Latest update: 4/1/2005; 5:33:03 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xvii kalendas apriles

  • Festival of Mars continues (day 16)
  • 37 A.D. -- death of the emperor Tiberius at Misenum
  • 284 A.D. -- martyrdom of Hilarius and companions
  • 1900 -- Arthur Evans purchases the land around Knossos

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:47:03 AM::
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~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's selection:

fugacious @ (great word!)

indoctrinate @ Merriam-Webster

hendecagon (and variations) @ Wordsmith

adaemonist @ Worthless Word for the Day

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:40:22 AM::
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~ Nuntii Latini

Dies feminarum Istanbuliae (11.3.2005)

Die Martis (8.3) dies internationalis feminarum celebratus est. Pridie eius diei mulieres in viis urbis Istanbul pro suis iuribus reclamitantes a custodibus publicis abire iussae sunt, quia nullam licentiam reclamitationis haberent.

Cum mulieres non oboedivissent, custodes illas violentissime aggressi sunt.

Quid feminis reclamantibus in Turcia fieret, per canalem televisificum Istanbuliensem monstratum est: Adhibitis fustibus et piperatis aerosolis custodes coetum reclamantium disperserunt, quasdam ex eis in terram deiectas calcibus feriebant, sexaginta reclamatrices deprehensas in carceres coniecerunt.

Ita dies internationalis feminarum Istanbuliae inauguratus est.

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

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:36:46 AM::
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~ Another Roman Coin Hoard

From King's Lynn Today:

Stephen Brown was on farmland when he stumbled across 25 second century bronze coins and a gold ring dating from the fourth century.
The piece of jewellery, which measures 3mm across, was slightly "squashed" when Mr Brown discovered it last March.
It is currently being analysed by experts at the British Museum in London.
The coins, which were found in November last year, have pictures on them of Hadrian, the Roman Emperor who ruled from 117 AD to 138 AD.
The hoard was declared treasure trove at an inquest in Lynn's St Margaret's House on Thursday.
Coroner Bill Knowles described the finds as "somewhat unusual".
Mr Brown, of Wormegay, was on the unidentified farmland with the permission of a local farmer. The two will split the profit from his find.

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:31:14 AM::
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~ Syllabus Changes for Latin in the UK

From the Guardian:

Latin and Greek, increasingly regarded as "dying" subjects in schools, got a helping hand yesterday with syllabus changes designed to encourage more take-up.

Students learn less vocabulary and do less coursework under changes by the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA board - the only exam body with these subjects at GCSE and A-level. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said it had approved syllabuses to be taught from this September, after consulting classicists at Oxford and Cambridge and elsewhere, examiners, and teachers. Last year the biggest board, the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, dropped GCSE and A-level Latin and Greek from next year after a sharp downturn in entries. Classics teachers reacted with fury, and warned it could spell the end for Greek in particular.

Ken Boston, the QCA's chief executive, said: "Classical languages are a vital part of our common heritage ... too often taught in many schools as 'twilight' subjects, outside the timetable, placing additional demands on both teachers and students alike. I hope these adjustments will encourage more schools and students to take up Latin and classical Greek."

An excerpt from icWales adds more details:

Teenagers studying Latin and Greek will have to learn fewer words and study less ancient literature under reforms to exams.

The OCR exam board - the only board offering GCSEs and AS-Levels in Classical languages - said the changes were aimed at encouraging more people to take Latin and Greek.

Students taking GCSE Greek may, for example, need to understand passages from Homer's Iliad in Greek but will no longer be required to know the rest of the story from an English translation.

The list of compulsory words that must be mastered for GCSE Latin exams is to shrink from 550 for the higher tier paper to 450, a spokesman for OCR said.

For Greek, the vocabulary list will be cut from 500 words to 365.

Coursework will also be cut from 3,000 words to 2,000 words and oral coursework will be scrapped, the board said.

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:26:49 AM::
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~ Latest Atlantis News

This week, Atlantis might be in Cuba ... or maybe Spain ....

