~ Rogueclassicism Cracks the Top 100 at RU
This is semi-interesting (to me, at least). As is probably obvious, I put that little hit counter down in the corner to keep track of visitors to rogueclassicism. As I write this, there have been in excess of 106,000 visitors ... not too shabby. But RadioUserland (whose blog software I use) has its own counters but they're primarily a daily thing. You don't know how many total hits there have been until you crack their top 100 list and, as of this moment, rogueclassicism has done just that, apparently. What's strange, though, is that it claims I've had in excess of 130,000 visitors ... possibly page views, but the folks who provide that other counter suggest I've got well over 145,000 of those. Whatever the case, that's a huge discrepancy between various counters (when monitoring things on a 'daily' basis, I had always thought this was due to the two companies being in different time zones) and I really have no basis to judge the accuracy of either of them ...
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 5:50:16 AM::
~ This Day in Ancient History
ante diem xiv kalendas decembres
- Mercatus -- in the wake of the lengthy ludi Plebeii, the Romans needed a few days to restock their cupboards
- 303 A.D. -- martyrdom of Hesychius of Antioch
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 5:35:43 AM::
~ Classical Words of the Day
Travlang's word of the day (reservation in assorted languages) is translated as condicio ... I can't help but wonder, though, whether people who come to the site are thinking in terms of that sort of thing, or restaurant reservations, or the places where the U.S. confined their aboriginal peoples (in Canada we have 'reserves'). But I'll get over it. Elsewhere:
clerisy @ Dictionary.com (good word)
caduceus @ Merriam-Webster
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 5:31:06 AM::
~ Alexander's Leadership Skills
As a piece in the Globe and Mail suggests, some non-Classicists appear poised to cash in on the impending Alexander boom:
When you see the movie about Alexander the Great starring Colin Farrell opening next week, pay attention to the enactment rather than the acting.
Lance Kurke, a management professor at Pennsylvania's Duquesne University, and an Alexander buff, says leaders are in the reality creation business. They make the world the way they want it to be, a process he calls enactment.
Reality creation involves four distinct processes at which Alexander the Great excelled.
The first step is to reframe problems, transforming an unsolvable task into another solvable one. "Alexander the Great did not accept the perceptions of his environment as limitations to be accommodated," Prof. Kurke points out in The Wisdom of Alexander The Great.
The classic example was when Alexander became the first commander to defeat a navy from land. Not having time to build and train a fleet to overcome Darius III, he looked for enemy weaknesses, settling on the need to dock every couple of days to get fresh water. Alexander garrisoned all sources of fresh water such as rivers and wells -- or poisoned those he couldn't or didn't want to control.
The remaining obstacle was Tyre, which had unlimited fresh water from an aquifer and was selling fresh water to Darius. It was also an impregnable island that had survived being besieged for 13 years in one instance.
Alexander's solution was to build a half-mile causeway to reach the city. The Tyrians tried everything to stop him over the seven-month construction effort, but he built specialized towers and mobile battlements to ward off their fleet. Tyre then fell in two weeks, the Persian fleet was rendered ineffective, and Alexander had provided a lesson for naval war colleges -- and business.
Later, at the River Hydaspes, Alexander faced enemy forces three times his in size. As well, King Porus had elephants and, because Alexander's horses had not been acclimatized when young to elephants, they would throw their rider and bolt when smelling them.
Alexander choreographed a battlefield ballet that won the day. His cavalry feinted and then fled, luring their opponents to give chase and fall into a trap in which Porus's cavalry was decimated. Then skilled archers simultaneously shot arrows at the mahouts (elephant drivers). After the mahouts were disposed of, the archers quickly gave way to javelin throwers, who hurled their projectiles at the already confused elephants' eyes, causing a stampede. Another victory for Alexander.
The three other enactment processes are:
Building alliances: Alexander often treated the countries and leaders he conquered as friends and allies, unlike many acquisition-happy companies these days, Prof. Kurke notes. Alexander adopted the clothing, customs and manners of other cultures -- even marrying into other cultures.
