Latest update: 4/7/2005; 2:14:13 PM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem iii idus januarias

  • Carmentalia begins (day 1) -- a two-day festival (with a three day break between the days) in honour of the deity Carmenta, who was possibly a goddess of both childbirth and prophecy.
  • 49 B.C. -- Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon (by another reckoning)
  • ?? B.C. -- dedication of the Temple of Juturna in the Campus Martius
  • 29 B.C. -- Octavian closes the doors of the Temple of Janus, signifying the Roman world was at peace

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:57:27 AM::
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~ Classical Words of the Day

We begin today with something from Travlang, which claims the Latin for "Are there any vacancies for tonight?" is Suntne inanitates ullae? [Almost makes you wish you had coffee in your mouth to spew ... hmmm ... "Bonfire of the Inanities" just popped into my head ... have to do something with that] Elsewhere, the pickings are slim:

proleptic @ Worthless Word for the Day

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:49:07 AM::
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~ Neocon Croesus?

Folks might be interested in this Op-Ed piece by Michael Kelly in the Washington Dispatch:

Herodotus, the first historian, recorded that an oracle told Croesus, King of Lydia, that he would destroy an empire.

By the time he received the prophecy, Croesus was the greatest emperor in the world. He had conquered all in his path, and his name is still a byword for unimaginable wealth. 

He was overjoyed at the news. 

Croesus has many descendants. 

Like Croesus, the neoconservatives are aggressive and militaristic. They revel in the suffering of those they deem their enemies, such as the Iraqi civilians abused and degraded by the sadists of Abu Ghraib. It will be hard to see how any WHAM team will assuage the injuries suffered by those men, or of the residents of Fallujah who now suffer the indignity of fingerprinting and retinal scanning in order to enjoy the privilege of living in what remains of their own homes. 

What the neos did in Fallujah is not just a scandal, it’s a sin. In order to find an enemy to fight, almost all the people of Fallujah suffered because of the desire of some Clean Break Gang policy wonk like Douglas Feith to make a show of strength that was bound to fail, given their opponents’ apparent sophistication. You mean, dude, like, the jihadists actually read books and study history? 

Like Croesus, they are addicted to wealth. Many of them use fine slogans like ‘loss of blood and treasure’ to justify the damage they do, when their hearts are full of lies and dreams of plunder. There is no moral, practical or economic difference between single-bid reconstruction contracts awarded by Washington to be paid by the Iraqis and demands for tribute made by conquerors upon the conquered. Like the ghouls they are, the neos have stolen the heart of American conservatism and distorted what the noble word ‘conservative’ means. This ranks among their worst acts – those of us who live in countries without conservative movements look on in horror at what they are doing to one of man’s greatest projects of the last 60 years. [the rest]

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:41:18 AM::
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~ Law Courts in the Late Republic

ARLT points us to an article on the Friends of Classics site (ultimately from BBC History Magazine):

Tom Holland, Law Courts in the Late Republic

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:37:53 AM::
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~ Ancient Costumes

For those interested, there's a lengthy (free) item in Variety all about the pains gone to in order to ensure costumes and sets in epics like the Passion and Alexander are authentic. An excerpt:

Jan Roelfs, the production designer on "Alexander," faced a similar challenge. "There are an awful lot of historical facts on Alexander you can get from libraries, but there's only so much description available in terms of visual references," he says.

In the end, he thinks historians were pleased with Oliver StoneOliver Stone's attention to detail despite criticism of the director for loosely mixing fact and fiction.

"We really tried to stay very true to the history," Roelfs says. For example, the India palaces Alexander conquered were built with wood since there were no stone remains. Set decorator Jim Erickson also took great care to exclude yellow rose petals in the rain of flowers showered on soldiers when they entered Babylon because they existed only in China in the 4th century B.C.

As part of his research on "Alexander," Roelfs read everything he could get his hands on and consulted a team of advisers to absorb the reign of Alexander the Great, who led his nearly invincible Greek, Macedonian and Eastern warriors across 22,000 miles of rugged terrain to conquer the world.

Academy Award-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan oversaw the creation of more than 20,000 items of historically accurate dress from the period. She and Roelfs received key assists from Robin Lane Fox, a fellow at New College, Oxford, whose 1972 biography of Alexander has sold more than a million copies, and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, doctor of ancient history at Exeter University whose specialty is Persian dress.

