Today Christie's offers us a very nice ca. 2nd century Roman statue of Isis ... details. (I might note in passing that this style of knotting one's 'mantle' in this manner seems to be back in fashion ... at least among the Grade Seven girls in my class.)
FYI: What songs did Nero fiddle while Rome burned?
- Classics lover
• One possibility is "The Wreck of the Old XCVII" (later recorded in MCMXXVII by Vernon Dalhart to become the first record to sell a million).
Seriously, Mailbits.com says Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar couldn't have fiddled while Rome burned in A.D. 64 because the violin wasn't invented until the 1500s. He is reported by the historian Suetonius though to have watched Rome burn while he sang a song about the destruction of Troy.
"The first reference to Nero's fiddling appeared in the mid 1600s. The word 'fiddle' seems to have been used to mean 'engaging in frivolous activity,' not 'playing a violin.' When he was through singing, Nero blamed the fire on the Christians and began the first Roman persecution. Others, pointing to Nero's desire to rebuild Rome on a grand scale, note that the fire was a very convenient way for him to carry out his plans and suggest that he may have caused the fire himself."
The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia notes that among Nero's modest last words were, "What an artist the world is losing in me."
Tony Peyser, a satirist and cartoonist, compares A.D. 64 with the U.S. Capitol evacuation in D.C. 2005: Now, at last, The issue's settled: Nero fiddled, Bush, he pedaled.
While the whole population was in this state of mind and many, crazed by the disaster, were leaping into the very flames, Nero ascended to the roof of the palace, from which there was the best general view of the greater part of the conflagration, and assuming the lyre-player's garb, he sang the "Capture of Troy," as he styled the song himself, though to the enemies of the spectators it was the Capture of Rome.
Viewing the conflagration from the tower of Maecenas and exulting, as he said, in "the beauty of the flames," he sang the whole of the "Sack of Ilium," in his regular stage costume.
The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War more than 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation's wars: "Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men."
The Archaeological Society of Malta has called for the appropriate legal steps to be taken against those responsible for any possible disturbance and destruction of the Roman port remains exposed during trench works in Marsa.
The society said a public inquiry should be ordered since in the opinion of qualified archaeologists, trenching and digging works in the vicinity of the Old Tram Station in Marsa were damaging the archaeological remains.
The issue was broached in yesterday's issue of The Times, which reported that the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage Anthony Pace had asked for the designs for a new storm water channel to be revised if further damage is to be stopped.
The society recommended that professional archaeologists carry out a thorough investigation of the exposed features and possibly of those that may lie buried in the area.
"Such deposits are simply irreplaceable and their loss would mean the loss of significant information concerning Malta's Roman and possibly Byzantine past," society president Patricia Camilleri said. [...]
Considerable archaeological remains extend over most of the footprint of the proposed storm water channel project near Jetties Wharf, Marsa.
Officials from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage have for the past three weeks been monitoring earth clearance at the site in question after the workers accidentally unearthed the Roman remains.
The discovery of ancient harbours is not a usual occurrence and such sites are of inestimable importance for the maritime history of the Mediterranean. The remains spotted today are likely to be the same as those documented in the Museums Department's annual reports of the 1940s and 1950s.
Timmy Gambin, a specialist in ports from the ancient period to the Middle Ages, has described Marsa as an extremely important Roman port in days gone by.
A large Roman town existed in the environs of Marsa, a town that housed people associated with maritime related services including merchants, shipwrights, stevedores and rope makers.
Discoveries add fuel to this theory. In the 1760s, a huge Roman warehouse complex was discovered in Jesuits Hill under the power station. In the 1950s another complex was found near Racecourse Street while in 1956 yet another large complex came to light under the Marsa school where the current excavations are taking place.
The Romans built these harbours as part of a network of havens for the transport of grain, Mr Gambin had said.
The remains strongly suggest that the port at Marsa not only served local needs but also those of Roman ships and traders operating throughout the Mediterranean when Malta was very much part of the connectivity in the Roman world.
From Christie's again comes this rather nice first century Roman cuirassed statue. The details page reveals that it's life size and possibly depicts an emperor (which seems likely). Another one for my 'drapery' collection.
So in the small but passionate world that follows such things, it came as something of a shock when the British newspaper The Independent printed an article in April announcing a major Oxyrhynchus breakthrough.
"Decoded at last: the 'classical holy grail' that may rewrite the history of the world," the headline said. The newspaper went on to say that, that week alone, new infrared technology had allowed researchers "to make a series of astonishing discoveries, including writing by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod and other literary giants of the ancient world."
Immediately, phone lines were buzzing and e-mail was flying. Important discoveries from the collection are generally announced in academic journals and on the Oxyrhynchus Web site before the world at large hears about them. But no such announcements had been made; few people, if any, seemed to know what in fact was going on.
At Oxford, Dr. Dirk Obbink, a lecturer in Greek literature and papyrology who directs a project that among other things puts images of the papyri on the Internet, took the unusual step of issuing a statement that tried to put some of the assertions in context. "The article surely should not have said (if it did) that all the papyri had been discovered yesterday, only that we made significant (and sufficiently exciting) advances," the statement said.
As is so often the case with British newspapers, the Independent article turned out to be both true and not true. It was right to say that new technology was indeed making it easier, in some cases, to read the Oxyrhynchus material, and that new discoveries were being made. But it was not right to say that the technology had just been discovered, or that it was functioning as a sort of Rosetta stone, or that so many new revelations were emerging as to herald "a second Renaissance."
"This stuff has been coming out for years now, and some of the things mentioned in the Independent story are months or years old," said Dr. James Romm, an associate professor of classics at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and the director of its classical studies program. He called the article "very much overhyped" in a field where any public attention at all is rare.
"I'd love to know who first talked to whom in order to generate such good P.R," Dr. Romm said in an interview. "There is material coming out from those authors, but it's coming out in dribs and drabs."
In addition, Dr. Obbink said, there is a newly discovered poem about Narcissus that appears to have been the basis for Ovid's poem on the same subject. He said he was hopeful that the technology would help provide new insights on biblical history by helping to decipher New Testament manuscripts in the collection - including books that did not make it into the New Testament, bits of which are contained in the papyri.
A visit to the project, deep inside Oxford's handsome Sackler Library, shows that work is proceeding much the same way it always has - that is, slowly. Scholars surrounded by fat, obscure reference works sit outside the main office, poring over minute scraps of dirty, frayed material that to an outsider appear wholly undecipherable. Inside, more than 800 boxes are used to store the whole collection. Fragments are mounted on glass when they are being worked on and once they have been published.
The first task is to translate the work into English, usually from ancient Greek. The next is to try to place it somewhere - perhaps within the existing literature, perhaps as something that stands on its own and has yet to be categorized, perhaps as part of a lost work by a known author. The plays of Sophocles would fall into the last category. Though he is known to have written 120 of them, only 7 have survived intact; many of the rest appear in bits and pieces scattered throughout the collection.
Researchers try to date the work from clues like spelling and the way certain words are used; they analyze the writing style to discern whether it is prose or poetry, old or new, history or oratory, and who may have written it.
But the technology can go only so far. "You have to put all your knowledge of language and literature to put a story together and provide a context," Dr. Nikolaos Gonis, the administrator of the project and curator of the collection, said in an interview. "There has been a boom in technology, but it doesn't replace the knowledge of the language and the eye that has to focus on the details."
The technology, multispectral imaging, has dramatically increased the recovery rate. In a pass through a collection of Oxyrhynchus papyri at Oxford University's Sackler Library last month, scholars turned up tantalizing new bits of lost plays by Euripides, Sophocles and Menander and lost lines from the poets Sappho, Hesiod and Archilochus.
"It's one of the most exciting things we've ever done," said Roger T. Macfarlane, a classicist at Brigham Young University. "There are pieces of papyrus that have gesso [a plaster] over the text, but with the filters it's almost like X-ray vision."
A BYU team led by Macfarlane has been using multispectral imaging since 1999, and it turned to the Oxyrhynchus fragments after focusing first on the spectacular Villa of the Papyri, an entire Roman library roasted in place during the fabled eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii in A.D. 79.
Between them, the charred Herculaneum scrolls and the Oxyrhynchus trash are the world's two largest known repositories of previously unread ancient manuscripts -- a collection of staggering potential.
"We have seven plays by Sophocles, and there are about 90 missing. Euripides wrote 100 plays and Menander about 70," said Richard Janko, a classicist at the University of Michigan. "Herculaneum is the only place in the ancient world where a library has been buried, and the garbage dump is almost as good."
Also, the material from Oxyrhynchus, unlike Herculaneum's, "is what people throw away," Obbink said in a telephone interview. "There are private papers, public records, and pieces of Menander and Sophocles. Finding a page from a book is typical."
Obbink, who holds appointments at both Oxford and the University of Michigan, is a leading authority on ancient classics and conservation. He won a 2001 MacArthur Fellowship for his work at both Oxyrhynchus and Herculaneum. In 1996, he reconstructed Philodemus's "On Piety," a treatise on the gods and religion, from seemingly disparate pieces of the Herculaneum scrolls.
At Oxyrhynchus, Obbink is trying to repeat this achievement by recovering Hesiod's "Catalogue of Women," a genealogy describing the love affairs of gods with mortals and the offspring they produced. "We have so many pieces now that the text can be said to exist," Obbink said. "There are a lot of gaps, but you can read it."
Unlike in the European Middle Ages, when books were made of animal hide parchment so costly that virtually no one but the very rich could own one, ordinary citizens had access to papyrus -- the leaf of a common plant -- and they might buy a scroll or, after the 4th century, a loose-leaf book known as a codex.
"There was access to literacy during the Roman period, and many people at least could write their names in their personal dealings," Obbink said. "Some women were literate and were teaching school."
Evidence for all of this can be found in the dump. Obbink said the largest percentage of literary texts at Oxyrhynchus is made up of fragments of Homer, whose archaic Greek was taught in school to hone language skills.
Euripides, Sophocles and Menander were popular authors read for amusement, and when the flimsy pieces started to give way, readers tore off the damaged ones, used the margins for writing notes to themselves and then tossed them in the trash. It worked the other way, too. Literary texts frequently appeared on the backs of recycled personal documents.
Obbink and his colleagues have found a variety of languages and scripts in the fragments. Besides Greek and Latin, they include Hieratic (cursive hieroglyphs), Demotic (hieroglyphic shorthand), Coptic (Egyptian with the Greek alphabet), Aramaic, Hebrew, Persian, Old Nubian, Syriac and, in the later deposits, Arabic.
Obbink is going through 725 boxes of material to pick out the promising fragments, which are assigned to students "who translate them and try to figure them out," he said. "It's part of learning Greek and Latin, and it sharpens your editing skills."
Greek Activities for the week of May 29, 2005
Two new groups are in the organization stage and will start next month:
1) A moderately paced, Attic Greek translation group: about 200-250 words
per week from Xenophon's 'Anabasis'.
This group is set to start Tuesday, June 21, 2005.
For more information, go to: http://www.geocities.com/anabasisgroup/
2) A "whirlwind" rapid, summer Homeric Greek group: This group will be
working through the entirety of Clyde Pharr's 'Homeric Greek: A Book for
Beginners' (starting Wednesday, June 15 and ending Friday, September
2). While Pharr's textbook is intended for the beginner with no Greek
experience, the rapid pace is probably more suited for a review/refresher
(or an introduction to Homeric Greek from someone who's already had a
little Attic). By the end of the course you'll have read 611 lines from
Book I of the Iliad.
For more information, go to: http://www.geocities.com/summerhomericgreek/
This is a summary of current activities on the GreekStudy list, an open
email list dedicated to the study of the Greek language: Homeric, Classical
(Attic), and Hellenistic/Biblical (Koine - none currently active). Active
• RV Schoder & VC Horrigan, 'A Reading Course in Homeric Greek' (Homeric)
• JW White, 'First Greek Book' (Attic)
• Balme & Lawall, 'Athenaze', Book 1 (Attic)
• CAE Luschnig, 'An Introduction to Ancient Greek: A Literary Approach'
Anyone may join or drop a study group at any time. If you are interested
in participating in a particular group: first, check that group's web page;
if you do not find the information you seek, send email to that group's
coordinator. If you wish to start a new group, initiate the discussion on
the list and/or contact one of the coordinators listed below for assistance.
