Latest update: 4/1/2005; 5:32:41 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem v nonas martias

  • Festival of Mars continues (day 3)
  • 262 A.D. -- martyrdom of Marinus and Asterius

::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:50:57 AM::
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~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's selection:

gelid @ (good word to use today in these parts)

adjudicate @ Merriam-Webster

bibacious @ Wordsmith

rusticate @ Worthless Word for the Day

Meanwhile, the My Word feature at the Classics Technology Center features words describing 'on the road professionals'

::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:46:36 AM::
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~ Nuntii Latini

Eventus electionum Iraquiae (25.2.2005)

Ex electionibus in Iraquia mense Ianuario exeunte habitis superior discessit coalitio musulmanorum shiitarum nomine Foedus Iraquiae unitae, cum suffragiorum duodequinquaginta centesimas (48%) sibi conciliavit.

Quae cum ita sint, dubium non esse videtur, quin Ibrahim al-Jaafari, quem illa factio victrix consensu omnium candidatum suum rei publicae administrandae elegit, princeps minister Iraquiae futurus sit.

Creditur Ijad Allawi, praeses administrationis temporariae, mox munus deponere cogi, cum partes eius sententiarum nonnisi quattuordecim centesimas (14%) acceperint.

Ahmad Chalabi, politicus shiita et candidatus Americanorum, ultimo momento certamine desistere decrevit.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:42:08 AM::
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~ Akropolis World News

Latest headlines from Akropolis World News (in Classical Greek):

Saddam tribunal judge killed - Teachers in Berkeley refuse to give homework

::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:40:46 AM::
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~ History of Boxing

The has a history of boxing ... here's the part that pertains to our purview:

Six-thousand year old hieroglyphs from ancient Egypt profile men engaged in the manly art. In 900 B.C. Theseus, son the Greek monarch Aegeus, introduced boxing to his soldiers as a way to kill time. The men would wrap their hands in leather, sit on large stones in the hot sun, and pound each other to death. Theseus grew bored with that after a while, so he introduced the myrmekes, metal spikes inserted into the leather gloves, to help liven things up.

The classical Greeks, who honored athleticism along with art and intellect, brought boxing into the big-time at the XXIII Greek Olympiad in 688 B.C. The Olympics were founded by Oxylos a hundred years earlier, in 776 B.C., as an athletic festival to honor Zeus, king of the gods. The festivities lasted five days and were held at Olympia in the Peloponnesos every four years. Those Olympics excluded team sports in lieu of individual achievement and included discus and javelin throwing, the long jump, running, wrestling and the pentathlon, in addition to horse and chariot races. Given the high-toned company, it’s no surprise that boxing fit in as well as it did.

That was a turning point in the realm of fistiana. Boxing was finally legit. The world’s first champion was Onamastus of Smyrna and he was crowned with a wreath of olive branches. The earliest written record we have of boxing came from Homer in the 23rd book of The Illiad. In the 8th century B.C. he put his pen to paper, his quill to parchment, and gave the world its first fight coverage. Homer wrote of a tussle in 1184 B.C. during the Fall of Troy between Epeus, king of a tribe from the Peloponnesian peninsula, and Euryalus, son of King Mecisteus. They fought at the funeral games of Petrocles, in a fight promoted by Achilles. The stakes were high, as usual, even for contests of this sort. Not only was the two men’s honor at stake. There were exotic prizes.

The winner won a mule. The loser got a drinking cup.

How did Homer call it?

Amid the circle now each champion stands,
And poises high in the air his iron hands,
With clashing gauntlets now they fiercely close,
Their crackling jaws re-echo to the blows,
And painful sweat from all their members flows,
At length Epeus dealt a weighty blow
Full on the cheek of his unwary foe.

There’s nothing like a one-punch knockout to set the record straight.

Boxing in ancient Greece wasn’t that different from boxing today. The combatants trained in gymnasiums, as modern boxers do, with a regimen of calisthenics, diet, shadowboxing and roadwork. They practiced their punching on speedbags filled with fig seeds and grain. They performed in stadiums. There were no body shots, clinching, hooks or uppercuts in those days. There were no rounds, decisions or TKOs. These refinements were still to come. The fight was over when one of the fighters could fight no more.

He admitted defeat by raising his index finger.

In some ways that was the last gasp of civilized behavior vis-à-vis the fistic arts for many years. The pancratium was introduced at the 38th Olympiad. Like boxing in one respect, the pancratium permitted punching, but the pancratium also allowed wrestling, tripping, kicking, stomping, hair pulling, eye gouging and strangulation. By upping the ante in such a manner, the good old Greeks – in anticipation of the Romans - were traveling that long and winding road from heavenly heaven to hellish hell, and the crowd, as crowds often do, ate it up.

Art from that time depicts a lively interest in pugilism. A Minoan vase from Cyprus from 1600 B.C. called Boxing Rython shows two cartoon characters sparring. A Greek urn from Rhodes circa the 6th century B.C. depicts four men at a boxing match: two boxers going at it, with a chief second on the right to offer assistance, and a ref on the left holding a stick with which to enforce the rules. There is a bronze statue in Rome’s National Museum from the late Hellenistic period of a seated pugilist. His smashed nose, misshapen lips and cauliflower ears attest to a profession like no other.

