Latest update: 3/1/2005; 5:15:51 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem v kalendas martias

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:38:09 AM::

~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's selection:

incommunicado @ WordSmith

brassica @ Worthless Word for the Day (cf.  Merriam-Webster)

strophe @

The latest 'words of the week' from the Classics Technology Center are various words for craftsmen in the Roman world ...

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:32:59 AM::

~ Nuntii Latini

Explosio in fodina Sinensium (18.2.2005)

Explosione gasi facta, in carbonifodina ducenti novem fossores Sinenses mortui et duodeviginti vulnerati sunt.

Fodina illa calamitosa est in provincia Liaoning regionis Sinarum septentrionalis-orientalis.

Locus explosionis iacet in profunditate ducentorum quadraginta duorum metrorum. Carbonifodinae Sinensium sunt sedes operis in toto orbe periculosissimae.

Officialiter nuntiatum est quinque vel sex milia fossorum anno proximo vitam in illis amisisse.

Verus autem numerus victimarum multiplex esse creditur, quia possessores timentes, ne magnas damnorum compensationes solvere debeant neve fodinae claudantur, de multis calamitatibus fodinarum nihil omnino palam faciunt.

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

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:28:42 AM::

~ Another Roman Day

From Horsham Today:

The seven to nine year olds at William Penn School, in Brooks Green Road, came to school on Wednesday dressed as Romans and spent the day handling artefacts to help teach them about the Romans' way of life.

The day was led by Paul Allen, whose company Breath of Life regularly works with schools to bring history to life.

Mr Allen brought along armour, spears, shields and examples of Roman imports for the children to study and touch, which he explained is a large part of the learning process.
Headteacher Ashley Holt said: "We have had so much enthusiasm from the children and parents. There's a quote, 'Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember' and that what this is all about. If you do it then you learn it and become it. What the children are now doing is becoming Romans and they are not going to forget it."

Parents were also invited to the school for a Roman style buffet. Mr Holt explained: "If we involve the parents then everyone is learning. The whole becomes more than the sum of the parts."

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:23:50 AM::

~ Albert Einstein and the Greeks

The New Yorker reprints an interviewish thing with Albert Einstein from 1947 ... some excerpts:


“Take the loyalty test for federal employees, against which so few have protested,” I said.

“That is a case in point,” he answered. “People are asked to be loyal to their jobs. But who wouldn’t be loyal to his job? Too many people, indeed. Also in Italy and in Germany they used to test people’s loyalty to their jobs, and they found a far greater loyalty to jobs than to democracy. But now tell me another thing. What do you give to your children in the way of good news about the world?”

“Plenty,” I said. “For example, I tell them about Socrates, who was killed by the greatest democracy on earth for standing at the corner drugstore and asking questions that made the politicians feel uncomfortable.”

“That’s not a cheerful story, either,” he said, “but if they were able to absorb some of the spirit of the Greeks, that would serve them a great deal later on in life. The more I read the Greeks, the more I realize that nothing like them has ever appeared in the world since.”

“You read the Greeks?” I said.

“But of course,” he replied, slightly surprised at my amazement. And so I heard, partly from him and partly from Miss Dukas, that he reads the Greeks to Maja every night for an hour or so, even if he has had a very tiring day. Empedocles, Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Thucydides receive the tribute of the most advanced and abstract modern science every night, in the calm voice of this affectionate brother who keeps his sister company.

“You know,” I said, “that is great news. Young Americans, who have an idea of the pure scientist worthy of the comics, should be told that Einstein reads the Greeks. All those who relish the idiotic and dangerous myth of the scientist as a kind of Superman, free from all bonds of responsibility, should know this and draw their conclusions from it. Many people in our day go back to the Greeks out of sheer despair. So you too, Herr Professor, have gone back to the Greeks.”

He seemed a little hurt. “But I have never gone away from them,” he said. “How can an educated person stay away from the Greeks? I have always been far more interested in them than in science.”