"I tend to do better knowing what the truth is," Beavan says.

For "Passion," Frigeri viewed archeological documentaries to pinpoint details about stone and color that would serve as the basis for building designs, while Gibson made suggestions about re-creating the mighty temple in Jerusalem and Pilate's circular praetorium -- the only building that integrated Roman architecture since it was build by the governing Romans.

He faithfully followed the Assyrian-Babylonian influence to re-create the architecture of ancient Palestine.

And since expatriate Romans of the era imported their own furniture, fittings, curtains and braziers, "Passion" set decorator Carlo Gervasi notes that everything had to be unmistakably Roman and without any contamination from other cultures. [the whole thing]

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:35:16 AM::
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~ Thomas Clarkson

I remember reading about the beginning of the anti-slavery movement in Britain in the eighteenth century, but I don't think I was ever made aware of this detail (from a book review at the Christian Science Monitor):

Attacking the industry was like trying to move Mount Everest with a pickax. But in 1787, unease jelled into the first organized antislavery movement. Twelve men met in a print shop in London. They included Thomas Clarkson, a brilliant young classics scholar; Olaudah Equiano, an entrepreneurial former slave who had managed to buy his freedom; Granville Sharp, an eccentric musician; and James Stephen, a London dandy who first went to the West Indies to escape an entangled love life, but was converted to the cause because of the horrors he witnessed. The only thing these men had in common was their opposition to the slave trade, yet that was enough to cement a formidable union.

I've never seen Clarkson referred to as a "Classics scholar" before. I know he did write some essays in Latin, but was he actually a Classicist (as opposed to someone who just received the 'typical' education of his day)?

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:30:37 AM::
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~ Classical Soccer ... er Football

A couple of Classical refs from the sportspages ... I find the first particularly interesting because of the writer's assumption that his audience will know what he's alluding to. From the Financial Times:

It took a sea monster and a team of frightened horses to destroy Hippolytus, the tragic figure of Greek mythology, but in the end Lee Bowyer was enough to end manager Johnson Hippolyte's dreams of leading his Yeading side into the FA Cup fourth round.

Someone should do a Rick-Mercer-Talking-to-Americans-like interview with people on the street to see if they do get refs like this one. Elsewhere, in the Tribune-Review, some potentially-sinister ClassCon (along with the tattoo) from the Lazio club:

Paolo Di Canio celebrated a win over the Roma club with a straight-armed, flat-handed gesture, known since the rule of the World War II Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as a "Roman salute" at the end of a game Thursday that Lazio won 3-1, the Independent reported Monday.

Di Canio, whose fans are threatening public protests if he is disciplined, has denied political significance to the salute that was captured on photographs published throughout Italy.

"I am a professional footballer and my celebrations had nothing to do with political behavior of any kind," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

However, Di Canio has the word Dux tattooed on his arm -- dux is the Latin term used by Mussolini, who also called himself el Duce for leader. In his autobiography, Di Canio said he was fascinated by the dictator, whom he called "basically a very principled, ethical individual."

Soccer officials have begun an investigation; under Italian law, encouraging fascism is a crime.


::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:26:06 AM::
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~ Hannibal Omens?

Hmmm ... I wonder if this is an omen about a forthcoming movie about Hannibal (I know there's no connection with the movie supposedly being put together by Vin Diesel, so this must be a 'sign' of some sort ...)

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:13:46 AM::
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~ Political Aftermath of Disasters

Interesting item in the Christian Science Monitor pondering the potential political impact of the tsunami ... an excerpt alluding to something that I had completely forgotten about:

Ancient and modern history offer many examples of the political impact of natural disasters, says Mr. Zeilinga de Boer, who teaches earth and environmental sciences at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. For example:

An earthquake in 464 BC that destroyed much of the city of Sparta, and a slave revolt soon afterward ("social upheavals often follow geological ones," says Zeilinga de Boer) significantly weakened the militaristic city-state in its rivalry with Athens. The quake "triggered Sparta's decline," he argues.

