Latest update: 4/1/2005; 5:32:45 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ NEH Fellowship for Marchesi

From the Hofstra Chronicle:

Classics and Comparative Literature professor, Ilaria Marchesi, recently won a $40,000 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The much sought after grant was presented to Marchesi for her proposal on her research of the epistles of the historical figure Pliny the Younger, a Roman senator who served under the emperors Domitian and Trajan. Pliny's letters have brought about a great deal of research on the Roman social and historical situation and are topic of much criticism, which detracts from their eminence and prestige.

Marchesi's research attempts to reestablish Pliny's prominent position in the tradition of letter-writing.

Prior to joining the University faculty, Marchesi taught for the Department of Classics at Princeton University and taught Italian at St. Mary's College

in Indiana.

A native of Florence, Italy, Marchesi was first exposed to the world of classical studies in high school when she studied at the Classical Lycee in Florence. She moved to the United States in 1999 and attained her master's and Ph.D. in classics at Rutgers University.

With her she brought her love of ancient cultures and languages, but still enjoys returning to her native homeland every summer to visit friends and family and to do research in libraries that preserve manuscripts of ancient texts.

With her newly awarded grant, Marchesi, in her third year as tenure-track assistant professor, plans to take a year of sabbatical to spend time continuing her research and turning it into a book. Her preliminary manuscript has been accepted for publication by Cambridge University Press.

During her leave of absence she will be replaced by a full-time visiting professor chosen from the most certified scholars in the field.

"My absence will not be a disruption to the progress of the classics program, rather, it will be an opportunity for my students to experience a different approach to the discipline of classics," Marchesi said.

Marchesi has devoted a great deal of time to rebuilding the classics program and implementing the study of the Greek and Roman culture at the University.

"With the help of my colleagues in the Department of Comparative Literature and Languages, I devoted all my energies to promote a study that I believe is essential for the education of our students," she said. "I am very proud of the progress we have made."

Marchesi said the reputation of a university grows together with the reputation of its faculty.

"Hofstra faculty should be dedicated and effective teachers, no less than active scholars, deeply engaged in their respective disciplines and renowned outside of our University," she said.

::Saturday, March 05, 2005 8:09:02 AM::
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~ Students in the Ancient World

Another one from the Redlands Daily Facts:

Ancient history became child's play Thursday as sixth-graders in at Sacred Heart Academy broke into teams and took the test of time.

Roman, Greek and Egyptian gods, emperors and pharaohs were impersonated by students who dressed up in costumes to represent their dignitary. Their challenge, as part of their "Walk Through the Ancient World" Social Studies Discovery Day, included answering questions on history for points.

A few days in advance, the sixth-graders began preparing for the challenge, which was presented in a game-show format.

Students studied definitions and people.

In three hours, they reviewed Egyptian pyramids, the Nile the world's longest river cuneiform, cataracts, the 10 plagues, Ramses II, the sun god Ra and Osiris, Egyptian god of the underworld.

Sacred Heart's sixth-graders have already studied ancient Egypt, but the societies of Greece and Rome were new to most of them.

They discovered Greek city states; they talked about Pythagoras and his theorem (A squared plus B squared equals C squared); they touched on comedy, tragedy and philosophy. They met Homer, author of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey." They reviewed the birthplace of the Olympics.

They talked about Rome and the birth of the republic; they talked about emperors like Julius Caesar, gladiators and elections and empires.

The sixth-graders were split into three teams of Greeks, Romans and Egyptians (the Egyptians won the overall challenge) and were given points for presentation of their knowledge, for sportsmanship and proper grammar.

The event was emceed by Van Schipper, a presenter with Tustin-based California Weekly Explorer, who tied everything together using theatrics and comedy.

Teams also got points for life skits about life in the ancient eras.

Alex Dodge, who portrayed Zeus, was the host of Team Greece's game show, which was their rendition to demonstrate life in Greece.

He would shout out questions to the participants, such as "Who was the Greek poet who wrote the Illiad' and the Odyssey'?"

Having fun with the moment, Alex looked at the participants and joked, "In fact, I believe we have Homer here with us in the audience," as everyone turned to Megan Cease, Homer's impersonator. Daniel Moreland, impersonating the Roman slave leader Spartacus, later commented, "It's pretty fun dressing up and doing skits. This is the first time I heard how to say Osiris,' because I didn't knowhow to pronounce it."

Osiris (pronounced oh-sigh-rus) was portrayed by Joe Dolen, who initially dressed up like an Egyptian mummy, adorning himself with tissue paper.

