~ Nuntii Latini
Viatores in Asiam desiderantur (28.1.2005)
Regimina civitatum Asiae inter meridiem et solis ortum spectantis fortiter id agere coeperunt, ut viatores voluptarii ex Europa, Civitatibus Americae Unitis et Oriente Proximo rursus in oras Oceani Indici reverterentur.
Ministri diversarum nationum conventu in Malesia die Martis habito moderatores occidentales hortati sunt, ne admonitionibus editis cives suos in regiones tsunamo nuper vastatas iter suscipere vetarent: nihil iam esse, cur ulla pericula timerent, cum omnia peregrinis tutissima essent.
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
::Monday, February 07, 2005 5:15:50 AM::
A new issue of Ephemeris has hit the enewsstands ...
::Monday, February 07, 2005 5:12:47 AM::
~ HBO's Rome
From the New York Post comes this bit of hype about HBO's upcoming Rome series:
BEN-Hur" meet "The Sopranos."
"Rome," HBO's new sweeping, multimillion-dollar, sword-and-sandal epic series, is poised to give viewers a down-and-dirty version of history, heralded by producers as the most authentic interpretation of life in the ancient city ever put on film.
"Very simply, the idea is to give the audience a look at Rome that has never before been done in either films or on television," says the show's executive producer, Frank Doelger. "Our plan is to take Rome out of the museum."
To do this, producers spent more than $11 million on lavish sets at Italy's fabled Cinecitta studio to re-create Rome as it is believed to have truly been - loud, grimy, smoky, covered in Latin graffiti, teeming with throngs of people, with rich and poor living cheek to cheek.
It is believed that the sum is the most ever spent to build a set for a television show.
The story - slated to debut next fall - unfolds in 54 B.C. and will track characters from different sides of Roman life.
"Rome" follows Julius Caesar (Ciar n Hinds) and his inner circle, while also focusing on the everyday lives of two soldiers and their families, a First Centurion named Lucius Vorenus and a Roman Legionary named Titus Pullo, played by relatively unknown British actors Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson.
In modern terms, Vorenus is a non-commissioned officer, considered something like a captain, and Pullo is a common soldier.
"They're a very unlikely twosome," says Doelger. "They have very different personalities and different world views, and their relationship develops and changes over the course of the series."
In the first episode, the audience meets Caesar, Vorenus and Pullo on the battlefield during Rome's final clash with the army of Gaul (France).
The time period was a tumultuous one that included civil wars, conquests, and a brutal class struggle between the wealthy and the poor, which could prove a rich backdrop for the epic. Although only 12 episodes have been filmed for the first season, Doelger says Bruno Heller, the show's chief writer and executive producer, has mapped out at least 60 episodes - enough to last for five years.
"Rome" will feature more sex and possibly disturbing ritualistic scenes than fans of period films are used to, while common wisdom about historical figures is likely to be shattered. Cleopatra is portrayed as a dinner party bore instead of the vampy siren fans are used to.
"They say that Caesar's nephew, Augustus, found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble," says Josh Stein, a history professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., who is not associated with the production. "It suggests that during the time of Caesar, Rome wasn't the magnificent thing you tend to see in most movies."
In HBO's version of Rome, it's noisy and international. There is mud everywhere, thanks to frequent flooding of the Tiber river, while wooden buildings frequently burn down to the ground.
Doelger describes it as a cross between New York and Calcutta, a place where the mundane and the spiritual overlap on every corner, and says the details of "Rome" have been painstakingly researched by a legion of scholars employed by producers.
"I think that the world that we are presenting is a great deal more authentic than any world that has ever been presented with some intelligence of ancient Rome," says Doelger.
Wow ... a five-year mini series? I thought (for some reason) that it was only going to be five episodes. This has potential ...
::Monday, February 07, 2005 5:10:00 AM::
~ Virgilian Echoes
Under the headline "Experto credite", the Indian Express has a rather interesting religion column by Renuka Narayanan:
The above lines are from the eleventh part of the Aeneid by the ancient Roman poet Virgil (70-19 BCE). This is the splendid epic poem that begins ‘Arma virumque cano’, I sing of arms and the man...