A volunteer coordinator will set a study group's agenda, and will collect
and collate assignments, which are then posted to the list for comparison
If you don't want to see all the postings on the list, please use your
email reader's filtering software. Group-specific postings will have a
group tag in their subject line for easy identification, as indicated below
in square brackets: "Group: [ ... ]". You may also subscribe to the digest
version of the list for easier handling of the list traffic.
Questions should be posted to firstname.lastname@example.org
This activities update is posted weekly, usually on Sunday.
Coordinators: please check your group listing and send updates to Paul
As we know the word “matrimony” is one inherited from our Latin ancestors. Listen as we delve into a conversation touching on all things connected to this subject including flowers, altars, candles and incense...
A happy little Silenus from Christie's graces our At the Auctions feature today. It's a first century Roman askos according to the details page, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees a biker prototype here ...
Los Alamos High School students Karen Mei and Yoda Shimada are members of an elite academic group. They are among the 1 percent of students worldwide who passed the National Latin Exam with a perfect score.
Even among Los Alamos High School's high-achieving students, the feat is not a small one. Christie Marcotte, the school's Latin teacher, said only two other students in the past 13 years have answered every question on the test correctly. "It's pretty amazing that we had two in one year," she said.
Although the study of Latin declined drastically in the 1960s and early 1970s, Latin enrollment has been growing in the last decade, dramatically in some places and some grades.
The number of students taking the National Latin Exam, the largest Latin test in the world, grew from 6,000 students in 1977 to 135,000 this year, said Diane Thomas, National Latin Exam office administrator.
Karen and Yoda said they not only find Latin relevant, but also fun. Karen, 17, said she decided to study Latin because it is the root of all Western languages and she thought it would be fun. The language hasn't disappointed her, she said.
"It's interesting in all aspects," Karen said. That's because it includes the study of history and myths like Jason and the Argonauts, which tells the tale of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece, she said.
Karen said she will probably study literature after high school and might also take some journalism classes.
Yoda, 15, said he has enjoyed translating Latin texts in class. His favorite is a Latin version of The Odyssey, which details the wanderings of Odysseus after the Trojan War. Parts of The Odyssey were in his textbook, he said, and his freshman class translated about 20 pages of the story.
Shimada said he is leaning toward the study of medicine when he graduates from high school and believes his background in Latin will help him understand medical terms.
Marcotte said some people say they don't have an interest in studying Latin because it is a "dead" language, meaning no one speaks it anymore. But she begs to differ.
"I tell them that about 60 percent of what comes out of your mouth is Latin," Marcotte said. English and all the romance languages like French and Spanish are based on Latin, she said.
Studies have also shown that taking Latin gives students a 10 to 20 percent advantage on standardized tests like the SAT because studying the language improves students' vocabulary, Marcotte said.
Both Karen and Yoda agreed. Karen said her understanding of English grammar has definitely improved since taking the class. "The Romans were crazy about grammar," she said. "They had about a gazillion tenses."
Yoda said he does better on his English vocabulary tests because he now knows the Latin roots of English words.
Marcotte said about two-thirds of her students took the National Latin Exam this year, which translates to about 40 students. Students take the exam at the school, and a guidance counselor usually administers it, she said.
According to Marcotte, students in the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Niger Republic, Poland, Switzerland and Zimbabwe took the test this year.
"It's the National Latin Exam," Marcotte said, "but some say it should be called the International Latin Exam."
The National Latin Exam committee is based at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. To learn more about the exam, go to http://www.nle.org.
They had been digging for 12 years, 4 months a year, 18 hours a day. Since 1992, Georgi Kitov and his team have been searching through Bulgaria's Valley of the Kings, a 100-km, heavily forested region in the center of the country. The valley is dotted with ancient burial mounds erected by the Thracians, whose legacy as a pillar of ancient Europe lives on in texts and stories, but whose civilization remains a mystery. Kitov is slowly exploring the necropolis — and making some of the country's most incredible discoveries — in the hopes of adding to historians' limited knowledge of the Thracians, who flourished during the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. in Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Turkey before being conquered by the Romans.
Last July, he was taking a break from the valley to explore an enormous ancient temple near the central village of Starosel. But when the 62-year-old archaeologist, a short, plump man known as Bulgaria's Indiana Jones, got word that looters had been spotted in the valley — at the site of a mid-5th century B.C. tomb near Kazanlak, 170 km east of Sofia — he dropped what he was doing and rushed to the scene. Whatever was in that tomb, Kitov's crew had to get to it first. Otherwise, the tomb raiders could make off with priceless historical artifacts.
So Kitov and crew moved to Kazanlak, to a site near a spring with rumored healing powers. And they began to dig. Finally, about a month later, they struck gold — literally. Inside the tomb, they found the remains of a man who had been chopped into pieces, the bones of his legs, hands and lower jaw positioned carefully on the ground. Next to the dismembered skeleton was a life-size mask made of solid gold. Kitov was so excited, he now can't recall how he reacted. But his teammates remember him grabbing his head with both hands. "It can't be possible," he gasped. "It can't be possible."
The 2,400-year-old mask is just the first in a vast haul of treasures — including a gold ring engraved with the figure of an athlete, and a near-complete set of armor as well as bronze arrowheads, spearheads, swords and breastplates — that together amount to one of the most sensational archeological finds of recent years. The Thracian artifacts were first brought together at Sofia's National Archaeological Museum, but this week they move to a local museum in Kazanlak before heading off to Japan to appear at the World Expo in mid-June. Beautiful and intimidating, these objects bring the legends of a rich and powerful kingdom to life. "We always knew that the Thracians had great wealth from references in ancient texts," says James Sickinger, a professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. "These findings show that the Thracians had wealth that rivaled that of any other great kingdom of the time."
The Thracians were known as great warriors; Spartacus, the gladiator slave who led a rebel war against the Romans, was a Thracian. And they were renowned throughout the ancient world as expert metalworkers; in The Iliad, Homer describes the Thracian King's golden armor as "a wonder to behold, such as it is in no wise fit for mortal men to bear, but for the deathless gods." With little else to go on, historians have tended to rely on ancient Greek depictions of the Thracians as a savage, tribal society that had no politics and no alphabet of its own. But after three months of digging, Kitov surfaced with over 130 pieces of magnificent jewelry, weaponry and ritual artifacts that show Thracian culture rivaled that of the Greeks. They prove that the Thracians were "not a society of barbarians," says Alexander Fol, a Bulgarian expert on Thracian history. "They had a system of values and were consciously abiding by it. This was an aristocratic society with a great hierarchy."
"Carried Away: All About Bags," a book published by The Vandome Press with Hermes Paris, traces handbags in history and includes a lexicon of bags. Among the entries:
• Balantine. Based on the Greek word for purse, "balantion." A type of purse made of leather, fabric or metal, suspended from a long cord, which may be wound around the wrist or the arm. The balantine swings back and forth at knee height as you walk.
• Reticule, also called string bag, mesh bag or net bag. From the Latin word "reticulum." A string bag carried in antiquity as a container for provisions or tools.
• Serviette, attaché case or briefcase. From Latin "servire," which means to be a slave. A rectangular bag with a flap secured by one or more clasps, bellows to separate interior compartments, and with or without handles.
The ancient Romans were notorious borrowers of other religions. After adapting the Olympian gods from the Greeks, many Romans embraced the mystery religions of the Middle East in the second and third centuries. That, oddly enough, set the stage for Christianity and the dawn of the Holy Roman Empire.
"The Romans were the most ecumenical people that ever lived," said Paul Benson, professor of English, religion and humanities at Mountain View College. "They were interested in incorporating the culture of whomever they conquered."
Mr. Benson will provide a glimpse of these religions in a series of lectures, "Religions of Roman Asia," beginning Thursday at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. (In ancient Roman times, "Asia" referred to what is now called the Middle East, including Persia and Egypt.)
The first lecture will focus on "Foundations of the Pharaonic Faith," looking at basic elements of the Egyptian religion. The second lecture, on June 9, will look at "Mother Isis and the Egyptian Holy Family."
"Isis' story is very parallel to that of the Virgin Mother," said Dr. Benson. According to legend, Isis embarked on a pilgrimage to find her murdered husband, parting the Red Sea along the way. She found him, and he sired a son, Horace, who became a sun god.
"The belief was that nobody could gain eternal life without the intervention of the son," said Dr. Benson. Later on, Isis' story "made the Christian story more palatable." He added that Christian missionaries "sold" Christianity by relating Jesus to the Egyptian sun god.
A follow-up series in September will look at the Mother Goddess cult in ancient Rome and Mithraism, a syncretistic faith evolved out of Persian Zoroastrianism that focused on the hero god Mithras.
All of these mystery religions eventually dominated the Roman population and usurped the Olympian pantheon of Gods to become the state religion. And had fate taken a slightly different twist, Dr. Benson says, they could have easily elbowed out Christianity at that point in history.
"With a little different scenario, it might well have become Mithraism that ended up dominating Rome," he said.
Today we have another chunk of a Roman sarcophagus from Christie's. We have depicted a young woman with an older woman behind; the arm holding the rope or whatever it is belongs to a third woman (who also seems to be in front of a billowing cloth of some sort). Personally, I can't figure out the scene (if it has mythological origins) and the details page doesn't add much.
Still smiling after 2,600 years, one small Greek youth, probably trousered by a soldier 60 years ago, is going home to the island of Samos.
"He's in remarkable condition apart from his nose," said James Ede, a London art dealer who has established that the figure was stolen from the island's museum, probably during the second world war. "He got that biffing in antiquity, not in my care," he added anxiously.
The kouros, a type of ancient Greek image typically of splendidly muscled young men with long curly hair, is shorter than a teaspoon.
But it is worth around £30,000, as early Greek provincial sculpture is highly prized by collectors but rare on the market. Mr Ede bought it, with a quantity of other pieces, from the widow of a Greek collector based in Switzerland, and showed it to John Prag, of the Manchester Museum. He had seen it before: it was photographed by a German archaeological team in the 1920s, and reproduced in a 1942 book, proving that it came from the Samos museum.
Without the photograph, it would never have been traced. Victoria Solomonidis, cultural counsellor at the Greek embassy in London, said that in common with many other Greek museums, no complete record was possible on Samos of what was destroyed and what had gone missing, in the chaos of the aftermath of the war.
The statue was not listed on the Art Loss Register, the nearest thing to a comprehensive international database. The measurement given for the figure in the 1942 book was also wrong, robbing the youth of a precious 14 millimetres, and making it more difficult to identify.
Mr Ede, who has previously returned a stolen marble plaque, bitterly criticised the British government's decision on cost grounds not to produce an online register of missing art, promised when the law on illicit art was strengthened.
"I think it's a monstrous mistake on their part. If laws are going to be passed then the tools should be provided."
Mr Ede will take the statue back to the museum himself. The Greek government has offered a reward, but he has refused it. "I bought him as part of a large collection, and I've already done quite well out of it," he said.
The British Museum is prevented by law from returning four Old Master drawings looted by the Nazis, even though it wants to hand them back to their Jewish owners' heirs, a judge has ruled.
Senior High Court judge Sir Andrew Morritt says that the 1963 British Museum Act, which protects the famous London-based institution's collections for posterity, could not be overridden.
Not even by a "moral obligation" to return works known to have been stolen.
The ruling was requested by Attorney-General Lord Peter Goldsmith, the Government's chief legal officer.
He had asked for clarification after warning that if there was a moral obligation to restore such objects it could give Greece a method by which to reclaim the Elgin Marbles.
The marbles are hundreds of marble sculptures taken from the Parthenon in Athens in 1801 and 1802 by British diplomat Lord Elgin, who later sold them to the British Museum.
Greece has long demanded the sculptures' return, something Britain is resisting.
Justice Morritt was asked to rule on the museum's obligation to return the four drawings by artists including Nicolo dell'Abbate and by Nicholas Blakey.
The paintings were stolen from the home of Dr Arthur Feldmann in 1939 when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.
Dr Feldmann and his wife died at the hands of the Nazis, and the four drawings were acquired by the British Museum shortly after World War II.
A spokesman for the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, which is representing Dr Feldmann's heirs, says the judgement shows that Britain's Government should amend the law.
"The commission very much regrets that this avenue to achieve the return of the drawings is not now open to the museum," he said.
The museum agreed three years ago to return the artworks.