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:23:31 AM::
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~ Defending the Greeks

Amicus noster Bruce Thornton has a piece in the Hellenic News of America ... here's the incipit:

The centrality of the ancient Greeks to the foundations of Western Civilization once was an obvious truth, one memorably expressed by the poet Shelley when he said, “We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their roots in Greece.” 120 years later, Edith Hamilton agreed, writing in her classic The Greek Way, “There is no danger now that the world will not give the Greek genius full recognition. Greek achievement is a fact universally acknowledged.” Yet it took a mere fifty years to prove Hamilton wrong about that universal recognition, for in many colleges and universities today the phrase “Greek genius” is considered reactionary and ethnocentric, nowhere more so than among the professional classicists who are the presumed caretakers of that tradition.
One famous columnist and classicist, for example, scorns the “rather gaga (or Edith Hamilton) idealization of the 'Greek spirit.'” Another eminent Classical historian, recently moved from Princeton to Stanford, rejects the “now-embarrassing essentialist fantasies about the 'Greek miracle.'” As the sneer quotes around “spirit” and “miracle” show, to these scholars the Greeks aren't so brilliantly original, and in fact, to many classicists the ancient Greeks are guilty of numerous sins for which they should be held to account. This attitude, moreover, creeps into the curriculum and textbooks, and eventually shapes the way the Greek heritage is taught in our schools.
The Afrocentrists, for example, tell us that if there is anything good in Greek civilization, it was all stolen from black Egyptians–– a double historical lie, as the brave Classicist Mary Lefkowitz has demonstrated The feminists tell us that the Greeks oppressed their womenfolk in what one professor calls a “phallocracy,” a regime of sexual apartheid that kept women locked away in dark, dank houses, unnamed and underfed. Some critics fault the Greeks for keeping slaves, others for constructing the non-Greek “other” whom they oppressed and vilified, still others deny any connection at all between the achievements of the Greeks and Western Civilization, instead considering the Greeks to be just another exotic tribe to be examined with the anthropologist's eye.
On every count, then, to many of those entrusted with this priceless Hellenic heritage, the idea of Greek genius and its foundational relationship to Western civilization is a fraudulent, oppressive myth. And that is why this evening, as we celebrate a public servant whose career exemplifies some of ancient Greece's most important contributions to our civilization, I would like to defend the Greeks and their achievements, and talk about exactly what defines their originality and brilliance.

When asked to define the achievement of the Greeks, we usually list the intellectual, artistic, and political equipment we have inherited from them: philosophy, history, logic, physics, criticism, rhetoric, dialectic, dialogue, tragedy, comedy, epic, lyric, aesthetics, analysis, democracy -- these are all Greek words. Taken together they constitute the cultural and mental foundations of Western civilization. Yet such a list perhaps obscures a more interesting question: What is it in the ancient Greek mind that provides the common denominator of all these words?
The answer is that they are all the formalized expressions of the essence of the Greek achievement: critical consciousness. This is the impulse and willingness to stand back from humanity and nature and even the gods, to make them objects of thought and criticism, and to search for their meaning and significance -- “to see life steadily, and see it whole,” as Matthew Arnold put it, instead of remaining enslaved to custom, tradition, superstition, nature, or the brute force of political or priestly elites.
The impulse to critical consciousness has long been recognized as setting the Greeks apart from the other civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean. The Greeks, the 19th century historian Jacob Burckhardt said, “seem original, spontaneous and conscious, in circumstances in which all others were ruled by a more or less mindless necessity.” What distinguished the Greeks from their Mediterranean neighbors, then, was not so much how they lived, but how they thought about how they lived, and how they gave formal expression to this thinking.
Thus, while all ancient societies kept slaves and viewed slavery as a natural, unexceptional practice, only the Greeks made slavery an object of thought. This thinking could lead to a theoretical justification of slavery, as in Aristotle's view of the “natural” slave, the person who by a deficiency of rational self-control could be justly owned and controlled by another. But thinking critically about slavery could also lead to questioning the justice of such an institution, as the early 4th century BC rhetorician Alcídamas did when he said, “The god gave freedom to all men, and nature created no one a slave.”
Or consider war. All ancient peoples made war on their neighbors, competing violently for territory and wealth and honor. So too the Greeks. But to an extent unthinkable for any other ancient people, they thought and wrote about war analytically, so to speak, pondering its meaning and consequences, its complexities and horrors. Nowhere else in the ancient world can one find a work of literature like Aeschylus's Persians, about the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, when the mighty Persian invading armada was destroyed by the coalition of Greek city-states. Although performed a mere eight years later in the very city, Athens, burned by the invaders, in front of an audience of veterans and those who had lost friends and family, the play sympathetically depicts the effects of the defeat on the Persians.
Not only could the Greeks be generous to an enemy, but they could examine critically their own wartime behavior. During the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, Euripides produced plays that sympathetically portrayed the disastrous effects of Athenian policies, and laid bare the suffering, moral corruption, and dehumanizing passions unleashed by war. A mere nine months after the Athenians massacred the males of the Greek island Melos and enslaved the women and children, Euripides staged The Trojan Women (415 BC). In that play he used the brutal aftermath of the mythic Trojan War and the suffering of the surviving women to comment on recent Athenian behavior. The princess Cassandra movingly describes this price of war–– the sons never returning home, the children left orphaned, the wives bereft of protection and support––and with bitter irony finishes, “For such success as this congratulate the Greeks.” How could any Athenian in the audience not think of the Melian wives and children they had sold into slavery less than a year earlier?

