Latest update: 12/2/2004; 4:58:32 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Inscriptions from the Land of Israel

We mentioned this one in this a.m.'s Explorator but want to give it as wide publicity as possible. The Inscriptions from the Land of Israel site describes itself thusly:

The Inscriptions from the Land of Israel project seeks to collect and make accessible over the Web all of the previously published inscriptions (and their English translations) from the Land of Israel from the Persian period through the Islamic conquest (ca. 500 BCE - 640 CE). There are about 15,000 of these inscriptions, written primarily in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin, by Jews, Christians, and pagans. They range from imperial declarations on monumental architecture to notices of donations in synagogues to humble names scratched on ossuaries, and include everything in between.

Right now there's a handful of inscriptions available (in Latin and Greek; they work properly in Firefox but not necessarily in IE ... tee hee!) ... even better, though, is the way the inscriptions are presented; definitely a model to emulate for all you inscriptions sites out there (papyrology too!). [to see what I'm talking about, click on search, then find the pull-down menu to select 'dedication' and select 'latin' as the language].

::Sunday, November 28, 2004 11:06:32 AM::

~ Cleopatra Murdered?

The Times of London has an extremely interesting piece (which actually is promoting a documentary we'll keep our eyes open for) suggesting Cleopatra was possibly murdered ... here's a lengthy bit from the middle of the thing:

Other red flags follow thick and fast, many of them planted in the body of the "asp". By common consent, Cleopatra's ticket to oblivion would have been the Egyptian cobra, Naja haje. This was the species represented in the Egyptian symbol of royalty, the uraeus, and is the one still employed by snake charmers throughout North Africa. It is a big animal, thick in the body and typically 2½ metres long. Cleopatra would have had to feign an unusual appetite for figs in order to justify to Octavian's guards a basket big enough to conceal it. Let us assume, however, that this habitual manipulator of emperors, with all her cunning, could have found a way covertly to take delivery of an 8ft snake. What then?

She writes and sends her suicide note to Octavian, then straight away seizes the cobra and encourages it to bite her. Before she falls, she passes the snake to Eiras, who quickly receives a bite of her own before passing it on to Charmion, who does the same. By the time the guards run in, minutes later, they are all either dead or on the brink of death. The snake, meanwhile, has vanished without trace.

Wherever you look, there are problems — problems with the behaviour of the women, problems with the snake, problems with the guards, problems with Octavian. No single aspect of the story is impossible, but the degree of improbability mounts as each new factor is tossed onto the pile, until the resulting accumulator carries the kind of odds that would attach to a donkey in a steeplechase. For a 21st-century criminal investigator, the signals are as plain as bullet holes. This was no suicide pact. This was a plain case of murder.

Pat Brown is that most modern of legal professionals, an investigative criminal profiler. Based in Minneapolis, she specialises in unsolved, "cold" murder cases and sells her analytical skills to prosecutors, defence attorneys and police forces throughout the US and Canada. In the modern way, too, she is something of a media star and not shy of an eye-catching challenge. Prominent among her advertised services are "Equivocal Death Analyses on Undetermined or Questioned Manners of Death". Her very coldest of cold cases, the supposed suicide of Cleopatra, is the subject of a film by the award-winning London-based documentary makers Atlantic Productions, shortly to be shown on Five. Of all the witnesses she examines (and she examines plenty), Plutarch turns out to be the least satisfactory.

Let us leave aside for a moment the issue of whether or not Cleopatra was a believable candidate for self-harm. Let us assume that she was suicidal and examine her behaviour. In particular, let us look at the inscribed tablet, the "suicide note" she sent to Octavian before she picked up the cobra. Is this the way suicides behave? Pat Brown, who has seen a few, is adamant that it is not. When notes are written, she says, they are usually left on or near the body, to be found after the person has died. What a determined suicide does not do is deliver an advance warning to someone who is likely to run and save them. Where is the logic in that?

Then we come to the snake itself. Certainly, Cleopatra would have known all about the potency of its venom. Plutarch even claims (though we may not believe him) that Cleopatra conducted experiments on prisoners, seeking the perfect poison: one that would waft the victim on a billow of slowly deepening torpor, like an overdose of anaesthetic. The Greek physician Galen, a couple of centuries later, reported seeing criminals in Alexandria being executed in just this way, by a cobra bite to the chest. By the standards of the time, such a death might be regarded as humane. This is one reason why Cleopatra might have chosen snake venom from the broad range of lethal poisons then available. Another, more poetic, is the symbolic power of the cobra as an emblem of pharaonic divinity — an apt metaphor for her death in the coils of international politics. Either way, the snake would have been well up to the job.

