Latest update: 3/1/2005; 5:15:10 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem v idus februarias

  • 249 A.D. -- martyrdom of Apollonia at Alexandria

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 5:32:59 AM::

~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's selection:

promulgate @ Merriam-Webster

gnome @ Worthless Word for the Day (not the one you immediately think of)

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 5:24:23 AM::

~ Nuntii Latini

De provincia Aceh consultationes (4.2.2005)

Delegati Indonesiae et provinciae Aceh in Finniam ad triduum convenerunt, ut duce pristino Finnorum praesidente Martti Ahtisaari de bello componendo consulerent.
Difficillimae autem controversiae in proximum conventum dilatae sunt, in quem Ahtisaari delegatos invitavit.

Provincia Aceh, dives petrolei, ante quinquaginta quinque annos ad Indonesiam annexa est. Fautores motus, qui dicitur "Aceh libera", censent illam annexionem iniustam fuisse et regimen Indonesiae accusant, quod opes provinciae naturales sibi eripuerit.

De pace iam antea re infecta consultatum est. Duobus annis ante inter partes de ignistitio convenit, sed post sex menses bellum denuo susceptum est.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 5:20:31 AM::

~ Colchester

Nice Reuters piece on Colchester ... some excerpts:


Formerly Colonia Victricensis, meaning "City of the Victorious", Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded town and its first capital.

Famously Emperor Claudius made a trip to the city, complete with a cast of elephants and camels, to receive the surrender of the Celtic kings to found the Roman Province of Britannia.

The city is a living museum, complete with Roman wall and its Temple of Claudius. For archaeologist Philip Crummy, who has directed excavations in the city since 1971, the discovery of the circus was one of the most exciting finds.

"Imagine when it was race day at the circus, and you had a full blown 12-chariot race, complete with 48 horses," he says. "It would have been quite a spectacle."

The track dates back to around the second century, but Crummy says it is almost certain to be an upgrade of a circuit constructed years earlier.

"Perhaps some important official missed the action in Rome and had it built, or it was an attempt to emphasise the "Romanness" of the far flung province of Britain," says Robert Kebric, history professor at the University of Louisville in the United States and author of "Roman People".

"I suspect it was mostly used for the entertainment of soldiers and locals and because of the expense involved, there is no way of knowing to what extent they could copy the Circus Maximus in Rome in terms of quality of charioteers, factions (teams) and schedule," he says, referring to the world's most famous circus in the Italian capital.


Roman sports have been dramatically brought to life on the big screen, most memorably in the classic "Ben-Hur", with its thrilling chariot race.

"One guy would be aiming for the finishing line and the other two on his team would try to stop the others," says Crummy. "A lot of tactics were involved."

Usually, there were four teams of three chariots.

But Kebric says the win-at-all-costs mentality of the charioteers depicted in Ben-Hur, where they used blades on the wheels of their chariots, was exaggerated.

"In Rome, at least, chariot racing was closely regulated and since there was so much money (bets) riding on the races, fouls were not tolerated and races might even be rerun," he says.

But it was very dangerous. Kebric says the charioteers were professionals, rode for factions not as individuals, and usually died very young while racing.

"They were usually ex-slaves or low borns, who like many athletes today, used the playing field for social advancement. Some became chums of the emperors," he says.

"I would suspect in Britain, they'd have to take what they could get since there would be no incentive for the big time charioteers to come there. Perhaps even locals competed since the Celts had a tradition of chariots."

Chariot racing and the circus were a cornerstone of public life in Roman times. "As for the excitement, there was probably never anything like it, and the Circus Maximus in Rome was more than a racetrack," Kebric says.

"Astrologers even used its shape and the races to make their predictions, the emperors used it as a place to communicate with their subjects and every type of person under the sun -- coincidentally the patron of the races -- was there."

Off the track, emotions would have run high too. "There was more chance of being hurt in clashes between supporters then there was on the track," says Robert Masefield, an archaeologist in Colchester.

"As for the charioteers, they were a bit like gladiators ... but whether we had any heroes coming here we don't know." [the whole thing]


::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 5:13:25 AM::

~ No Amnesty for Italian Artifacts

From Big News comes an important story that I haven't seen elsewhere (somewhat strangely?):

Italian officials have been forced to withdraw a measure that would have allowed those in possession of illegal archaeological objects to keep them.

The measure was in the form of an amendment to the 2005 budget, now under discussion in parliament.

The bill would allow those with illegal objects to keep them in exchange for payment of 5 percent of their value to the government, it was reported this week.