Not sure I'd call it a 'decline', but it certainly contributed to a period when Athens seemed to take advantage of Sparta's weakness, culminating in the Peloponnesian War a generation later. Possibly more interesting/significant is this excerpt from an essay by Iain Stewart about Atlantis at the BBC History site:

Shortly after the start of the Peloponnesian War and the third in a series of epidemics that ravaged Athens, the summer of 426 BC brought one of the most disastrous earthquakes recorded in the ancient sources. Contemporary reporters tell of widespread building collapse, destruction caused by seismic sea-waves (tsunamis) and thousands of victims. Although its effects were concentrated north of Athens, near modern-day Lamia, there were wider ramifications. A Spartan army camped 100km west of Athens at the Isthmus of Corinth were poised to attack the city, but numerous violent earthquakes forced them to flee home.

Meanwhile the seismic sea-wave wreaked havoc along much of the coast north of Athens, including an island called Atalante where an Athenian fort and several warships were destroyed. Accounts by later writers such as Diodorus Siculus (first century BC) and Strabo (first century AD) actually report that the island of Atalante was created as a consequence of the seismic sea wave. The high death toll, widespread damage and dramatic coastline changes would no doubt have exacerbated the tense situation endured by an Athens besieged by war and epidemics.

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 5:10:51 AM::
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~ Tsunami Effects of a Different Sort

Ever since the tsunami hit, I've been waiting for three things ... 1) someone to get arrested for fraudulently soliciting donations (which happened this weekend in our area); 2) a Nigerian-letter-style bit of spam claiming to come from someone in the region (I haven't received one yet, but others have); and 3) someone to claim the tsunami is somehow connected to Atlantis. The third one has now been fulfilled in a press release from PRWeb:

The current disaster in the Indian Ocean that affected Indonesia (Sumatra), Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, and many islands is part of the same geological system that destroyed Atlantis, according to at least one researcher.

Most people think of Atlantis as a mythological civilization in the Atlantic Ocean, says Bill Lauritzen, an independent scholar. “To the ancient Egyptians, who were the first to start the Atlantis story, the Atlantic Ocean was the entire ocean surrounding Africa.” Lauritzen points out that the Pacific Ocean was not named until 1519 by Magellan—long after the Atlantis story. Thus, other areas besides the current Atlantic Ocean should be considered as possibilities for Atlantis.

In his new book, "The Atom and the Soul," Lauritzen claims that the Sunda Plain of Indonesia fits Plato’s Atlantis story quite well. It has elephants, coconuts, a large fertile plain, geological activity, tsunamis, a wide variety of flora and fauna, and canals. All of these elements are mentioned in Plato’s story. The many other locations suggested for Atlantis, such as Spain, the island of Thera, Antarctica, North Africa, the Bahamas, Great Briton, and Mexico do not contain all these elements. “Just read Plato’s story, and make up your own mind. It’s available online,” says Lauritzen. “One comes away feeling that Atlantis was somewhere in Southeast Asia. Oral tradition could have easily carried the tale of destruction to Egypt through the Red Sea. The Egyptians then told it to the Greeks.”

Lauritzen also points out several other disasters in the area such as the 1883 eruption of Krakatau that killed 35,000 people in the resulting tsunami, a possible 535 AD eruption of Krakatau, and the 1006 AD eruption of Mount Merapi, which destroyed the Mataram civilization. “The whole island of Sumatra is slowing turning like a forearm, with the elbow at Krakatau,” he points out. “This region of the world is the most geologically active on the planet. Indian Ocean core sediments show that there have been about 10 huge volcanic eruptions in the last 950,000 years.” [more]

I love that "according to at least one researcher" claim ... as if  there were teeming millions jumping on this ...

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 4:54:42 AM::
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~ APA Blogging

A couple new 'reports' are up at Sauvage Noble (where there's a good mini rant about the 'marginalization' of linguists; I find the comments about handouts interesting as well) and Campus Mawrtius. It appears there might be more to come, but it's interesting/typical that it's graduate students taking the lead in this 'publicizing the meeting' thing.

Whatever the case, I now have a year to ponder whether I'm going to crash the meeting in Montreal next year ... as always, it conflicts with my school schedule and doesn't constitute 'professional development' as defined by the powers that be.

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 4:40:55 AM::
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~ Blogographos Returns!

I better include this now so I don't forget to mention it (like I did yesterday) ... Blogographos has returned at a new domain ...

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 4:35:30 AM::
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~ AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT|   Herod the Great
Explores the life of King Herod, the great builder who left behind Masada and the Temple Mount. Was he a great king or a ruthless killer?

HINT = History International

::Tuesday, January 11, 2005 4:34:05 AM::
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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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