Professor David Warrell, professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at Oxford University, explains how it works: "The venom is principally neurotoxic, which means that it paralyses the nervous system and prevents the conduction of nerve impulses from the nerve to the muscle." First it paralyses the eyelids and eyeballs; then the facial muscles, tongue and throat; then the chest and stomach, with death following quickly through suffocation. Not quite the pain- and anxiety-free exit of poetic imagination, but effective nevertheless. Better still, from Plutarch's perspective, little evidence may be left on the body. When Professor Warrell examined a recently dead victim, he found "absolutely no signs on the body except for punctures at the site of the bite". This sits well with the description of Cleopatra's unblemished corpse, and with rumours (they were little more) of two tiny punctures in her arm. Beyond this, however, Plutarch's yarn begins to crumble. The first snag is the timing.

There are reported cases of death occurring within 15 or 20 minutes of a cobra's bite, but it usually takes much longer. In Professor Warrell's experience, the quickest death took fully two hours. In the case of Cleopatra, when Octavian's guards came on the scene in a matter of minutes, we are asked to believe not only that the queen died in record time but that her two maidservants did likewise. You couldn't say it was impossible, but the likelihood is remote. It becomes remoter still when you consider the delivery of the venom. It's not that a single cobra would not have had enough. "There's a misconception," says Professor Warrell, "that snakes can exhaust the supply of venom with one strike. All the evidence now suggests that repeated strikes, even up to 10 in a row, can deliver lethal doses."

The problem again is a matter of odds, for not every bite injects poison. "If you're bitten by a venomous snake and the fangs puncture your skin, there's probably only an average 50% chance that venom will be injected." Again, three in a row may not be impossible, but the statistical hurdle is climbing relentlessly skywards. You have to consider, too, not only the cobra but the likely behaviour of its victims. Terror of snakes is hard-wired into the human psyche. To reach out and touch even a harmless one is a supreme test of the human will; to confront, grasp and invite the strike of an Egyptian cobra requires the kind of courage that is normal only in saints.

Naja haje is variable in colour. It may be brown, cream, yellowish, greyish, copperish. Very often it is banded. Always it has a long tail, a powerful cylindrical body and a broad head with large, stare-you-down eyes. When aroused, it rears and spreads its hood. Given her identification with it, and her wearing of the uraeus as royal insignia, it is possible to imagine Cleopatra taking it into her last embrace. Cynically, you might argue even that it was a union of approximate moral equivalence, for it would have taken a very active snake to kill more people than the queen herself. Whatever human life may have meant to her, it was never an obstacle to self-advancement. As was the custom in the Ptolemaic dynasty, Cleopatra was the child of an incestuous marriage between brother and sister. As was the custom, too, she had adopted murder as an everyday instrument of protocol.

Her first husband, whom she married when she was 17, was her own 10-year-old brother, Ptolemy XIII, against whom she later made war and who ended up face down in the Nile. Her second was another brother, 11-year-old Ptolemy XIV, whose death by poisoning four years later was timed conveniently to coincide with the readiness of Caesarion, Cleopatra's bastard son by Julius Caesar, to join her on the throne. She also procured the murder of her sister Arsino‘, and shortly before her own death ordered the execution of King Artavasdes of Armenia, whose head she then sent to another monarch, whose co-operation she wanted. The foxy temptress and swooning beauty of popular imagination was a violent pragmatist for whom death held no chill. Although, as we shall see, there are reasons to believe she would have done no such thing, it is quite possible to imagine such a woman consorting with a snake.

Her servants, however, were a different matter — two more prominent red flags in the mind of Pat Brown. "I thought about how the handmaidens, after they saw Cleopatra scream after she was bitten by the snake and perhaps dropped it — because it's hard to hold onto something that has just bitten you — would then have to run after the snake. If you're reconstructing this crime in your mind, can you imagine two women seeing this and then the next woman has to run after the slithering snake and try to pick up this thing and then apply it to herself and give it to a third woman?"

Higher and higher rises the hurdle of disbelief, and higher yet again; for when Octavian's men arrive, the frenzied snake in its orgy of biting has totally disappeared. Sometimes even hotshot criminal investigators are driven to state the obvious. "When a suicide is committed," says Pat Brown, "you usually have two things: a body and the implement of death. Because, once you're dead, you cannot yourself remove that implement of death. The only person who could do that would be somebody visiting the crime scene afterwards. In this case, we have Cleopatra's body, we have her two handmaidens' bodies, but Octavian's men say they saw nothing else."