Greece fell to the Romans in 146 A.D. The Holy Roman Empire was in full swing by then, and when the Romans got their hands on boxing they would not let go. The Romans introduced the sport at the Games in the Colosseum. The Colosseum held 50,000 screaming fans and featured such time-honored features as chariot races, animal hunts, sea battles, gladiators fighting to the death, and that all-time crowd favorite, feeding Christians to the lions. Among such fiendish amusements, the simplicity of two men fighting with bare fists had to be jazzed up to satisfy the Romans’ bloodlust.

Because the fighters were either slaves or convicted criminals or prisoners of wars, the Romans could do pretty much with their captives as they chose, so the Romans looked to the past, as men have looked to past ever since, saw the Greek myrmekes and spun it into the Roman caestus. The caesti were hard leather gloves that covered the hands, wrists and forearms, and into which metal studs, teeth and spikes were inserted. Boxing and the Roman Colosseum were now a perfect fit. The phrase “killer punch” took on a whole new meaning.

The Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid from the 1st century A.D. wrote rhapsodically about the caestus.

From somewhere he produced the gloves of Eryx
And tossed them into the ring, all stiff and heavy,
Seven layers of hide and insewn lead and iron.
You can still see the blood and splash of brains
That stained them long ago.

A century later, a Latin poet named Lucilius wrote about a fighter’s misshapen mug: “Having such a face, Olympicus, go not to a fountain nor look into any transparent water, for you, like Narcissus, seeing your face clearly, will die, hating yourself to death.” Lucilius also wrote in his Epigrams: “Onesimus the boxer came to the prophet Olympus wishing to learn if he was going to live to an old age. And he said, Yes, if you give up the ring now, but if you go on boxing, Saturn isn’t in your horoscope.” [the whole thing]

::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:23:44 AM::
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~ Reviews from RBL

Hans Dieter Betz, The "Mithras Liturgy": Text, Translation and Commentary, Review of Biblical Literature

Dennis R. Macdonald, Does the New Testament Imitate Homer?: Four Cases from the Acts of the Apostles


::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:17:33 AM::
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~ Odysseus Redux

The incipit of a piece in the Telegraph:

What would happen to Odysseus today if he were to find himself washed up on yet another alien shore? Would he be greeted by Nausicaa and her beautiful attendants and feasted by the King? Or would he find himself caught up in a brutal bureaucratic nightmare with the immigration authorities?

This is the starting point of David Farr’s thrillingly imaginative and absorbing retelling of The Odyssey, which he has freely adapted from Homer’s 2,8000-year-old epic and made startlingly resonant for today.

As Odysseus comes round from his latest ducking he is greeted by two sinister men in black raincoats who might have stepped straight out of a play by Harold Pinter. They interrogate him about who he is and where he has come from. When he tells them that he is Odysseus, Greek hero and sacker of Troy, and that he longs to return home, they think he is taking the mickey and bang him up in a detention centre.

It’s a dramatic conceit that reminds us that the world today is full of people like Odysseus, lost, dispossessed and desperately seeking a safe haven. Few however have Odysseus’s resources when it comes to courage and cunning. [more]

::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:15:26 AM::
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~ Pilfering Picus

From the News and Star comes one of the best examples of a slow-news-day story that I've ever seen:

A MISCHIEVOUS woodpecker is stealing the limelight at Birdoswald Roman Fort.

Not content with its fair share of bird feed left out by staff at the fort, the greedy woodpecker is returning for second helpings, pilfering food intended for Birdoswald’s resident endangered red squirrels.

Nicknamed ‘Woody’ and identified as a greater spotted woodpecker, the bird has twice shattered the Perspex feed container in as many weeks, leaving the squirrels to go hungry.

Elaine Watson, general manager at Birdoswald said: “He can see the squirrel food through the Perspex and throughout the day, we can hear him tapping away relentlessly at the container.”

Birdoswald Roman Fort is the latest site to be added to English Heritage’s portfolio of historic monuments in the North West.

In December 2004, Cumbria County Council handed over a standard, symbolically marking a new era for the popular ancient stronghold, which attracted 35,000 visitors last year alone.

Built around 122AD to hold some 1,000 soldiers, Birdoswald is one of the largest of the 16 forts situated along the length of Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire at the peak of its power.

I'm sure there's an omen in there somewhere ...

::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:13:13 AM::
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~ Reviews from BMCR

A. F. Natoli, The Letter of Speusippus to Philip II. Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary. Historia Einzelschrift 176.

Owen P. Doonan, Sinop Landscapes: Exploring Connections in a Black Sea Hinterland. Philadelphia: 2004.

 Widu-Wolfgang Ehlers (ed.), Aetas Claudianea. Eine Tagung an der Freien Universität Berlin vom 28. bis 30. Juni 2002.

::Thursday, March 03, 2005 5:08:23 AM::
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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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