The rejection was disclosed to the Italian press by Gianfranco Conte, a member of parliament for Prime Minister Berlusconi's Forze Italia party, which introduced the amendment last summer. Conte said he was undeterred and would press ahead with legislation to liberalize Italian law as it relates to cultural goods despite the opposition of Cultural Minister Giovanni Urbani.

As the law stands, it is illegal for private citizens to hold any archaeological items discovered in the past century. Written in the early 20th century, the law was designed to discourage looting of historical sites and black market dealings in antiquities, but it is widely flouted by collectors and dealers alike.

Conte denounced existing laws governing archaeological objects, saying they are excessively restrictive, and have the adverse effect of penalizing dealers, honest collectors, and heirs while stimulating the black market.

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 5:07:53 AM::

~ A Career in Archaeology

Nice little item from the Evening Mail:

A DREAM career in archaeology beckons for a Barrow student who discovered a 2,000-year-old Roman artefact.

Budding archaeologist Charlotte Shaw, 18, is ecstatic about her offer of a place on a top archaeology and ancient history course at the University of Newcastle.

The Chetwynde School sixth former wowed university lecturers with her finds which include a Roman sandal and pottery which she found near Hadrian’s Wall.

The ambitious teenager, of Holyoake Avenue, painstakingly excavated the items at the Roman fort Vindolanda, while completing her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

The pieces are now being researched by experts before going on display at The Vindolanda Roman Army Museum.

Charlotte will be one of the first students to complete the gold award through the Chetwynde School scheme this summer, along with head girl Hannah Williams.

Charlotte’s achievements have also caught the eye of the Duke of Edinburgh magazine.

She said: “I’ve been interested in ancient history and the Romans for a long time.

“It’s a dream course for me. I’m looking forward to the practical archeology. [more]

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 5:05:17 AM::

~ Valentine's Day

As expected, the Valentine's Day misinformation wave has begun. First we get this bit from the Daily Examiner (inter alia):

Although it is celebrated as a lovers' holiday today, with the giving of chocolates, flowers, or other gifts between couples in love, many believe it originated in fifth Century Rome as a tribute to St. Valentine, a Catholic bishop.

For 800 years prior to the establishment of Valentine's Day, the Romans had practiced a pagan celebration in mid-February commemorating young men's rite of passage to the god Lupercus.

The celebration featured a lottery in which young men would draw the names of teenage girls from a box. The girl assigned to each young man in that manner would be his sexual companion during the remaining year.

In an effort to do away with the pagan festival, Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the lottery. Instead of the names of young women, the box would contain the names of saints. Both men and women were allowed to draw from the box, and the game was to emulate the ways of the saint they drew during the rest of the year.

Ah ... the oft-mentioned lottery. Source please! We'll put aside for the time being the attempt to connect V.D. to the Lupercalia. Next, we turn to Marketwatch, which has this as the origin:

The story of Valentine's Day apparently dates back to about the year 270, when Roman Emperor Claudius II cancelled all marriages in an effort to enlist more men in the military. Saint Valentine, a priest who believed in love and marriage, secretly continued to perform marriages and for that he was reportedly beaten to death and beheaded.

Not sure why Claudius would have to cancel marriages at this late date in Roman history in order to get more men in the army ... The Oregonian gets both tales in, sort of and somewhat vaguely:

VALENTINE TALES Some sources date the valentine to an ancient Roman festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and fertility. It was the custom for boys to select a girl's name at random. They would become companions for a time and often fall in love and marry. One often-told story says Valentine was an early Christian priest who was martyred for performing weddings for young soldiers against the command of the Emperor Claudius II, who thought single men made better warriors.

 In any event, I'm sure we'll be regaled with more misinformation in the next few days ...

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 5:03:19 AM::

~ Modern Iphigenia?

The incipit of a piece in the Guardian poses an interesting bunch of questions:

In Euripides's Iphigenia at Aulis, Agamemnon is faced with a gut-wrenching choice. He must sacrifice his teenage daughter, Iphigenia, if the gods are to grant his fleet the fair winds needed for victory against Troy. In Philip Ridley's latest play, Mercury Fur, there is a similar but far more desperate dilemma. It's set in a nightmarish contemporary England, a bitter place where memory and all sense of history have been so eroded that the young think the second world war was caused by Kennedy fighting Hitler over Marilyn Monroe. And it depicts a group of people in their late teens and early 20s desperately trying to ensure their survival by holding "parties", at which they supply the rich and influential with an opportunity to play out their most extreme fantasies of sex and death. The latest victim being prepared for the sacrifice is a 10-year-old child.

