Latest update: 1/1/2005; 8:25:15 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Cleopatra's Writing

A piece on a graphologist's interpretation of various historical folks' writing had this mention inter alia:

"Churchill was fascinating because his script was very like a sample of Cleopatra's writing: small, fast and not very legible. It is the written equivalent of someone lowering their voice so that the listener has to strain to hear - almost as if they are saying `let them work at it if they want to know what I'm saying'. It's a rebellious, bloody-minded way of writing," Simpson said.

Wow ... I didn't know we had that much of Cleopatra's writing to make such a generalization from. The famous 'signature' which was much talked about almost two years ago now (I can't find that any of the news reports are still alive; an image of the papyrus is around, but not really helpful).

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 11:17:10 AM::

~ The Death of Hector and Pro Wrestling

This showed up in this a.m.'s scan ... it's a piece at in which the author is trying to use the death of Hector as a paradigm for what has happened to the WWE. I'll just link to it because I don't quite follow ...

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 11:05:52 AM::

~ Marty Robbins, Metallica, and Homer

Interesting book review in the San Francisco Chronicle about the allure of ballads (of the country and western variety) which mentions this in passing:

Just don't blame Marty Robbins for appropriating a native song form (in his case the Mexican ranchera) for top 10 glory with his '50s hit "El Paso." " 'El Paso had the narrative arc of an epic film,' " writes James Miller in his essay on the song that he loves above all others. The protagonist's death "is as sublimely preordained as that suffered by any hero in Greek tragedy." Homer has more in common with Nashville than we think.

... which is interesting, since this is one of the few Country and Western songs I've ever been able to stomach, but never really paid attention to the lyrics. Ecce:

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa's cantina;
Music would play and Felina would whirl.

Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
I was in love but in vain, I could tell.

One night a wild young cowboy came in,
Wild as the West Texas wind.
Dashing and daring,
A drink he was sharing
With wicked Felina,
The girl that I loved.

So in anger I
Challenged his right for the love of this maiden.
Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.
My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;
The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.

Just for a moment I stood there in silence,
Shocked by the foul evil deed I had done.
Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;
I had but one chance and that was to run.

Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran,
Out where the horses were tied.
I caught a good one.
It looked like it could run.
Up on its back
And away I did ride,

Just as fast as I
Could from the West Texas town of El Paso
Out to the bad-lands of New Mexico.

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.
Everything's gone in life; nothing is left.
It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden
My love is stronger than my fear of death.

I saddled up and away I did go,
Riding alone in the dark.
Maybe tomorrow
A bullet may find me.
Tonight nothing's worse than this
Pain in my heart.

And at last here I
Am on the hill overlooking El Paso;
I can see Rosa's cantina below.
My love is strong and it pushes me onward.
Down off the hill to Felina I go.

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;
Off to my left ride a dozen or more.
Shouting and shooting I can't let them catch me.
I have to make it to Rosa's back door.

Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
A deep burning pain in my side.
Though I am trying
To stay in the saddle,
I'm getting weary,
Unable to ride.

But my love for
Felina is strong and I rise where I've fallen,
Though I am weary I can't stop to rest.
I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.
I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.

From out of nowhere Felina has found me,
Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.
Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,
One little kiss and Felina, good-bye.

There is something 'tragic' about this but surely it has more in common with folk songs like "Whiskey in the Jar" than Homer (or even Sophocles, which is probably a more apt comparison). Just for comparison purposes, here's the Metallica/Thin Lizzy version of Whiskey in the Jar:

As I was goin' over the Cork and Kerry mountains.
I saw Captain Farrell and his money he was countin'.
I first produced my pistol and then produced my rapier.
I said stand o'er and deliver or the devil he may take ya.

Musha ring dum a do dum a da.
Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o.
There's whiskey in the jar-o.

I took all of his money and it was a pretty penny.
I took all of his money and I brought it home to Molly.
She swore that she'd love me, never would she leave me.
But the devil take that woman for you know she tricked me easy.

Musha ring dum a do dum a da.
Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o.
There's whiskey in the jar-o.

Being drunk and weary I went to Molly's chamber.
Takin' my money with me and I never knew the danger.
For about six or maybe seven in walked Captain Farrell.
I jumped up, fired off my pistols and I shot him with both barrels.

Musha ring dum a do dum a da.
Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o.
There's whiskey in the jar-o.

Now some men like the fishin' and some men like the fowlin',
And some men like ta hear a cannon ball a roarin'.
Me? I like sleepin' specially in my Molly's chamber.
But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain, yeah.

Musha ring dum a do dum a da.
Whack for my daddy-o,
Whack for my daddy-o.
There's whiskey in the jar-o.

[I know there are other versions] I don't think the Greeks (or Romans) had anything like the 'man telling his story just before he dies' thing.


::Sunday, December 05, 2004 11:02:26 AM::

~ Ancient Greek in Greece II

The Star has a follow-up of sorts on the current controversy over whether ancient Greek should be mandatory in Greek schools:

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 educationsystem.

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.

But Greece's powerful teacher unions are against it. “The measure would be wrong, artificial and unfounded,” said Costas Vamvakas, board member of secondary schoolteachers union OLME.

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, 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 said.

“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”.

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 the languageand left the country defenceless 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 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 teaching methods, he said.

