~ Trojan Artifacts
Interesting AP (via ABC) piece on the kerfuffle brewing over ownership of the various things Schliemann found at Troy:
A legendary collection of gold objects from ancient Troy seized by Soviet troops in Berlin in 1945 should become Russian government property, a top Russian cultural official said in remarks published Saturday.
But Anatoly Vilkov, deputy chief of the Russian agency that preserves the nation's cultural legacy, stopped short of ruling out the objects' return, as quoted by the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.
The gold collection excavated by amateur German archaeologist Hermann Schliemann will be made federal property after it is inventoried, he said. It could be exhibited in Germany but only if its return is guaranteed, he said.
"In line with the law on transferred valuables, everything that the Soviet Union took as compensation, which includes Schliemann's gold as well, is not subject to return," Vilkov said. "All these valuables should become our federal property."
Schliemann discovered the Trojan Gold, also known as King Priam's Treasure, in 1873 in what is now northwestern Turkey. He believed the gold belonged to Priam, king of Troy, the city featured in Homer's epic, The Iliad.
Experts later determined that the hoard dated back to the Bronze Age about 2500 B.C., long before Homer.
Russia and Germany have long sparred over the fate of the collection, as well as thousands of other valuables taken from Germany as World War II drew to an end. Vilkov told a news conference earlier this month that Russia holds some 249,000 art objects, more than 260,000 archive files and 1.25 million books and publications.
Germany and other countries have pressed for the return of the collections, which they argue were taken illegally.
A 2000 Russian law distinguishes between illegal trophies taken without a military commander's sanction and those Moscow sees as restitution for the 27 million Soviet lives lost, 100 museums destroyed and utter ruin of entire cities during the conflict it calls the Great Patriotic War.
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:43:04 AM::
~ Another Latin Success Story
From the Press and Sun Bulletin:
Anthony Buckeridge, author of a series of books on English prep school life.
The time is 7 p.m. and most Binghamton High School students are long gone for the day.
But not the 20 students in a third-floor classroom who are bent over workbooks, reviewing their translations of a Latin passage on the Trojan War with teacher Richard Pescatore.
The class, which meets on Mondays after regular school hours, introduces students to the grammar, sentence structure and rules of a language that draws them into the ancient world of togas, gladiators and Julius Caesar.
"A lot of my friends took it before me and said it was fun and interesting to learn," said sophomore John Hayes, 16, to explain why he's studying Latin. "It kind of looks good on your college application too."
Binghamton High School is one of a handful of schools in the Southern Tier and northern Pennsylvania that offer Latin, a language that once had a real toehold in American education.
In 1895, 44 percent of American students took Latin. More recently, 654,670 students, or 7.6 percent of the 8.6 million high school students, took the language in 1960, according to statistics from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
But the numbers dropped dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s as Latin became persona non grata in most schools, a dusty relic of the past.
The language went "down the drain" in the post-Sputnik era as schools emphasized the sciences, said Geri Dutra, administrative secretary with the American Classical League, which encourages the study of Latin. The nadir was in 1976, when only 150,470 students -- 1.1 percent of American students -- took the language.
Since then, there has been an upturn, with numbers reaching 188,833 students in 1994. This dropped back to 177,477, or 1.3 percent of high school enrollment, in 2000. Over the same period, the number of students taking the National Latin Exam, a comprehensive exam for several levels of the language, skyrocketed,from 8,000 in 1978 to 130,000 last year.
One reason for the renewed interest was concern about the academic performance of American students, said Brian Hyland, who teaches Latin and history at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton. "One answer was to get back to basics," and the study of Latin fit right into that movement.
Still, Latin is taught in very few schools in the Southern Tier and northern Pennsylvania. Binghamton and Seton are two of them. Chenango Valley and Montrose Junior-Senior High School, which restored Latin this year after an absence of several years, are the others, a spot check indicates.