Ridley is prepared for the fact that some people will be shocked by Mercury Fur, but he is also keen to pose a question: "Why is it that it is fine for the classic plays to discuss - even show - these things, but people are outraged when contemporary playwrights do it? If you go to see King Lear, you see a man having his eyes pulled out; in Medea, a woman slaughters her own children. The recent revival of Iphigenia at the National was acclaimed for its relevance. But when you try to write about the world around us, people get upset. If I'd wrapped Mercury Fur up as a recently rediscovered Greek tragedy it would be seen as an interesting moral debate like Iphigenia, but because it is set on an east-London housing estate it is seen as being too dangerous to talk about. What does that say about the world we live in? What does it say about theatre today?" [more]

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 4:54:10 AM::

~ How to Wrap a Toga

Bella Online -- which somewhat hybristically dubs itself "The Voice of Women" -- has a little feature on how to wrap a toga ... If you need a piece with pictures, try the KET Togas, Tunics and Sandals page

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 4:50:58 AM::

~ Jesus and Julius Caesar

Break out the beer cuz this one's full of nuts ... I guess anyone can put anything in a press release:

- Carotta: 'Everything of the Story of Jesus can be Found in the
Biography of Caesar.'
    The Italian-German linguist and philosopher Francesco Carotta proves in
his book Jesus was Caesar that the story of Jesus Christ has its origin in
Roman sources. In more than fifteen years of investigation Carotta has found
the traces which lead to the Julian origin of Christianity. He concludes that
the story of Jesus is based on the narrative of the life of Julius Caesar.
    Carotta: ''The Gospel proves to be the history of the Roman Civil war, a
'mis-telling' of the life of Caesar-from the Rubicon to his
assassination-mutated into the narrative of Jesus, from the Jordan to his
crucifixion. Jesus is a true historical figure, he lived as Gaius Julius
Caesar, and ressurected as Divus Julius.''
    The cult surrounding Jesus Christ, son of God and originator of
Christianity appeared during the second century. Early historians, however,
never mentioned Jesus and even until now there has been no actual proof of
his existence. Julius Caesar, son of Venus and founder of the Roman Empire,
was elevated to the status of Imperial God, Divus Julius, after his violent
death. The cult that surrounded him dissolved as Christianity surfaced.
    Carotta's new evidence leads to such an overwhelming amount of
similarities between the biography of Caesar and the story of Jesus that
coincidence can be ruled out.
    - Both Caesar and Jesus start their rising careers in neighboring states
in the north: Gallia and Galilee.
    - Both have to cross a fateful river: the Rubicon and the Jordan. Once
across the rivers, they both come across a patron/rival: Pompeius and John
the Baptist, and their first followers: Antonius and Curio on the one hand
and Peter and Andrew on the other.
    - Both are continually on the move, finally arriving at the capital, Rome
and Jerusalem, where they at first triumph, yet subsequently undergo their
    - Both have good relationships with women and have a special relationship
with one particular woman, Caesar with Cleopatra and Jesus with Magdalene.
    - Both have encounters at night, Caesar with Nicomedes of Bithynia, Jesus
with Nicodemus of Bethany.
    - Both have an affinity to ordinary people-and both run afoul of the
highest authorities: Caesar with the Senate, Jesus with the Sanhedrin.
    - Both are contentious characters, but show praiseworthy clemency as
well: the clementia Caesaris and Jesus' Love-thy-enemy.
    - Both have a traitor: Brutus and Judas. And an assassin who at first
gets away: the other Brutus and Barabbas. And one who washes his hands of it:
Lepidus and Pilate.
    - Both are accused of making themselves kings: King of the Romans and
King of the Jews. Both are dressed in red royal robes and wear a crown on
their heads: a laurel wreath and a crown of thorns.
    - Both get killed: Caesar is stabbed with daggers, Jesus is crucified,
but with a stab wound in his side.
    - Jesus as well as Caesar hang on a cross. For a reconstruction of the
crucifixion of Caesar, see:
    - Both die on the same respective dates of the year: Caesar on the Ides
(15 th) of March, Jesus on the 15 th of Nisan.
    - Both are deified posthumously: as Divus Iulius and as Jesus Christ.
    - Caesar and Jesus also use the same words, e.g.: Caesar's famous Latin
'Veni, vidi, vici'-I came, I saw, I conquered-is in the Gospel transmitted
into: 'I came, washed and saw', whereby Greek enipsa, 'I washed', replaces
enikisa, 'I conquered'.

