Among the latest archaeological finds was the discovery of a 2,400-year-old Thracian shrine near the small town of Shipka, in the very heart of Bulgaria. Experts say it contains the burial of local king Seutus III - a mighty rival to Alexander the Great.

The shrine consisted of three chambers buried under a big hill. The entry was sealed with a marble door, a masterpiece in itself. [more]

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 5:07:42 AM::

~ Alexander the Clip

Oh oh ... this doesn't bode well at all. IGN has links to "Alexander the Clip", which is a scene from the upcoming flick of course (you might have to sit through an ad to get to it).  I guess they're going for the 'Braveheart'/Henry IV crowd with this one ... surely they had a better clip?

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 5:05:18 AM::

~ JOB: Greek and Roman Religion @ Skidmore (3 year)

The Classics Department at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, invites applications for a three-year position in Greek and Roman religion at the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor effective fall 2005. Candidates should also be able to teach courses in Greek and Latin at all levels; the teaching load is 3/2. Candidates should be firmly committed to undergraduate education with an active scholarly agenda in Greek and/or Roman religion preferred. Ph.D. preferred by time of appointment. Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Women and men from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds are especially encouraged to apply. Applications will be reviewed as received until the position is filled. Send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, and letters of reference to Prof. Michael Arnush, Chair, Classics Department, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-1632, or to For further information about the department visit our website at

... seen on the Classics list

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 5:00:14 AM::

~ Rant du jour

I'm going to use the following, from Riverfront Times, to rant about one of my major pet peeves:

The Etruscans built an epic civilization between the eleventh and fifth centuries B.C. So sturdy were the foundations of Etruscan society that the great cultural hijackers of history, the Romans, took a large chunk and fashioned their own grandiose empire out of it. Unfortunately, the Romans effectively stamped out the Etruscans themselves, and the Etruscan written record is minimal. Consequently, much of what is known about them comes from their religious funerary art, which often depicts the demons Vanth, Charun and Tuchulcha. The Archaeology Institute of America (314-432-3900) presents "Demons of the Etruscan Underworld," a free lecture by Professor Helen Nagy on the ideologies represented by these demons at 7 p.m. at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park.

Every day when I'm putting rogueclassicism together, and every weekend (especially) when I'm dealing with Explorator, I always find one or two articles which come from some mystery publication which doesn't say on the page in question what city it comes from. After much poking around the above site, e.g., it only became clear that we're dealing with St. Louis after checking the restaurant listings ... meanwhile, the above lecture looks very interesting and I'm sure there are folks in the area who read rc who might attend. Would it be such a big deal for newspapers and/or local magazines to put the city of publication on every page?????

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:59:04 AM::

~ Classics Threatened at UAlabama?

Some excerpts from a lengthy piece in the Crimson White with the headline  "Classics, physics programs not viable, but not in danger":

Even though University officials recently inactivated the Russian major because it did not meet standards set by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, two other UA programs also do not meet the standards but haven't been shut down.

Faculty Senate Vice President John Mason, at a Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday, said he wants clear inactivation guidelines in the Faculty Handbook because there is no procedure for such a decision.

Several senators want the administration to define the difference between the cancellation of a major and the inactivation of a major, he said.

Mason said Senate members want to know why the Russian program was singled out when other programs in the College of Arts and Sciences do not meet the viability standards of the ACHE.


Senators also discussed data that showed that 71 courses in the College of Arts and Sciences, Russian being among those, do not meet University enrollment standards.

The University defines under-enrolled courses as having fewer than 10 undergraduate students or fewer than five graduate students. The under-enrolled courses in the College of Arts and Sciences represent 3.2 percent of the 2,211 courses offered by the college.


The University is concerned there will be another ACHE viability review, because ACHE can legally shut down an academic program without the approval of the University, he said.


University officials are considering ways to increase enrollment in the classics and physics programs, but they are waiting on guidelines the ACHE said it would provide, Graduate School Dean Ron Rogers said.

"They said we would be getting some direction and options this fall," he said. "We don't know what they are going to say, so now we are in sort of a waiting mode."


Michael Picone, chairman of the modern languages and classics department, declined to comment until after the department discusses the issue at a faculty meeting Wednesday.

Bonner said the classics department is working to increase enrollment by offering online courses.

Rogers said the commission gave three separate extensions to attain viability to core liberal arts programs at the University, such as physics and classics.


Jones said Russian had two faculty members before its inactivation, while physics has 22.

"I am concerned that we don't have as many majors as we need for the current students," he said.

"The numbers of students who have declared physics and classics as their major this fall are strong," Bonner said. "I remain hopeful that both programs will be viable by the time the review is completed."

By my count, UofA has three faculty members, suggesting that headline might need to be qualified by a "yet" ... let's hope they (and others) benefit from a bump in enrollment in the wake of certain movies ...

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:52:34 AM::

~ Roman Numerals

Some Philly sportswriter at a site called has a feature on Roman numerals and hisdifficulty in figuring them out ...

The time is approaching when two of the more successful professional football practitioners will be called upon to effectuate Super Bowl XXXIX.

The annual advent of the Super Bowl makes me aware of a deficiency in my education. My brain has always resisted dealing with Roman numerals.

When I was about IX years old, my grade III class in elementary school devoted III or IV days to the care and feeding of Roman numerals.

Unfortunately, I missed that week of school because I had measles. (My body was covered with about MMDCLXIV little red spots.)

Whenever I have since needed to decipher Roman numbers, I had to rack my brain to remember how the Romans did their numbering. Some kind of mental block pushes the Roman system way back on the brain rack.