Why Virgil? As a new millennium Indian, I have little Latin and less Greek unlike my great-grandfather Narayana Shastri, a British subject, who apparently had the time and inclination to acquire both. It’s funny, that’s all, how dead poets who sang of gods and heroes come to mind when you’re in a place you detest and dealing with people who make you despise them. But a certain grim amusement derives from those classical driblets that trickled through the generations and down your throat like cod liver oil, thanks to that pillar of family life, the book room.
For instance, if you work in a dirty, airless basement, you might recall more of the Aeneid: “Facilis decensus Averno; Noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis; Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras; Hoc opus, hic labor est.” ‘Easy is the way down to the Underworld: by night and by day, dark Dis’s door stands open; but to withdraw one’s steps and to make a way out to the upper air, that’s the task, that is the labour.’
The Asian fatalist in you might prompt you to say of yourself, “Heu miserande puer, si qua fata aspera rumpas... Manibus date lilia plenis”: ‘Alas, pitiable boy, if only you might break your cruel fate... Give me lilies in armfuls’ (or buy yourself a painting thereof to brighten up your dingy surroundings). The Bhakti influence might prompt you, however, towards “Omnia vincit Amor: et nos cedamos Amori”; ‘Love conquers all things: let us too give in to Love’ (Eclogue). But what if “latet anguis in herba”: there’s a snake hidden in the grass?
Not your best philosophical strivings or attempts to be friendly can prevail against those determined to dislike you because their own natures are too cramped to endure your fullness. Their hostility thunders through your space, as though ‘Hooves with a galloping sound are shaking the powdery plain’ (“Quadripedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum”).
You may understand and pity them and so rise above their bad behaviour. “Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas”: ‘Lucky is he who has understood the causes of things’. “Forsan et haec olim memnisse iuvabit”: ‘Maybe one day we shall be glad to remember even these things.’
‘But meanwhile it is flying, irretrievable time is flying’: “Sed fugit interea, fugit inreparabile tempus”. If you’ve hit “Ultima Thule”, the farthest limit, it’s best to go with such style that all they can find to say is: “Et vera incessu patuit dea”: ‘And in her walk it showed, she was in truth a goddess’.
::Monday, February 07, 2005 5:05:36 AM::
~ Marguerite Yourcenar
The New Yorker has an extended piece on Marguerite Yourcenar which might be of interest ... here's just the incipit (it is a long article):
In 1981, six years before her death, Marguerite Yourcenar became the first woman ever inducted into the Académie Française, and that weighty honor has been hanging around the neck of her reputation ever since. Every book jacket, every review, speaks of it. But that wasn’t all that set her apart from other mid-century writers. She was an extremely isolated artist. A Frenchwoman, she spent most of her adult life in the United States, on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine, where, to isolate her further, she lived with a woman. Her background, too, made her seem different. She came from the minor nobility and didn’t hide it. Most of the people who knew her, even friends, addressed her not as Marguerite but as Madame. Add to that the fact that she wrote not in English but in her native French, and in a style that was often magisterial, in an old-fashioned, classical way. (People compared her to Racine. This was at a time when we were getting Bellow and Roth.) Add, moreover, that though she was a novelist, she was not primarily a realist, that she never mastered dialogue, that her books were ruminative, philosophical. Add, finally, that her greatest novel, “Memoirs of Hadrian” (1951)—which Farrar, Straus & Giroux will reissue this spring as part of its new FSG Classics series—was a fictionalized autobiography of a Roman emperor, and it comes as no surprise that nearly every essay on Yourcenar speaks of her work as “marmoreal” or “lapidary.”
Actually, some of Yourcenar’s prose is marmoreal, but not so that you can’t get through it. Also, it is beautiful. What made her remarkable, however, was not so much her style as the quality of her mind. Loftiness served her well as an artist: she was able to dispense love and justice, heat and cold in equal parts. Above all, her high sense of herself gave her the strength to take on a great topic: time. Time was an obsession with her immediate predecessors in European fiction, but whereas those novelists showed us modern people altered—made thoughtful, made tragic—by time’s erasures, she erased the erasures, took us back to Rome in the second century or, in her other famous novel, “The Abyss” (1968), to Flanders in the sixteenth century, and with an almost eerie accuracy. Yourcenar regarded the average historical novel as “merely a more or less successful costume ball.” Truly to recapture an earlier time, she said, required years of research, together with a mystical act of identification. She performed both, and wrought a kind of trans-historical miracle. If you want to know what “ancient Roman” really means, in terms of war and religion and love and parties, read “Memoirs of Hadrian.”