There was no asp, and no other evidence of suicide beyond the presence of three dead or dying women — no cup of hemlock, no dagger, no poisoned comb.

While none of this proves murder, the lengthening list of anomalies and unlikelihoods leaves Plutarch's account bristling with more red flags than a Downing Street intelligence dossier. In whose custody was Cleopatra when she died? Who stood to benefit from her death? On whose account did Plutarch have to rely for his verdict of suicide by asp? The answer to all three questions is the same: Octavian. If that is not enough to arouse your suspicion, then consider what the future Emperor Augustus did next (and about this there is no dispute).

He killed Cleopatra's son, Caesarion."Promotion of ancient Greek should be considered as a national investment with awards, grants, loans and prizes," he said. [the whole thing]

::Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:59:23 AM::

~ Greek, Ancient and Modern

An AFP piece (via Yahoo) presents a possibly surprising debate over teaching ancient Greek in modern Greece:

A proposal by Greece's conservative government to boost pupils' poor vocabulary by increasing ancient Greek in the schools' curriculum has reopened an old controversy about the place of Socrates' language in the country's society and education.

More knowledge of their ancient language will improve pupils' skills in modern Greek, Education Minister Marieta Yiannakou argued. "One observes bad use of language, weakness in expression and poor vocabulary," she complained.

Ancient Greek classes in secondary schools should therefore increase from four hours per week to five, Yiannakou said. Under the same set of proposals, high-school students would study the original texts of their famous forebears four hours a week, up from two.

The Pedagogical Institute, the country's educational standards watchdog, is to pronounce its weighty opinion on the matter by mid-December. The ministry-run board is expected to endorse Yiannakou's proposal, a source there told AFP on condition of anonymity.

But Greece's powerful teacher unions are against it. "The measure would be wrong, artificial and unfounded," said Costas Vamvakas, board member of secondary school teachers union OLME, told AFP.

Spoken Greek is a simplified descendant of the language's ancient variety, as the latter is known and taught throughout the world in the celebrated, classical works of Homer, Plato, Thucydides and Aristotle.

But modern Greeks find it difficult to understand their ancient language. Most pupils resent classes as a daunting and unnecessary task in an already overfraught curriculum.

"Pupils don't like ancient Greek classes. They think it's tiresome and useless," one high school teacher told AFP.

"Changes should rather be made in the way ancient Greek is taught," Greek opposition George Papandreou concurred. "We have to make pupils understand what Plato, Aristotle and Socrates actually said -- only then will their words acquire meaning".

The place of ancient Greece in modern Greek society has been a controversial issue back to the country's independence in 1821. Authorities' exaggerated reverence to the country's classical heritage banned vernacular language from the curriculum and led to heated, often violent controversy between modernists and traditionalists.

Modern Greek became the official state language as late as 1976. It replaced 'katharevousa', an artificial, officialese mix between modern-day language, medieval and ancient Greek. Ancient Greek classes were confined to high school students aiming for a classical university degree.

But traditionalist educators felt that cutting modern Greek from its roots vulgarised young people's language and left the country defenseless against the invasion of English. Ancient Greek returned to secondary schools under Greece's past conservative government in 1992, after prodding by linguist professor Yiorgos Babiniotis who is considered to this day as the champion of the Greek language.

Babiniotis, currently the rector of Athens University, the traditionalists' bastion in Greek academia, has softened his views. Boosting ancient Greek would be a "good first step," but it should be supplemented by improvements in the teaching method, he said.

"The young who want to learn Greek in secondary school should be offered rewards," said Yiorgis Yiatromanolakis, classic literature professor at the Athens University.

::Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:51:51 AM::

~ The Ancient World on Film

A very interesting column by J.D. Connor in the Boston Globe comments on why ancient-themed-flicks resonate with us:

WRITING ABOUT the Romans seen on film 50 years ago, the French theorist Roland Barthes saw in their sweaty brows the mythology of "man thinking." These days, however, our Greeks and Romans do not think, they remind. They remind themselves of their destiny. They remind their followers of the glory they might win. And their stories remind us a great deal of our current empire, and its strategic uncertainties.

