Latest update: 12/2/2004; 4:51:24 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Atlantis Found (Yeah, right)

From the Cyprus Mail comes the most detailed coverage of what Robert Sarmast 'found':

THE TEAM led by American researcher Robert Sarmast, who believes Cyprus is Atlantis, said yesterday they had found man-made structures in the area they had earmarked as the site of the underwater lost continent.

“It’s definitely Atlantis,” Sarmast was quoted as saying through his spokeswoman Angela Henderson. “It’s going to be impossible for the sceptics to prove me wrong.”

Henderson said that Sarmast, the author of Discovery of Atlantis: The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus, launched a secret expedition last Monday and was due back at Limassol port last night. He is to reveal his findings at a news conference today, accompanied with visual data.

“All we can say right now is that we have found compelling new evidence from side-scan sonar that there are unnatural formations, i.e. man-made objects the details of which will be released on Sunday,” Henderson told the Sunday Mail.

She said the man-made structures that have been pinpointed by Sarmast and his team corroborated his previous research relating to Acropolis Hill, the centre of the ancient lost city. “It is definitely a discovery,” said Henderson.

Sarmast bases his theory that Cyprus is Atlantis on Plato’s writings Timaeus and Crititias, saying that almost every clue in Plato’s description of the legendary continent perfectly correlates with data obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, originally released to the international community a decade ago. The data was obtained in 1987 during a scientific survey of the Mediterranean.

Sarmast, who had been planning to launch his expedition during the summer, had recently been keeping a very low profile and was out of contact, as were his press team, giving rise to speculation that the expedition had been delayed, called off, or that funding may have run out.

Henderson said the secrecy had been a deliberate ploy to keep media attention at a distance in order to facilitate the smooth launch of the expedition.

“They set off on Monday with an international team, including Cypriots,” she said. The salvage vessel was the Flying Enterprise, managed by EDT, which has a history of successfully locating submerged objects. A film crew was also on board.

Henderson was unable to say how Sarmast was going to prove the existence of the legendary city.

In July this, year the Paphos-based organisation Psychognosia challenged Sarmast’s theory by inviting a one of the top US military former ‘psychic spies’, Joseph McMoneagle to carry out a remote viewing experiment at Sarmast’s co-ordinates for Atlantis.

McMoneagle was asked to describe what he saw within a two-mile radius of the co-ordinates, both 10,000 years ago and at the present time.

He said he could see a predominant city with a system of buildings; now it was under, he was able to perceive some ruins buried in muck and mud.

Psychognosia’s John Knowles said at the time it was very likely Sarmast would in fact uncover an ancient city because the Mediterranean is littered with them, but that this did not mean it was Atlantis.

Folks who want to can check out Sarmast's site for some images of the sonar. Definitely faces-on-Mars material, if you ask me ... look at an image of a typical fault, such as the San Andreas fault and imagine what it would look like through sonar ...

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:52:32 AM::

~ Scylla and Charybdis

An excerpt from MSNBC about the emerging scandal associated with the oil-for-food thing with Iraq:

Sevan was reluctant to embark on an anti-corruption effort because it would complicate his relations with Iraq, whose cooperation was essential to the program's success, several U.N. officials believed. He was also loath to antagonize key Security Council members, particularly Russia, which routinely opposed efforts to reform a multibillion-dollar program that served its political and economic interests.

"He used to say, 'I have to sail between Scylla and Charybdis,' " a senior U.N. official said, referring to the two sea monsters in Greek mythology who tormented Odysseus and his crew.

Interestingly, Scylla and Charybdis seem to be a popular trope these past few weeks ... witness an excerpt on 'mythology television' from (ultimately) the Boston Globe:

Like their heroes and heroines, mythology shows are the antithesis of prime time TV's big monsters, Scylla (crime dramas) and Charybdis (reality shows).

... and also from the Globe:

They are the Red Sox' answer to Scylla and Charybdis, the twin monsters who terrorize opposing pitchers by guarding the heart of the Red Sox' order. Or, as Tennessee Ernie Ford sang in "Sixteen Tons," "If the right one don't get ya, the left one will."

... and VHeadline:

Just when Mr. Bush thought he'd sailed by the Scylla of a potentially devastating foreign-policy critique from John Kerry during the presidential debates, he was hit by the Charybdis of an actually devastating foreign-policy critique from 729 scholars.

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:39:23 AM::

~ Aeschylus' Iranians?

I get a pile of things which come ostensibly from Persian Journal, but I've been reluctant to post them since last week it became clear that there are some definite attribution problems with articles therefrom. Even so, I can't neglect mentioning this piece about Queen Atossa, primarily because of this mention, inter alia:

Aeschylus, the 5th century (BC) Greek dramatist, in his famous play titled "The Iranians", which is the story of Xerxes' war with the Greek and the significant victory of the Greeks, has called Atossa "The Ladies Lady".

