Latest update: 4/1/2005; 5:33:14 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem ix kalendas apriles

  • Festival of Mars (day 24)
  • Quando Rex Comitavit Fas -- a somewhat obscure entry in the Roman calendar which seems to hearken back to the days of the monarchy. A plausible explanation connects this with the fact that this was one of the days when the ancient Comitia Calata would 'witness' wills, and so other legal matters could not take place until the king had dismissed the comitia.


::Thursday, March 24, 2005 5:32:34 AM::
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~ Happy Birthday

... to Jim Davila's Paleojudaica blog ... still going strong after two years now!

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 5:28:29 AM::
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~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's selection:

categorical @ Merriam-Webster

execrable @ Wordsmith

millihelen @ Worthless Word for the Day

The My Word feature at the Classics Technology Center includes words associated with Roman money.

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 5:25:19 AM::
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~ TOC: Classical Antiquity 24.1

Titles and abstracts from the latest Classical Antiquity

David F. Elmer, Helen Epigrammatopoios

Ancient commentators identify several passages in the Iliad as "epigrams." This paper explores the consequences of taking the scholia literally and understanding these passages in terms of inscription. Two tristichs spoken by Helen in the teikhoskopia are singled out for special attention. These lines can be construed not only as epigrams in the general sense, but more specifically as captions appended to an image of the Achaeans encamped on the plain of Troy. Since Helen's lines to a certain extent correspond to the function and style of catalogic poetry, reading them specifically as captions leads to a more nuanced understanding of both Homeric poetry and Homeric self-reference. By contrasting Helen's "epigrams" with those of Hektor, one can also discern a gender-based differentiation of poetic functions.

Catherine M. Keesling, Misunderstood Gestures: Iconatrophy and the Reception of Greek Sculpture in the Roman Imperial Period

Anthropologists have defined iconatrophy as a process by which oral traditions originate as explanations for objects that, through the passage of time, have ceased to make sense to their viewers. One form of iconatrophy involves the misinterpretation of statues' identities, iconography, or locations. Stories that ultimately derive from such misunderstandings of statues are Monument-Novellen, a term coined by Herodotean studies. Applying the concept of iconatrophy to Greek sculpture of the Archaic and Classical periods yields three possible examples in which statues standing in Greek sanctuaries may have inspired stories cited by authors of the Roman imperial period as explanations for the statues' identities, attributes, poses, or locations. The statues in question are the portrait of the athletic victor Milo of Croton at Olympia, a bronze lioness on the Athenian Acropolis identified as a memorial to the Athenian prostitute Leaina ("lioness"), and the Athena Hygieia near the Propylaia of Mnesikles.

Inscriptions on the bases of Archaic and Classical statues in Greek sanctuaries typically named the dedicator, the recipient deity, and the sculptor, but did not include the subject represented or the historical occasion behind the dedication. These "gaps" left by votive inscriptions would only have encouraged the formation of iconatrophic oral traditions such as the examples examined in this article.

Leslie Kurke, Choral Lyric as "Ritualization": Poetic Sacrifice and Poetic Ego in Pindar's Sixth Paian

The ego or speaking subject of Pindar's Sixth Paian is anomalous, as has been acknowledged by many scholars. In a genre whose ego is predominantly choral, the speaking subject at the beginning of Paian 6 differentiates himself from the chorus and confidently analogizes his poetic authority to the prophetic power of Delphi by his self-description as [greek text]. I would like to correlate Pindar's exceptional ego in this poem with what has recently emerged as the poem's exceptional performance context. Following Ian Rutherford's 1997 discovery of a second marginal title for the third triad ("For the Aiginetans, a prosodion to Aiakos"), we might postulate performance by two choruses: the first two triads sung by a Delphian chorus stationary at the altar, the last triad sung by an Aiginetan chorus as they process to the altar. The need to reconcile within the poem and the space of performance two choruses, two communities, and two local mythic traditions generates the strikingly prominent speaking subject of Paian 6 as a mediating figure.

Gottfried Mader, History as Carnival, or Method and Madness in the Vita Heliogabali

The Vita Heliogabali in the Historia Augusta consists of a political-biographical first section (1.4-18.3), generally considered to be historically useful, followed by a fantastic catalogue of the emperor's legendary excesses (18.4-33.8), generally dismissed as pure fiction. While most of these eccentricities are probably inventions of the "rogue scholar," it is argued that the grand recital of imperial antics, more than just a detachable appendix, serves a demonstrable ideological purpose and is informed by a unifying rationale, which in turn helps explain the "Lampridian" Elagabalus as historiographical construct. Within the sequence of Antonine biographies Elagabalus, ultimus Antinonorum, marks the climax in a progressive tendency towards tyranny and is accordingly styled as transcendental despot; multiple topoi from the literary tradition provide the generic coordinates for this larger-than-life portrait. Food and sex in particular, both typical elements in this context, are inflated in Heliog. into major thematic systems to signal the emperor's tyrant status, to bring out his distinctive attention to aesthetics, and to enhance the Life's literary cohesion.