I note the piece is also (originally) at Victor Davis Hanson's site ...

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:19:28 AM::
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~ Nomen Omen?

From a Reuters story (via Yahoo):

Sharing a name with the most famous leader of ancient Rome is not always easy when you're a modern politician -- especially on the Ides of March, when the first Julius Caesar was assassinated.

"Let's put it this way, I'm always particularly alert on March 15 and have always come through it fine so far," said Cajus Julius Caesar, a parliamentarian with Germany's opposition Christian Democrats (CDU). "It's not a real worry."

Allowing for the alternative spelling of his forename, his name exactly matches that of his Roman predecessor Gaius Julius Caesar, who was stabbed to death by senators in Rome in 44 BC, on March 15 -- the Ides of March.

Caesar, 54, said on Tuesday that while his name has made it easy for him to stand out in politics, it does have its drawbacks -- especially when people refuse to believe it's genuine.

One member of his party could only respond with sarcasm when the politician first tried to introduce himself.

"I introduced myself as Cajus Julius Caesar, and he replied 'and I'm Napoleon Bonaparte' because he didn't believe me," said Caesar, who hails from western Germany.

Another CDU lawmaker demanded to see his identification.

Caesar, a trained forester, inherited his name from his father and has passed it on to one of his sons. He can only trace his surname back to around 1700, but does not rule out a link with the conqueror of Gaul and invader of Britain.

"I can't prove that I'm related to the Roman general and dictator, but I don't want to rule it out either," he said.

He is also used to meeting incredulity when trying to make reservations or sign contracts -- though he has found ways to turn this to his advantage.

"I've won a few bets with people about my name," he said. "But only for the odd round of drinks or a meal of course."

Despite his namesake's grisly death -- murdered by nobles claiming they were saving the Roman Republic from his dictatorial ambitions -- Caesar says he has no designs upon the highest office and does not expect to die with a dagger in his back.

But this doesn't stop him from wondering.

"If we assume Caesar was 56 when he died, that means I'm only two years away ... perhaps the danger's not over yet!" he said with a laugh. "I'll need to stay alert."

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:15:29 AM::
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~ Pat Burr Retiring

From the Quad-City Times:

Perhaps ultium Romanorum (the last of the Romans) would be best.

Or acta est fibula (the story is done, applaud!), nunc dimittis (now let’s depart) or respice finem (look to the end).

But probably the best Latin phrase for the occasion of Pat Burr’s upcoming retirement is exempli gratia, or by grace of example.

 “His is not just an occupation, but a profession,” said Noah Blaser, one of Burr’s Latin students. “It’s an art.”

Burr is one of three public high school Latin teachers left in the state of Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of education. The others are in West Des Moines and Pekin, Iowa. Burr will retire at the end of the school year from his 40-year stint at Bettendorf High School.

He tells students: “If you’re planning on talking, reading or writing for the rest of your life, you will not regret taking Latin.”

The argument convinced 16 students to take his class this term. He teaches 10 first-year, five second-year and one third-year student in the same class period. Burr teaches philosophy, European history and world history, too.

It is expected that Latin classes will not continue to be offered upon his retirement, he said.

Burr has a way about him that endears him to students, several members of his class said. They bring him pictures for his wall devoted to his strong dislike of cats. They desperately seek the answer of where he went to college. They tease him about the subtle way he seems to know just about everything.

Two of his freshman students took Latin just so they could say they had Mr. Burr for a class.

“His ideas are just insane enough that he can mix them with reality,” Blaser said.

Burr first took Latin at college, an institution which shall remain nameless, because he needed a foreign language credit.

He decided learning Latin was fun. “The language is very mathematical. It is beautiful and simple.”

Then he added while gesturing to his students: “They don’t always agree with that.”

Burr expects that it will take his first week of retirement to clear all of the stuff out of his classroom. After that, he will teach his usual College for Kids class this summer. After that, he is undecided about what he will do.

For his dedication, students are grateful from the ab imo pectore (bottom of the heart).

Elizabeth Flesch said Burr’s compassion for his students is evident. “He sits down and talks with us,” she said. “He really cares.”

“Mr. Burr expects a lot out of all of his students,” said Heather Freedman, Burr’s third-year Latin student.

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:13:18 AM::
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~ Alternatives to "Shut Up"

An excerpt from Neil Steinberg's column in the Chicago Sun-Times:

"Be quiet!" I snapped at my 9-year-old son, "or I'll strip you naked, whip you like a cur, and send you howling back to the fast ships."