This doesn’t mean that Yourcenar, in her novels, conquered the problem of time. All she overcame was the idea that this was the special burden of the modern period. Human beings didn’t become history-haunted after the First World War, Yourcenar says. They were always that way. [the rest]
::Monday, February 07, 2005 4:58:46 AM::
~ Back to Class(ics)!
An Explorator reader sent this one in (thanks CO!) ... it's a piece from the Times about folks who have left lucrative business careers for teaching. Inter alia:
Leaving the flash career hasn’t bothered Alex Wilson, 41, a classics master at St Paul’s school for boys in London. “I used to be a civil litigation lawyer in a massive firm, working massive hours as most lawyers do,” he explains. “There were huge incentives for working long hours. You could easily work through the night and on occasions I would.
“I would never switch off, even on holiday. My other half used to get very cross because I would be in the middle of Scotland and insist on ringing the office. I used to play Rugby fives competitively but I stopped that because I didn’t have the time. I was getting fatter and fatter.”
A chance meeting changed everything. “I bumped into an old friend who was a classics teacher at St Paul’s. He wanted to take a sabbatical term, knew I had read classics at university and reminded me that St Paul’s played fives. He said why not try teaching for a term? I thought about it overnight and then said yes.
“On Friday I was in court and on Monday morning I was teaching. Was I scared? Not at all. If you can stand up in court and entertain a judge then you can surely entertain a class of children.” Wilson never went back to the office.
After a job teaching classics at the Royal grammar school, Guildford, Wilson ended up back at St Paul’s, where he is now a slim, fit classics undermaster and, of course, fives coach. “I think the boys thought I was a bit of an enigma because I arrived wearing bright ties, clashing shirts, no cuff links and perhaps because I had come from ‘the real world’.”
In the meantime, his counterparts in the law have continued with their exhausting careers. “They are earning six-figure salaries, and more, but as far as I am concerned they are trapped because they have huge mortgages, children at private school and they aren’t lucky enough to have anything else they can do.
“If I hadn’t done law I would always wonder what it would have been like. But here at St Paul’s the boys are very feisty and questioning and I love it. And when you are on holiday, everyone knows you are on holiday.”
::Monday, February 07, 2005 4:50:10 AM::
~ Blogging the Class
Folks wondering how blog technology might be used to augment in-class teaching might want to check out David Wharton's blog set up to complement his Comparative Studies in World Epics blog. It's just starting out, but worth a look ...
::Monday, February 07, 2005 4:43:21 AM::
~ Pompeii Tease
An Explorator reader sent this one in (thanks GD!) ... unfortunately, it's a New Scientist article, so we just get a tease from the incipit. Ecce:
A PUB crawl around every bar in ancient Pompeii has revealed that they were not the dens of iniquity we tend to think they were. Instead, taverns played a vital role in the lives of most residents as a place to eat, drink and socialise.
Steven Ellis of the University of Sydney, Australia, started off by identifying which buildings in Pompeii had been bars. Broad entrances and counters usually indicate shops rather than houses, so he studied these buildings closely for evidence that they had been used to prepare and consume food and drink. Also, from the 2nd century AD, grave reliefs began to depict the work of the buried person. And Ellis was able to use images of bar-keepers at their counters to help identify which shops were pubs.
In total, he found 158. "That's quite a lot for a small town of 12,000 to 15,000 people," he says.
That's where it ends. I suppose you'll have to track down the current issue of New Scientist to get the other half of the article. Looks interesting ...
::Monday, February 07, 2005 4:40:27 AM::
~ d.m. Barbara Craig
From the Telegraph:
Barbara Craig, who died on January 25 aged 89, was Principal of Somerville College, Oxford, from 1967 to 1980; soon after she took over the post, Somerville and the other four women's colleges at Oxford were facing difficult times, with a headlong rush by the 23 men's colleges to admit women.
By the time Barbara Craig retired in 1980, all but one of the men's colleges - and two women's colleges - had "gone mixed"; and at Somerville (which was to admit men 12 years later) there had been much heart-searching and debate.
Barbara Craig chaired the governing body's deliberations wisely and impartially, though she later admitted to having favoured the change. During those years the college added several science fellows and junior research fellows to its number; both were causes very dear to her heart.