Nel cuore del centro della città, tra via dell’Abbondanza e via Mazzolari, è emersa una villa romana di epoca imperiale. L’area interessata appartiene a un privato, sopra dovrebbe nascervi un edificio. Da alcune settimane un gruppo di giovani sta rimettendo in luce e ripulendo tutta l’area: sono circa 500 metri quadrati e lungo un lato della domus c’è anche l’antico basolato romano, la stradina che costeggiava l’abitazione. Tutta l’abitazione è pavimentata a mosaico, formato da piccole tessere nere alternate a bianche. E le soglie che dividono le varie parti della casa, ed anche il giardino, sono anche queste in mosaico bianco e nero ma con figure geometriche. Di epoca imperiale, l’abitazione mette ancora in mostra il colonnato, i pavimenti ed anche il vascone centrale del peristilio. E’ la prima volta che in città emerge una villa pressochè nella sua totalità.
Two faculty members received the college’s Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Awards—Bill “Doc” Lawing and Jeanne Neumann. The award carries a $15,000 prize for each recipient, half of which is for personal use, and half of which the recipient applies to a college program or purpose.
Jeanne Neumann, Associate Professor of Classics, was praised as “passionate about the subject, devoted to the students, and engaged with the world through the refracting and magnifying lenses of history and culture, literature and language.”
In addition to offering regular courses that are “legendarily challenging, yet always full,” she meets regularly with small groups outside of class to study Latin texts, and welcomes them into her home for tea and cookies. Students praised her self-deprecating humor, her erudition, and compassion.
Neumann received her Ph.D. at Harvard, and has taught Latin and Greek language and literature at Davidson since 1994. A member of the board of directors of SALVI (septentrionale americanum latinitatis vivae institutum), she promotes oral Latin, and has led workshops on how to teach Latin as one would teach a modern language. She is the current president of the North Carolina Classical Association, and serves on the editorial boards of the journals, “Classical Outlook” and “Retiarius.” The complete text of Neumann's citation is available here.
Interesting chunk of a cusp 2nd/3rd century Roman sarcophagus from Christies depicting the death of Clytaemnestra (why would someone want this on their sarcophagus?). The details page explains the scene fully, but just so you know, that's Clytaemnestra down in the lower left. On the right is Clotho with her spindle and in the back on the left (with the snake on her arm) is one of the Furies.
1. Socrates – He was likely history’s first “self-help” writer. He taught people to seek ultimate truths by questioning conventional wisdom and examining their own beliefs. He said folks shouldn’t accept opinion as fact.
2. Sophocles – Another guy with no last name. He created plays that usually centered on a single heroic character who chose an unpopular course of action. This dramatist may have been the first “niche” marketer.
Mhamed Hassine Fantar has a bone to pick with the Roman Empire, French writer Gustave Flaubert and a group of Americans who specialize in digging up old graves.
An expert on ancient Carthage -- a city obliterated by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago -- Mr. Fantar is campaigning to clear his forefathers of a nasty stigma: a reputation for infanticide.
"We didn't do it," says the 69-year-old archaeologist, rejecting accusations that the ancient citizens of this North African land sacrificed babies to appease their gods.
At a time of roiling debate across the Arab world about the future, rewriting the distant past can also be an urgent matter. Modern Carthage, dotted with ancient ruins and the luxury villas of the nation's current elite, looms large in Tunisia today. The country's president, an admirer of Mr. Fantar's work, lives here in a waterfront palace. Tunisia's national identity, forged by a secular regime fearful of political Islam, rests on the celebration of Carthage's pre-Islamic glories.
Tunisia's first private television station began broadcasting this spring under the name "Hannibal TV," a tribute to the military genius of ancient Carthage who led elephants across the Alps to fight the Romans. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali praised the station for paying homage to a symbol of Tunisia's "authentic civilization."
Less welcome to the national consciousness are reminders of Carthage's darker side. The supposed sacrifice of children in macabre religious rituals, says Mr. Fantar, is a stain that must be removed. "This is all propaganda," he says.
Seeking to debunk Carthage's reputed homicidal tendencies, he has written articles, organized seminars and appeared on TV and radio. He is also grooming a new generation of local scholars, including his own son, who similarly deny that the practice of human sacrifices ever occurred. Guides in Carthage are now instructed by the tourism ministry to tell visitors that the sacrifices didn't happen.
Lawrence Stager, a Harvard University archaeology professor and expert on the subject, calls the revisionism a whitewash. He's now editing a book that will include the results of long forensic analysis of charred bones he helped dig up in Carthage in the 1970s. This, says Mr. Stager, will prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Fantar and his followers are wrong. Still, he isn't expecting to win them over. "No one really relishes having ancestors who committed such heinous acts," he says.
Human sacrifice was common in many ancient cultures. But Carthage was particularly notorious, branded as a serial killer of children for at least 600 years in a site now known as the Tophet, a Hebrew word meaning "roaster" or "place of burning." Most Western scholars believe the practice was organized around the worship of two deities. Mr. Stager says it may also have been a primitive mechanism of population control. Others suggest a more sporadic activity connected to spring fertility rights.
The first to accuse Carthage of incinerating its young were the Romans, who destroyed the city in--6 B.C., ending the world's first great superpower clash. Passed down over the centuries, tales of infant sacrifices inspired the 19th-century novelist Flaubert to visit Carthage in 1858 in search of material for "Salammbo," which detailed horrible sacrificial rituals. Foreign archaeologists then fleshed out fiction with hard evidence.
"This is a dreadful period of human degeneracy that we are now unearthing," wrote Count Byron Khun de Prorok, a Frenchman who took part in the first excavations of Carthage's Tophet in the 1920s. After his own digging decades later, Mr. Stager wrote with a colleague in the Biblical Archaeology Review: "It is repulsive ... Perhaps the Carthaginians would have gotten a better press in the West had they concealed their practices more subtly."
But what many scholars consider an open-and-shut case, Mr. Fantar and his followers view as a frame-up. "History always gets written by the victors," says the Tunisian scholar, surrounded by books and scrolls in an ornate villa now housing Tunisia's National Heritage Institute. Carthage not only lost, he says, but "got wiped from the map" by the Romans, who leveled the city and, according to legend, plowed salt into farmland to make it barren. They twisted history, he says, to "show us as barbarians" and to "justify their own barbarity."
Mr. Fantar says he, too, used to believe in the sacrifice theory but began to have doubts after an Italian scholar, Sabatino Moscati, wrote an article in 1987 entitled: "Infant Sacrifices: Reality or Invention?" The late Mr. Moscati suggested that Carthage had been the victim of a politically motivated smear campaign by ancient rivals in Rome and Greece. The argument won few converts in the U.S. but gradually took hold among scholars in Tunisia and also Italy, which has its own Tophet or "roaster" in Sicily.
Meanwhile, politicians in Tunisia also began to rethink the past. Following an upsurge in Islamic activism in the late 1980s, leaders worried that the country's education system was falling under the sway of Islamists, who mostly ignored pre-Islamic history. They stressed ancient Carthage's gory side as proof of the ignorance and immorality that supposedly prevailed before the arrival of Islam in the seventh century.
"We taught students that everything that was not Islamic had no real value," says Omrane Boukhari, a former teacher who now heads the education ministry's curriculum department. "It was amusing at first, but then we realized it was dangerous."
In the early 1990s, authorities began to purge teachers suspected of Islamist militancy. Textbooks were then revised to highlight the glories of Tunisia's pre-Islamic past. Students, says Mr. Boukhari, need to learn about "the most positive and most enlightened aspects" of Tunisia's history. "You find the identity of a people in the way it teaches history to its children."
There is much to boast about in ancient Carthage. For centuries, it rivaled Rome in commerce and military prowess. Its people, the Phoenicians, who originally came from what is today Lebanon, invented alphabetic script. Hannibal, the city's most famous soldier, is regarded by some as the world's greatest military strategist.
Child sacrifices, though, presented a problem. When Tunisia sent a collection of ancient artifacts to the U.S. in the late 1980s, officials were aghast to find that infanticide attracted the most attention. "Everyone was obsessed with this," says Aicha Ben Abed, director of research at Tunisia's National Heritage Institute. Carthage's enemies, she says, had lots of nasty habits, too, but these barely ever get mentioned: "Let's talk about pedophilia among the Romans and Greeks."
Glenn Markoe, curator of classical and Near Eastern art at the Cincinnati Art Museum, says that when the Carthage exhibition came to Cincinnati in 1990, Tunisian officials pleaded with him not to show a short American-made film about Phoenician infanticide. "I then realized how touchy this subject is for them," says Mr. Markoe, who has just published a book on the Phoenicians, "It's a political thing. They don't like to think of such unsavory things going on in their territory ... Most people find it very uncomfortable to discuss this subject."
Mr. Fantar says his aim is to correct history, not cover it up. In 2000, he took part in debate with Mr. Stager, the Harvard professor, in the pages of Archaeology Odyssey, an American magazine. The area of Carthage that Mr. Stager and others believe was used to incinerate infants was, according to Mr. Fantar, merely a children's cemetery. Burial urns stuffed with burnt bones, he says, contain the remains of children who died of natural causes, not foul play.
His case, however, now faces a new challenge from a researcher at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who has been analyzing remains found by Mr. Stager's team in the 1970s. Preliminary results seem to support the infanticide camp.
For many in Tunisia, though, the debate is already closed. A new high-school history text published late last year celebrates Carthage as "the pole of Mediterranean civilization" and makes only a vague reference to sacrifices. The tourism ministry meanwhile has revised a training course for tour guides. As part of the new program, they get a handout instructing them what to tell visitors. It denounces the "hallucinatory horror" of Flaubert's account of Carthage and accuses Roman and Greek authors of fabricating mass infanticide "as a propaganda theme."
"We must stop looking at our past through the eyes of foreigners," says Mr. Fantar, "When Arabs read and understand our own history, we will be at the dawn of a real revolution. This is what we are trying to do in Tunisia."
Museums in Greece will remain open until 7 pm, according to a statement Tourist Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos made during the visit of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to the Ministry of Tourism.
Until today, museums closed at 2 pm and only the Acropolis closed at 6 pm.
Some of the world's most advanced technology is revealing mysterious theories from thousands of years ago.
Scientists in Menlo Park are getting their first look at writings from the most influential Greek scholar in history.
Historians credit the Greek scholar Archimedes for many mathematical discoveries we use today, like the formula to measure a circle.
The word cataract comes from the Greek for waterfall. Until the mid 1700s, it was thought that a cataract was formed by opaque material flowing, like a waterfall, into the eye. People with cataracts have blurred vision, making everyday activities such as driving and reading difficult.
Successful cataract surgery restores the ability to perform these activities.
The earliest written reference to cataract surgery is found in Sanskrit manuscripts dating from the 5th century BC. They are said to be written by the Hindu surgeon Susruta. He practiced a type of cataract surgery known as couching, in which the cataractous lens was displaced away from the pupil to lie in the vitreous cavity in the back of the eye.
This displacement of the lens enabled the patient to see much better. Vision, however, was still blurred because of the unavailability of corrective lenses. As recently as the middle of this century, couching was still practiced in Egypt, India, and Tibet.
In the Western world, recent excavations in Babylonia (Iraq), Greece, and Egypt have uncovered bronze instruments that would have been appropriate for cataract surgery.
The first written description of the cataract and its treatment in the West appears in 29 AD in De Medicinae, the work of the Latin encyclopedist Celsus. He describes in this work the practice of needling of cataracts, a technique in which the cataract is broken up into smaller particles, thereby facilitating their absorption.
Interestingly, Hippocrates does not refer to cataract surgery in his writings. Galen, the pivotal medical figure of antiquity whose theories went unchallenged for more than 1,500 years, erroneously believed that the lens rather than the retina was the seat of vision, and that its removal would cause blindness.
Our mail carrier will refuse to deliver the mail if the mailbox is blocked, for example, by a parked car. However, this is a public street. We cannot control who parks where. And the curb is not painted red.
Is it legal for the postal service to not deliver the mail, especially when all it would take is a few steps out of the truck? Whatever happened to `Not rain, nor snow, nor . . .
A It's a myth, not a motto.
You are the third person to lodge this complaint in recent weeks.
And I know places where carriers do not deliver in the snow. I covered an incident where a carrier refused to deliver on a street where the sidewalk had been torn up.