"He was pretty funny," Joe said, referring to Schipper, "which made learning fun. We learned a lot about Roman people and how their empire fell."

Breyana Alonso, who was Greek philosopher Socrates for the day, said, "Van was fun. It was fun to learn about the different cultures."

Moncia Alejandro, dressed up to represent Egypt's Queen Hatshepsut, said, "We became familiar with all the different people and gods. It was some funny stuff."

"It was awesome," said Maggie Buoye, a.k.a. Ramses II. "It was so much fun. I definitely don't want to go back to class right now."

"I liked doing the skits," said Hope Butler, who portrayed Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. "It was fun having everyone play their part."

According to James Long, who was Alexander the Great, his peers prepared their costumes and props during the past four days, and to come up with their skit.

"We've been studying about Egypt, so that was kind of like a review for us," he said, "but all the stuff about Greece and Rome was new. I never knew that Rome was so corrupt."

::Saturday, March 05, 2005 8:06:36 AM::
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~ Bulgarian Update

The latest from the Sofia News Agency:

In the 2005 Bulgarian archaeologists will aim at discovering the body of the ancient Thracian king Seutus III, the archaeologist Georgi Kitov said Friday.

The archaeologists will search for the king's remains at the Goliamata Kosmatka tomb, where they found a bronze helmet with a sign reading that it has belonged to the ancient king.

This is a clear proof that Seutus III has been buried in this place, according to Kitov.

About BGN 180,000 will be needed for three month of excavations, Kitov also said.

The Goliamata Kosmatka finds will be exhibited in full in the National Museum of History in Sofia. After 2006 it is expected to start its journey in the museums worldwide. There have been invitations from the US, Japan, Spain, France and South Korea, the archaeologist said.

::Saturday, March 05, 2005 8:03:54 AM::
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~ Caesarian Misconceptions Redux

We've talked about the origins of the phrase 'Caesarian section' before (especially in the context of its, er, misconceptions) ... today Japan's Daily Yomuri takes the misconceptions to a wholly different level:

Sometimes, however, labor cannot proceed normally to vaginal delivery and the obstetrician must cut through the mother's abdomen into the uterus and remove the baby. This is called a Cesarean section, or C-section, as this is how Julius Caesar was supposedly born. (The name more likely came from a Roman law, the Lex Caesarea, requiring the removal of a fetus from a dead woman before she could be buried.)

I'll assume a gloss isn't necessary ...

::Saturday, March 05, 2005 8:01:36 AM::
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~ JOB: Classical Lit @ Laval


Le Département des littératures désire pourvoir un poste en études anciennes, dans le domaine de la langue et de la littérature latines classiques

-Enseignement aux trois cycles en langue et en littérature latines;
-Enseignement, au premier cycle, de cours de littératures latine et grecque;
-Direction de mémoires de maîtrise et de thèses de doctorat;
-Recherches et publications;
-Contribution aux travaux de líInstitut díétudes anciennes;
-Participation aux activités départementales et universitaires.

-Doctorat dans le domaine désigné;
-Expérience significative de l'enseignement, de préférence au niveau universitaire;
-Expérience pertinente de recherche, publications ou subventions à l'appui;
-Aptitude à travailler en équipe.

Selon la convention collective en vigueur.
L'Université Laval applique un programme d'accès à l'égalité en emploi qui consacre la moitié des postes vacants à l'engagement de femmes.
ENTRÉE EN FONCTION :   Le 1er juillet 2005
Faire parvenir sa candidature accompagnée d'un curriculum vitæ et de trois lettres de recommandation díici le 1er mai 2005
Monsieur François Dumont, directeur
Département des littératures
Faculté des lettres
Pavillon Charles-De Koninck
Université Laval
Québec (Québec)  G1K 7P4  CANADA
Aucune demande par courrier électronique ne sera acceptée.

En accord avec les exigences du ministère de l'Immigration du Canada, cette offre est destinée en priorité aux citoyennes et citoyens canadiens et aux résidentes et résidents permanents du Canada.