I saw Einstein on the porch, waving to me. I joined him there and sat down next to him while he stretched his legs on a deck chair and leaned back, one hand behind his head, the other holding his pipe in mid-air. I had a volume of the German translation of Plato by Preisendanz in my briefcase and asked his permission to read aloud a passage from “Gorgias.” He listened patiently and was very amused by Socrates’ wit. When I was through, he said, “Beautiful. But your friend Plato”—and he extended his pipe in such a way that it became Plato—”is too much of an aristocrat for my taste.”

“But you would agree,” I said, “that all the qualities that make for a democratic attitude are noble qualities?”

“I would never deny that,” he said. “Only a noble soul can attain true independence of judgment and exercise respect for other people’s rights, while any so-called nobleman prefers to conceal his vulgarity behind such cheap shields as an illustrious name and a coat of arms. But, you see, in Plato’s time and even later, in Jefferson’s time, it was still possible to reconcile democracy with a moral and intellectual aristocracy, while today democracy is based on a different principle—namely, that the other fellow is no better than I am. You will admit that this attitude doesn’t altogether facilitate emulation.”


“In the past,” said Einstein, “when man travelled by horse, he was never alone, never away from the measure of man, because”—he laughed—”well, the horse, you might say, is a human being; it belongs to man. And you could never take a horse apart, see how it works, then put it together again, while you can do this with automobiles, trains, airplanes, bicycles. Modern man is besieged by mechanics. And even more ominous than this invasion of our lives is the rise of a class of people born of the machine, so to speak—people to whom certain powers must be delegated without the moral screening of a democratic process. I mean the technicians. You can’t elect them, you can’t control them from below; their work is not of the type that may be improved by public criticism.”

“Yes,” I said, “and they are born Fascists. What can you do against them?”

“Only one thing,” he said. “Try to prevent them from becoming a closed society, as they have become in Russia.”

“This is why,” I said, “now that we have lost the company of the horse, we may get something out of the company of men such as the Greeks were.”


The whole thing ...

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:21:02 AM::

~ Mysterious (?) Headless Bodies

From the Scotsman:

Archaeologists have been left mystified by the discovery of 36 decapitated bodies, it was revealed today.

Experts from the York Archaeological Trust unearthed the skeletons of 49 young men and seven children at a Roman cemetery they discovered in The Mount area of the city.

But they were stunned to find that most of the men had had their heads chopped off, while another was bound with iron shackles.

Dr Patrick Ottaway, the trust’s head of field word, said he was left baffled by the find because Romans had no tradition of decapitations or shackling men.

“One theory we are working on is that the men’s heads were removed after death with a very sharp implement through the cervical vertebrae.

“After removal their skulls had been placed in the grave by their feet, legs or pelvis as part of a burial ritual.

“Romans also believed that the head was the seat of the soul and they may have cut off their heads to stop them haunting the living.”

He said the men could have been foreign soldiers serving under Emperor Septimuis Severus in 200AD who were burying their dead according to their local tradition.

Dr Ottaway said he would be liaising with archaeologists abroad to see whether burial rituals from Rhineland, where many of soldiers in the Army originated, or North Africa, where the emperor came from, fitted the York deaths.

But the most puzzling discovery was the man found shackled with two iron rings around his feet.

“We haven’t seen anything like this before in Britain. The shackles may have been put on as a punishment or to stop the dead escaping.

“York has quite a reputation for ghosts and Romans were terrified of them and their influence.”

Researchers will carry out tests on the skeletons in an attempt to find out more about the men and why they had been decapitated.

Archaeologists also discovered pottery at the cemetery, during a three-month excavation at the site, which is being redeveloped by building contractors.

The Trust had targeted the area because it lays alongside the main Roman road leading to York from Tadcaster. Romans forbid burials near settlements so most cemeteries were located alongside roads.

Er ... on the Roman tradition of severing heads, I'd suggest tracking down a conversation we had on the Latin list a couple of years ago ... I'll still recommend a great article (which I've recommended a zillion times in similar conversations on the Internet):

J.-L. Voisin:"Les Romains, chasseurs de tetes." in Du châtiment dans la cité. Supplices corporels et peine de mort dans le monde antique. Table ronde organisée par l'École française de Rome avec le concours du CNRS (Rome, 9-11 novembre 1982), Rome, 1984, (Collection de l'École française de Rome, 79).