Sure, post office employees are hardy souls and where would we be without them, but spokeswoman Elma Ramirez said that ``customers are responsible for ensuring access to their mailboxes.
``If it's once, the carrier will try to deliver the mail, but if the mailbox is continually blocked, the post office won't deliver.''
Talk about shattering a myth.
Ramirez said carriers stopped delivering mail to the doors of houses in the 1970s, and new housing since then has had mail delivered mostly curbside. She said that the time allotted to these curbside deliveries is carefully scheduled, and getting out of the postal service vehicle could throw a carrier's time off.
I think you need to make this a federal case, D.B. Complain to your federal representative in Congress. This just isn't right.
More on the myth: Circa 500 BC, the Greek storyteller Herodotus is supposed to have said, ``Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.'' But I'm sure that he was talking about Greeks. The saying was inscribed over the main entrance of the New York City Post Office in 1914.
But it is not the motto of the postal service. Alas, the U.S. Postal Service has no motto. Suggestions?
Just after lunch on Aug. 24, A.D. 79, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius entombed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
On the Bay of Naples, Italy, a rare glimpse of Roman-era lifestyles lies frozen in time. Ash falls and pyroclastic flows destroyed and encapsulated humans and their culture.
The preservation of ingredients, cooking and dining were so complete that they are now the subject of a project, "De Gustibus" (about taste: from vegetable garden to table), that brings to life how food was raised and prepared 2,000 years ago.
Seldom do archaeologists have so rich an opportunity to learn what life was like among our predecessors.
Recovery of the cuisine of A.D. 79 is technically termed historical archaeology. Some written documents attest to past activities, but much of what we know is from the preserving of meals and larders where they stood. Preservation is chiefly by burial in ash falls or carbonization by super-heated air and cinders.
What does this marvelous preservation tell us?
Romans cooked with wood fires using ovens with food on tiles or in clay. Although bronze and iron were in use, most cooking was in or on terra cotta.
Ingredients were a mix of culinary and medicinal plants.
Wheat was critical, and during Roman times people were moving from spelt, a tough hard-hulled wheat, to more tender-hulled varieties. Large grindstones turned by small donkeys allowed bakers to process commercial quantities of wheat at their Pompeii bakeshops.
Wheat, olive oil and wine were major staples.
Herbs familiar to us were common: basil, thyme, marjoram, coriander, chervil, dill and savory.
Cultivated vegetables 2,000 years ago included cabbage, lettuce, arugula, chicory, cress, carrots, celery, garlic, onion, chard, scallions, turnips, endive, asparagus, mint, pumpkin, watermelon, cucumbers and radishes.
Among the fruits available were apples, peaches, figs, pears, grapes (and raisins) and the nuts almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pine nuts.
Animal protein came extensively from dairy products such as cow's and goat's milk and cheese, and eggs. Typically, Romans did not butcher cows for beef, since the milk and cheese were too valuable.
Farmers raised hogs for meat. Hams and sausages were smoked or salt cured with pepper and sold in Pompeii butcher shops.
Wild game included, especially for the upper classes, peafowl, pheasant, rabbit, ostrich, parrot and flamingo.
Seafood was important along the coast of Italy. Tuna, swordfish, anchovies, clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster and squid were used. The wealthy had ponds from which to draw fresh fish at mealtime. Ranching of oysters and clams was common.
One is struck by the remarkable continuity of diet across two millennia. Salads and entrees of 2,000 years ago seem remarkably appetizing today.
Some things are as unappetizing as they must have been 2,000 years ago. Dolphin liver medicine isn't very different from the cod liver oil my mother shoved down my throat as a child.
"We wanted to learn what the inhabitants of Pompeii ate," said Anna Maria Ciarallo, a biologist who heads the project for Pompeii's archaeological office. "But we wanted a side of the project to appeal directly to the public as well."
Some may keep away from "garum," a pungent sauce used for flavoring and obtained by fermenting fish entrails, but Ciarallo said many Roman dishes closely resembled modern cuisine.
The recipe to make prosciutto ham has remained unchanged, while "savillum," the favorite dessert of many Romans, was a baked cream similar to today's custard, she said.
Pompeii's wealthy were known to feast on such exotic dishes as swallow's tongue and parrot meat, but the project is presenting more everyday fare, Ciarallo said.
The restaurant was located between the gymnasium, the amphitheater and one of the city's gates and mostly catered to middle-class merchants and travelers, she said.
Its six benches were probably always filled with hungry customers passing through the busy neighborhood, she said. The guests would recline on one side on the benches, as eating customs demanded at the time, to chat, play dice _ one of the Romans' favorite pastimes _ and partake of the dishes served out of large pots. The quiche-like "libum" is made with bread, bay leaves and cheese resembling today's ricotta.
"It was a sweet and sour cuisine, which blended the sharp tastes of vinegar and spices with the sugars of honey and figs," Ciarallo said. Cereals and beans were the staples of the Roman diet, together with fish, cheese and limited quantities of eggs and meat.
"The main differences were between the social classes," she said.
Slaves were kept on a high-energy diet of bread, dried-fruits and low quality cheese and wine. The upper classes enjoyed the same foods available to the middle class, but the quantities were larger, the ingredients finer, and the banquets were lavish presentations.
The project will shut down on June 26 because of lack of funds _ a perennial problem that keeps parts of the huge Pompeii site often closed to the public.
Better get this one in as its being auctioned today and might not be available for too long ... it's a depiction of the death of Seneca by Giambattista Tiepolo ... details.
MINISTERS could stop the British Museum returning artworks looted by the Nazis to a Jewish family because of fears that they might pave the way for Greece to make a legally binding claim on the Elgin Marbles.
Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, asked the High Court to clarify whether the museum could exercise a “moral obligation” to return improperly obtained property.
The specific case at issue is a claim by the heirs of Dr Arthur Feldmann for the return of four Old Master drawings taken from the Czech lawyer’s home in Brno by the Gestapo in 1939.
Dr Feldmann was tortured and murdered by the Nazis and his wife, Gisela, died at Auschwitz. The British Museum, which obtained the drawings at auction after the war, wants to return them but cannot do so because of legislation that expressly forbids it to dispose of items from its collections.
Its trustees asked the Attorney-General if they had permission to return the artworks under the terms of the Snowden principle — a legal test that permits charities to give back items that it would be wrong for them to keep.
Lawyers for the museum argue that the case of art looted by the Nazis is highly exceptional and would not create a precedent. But Lord Goldsmith asked the court to rule and expressed concern that returning the Feldmann drawings could lead to claims against the British Museum and other national collections. In papers submitted to Sir Andrew Morritt, the Vice-Chancellor, who is hearing the case, lawyers for the Attorney-General said: “There are other objects to which a moral claim might be made, of which the Elgin Marbles may be the prime example.”
Becky Daniel came home recently to find that husband Steve had filled her kitchen counters with a variety of mops, toilet brushes and the like.
"It's for the Latin banquet," he told her.
She wasn't surprised.
Steve Daniel has taught Latin at West Rowan High School full-time since 1996. The program is gaining a statewide reputation for its victories at the state Latin convention, held each spring in Chapel Hill.
This year, West students walked away with the trophy for the ninth consecutive year.
The enthusiastic Daniel is at the heart of the program. Yet he consistently deflects any praise away from himself, heaping it instead on his students.
"That's him," his wife says. "He can't stand for his name to be mentioned."
Daniel even garners praise from Caesar.
Well, at least from Erick Brown, the student who played Caesar at the recent Latin banquet.
Brown decided to take Latin for his foreign language because he thought it "seemed like the most fun" — and he had an interest in mythology.
Brown says of Daniel, "He's easily the best part of the class. He always keeps everything interesting."
All by itself, Daniel's room is interesting.
Over the years, he's kept many of the projects his students have made for the contest. There are posters and mosaics. There's a pin-the-tail on Cicero game. There are numerous styrofoam Parthenons and aqueducts.
There's even a bunny — a real one. Caligula, the rabbit formerly known as Baby Bunny when he lived in Mrs. Daniel's room at China Grove Elementary — hops here and there, settling underneath a table where it's nice and cozy.
Outside in the hall, there's a large display case featuring entries for this year's N.C. Junior Classical League convention. Entries comprise everything from posters to needlework to pottery to watercolor. There are board games and models. Most all of them have ribbons with them.
"We took 72 kids," Daniel says, munching on a sub sandwich during his planning period.
Daniel has grown the program to include 185 students in Latin I, II, III and IV. Latin, he explains, works well with the school's block schedule. A class might include a combination of vocabulary, language, history and grammar.
Perhaps better than any subject at West, the class helps students with other subjects — English, science, history.
That's one reason it appeals to Daniel so much.
Yet when he was in school, Daniel had his fill of Latin. He attended Forsyth Country Day School, and started taking the language in seventh grade.
"After my last Latin exam in high school, I looked up at that classroom, and I said to myself, I am never taking Latin again," he says.
While working on his master's degree in English, Daniel found that Latin seemed to pop up in every class.
When he taught English at Corriher-Lipe, he found the kids didn't know grammar. He told his colleague, the late Betty Yates, about it. Yates, who would later become that school's principal, encouraged him to get certified to teach Latin. He did, then moved on to the high school level, where he taught at South and West.
"My program got big enough at both schools that I had to pick one or the other," Daniel says.
At the time, the family lived in the West district, so he chose West.
The first year he taught at West part-time, in 1992-'93, he took six students to the state convention.
"Each year, we got a little better, and the kids really felt good about winning," Daniel remembers. "I thought, well, I need to put more time into it."
He became a judge to find out more about what was required of students.
"It just kind of evolved," he says of his program's success.
He won't take credit for it, however.
"The kids do this," Daniel says. "It's just amazing what the kids can do."
Megan Brandon has been a goddess for the past four years. Students who placed first in the state contest get their pictures on Daniel's wall of deification. Brandon is only one of two students to attain this feat in all of the 19 years Daniel has been teaching.
"We just get stuff drilled in our head," Brandon says of the hours practicing for the Latin Quiz Bowl and for other areas of competition.
"Mr. D is pretty much of a legend at this school," she says. "I'm a big fan of the English language, and I wanted to learn more about where the language came from. As a freshman, I was nervous, but as time goes on, we learn to enjoy ourselves more and have fun with it.
"Lately, we've been winning by a lot," Brandon continues, speaking of the statewide competition. "I think we're so successful because Mr. D cares a lot about the subject, and the students care. Even people I know who don't love language love Mr. D. He goes the extra mile to make us enjoy what we're doing."
The students who wander in and out of Daniel's class during lunchtime agree with Brandon.
"He is the greatest teacher I've ever had," says sophomore McKayne Hill. "He teaches us to teach ourselves, which is vital in anything."
Daniel does agree with that.
"That's my goal is to help them teach themselves," he says. "Latin is the foundation for learning."
Daniel's teaching, his wife says, is more than a job.
"He looks at teaching as his witness," she says. "He feels it's more than a job, it's more than a career, it's a calling. His reward is seeing their success."
Daniel is inclined to agree.
"It's a ministry for any teacher," he says. "You set an example. You stay positive. You watch what you say."
While the couple throws themselves into teaching from August to May, they spend the summer traveling with their two children, Sam, 14, and Maggie, 11.
"We both traveled as children," Becky Daniel says. "We both brought a love of travel into our marriage and into parenthood. We wanted it for our children."
This summer, they'll go on a Caribbean cruise, and travel to Canada, Atlanta and Washington.
"He's the itinerary guy," Becky Daniel says. "There's no such thing as a leisurely vacation with Mr. Daniel."
Next summer, the Daniels will accompany West students on their biannual trip to Italy. The 2006 trip will include stops in London and Paris.
Daniel is also planning a family vacation for Iceland next summer. He and Sam hope to tee off in the middle of the night for the Iceland Open, when the sun is shining.
"Who else would research that, because isn't that neat?" Becky Daniel says of her husband. "He never passes up an educational opportunity."
The ancient Greeks took wine to the masses, the Romans to the world. But it was the innovation of the Cypriots that showed them how, say archaeologists.
Italian experts claim to have unearthed evidence suggesting not only did Cyprus introduce clay drinking goblets and wine jars for transport, but it had at least a 1,500-year head start on any of its Mediterranean cousins in the art of making wine.