Strange ... never have I seen 'the Persians' called "The Iranians" and it isn't all over the web either (actually, the only place it does seem to be on the web is at the Iran Chamber Society, whence it appears to have been untimely ripped).

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:29:02 AM::

~ Reviews from Aestimatio

Miroslav Marcovich, Heraclitus: Greek Text wth a Short Commentary. Second Edition, Including Fresh Addenda, Corrigenda, and a Select Bibliography (1967-2000).

Jose Chabas and Bernard R. Goldstein, Astronomy in the Iberian Peninsula: Abraham Zacut and the Transition from Manuscript to Print.

(both pdf)

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:20:00 AM::

~ Review from Scholia

Andrew Ford, The Origins of Criticism: Literary Culture and Poetic Theory in Classical Greece

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:17:39 AM::

~ Acropolis Museum Update

From Kathimerini:

Greece’s long-delayed project to build a new Acropolis Museum that might one day host the Elgin, or Parthenon, Marbles will be finished in two years’ time at a cost of 129 million euros, the government promised yesterday.

Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis told a press conference that the contract for construction of the ultra-modern new building at the foot of the ancient citadel was signed last Friday. The previous, Socialist government had sworn to have the building ready before the Athens Olympics, at a cost of 94 million euros. But nothing happened. Yesterday, Tatoulis accused his predecessors of having “never handled the matter seriously.” If the museum is ever built, Athens hopes it will provide it with a strong argument in its bid for the return of the fifth-century BC Marbles from the British Museum, which, backed by the UK government, has refused to relinquish the sculptures.

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:15:24 AM::

~ Why the Roman Empire Fell

A bit of tongue in cheekiness from an incipit to a piece in the Scotsman:

IT IS often said that the Roman Empire collapsed because of the barbarian invasions, but the reasons why a major ancient culture crumbled after successfully defending itself for years and years has still to be satisfactorily explained.

My suspicion is that it all went wrong after ordinary citizens tired of bread and circuses and moved onto musicals. Gibbon’s Decline and Fall may not make any specific allusion to this, but perhaps all it took was some arts critic to propose that watching gory maulings in the amphitheatre was all very well, but surely it would be nice to hear some good tunes with perhaps a dance routine for a change? Thus an ancient civilisation allowed itself to take in some life-draining ancient experiences such as ‘Spiritus Operatorum’ or ‘Miserabeli’, and immediately shed its sense of purpose and gave up the fight for survival. [more]

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:14:02 AM::

~ Another Review from the Times

As with the item below this one, reproduced in toto from the Times of London because some folks can't seem to connect to it directly:

Philip Matyszak,The Enemies of Rome: From Hannibal to Attila the Hun (Tom Holland)

It is an intriguing and suggestive fact that the enemies of ancient Rome tend to be far better known than the generals who conquered them. Marcus Crassus, when he defeated a slave revolt in 71BC, was so desperate to advertise his victory that he nailed captives to crosses all along the Appian Way, billboards grotesque even by the standards of Roman self-promotion; yet it was Spartacus, the slave he had defeated, who would end up being played by Kirk Douglas, and having a film named after him.

Mass crucifixions, of course, tend to lack voter-appeal nowadays, and it might be thought that anyone who indulged in the practice richly merited oblivion. Yet even when Rome’s enemies matched the superpower atrocity for atrocity, they were not necessarily forfeiting their chances of posthumous fame. Who, for instance, should have a memorial in the heart of London but a woman whose single contribution to the city was to burn it down? The bare breasts of Boudicca’s two daughters in the statue that stands opposite Big Ben are grim (no doubt unintentional) reminders of the tortures inflicted by the warrior queen. It was her practice, wrote the historian Cassius Dio, “to hang up naked the noblest and most distinguished women and then cut off their breasts and sew them to their mouths, in order to make the victims appear to be eating them; afterwards they impaled the women on sharp skewers run lengthwise through the entire body”.

