Latest update: 4/7/2005; 2:14:17 PM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

pridie idus januarias

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 5:17:29 AM::
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~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's selection:

carious @ Worthless Word for the Day

hoi polloi @

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 5:12:44 AM::
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~ The News in Latin

Latest headlines from YLE's Nuntii Latini:

Praesidens Halonen cives appellavit (7.1.2005)

Novus annus moderate celebratus (7.1.2005)

Numerus victimarum crescit (7.1.2005)

Auxilium advenit, morbi imminent (7.1.2005)


There's also a new issue of Ephemeris online ... and as long as this has become a sort of catch all category, I should also mention Radio Bremen's version of Nuntii Latini, which I've neglected to mention of late for some reason.

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 5:06:58 AM::
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~ Blogwatch

A quick tour of the Classical blog world ... MH over at Classics in Contemporary Culture posted a number of items on various topics yesterday ... Campus Mawrtius continues to add to its recap of the APA meeting ... Martialis is back to its pre-break pace of posting (we're now into book III) ... Hobbyblog continues to post a seemingly endless collection of ancient coins (nice lion on yesterday's example) ... the Stoa links to an interesting Flash presentation on palimpsests

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 5:01:29 AM::
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~ Reviews from RBL

Clarke, Emma C., John M. Dillon, and Jackson P. Hershbell, eds. Iamblichus: On the Mysteries

Clarke, Emma C., John M. Dillon, and Jackson P. Hershbell, eds. Iamblichus: On the Mysteries

[two different reviews of the same book; both .pdf]

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:55:15 AM::
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~ More Tsunami News

Interesting excerpt from a survey of 'tsunami hotspots' at Discovery News:

The most recent tsunami occurred in Italy in December 2002, when a slope failure in the Stromboli volcano in the Aeolian islands caused a wave of 10 metre (30 feet) that reached as far as the Sicilian coast.

At present, the hazard comes from earthquakes and active volcanoes such as Mount Vesuvius. Indeed, the eruption that buried Pompeii in 79 A.D. caused a tsunami, as reported by Pliny the Younger: "We saw the sea retreating as if pushed by the tremors of the Earth."

But the most catastrophic tidal wave could be provoked by submarine volcanoes such as the nearly seven-million-year-old Vassilov that sits between Sardinia and Latium, and the two-million-old Marsili.

Europe's biggest volcano, Mt. Marsili, rises about 9,900 feet from the Tyrrhenian seabed between Campania and Sicily Sea. The sleeping submarine giant's eruption could provoke a giant sea wave that would obliterate the coastal communuties of Campania, Calabria and Sicily.

Over 100 tsunamis affected Turkey's coastline in the past 3,000 years, according to study by Yildiz Altinok of Istanbul University.

About 40 percent of the tidal waves occurred in the Marmara Sea region and the rest around the bays of Izmir, Fethiye and Iskenderun.

Following the 1999 earthquake, which affected in particular the Gulf of Izmit, scientists believe that the Marmara sea is a seismic gap that in the future might be filled by one or more destructive earthquakes.

"These in turn might mobilise sediments and produce dangerous tsunamis," tsunami expert Stefano Tinti of Bologna University wrote in his study on tsunami hazards in the Mediterranean.

Earthquakes and coastal collapses often observed during strong seismic shocks make Greece particularly vulnerable to tsunamis, according to Vasilios Lykousis of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research in Attiki.

Indeed, the Corinth Rift, which separates the Peloponese from continental Greece, is the most seismically active zone in Europe. It is opening at a rate of about 1.5 cm per year, with uplifting of its southern shore at a rate close to 1 mm per year.

Lykousis's study showed that tsunamis, with waves ranging from three to seven meters, occurred during 373 B.C., 1748, 1817, 1861, 1963 and 1995. In 373 B.C., waves reached 20 metres (high, submerging the ancient city Eliki.

