Latest update: 1/1/2005; 8:25:33 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Caesarian Origins

A somewhat confusing column in the Daily Times about assorted word origins concludes thusly:

The ‘sk’ root is present in scissors because of their cutting and splitting function. The Roman word caesar has a strange story behind it. The name itself came from Etruscan but the root was casus, a variation from the root ‘sk’.

Caesar, at times written Kaiser, correctly because in Latin the letter ‘c’ sound stands for the sound of ‘k’. (There is no ‘k’ in Latin.) In Urdu we name our children Qaiser. The name Caesar was supposed to convey the sense of splitter.

The splitter could either be a conqueror in the sense that we have discussed above or could be simply a woodcutter. In any case, Caesar became the name of all kings of Rome. But when we say caesarian operation we are referring to the fact that one Caesar was born after a caesarian operation of his mother.

We've blogged in the past about the origins of the term Caesarian (as in 'section'), but I had never heard of the Etruscan origins of the word. It was hinted at in a post on the Classics list by James Butrica (that was never replied to), and I find mention of it in a discussion at Roots-l (which also makes 'sherry' a cognate/derived word).

::Sunday, December 12, 2004 10:06:41 AM::

~ Portland Vase Copies

Interesting nachleben ClassCon about the Portland vase in a Q&A antiques column in the Cinci Post:

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: I am enclosing photographs of a vase I own that once belonged to my great grandmother. It stands almost 2 feet tall, and is in pretty good shape. It is signed "Port-land," with a diamond-shaped symbol. I would like to know the value. -- G.R., Brockton, Mass.

DEAR G.R.: Marks found on pottery and porcelain can sometimes be very misleading. On this particular piece, the bottom has the word "Portland," and it might be assumed that this is the name of the maker. But it is not.

In this case, the designation "Portland" refers to a famous cameo glass vase that most scholars believe was made during the Roman Empire, and has been speculated to have once held the ashes of the Emperor Alexander Severus (reigned 222 -- 235 A. D.). The original was made in inky-blue glass with white cameo-carved decorations that are said to depict the marriage of Peleus and Thetis.

In the 17th century, this vase was known as the "Barberini Vase," but when it was purchased by the Dowager Duchess of Portland around 1785, the name was changed to honor its new owner. In 1786, the vase was lent to Josiah Wedgwood, who copied it in his famous Jasperware pottery, and his vase is now used as a symbol of that company in what is called the "Portland Vase Mark," which was first used by Wedgwood about 1878.

Other English Staffordshire potters made "copies" of the Portland Vase, and the piece belonging to G.R. has a rendition of the design in golden brown on a sky-blue or turquoise background. These colors are, of course, much different from those found on the original Portland Vase, and the shape is much different because the Roman piece had handles and was modeled on the form of a Greek amphora.

All this means that the name "Portland" found on the vase in today's question is a pattern name and nothing more. But what about the diamond shaped device with the circle on top that is located just below that name? This is the English registry mark that was in use in two different versions from 1843 to 1883, and the example found on G.R.'s vase is from the first period, which ended in 1867.

This mark signifies that this design was registered with the English patent office and was protected from being copied for a period of three years. The letter found in the top point of the diamond is either a "C" or an "O" -- if it is a "C" this design was registered in 1844, but if it is an "O," it was registered in 1862. (We believe that the letter is a "C," but cannot be absolutely sure from the photograph.)

Unfortunately, this does not tell us who the maker is, although this could probably be determined from the records of the Patent Office in London. We can, however, say that this is a "Pratt-type" transfer print, and the piece may have been made by F. & R. Pratt & Co., which was located on High Street in Fenton, Staffordshire, England, from 1818 to the 1920s, when they were acquired by Cauldon Potteries. Other companies made this sort of ware, but Pratt is a strong possibility for the maker of this vase.

In any event, at almost 2 feet tall, this is a major piece of Pratt-type transfer printed earthenware, and its insurance replacement value in tip-top condition is between $1,500 and $2,000.

::Sunday, December 12, 2004 9:56:15 AM::

~ Acropolis Restoration Fallout

From Kathimerini:

Confirming reports of funding cuts for the Acropolis conservation and restoration work, the Culture Ministry said yesterday that budgeting for the marathon project had to be “rationalized” and rendered “credible.”

Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, who is on a visit to Albania, said he was unhappy with the planning and budgeting by archaeologists and architects leading the massive project — which started in 1975.

Noting that 20 million euros have already been poured into the works from EU coffers alone, Tatoulis said the project coordinators had not delivered the full goods.

“Unfortunately, the targets that had been set were not met... and, as a result, the work that had been financed was not completed, and the Olympics took place with scaffolding still on the monuments.” Tatoulis said he wanted “a full schedule of future works... to ensure that, for once, there is proper programming.” Some 5.5 million euros in EU funds have been budgeted for future work. But Tatoulis refused to add another 4.5 million in national funding.

::Sunday, December 12, 2004 9:53:13 AM::

~ Followup on the Death of Cicero

Back on December 8 I posted a Latin poem by Cornelius Severus on the death of Cicero and suggested it might make an interesting translation exercise. AM over at Sauvage Noble took up the challenge, which, of course, is worth a look ...

::Sunday, December 12, 2004 9:50:11 AM::

~ Peter Jones in the Spectator

The incipit of Peter Jones' latest in the Spectator:

The footballer Wayne Rooney recently put on a party for his girlfriend, and the two families were soon punching each other’s lights out; and last week a court ruled on the fight at the reception that ended the marriage of Vicky Anderson (40) to Scott McKie (23) after 90 minutes. Ancient precedent suggests there is political mileage here.

Since ancient Greeks were quite sensitive about the presence of ‘aliens’ in their private world, inter-family affairs were often fraught. At marriages in particular, when a woman from one family had to be incorporated into that of another, tensions were easily exacerbated. The Trojan war had its origins in the marriage between the goddess Thetis and the mortal Peleus, to which everyone was invited except Eris, goddess of discord. Infuriated, she lobbed in among the guests a golden apple inscribed ‘to the most beautiful woman’. At once Athene, Aphrodite and Hera began to fight over it. Zeus, summoned to arbitrate, sensibly gave the job to a certain young Trojan, Paris.... [more]

::Sunday, December 12, 2004 9:47:59 AM::

~ Newsletters

The weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings and Explorator 7.33 have been posted. Enjoy!

::Sunday, December 12, 2004 9:44:16 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

6.00 p.m. |HINT|The Odyssey of Troy
What is it about the legendary city that 3,200 years after its fall, we still try to unravel Troy's mysteries? Scholars attempt to answer the question by researching the Greek poet Homer, possibly one of the greatest poets in Western Europe's history, and his epic tale of love and war, and comparing his text to archaeological sites

8.00 p.m. |DISCC| Seven Wonders of Ancient Greece
The ancient Greeks built the first theatres, staged the first sports events and worshipped in some of the most spectacular temples ever built; from prehistoric places to bold symbols of victory, explore the wonders of this ancient civilization.

9.00 p.m. |DISCC| Real Jason and the Argonauts
Groundbreaking new discoveries reveal that the myth of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts may be based on real events.

HINT = History International

DISCC = Discovery Channel (Canada)

::Sunday, December 12, 2004 8:52:28 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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