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 5:10:27 AM::
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~ New Classics Minor

From the Ithacan ... the newspaper of Ithaca College ... lots of reasons to take Classics in this one:

Students interested in classical studies now have the opportunity to add a minor in the subject beginning next fall.
The area of classical studies concentrates on the languages, culture and literature of ancient civilizations such as Greece and Rome, as well as related traditions that have impacted the Western world over time. The program may be of particular interest to students concentrating in a wide range of areas, including modern languages, literature, communication, law and politics, said Robert Sullivan, assistant professor of speech communication and director of the new classical studies minor.
The new program is an interdisciplinary study encompassing course material from several departments in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Sullivan said. There is no limit on the number of students who can minor in the classical studies program, and all are welcome to consider it, Sullivan said.
The minor is designed to have flexibility in fitting around student interests and has three major components. Students must satisfy requirements in classical languages and classical history and culture, and must also select electives.
The classical languages portion of the program requires six credits of Latin or Greek above the introductory level. Though Greek is not offered at the college, the program accepts previously earned credit or credit from Cornell University.
Classical history and culture requirements call for three courses from three different departments, giving the student a choice between a variety of courses in art history, English, history, philosophy and religion and speech communications. Finally, six credits worth of electives in related fields listed under the program syllabus or others approved by the program coordinator are also required.
The key to the construction of the minor program was the revival of offering Latin at the college this year, Sullivan said. He credited the generosity of Michael Twomey, professor of English, who agreed to teach Latin this year as an overload. The college then realized the demand for the subject and later hired another professor to teach the subject in addition to Twomey, said Sullivan and others involved in planning the minor.
“For years, Latin was the missing link needed to create the program,” said Nancy Ramage, assistant professor of art history, who helped to plan the new minor.
But the great thing about the concentration is that it recognizes that it is not just the language alone that is important, Sullivan said. The study of culture, law and art are also crucial. “It’s exploratory. It’s meant to be interdisciplinary,” he said. Sullivan said he hopes the program will grow in the coming years. Though he is unsure of the exact number of students who will be entering the minor, he did note that the creation of the program was driven by student interest.
“More and more students are coming in with stronger interests,” he said. “For the past few years, we’ve been having contact with students who have a desire for, or already have, competency in the area.”
Ramage noted the field’s relevance to many different career fields.
“Work in classical studies is a useful source of training for anyone,” she said. “We hope that students will come out of the program with a well-rounded background that will guide them in their future.”
Sophomore politics major Alissa Palumbo was one of the first to sign up for the minor. Palumbo first heard about the program last spring when it was still in its primary stages of planning, and was eager to learn more.
“I’m planning to attend law school, and classical studies will definitely be very helpful,” she said.
The area of classical studies is a powerful tool for any student, as it will allow them to have direct access to texts and their meaning, Sullivan said.
“When you open a book and are able to think the same thoughts as the writer did, in the same language in which they did it, it is such a revelation,” he said.
Sullivan worked with a small planning committee which included faculty from four departments within the School of Humanities and Sciences. The process was relatively quick, taking less than a year to coordinate. The minor incorporates requirements from courses already available at the college, which facilitated the process, he said.

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 5:03:33 AM::
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~ Schiavo Case as Antigone?

Interesting analogy mentioned in passing in a Washington Times editorial:

Questions naturally emerge from moral and legal spheres, which taken together are worthy of the arguments drawn by Sophocles in "Antigone," the ancient Greek tragedy that explores conflicts that arise when state power is assumed to be greater than divine power, when a king takes away the rights of a family to follow traditional burial rites. Did Creon or Antigone have the better argument?

The moral issue in the Schiavo case is a simple one: Given the medical doubts about Terri Schiavo's diagnosis, we must ask: Should any patient be left to die without food and water when we are not absolutely, positively sure that's what she would want? The legal issue, after 15 years in a state court system that has sided with a husband seeking her death, further requires us to ask whether it's right for the federal courts to interfere with the courts of a state.

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 5:00:26 AM::
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~ Fox Legacy at Monmouth

Nice little item from the Register-Mail:

During the 1970s, when many colleges were abandoning the teaching of Latin and Greek, a Monmouth College classics professor fought successfully to preserve her department. Now, her legacy is helping to keep it that way.