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:52:29 AM::
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~ National Archaeological Museum to Reopen

A brief item from the International Herald Tribune:

The National Archaeological Museum, Greece's main showcase of ancient antiquity, will reopen in April with rare murals on show after damage from a 1999 earthquake was repaired, officials said Tuesday. Nine restored rooms hold more than 3,000 ancient artifacts, including rare Bronze Age murals from Santorini.

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:48:56 AM::
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~ Hipparchus' Star Catalog

I've been flooded with various versions of this one from USA Today:

An ancient star atlas lost for centuries and a cutting-edge atlas of the modern universe were unveiled Tuesday by scientists at the American Astronomical Society meeting.

Hidden in plain sight for centuries, the star atlas was found on a statue in Italy's National Museum of Archaeology in Naples. Called the Farnese Atlas, the 7-foot-tall marble statue depicts one of the titans of Greek mythology, Atlas, holding a 2-foot-wide globe on his shoulders. The sphere is covered with 41 star constellations, from Aries the Ram to Andromeda.

"Here we have a real case where lost, ancient wisdom has been found," says astronomer Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Inscribed on the Farnese Atlas, he reports, is the lost star catalogue of Hipparchus, one of the great Greek astronomers who lived around 140 B.C. on the island of Rhodes. No copies of the atlas, a standard reference for ancient astronomers, exist today.

But the star positions on the statue date to 150 B.C., give or take 55 years, and match those mentioned in a surviving book of commentary by Hipparchus, Schaefer says.

The link between the statue and Hipparchus was suspected by art historians. But Schaefer was the first to precisely plot the constellations on the stone globe. "It's amazing what (Schaefer) has done," Harvard science historian Owen Gingerich says. [more]

More coverage in this weekend's Explorator ... For now, here's the abstract of the paper by B.E. Schaefer (Discovery of the Lost Star Catalog of Hipparchus on the Farnese Atlasfrom the conference website:

Hipparchus was the greatest astronomer in Antiquity, with part of his reputation being based on his creation of the first star catalog around 129 BC. His star catalog has been since lost, although a few partial star positions are recorded in his only surviving work, the Commentary. Independently, a late Roman statue called the Farnese Atlas (now in Naples) has been known since the Middle Ages which records ancient Greek constellations. This marble statue shows the Titan Atlas kneeling on one knee while hold a large globe (65 cm in diameter) on one shoulder. This globe records 41 constellations accurately placed against a grid of reference circles, including the equator, tropics, colures, Arctic circle, and Antarctic circle. As the constellation positions shift over time (due to precession as discovered by Hipparchus), the position of the constellations on the Titan's globe will reveal the date of observations as ultimately used by the sculptor. Prior brief work on the globe has resulted in dates spread out over six centuries, with recent reviews only concluding that a thorough study is desperately needed. To fill this need, I have taken photographs appropriate for photogrammetry and have measured the positions of 70 points in the constellation figures and transformed these into RA and DEC in the globe's reference frame. A chi-square analysis then shows the date of the constellations to be 125 BC with a one-sigma uncertainty of 55 years. This date points directly at Hipparchus as being the observer and it strongly excludes all candidates that have been proposed over the past century (Aratus at c. 275 BC, Eudoxus at c. 366 BC, the original Assyrian observer at c. 1130 BC, and Ptolemy at AD 128). In addition, a very detailed comparison of the constellation figures and symbols on the Atlas' globe has been made with Hipparchus' Commentary, Aratus' (and Eudoxus') Phaenomena, Eratosthenes' Catasterismi, and Ptolemy's Almagest. I find essentially perfect agreement with Hipparchus' description of the sky (including many points unique to Hipparchus) with the Farnese Atlas; while all other ancient sources have many significant differences. In all, I have the very confident conclusion that the constellation figures on the Farnese Atlas are a depiction of Hipparchus' lost star catalog.

