Latest update: 4/1/2005; 5:33:08 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ Newsletters

Issue 7.47 of Explorator has been put up ... so have the Ancient World on Television listings (weekly version)

::Sunday, March 20, 2005 8:10:22 AM::
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~ Simonides and Memory

A Slate piece on the U.S. Memory Championship (which I forgot to attend)(you knew I'd write that) has this little tidbit:

According to Harvard memory researcher Daniel Schacter, this method of using visual imagery as a mnemonic device was first employed by a Greek poet named Simonides in 477 BC. Simonides was the sole survivor of a roof collapse that killed all the guests at a large banquet he was attending. He was able to reconstruct the guest list by visualizing who was sitting at each seat around the table. What Simonides had discovered was that people have an astoundingly good recollection of location. In his book Searching for Memory, Schacter explains that this same technique was later used by Roman generals to learn the names of thousands of soldiers in their command and by medieval scholastics to memorize long religious tomes. During the 15th and 16th centuries, European mystics created elaborate "memory theaters" consisting of hundreds of fanciful locations in which mystical facts could be deposited.

Here's one version of the tale, from Quintilian (via Lacus Curtius ... read the whole section which includes notes, it's rather good):

The first person to discover an art of memory is said to have been Simonides, of whom the following well-known story is told. He had written an ode of the kind usually composed in honour of victorious athletes, to celebrate the achievement of one who had gained the crown for boxing. Part of the sum for which he had contracted was refused him on the ground that, following the common practice of poets, he had introduced a digression in praise of Castor and Pollux, and he was told that, in view of what he had done, he had best ask for the rest of the sum due from those whose deeds he had extolled. And according to the story they paid their debt.  For when a great banquet was given in honour of the boxer's success, Simonides was summoned forth from the reason, to which he had been invited, by a message to the effect that two youths who had ridden to the door urgently desired his presence. He found no trace of them, but what followed proved to him that the gods had shown their gratitude.  For he had scarcely crossed the threshold on his way out, when the banqueting hall fell in upon the heads of the guests and wrought such havoc among them that the relatives of the dead who came to seek the bodies for burial were unable to distinguish not merely the faces but even the limbs of the dead. Then it is said, Simonides, who remembered the order in which the guests had been sitting, succeeded in restoring to each man his own dead. There is, however, great disagreement among our authorities as to whether this ode was written in honour of Glaucus of Carystus, Leocrates, Agatharcus or Scopas, and whether the house was at Pharsalus, as Simonides himself seems to indicate in a certain passage, and as is recorded by Apollodorus, Eratosthenes, Euphorion and Eurypylus of Larissa, or at Crannon, as is stated by Apollas Callimachus, who is followed by Cicero,Link to the editor's note at the bottom of this page to whom the wide circulation of the story is due. It is agreed that Scopas, a Thessalian noble, perished at this banquet, and it is also said that his sister's son perished with him, while it is thought that a number of descendants of an elder Scopas met their death at the same time. For my own part, however, I regard the portion of the story which concerns Castor and Pollux as being purely fictitious, since the poet himself has nowhere mentioned the occurrence; and he would scarcely have kept silence on an affair which was so much to his credit.

::Sunday, March 20, 2005 8:08:31 AM::
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~ Roman Recipes

Some Roman recipes from Patrick Faas' Around the Roman Table might make your week more interesting ... (put wild boar on your shopping list)

::Sunday, March 20, 2005 7:59:31 AM::
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~ The Fall of the Romans

Interesting tidbit about a local Basque version of Holy Week, inter  alia (from EiTB24):

The Hondarribia Easter has a peculiar event on Easter Sunday (March 27th), when they dramatise the fall of the Roman soldiers. At 10:00 in the morning at the parish, the black curtain covering the High Altar is pulled back, at the same time that the bells ring and the Roman soldiers, who are forming up before the altar, fall to the ground stricken.

Anyone know of similar 'Roman-centric' local variations in regard to Easter?

::Sunday, March 20, 2005 7:56:19 AM::
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~ Orpheus on WYNC

This one was on the Latinteach list ... it's a WNYC radio show about various approaches to the Orpheus myth including Sarah Ruhl talking about her play "Eurydice", film noir adapations, "Disco Orpheus", and an interview with Mary Zimmerman about her adaptation "The Metamorphoses" ....

::Sunday, March 20, 2005 7:52:47 AM::
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~ Review from Scholia

Françoise Dunand and Christiane Zivie-Coche (tr. David Lorton), Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 CE

::Sunday, March 20, 2005 7:48:37 AM::
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~ AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest

::Sunday, March 20, 2005 7:47:30 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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