We both smiled.

If Mfume is wondering what kind of transcendent parenting moments he'll be missing on the campaign trail, I had one this morning. My son came padding into the office and asked, "What do you want to do?" and I, wiseacre that I am, responded by making fists and lightly pummeling him about the belly.

"There," I said. "Now what do you want to do?"

"Would it be possible," he said, "to read The Iliad?''

Joy. I wanted to bottle that moment, and set it aside eight years, for when a Northbrook police car brings him home at midnight for drinking beer on somebody's lawn. "I thought he was upstairs, asleep, Officer."

When I began reading The Iliad aloud to him a few days ago, I was afraid it wouldn't hold his interest. And while the names can be a bit confusing -- Chryses and his daughter Chryseis, for starters -- he was deeply into it from the start, with Agamemnon and Achilles bickering over a girl. Then Achilles, the great hero, goes to a beach, plops down and cries to his mother, which we enjoyed mightily, particularly when mom, in the fine tradition of mothers everywhere, rushes up to Olympus and demands Zeus favor her son, as if she were marching into the principal's office to complain.

We even had what might be called a learning moment, when, with the Achaean soldiers running around in disorder, a certain smartmouth, Thersistes, stands up and starts mocking the kings.

"That probably wasn't the best time for him to do that," I said, slyly, making a point of memorizing Odysseus' reply, an erudite way of saying "Hey, shut-up."

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:09:25 AM::
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~ Rewriting Myths

This story first popped up yesterday, but it was in the National Post which is pretty much completely payfer ... so, an excerpt from the Canada Free Press (which I've never heard of):

.... While the scholars were busy sanitizing the life and times of Naboth, a group of "literary stars" were involving themselves in what is mainline media-described as "the most ambitious international publishing venture ever". The mission of the literati, headed by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, is the modern rewriting of dozens of ancient myths by the world’s leading novelists–with the books to be issued simultaneously in 30 languages around the globe.

They’ll likely be consulting charts to make sure it’s issued on the night of a full moon.

Atwood, who won 2002’s Booker Prize for The Blind Assassin, is "reinterpreting" the epic Trojan War-era tale of Odysseus and Penelope. She intends to turn the telling of the 2,500-year-old Greek classic upside down with a heroine-centred narrative called The Penelopiad.

"The story as told in The Odyssey doesn’t hold water; there are too many inconsistencies," Atwood said of Homer’s original story in a statement released at the London Book Fair, where the landmark series, The Myths was announced.

The long dead Homer, unfortunately cannot tell Atwood how he would rate her epic works.

It surely must require the most supreme confidence in one’s own talents to set about attacking and rewriting a 2,500-year-old classic.

But there are no guarantees a reading public will be rushing to the stands to pick up simultaneously released copies of The Myths.

Ditto for the arrogance of the Matthews, Lukes and Johns who would dare to rewrite the Bible. They are changing what many accept as the Word of the Lord.

Dreaming in Technicolor or not, there’s always an irksome occupational hazard that comes with being a big-R Revisionist. You can revise anything you want. Problem is, how can you ever make it real?

While I'm a big fan of Atwood, I don't think she has the goods to handle this sort of thing responsibly ... I wonder who else is in on it?

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 6:59:53 AM::
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~ AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT|  Secrets at Delphi
An exploration of the hallowed Greek ground at Delphi, where Zeus's two eagles crossed paths and the Oracle prophesied the fortunes of kings and countries.

8.00 p.m. |DISCC| Superweapons of the Ancient World: The Claw
History says that Archimedes created a terrifying secret weapon that plucked Roman warships from the sea and smashed them against the rocks; could such a devastating weapon have been built using available technology in 213 BC?
9.00 p.m. |DISCC| Superweapons of the Ancient World: The Ram
The team, including top military engineers from the U.S. military academy at West Point, re-creates a Roman tortoise ram and tests it by trying to demolish a specially re-created replica of an ancient six-metre-high, 3.5-metre-thick city wall.

11.00 p.m. |HINT| Aegean: Legacy of Atlantis
This episode of the Emmy Award-winning series explores ancient civilizations that spread through the Aegean Sea and searches for historical roots of some of Western civilization's oldest legends, including an examination of ruins on the Greek Island of Thera (modern-day Santorini) for the basis of the Atlantis legend. On Crete, the Greek mainland, and Turkey, we follow the trail of clues that leads from ancient myths to evidence of the Trojan War, Trojan Horse, Minoan civilization, and the Minotaur. Sam Waterston narrates.

HINT = History International

DISCC = Discovery Channel (Canada)

::Wednesday, March 16, 2005 6:52:18 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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