~ This Day in Ancient History
ante diem xiii kalendas martias
- Parentalia -- day 5 of the festival for appeasing/honouring the dead
- Quirinalia -- festival honouring the namesake of the Quirinal hill, the Sabine divinity Quirinus, who was later identified with Romulus. Little else is known about the festival.
- 304 A.D. -- martyrdom of Donatus and 80+ others near Venice
- 1776 -- Edward Gibbon publishes the first volume of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 5:42:46 AM::
~ Coming Soon
The Atrium Agora -- a forum to discuss things mentioned here in rc and/or Explorator and the world of Classics in general will be debuting during March Break ... the countdown is on ...
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 5:23:34 AM::
~ New Blogs
Blogographos alerts us to a pile of new blogs ... none of them are strictly Classical but most are archaeological in scope; we'll keep an eye on them to see if they develop ... Trireme Veterans for Truth might be worth checking out specifically ... it is archaeological, but also seems to be doing some commentary on various Classical items of an academic nature.
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 5:21:56 AM::
~ Pro Roscio on the BBC
This just in from the Telegraph (thanks to Explorator reader AM):
Cui bono, asked the advocate: who benefits? Despite Lord Woolf's well-known aversion to the use of dead languages in the courtroom - although the Lord Chief Justice did not flinch when Sir Sydney Kentridge, QC, threw a couple of Latin tags at him in the hunting case yesterday - counsel's repeated cries of cui bono raised no objection from the judges or jury. But this should come as no surprise: the lawyer was Cicero and the trial took place in 81 BC. Latin was, of course, their common tongue.
The man on trial was accused of murdering his father, Sextus Roscius, a wealthy landowner. Cicero, retained for the defence, was keen to make his reputation. His rhetorical point was that the alleged murderer had nothing to gain from the killing, while others did. The stakes were high on both sides: Erucius, the prosecutor, wanted to avoid being branded - literally - as a false accuser.
All this was regarded as first-class public entertainment by the crowds who swarmed around the forum in ancient Rome looking for the juiciest cases. They came for the oratory and, no doubt, to find out whether young Roscius, the defendant, would be found guilty: the penalty for parricide was to be flayed with a whip, sewn into a sack with a dog, monkey, cockerel and snake, and then thrown into the Tiber.
The BBC is also hoping that the trial will be regarded as first-class entertainment when it is televised early next month. But how does it compare with a modern hearing?
This is, of course, a reconstruction - but so are most of the modern trials you see on television. There is rather more excuse for dramatic licence when you are dealing with ancient Rome: there were no court reporters around, and the script is based on Cicero's own account of his speeches, written up after the event.
So we do not know what the prosecutor said. We cannot be sure that the defendant sat next to his lawyer, as depicted in the film, which is current practice in the United States but not Britain. There are other examples of dramatic licence: Cicero would not have accepted payment for his services, it seems. So it is hard to make too many comparisons with today.
But the reconstruction captures something of the oratory and sense of occasion that people who have never entered a court imagine to be the stock-in-trade of a British jury trial.
It is as pacy as a modern courtroom drama, with all the cliffhangers of a programme constructed around commercial breaks.
And there are some unexpected links to the modern world. Paul Rhys, who plays Cicero, sounds just like the late Lord Williams of Mostyn, QC, a fine advocate who was chairman of the Bar before becoming Attorney General. Owen Teale, who plays the prosecutor, looks very much like the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, Ken Macdonald, QC.
Tom Holland, the historian who first suggested the idea to the BBC, told me he found it "gripping" to see a true story from 2,000 years ago brought to life in this way. We should not be surprised by the notion of a courtroom as theatre: apparently, the Latin for "prosecutor" also means "actor".
Holding trials in public satisfies an important need - not just for entertainment but for openness.
This lesson is well understood by Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, who is now considering whether to televise trials - though probably not appeals.
Let us hope it will be understood equally well by the Prime Minister when he talks to opposition leaders tomorrow about the Government's plans for house arrest.
Even the Romans allowed defendants a trial before putting them in a sack and throwing them out of sight.