::Saturday, March 05, 2005 7:58:12 AM::
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~ Pompeiian Gardens

Some excerpts from Robin Lane Fox's latest column (he writes a gardening column) in the Financial Times:


Ancient gardening has had quite a bit of attention lately and the prettiest of the books on the subject is Gardens of the Roman World, with a text by the sharp-eyed Patrick Bowe. He has some spectacular pictures of modern gardens that he connects to the ancient Roman example, including a handsome water-garden at Hammamet in Tunisia and the prince of all post-Roman gardens, the original Paul Getty Museum garden at Malibu in California. The Getty certainly put post-Roman gardening back on the horticultural map. The main pool garden has a box-edged array of beds that owe a deliberate debt to the ancient Roman gardens at Pompeii and especially Herculaneum on the Bay of Naples. Unquestionably, the Museum Garden is now the finest ancient Roman garden visible in the world.

Nonetheless, I love to imagine the plundered ruins of Pompeii and its houses with the gardens that their many keen owners laboured to give them. In so many ways, they are the forerunners of those show garden designs that turn up yearly at the Chelsea Flower Show.


Did the ancient Pompeiians have any visually exciting ideas? In the past 30 years, we have come to have a better idea of their positioning of plants and shrubs thanks to the brilliant work of the garden archaelogist Wilhelmina Jashemski. She pioneered a technique of exploration that would give us an idea of the lost root systems of plantings in the Pompeiiansí back gardens. She directed attention to the holes that were visible at ground level on newly-cleared areas of garden and that themselves were filled with the pumice dust of the volcanic eruption in August AD79. These well-preserved holes could then be emptied of the pumice and filled with cement so as to give a cast of the shape of the root-ball planted in the original hole. The contours of the surrounding soil enabled her to identify the probable size and identity of the missing trees and original shrubs and vines.

Previous archaeologists had almost entirely ignored the range of evidence for the Pompeiiansí plantings and green spaces. Decades of work have shown how much of the town originally had green spaces, which previous historians had ignored. Big olive trees, rose bushes and small vineyards were plotted with the help of her cavity technique. One or two areas have been replanted in the light of her findings and their general effect is to remind us how much cultivation and production went on within the general area of the cityís walls.

At the same time, much more attention was given to the details of the wall paintings, such a distinctive feature of Pompeiiís most interesting houses. They are the most touching evidence for the styles of small town gardens in Pompeii that we have otherwise lost.

The evidence continues to grow, as it was only in 1979 that one of the most interesting series of paintings was fully revealed in the house now known as the Golden Bracelet. It had the most beautiful pictures of birds, statuary and planting, all shown on a back wall of one of the houseís courtyards. It enhances the visitorís sense of being in a green space and adds the illusion of lush flowers, shrubs and songbirds to what was probably a more mundane back yard in the hard light of day.


Just when the ancient world seems quite close to us, it always turns out to be strikingly different. We can relate to the Pompeiiansí water canals and fountains in their back courtyards. Some of the planting is familiar and there is no end of detail in the outstanding book on the subject, Linda Farrarís Ancient Roman Gardens, published in 2000 and still the most excellent guide to the topic. Farrar has a splendid chapter on ornamental pools in which she arranges surviving examples under seven categories. The pools of Roman Britain, she tells us, tended to be Type A. They are the most boring shape, but we have woken up nowadays and on a generous interpretation, even my gardenís swimming pool would qualify under her more imaginative Type D. Her excellent book shows how much detail has been recovered from gardens all over the Roman Empire in forms of garden design that we still patronise.

What we ignore nowadays are two things: the birds and the masks. The best frescoes at Pompeii show the most lovely birds, ranging from herons to golden orioles. Did the owners have small aviaries in their back courtyards? I doubt if they often did and I suspect the pictures of birds are a substitute for the real thing.

As for the masks, they dangle in the upper sky of some of these paintings and they are echoed by sculpted heads and masks on little pillars in the garden planting. There are also framed plaques with painted scenes, like prints from a special offer in a newspaperís colour magazine. Our designers have not tried to exploit this sort of trick. In frescoes, these painted panels add a further note of eclectic mythology and scenes from stories of the Greek world. There is also plenty of scope for reclining female nudes. As for the dangling masks, some have associations with the world of the theatre, which was so enjoyed in the Pompeiiansí home town. Nowadays, I suppose we would paint the dangling faces of celebrities on pillars to represent their Oscars. I fear I may live to see celebrity culture invading the London back garden in the name of post-classical authenticity.

[... the whole thing]

::Saturday, March 05, 2005 7:56:25 AM::
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~ Apologies

Hesterno die, I posted the date as being

ante diem iv kalendas martias

it should have been

ante diem iv nonas martias

of course. Thanks to all who brought this to my attention (it's an error in my archive; I probably made the same mistake last year).

::Saturday, March 05, 2005 7:51:28 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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