Latest update: 12/2/2004; 4:51:31 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xvi kalendas decembres

  • ludi Plebeii (day 13) -- the Jupiterfest is still going
  • 42 B.C. -- birth of the future emperor Tiberius

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 5:26:31 AM::

~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's words with Classical roots:

louche @

recusant @ Merriam-Webster

keep @ OED (not really directly Classical, but interesting connection)

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 5:16:46 AM::

~ Akropolis World News

Latest headlines from Akropolis World News in Classical Greek:

Falluja assault almost over - Greek archaeologists find Heracles' house

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 5:03:42 AM::

~ Atlantean Reaction

The Western Mail is the first newspaper that I've seen (so far) which has actually expressed skepticism over Robert Sarmast's claims to have found Atlantis:

AN AMERICAN architect's claim to have discovered Atlantis at the bottom of the east Mediterranean Sea was yesterday greeted with scepticism.

Robert Sarmast, 38, from Los Angeles, said, "We have definitely found the Acropolis of Atlantis."

He has reported that his sonar scanning of the seabed between east Cyprus and Syria has revealed man-made walls - one as long as two miles.

Mr Sarmast is convinced this site, 50 miles south-east of Cyprus, is the remains of the mythical civilisation described by the Greek philosopher Plato.

He said, "It is a miracle we found these walls as their location and lengths match exactly the description of the acropolis of Atlantis provided by Plato in his writings."

Dr Louis Rawlings, lecturer in Ancient History at Cardiff University, believes the Atlantis Plato described was an invention of his imagination.

"In the context of trying to work out what would be an ideal constitution and state he invented this place called Atlantis and set a number of stories there. Somehow, some people have taken this literally, which I find quite fascinating."

Now that satellite technology has allowed the world to be mapped in minutes, Dr Rawlings believes there is a human hunger to discover lost civilisations.

"I think it's an exercise in naivety but it's got an enduring appeal. I think Atlantis falls in that universal desire to know the unknown."

One possible source of the Atlantis myth, he said, was the explosion of the Aegean island of Thera in the 17th century BC. This is a devastated Minoan civilisation and it is "possible but implausible" that Plato would have heard accounts of this disaster.

Sarmast, 38, is an architect by training from Los Angeles. He has devoted the past two-and-a-half years to trying to locate the lost city described by Plato in his dialogues, the Timaeous and the Critias.

But when talking to reporters, Mr Sarmast was confident of the importance of his findings.

He said, "We cannot yet provide tangible proof in the form of bricks and mortar as the artefacts are still buried under several meters of sediment at a depth of 1,500 meters, but the evidence is now irrefutable."

Dr Teri Brewer, an expert in folklore at the University of Glamorgan, said discovery of these remains did not mean that the mythological Atlantis existed.

She said, "We await with interest what may appear... The fact someone can go after a legend and come up with an archaeological site doesn't necessarily mean the legend is proven."

Atlantis-hunters will be as surprised by the claims as Plato wrote of Atlantis as an island in the western sea, which has been widely interpreted to mean the Atlantic Ocean.

In June, there was speculation that satellite images of southern Spain revealed the remains of Atlantis.

Dr Rainer Kuehne thought the myth could refer to a coastal region flooded between 800 and 500 BC.

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:58:46 AM::

~ Classics: The Source

I've always suggested the font of all knowledge tends to be a group of Classicists ... from a letter to the Harvard Crimson:

While I was perusing the Editorial section of The Crimson this morning over a delightful lemon poppyseed muffin, I was stopped in my tracks and taken aback by a disturbing verbal usage in William Adams’ column, “Twenty-three is the Ugliest Number” (Nov. 10). In this column, the author’s mother is said to have been “injected with prostaglandin hormones to induce pregnancy.” To induce pregnancy, you wonder? That’s what I wondered as well...

At first, I doubted my sufficient knowledge of this word in the English lexicon. Perhaps pregnancy also carries with it a lesser-known meaning of “the act of giving birth.” Seeking some sort of resolution to my confusion, I contacted the source: the Harvard Classics Department.