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:41:24 AM::
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~ Marco Magrini

I'm not sure how many artists major in Classical Studies, but Marco Magrini is one of them. From Egypt Today:

AS THE MOON covered the sun, the sky went eerily black and filled with stars. “The seagulls went completely mad it was night at midday,” recalls Marco Magrini, who was visiting the north of France at the time to watch a solar eclipse. When the sun came back into view, cameras flashed, people clapped and then they all took off their disposable sunglasses and discarded them on the beach. The scene imprinted itself on Magrini’s mind, and the seashore strewn with sunglasses became a series of playful paintings named “Ray-Bans and Solar Eclipse,” in which fiery orange sunglasses are suspended on a sea-blue background.

Magrini’s work is always based on his own memories and personal impressions, with a large dose of imagination thrown in. His show, “Flying Carpets,” at Mashrabia Gallery displays the range of these inspirations, both real and imaginary, from acrobats to baboons.

“Every single piece is a different signification, a memory,” he says in eloquent English with hints of his native Italian seeping through. “Each is a personal story, never by chance.”

One painting on cloth that Magrini affectionately calls “The Man with the Sticks” is a self-portrait. It shows the silhouette of a man in motion, with four walking canes. The man’s stance is animated and happy, as if he’s on an exciting journey. It’s a fitting portrait of an artist who describes himself as a “nomad” and an “optimist.”

Magrini has traveled the world for the 40 years of his career finding beauty and wonder everywhere. “Life is not banal,” he insists. “There are a lot of incredible possibilities to see If you want, Paradise is here. It’s a question of point of view.” To Magrini, it’s a matter of recognizing the special moments in the ordinary and the everyday. Each scene is a potential treasure: a shadow, a bicycle, an abandoned car in a field. He distills the images down to simple motifs that appear in his art. The wheels of the old car become a semi-abstract, black motif painted on orange fabric.

While this show exclusively features paintings on cloth and paper, Magrini is also an accomplished sculptor and has used many of the same themes in both forms. He is fascinated by acrobats, whom he depicts in two dimensions as well as three. Magrini’s sculptures are powerful almost primal with their strong lines, while his paintings seem innocent and often playful.

To Magrini, acrobats symbolize the human condition’s constant oscillation between stability and instability, and the search for balance in life. “Everywhere, everyone is in this position, in this equilibrium, this precariousness,” says Magrini, whose painting “Ghosts, Four” shows four acrobats suspended in the air, their bodies fluidly crossing and touching so that it is difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends.

Baboons also have a special significance, and he always paints them at the corners of a rectangle, inspired by the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, in which baboons guard a pool of fiery water in the underworld. For Magrini, the scene represents “the point of fracture between life and death, this crucial point” that we will all experience.

History is rich with inspiration, and Magrini, who majored in classical studies (literature, Latin and ancient Greek) and art at the State University in Milan, is particularly fond of Mediterranean countries Egypt, Greece and Italy where the past and the present sit side by side.

“Egypt changed my point of view and my life,” he says. Since his first visit in 1982, Magrini has returned often and made many of his closest friends here. “Here in Egypt, for me it was like an explosion of life, because all around you, all the people are very lively with a special vitality,” he says.

Many of the bright colors Magrini loves are the ones he saw in the Aswan market during his first trip to Egypt. “The door to Africa this incredible market full of fabric for women. The majority was black and orange and yellow.”

He prefers these colors of happiness. “Gray is not my color I prefer the sun, not darkness. It’s a psychological confession,” he says.

For Magrini, art springs from seeing the possibilities around you and experiencing life rather than just thinking about it. He owns over 6,000 books at home in Italy, but they aren’t enough to inspire him. “Life is koshari with the people in Champollion [Street],” he says. “You can read a thousand books about koshari, but if you don’t eat the koshari with a spoon, it’s not real.”