Today, we are in the midst of a gathering of ancient warriors unseen in half a century. Touched off by Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" (2000), the procession brought us Antoine Fuqua's "King Arthur" and Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy" this past summer. Now comes Oliver Stone's "Alexander," which opened on Wednesday with Colin Farrell in the title role, and next year will bring "Hannibal" (with Vin Diesel as the elephant-riding emperor) and "Kingdom of Heaven" (about anti-Crusader resistance), both directed by Scott. Baz Luhrmann may still make his Alexander movie; and Warner Bros. is developing its own "Kleopatra." And this list does not include other recent epics of imperial uncertainty, such as "The Last Samurai" (set in Japan in the years following the American Civil War) or "Master and Commander," Peter Weir's seaborne tale of the Napoleonic wars.

America's current empire -- enduring, threatened, temporary, semi-accidental, take your pick -- seems to call for a cinema to think through its contradictions. But it's not just America's military empire that's nervously eyeing its expanding boundaries. Today, Hollywood's own global dominance is unquestioned -- Europe, Japan, Korea, and Latin America are vanquished; India and China are the last unconquered outposts of resistance, though the major studios already have their boots on the ground. A few years ago, much of the world was anxiously debating America's cultural imperialism. Now, confronted with old-fashioned military imperialism, much of that world turns to American culture to help explain the mess. And Hollywood, mindful of where most of its revenue really comes from, is only too happy to oblige.. . .

Imperium needs an imperial cinema. Stalin needed his "Ivan the Terrible" to justify his wartime tyrannies, and Sergei Eisenstein gave it to him. (At least in Part I -- Part II ended Eisenstein's career and nearly got him killed.) When Mussolini set up Cinecitta, the huge production facility outside Rome that would later host grand epics like "Cleopatra," the first project he commissioned was "Scipio Africanus," a film designed to justify the takeover of Ethiopia (if only by making it look like a fairer fight).

Italy remained a hotbed of sword-and-sandal superspectaculars. But as the Cold War took hold, American studios and directors joined them with films like William Wyler's "Ben Hur" (1959) and Henry Coster's "The Robe" (1953), the story of a Roman soldier's conversion to Christianity, which was the first CinemaScope film.

Then as now, American filmmakers did much of their best political thinking through the ancient epics. Robert Rossen's 1956 "Alexander the Great," starring Richard Burton, took up the Cold War question of whether an empire could be an empire of liberty -- whether Alexander brought "the idea of Athens" to the world, or only glory to himself. With "Spartacus" (1960), producer/star Kirk Douglas went looking for political controversy with a film that told the story of a doomed slave revolt against the Roman Empire, but which was more notorious for securing screen credit for the blacklisted leftist writer Dalton Trumbo.

Today's filmmakers, like an outsized portion of their global audience, regard the American-led invasion of Iraq with horror. As Oliver Stone told Rolling Stone: "It's not just Iraq, it's the whole Bush adventure . . . the notion that we are an empire, and that by setting the rules, we set reality. . .. The world has strongly expressed its disapproval, but America doesn't listen or even hear it because it's cut off by the media satellite curtain that they put up."

Apparently, Stone imagines it is up to him to tear down that curtain and assure the world that someone in America is listening. And regardless of their personal politics the studio heads are listening, too, for good reason: International audiences turned modest domestic disappointments like "King Arthur," "Last Samurai" and "Troy" into major hits. Three-fourths of those films' box office has come from outside the United States.

These days any commercial filmmaker (and particularly one with a fondness for casts of thousands and lavish period detail) needs a certain amount of imperial hubris: that is, he needs to believe that audiences will flock to his or her films around the globe. Call it cultural imperialism or a superior distribution network, filmmakers with $200 million budgets need Hollywood's power, and it is not hard to convince them to pay obeisance to it. When Alexander or Achilles yells about "everlasting glory," the hearts of studio marketing executives beat a little faster: everlasting glory equals more downstream revenue, what the French might call hyper-Oscar-puissance. (No wonder Anthony Hopkins, as the old general Ptolemy, narrates "Alexander" from the great library at Alexandria: Library rights are where it's at, and they're certainly why Sony bought MGM this fall.)

For this reason epic filmmakers, like their imperial heroes, have to be forward-thinking types: They have to bet that the world in which their film is released will be one that wants to see it. This makes them native theorists of imperial overstretch. Who wants to be the last person to greenlight or direct a $250 million Roman epic when the bottom falls out of the market -- either because the genre goes out of style again when one of the films flops hard or because the political contradictions of the moment make the movie's ambivalence quaint or abhorrent? No doubt Stone learned some of this studying the icon of imperial overstretch closest to his heart, Time-Warner -- distributors of "Alexander" and before that his documentary on Fidel Castro, as well as "Any Given Sunday," "Natural Born Killers," "JFK.". . .