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:14:35 AM::

~ Hunter S. Thompson

When Hunter S. Thompson killed himself on Sunday, I was wondering whether there'd be any obituarial attempt to see his Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a sort of American version of the Odyssey ... ecce (from the York Daily Record ... the author obviously trying to imitate HST's inimitable style):

And he will be for "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas," which is an Americanized version of the "Odyssey," except Odysseus is whacked out of his mind, Helen is replaced by a broken-down old waitress at a backwater joint that sells 29-cent tacos and the swine run the joint.

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:08:55 AM::

~ Class Trip

I've always wanted to do this sort of thing ... from The Heights:

Some students go to Cancun for spring break. Others donate their time and partake in service trips. Still others go home, for some much needed rest and relaxation. A token few, however, aspire to go to Greece.

The classics department at Boston College organized "Greece on Site," a 10-day spring break excursion to the beautiful country where fascinating ancient history combines seamlessly with vibrant contemporary life. Participants would be awarded one BC credit, and they would spend over a week experiencing the best of what the country has to offer during the "loveliest season for travel in Greece," says trip coordinator professor Dia Philippides. Unfortunately, due to low student interest, the trip had to be cancelled late last week.

The itinerary of the trip included visits to major archeological sites, comprehensive museums, and important places of interest from Greek literature, such as the crossroads where Oedipus killed his father. It would have spanned from Athens to Olympia (the site of the first Olympic games), incorporating concerts, theatrical performances, and breath-taking scenic views. Costing $1,900 for everything except the air ticket, the students who signed up for the trip were prepared to have an amazing time.

The idea for this particular Greece trip was conceived by faculty members of the classics department over a year ago, and the planning began last August.

"It seemed like a good idea to provide BC students with the option of a relatively brief study trip to Greece during the academic year - so many students on campus take courses that include Greece in their subject matter, offered in a number of different departments," says Philippides.

"Greece on Site" was open to all BC students, but was expected to appeal particularly to those studying some aspect of Greek culture. The trip did not aim to focus solely on the classical aspects of the society, however; it also hoped to expose students to a flourishing modern culture different from their own.

"The recent successful Olympic Games of Summer 2004 made the world's eyes turn to Greece; it would be particularly interesting to visit Greece now, both from the point of view of becoming familiar with the locations and artifacts of its ancient culture and also for the chance the trip would give to see in action a modern country located in Europe," says Philippides.

Because of the extensive planning and coordination that such a trip would require, the classics department set a minimum limit of 10 participating students in order for the trip to actually take place.

Much to the disappointment of many dedicated Hellenists, that quota was not met.

Philippides, who was the BC staff member set to accompany the group on their voyage, feels that the only reason the trip failed was because it didn't have the appropriate publicity.

"We're working ourselves to death silently to promote classics and contemporary Greece. We just don't know how to get the word out," she says.

But students who still have a longing to visit such a fascinating country only have to wait until the summer.

For the third year, the classics department is sponsoring a guided trip to Greece in the summer. Departing on June 26 and lasting for three weeks, this program (also for BC credit) will be based in Athens with weekend fieldtrips outside the city.

"It is three weeks of archaeology, culture, art, sun ... It is a study of Greece throughout time, looking at both the ancient and the contemporary aspects," says Mia Kakavos, a professor in the Classics department.

Students will stay in centrally located apartments and will be within walking distance of a variety of activities.

They will visit important archaeological sites with lectures on location, frequent art studios and galleries and interact with the artists.

They will also get to meet multiple authors, musicians, and other members actively involved with the culture of the community.

"Before we go, we ask students their interests and try to somewhat tailor the trip. For instance, one student had done extensive research on Oedipus, and we told him that we were going to visit Delphi [the seat of the ancient oracle]. Another student was very interested in politics, so we said we'd try to see Parliament or meet with a statesman," says Philippides.