That’s why he’ll never be the type of artist who remains isolated in his studio, and he’ll always be a nomad. “This is a beautiful adventure for an artist,” he says. [there's a couple of examples of his work accompanying the article]

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:32:20 AM::
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~ Harvard Library Funding

Nice to see Classicists in the vanguard of folks seeking increased funding for Harvard's libraries ... from the Crimson:

A proposal to increase funding for the besieged budget of the Harvard College Library spawned a lengthy discussion on the importance and future of the University’s libraries at yesterday’s meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), the first to be held in January since 1976.

Citing a need to digitize, preserve and expand the University’s collections, Professor of Latin and vice chair of the FAS Standing Committee on the Library Kathleen M. Coleman asked the administration for a “reasonable” rise in the Library’s funding—2 percent above the inflation rate—to counteract its $2.3 million in cuts for the 2004-2005 fiscal year.

“I would like to see a pledge from the administration to move the library into the priority record for funding, because the library is the lifeblood of every intellectual pursuit in the University,” Coleman said after the meeting.

After Coleman addressed the Faculty, half a dozen professors and Andrew M. McGee ’05 spoke on the importance of the Library, emphasizing the need to upgrade its operations.

“The costs are great, but there is no alternative to proceeding to collect for future generations,” said Classics Department Chair Richard F. Thomas.

University President Lawrence H. Summers, presiding over the meeting, said he found these testimonials “powerful and persuasive,” but did not detail how or if the University would honor the library’s request.

The year 2004 was an eventful one for the Library—Widener Library’s extensive renovation saw completion and Google announced its intent to eventually digitize all of the library’s collections.

Several speakers at the meeting referred to the increasing use of online library resources by students and scholars as a reason for more library funding.

“The digital world is indeed exciting, but for libraries it requires new and ongoing expenses,” said Nancy M. Cline, Larsen Librarian of Harvard College.

Those expenses, Coleman explained, include paying for licenses to academic websites as well as training librarians to work with digital sources.

Coleman also noted that Google’s digitization project does not involve fragile materials, adding another reason why the restoration of the library’s collections is a “critical” priority—the very materials most in need of preservation cannot go digital.

Yet as a result of this year’s budget cuts, several restoration workers have been laid off, and the renovated restoration facility inside Widener Library now operates at 50 percent of its capacity, Coleman said.

Coleman also said that as a result of the dollar’s weakness in international markets, the Library’s acquisition of materials abroad has become considerably more expensive. The cost of materials from Europe rose by 41 percent between 2000 and 2004, according to a June 2004 letter from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Library Committee to Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby. [more]

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:28:28 AM::
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~ Reviews from BMCR

Graham Zanker, Modes of Viewing in Hellenistic Poetry and Art.

Judith Swaddling, John Prag, Seianti Hanunia Tlesnasa. The Story of an Etruscan Noblewoman. The British Museum Occasional Paper Number 100.

William A. Johnson, Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus.

Amanda Kolson Hurley, Catullus.

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:25:23 AM::
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~ New Director for the AAR

From Columbia News:

Carmela Vircillo Franklin, Columbia University associate professor of classics, has been named the 20th director of the American Academy in Rome. Professor Franklin's 3-year tenure begins in July 2005. She succeeds Professor Lester K. Little, who will retire during this summer.

"Carmela Vircillo Franklin will bring the same intellectual vigor, warmth and leadership to the role of director that she has to all the undertakings of her life and work," said Academy President Adele Chatfield-Taylor. "We are delighted that she will be in place in time to welcome our new class of fellows in September of 2005. This is the 110th year of the Academy's existence, and the 30 artists and scholars who embark on their Roman adventure will find her an inspiring and stimulating presence."

Franklin received her B.A. (1971) and Ph.D. (1977) in classics from Harvard University and has been a member of the faculty of the CU Department of Classics since 1993. Her research focuses on Medieval Latin texts and their manuscripts, and much of it is conducted in Europe's great manuscript repositories, including the Vatican Library. Among her recent publications is The Latin Dossier of Anastasius the Persian: Hagiographic Translations and Transformations (2004), which applies an interdisciplinary approach to early medieval culture, transcending traditional linguistic and geographical boundaries. Currently, she is completing a study of Latin poems with musical notations that are preserved on a parchment fragment in the Paris National Library.