Her greatest strength as Principal was her unstinting concern for individuals, and her willingness and ability to work ceaselessly on their behalf. She interviewed every aspiring undergraduate, and learned - often by intuition - of any financial, family or bureaucratic difficulties which might impede her academic progress, moving swiftly to resolve them.
Disliking the telephone, she wrote letters late into the night in her efforts to promote either the college's interests or those of its members. She took a special interest in the graduate students, many of them from overseas. She would know each one, would discern what might help them in their research, and unobtrusively see that this help was provided; while they in turn, back in their home countries and with their doctorates completed, would write to her and visit her whenever possible.
Barbara Craig recalled that, as a new Principal, she had been "as straight-laced as I was green". But responding to the revolutionary student movement of the early 1970s, the changing sexual mores and the demands for more equality and participation, was not difficult for her, since beneath a rather austere exterior lay an innate understanding of young people and the changing times.
A sympathetic response could be guaranteed to any but the bright yet lazy student. When a PPE undergraduate insisted that, as Principal, she should be paid no more, and preferably less, than a cleaner (on the ground of greater job satisfaction), she privately recalled the Baghdad grocer who had charged her twice as much as his other customers for almonds because she must be far richer than they.
Barbara Denise Chapman was born in India on October 22 1915. Her father was librarian of the Imperial Library of Calcutta, and Barbara and her brothers were brought up by her mother in London, to which the family had returned when she was four. She was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's Girls' School at Acton, from which she won the senior scholarship to read Classics at Somerville in 1934. Barbara Chapman's forte was ancient history, in which she was taught and encouraged by H Wade-Gery. After a double first, she was awarded the university's Craven Fellowship to pursue research in Rome and Sicily, and embarked on what, but for the war, might have been a career as an academic.
In Sicily in 1938, she left the tourist track for the interior - which, it transpired, was dotted with arms factories, owing to the war with Abyssinia - and was arrested. She was released only when the chief of police found her account more credible than that of the local officer who had taken her into custody.
Compelled to abandon her historical research by the outbreak of war, Barbara Chapman became a temporary civil servant, ending as Principal in the Ministry of Production.
In 1942 she married James Craig, an officer of the British Council, and for 19 years after the war she accompanied him on his postings, to Rio de Janeiro, Baghdad (which she particularly loved), Barcelona and Lahore.
The marriage remained a very happy one until James's death in 1989, following injuries sustained in a car crash in their beloved Yorkshire, to which they had retired in 1980. Though they had no children, they filled the cottage at Borrowdale - which they had rented on James's biennial summer furloughs in the 1950s - with their nieces and nephews; the children enjoyed carefree adventures in the manner of Arthur Ransome, with all-day rowing expeditions across Derwentwater.
During her years as an unpaid British Council spouse, Barbara Craig developed her interest and involvement in Middle and Near Eastern archaeology, initially in Iraq, where she visited Max Mallowan's excavations at Nimrud.
During later vacations in Greece - at Mycenae and in Laconia - she rapidly became an expert in Mycenaean pottery, under the tutelage of Alan Wace. Barbara Craig was admired for her skill at recognising and classifying the smallest potsherd, for her meticulous analyses of sites and for her calming presence, notably at a dig in Laconia where her kindly good sense defused tensions caused by romantic jealousies among students and the unusually disagreeable wildlife.
She was to continue her archaeological work over several summers after she had been elected Principal of Somerville, where she did much to foster the long and distinguished the college's tradition of women archaeologists and art historians.
On her retirement from Somerville in 1980, the Middle Common Room (the body of graduate students) marked its appreciation by setting up a fund in her name for the support of graduates. [more]
::Monday, February 07, 2005 4:31:50 AM::
~ AWOTV: On TV Today
10.00 p.m. |HINT| Gods & Goddesses
The world of the Ancient Greeks lives on today through its mythology. For countless generations prior to biblical times, tales of gods and goddesses were passed down by storytellers and interwoven into traditions and philosophies. Each city devoted itself to particular gods. But these gods also had human frailties. Where did the pantheon originate? Did any of the stories in Greek mythology actually occur? We look at new archaeological evidence that supports the possibility.
HINT = History International
::Monday, February 07, 2005 4:29:07 AM::