Although such field trips are wonderful learning experiences, students will also broaden their horizons by taking part in leisure activities.  [more]

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:04:15 AM::

~ Perfumery On Cyprus

From the Scotsman:

MUSKY, with a woody tone and spicy hints of cinnamon - the perfect fragrance for a Bronze Age date.

Italian archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest perfumery and have identified the smells popular with the people of the time.

The perfumery was found at a sprawling archaeological site on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean at Pyrgos-Mavroraki, 55 miles south-west of Nicosia.

"This is 4,000 years old. Without a doubt, it is the oldest production site for perfume in the world," said Maria Rosario Belgiorno, the excavation team leader.

The site was destroyed by an earthquake in antiquity but the calamity helped preserve the finds and it is now expected to unlock ancient secrets about the surprisingly advanced production methods.

"It is possible to reconstruct the technology of the site," Ms Belgiorno said. "It was very sophisticated for the time."

The find could explain two names which appear in an industry-standard list of ten fragrance families. Only two refer to geographic regions and both pertain to Chypre, French for Cyprus.

Fourteen different perfumes from ten essences were found at the Cyprus site. About a dozen have so far been reconstituted from the fragments of perfume bottles by Italian scientists.

Among the aromas found were those of cinnamon, laurel, myrtle, anise and citrus bergamot. Such ingredients are among those detailed by the Roman writer Pliny (AD23-79), who described the composition of various fragrances in his encyclopaedic Historia Naturalis.

The ancients required perfumes for more than smelling attractive. Aromatic resins were used in religious ceremonies and funeral rites, as well as for their medical properties. The ancient Egyptians were keen on aromatherapy.

"The Cypriots probably learned from the Egyptians. We know there were very strong links between the two," Ms Belgiorno said.

Perfumes have even been found in Egyptian predynastic graves. A royal tomb at Abydos dating back to about 3000 BC contained jars with coniferous resin mixed with plant oil and animal fats.

Even workmen were said to have received regular supplies of ointment and the first recorded strike in history occurred during the reign of Ramses III (1165BC), when supplies were interrupted to the tomb builders in the Valley of the Kings. So valued were perfumes that the Pharoahs had "very strong control" of its production, said Ms Belgiorno.

The perfumery in Cyprus formed part of a site dating from 2000BC which included a copper smelting works, a winery and an olive press that provided the base ingredient for the fragrances. Fragments of enormous storage jars capable of holding 500 litres of olive oil were found. The scale of the works suggests perfume played an important role in the island’s trade at the time.

::Friday, February 25, 2005 5:01:59 AM::

~ Mother's Day Origins

Why the Scotsman is talking about Mother's Day right now is beyond me (do they celebrate it at a different time than we do in North America?), but check out the intro to a 'suggested gifts' piece:

Do you think Mother’s Day is just another one of those miracle marketing creations from one of the card companies?

Well, early tributes to mothers are found to date back to the annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to Rhea, and also offerings ancient Romans made to their Great Mother of Gods, Cybele.

I can say with much certainty that my mother would not appreciate receiving the sort of offerings which might be made to Cybele ...

::Friday, February 25, 2005 4:58:13 AM::

~ Fighting Words?

Not sure how far one would push this quote from a piece in ThisWeek about Presidents Day celebrations in Columbus:

The main address of the day was given by school superintendent W.A. Shawan. "Professor Shawan" noted, among other things, that "Alexander the Great, Caesar and Napoleon were great men, but thousands of lives were sacrificed on the altars of their personal ambitions. Not so with our noble Washington, who lived for his country and not for himself."

::Friday, February 25, 2005 4:55:22 AM::

~ Why Study Classics

From the Australian comes the intro to a piece which is a lament on the 'new humanities':

IN the late 19th century Charles Badham, professor of classics at the University of Sydney, argued that the university man trained in the techniques of a liberal education would possess a clear consciousness, "full of reverence, refinement and clear-headedness ... by the very conditions of his discipline temperate in opinion, temperate in measures, temperate in demeanour".