Given that there are limits to empire -- even Alexander's, even Gerald Levin's, even George W. Bush's -- an emperor's great problem is knowing when to turn back, and the great rhetorical achievement lies in justifying that retreat. For imperial rhetoric is boundless and must be so. It is not a language of revenge or restoration, but of world-remaking.

Since much of the action of "Alexander," moral and military, takes place in what is now Iraq, it's hardly surprising that Oliver Stone takes some potshots at the president. What is unexpected are the heartfelt neocon speeches Alexander delivers. Standing on his balcony overlooking Babylon, he goes on and on: "These people want change, they need change," Alexander asserts. He lives "to free the people of the world."

To be sure, Stone lays the irony on thick here. After the first balcony speech, Alexander's boyfriend Hephaistion quickly changes the subject to his sovereign's dreamy eyes. And during Alexander's second major policy address on the balcony, he is too preoccupied with Babylon's "deep water port" to notice that Hephaistion is busy flailing away out of focus in the background, dying of a poison-induced fever.

When a trusted commander complains that conquering all of Asia "was not your father's mission," Alexander responds (again la W.), "I am not my father." Why stop now? Why stop ever? One more month, Alexander tells his men in India. They speak of wanting to go home to see their wives and children; Alexander first apologizes for, well, extending their tours ("I should have sent you veterans home sooner"), but then he reminds them of their mistresses and the libertinage of their time away from home.

This is the great scene of the film, and it gives "Alexander" whatever toehold on immortality it may deserve. As more voices join the chorus against the campaign, Alexander wades into his men, seeking out the potential traitors; he is lost in his need to refute and rebuke them, and they can do nothing but resist more openly. No outright mutiny erupts, but the film begins to look like its battle sequences -- the unsteady Steadicam that usually represents the fog of war now depicts what Hopkins will later call "the end of all reason." Cut to a tracking shot of corpses, stripped and splayed in Alexander's camp -- the bodies of the men who thought they were debating policy with their commander-in-chief.

In the ensuing battle against the Indian army and its elephants, Alexander takes an arrow to the chest and is borne away on a shield to die. Yet he recovers from his seemingly fatal wounds and announces the retreat. The men receive the word as if it came from a god, and in a way it does. Not because Alexander is divine but because there is no justification, save a theological one, for ending this or any other imperial drive. More lands exist to be assimilated, more treasure to be gained, more glory to be won, more people to be liberated from tyranny; and yet here it stops. Praise Alex.

In his haste to return to Babylon, Alexander leads the men through the Makran desert, where untold thousands die. "It was the worst blunder of his life," Anthony Hopkins says. The problem with the rhetoric of empire, Stone finally seems to be saying, is not that it's false or ignoble, but that it leaves you without an exit strategy.

And so empires retreat in a mix of denial, betrayal, irony, and gore. Whether the "Alexander"s they leave behind can commission freedom -- and everlasting revenue -- is the unanswered question.

::Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:49:05 AM::

~ Celtic War Relics Found

An AFP piece (via Yahoo) briefly details an interesting find:

French archaeologists said this week they had discovered an exceptional Gallic war treasure in the south of the country, including rare war trumpets and ornate helmets.

The some 470 objects, or fragments of objects, were found at the end of September during a dig at Naves, in the department of Correze in southern France, in a ditch hollowed out of a Gallic-Roman temple, they said.

"The exceptional character of this discovery lies mainly in the presence of five almost complete carnyx," Christophe Maniquet, an archeologist at Inrap, France's national institute for Archeological studies, said.

"They are celtic war trumpets which were used to scare off the enemy, by confusing the battle," he said.

He said it was the first time these ceremonial musical instruments had been found in one piece. The long, bronze tubes, measuring more than two metres long, have flags on the end, four of which bear the head of a wild boar, the fifth a snake.

"In all, in the world, there have only been fragments of these instruments, in Scotland and Mandeure (eastern France). We only know these trumpets through drawings," he said, saying they had in particular been seen represented on coins.

The searches of the temple, including into the first occupations, which date back to the first century BC, started in September 2001.

In addition to the traditional warfare -- swords, sheathes and spearheads, the archaeologists made another special discovery: nine war helmets, of which eight in bronze and one in iron, with their rearpeaks.

One of them was particularly original, being decorated with a swan, while another was decorated with golden leaves.

"We have only found around 20 helmets in the territory of the ancient Gaul," Maniquet said.