“It’s an amazing discovery,” says research head Maria Rosaria Belgiorno. “The most ancient wine seems to have been found in a 5,000-5,500 BC vase in Ajjii Firuz Tepe in Iran... but in the Mediterranean, the earliest examples of winemaking have been in Cyprus.” With a tradition steeped in history, the quality of the “honey flavored” Cypriot wines was praised by the ancient Greek poet Homer, and, subject to some scholarly debate, by King Solomon.
Historians say Commandaria, a sweet dessert wine introduced to Europe by the Crusaders, has been made on the island since at least 1,000 BC. It is thought to be the world’s oldest wine still in production.
Belgiorno, of the Italian Institute of Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, said the testing of pottery fragments showed winemaking was thriving up to 5,500 years ago.
The earliest examples of winemaking, discovered on the Greek island of Crete, are about 3,600 years old. “We discovered the remains of tartaric acid, a key component of wine,” she said.
The pottery fragments, found in the wine-producing region of Erimi some 100km (62.5 miles) southwest of Nicosia, are the oldest evidence available of “nipple base” storage jars used throughout the ancient world for transporting wine. They have a narrow mouth, wide body and taper off at the bottom, designed on earlier goatskin sacks used to carry wine.
Such jars bear an uncanny resemblance to storage containers found on later Egyptian hieroglyphs. “The same vases were adopted by the Egyptians, and portrayed together with their system to make wine,” said Belgiorno. With their expertise in pottery, Cypriots also created drinking containers, modeled on cattle horns, which were believed to be the first “glasses.” “The tradition of remaking the cattle horn in clay began in Cyprus,” she said.
Lauded as a gift of the gods, a must-have by Egyptians on their spiritual journey to the afterworld and just plain good for you by modern-day science, wine had humble beginnings.
An ancient Persian legend speaks of a princess, who, having lost favor with the king, attempted to poison herself by eating spoiled table grapes. She became intoxicated instead. “It was certainly after grapes were accidentally left to ferment,” says Belgiorno. “How it became a product is a completely different story.”
Archaeologists have also discovered a representation of wine production on Cypriot pottery which is 4,000 years old. “This is unique worldwide,” said Pavlos Flourentzos, director of the Cyprus Antiquities Department. He said the type of wine was impossible to determine, but that it was probably a full-bodied red rather than a white, and unpalatable by today’s standards. “The wine they drank then was different. It was thick and extremely potent, so had to be diluted with water,” he said.
Some in ancient Greek mythology believed wine could bring people to an elevated state of consciousness. But ancient Cypriots left another testament to at least one effect of over-imbibing. Ancient Roman mosaics in the House of Dionysus, the mythological Greek god of wine and mischief, give a display of Cyprus’s “first wine drinkers" from the second century AD in the western region of Paphos. One of the men is slumped on the floor, thought to be drunk.
Kelly Trumble. _The Library of Alexandria_. Ages 9-12. New York: Clarion
Books, 2003. 80 pp. Illustrations, maps, glossary, bibliographies,
index. $17.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-395-75832-7.
Reviewed for H-AfrTeach by Jennifer Houser Wegner,
Egyptian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum.
A City of Scholars
Founded by Alexander the Great, the city of Alexandria was one of the most
important cities of the ancient world. Located on the Mediterranean Sea,
in the northwest corner of Egypt, the city rose to prominence during the
Ptolemaic Dynasty (332-30 B.C.) and its importance continued for
This excellent book contains nine chapters discussing the origin of the
city of Alexandria, by Alexander the Great and his general (and later king
of Egypt) Ptolemy I. Ptolemy and his successors were interested in
creating a world-class city and one of the ways in which this was
accomplished was by attracting a wealth of intellectuals to the city.
Perhaps the most important foundation in the city was the Library of
Alexandria which, at it peak, housed over a half-million volumes. The
author describes the origin of this institution, the collection of
volumes, as well as the production and export of papyri. Additionally she
notes a competing ancient library, that at Pergamum in Asia Minor, and the
invention there of an alternative writing material to papyri, parchment.
The next several chapters discuss important historical figures in various
fields who were associated with the city of Alexandria. In the field of
Astronomy, we are introduced to Aristarchus whose work focused on
identifying the center of the universe (a geocentric model versus a
heliocentric one) and estimating sizes of the moon and sun and their
distances from the earth. Aristarchus proposed a heliocentric model in
which the sun was the center of the universe. This theory, while correct,
was not widely accepted since people had trouble accepting that the earth
was not the center of the universe. The astronomer Claudius Ptolemy is
also discussed. Ptolemy wrote a great work on astronomy known as the
Almagest which contains a mathematical model of the universe with charts,
table, and astronomical data that allowed astronomers to calculate the
position of the sun, moon and planets. This work was based on a geocentric
model of the universe, with the earth as the center and all calculations
were based on that assumption. It was not until the work of Nicolaus
Copernicus in A.D. 1543 that the heliocentric model of the solar system
was proposed again and Aristarchus was finally proven right eighteen
The study of geography was advanced under the reign of Ptolemy III by a
man named Eratosthenes. A consummate scholar, Eratosthenes served as the
librarian at the Library of Alexandria and as a royal tutor to the king's
son. Eratosthenes created a map of the known world from Gibraltar to India
based on reports made by Alexander the Great. It was the most accurate map
produced at the time.
Another of the great intellectuals to live in the city of Alexandria was
the most famous mathematician of all time, Euclid. He is perhaps best
known for his work called the _Elements_, a treatise on mathematics that
was so well organized, with its problems and their solutions, that it
remained a standard textbook for geometry until the twentieth century.
Another famous mathematician, Archimedes, also spent time in the city of
Alexandria. Among his many discoveries, he is credited with determining
how to measure an object's volume, which came to him while pondering a
problem in the bath. (One of my favorite of all the charming illustrations
in this book is the one depicting Archimedes running down the street naked
with his servants following after him with a towel. It seems he was so
excited with his discovery that he leapt from the bath shouting "Eureka!"
or "I've found it!" in Greek, and did not take time to put his clothes
Finally, the book introduces us to scholars in the field of medicine,
including Herophilus of Chalcedon whose work on anatomy discovered that
the brain, not the heart, was the center of intelligence. His peers
accused him of practicing vivisection, the dissection of living people.
While it is not certain that his methods were suspect, later surgeons in
Alexandria relied heavily on his discoveries.
The last two chapters of the book cover the decline of the city of
Alexandria, due in large part to internal struggles within the Ptolemaic
royal house and the increasing power of Rome. The Library of Alexandria
had suffered losses during the reign of Cleopatra VII in a fire that was
started by the troops of Julius Caesar. The library continued to house
scholars, but the focus of their work shifted from science to philosophy
and religion. In A.D. 391, the Roman emperor Theodosius, who was a
Christian, declared that the temples of Alexandria be destroyed. When the
decree was read in the city a mob went wild and destroyed many of the
pagan establishments in the city including what remained of the library of
A few minor points can be made and these in no way should detract from
this book which ably covers the material it set out to explore. I merely
mention these points as additional background for the reader and/or
Shortly after the founding of Alexandria, Egypt was ruled by a dynasty of
rulers whose origins were Greco-Macedonian. Egypt at this time had cities
that were very cosmopolitan with settlers from throughout the
Mediterranean world. By far, the majority of these foreign settlers were
Greek, many of whose families had lived in Egypt for several generations.
Because of the Greek background of the ruling house, there was definitely
an interest in Greek culture and civilization and maintaining its
traditions within Egypt. As a result, the city of Alexandria was in many
ways very much a Greek city. This book does focus on the scientists,
teachers and discoverers who were Greek. It does not, however, mention
much about the native Egyptian population, nor interaction between the
Greeks in Egypt and the native population. We are told that the Egyptians
"were treated as second-class residents under the Greek domination of
Egypt" (p. 5). This may well be an over-statement. The Ptolemies were very
politically astute and accepted traditional Egyptian religion and other
aspects of Egyptian culture--with the exception of learning the ancient
Egyptian language and script, which would not happen until Cleopatra VII,
who is credited with being the first of the Ptolemaic rulers to learn
Egyptian--as a means of satisfying the Egyptians' need for a traditional
The reader is told that residents of Alexandria could not check books out
of the library in Alexandria and the "second-class" Egyptians "probably
couldn't have read the Greek books anyway" (p. 5). Undoubtedly the library
housed texts in Egyptian as well as many other languages. The real issue
may be that even if access to the library was restricted, probably less
than 10 percent (and the figure is even more likely less than 5 percent)
of the whole population could read neither Egyptian nor Greek.
While it is not the focus of the book, it should be mentioned that
interest in science, medicine, and mathematics did not begin with the
Greeks in Alexandria. The advances made by those individuals are better
known to us, but one should be aware that the native Egyptians did leave
us numerous papyri dealing with astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, some
dating as early as 1900 B.C. Interestingly, the word chemistry is derived
from the word "alchemy" which in turn is the ancient name for Egypt
I highly recommend this book. It covers material that is not commonly
found in children's books on Egypt and the text is well written and
beautifully illustrated. The supplementary materials (maps, glossary,
Ptolemaic family tree, and discussion of now largely lost sites in ancient
Alexandria) are also useful in understanding the times during which
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purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web
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editorial staff at email@example.com.
"That's Latin" said an ever-helpful commentator during the funeral mass for John Paul II. Like the belief that television is necessary, the idea that Latin is "dead" is as bogus as it is recent. It's true that Ben Franklin's autobiography pits the "living" tongues against that unspoken one, but the Sage's most important point was that French, or another romance language, can serve as a bridge to Latin. My students who know French or Spanish can vouch for this. Another who knows Russian has recognized Latin's influence on that language. And I have learned that even Welsh owes much of its vocabulary to the speech of the Caesars. Anyway, James Madison busted his rump studying Latin and Greek to pass the entrance exam at what would become Princeton University, and it didn't do him any harm.
"I won't say anything about the death of Latin," writes retired linguistics professor Tore Janson in A Natural History of Latin, "[for] the language is still very much alive." Save for those who have labored under the direction of cruddy teachers, everyone who has studied Latin knows that Janson is right. As he regularly points out, one obvious thing that keeps Latin in the category of the living is its presence in just about every sentence English-speakers utter. Here, for example, is the Pledge of Allegiance with the Latin taken out:
I … to the flag of the … of America and to the … for which it stands, one … under God … with … and … for all.
Indeed, something like 75 percent of the multisyllabic words in the English lexicon come from Latin, or from Greek via Latin, or from Latin via French. As I put it to my students, if Yiddish were erased from contemporary English we'd have a hard time talking about bagels, pastrami, klutzes, and schmucks. If we dumped Dutch, we'd be without cookies, Yankees, bundles, and booms. If we bid au revoir to Hindi, we'd be at a loss when contemplating bandannas, cheetahs, jungles, and shampoo. If we said aloha to Congolese we'd have a tough time ruminating on funky gorillas, zebra zombies, and mojo boogie. Sans Arabic, we wouldn't know about algebra, algorithms, and almanacs. But if Latin died in our mouths, we'd just stop talking; or, at best, we'd be left mostly with monosyllables bequeathed to us from the Angles and Saxons—requiem aeternum dona eis, Domine.
While not an argument for the study of the classical languages, for which we can turn to Tracy Simmons and Victor Davis Hanson (among others), Janson paints in broad strokes the story of Latin—among other things, its development into dialects and then into separate European languages. For readers with little background in the history of Western civilization and its literature, the strokes may be too broad; on a single page, for example, we find references to Cicero, Lorenzo Valla, Erasmus, Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, Petrarch and Thomas More. The explanation of Latin grammar comprising the book's third part is useful to the initiated but likely to be difficult for newcomers. And the politically correct asides that punctuate the text—theology is outdated, Roman battle descriptions are offensive—are irksome.
"As I prepared for today, I thought about how I felt when the president asked me to lead EPA," he recounted. "Even after years of Latin, German, scientific training, the only word I could think of was 'wow.' Wow."
''The Star Wars films, the first of which appeared 25 years ago, are steeped in the traditions bequeathed to us by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Heroes with doubtful parentage and no place to settle down, tutors with mysterious powers, immense journeys that represent whole lifetimes, the endless struggle against disorder and violence -- all these are familiar to readers of the Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid. It is gratifying to note that these immensely popular films bear witness to the enduring power of the ancient world.''
Carl A. Rubino is the Edward North Professor of Classics and at Hamilton College. He teaches a course, ''Heroism Ancient and Modern,'' that examines ancient and modern views of the hero and compares the Star Wars series to the Iliad and Odyssey.