Upon hearing my query and reading the offending excerpt, the illustrious chair of said department merely chuckled and repeatedly pointed out the misuse to his colleagues. Indeed, “pregnant” comes from the Latin “praegnans” meaning “before being born.” It carries no connotation of the actual event of the birth. A fellow Classicist remarked, “Those hormones must be carrying something else if they induce pregnancy!”

I consulted my premed comrades. After they too laughed at the usage, they informed me that prostaglandins do indeed induce CHILDBIRTH by increasing the activity of smooth muscle cells (as are found in the uterus).

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:55:39 AM::

~ Plato as Agony Aunt

In the UK there's a moniker for someone as an "agony aunt", which apparently is some sort of advice columnist vel simm. Well, for a columnist at the Independent, Plato has become an agony aunt:

"The unexamined life is not worth living," Socrates said. Nor is the life you're left with after your boyfriend has left you for another woman - at least, that's how it felt in October last year when mine broke rank and went off with an art student from Cleveland, Ohio. We were over there for the opening of his new art exhibition. He'd flown over four days before me and had met her at a party. Supposedly, they "connected".

The five months that followed were a roller-coaster of confusion, vitriol and despair. I knew there'd been problems in our relationship. We saw the world very differently; he delighted in the charm of the ordinary, I wanted maximum divinity. He walked; I galloped. He drank tea; I loathed the stuff. But, along the banks of the Thames, we'd made a promise to always stick together. Our love was something unique: "transcendental", I called it. And besides, we recycled. Surely a commitment to save the world would save our relationship? Alas, no.

So there I was, a woman scorned. Hell truly hath no greater fury. And what made it worse was that I still believed in our transcendental love. If I wanted to change the way I was feeling, I needed to alter the way I was thinking. But how? A few bottles of wine and a sharp blow to the head might have done the trick. Fortunately, there's an older, more trusted way of turning your head on its head that counsellors are starting to use: philosophy.

The idea of employing Plato as an agony aunt was begun in 1981 by the German philosopher Gerd Achenbach. Although philosophy spends a lot of its time asking real-life questions that affect real-life people - What is happiness? And is it always wrong to lie? - most of the debate goes on in ivory towers. What Achenbach and subsequent philosophers including Tim Le Bon, the chairman of the UK's Society for Philosophy in Practice, wanted to do was "give practical application" to this gigantic library of great thoughts.

So how does it work? Like most types of therapy, you sign up for a set of sessions. "Two would give you a new perspective on one issue; six would help you to make a major life-decision, like a career change; with 12 you can start to rethink your entire life philosophy," explains Le Bon. Each session lasts 50 minutes and costs £50 - and, no, you don't have to have any previous knowledge of philosophy.

"If you think of Friends, it would suit Ross and Chandler more than Joey," Le Bon says. "It's for anyone who wants to make their emotions more intelligent. Or for those who have tried other kinds of therapy, and want something more cerebral."

The first session begins with the patient venting off about whatever's troubling them. The rant over, the counsellor then picks out some key concepts that are crucial to the problem - in the case of heartbreak, it is love and happiness that come hurtling to the fore - and then gets the patient to define what they mean. So, what is love? What is happiness?

To kick-start the patient's thinking, Le Bon describes what a great philosopher had to say about it. In my case, he tells me what Plato wrote about love in his Symposium: that to stop man fighting the gods, Zeus decided to cut each human in two, so they would lose their strength. "This, then, is the source of our desire to love each other," Plato said. "Each of us is a 'matching half' of a human whole, because each was sliced like a flatfish, two out of one, and each of us is always seeking the half that matches him."

This method of probing what we might think are "obvious" ideas, such as love and happiness, was devised by Socrates in the squares of Athens. "The only I thing I know is that I know nothing at all," he boasted. What Socrates showed was that although many of the thinkers of his time thought they knew what justice, happiness and goodness meant, their understanding was tied in to their personal agenda and world view, and, what's more, when pushed, their ideas often contradicted themselves.

A bit like me on love. Whereas part of my understanding of love was something that gave life meaning, made it worth living and bound us together, I also believed that true love was "transcendental": that it was out of this world, and it didn't matter if the two people who loved each other couldn't get along in the day-to-day. Love was bigger than the mundane.