The discovery does not end there.

Also unearthed in the search are bronze animals' heads -- boars and a horse.

"These animals could be war signs, placed at the end of the poles which guided soldiers during battles," he said.

There are only five kinds of this kind of sign.

Experts say the experts could be a real "war trophy", and appear to have been buried for religious reasons.

"The fact of having buried them amounts to a ritual of offering," he said.

Most of the collection has been sent to a laboratory in Toulouse to be cleaned, carefully studied by archaeologists and then restored. 

"We hope to see these objects on show in a museum in two or three years' time," Maniquet said.

"All specialists, whether English, German or Italian, of the Celtic period will come rushing to see these exceptional objects."

A pile of photos and an accompanying article in French are also available on the web ... the site is the ancient Tintignac.

::Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:45:38 AM::

~ Classical Hooliganism

Okay ... this one from Deutsche Welle is just bizarre:

A Finnish composer and soccer-fanatic has created a synthesis that should send purists reeling: the perfect union of the ancient gods of Olympus and today's gods of the game wrapped into an opera on violence and racism in the stands.

"Learning to shout" came to the Eriksdal sports stadium in Stockholm this week after first being shown on the Finnish island of Aaland in the Baltic Sea, home to composer and author of the piece Peter Laang.

After exploring romantic themes, making an oratorio on large sailboats and an opera for children, Laang was searching for a brand new topic for his sixth opera. "I was watching the 1998 World Cup in France on television and I was looking for a way to get back to work and still keep watching the games," he told AFP the day before the premiere last week in Stockholm. "Suddenly, all became clear. I had found the solution: I would make an opera on football," he said.

"Learning to shout" is a "pop opera" created on a budget of only €280,000 ($340,000). It is made up "of two half-times, lasting 45 minutes each, and includes tackles, shots, passes and dodges", according to the program.

Hector leads the Troy inter-city firm

Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth personified by soprano Therese Karlsson, sells beer -- instead of the nectar of the legends -- on the stands, where she meets Hector, Trojan warrior and soccer supporter, played by baritone Johan Hallsten.

A black player tackles a white opponent in the penalty area. The referee doesn't blow his whistle for a penalty, and Hebe pays the price with her life as the fury of the hooligans bear down upon her.

Good and evil battle it out

The choir plays a fundamental role in this libretto. The young girls and boys of the Estonian 21st Century Orchestra personify the two teams, G.O.D. and O.N.D. -- Good and Evil in Swedish -- which correspond to Homer's clash between the Trojans and the Greeks.

For Arn-Henrik Blomqvist, director of the piece and former soccer coach, "the entire tragedy is concentrated in the tiers. We didn't need to add drama to the field. The intensity of one match was enough in itself."

"Soccer is like life. It evokes strong feelings. That's how I've gotten into my part," soprano Karlsson said.

With a mix of classicism and avant-garde, a giant screen towers over the choir flashing "pop-art" soccer pictures signed by Laang. A television sports commentator sits facing a small screen, belting out his comments while a hooligan chorus wearing T-shirts with the logo "Troy FC" let loose a torrent of abuse and belches. Agitation among players in the center circle rises.

Contemporary soccer issues

The violence, intolerance and racism, a familiar curse of contemporary soccer, is expressed through dramatic violins accompanied by African percussion instruments and accordions. The effect is clear.

But "it's not obvious that we'll attract traditional opera amateurs", admits producer Ulrika Lind, who makes no secret of her ambition to suck in organizers of the 2006 World Cup in Germany with the opera's themes of fair play and the fight against racism.

Laang meanwhile is exasperated by what he calls the "blindness" of the Swedish Football Federation when it comes to addressing these issues. "I have contacted them to get them involved, and they told me that there was no racism in Swedish soccer.

"It is stupefying. Just a few hundred meters from here there is a plaque commemorating a supporter who was beaten to death after a game," he said.

::Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:37:08 AM::

~ Newsletters

We've posted the latest versions of our newsletters ... The Ancient World on Television listings (weekly version) and issue 7.31 of Explorator. Enjoy!

::Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:17:53 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

1.00 p.m. |DISCU| Alexander the Great: Murder Unsolved
Unravel one of the strangest mysteries of ancient times, the suspicious death of history's most extraordinary leader, Alexander the Great. Experts attempt to decipher if his early death at age 32 was caused by disease, excessive drinking or even murder.

DISCU = Discovery Channel (US)

::Sunday, November 28, 2004 10:16:18 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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