Her most recent academic honors include the Henry Allen Moe Prize in the Humanities (American Philosophical Society, 2003), and appointment as Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar (1998-99). She was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome in 1984 (Mellon Fellowship in Medieval and Renaissance Studies) and returned as the Lucy Shoe Meritt Resident in Classics in 2001.

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:22:33 AM::
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~ Minoan Tsunami

Archaeoblog points us to this rather interesting article (a .pdf):

K. Minoura et al, Discovery of Minoan tsunami deposits (Geology, January 2000)


The Hellenic arc is a terrane of extensive Quaternary volcanism. One of the main centers of explosive eruptions is located on Thera (Santorini), and the eruption of the Thera volcano in late Minoan time (1600–1300 B.C.) is considered to have been the most significant Aegean explosive volcanism during the late Holocene. The last eruptive phase of Thera resulted in an enormous submarine caldera, which is believed to have produced tsunamis on a large scale. Evidence suggesting seawater inundation was found previously at some archaeological sites on the coast of Crete; however, the cause of the tsunami and its effects on the area have not been well understood. On the Aegean Sea coast of western Turkey (Didim and Fethye) and Crete (Gouves), we have found traces of tsunami deposits related to the Thera eruption. The sedimentological consequences and the hydraulics of a Theracaused tsunami indicate that the eruption of Thera volcano was earlier than the previous estimates and the tsunami did not have disruptive influence on Minoan civilization.

Speaking of tsunamis, in yesterday's post I referred to an article in the Christian Science Monitor but didn't give a link for 'the whole thing' ... well here it is. JMM also noted this article, and pointed folks to a useful online (student written) article from the Brown Classical Journal:

Jonathan Schonberg, The Spartan Earthquake of 464-465 B.C.

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:15:59 AM::
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~ CFP: Approaches to Ancient Medicine


Newcastle University, 22-23 August, 2005

Call for Papers

Following on from the earlier conferences at Newcastle (2000) and Reading (2001 and 2003), the next "Approaches to Ancient Medicine" Conference will be held at Newcastle University on Monday-Tuesday 22-23 August, 2005.

If you are interested in giving a paper at this conference, please send an abstract of up to 200 words to me at the address below by 31 January 2005 at the latest. There is no theme, and any proposal within the broad definition of Ancient Medicine (including Egyptian and Near Eastern medicine) will be considered.

PhD students and researchers at an early stage of their career are also strongly encouraged to send in a proposal.

It is hoped that the programme will be finalised in March 2005.

Philip van der Eijk
Professor of Greek
University of Newcastle
School of Historical Studies
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU
Tel. (+)44.191.2228262
Fax: (+)44.191.2228262

... seen on the Classicists list

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:10:33 AM::
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~ AWOTV: On TV Today

8.00 p.m. |HINT| Secrets of Archaeology: Greek Cities in Italy
Nearly 2,800 years ago, a group of Greek settlers landed on the coast of Italy, an event that marked the start of the process that created Magna Graecia--(Latin for Greater Greece)--Greek colonization of Southern Italy and Sicily. Explore the computer-recreated streets of the original Greek colonies as we walk through Cumae, Pasteum, Puteoli, and Neapolis, reconstructed using the most advanced computer graphics. 

10.00 p.m. |HINT|  Cirencester
Around 1,700 years ago, Corinium--modern day Cirencester--was the second-most important city in Roman Britain after Londinium. By about 300 AD, it had developed into a bustling, wealthy city. Time Team was drawn to Cirencester by the opportunity to excavate in the gardens of a number of properties near the center of old Corinium. Though it has been said that you can't put a shovel into the ground in Cirencester without unearthing Roman relics, Time Team adds their 2-spades worth!

HINT = History International

::Wednesday, January 12, 2005 4:08:52 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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