No wonder that the cover of Philip Matyszak’s The Enemies of Rome is splashed with gouts of blood. Like the ancient historian Plutarch, Matyszak has written a series of interlinked biographies, but while Plutarch confined himself to celebrating the lives of famous Greeks and Romans, Matyszak is more interested in leaders whom the Romans themselves dismissed as barbarians: men and, in certain exceptional circumstances, women who dared stand up to the most lethal military power in the ancient world. Many of their names have reverberated through the ages: Spartacus and Boudicca, of course, but also Hannibal, Cleopatra and Attila the Hun. Matyszak tells their stories stylishly and well, but it is when he turns his attention to leaders whose lives have not been endlessly dug over that his book comes into its own. “Vriathus the Lusitanian” or “Decebalus the Dacian” might sound like characters out of a Roman Blackadder, and yet, as Matyszak demonstrates, their careers were no less touched by heroism and brutality than those of Rome’s more celebrated foes. Vriathus, a shepherd turned guerrilla leader, spent years tormenting, and on occasions destroying, the legions of the Roman Republic as they tried to pacify what is now Portugal during the 2nd century BC; Decebalus, almost three centuries later, led his people, the Dacians, in a series of bruising wars with the neighbouring superpower. After triumphantly holding his own, and sometimes even taking the fight into Roman territory, he ultimately came off second best against the best general ever to wear the imperial purple, the Emperor Trajan, and ended up, like many of Matyszak’s subjects, a victim of suicide. The scale of Trajan’s ultimate triumph can be gauged by the fact that what had once been Dacia is still known to this day as Romania.

Vriathus, the freedom fighter who took to the hills, harassing heavily armoured legions with hit-and-run raids; Decebalus, the charismatic war hero who led his people in a desperate independence struggle: here, for the historian of Roman imperialism, are two particularly suggestive archetypes. All the subjects of Matyszak’s various biographies blend them to varying degrees. Nor, of course, do they have resonance merely for the student of ancient history. Vriathus was not the only insurgent to have exploited the potential of guerrilla tactics against the better-armed troops of an occupying power — just as Decebalus was hardly the last warlord to have steeled his own authority with an appeal to nationalism. Matyszak does not allude to any post-Roman liberation movements, but it is possible to guess, had he done so, how his sympathies might have been expressed. “It was reduced to ashes,” he writes of a city obliterated during a war against the king of Macedon,“as a warning to others who withstood their liberators.”

This is not a book, it is safe to say, that has much time for empires of any kind. Yet to a degree that Matyszak never really acknowledges, his distaste for Roman imperialism draws its sustenance, not from the enemies of Rome, who are largely silent, but from their conquerors. When he compares the Pax Romana to a desert, for instance, or contrasts the “sterile, sick and ossified” civilisation of the Caesars with the supposedly more vibrant freedoms of the German tribes, he is echoing the great Roman historian Tacitus — as mordant a critic of his own culture as has ever written. Indeed, virtually all the grand speeches that Matyszak attributes to his subjects, all the defiant perorations on independence and liberty, were put into their mouths by Roman authors. He asserts that “we see many of the alternative European and Mediterranean cultures in their last years before they were overwhelmed”. But do we? Up to a point: but what we see far more clearly, preserved within Matyszak’s narratives, is a sense of how remarkably sophisticated the Romans could be as their own sternest critics.

Is empire better than anarchy? Should those who lack civilisation be civilised by force? Are those who resist occupation freedom fighters or terrorists? Timeless questions, perhaps, but it was the historians of what the author describes as the Graeco-Roman “monoculture” who first framed them. Had he written outside the inherently classical genre of biography, then Matyszak, perhaps, would have found it easier to escape the Romans’ own terms of reference. As it is, however, his pacey and compelling book fascinates as a study, less of the enemies of Rome, than of Rome itself.

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:11:10 AM::

~ Review: From the Times

A review from the Times of London, which some folks might have problems directly linking to:

Peter Green, From Ikaria to the Stars (Frederic Raphael)

“Everyone with a bellyful of the classics is an enemy to the human race.” Henry Miller and the present secretary of state for education seem to be of the same mind. The classics, it is generally agreed, are a repository of class vanity, racial prejudice and pedantic obscurantism. Rooted in abstruse texts and concerned almost entirely with the activities of Dead White Males in knobbly-kneed costumes, the history and literature of the ancient world is good only for travesties such as the film Troy or fanciful “improvement” (as in a recent workshop-soiled production of Euripides). Otherwise, it offers no fit course for a multicultural society in which faith swamps reason and Gallup-polled “truths” are better than knowledge.

This is not to say that classical tags cannot still dignify pretentious academic luggage. Simon Blackburn, the professor of philosophy at Cambridge, recently wrote a little book entitled Lust, in which he cited something that “Hesiod said in the 5th century”. Who will care that Hesiod can have said little at that time, since he had been dead for at least two centuries?

Peter Green would, even though he never achieved high academic office either at Cambridge (where he was already an outstanding scholar in the early 1950s) or anywhere else in England. His distinguished professorial career has been fostered in America (that Great Devil of today’s British academy) and by prolonged residence in modern Greece, where he finds many uncomfortable parallels with the voluble, inglorious Hellas that his clear-headedness and lack of cant so regularly, and often uproariously, reveal.