Rubino has published and lectured on ancient Greek and Roman literature, comparative literature, philosophy, literary theory, and the relations between science and the humanities. He is also the originator of an interdisciplinary seminar for entering students. Rubino is a member of the core faculty of VRoma (www.vroma.org), an NEH funded project that aims to create a community dedicated to exploring the resources of technology for teaching and learning classics.
Dr. Ulf Erlingsson connects Atlantis with Megalithic Ireland. What sets his research apart among Atlantis theories is that it has passed statistical significance tests. He found that with 99.98% probability, Plato based the description of Atlantis on the geography of Ireland.
He presents the study in the book “Atlantis from a Geographer’s Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land,” which has recently also come out in Japanese on Hara Shobo.
At the conference, to be held on the island of Milos, Dr. Erlingsson will present the study to fellow scholars and students of Atlantis for the first time. He is looking forward to the opportunity, especially since he dismisses the early criticism he received from some Irish scholars as “ignorant.”
As he explains, they reacted emotionally with instinctive skepticism when they were faced with this unexpected explanation of Atlantis. The reason is obviously that Atlantis has turned into a myth the last century, a myth about an incredibly advanced civilization that went under. Several best-selling authors are spreading this notion, which scholars refer to as “Atlanticism.” Most people today apparently connect the word Atlantis with that myth rather than with Plato’s original Atlantis, at least in English-speaking countries.
In the view of that, it is not surprising that many scholars found Stone Age Ireland to be an unlikely candidate for Atlantis, to say the least. “In fact, those scholars dismissed my research for the same reason as the Atlanticists,” says Erlingsson. “Both groups used the Atlanticism myth as their frame of reference, rather than Plato’s original tale.”
As an expert in under-water exploration Erlingsson has helped marine archaeologists in the past, at the excavation of the Swedish Viking city of Birka. He expects that he will get use for that professional expertise again, since the oldest layers of the Atlantis tale appear to refer to the flooding of the North Sea over 8,000 years ago. The area is of great interest also for marine archaeologists, as it was the best place to live in NW Europe before the end of the Ice Age, when mammoths grazed the plains.
I keep forgetting this feature for some reason ... anyway, check out this 2nd century Roman Venus from Christie's. Better yet, look at the size of her feet (and hands)! Venus? or Hobbit?
A man who compared himself to Spartacus and claimed the U.S. government had tortured him and stolen his children appeared in a Houston federal court Monday, accused of trying to sell a bomb that "approaches nuclear ... capability" to an undercover agent posing as a terrorist.
Ronald Allen Grecula, 68, believed he was talking with someone from a terrorist group when he claimed he could build a bomb that would destroy everything within more than a half-mile, federal authorities said.
They said the officer introduced Grecula to another man, whom he identified as being connected to al-Qaida, which claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.
"Can this (bomb) blow up a building like this and kill a bunch of Americans?" the agent asked, according to a transcript in an affidavit filed by FBI Agent Lisa R. Baldwin.
Grecula replied, "Oh, it could do it easy," the document states.
At one point, he is quoted as saying, "I have no loyalty to the United States, whatsoever."
At another point, according to the transcript, he asked the undercover agent if he had heard of Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator who led a slave revolt. The agent said he had.
"He formed an army, and he fought against Rome. He was tortured in prison, he was beat up, took his family, killed his friends, etc. So you could say, in a way, I am like Spartacus," Grecula is quoted as saying.
He didn't elaborate, but earlier had said his country had taken everything from him and tortured him.
Asked about the torture, he replied, "Well, mentally," authorities said.
The ancient city of Troy has endured the human imagination. Abandoned in the fifth century C.E. and not rediscovered until the 1870s, the city for centuries seemed no more real than Camelot or Valhalla.
No one knows exactly why the Trojan War was waged, when it took place, or whether it took place at all. Excavations at the ancient site of Troy have unearthed no wreckage of a giant wooden horse, no statues of Helen, no physical evidence that a warrior named Achilles ever existed.
Some of the strongest evidence for the Trojan War, or any war there, is that the city grew layer upon layer because of a series of destructions. "You can imagine destruction coming in many different forms, but clearly a lot of it had to do with military aggression," says Elizabeth Riorden, director of Troy on the Internet, a project under way with NEH funding at the University of Cincinnati. Riorden has spent fourteen years studying and excavating at Troy and is developing an online resource to bring that knowledge to schoolchildren.
Roughly three thousand years ago, a people known as the Mycenaeans--prehistoric settlers of mainland Greece--might very well have battled with an obscure population in Northwest Anatolia, what is now present-day Turkey. It would have been one of dozens of major skirmishes likely fought in that period for any number of reasons: a trade dispute; a dissolving alliance; territorial expansion; or perhaps, as the story of the Trojan War goes, for the lost love of the most beautiful woman in the world.
Troy sits on the entrance to the Dardanelles, the only route from the Mediterranean and Aegean to the Black Sea--and the only way for ancient traders to get goods such as amber, gold, timber, and wool from the Black Sea Region. "It was like a toll gate that everyone had to pass through," she says. "So you can be sure they probably made some enemies. And they wouldn't have built all those series of fortification walls unless they were afraid of being attacked by somebody."
Decades of digging and research have revealed that there was not one Troy but at least nine distinct cities over a period of two-and-a-half thousand years, one built on top of the other. Troy grew powerful in the Early Bronze Age, a thousand years before the kingdom of Homer's epic, and other societies followed in the centuries afterward. Based on structural remains and discovered plans, archaeologists have been able to envision--and with the help of computers, depict--what some of those impressive civilizations looked like.
Seemingly commonplace architectural findings help unlock the power of myth. Reconstructed on the Web site is a simple wellhead dating from the Hellenistic period that likely covered a passageway used by Locrian maidens--women from Locris who were enslaved in the Temple of Athena as retribution for when, as the legend says, centuries earlier, Ajax of Locris attempted to rape Cassandra of Troy, an Athenian priestess. Legal inscriptions discovered from the same era allowed that if a citizen saw one of these maidens in public, she could be put to death. Hence, she could only move at night--or through this underground passage.
"That's just one strange ritual, which has no meat to it unless you say, 'Wow, these people really believed in this legend,'" Riorden says. "Or you could be cynical and say they used it to their advantage . . . but either way, you have to consider it."
Part of the purpose of Troy on the Internet is to show how integral myth and fact are to appreciating what happened there. Says Riorden, "You have to understand a lot of the myths to understand what they were thinking and what purpose the buildings were serving."
Students visiting the Web site will have the opportunity to examine many of those buildings and learn about the history and the mythology that makes them significant. For example, a short video tour of the Temple of Athena, the center of Troy's citadel, will be followed by links to the legends, such as the story of Athena and how she sided with the Greeks in the Trojan War. Interactive components will give opportunities for students to virtually pick up and examine an artifact, and enter a room, house, or temple, exploring not just the Web site, but the site of the excavation.
Cole: What led you to your interest in the Greeks, in particular, of all the possibilities there?
Kagan: As I read about them, more and more I became struck by certain aspects that were central to their culture. When I try to explain it to people, I use the term "the tragic spirit." The Greeks, unlike most people, were very well aware of two things at the same time. One is that human beings are capable of truly great things--by "great" they meant great good things and great terrible things. They accepted that. At the same time, human beings were not divine. They were mortal, and they were capable, as I say, of terrible things as well as good.
Most civilizations have coped with the problem of death by diminishing it or denying it. Either they say, well, yes, we die, but it's not important because we're not important. The other is to deny mortality, and to say, no, we can be immortal in certain circumstances.
The Greeks really had no sense of immortality. At the same time, they maintained a sense of the importance of human beings and the great beauty of life. In other words, they faced the fact that death would come, and it was terrible, but the fact that death would come did not mean that what we did while we were alive was unimportant. That attracted me enormously.
Kagan has certainly left a mark on us. Among Yale graduate students who worked with him in my day alone, half a dozen or more of us earn our living as university professors of ancient history or classics, and half a dozen others are professional historians of Germany, Italy, Russia, or the United States. But our numbers also include a top executive of one of the nation's leading charitable organizations and the American ambassador to one of the world's largest Muslim states. If we were to add Yale undergraduates who wrote a senior thesis with Kagan in that era, we would find, among others, an archaeologist, a historian of the modern European military, a U.S. attorney, and an urbanologist. Following Kagan's footsteps as an all-rounder, two of those who have not pursued careers in ancient history have nonetheless published well-regarded scholarly books about ancient Greece. Two of the professors double as rowing coaches. And this, of course, is to say nothing of Kagan's students from the 1960s, when he taught at Cornell, or at Yale from 1980 until today.
Sartre was alien to the possibility that existentialism might thrive if it would just assume that indeed we do have a God who, no matter His or Her cosmic dimensions, (whether larger or smaller than we assume), embodies nonetheless some of our faults, our ambitions, our talents and our gloom. For the end is not written. If it is, there is no place for existentialism. Base our beliefs, however, on the fact of our existence, and it takes no great step for us to assume that we are not only individuals but may well be a vital part of a larger phenomenon that searches for some finer vision of life that could conceivably emerge from our present human condition. There is no reason, one can argue, why this assumption is not nearer to the real being of our lives than anything the oxymoronic theologians would offer us. It is certainly more reasonable than Sartre's ongoing assumption--despite his passionate desire for a better society--that we are here willy-nilly and must manage to do the best we can with endemic nothingness installed upon eternal floorlessness. Sartre was indeed a writer of major dimension, but he was also a philosophical executioner. He guillotined existentialism just when we needed most to hear its howl, its barbaric yawp that there is something in common between God and all of us. We, like God, are imperfect artists doing the best we can. We may succeed or fail--God as well as us. That is the implicit if undeveloped air of existentialism. We would do well to live again with the Greeks, live again with the expectation that the end remains open but human tragedy may well be our end.
Honorable as America’s conduct has generally been in a war that has required it to act as an imperial power — administering vast tracts of territory in the most trying conditions — it seems to me difficult to deny that, whatever the technical merits of particular cases, a spirit of magnanimity has sometimes been wanting in the effort. We are told by Gibbon that when the Roman emperor Valerian was captured by the Persians, he “was exposed to the multitude, a constant spectacle of fallen greatness; and that, whenever the Persian monarch mounted on horseback, he placed his foot on the neck of the Roman emperor.” Such was the magnanimity of a Persian conqueror. Until I saw the photograph of Saddam in his underwear on the cover of the New York Post the other day, I thought the United States capable of something better. If an Iraqi tribunal, after trying the vile man according to its laws, determines to punish him so, let them — he deserves worse. But his humiliation is not the job of his American conquerors.
Hundreds of Roman statues that make up the world's greatest private collection of its kind are to be put on public display in Rome after spending more than 40 years in storage.
The Torlonia Statues are considered priceless, but their owners have now agreed to sell them to the city for £100 million.
The collection is named after the aristocratic Roman family that acquired it almost two centuries ago as security for a loan it made to another dynasty, the Giustiniani family, who then defaulted.
It comprises 620 marble and alabaster statues and sarcophagi from the Roman empire, including busts of Julius Caesar, sculptures of the ancient gods and Roman copies of Greek statues.
After long refusing to part with its treasures, the Torlonia family is said to have reconsidered the offer by the city. Sources close to the talks said a blueprint agreement had been reached in the past few days between the family, city hall, and the Fondazione Casse di Risparmio di Roma, a private banking foundation that had in turn enlisted other banks to raise the money. It is hoped that a formal agreement will be signed next month.
The Torlonia collection was consigned by the family to storage in the early 1960s, since then it has never been seen by the public. The purpose was to enable the family's stately residence-cum-museum on Rome's Via Lungara to be transformed into 93 flats.
Until now, however, the family has resisted numerous calls to part with the collection, saying that it intended eventually to exhibit the statues at its Villa Albani in Rome.
But planning permission for a purpose-built gallery which the family wanted to construct in its grounds, together with a multi-storey car park, was never forthcoming.
Three years ago, Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni, offered the family the palace on Via dei Cerchi, which is presently used to house municipal offices.
The following year, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's billionaire prime minister, was said to have offered to buy the collection in order to donate it to the state. But the idea came to nothing.