Bernice Fox, a diminutive but determined woman, was Monmouth's one-person classics department in the '70s, teaching all levels of Latin language and literature, classical mythology, word elements and elementary Greek. Shortly after her retirement in 1981, she ensured that the department she had helped build over three decades would be preserved, stipulating in her will that the bulk of her estate should support a professorship in classics.

Recently, Monmouth College received a $400,000 check from the estate of Fox, who died in 2003 at age 92. The bequest completes funding for the Minnie Billings Capron Chair of Classical Languages, which had its beginnings in 1979 with a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The professorship received its name in 1985 when the son of a former classics student made a significant gift to honor his mother's memory.

"The classics are important," Fox once wrote, "because they give people a deeper understanding of the world around them - the cultural, historical and linguistic background of our whole civilization. They develop well-rounded human beings, bringing wisdom, not just knowledge."

Professor Tom Sienkewicz, who has occupied the classics chair at Monmouth for the past 20 years, said that even after her death, Fox is well remembered not just at Monmouth but in classics circles everywhere. "Bernice inspired so many students to pursue careers teaching Latin and the classics that her influence is still being felt in classrooms across the United States," he said. "She also provided 36 years of leadership to Eta Sigma Phi, the national classics honorary, and left a substantial bequest to that organization, which she did much to shape."

Fox's name lives on in an annual classics lecture and a nationwide writing contest for high school students. For the past 20 years, the Bernice L. Fox Lecture has brought experts to Monmouth College to speak on such topics as Greek and Roman history, archaeology, linguistics and ancient culture. The Fox Classics Writing Contest annually awards a cash prize for the best student essay on a topic related to the classics.

Following Fox's death, Richard Lederer, a nationally-known author and columnist who delivered the 1992 Fox Lecture, wrote: "Bernice Fox was the truest of teachers, one who, in the words of Henry Brook Adams, 'affects eternity. No one knows where [her] influence stops.' I quickly came to see how many devotees she gathered into her circle of the love of learning. Certainly I was one of them."

I like that idea of Classics imbuing wisdom ... we should be pushing that as a major difference between Classics and, say, the hard sciences ...

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 4:50:36 AM::
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~ Another USA-as-Rome Thing

Another USA-as-Rome piece in the Eureka Reporter gives me an opportunity to vent about something that's been bothering me since I last gassed up my car:

Since it’s raining on (Saturday’s) anti-war parade, I thought that I’d write this letter of pain and frustration for the United States of America changing from a land of promise to a latter-day failing “Roman Empire.”

In the days leading up to our brazen and stupid war in Iraq, I sent e-mails to friends far and wide, urging them to do what ever they could to prevent the war from coming to be. While many wrote back notes of agreement, one wrote out of the blue that not only was he all for war in Iraq, he was “proud to be a Roman!”

The writer’s pride in being a “Roman” is an apt metaphor for what seems to be an inevitable decline for this country.

The U.S.A., like Rome, sends its legions on imperial missions in foreign lands to bring riches home to the empire. Apparently, in the buildup of these empires are the seeds of their destruction, because they can’t restrain or sustain their greed. [more]

Okay ... how long has the U.S. been in Iraq? Remember we were told by assorted media outlets that it was all about oil? Well if it was all about oil, how come in Canada (and the U.S.) we are now paying record amounts to fill up our gas tank? (we're still a lot cheaper than Europe, but it just doesn't make sense from a supply-and-demand standpoint)

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 4:47:23 AM::
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~ Getting Through the Iliad

The York Excalibur has an item written by a student about how he 'dealt with getting through' the Iliad ... personally, if I ever find things 'difficult to digest', I've tended towards 'illustration' rather than the dialogue technique; teachers should encourage doodling in margins ...

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 4:42:07 AM::
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~ Electronic Textual Editing

This was on the ANE list ... As long as we're talking about 'electronic texts' (see below ... I've never liked the phrase "electronic text") folks might also be interested in perusing a forthcoming MLA volume which is available on the web: Electronic Textual Editing features (inter alia) an article by the Perseus Project's Anne Mahoney all about electronic publication of epigraphic stuff ...

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 4:34:19 AM::
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~ Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity

An "electronic second edition expanded and revised from the version published by the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies in 1989" version of Charlotte Roueche's Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity has been put up on the web. If you've never taken it off the shelf at your library (if your library has it), it has a great number of mostly Greek inscriptions that one can spend hours thinking about ...

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 4:29:57 AM::
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~ AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest

::Thursday, March 24, 2005 4:22:45 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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