Binghamton offers Latin after regular school hours as an extra course. The other three schools teach it during the regular school day.
Hyland and other Latin teachers reject any notion that Latin is an educational artifact as dead as Caesar's ghost.
On the contrary, studying Latin can help students with their English vocabulary, grammar and writing skills because roughly 60 percent of English vocabulary is derived from Latin, they said.
That's the reason some students pick for taking the language.
"I understand the English language better," said Zatch Roth, 17, a junior at Binghamton High School who is in his first year of Latin.
Other students hope it will aid their performance on standardized tests, while some are attracted to the political and cultural history of Rome or have a love for foreign languages.
"I want to be a linguistics major, and Latin is a good place to start," said junior Linka Preus, 16, who is in her third year of taking the language at Binghamton High School.
Nathan Schrader said he wants to understand how people thought at the time of Roman Empire, because Rome is the root of Western culture.
"I have a deep respect for the classics," said the 18-year-old Binghamton High School senior, who is also in his third year of studying Latin.
Memorizing the rules of Latin is "a pain," and the quizzes and tests are hard, said Matt Oberg, 17, a senior at Montrose Junior-Senior High School taking Latin for the first time this year.
But Oberg thinks Latin is kind of fun too because translating the language is a like solving a puzzle, and he likes to solve puzzles.
Grammar and culture
Student demand is one reason Montrose Junior-Senior High School brought back Latin this year, Principal Doug Wilcox said. The school had dropped the language about eight years ago when the Latin teacher retired and the school couldn't find a replacement.
Restoration became possible after Jeff Norris, a 1999 Montrose graduate who studied Latin in high school and college, took a job teaching English at his old school. His course, Latin 1, now has 26 students.
Meanwhile, 46 students -- roughly 10 percent of the student body -- are taking Latin at Seton, which offers four years of the language. At Binghamton High, 39 students are enrolled in three Latin courses, and the enrollment is steady. The enrollment of 70 students in Chenango Valley is close to the highest it's ever been, said Kirk Simmons, chairman for Languages Other Than English.
As silly as it sounds, some younger students may sign up for Latin because movies about ancient Rome, such as Gladiator, peak their interest, said Susan Perry, who teaches the language in Chenango Valley. But "word gets around" that studying Latin is useful, she said.
You learn how to think while taking Latin, said Norris, who has enjoyed studying and teaching the subject since his sophomore year at Montrose High.
"It trains your mind to work in an organized way because you're breaking down complex structures into a step by step process," he said.
Latin can also help you impress people, some students said humorously. Just throw out a few Latin terms, and it looks like you know something.
"It's a difficult language, but it's worth it," said Autumn Carpenter, 16, a junior at Montrose High.
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:41:37 AM::
~ Thucydides and Saddam
Interesting conclusion from an article at Uruknet on the legitimacy of the tribunal which will try Saddam:
[...] THERE is, however, one ancient law on which the tribunal's authority could be based: what the Greek historian Thucydides called the "law of empire". Thucydides described how Mylos, the island the Athenian Greeks conquered to ensure stability for their empire's golden age, was invaded and governed according to laws wholly different from those applied to democratic Athens. The first recorded usage of the phrase "law of empire" comes from Athenian negotiators who used it 2,000 years ago to explain to the Myletians that questions of fairness or justice can only arise among equals, not between the powerful and the weak. The Roman empire did much the same thing. In the last 200 years, the British empire, too, followed this longstanding imperial tradition. The Bush administration seems to be doing likewise. As one administration source who preferred to remain unnamed, told a journalist from The New York Times magazine: "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:40:14 AM::
~ Chariot Protests
The incipit of a piece in the Scotsman:
ARGUABLY the first written account of a race involving horses is in Homer’s Iliad. In the great story of the siege of Troy, Homer tells how Achilles organised a chariot race in honour of his fallen friend Patroclus.