... it goes on with the reaction of "prominent European scholars and intellectuals" who, we are told, are "jubilant" at the news. Actually, if you go to the top level of the link mentioned above, you'll get four or five chapters of the theory. [I now note that Jim West has mentioned this press release as well in his Biblical Theology blog ...]

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 4:44:27 AM::

~ Roman Face Cream

That little tin of Roman face cream is in the news again for some reason, this time in Discover Magazine, which has this paragraph inter alia:

Richard Evershed, a chemist at the University of Bristol, analyzed the cream’s ingredients and recreated the ancient recipe, which consisted mainly of rendered animal fat and starch that was probably obtained from boiling grains. “It shows a surprising degree of technological sophistication,” he says, noting that the color came from a white tin oxide which was almost certainly synthetic. In Rome, a similar pigment was made by dissolving lead shavings in vinegar. The London cream, found at the far fringe of the Roman Empire, may contain tin instead because it was more locally available. Making this substitution required smelting tin, heating it at very low temperatures in open air to eliminate color impurities, and then cooling it slowly to obtain the pure white oxide. “It could not be all a home recipe because of the complex technology involved,” says Evershed. So the tin could have been obtained in from traveling merchants, or perhaps the cream was manufactured in large batches and then distributed.

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 4:33:12 AM::

~ Super Bowl Aftermath

Some Roman numeral followup in the Journal-News ... it was the result of some sort of quiz that I never saw  (inter alia):

Most of the readers who took part in this played it straight, sending in their 10 answers and leaving it at that.

But a few knew an opportunity when they saw it.

Gary Tenenbaum of Bardonia composed this brief poem, which includes words composed from letters used in Roman numerals:

Your test wasn't MILD

Quite hard II figure

I worked IV a while

with VIM and vigor

These numbers of old

Fill me with intrigue

Now I've figured them out

Here I come IV league

He was perfect on the quiz, but wins a prize just for letting his mind go roamin' creatively.

Clarkstown Town Board member John Maloney, who is 81, said he learned Latin at Xavier High School in Manhattan. To prove he was a Latin scholar, he sent along a few phrases.

"Da mihi sis crustum etruscum cum omnibus in eo," he said, translates to, "I'll have a pizza with everything on it."

I'll take his word for it.

And Michael Frisbee of Campbell Hall, who teaches math at Washingtonville High School, posed a question of his own.

"Using the M,D,C,L,X,V and I properly, what is the highest number that you can represent?" The answer, which he provided, is 4,999 (MMMMCMXCIX). Larger numbers, he explained, are written by adding a bar above a letter to denote thousands.

But it came down to Roman Rodriguez, whose parents gave him the name when he was born on Aug. 9 — St. Roman's Day in the Dominican Republic — to pick one winner from among the perfect X for X scores.


So much for perfection. By far the toughest test in the quiz was converting the year 1854 into Roman numerals.

MDCCCLIV is the right answer.

That's M(1,000) D(500) CCC (with each C worth 100) L(50) and IV (4)

Almost LX percent got that one wrong. Go figure.

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 4:29:30 AM::

~ CONF: Portus

 PORTUS: Liverpool Classics & Ancient History Research Seminar will be
hosting the following papers in Semester 2, 2004/2005:

15 February
Bob Cowan (Oxford)
'My Enemy's Enemy. Carthage's African Other through Roman Eyes'

1 March
Elena Teodorakopoulos (Birmingham): 'cacata carta: Writing and Performance
in Catullus'

15 March
Barbara Kowalzig (Oxford): 'The Aetiology of Empire? Hero-Cult and Athenian

19 April
Barbara Graziosi (Durham)
'Migrant gods: Homer, Xenophanes and Herodotus on divine movement'

The seminars take place at 5pm, Lecture Room 1, 12 Abercromby Square,
University of Liverpool. All are welcome!

Further enquires to:
Dr Alexei V. Zadorozhnyy

and/or Dr Bruce Gibson

... seen on the Classicists list

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 4:23:34 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

8.00 p.m. |DISCU| The City Destroyer
The early fourth century saw the creation of a mobile armor-plated siege tower armed with the world's first catapults. This team of builders must recreate a 40-foot high "City Destroyer." Will they get the job done and defeat a local "enemy"?
8.00 p.m. |HINT|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|  Time Team: 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

DISCU = Discovery Channel (US)

::Wednesday, February 09, 2005 4:22:19 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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