He advocated culture, "the thought of our permanent humanity and of the ineffaceable identity between the soul of the past and the soul of the present", as the ideal to guide the Australian colonists and save them from the superficiality and charlatanism of the modern age.

Now, compare this with the way in which proponents of cultural studies - the New Humanities - describe the role of their discipline: Culture is a "contested and conflictual set of practices of representation bound up with the processes of formation and re-formation of social groups". The contrast between the two ideals of culture could not be starker. [more]

::Friday, February 25, 2005 4:52:45 AM::

~ CONF: Rican 3

The University of Crete, Department of Philology (Division of Classics), is pleased to announce the organization and hosting of the Third Rethymnon International Conference on the Ancient Novel to be held in Rethymnon, Crete on 22-24 May 2005. The topic of RICAN 3 is:

"The Greek and the Roman Novel: Parallel Readings"

Speakers and Titles:

Jean Alvares (Montclair), Coming of Age and Political Accommodation in the Greco-Roman Novels.
Alessandro Barchiesi (Siena at Arezzo and Stanford), Provincial life, Apuleius, and  the Greek Novel.
Ewen Bowie (Oxford), Links Between the Satyrica and Antonius Diogenes.
R Bracht Branham (Emory), What Does Polyphony Sound Like?
Romain Brethes (Sorbonne), Who Knows What? The Access to Knowledge in Latin
and Greek Novels.
Ken Dowden (Birmingham), The Satyrica of Ps-Encolpios of Massalia.
Ellen Finkelpearl  (Claremont), Apuleius, the Onos and Rome.
Stavros Frangoulidis (Crete), Transforming the Genre: Apuleius' Metamorphoses.
Kirk Freudenburg (Urbana), Curiosity and the Reader:  Narrative Desire and Platonic
Eros in Apuleius' Metamorphoses.
Luca Graverini (Siena at Arezzo), Apuleius, Achilles Tatius, and a Golden Rule.
Stephen Harrison (Oxford), Parallel Cults? Religion in Apuleius' Metamorphoses and Some Greek Novels.
Richard Hunter (Cambridge), Sleeping with the Enemy? Odysseus, Socrates, and the
Beginning of Fiction.
Andrew Laird (Warwick),  The True Nature of Petronius' Satyricon.
John Morgan (Swansea), Encolpius and Kleitophon.
Rudi van der Paardt (Leiden), The Metamorphosis of the Protagonist in the Onos, The
Golden Ass and The Ass in Love (Ps. Lucian, Apuleius, Couperus).

Michael Paschalis (Crete), The Greek and the Latin Alexander Romance: Comparative Readings.
John Porter (Saskatchewan), A Tomb with a View: Petronius' Widow of Ephesus and the Comic Adultery Tale.
Victoria Rimell (La Sapienza), Petronius and the Poetics of Epigram.''
Consuelo Ruiz-Montero (Murcia), Magic in the Ancient Novels.
Gareth Schmeling (Florida), Narratives of Failure: Parallel Readings in the Ancient
Niall W. Slater (Emory), Posthumous Parleys.
Steven D. Smith (Lawrence Academy, Massachusetts), Re-Presenting Phaedra, or How to Tell an Attic Tale in Apuleius'  Metamorphoses and Heliodoros' Aithiopika.
Maaike Zimmerman (Groningen), Aesop, Onos, The Golden Ass, and a Hidden Treasure.

For further information contact:
Michael Paschalis,
Stavros Frangoulidis,

... seen on AegeaNet

::Friday, February 25, 2005 4:49:54 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT|   Augustus: First of the Emperors
Story of the bloodthirsty leader who was also one of the most able statesmen in world history. His rule launched the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) that marked the high point of the empire.

9.00 p.m. |DISCC|Becoming Alexander
Follow actor Colin Farrell as he prepares to bring Alexander the Great to life on the big screen; the political, military and historical context in which Alexander operated.

HINT = History International

DISCC = Discovery Channel (Canada)

::Friday, February 25, 2005 4:47:12 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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