Fortunately, the need to understand Roman numbers comes up only II or III times a year. They are used mostly on clocks, cornerstones and copyrights.

When the ancient Romans decided they should put numbers on things, about MMD years ago, they decided to use seven letters of their alphabet as numbers. An I was one, a V was five, an X was 10, an L was 50, a C was 100, a D was 500 and an M was 1,000.

Okay, you knew that. You didn't have measles when you were IX.

In the beginning of Roman numeration, it says in volume XIV of my encyclopedia, the Romans wrote IV as IIII, and IX as VIIII. That makes sense to me.

They also had separate symbols for 50 and 1,000, which are not on the keyboard of my computer and couldn't be produced by this newspaper's typesetting equipment.

Later, for some perverse Roman reason, they decided to group the numbers by twos, (or IIs), when fours and nines were involved. IIII became IV, and VIIII became IX.

So sometimes you add II numerals together to figure out what they are, and sometimes you subtract I from the other. That confuses me about long Roman numbers, IX times out of X.
Not content with that tricky system, the Romans decided to express large numbers by putting a line over a number to indicate that it should be multiplied by 1,000. For instance, 4,000 would be written MV with a line over the V. The line was called a vinculum, which the Latin dictionary says means a band, cord or chain. There is no vinculum key on my computer, either.

The people who run the Super Bowl seem to think that Roman numbers add some sort of dignity to the proceedings. If they are so impressed by Latin, why don't they call the event the Patera Maximus? (If that isn't correct Latin, I'm sure I'll get letters from III or IV readers.)

The numbers we all now use are derived from Arabic numbers, which might not be popular these days. It might be patriotic if the players wore Roman numerals on their jerseys in the Super Bowl.

Donovan McNabb would have a big V on his back, which would be all right. But an LXXXI would hardly fit on Terrell Owens, although his shoulders are as broad as any XV other guys you could name.

I guess this is what you write about when there's no hockey ...

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:41:46 AM::

~ Some Alexander Hype's romantic movies guide (no ... I don't regularly read it; it turned up in the scan) has a lengthy feature on the costumes, props, sets, etc. of the upcoming Alexander flick. Lots of links to photos etc. as well ...

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:36:37 AM::

~ Finds From Thebes

Hopefully we'll get some more details on this one  ... from the Courier-Mail:

HUNDREDS of artefacts dating as far back as 2500 BC have been discovered near the Greek town of Thebes, officials said in Athens today.

Archeologists discovered ceramics as well as two tombs and building foundations from the Mycenaic era around 1500 BC, the period when the legendary war of Troy is believed to have happened.

The findings near the remains of Thebes, one of ancient Greece's great cities some 80km north-west of Athens and birthplace of the legendary King Oedipus, are "most important", the Greek Culture Ministry said in a press release.

The excavation also revealed numerous artefacts from later periods reaching into the Byzantine period, including 380 undamaged pots, bronze statuettes and jewellery as well as a pre-Christian altar made of ash stone.

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:33:49 AM::

~ Alexander the Great @ CTC

Amidst all the hype about Alexander the Great, it's good to see the Classics Technology Center promoting its nice little overview of Alexander and his legacy ...

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:32:09 AM::

~ Akropolis World News

The latest headlines from Akropolis World News (in Classical Greek):

Radcliffe wins in New York - Singer rules out ABBA reunion

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:27:23 AM::

~ Reviews from BMCR

Giovanni Lanfranchi, Michael Roaf, Robert Rollinger (edd.), Continuity of Empire (?). Assyria, Media, Persia. Proceedings of the International Meeting in Padua, 26th-28th April 2001. History of the Ancient Near East. Monographs, V.

J.R. Green, et al., Ancient Voices. Modern Echoes. Theatre in the Greek World. Exhibition Catalogue.

Andreola Rossi, Contexts of War. Manipulation of Genre in Virgilian Battle Narrative.

Margaret Meserve, Marcello Simonetta (edd.), Pius II: Commentaries. I Tatti Renaissance Library.

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:25:42 AM::

~ Remembering

To mark Remembrance Day, it seems appropriate to reproduce here A.E. Housman's The Recruit, courtesy of Bartleby:

Leave your home behind, lad, 
  And reach your friends your hand, 
And go, and luck go with you 
  While Ludlow tower shall stand. 
Oh, come you home of Sunday       
  When Ludlow streets are still 
And Ludlow bells are calling 
  To farm and lane and mill, 
Or come you home of Monday 
  When Ludlow market hums       
And Ludlow chimes are playing 
  ‘The conquering hero comes,’ 
Come you home a hero, 
  Or come not home at all, 
The lads you leave will mind you       
  Till Ludlow tower shall fall. 
And you will list the bugle 
  That blows in lands of morn, 
And make the foes of England 
  Be sorry you were born.       
And you till trump of doomsday 
  On lands of morn may lie, 
And make the hearts of comrades 
  Be heavy where you die. 
Leave your home behind you,       
  Your friends by field and town: 
Oh, town and field will mind you 
  Till Ludlow tower is down.

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:21:52 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Tonight

7.00 p.m. |HINT| The First 1000 Years. Part 3.   
The Eastern Roman Empire, based in Constantinople, survives in splendor for a thousand years after Rome's fall. But the sands of Arabia give birth to a new faith, Islam, which soon conquers half of Christendom. Though Europe is mired in the Dark Ages, Irish monks copy ancient texts, preserving them for the future.

HINT -  History International

::Thursday, November 11, 2004 4:18:14 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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