But when it came to the next stage of the therapy, critical thinking - "to check out whether your assumptions stand up to examination" - I walked head first into a contradiction. If I think love's purpose is to make life worth living, but then say it's irrelevant to daily life, surely my two ideas of love are not compatible?

As the cogs in my brain start to creak into motion, I feel myself taking a step back from my predicament: thinking about how I've been thinking. This idea I had of transcendental love might have started off as a romantic dream. But when the relationship stopped working, and I found myself feeling trapped and frustrated, I used it to justify the mechanics of a relationship that just didn't work in the daily grind. I used it to lie to myself.

In the final stage, Le Bon gets me to start thinking about how to go forward. "You can't change what has happened," he says. "You can't change that he's left you, or how you behaved in the relationship. So, as the Stoics did, let's work on controlling the controllables: the things that you can change."

To work out what can be changed, he gets me to try out a thought experiment, a method often used in philosophy to imagine other worlds where people can have different codes of behaviour. Thought experiments shatter your preconceived ideas of how the world should be and let your imagination run wild to how the world could be. "I find Viktor Frankl very useful here, the Austrian psychiatrist and concentration-camp survivor who actually believed that everything in life happens for a purpose," Le Bon says.

"Suppose this break-up did happen for a reason that will work to your benefit," he suggests. "What might that be? The answer might be that you can now focus on something important that was denied in the relationship. Or - the Hollywood version - so you'll meet someone who is really right for you."

Temporarily freed of any sense of responsibility for the relationship that was, and its sorry demise, the list came fast. I could now travel more; he didn't like me travelling on my own, but too often he didn't want to go anywhere, preferring to stay in his studio and make art. I'd love to meet someone with a similar sense of adventure to mine.

For the first time in two years, I was being honest with myself about what I really wanted - listening to those voices that we all have inside our heads, and too often try to muzzle.

So did philosophy save me? Well, I'm now dating a travel writer I have to run to keep up with. I still haven't got over the fact that my replacement came from Cleveland, Ohio. But I guess I never will.

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:53:17 AM::

~ JOB: Generalist @ UGuelph

The University of Guelph invites applications for a tenure-track appointment in Classics at the rank of Assistant Professor, to begin July 1, 2005. Applicants should hold a Ph.D. (at the latest by the start of the appointment). In addition to teaching Greek and Latin courses (both the language and the literature to senior level), the appointee will have expertise in Greek and/or Roman intellectual or social history in one (or more) areas such as: Science among the Greeks, Greek and Roman Medicine, the Family in Greece and Rome, Women in Antiquity. The successful applicant will participate in interdisciplinary collaboration by Classics with Art History, History and Philosophy both in related undergraduate teaching and in graduatesupervision.

The review of applications will begin December 15, 2004 and continue until the position is filled. Applicants should send a current curriculum vitae with email address, graduate transcripts, statement of research and teaching interests together with samples of research and teaching evaluations (if available), and should arrange to have three letters of reference sent to:

Dr. Stephanie Nutting
Acting Director, School of Languages and Literatures
University of Guelph
Guelph Ontario Canada N1G 2W1

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

The University of Guelph is committed to an employment equity program that includes special measures to achieve diversity among its faculty and staff. We therefore particularly encourage applications from qualified aboriginal Canadians, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities and women.

... seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:41:07 AM::

~ JOB: Director CAIA

The Board of the Canadian Academic Institute in Athens invites applications for the position of Director of the Canadian Archaeological Institute in Athens from July 1, 2005 for a one or two year appointment. Candidates should be established scholars in the field of Greek archaeology, conversant in modern Greek, and willing to take a leadership role in promoting Greek-Canadian cultural exchange. The Director must be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, and willing to reside in Athens for a period of at least eight months of the year. Funds are extremely limited, and the Board is most open to various models. Enquiries should be made to

Applications should be addressed to Prof. Sheila Campbell, Chair, Personnel Committee, c/o Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 59 Queen's Park Cresc. Toronto Ont. Canada M5S 2C4. The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2005

... seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:40:04 AM::