Noted British author David Icke has traced the Bush bloodline as far back as Phillip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, who established the Greek World Empire. From that point, the Bush bloodline passes through the principal ruling families of the Roman Empire and eventually through European royalty as well. He is also descended from Queen Cleopatra, royal consort to Julius Caesar. Icke comments that "She also bore twins with Mark Anthony, who has his own connections to this line and its many offshoots" Marc Anthony happens to be the great-Grandfather of Emperor Nero. So now there is also a definite blood connection between Emperor Nero, the original Biblical prototype for the Antichrist, and George W Bush. The Bush bloodline also passes directly through Herod the Great, the Judean King who originally tried to murder Jesus as a child, and he is related to Herod Antipas, who murdered John the Baptist and turned Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified.
THE success of the recent movie Gladiator demonstrates continuing public interest in the ancient past. Hungary has some of the richest remains of the ancient Roman Empire. Sites such as Brigetio (Szôny), Arrabona (Gyôr), Aquincum (Óbuda), Campona (Budatétény), Gorsium (Tác), Savaria (Szombathely), Sopianae (Pécs), and Intercisa (Dunaujváros) were just a few of the flowering colonial seats.
After the Via Appia, Pécs has the largest system of Early Christian catacombs. There is a stunning bronze portrait bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius is in the collection of the Museum of Antiquities of Pécs. Ruling from AD 121-180, his conquest of the Germanic tribes in the north is seen in the opening scenes of Gladiator, (with the aging Emperor played by Richard Harris). Known as the "Philosopher-Emperor", Marcus Aurelius wrote part of his Meditations in Pannonia (western Hungary).
Ongoing archaeological digs and research reveal more and more details about the varied peoples who lived in the western part of the Carpathian Basin under the mighty Roman Empire from the first to the fifth centuries AD. For more than 500 years, from circa 30 BC to 495 AD, the area between the Danube and the Dráva Rivers was known to the Roman world as the colony of Pannonia. It was the major northeastern defense-line of the Empire against surrounding Illyrians, Celts, Marcomans, Scythians, Germans and other "barbarian" tribes, a constant threat to the Romans. The crossing point of the valuable Amber Route from Rome to the Baltic was at the Danube, giving it further strategic importance. Pannonia was named for the resident "Pannon" tribes conquered by Julius Ceasar's heir, Augustus. His well-trained legionaires crossed the Julian Alps, pushing northward, along the left bank of the Danube. In his will Caesar Augustus wrote, "I have extended the borders of the Empire to the line of the Danube…" His successor, Trajan, conquered Dacia (Transylvania) in 106 AD. Legionaries were recruited from all parts of the Empire - those who came to Pannonia mostly hailed from Africa, Syria and Iran. At first turf and timber forts with earthen huts as housing formed the military camps surrounded by deeply dug ditches. The Romans were great engineers and developed highly practical and easily reproducible methods of building. They used bricks and concrete to make arches unknown in ancient Egypt and Greece.
They built their colonies on a classical urban plan based on the square and grid, with intersecting roads, the cardo and decumanus, north-south and east-west, and four gated towers allowing access to the walled-in city. The Commander's station, the altar, temple, and religious center, the public market, baths, and Forum were located in a public square in the middle.
A short time ago in an alternative high school classroom not so far away ...
About a month ago, Makowetski began to teach his students Greek mythology. His lessons included showing the class the first "Star Wars" film, "The Empire Strikes Back," and they plan to watch "Return of the Jedi."
After the movies, the class writes essays about how the characters and themes compare to Greek mythology. They also got to choose from a list of themes common to the space saga and mythology to create "Star Wars" collage posters.
"They are comparing Odysseus (the hero) in Homer's 'Odyssey' to Luke Skywalker," Makowetski said. "They all know the story (of Star Wars) and there's the new movie that opened."
"Stars Wars" and mythology have a lot of similarities, including heroes, the adventure aspect, good and evil and conflict, Makowetski said.
"As a literature teacher, I'm trying to get them to understand mythology."
Makowetski has used other modern stories before in his literature classes, but with all the hype surrounding the release of "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," this is the first time he decided to apply George Lucas's creative genius in the classroom. The six-week unit on "Star Wars" and mythology ends in a few weeks, and the class wants to celebrate by going to see the new movie after school.
"Star Wars is like any myth you read in high school," said senior Nick Draeger, 17, who was not even alive when the first three movies came out.
"Star Wars is an epic that has lots of meaning. You can apply Star Wars to almost every event in your life." said Maria Galves, a 16-year-old senior.
"It makes it easier to break down," senior Lindsey Revier, 16, said about studying "Star Wars" to learn mythology.
"It's a lot more interesting than studying something out of a textbook. You get more out of it."
Draeger, Galves and Revier were sort of strangers to the Star Wars universe before they signed up for the class. Revier said she had only seen the movies once before.
All three of them agreed that the best episode in the saga is "Star Wars Episode IV, The New Hope," which was the first one released.
"It's been interesting," Makowetski said. "Here at Maple we can use an alternative approach. The kids grasp it."
Few were crushed, and many pointed to the cloud of evil hanging over the movie as the reason it ranks among the best of the six episodes.
For "Star Wars" fanatic Gay, "Sith" was the perfect bridge between the two prequels and the original trilogy. Together, she enthused, the movies will be remembered as among the greatest epic storytelling, in the same league as Homer's "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey."
"It's going to be something people are going to remember through a good part of human history," she said.
Never underestimate dead white males. Especially the ones in togas. In May and June, five Greek plays will be running simultaneously in the Washington area -- "Electra" at MetroStage, "Hecuba" at the Kennedy Center, "Medea" at the Washington Shakespeare Company, "Jason and the Argonauts" at Synetic Theater and "Perfectly Persephone" at Imagination Stage.
Cultural lefties who condemn the Western canon as irrelevant in our multiculti global society and hope for dead white European males to go the way of the quatrain, should consider the selections made by D.C. theater companies. These Greek (and Greek-themed) plays feature strong women -- juicy roles that many say have not been trumped in 2,500 years.
"Medea is one of the ultimate roles for an actor," says Delia Taylor, who will play the infanticide-minded royal at the Washington Shakespeare Company starting June 6. "It is something you have to build up to in your career, a part you have to almost earn. I cannot imagine doing Medea when I was just starting out. So few female characters are as powerfully written as Medea."
If the part is sometimes considered one-dimensional, well -- that's the old double standard at work again, she believes.
"If women like Medea and Hecuba were male, they would be considered heroes," Miss Taylor says. "But because they are women, they are known as cold-blooded murderesses. Every time I mention that I am playing Medea, someone says, 'Oh, the woman who killed her children.' No one brings up Jason's behavior or his callous abandonment of her."
Euripides (484-406 B.C.), the author of "Medea," "Electra," and "Hecuba," was no smugly superior white male. He was, rather, a cave-dwelling loner who preferred contemplative solitude to the political and social gossip so dear to his fellow Athenians.
True, the tragedian was also a reputed woman-hater, perhaps smarting from at least two disastrous marriages to straying wives. Yet his plays, far from being misogynist, are instead deeply humanist studies of victims of oppression -- particularly women and slaves -- with whom he appears to have identified.
Greek legend had it that Hermes, the god of cunning and theft, would swoop down over rooftops at night and sow strange and troubling dreams into the heads of sleeping citizens. In the morning, no one could remember their dreams in detail, but many were filled worry and dread.
“Hermes has visited you!” was the rebuke to anyone in a gloomy mood.
Those goofy Greeks. What did they have to worry about? The thorniest issue for ancient Greeks and Romans was whether they would run out of baby names that ended in “us.” (Romulus, Theodosius, Asparagus, Promiscuous.)
There were no house payments back then, no college loans. You never had to think about privatization of social security or suffer dinner parties where everyone at the table is discussing the last episode of “Desperate Housewives.” We're talking nightmares here.
If ancient Greeks were alive today, they'd know what real worry and gloom are made of.
Hermes sneaks into my house all the time.Around 4 a.m. I am wakened by ghostly questions that come out only at night. They are harmless apparitions, mostly — imaginary quandaries that pose no threat, spirits without bodies that materialize for no reason but to disturb my sleep. They cut into my dreams like a scythe through hay. ...
AN UNDISCOVERED stretch of Hadrian’s Wall has been unearthed by archaeologists on the route of the £30 million Carlisle Northern Development by-pass.
The team of archaeologists from Cumbria County Council have discovered a section of the Roman wall and fragments of ancient pottery on the banks of the River Eden near Stainton, west of Carlisle. The discovery is directly on the line of the planned Northern Development Route and could mean further delays to the long-awaited by-pass – now more than three years late.
The Northern Development Route (CNDR), which will provide a vital link between West Cumbria and the M6, should have opened last December. Work on the road, which is seen as crucial in relieving crippling traffic congestion in Carlisle, was to start in 2006 and be complete in 2008.
A county council spokesman said archaeologists had found several fragments of Roman pottery. He said: “A single course of flat stones was also discovered, which is likely to have been the base of the wall, and on the southern side of the wall there was clear evidence of the vallum – an earthwork mound and ditch. The position of the new find broadly matches the assumed line of Hadrian’s Wall west of the city.”
County archaeologist Richard Newman described the historic find as “significant.” He said: “Before this find we did not know whether the wall survived to the immediate west of Carlisle.”
In a long-running legal battle with broad implications for museum collections worldwide, a senior curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has been indicted here on criminal charges involving the acquisition of precious antiquities in this archaeologically rich country, authorities in Rome said.
Marion True, 56, curator for antiquities at the museum and director of the Getty Villa, an adjunct site near Malibu that once was home to the main museum, is accused of criminal conspiracy to receive stolen goods and illicit receipt of archaeological items. It is also alleged that True in effect laundered goods that were purchased by a private collection and then sold to the Getty in paper transactions that created phony documentation.
The plunder of Italian treasures has gone on for many years. Despite efforts to stem it, valuable art -- some of it stolen -- has made its way into the hands of major museums and collectors like the Getty, authorities believe. The criminal indictment of a top curator was seen as an indication that Italian officials are taking more aggressive steps to curb such practices.
Getty officials said they had cooperated in the investigation and they defended True.
If the prosecution is successful, the Italians intend to pursue cases at other museums. The plunder of Italy for its artworks is a crime tantamount to “stealing history,” the indictment maintains. By attempting to prosecute an official from such a rich museum, Italian authorities said, they hope to send a clear message that they will no longer tolerate the vast and systematic robbing of antiquities from a country replete with historical treasures.
“We want this case to be a big deterrent,” Capt. Massimiliano Quagliarella, who commands Italy’s Carabinieri paramilitary police unit that oversees archaeological theft, said in an interview. “It is important to stop the phenomenon of illegal excavations and illegal exportation by eliminating the demand and thus eliminating the offer.”
He and the main prosecutor on the case briefed a reporter on the contents of the indictment. The prosecutor asked that his name not be published because the case is pending and he did not want to appear to be trying it in the news media. The trial is scheduled to begin in Rome on July 18, at which time the full details of the indictment will be disclosed.
Several attorneys who specialize in cultural heritage issues say that prosecuting a museum curator is unusual but not surprising in a field fraught with conflicting professional agendas and national laws.
“The fact that Italy is following through with this reflects greater frustration of countries that can’t seem to stem the flow of antiquities,” said Lawrence M. Kaye of the Herrick, Feinstein law firm in New York. “They are going to look for other measures until they are able to do so.
”I do think it’s problematical if museum curators, particularly reputable ones, are going to be the subject of indictments around the world. It certainly sends a chill out, warning people to be very careful about what kind of antiquities they are buying.“
The case is the latest example of national efforts to retrieve lost artworks. Greece wants the British Museum to return the marbles that Lord Elgin removed from the Parthenon and wants the Louvre to hand over the ”Winged Victory“ statue taken from the island of Samothrace. Egypt wants the Rosetta Stone, also at the British Museum.
The indictment of True comes after nearly 10 years of investigation. The case involves about 40 items acquired by the Getty in recent years, the authorities said. Investigators have not released a list of the objects, but they said two particularly notable Greek statues of deities were included.
One sculpture, a keystone of the Getty’s collection, is a 7 1/2-foot likeness of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, carved out of marble and limestone in the fifth century BC. The Getty imported the work in 1987 and declared its value at $20 million when it cleared customs. The other work, a 33-inch figure of Tyche, the goddess of fortune, was made of marble in the second century BC. It is part of the collection amassed by New York art patrons Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman, acquired by the Getty in 1996 as part gift, part purchase.