Most classicists are obliged by calling, if not by temperament, to concentrate on either Greece or Rome, and then on limited aspects of whichever they choose. Green is that rarity, a translator, historian, critic and all-purpose intellectual who is not hobbled by specialisation: the Mediterranean is mare suum, although the Aegean remains his favourite dive.

The essays in this volume supply sumptuous mezes to give you an appetite to fill your belly with the classics. All are informed by knowledge not only of the canonical texts but, it seems, of almost every scrap of un-golden-age scribble that might be useful to Green’s unflagging purpose. And what is that? To dazzle maybe, but always to enlighten and, against all the usual odds, to entertain: in reviewing an American television Odyssey, he reminds us that “Helen saved her skin at Troy by bobbing her tits to an angry husband”.

Irreverence is the larky companion of Green’s erudition. He continues to cheek his betters, even after he has bested them. He has actually lived what careerist academics prefer to patronise and jargonise in structuralist abstraction (James Davidson is duly exempt from such stricture). In truth, the ancient world is never all that far away. Myth and reason are still fighting it out (and reason seems to be losing, as “belief” trumps tolerance and scepticism).

Modern Greek politics frequently offer a remake (or at least a travesty) of The Old Days, although Christianity has laid a mosaic of solemnity (and clerical humbug)over Zeus and his gang, whose vulgar, bullying greeds, lusts and vanities were at odds with the moralising ambitions of the great tragedians and Plato’s conflation of the Good and the Beautiful. The disparagement of the Olympians gave rise to the Aristotelian creator who — once he had given the world a kick-start — turned solipsism into the quintessential divine activity. Hence Hymns Ancient & Modern’s “immortal, invisible, God only wise”.

Green is unimpressed by the propaganda for the Golden Age of Pericles: “his chilly program of de haut en bas sociopolitical imperialism . . . another aspect of that Protagorean self-worship which he apparently takes in his stride”. For Pericles, are we being encouraged to read Blair-icles or Bush-icles? The 5th century is also now, stupid.

When it comes to ancient historians, Green votes for energetic, credulous, ragbaggy Herodotus as against the dry, Hellenocentric Thucydides. Herodotus came from Halicarnassus, Bodrum in today’s Turkey. Raised on the hinge of the Greek and the barbarian (non-Greek) world, he had the amused tolerance of a man who can see and has lived with both sides. A similarly peripatetic enthusiast, with none of the localised conceit of the bigot or the parti pris of the ideologue, Green rejoices in being what the Greeks called a “metic”, a resident alien, scholar and gypsy.

As an unredeemed liberal, Green is against all schematic certainties. In that spirit, he is perhaps too hard on Epicureans — unfairly accused of being precursors of Stalinism — and on Stoics. Against the monumental priggishness of Seneca, he might have cited Rogatianus, a Stoic senator who liberated his slaves and gave most of what he had to the poor. For the rest, Green’s obiter dicta alone are worth the price of admission: for instance, “Many may feel, as I do, that anyone capable of provoking [the historian G E M] de Ste Croix to such spluttering vituperation (‘the odious Isocrates’) must have some good in him somewhere”. Here is a collection which, on the principle of multum in parvo, is a classical education in itself.

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:08:12 AM::

~ Nuntii Latini

Latest headlines from YLE's Nuntii Latini:

Jasser Arafat mortuus (12.11.2004)

Rerum status in Iraquia (12.11.2004)

De regimine Georgii Bush (12.11.2004)

Quid Kofi Annan dixerit (12.11.2004)

Viren nova statua figuratus (12.11.2004)


::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:03:50 AM::

~ Newsletters

Issue 7.29 of our Explorator newsletter has been posted, as well as the Ancient World on Television listings for the week of November 15-20. Enjoy!

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 11:00:16 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

4.00 p.m. |HISTU|The True Story of Alexander the Great 334 BC--a 20-year-old military commander from Northern Greece set out to conquer the known world. During the next 12 years, King Alexander of Macedon led 40,000 troops more than 20,000 miles, defeated the world's most powerful ruler, King Darius of Persia, and conquered West Asia before dying at age 32. In a 3-hour special, host Peter Woodward explores the true story of Alexander the Great--a tale of conquest, love, hate, revenge, and ultimately tragedy. He visits locations of Alexander's youth, temples dedicated to Greek gods where Alexander sought divine counsel, and actual battlefields, as well as demonstrating his signature battle plans and weaponry. How could one man accomplish so much at such a young age? What led to his demise? These questions drive our analysis of Alexander's complex character, delicately balanced between genius and insanity.

HISTU = History Channel (US)

::Sunday, November 14, 2004 10:55:22 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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