Establishing identity: Leaders must create an identity for themselves when young and then establish their organization's identity. Alexander's identity flowed from his role as heir to Philip II, the king of Macedonia, and his reverence for Homer and the heroes whose exploits the ancient Greek poet chronicled. Alexander brought his own historians on his travels, to tell his story and indicate his vision to his army.
Directing symbols: A leader should use symbols to influence followers. Alexander led from the front, sharing hardships and dangers with his men. With legend proclaiming that the person who untied the Gordian knot -- an intertwined knot of special bark - would rule Asia, he apparently cut through it with his sword, emboldening his army and generals.
The book is well-framed, with each of the four processes getting a short introduction followed by a series of vignettes from Alexander's life, some of which leaders might emulate, but others -- like killing his best childhood friend or destroying a town and having all the women raped and men killed -- seem less likely to be adapted to the office. (The author stresses he was Alexander the Great, not Alexander the Perfect, which may still be overstating it.)
As well, Prof. Kurke's attempt to explain the business lessons from Alexander's actions, offering contemporary examples, is at times superfluous or even ham-handed. But it's still a useful, easy-to-read introduction to Alexander that is particularly strong in its examples of reframing problems and a welcome enactment companion to the Colin Farrell movie.
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 5:07:26 AM::
~ GBS on Greek and Latin
Over at Laudator, MG has a piece on George Bernard Shaw's opinions on the learning of Greek and Latin ...
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 4:52:05 AM::
~ Samuel Huskey Packs Them In
The Oklahoma Daily has a nice feature on OU Classics Professor Samuel Huskey:
7,000-year-old literature can be a little obsolete, a little outdated and a little boring—unless you’re in Samuel J. Huskey’s class.
Huskey is known for his unique tactics of relating classical literature to students, which include dressing as a chef, using students to demonstrate interactions between characters and standing on desks in the back of classrooms.
His background is as unique as his teaching style. Huskey, born in Charlottesville, Va., has taught at OU since 2002. Before attending school at OU and Iowa, Huskey had a brush with fame as he played with several members of the Dave Matthews Band, which got its start in Charlottesville. At that time, those musicians were part of their own band where Huskey was a drummer, much younger than the rest of the band.
Huskey said he never realized where his former bandmates were until he saw them on television.
“I was watching “Saturday Night Live” and I was like, ‘Wow, there’s Tim (Reynold, guitar player). There’s Carter (Beauford, drummer). They’re on TV and I’m in graduate school.’”
While he did not follow in his friends’ footsteps to fame, he said performing in front of young audiences helped him learn how to teach his students.
“I’m trying to make 7,000-year-old literature exciting,” Huskey said. “Knowing how music works and performing definitely has an influence.”
Throughout his life, he said he found the best way to learn and teach is through expression.
“Express yourself,” Huskey said. “Don’t repeat others, but absorb knowledge. What I want students to do is join a conversation. The teachers I remember are the ones who taught me to think for myself.”
The students certainly remember Huskey. The OU Panhellenic Association presented Huskey with the 2003-2004 Outstanding Faculty Member award.
Kelly Cook, letters senior, said Huskey teaches students by presenting the topics in a new and meaningful way.
“Most professors teach you information, but Huskey teaches you how to be a better person and live a better life,” Cook said. “He can take the most frighteningly boring subjects and not only apply them to his life, but show you how to apply them to your own life.”
Matt McDonald, letters senior, said he enjoyed both of the classes he took from Huskey, because Huskey listens to the students.
“[Huskey’s] very attentive to his students,” McDonald said. “He has a great sense of humor and he’s very effective in his teaching.”
While he is not the young drummer who once played alongside now-famous musicians, Huskey said he is happy with what he is doing.
“I absolutely love teaching,” Huskey said. “I love teaching where I went to school. Teachers can be very effective people. I try to make something unfamiliar exciting.”
... although we must wonder about the 7,000 b.p. literature (obviously an exaggeration; did the reporter know?) ...
[n.b. Dr. Huskey contacted rogueclassicism and noted -- as we all suspected, of course -- that he had said 2,000 b.p. literature; the reportrix apparently was autopaleographically challenged]
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 4:39:47 AM::
~ AHype II ... Alexander's 'Orientation'
The New York Post has a piece of Alexander hype playing up/down his relationship with Bagoas which also has just enough (I suspect) keywords to get it blocked by a pile of school-centred software, so we'll just link to it, although this description of Alexander is noteworthy:
As Alexander the Great, Farrell speaks softly and sports a blond pageboy and mini-toga, looking a bit like something out of Queer Eye for the Macedonian Guy.