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:47:39 AM::

~ Peter Jones in the Spectator

Here's the incipit of Peter Jones' latest in the Spectator:

It has been reported that a cancer patient has had an ovary transplanted into her left arm, and that despite its unusual location it is said to be functioning normally. It is good to see today’s doctors gradually catching up with the ancient Greeks, though they still have some way to go.

In Greek myth, gods were always being produced from odd places. For example, when Zeus complained of a severe headache, Hephaestus beaned him with an axe, and out popped Athene. Since she was goddess of intelligence, it was (by our standards) a logical place from which to be born. But the closest analogy to the ovary development is the birth of Dionysus, god of transformation.

Zeus had fallen in love — or possibly lust (the two are as difficult to distinguish in the ancient world as they are in the modern) — with the mortal Semele. The enraged Hera, Zeus’s wife, approached Semele disguised as Beroe, her trusted old maidservant, and hinted that she should really get her new man to prove he was Zeus, since lots of chaps had had their evil way with innocent young gels by pretending they were the king of the gods, and it would be better for Semele’s reputation if she could just be certain. She should therefore demand that her lover reveal himself as he did when, in his full majesty, he made love to Hera.

Foolishly, Semele complied; foolishly, she asked Zeus to grant any wish she wanted; foolishly, the love-struck Zeus swore so to do; foolishly, Semele made the request Hera had suggested. Zeus was trapped: having made the promise, he had to keep it. His appearance in the form Semele had demanded scorched her to a cinder, as Hera (and Zeus) knew it would. But Semele was bearing Zeus’s child. So before she was blasted to smithereens, Zeus lifted the child from Semele’s womb and implanted it into his own thigh whence, having completed its term, the baby Dionysus was born. [more]

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:45:17 AM::

~ Teach Latin

Hunter College - Latin MA in Adolescence Education (Grades 7-12)
Director, Professor Ronnie Ancona

If you are interested in teaching Latin at the secondary school level (or you already do) and live (or plan to live) in the greater New York City area, you might be interested in learning more about Hunter's Latin MA program which includes New York State certification. All classes are given in the evening to allow for students who work in the day. Hunter's students have been extremely successful on the job market. Many have landed excellent jobs even in the early stages of our program. Hunter College is located on the upper east side of Manhattan in New York City. It is easily accessible by car or by New York City bus or subway as well as by New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, the Long Island Railroad, and Metro North.

For further information about the program, look at the department website and click on "graduate" at the left if you're not already at the graduate section:

or contact Ronnie Ancona, Professor of Classics,
Hunter College
695 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10021
phone - 212-772-4960 (dept. anytime) or 212-772-5065 (during the semester)

... seen on the LatinTeach list

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:43:24 AM::

~ How to Read a Scholarly Paper

With APA and AIA meetings coming up, it seems salutary to mention that the Bibliobloggers are all discussing an interesting item at Ralph the Sacred River entitled How To Read a Scholarly Paper, the gist of which is that you should have a 'reading script' (as opposed to something you plan on publishing) and something for the audience to look at (i.e. a handout). The piece at Ralph was ultimately spawned by a piece at Philo of Alexandria, which we mentioned before in this 'pages'. In any event, there is some useful discussion at NT Gateway (including readers' comments) and more from Torrey Seland of Philo of Alexandria fame.

In passing, I'll reiterate my plea/call for folks attending meetings to send summaries of what went on to me for posting or to post it themselves at Blogographos. We still aren't exploiting this Internet thing to its fullest.

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:42:06 AM::

~ Women Warriors

Interesting item from Reuters (via Yahoo):

These days Iranian women are not even allowed to watch men compete on the football field, but 2,000 years ago they could have been carving the boys to pieces on the battlefield.

DNA tests on the 2,000-year-old bones of a sword-wielding Iranian warrior have revealed the broad-framed skeleton belonged to woman, an archaeologist working in the northwestern city of Tabriz said on Saturday.

"Despite earlier comments that the warrior was a man because of the metal sword, DNA tests showed the skeleton inside the tomb belonged to a female warrior," Alireza Hojabri-Nobari told the Hambastegi newspaper.

He added that the tomb, which had all the trappings of a warrior's final resting place, was one of 109 and that DNA tests were being carried out on the other skeletons.

Hambastegi said other ancient tombs believed to belong to women warriors have been unearthed close to the Caspian Sea.

... and nary a mention of Amazons ...

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:32:13 AM::

~ Review from Scholia

John Henderson, Hortus: The Roman Book of Gardening

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:30:24 AM::

~ Prayers @ Laudator

Over at Laudator, MG has an interesting item on Seneca's view of praying ...

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:29:21 AM::

~ Student's Guide to Classics

Updating my Thunderbird so the RSS feeds would work (it's an excellent email program too ... from the Mozilla/Firebird folks) forced me to redownload a pile of items from the past. Of interest to us is something originally posted back in October at the Christian Origins blog, which mentioned the availability as .pdf of Bruce Thornton's A Student's Guide to Classics. Other 'Student's Guides' are also available.

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:26:41 AM::

~ Our Newsletters

The latest weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings and Explorator 7.32 are now available. Enjoy!

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:20:01 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

...  nothing of interest.

::Sunday, December 05, 2004 10:18:25 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.

Publishing schedule:
Rogueclassicism is updated daily, usually before 7.00 a.m. (Eastern) during the week. Give me a couple of hours to work on my sleep deficit on weekends and holidays, but still expect the page to be updated by 10.00 a.m. at the latest.

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