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 5:15:54 AM::
~ Iliad Performance
Warriors greedy for glory and the wealth of foreign land; an arrogant king, reckless with the lives of his soldiers; ordinary men capable of extraordinary courage and self- sacrifice; a lust for vengeance; a city ablaze; men cut down in the bloom of youth; the wails of widows and parents. . . . 2,700 years have not altered the great themes of war that Homer captured in The Iliad.
On Monday, March 7, the 92nd Street Y presents The Rage of Achilles—the world premiere of Kathryn Walker’s adaptation for the stage of Robert Fagles’ translation of The Iliad. Kathryn Walker directs a cast that includes Kate Burton, Keith David, George Grizzard, Paul Hecht, Mary Beth Hurt, Maeve Kinkead, Griffin Mathhews, and Larry Pine in this staged reading with a minimalist set. Robert Black, River Guerguerian, and Diedre Murray of Bang on a Can perform original music. Walker’s 90-minute adaptation draws on selections of The Iliad that she considers “the essential action of the poem: the rage of Achilles that leads inexorably to the death of Hector.” This performance is presented in association with Diane Wondisford of Music-Theatre Group.
First published in 1990, Robert Fagles’ translation of the The Iliad is considered the definitive contemporary translation, widely praised for the velocity and beauty of its language. In The New York Times Book Review, Oliver Taplin called the translation “more readable than Lattimore or Fitzgerald, and more performable. .. . plain, direct, noble and above all rapid.” This is not the first time Dr. Fagles has collaborated with Kathryn Walker or the 92nd Street Y Poets Theater: Kathryn Walker and Jason Robards performed selections from Fagles’ translation of the Odyssey at the 92nd Street Y in 1998. They later took the Odyssey to Harvard and Princeton. Of the upcoming performance at the 92nd Street Y, Dr. Fagles’ says, "The Iliad is the world's most famous tale of war, now performed during a time of war, and directed by the brilliant Kathryn Walker with her fine troupe of actors, people with clarity, passion, and humanity. I would not miss it."
It’s likely that Homer composed The Iliad sometime between 725 and 675B.C. and that the epic poem was performed orally for generations before it was written down. Though some scholars view The Iliad as relentless in its glorification of violence, Kathryn Walker does not see it this way. She notes that throughout the epic, images of brutal bloodshed are juxtaposed with poignant memories of peace:
The wives of Troy and all their lovely daughters would wash their glistening robes in the old days the days of peace before the sons of Achaea came. . .
Walker believes that The Iliad is as much about the suffering war engenders as it is about the glittering feats of warriors. She remarks: “Homer is never sentimental about the reality of war. While combat and heroism are glorified—Greece was after all a warrior culture—the terrible suffering inflicted by extreme violence and the agony of individual death is equally powerfully described. Homer does not take sides with the Trojans or the Greeks. In a situation as savage as war, all parties are affected and degraded. As Simone Weil suggests in her fine essay about The Iliad, the real theme of the poem is force, force that reduces subjects to objects -- corpses and slaves.” Walker notes that one of the main ideas of The Iliad is that violence rebounds on its perpetrators. She points to the words of the Trojan hero Hector, “The god of war is impartial: he hands out death to the man who hands out death.”
Walker adds, “The story of the Trojan War is the founding document of Greek literature and history; history begins with aggression and war. Sadly, more then 2000 years later, the Iliad has as much relevance to contemporary events as it did to ancient Greece.” [more]
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 5:08:21 AM::
~ Nero Project
From the Cornell Daily Sun:
The Schwartz Center is opening its curtains tonight for an exceedingly different and exciting endeavor: The audience will not only see a performance, they will be involved in a process of creation along with the collaborators Steven Sater (Carbondale Dreams, Umbrage) and Beth Milles (God Said Ha, The Imaginary Invalid).
The Nero Project is a two-act play (for now) depicting the life of the Roman emperor, Nero. The project has been in development since Spring of 2003 when Sater, Milles and their students at the time developed the idea of creating a new kind of theater that required, and indeed, depended upon, the active participation of the actors. The players were selected based on characters that they wanted to include in the performance and, above all, on bravery. The script, which chronicles eight events in Nero's life, was not even written until after casting.
The Nero Project features four of Cornell's Resident Professional Teaching Associates (Sarah K. Chalmers, Laurence Drozd, Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., and Peter Zazzali) and six student actors. Since its initial conception, the play has been workshopped at the Magic Theatre in Los Angeles. Well-known composer and song-writer Duncan Sheik was introduced to the project after three weeks of rehersal were already underway.