Similarly, an interview with Oliver Stone in Rolling Stone (no relation) would also likely get caught by webfilters ...
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 4:29:50 AM::
~ AHype with Robin Lane Fox
The Modesto Bee starts our day off with a bit of Alexander hype featuring Robin Lane Fox:
You might call him a professional nitpicker. In fact, it's Robin Lane Fox's job to argue with the boss. That's a tall order when the boss is resolute filmmaker Oliver Stone and the movie is "Alexander," the most comprehensive film Stone has ever made.
A Fellow of New College, Oxford, Fox is an expert on Alexander the Great and author of one of the most successful books on the subject.
For three years Fox served as historical adviser on the film, fussing over the tiniest detail and butting heads with Stone when verity collided with art.
"The whole thing is a process of negotiation," acknowledges Fox, in his clipped British accent.
"Remember, I'm a consultant. A consultant is consulted. I don't get carried away. I've had an unusual relationship and I greatly respected the director, but it's his film, even if I've written bits of it."
At 20 years old Alexander the Great inherited the Macedonian crown when his father, Philip II, was murdered.
By the time he was 25 he had conquered 90 percent of the known world, defeated the supposedly superior Persians and pushed on to the far reaches of India.
He died far from home at 33 having conquered and united nearly 2 million square miles.
When others would have returned to their palatial Greek palaces and taken their ease, Alexander pressed on through the freezing mountains of the Hindu Kush into the steaming plains of India.
Fox thinks what drove Alexander beyond endurance was the Homeric ideals he had absorbed as a child.
"Homeric values stand far above the others. Glory is won through achievement, immortal honor by great deeds of valor," says Fox. "And if that means killing people who oppose you they have the option of surrendering, otherwise you'll fight them into the ground.
"Psychologically? I don't know. I'm not a warrior. Maybe you get a taste for battle, once you've had it you must go on having it, like a dog who tastes blood," says Fox.
"It (conquest) may have been subconsciously fulfilling but it was also overtly fulfilling to his ideals as the rival of a great hero. Thirdly, it's the accepted framework of achievement in the Macedonian world. . . .And fourthly, for me, it is intense psycho-rivalry above all with his father's achievement. I would put the weight on (Alexander) wishing to put Philip's achievements in the shade."
Alexander's life and the movie teach us something today, and it has nothing to do with courage or battle or supremacy.
"Above all it challenges our stereotypes about age," says Fox.
"Alexander has a spell of youth, age 25, admittedly as a king, he has a chance to put everything on the line, and he proves the extraordinary fearlessness, capacity and sharp eye of the young. It's exemplified in the openhearted generosity. His faults are the faults of extremes - not of a paranoid, not of a Stalin, but he makes passionate errors of youth. . . "
Of course, this is not the first movie that has rattled the historical expert.
What does he think of previous film works on the ancient world?
"You're talking to a guy whose favorite film is 'Ninotchka' with Garbo," he laughs.
"I thought 'Ben Hur' and all the sort of Christian stuff about lepers at the end was complete drivel. I rather liked 'Cleopatra' years ago, but it's an extravaganza. There were a few touches in there that were hopeful. 'Spartacus,' the story didn't really grab me, but it's not badly done. 'Gladiator' is about America, it's not about the history of the period, completely different. You may like it as a film, but it's not a history film. 'Troy,' for me was a travesty, one damn thing after another."
And what was the best?
Fox says he thinks it was the miniseries, "I, Claudius," which aired on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" in 1977. "Utterly brilliant," says Fox.
"Alexander" opens nationally on Nov. 24.
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 4:22:16 AM::
~ AWOTV: On TV Today
7.00 p.m. |HINT| The Rise of Christianity: Part 4
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 of Europe seems united in Christianity, new wars with Islam loom ahead.
HINT = History International
::Thursday, November 18, 2004 4:07:54 AM::