The first prize, I kid you not, was a woman ‘skilled in crafts’. Homer doesn’t say what happened to the woman, and before chauvinists say the second prize must have been two women, it was actually a horse.
The racing of horses therefore has a long and mostly honourable tradition, but the sport has always had its detractors. Ever since Pliny the Younger wrote a withering piece about chariot racing in the Circus Maximus, patronising pundits have queued up to attack equine sport.
Almost two millennia ago, Pliny was very scathing about the public’s love of the main form of racing at that time. As many as 200,000 people or more would flock to the Circus Maximus - then the largest building on the planet - to cheer on their favourites.
Races lasted for three miles in laps around the Circus, and as portrayed in the film Ben-Hur, there were all sorts of "accidents" which were known to the racing aficionados as "shipwrecks."
Pliny didn’t like that sort of thing. He dismissed chariot racing as something he could not find exciting, and marvelled that so many "childish" thousands could be so happy just watching horses and chariots gallop round and round the track.
But just as today we have the Sport of Kings, so chariot racing was the Sport of Emperors. The historian Tacitus tells us quite sneeringly of how Nero was a particular patron, and taught himself to race a chariot, though there is no record of anyone being stupid enough to beat the crazy loon.
Chariots as weapons of war went out of fashion as soon as Rome devised its all-conquering legion system, but chariot racing continued as a sport for centuries. It eventually died a dwindling death along with the Roman Empire, and it took until the 17th century before horse racing became formalised as a sport here in Britain.
Chariot racing was undoubtedly a cruel sport, with the sight of horses and humans being injured and killed accepted as a necessary part of the spectacle. Yet Pliny, Tacitus and others did not call for its abolition. Animal rights were unthinkable in the days of Nero. Come to think of it, so were human rights.
A call for a ban on hunting, for instance, would have been laughed at back then. So it is possibly a measure of our progress as a species that hunting with dogs is now banned in Britain. Just a pity we didn’t first of all manage to extinguish human poverty, racism, knife crime, drug-related deaths and a hundred other priorities...
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:36:18 AM::
~ Spartacus and Pepsi
The New York Times gives us a potential reason to watch the (yawn) Oscars tonight:
In addition to the two new Sierra Mist spots, Pepsi-Cola North America will run a new commercial for Pepsi-Cola, also by BBDO New York, which revisits a famous moment from the 1960 Oscar-winning film "Spartacus," and a new spot for Diet Pepsi, by DDB Worldwide in New York, owned by Omnicom, with animated soda cans.
Interesting photo accompanies the article ...
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:33:23 AM::
~ Latin Schola
From the Herald-Journal:
Edith Bowen students learn language from undergrads
Translation: Do you know Latin?
More than a dozen students at Edith Bowen Laboratory School do -- to some degree. They're studying the classical language as part of a program taught by Utah State history undergraduates and members of the university's Classics Club.
Under the direction of Frances Titchener, professor of history and classics, USU students conduct a variety of activities to help the children connect with the language and culture. Among other things, the students are learning their Latin numbers and studying Latin versions of Harry Potter.
"It's kind of hard for me to understand, but I watched the movie," 6-year-old Yana Bogoev said of Harry Potter. "We talk about stories and read them with the Latin words and a little bit of English."
Yana and her family are from Bulgaria, and she and other students are making a connection between Latin and other modern languages.
"I'm here to learn Latin so it will help me learn my Navajo because I'm Navajo," said third-grader Dennis "Hayden" Stock. "Also, so that when I speak, no one will know what I'm saying."
Since mid-January, the students and some of their parents have been meeting every Wednesday in the school's library for a brief after-school lesson.
This Wednesday, the students played the game "Simonus Discit," better known as Simon Says.
"Simonus Discit indice liber," said Thom Manning, an undergraduate student at USU, asking the children to point to a book.
Instinctively the children pointed toward another student holding up a paperback novel. This time the class was focusing on action words, like grab, throw, touch, point, pick up and put down. The familiar game brought the language concepts to life.