~ JOB: Greek History and Epigraphy @ Laurier

The Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University invites applications for a one-year Limited Term position, at the rank of Assistant Professor, effective July 1, 2005, subject to budgetary approval. We are seeking a candidate with a research specialty in Greek history and epigraphy. The successful candidate must have a Ph.D. or be certain of its completion before beginning the appointment, and will be competent to teach courses in Classical civilization and in both Classical languages. Other requirements include a demonstrated excellence in teaching, and evidence of a research program and publications. Applicants are asked to submit a curriculum vitae, a covering letter outlining potential contribution to the department and research interests, a short teaching
dossier, a writing sample (maximum 25 pages), and to arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to: Professor Joann Freed, Chair, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3C5, by January 20, 2005. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority. The University is committed to employment equity and welcomes applications from all qualified women and men, including persons in a visible minority, persons with disabilities, and aboriginal people.

Joann Freed, Gerry Schaus and Judith Fletcher will attend the AIA/APA meeting in Boston, January 6-9, and will be happy to discuss this position informally with potential candidates there.

... seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:39:01 AM::

~ CONF: Michael Jameson Memorial Symposium




3.00-3.15 PM.    INTRODUCTION



3.45-4.00 PM.  "KREANOMIA"

4.00-4.15 PM.       INTERMISSION




5.15 PM.        DISCUSSION

5.30 PM.                RECEPTION

For further information please contact:

Kevin Clinton
Professor                  Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Classics              Archaeology Program
Goldwin Smith 120            Cornell University
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Tel: 607-255-8325
Fax: 607-254-8899

... seen on AegeaNet

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:36:44 AM::

~ UCincinnati Summer Residency Program

Department of Classics


The University of Cincinnati Classics Department is pleased to announce the Summer Residency  Program.    Summer Residents, in the fields of philology, history and archaeology  will come to Cincinnati for a  minimum of one month and a maximum of three  during the summer (June 15 - September 15).   Apart from residence in Cincinnati during term, the only obligation of Summer Fellows is to pursue their own research.     They will receive  free university housing.   They will also receive office space and enjoy the use of the University of Cincinnati and Hebrew Union College Libraries.

The University of Cincinnati Burnam Classics Library ( is one of the world's premier collections in the field of Classical Studies. Comprising 210,000 volumes and other research materials, the library covers all aspects of the Classics: the languages and literatures, history, civilization, art, and archaeology.  Of special value for scholars is both the richness of the collection and its accessibility -- almost any avenue of research in the classics can be pursued deeply and broadly under a single roof.  The unusually comprehensive core collection, which is maintained by three professional classicist librarians, is augmented by several special collections such as 15,000 nineteenth century German Programmschriften, extensive holdings in Palaeography,   Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.   At neighboring Hebrew Union College, the Klau  Library (, with holdings  in excess of 445,000 volumes and other research materials, is rich in Judaica  and Near Eastern Studies.

Application Deadline: February 15. Applicants must have the Ph.D. in hand at the time of application.

For application forms please write:

Director, Summer Residency Program
Department of Classics
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0226


... seen on various lists

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:35:15 AM::

~ Reviews from BMCR

E. Chrysos, P. M. Kitromilides, The Idea of European Community in History. Conference Proceedings. Vol. I
K. Buraselis, K. Zoumboulakis, The Idea of European Community in History. Conference Proceedings. Vol. II. (both)

Monique Bouquet, Françoise Morzadec, La Sibylle: Parole et représentation. Collection "Interférences".

M. D. Reeve (ed.), Vegetius. Epitoma Rei Militaris. Scriptorum Classicorum Bibliotheca Oxoniensis.

Jan Radicke, Lucans poetische Technik. Studien zum historischen Epos.

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:33:18 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

11.00 p.m. |HINT|  Pompeii: Buried Alive
Exploration of the archaeological site of the city that was encrusted by incendiary ash when deadly Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Archaeological director Baldasarre Conticello takes viewers on a tour of Pompeii's ruins, and visits Herculaneum, which was destroyed by Vesuvius at the same time.

::Tuesday, November 16, 2004 4:23:13 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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