Many changes have been made since the original writing of the play. The main concern now for the creators are technical elements which Milles describes as an act of exploration: "[In this stage of theatricalizing Nero] We are trying to find the tone and explore that tone that is resonating at that moment [in Nero's life]," Milles said.
The project is ambitious on a number of levels. The convention, or rather the non-convention, of the creative process brings in a number of different voices from a variety of artistic minds that are not necessarily theatrical. Placing Nero on stage is an ongoing activity of learning from its inception to tonight's execution.
The historical aspect also presented itself as a challenge. Milles noted that there are only two Roman historians who studied and wrote about Nero's life, and any secondary and post-secondary writings that sprung from these two scholars have had a tendency to vilify his character. "I am interested in Nero on a human level," says Milles. "Above all, Nero was an artist. He wanted to live life as art. While he may not have conquered any land during his reign, Nero created festivals of bacchic proportions. Theatrical performance along with everything and anything Greek was preoccupation for Nero." [more]
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 5:03:38 AM::
~ Tomb of St. Paul?
A very, very brief item in AdnKronos (in Italian) suggests archaeologists have found the sarcophagus of St. Paul during an excavation beneath the church of San Paolo Fuori le Mura ... surely we'll hear more about this one in English.
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 5:01:57 AM::
~ JOB: Generalist @ Kenyon College (one year)
Kenyon College invites applications for a one-year position in the Department of Classics at the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor, effective July 1st, 2005.
The successful candidate will teach a 3:2 load; the distribution of courses is likely to be as follows: a full year of introductory Latin; a survey course in Roman history; and two courses, one in translation and one in advanced Latin, whose specific content is to be determined by the instructor in consultation with the Department. The primary research interest should be Roman history or Latin literature, but interest in related fields such as mythology, archaeology, gender studies, or philosophy is welcome. A Ph.D. is preferred, but not required. Applicants should be able to document excellence in teaching.
To apply, please submit (1) a cover letter, detailing teaching approaches and experience as well as research interests; (2) a curriculum vitae; and (3) three letters of recommendation to: Professor Robert Bennett, Chair of the Search Committee, Department of Classics, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio 43022, by Friday, February 18, 2005. Inquiries should be directed to the Chair: email@example.com, (740) 427-5060. Review of applications will begin February 18 and will continue until the position is filled. Telephone interviews will be conducted, and finalists will be invited to campus.
Kenyon College offers competitive salaries and a benefit package that may be extended to cover spouses, domestic partners, and dependents. An Equal Opportunity Employer, the College encourages the applications of women and minority candidates.
... seen on AegeaNet
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 4:47:44 AM::
~ JOB: Generalist @ Haverford (one year)
The Department of Classics at Haverford College is seeking to fill a one year position, renewable for a second year, as Visiting Assistant Professor. Candidate should have the PhD by the time of taking up the appointment (August 2005) and should be prepared to teach Latin and Greek at all undergraduate levels and to offer general courses in classical studies (literature, culture, society) as well. Teaching load is five courses a year. Please send dossier, including letter of application, CV, graduate transcript, and three letters of recommendation (writing sample optional) as soon as possible to Deborah Roberts, Chair, Department of Classics, Haverford PA 19041. Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> or call (610)896-1066. Review of applications will begin February 28, 2005 and will continue until the position is filled. Haverford College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, and to diversify its faculty and enrich its curriculum especially encourages women and minority candidates to apply.
... seen on AegeaNet
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 4:46:39 AM::
~ AWOTV: On TV Today
8.00 p.m. |HINT| Maintaining the Truth
Part 2 investigates the letters of the New Testament, many of which warn the early Christian communities against heretics and their teachings. We examine the letters of the brothers of Jesus, James and Jude, and look at how the Jewish movement in Jerusalem, led by James, eventually clashed with Paul's preachings on Christ. And speaking of Paul, we look at Saul's conversion to Paul, and how his subsequent correspondences with the Mediterranean congregations helped Christianity grow from a seed movement in its homeland into a pullulating global movement.
HINT = History International
::Thursday, February 17, 2005 4:45:21 AM::