Laughter filled the room when almost everyone followed Manning's command to "prende" without saying "Simon Discit."
"Ah, I didn't say Simon Says," said Manning, laughing along with the kids.
The young classics scholars have a high energy level that seems to make the course accelerated.
"For as much as it is draining to teach them, in a way it energizes me," said Bryan Whitchurch, a senior at USU and Latin instructor for the Edith Bowen class. "I can't think of anything more rewarding."
Whitchurch and his Latin-teaching peers design their own lesson plans, make their own instructional tools and take turns teaching the classes.
Scott Davis, a USU senior and member of the Classics Club, came up with the idea for the program after reading an article about a similar one. Davis and six other USU students assist Titchener in teaching Latin to other undergraduates at USU.
"I wondered about the possibilities of doing this with undergraduates," said Davis. "So I worked through the Parent-Teacher Association to use the facilities at Edith Bowen."
But why choose to teach Latin to young children?
"In the short term, to improve vocabulary, their awareness of grammar and their appreciation of ancient history," said Davis. "It also leads to exploring language further."
Davis and his peers say it's as much about exposing the children to the Roman culture and Greek mythology as the Latin language. Professor Titchener said, in general, the children's ability to comprehend and analyze are heightened by studying the language and culture.
"Their verbal, cognitive and communication abilities will be broadened because of it," said Titchener.
Many of the instructors have been surprised by the level of comprehension among the kids.
"Their ability to memorize and absorb it is hard-wired into their brain much more than at the college level," said Davis.
Davis and the other members of the Classics Club at USU hope to continue the Latin course through April or May of this year. If successful, Titchener said it's possible it could be offered to Edith Bowen students again next year.
Ultimately, the undergrads look forward to Utah State adopting a Latin teaching minor so they can bring the classical language back into the public school setting. But they say they need local interest.
"What I'd like to see is these kids go into junior high school and want to take Latin there, too," said Manning.
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:30:43 AM::
~ Gladiator Patron?
From This is York:
GLADIATOR star Russell Crowe has been asked to become a patron of the York Roman Festival.
Organisers of the annual celebration have approached the Antipodean actor, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Roman general Maximus, to see if he will lend the event his support.
A case of the festival's official beer - Centurion's Ghost from York Brewery - has even been dispatched Down Under to lure his backing, but there is no word yet from Russell or his publicist.
The film star has strong links with the city. In 2003, he married Danielle Spencer, who has close family living in Nether Poppleton.
He also donated signed posters and a programme to Manor School to help raise cash for a new performing arts centre.
Festival secretary Nick Eggleton said: "He played one of the most famous Roman characters of the last 30 years and he has a natural connection with York. We haven't asked him for money, just for his support. [more]
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:26:46 AM::
Stars and Stripes has a nice piece on Paphos:
At one time, Paphos was the most important town on Cyprus. It was a sprawling settlement, circled by walls and known as Nea Pafos, or New Pafos — old Pafos, home to the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, was several miles away. It became the island’s center of political and economic power.
Founded in the fourth century B.C., the town was part of the Ptolemies’ dynasty, which ruled the region from its base in Alexandria, now in Egypt. Later it was given to the Romans, who built opulent villas there and gave the current town its greatest attraction.
The mosaics of Pafos, found inside the villas, were believed to have been created in the second and third centuries. An earthquake in the fourth century began the town’s decline and enemy raids continued it. Power shifted to other cities and much of the city’s glories disappeared.
Then in 1962, a farmer working in fields near Paphos uncovered one of the old mosaics. Officials were called and archaeologists from Poland and Cyprus began digging around the site. What they discovered led to Nea Pafos becoming a part of the World Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO in 1981.
So far, archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of at least three villas with magnificent mosaics. The mosaics are depictions of mythological characters, scenes from everyday life and elaborate geometric designs, all made from small colored stones. They served as both the floors and decorations in the grand Roman villas.
One of the most impressive mosaics is at the Villa of Theseus. It is a large circular scene of Theseus and the minotaur that is missing a few stones in the center but has its detailed and intricate border nearly intact. This and other mosaics in the former villa are uncovered, crisscrossed by raised walks and borders so visitors can get a good view. The area was so large that some of the lesser mosaics are left unprotected, and visitors actually walk on them.
It is said the mosaics are best seen after a light shower or with water sprinkled on them to bring out the color. We saw them under an overcast but dry sky and were still impressed, but would have loved to see them shine. [more]
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:24:49 AM::
~ JOB: Generalist @ Trent (10 Month)
The Department of Ancient History and Classics invites applications for a 10-month limited term position at the rank of Lecturer or Assistant Professor, depending on qualifications and teaching experience, to begin September 1, 2005. We also anticipate covering additional courses on a stipendiary basis. All appointments are subject to final budgetary approval. Our teaching needs will include: AHCL 100 (The History of Greece, to the decline of the city states) at both our Peterborough and Oshawa campuses; Greek 100 (Elementary Greek) or Greek 200 (Intermediate Greek); AHCL 231H (Women in the Greek World, c.700-300 B.C.) and AHCL 232H (Women in the Roman World, 100 B.C. – A.D. 300), along with a 300-level theatre-based course in Greek Drama. The ‘H’ denotes one-term courses; the others are all two-term courses It is expected that the limited term position will cover our needs in Greek History and Greek Language, but other combinations from among the courses listed may be possible. The remaining courses will be staffed on a stipendiary basis.
Candidates should have completed, or be very close to completing, a PhD and be able to demonstrate a strong commitment to teaching excellence.
Please submit a complete dossier, including curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, one writing sample, documentation of teaching effectiveness and graduate transcripts to: Professor Christopher W. Tindale, Chair, Department of Ancient History and Classics, Lady Eaton College, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada K9J 7B8. Closing day for applications is March 11, 2005. Enquiries: FAX: (705) 748-1131; e-mail: email@example.com
Trent University is an employment equity employer and especially invites applications from women, aboriginal persons, visible minorities and disabled persons. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.
... seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:15:49 AM::
Issue 7.44 of our Explorator Newsletter has been posted ... the weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings should be coming later today (depends on how crazy I get from doing report cards) ...
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:14:16 AM::
~ Classics Bee
Never heard of a Classics Bee before ... from the Review-Atlas:
For the first time in its six year history, the Monmouth Classics Bee will have some new faces: Roseville students.
"With the onset of consolidation, it made absolute sense to invite the Roseville students to participate with the Monmouth schools in the Classics Bee this year and find out what it is all about," said MHS Latin teacher Brian Tibbets. "We are thrilled that they are able to participate."
The Monmouth Classics Bee will be held on Wednesday, March 2 at 7 p.m. in the Monmouth High School Gymnasium. The event is free and open to the public.
The Classics Bee, similar to a geography or spelling bee, tests the students on their knowledge of the culture of ancient Greece and Rome, derivatives of Latin and Greek words, history, and mythology.
"It's an event that celebrates the extraordinary influences these societies have had on our language, government, and history. It's a great way to introduce Greek and Roman culture to younger kids," Tibbets said.
Over 300 students in grades 5-8 at Lincoln, Immaculate Conception School, Central Junior High School and Roseville Elementary took a qualifying test of twenty-five questions written by Tom Sienkiewicz, Minnie Billings Capron Professor of Classics at Monmouth College. The Monmouth High School Latin Club officers graded these tests and the qualifiers were chosen. The top three contestants will receive Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), Regulus (The Little Prince), or Latin Fairy Tales, a $50 savings bond, and a trophy. All participants receive a certificate and a button with a Latin inscription. [more]
::Sunday, February 27, 2005 9:12:55 AM::