True was traveling outside the United States and could not be reached for comment. But the Getty issued a statement expressing disappointment in the action: ”During the course of the Italian authorities’ preliminary investigation, the Getty reviewed and provided to the prosecutors thousands of pages of documents from our files. We trust that this trial will result in her exoneration and end further damage to the personal and professional reputation of Dr. True.“
The prosecutor will not decide what penalty to seek until shortly before the trial, but authorities indicated that it is likely to be much less than the 10-year sentence handed down to Italian art dealer Giacomo Medici, recently convicted of trafficking in antiquities.
Originally, the charges against True were part of a larger case that included Medici and a Paris-based art dealer, Emanuel Robert Hecht.
The cases were divided when Medici requested a ”fast-track“ prosecution under rules that allow shorter sentences in speedier trials. Medici was convicted, sentenced and ordered to pay fines late last year. He is appealing the decision.
Hecht has been barred from entering Italy for his alleged role in selling looted Greek silver to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Italian prosecutors traveled to Los Angeles and New York to investigate the case. True was also deposed in Rome on March 15 and 16, the Italian authorities said. Getty officials have said they have found no evidence of wrongdoing. A lawyer for True, Francesco Isolabella, has described the acquisitions made by his client as being carried out ”in the clear light of day.“
True, a leader in the field of antiquities, has worked at the Getty for 23 years. She spent her first two years, 1982 to 1984, as an assistant to antiquities curator Jiri Frel, who was hired in 1973 by the museum’s founder, oil baron J. Paul Getty.
True was promoted to the position of associate curator upon Frel’s departure in 1984. She took charge of the antiquities department in 1986, the year she received her doctorate from Harvard University.
The Getty has a policy of returning objects to their countries of origin should evidence indicate that is the right thing to do. In 1999, the Getty took the much-publicized step of returning to Italy three works: a 480 BC Greek terra cotta drinking cup that was illegally excavated; a second-century torso of the god Mithra stolen from a private Italian collection; and a second-century Roman head of an athlete illicitly taken from an excavation storeroom. In announcing the decision to return the objects, the Getty credited True’s ”vigilance and extensive contact with specialists in ancient art.“
The towering sculpture of Aphrodite at issue created a furor in 1988, soon after the museum unveiled the artwork, purchased the previous year. Italian authorities promptly launched an inquiry, charging that the statue might have been unearthed by scavengers and smuggled out of Sicily in the 1970s. The controversy died down when no evidence materialized, only to boil up again in the indictment of True.
With names such as Versace dominating the world’s catwalks, the Italians may regard themselves as being the modern-day epitome of sartorial chic.
But while their Armani suits and Gucci bags show their contemporary flair for the ultra-trendy, evidence has emerged to show that things were once very different.
Their Roman ancestors made what today would be the ultimate fashion faux-pas – wearing thick woolly socks with their sandals.
The evidence has emerged among thousands of archaeological objects found in the River Tees at Piercebridge, near Darlington, County Durham, by divers Bob Middlemass and Rolf Mitchinson.
Among the items they brought to the surface was an unusual Roman razor handle, made of copper alloy and in the shape of a human leg and foot.
On a closer inspection of the 5cm high artefact, the foot is wearing an open-toed sandal with what appears to be a thick woollen sock underneath.
According to Philippa Walton, a finds liaison officer at Newcastle University’s Museum of Antiquities, the Romans may well have been putting comfort before style.
She said: “It is quite funny really that the soldiers were wearing these thick woolly socks.
“It could have been the fashion for a Roman soldier or it could have been because of the tough northern cold.”
Ms Walton said that other discoveries from the period also appear to prove that style was the last thing on a Roman’s mind or foot while on duty in the north east.
“There was a letter found at the Roman fort at Vindolanda, on Hadrian’s Wall, from a soldier writing home asking for more socks,” she said.
“This may suggest the soldiers were more concerned about keeping out the cold.”
Whether they're debating the politics of Caesar, the legend of Hercules or the philosophy of Horace, three Doherty Middle School students are quick to agree on one subject: Latin is not dead!
Gary Hinds, 14, Auden Lincoln-Vogel, 13 and John Haak, 14, made Doherty history this month, as the first male middle-school-aged students to earn perfect scores on a global exam testing Latin language skills.
David Hu, 14, an eighth-grader at Wood Hill, also received a perfect score.
Of 135,000 students participating in the exam worldwide, about 1,600 answered all 40 questions correctly.
The students' foreign language teacher, Elizabeth Torosian, says that while Roman vernacular may be ancient, the three eighth-graders prove it is far from becoming outdated.
"After learning Latin, students really see the value when their English skills are tested on major exams," Torosian explains. "They discover how much Latin helps to improve their understanding of vocabulary."
About 65 percent of the English language is derived from Latin roots. In science, law and politics, Latin terminology is still very much alive.
While students who study a foreign language typically earn higher scores on college entrance exams, those who study Latin consistently score higher than most others, according to the College Board.
Getting ahead in class is not the only incentive for students to enroll in Latin.
Tales of mythical gods and goddesses, and real-life heroes and villains, help create for students compelling in-class discussions on the wars, romance, tragedy and triumphs of ancient Rome.
"The Roman mythology interested me," says Haak.
"I liked the culture and history," adds Vogel.
Following an introduction to several foreign languages in the sixth grade, students are required to choose one to concentrate on in seventh and eighth grade.
Torosian says the number of students showing an interest in Latin continues to grow.
"Mythology really piques their interest," says the teacher. "When I'm telling them a story, the room becomes so quiet that by the end you can hear a pin drop."
Among Doherty's 45 students who took the Latin exam, 37 received some kind of recognition.
Next year, Torosian anticipates even better results as her Latin class enrollment is expected to increase to 58 students. Last year, eighth-graders Hannah Gradius and Anne Tucker were the first from Doherty to achieve perfect test scores. Those students are now at Andover High School, where Torosian says advanced placement Latin also continues to draw large groups.
Although the Doherty students say they were "surprised" to hear of their perfect achievement, on a scale from 1 to 10 they unanimously gave the test about a 5 for difficulty.
"It wasn't too hard," says Hinds, who plans to pursue Latin studies at Andover High in the fall.
All three students believe the language, which originated around 535 BC, should continue to prove useful in their academic pursuits.
"Having a background in Latin will make learning a lot of other things easier," Haak adds.
Torosian chocks up the eighth-graders' success to hours of studying, and hopes the benefits of learning a second language will become available in younger grades in the future.
"Foreign languages are a great building skill for making connections in culture, history and human communication," Torosian says.
"At their young ages, these students soak up the information like sponges. The younger we get them in, the better they will be later on because of it.
"Labor omnia vincit." ("Hard work pays off.")
A German scientist claims to have found the Sirens of the Greek myth of Odysseus, who lured ships onto the rocks with their song: they are, in fact, monk seals.
Karl-Heinz Frommolt, head of the Achieve of Animal Sounds at the Humboldt Museum in Germany, believes he has identified the Sirens' lair on the Li Galli islands, off Sorrento on Italy's Amalfi coast. The island is known as Le Sirenuse, the Island of the Sirens.
His team identified a configuration of rocks which amplifies sound coming from the island. However, tests showed a human voice could not reach far enough out to sea - whereas a moaning monk seal's could.
"It could be monk seals, because the cries of seals are much louder than the song of humans," Dr Frommolt told BBC World Service's Science In Action programme.
"What we can say is that what we have here is a clear acoustic phenomenon, supporting the theory that the Odyssey was real - and not only a poem by Homer."
In Homer's epic poem, Odysseus, a warrior king, tells of a land inhabited by wicked women who lured sailors to their death with their beautiful song.
Odysseus is warned: "There is no homecoming for the man who draws near them unawares and hears the Sirens' voices."
He is said to have heard their music a long way from the island. He saves his crew from death by filling their ears with wax - but, wanting to hear the song himself, he orders his men to tie him to the mast.
Dr Frommolt believed that if there is any truth in this theory, the islands must have a type of acoustic phenomenon.
To test this, his team used a loudspeaker and transmitted artificial sounds. They then listened out at sea, as the sailors would have done.
"When we moved away from the loudspeaker, we would expect the noise to be lower in intensity - and that is a fact: at 300 metres it was less intense than at 200 metres," he said.
"But when our boat was positioned between the two rocks, at a still greater distance, of 400 metres, the signal became even louder."
He explained that this was due to the "specific constellation" of the islands, which consists of two distinctive rocks, Castellucio and La Rotonda, and one long island, Gallo Grande.
"We have two large rocks, and they have very strong reflections - a natural acoustic amplifier," Dr Frommolt added.
He believes that Odysseus might have heard something before he could see the shore, and before he could notice who - or indeed what - was causing the noise.
The poem refers to the ship having "just come within call of the shore, when the Sirens became aware that a ship was bearing down upon them, and broke into their high, clear song".
However, a human singer cannot sing loud enough to be heard offshore - even with the amplification effect of the surrounding rocks.
Historians, however, are not amused - believing the value of the tale does not lie in a literal interpretation of what are mythical figures.
Ancient tablets found in South Bulgaria are written in the oldest European script found ever, German scientists say.
The tablets, unearthed near the Southern town of Kardzhali, are over 35-centuries old, and bear the ancient script of the Cretan (Minoan) civilization, according to scientists from the University of Heidelberg, who examined the foundings. This is the Cretan writing, also known as Linear A script, which dates back to XV-XIV century B.C.
The discovery proves the theory of the Bulgarian archaeologists that the script on the foundings is one of the oldest known to humankind, the archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov announced Wednesday.
Ovcharov, who is heading the archaeological expedition in the ancient Perperikon complex near Kardzhali, called the discovery "revolutionary". It throws a completely different light on Bulgaria's history, he said in an interview for the National Television.
Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a Nabataean monument during an excavation at Jordan's ancient city of Petra, the English language newspaper Jordan Times reported on Wednesday.
It quoted Patricia Bikai, who headed the excavation team that made the discovery, as saying that they "initially thought the building was either a shrine or a royal residence".
"However, after further examination we identified the monument as a banquet hall, which was decorated with 22 stone heads of ancient gods," she added.
Bikai, an archaeologist at the American Centre of Oriental Research (ACOR), pointed out that the monument, which dated back to the first century, was only found last week after her team had been digging in the area for the past four years.
She said the remains of the building, which had probably collapsed after a major earthquake in 363 AD, were buried in its basement that was covered by sand.
The heads were on the capitals of the columns around the main room. "I have never seen anything like it in Petra before," Bikai said, adding that each of the discovered heads was unique and represented a different figure. "We have so far identified eight to 10 of them," she said.
In April last year, French archaeologists unearthed the head of a marble statue believed to be that of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, in front of Qasr Al Bint in the ancient city of Petra.
We've got some items coming up for auction at Christie's again. Today we offer a 1st century Roman "head of an Amazon" which, we are told in the details, is "thought to be based on an original by Polykleitos". Seems like an awful lot of info from a disconnected head -- how do they get all this?.
An early transcription of Archimedes' mathematical theories has been brought to light through the probing of high-intensity X-rays.
The text contains part of the Method of Mechanical Theorems, one of Archimedes' most important works, which was probably copied out by a scribe in the tenth century. The parchment on which it was written was later scraped down and reused as pages in a thirteenth century prayer book, producing a document known as a palimpsest (which comes from the Greek, meaning 'rubbed smooth again').
Scholars discovered the text concealed in this book as early as 1906. Since then, much of the text has been read, using everything from magnifying glasses to ultraviolet light, which highlights the hidden ink.
But some of the text has been solidly obscured by some twentieth-century forgeries of medieval art that were slapped on top of a few pages. So researchers at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, decided to use X-rays to peer through this modern ink. Iron pigment in the original ink fluoresced when hit by the X-rays, allowing researchers to see the text for the first time.
"The Method is one of the most inventive and spectacular treatises of the greatest mathematician of antiquity," says William Noel, associate curator of manuscripts and rare books at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, and director of the palimpsest project. "This information is not available anywhere else in the world."
The first page has now been scanned, but researchers have not yet been able to decipher the writing. Each scan yields a picture of the writing on both sides of each page, along with the thirteenth-century text that also lurks beneath the forged drawings. Different images will have to be compared carefully to unpick the Archimedes text.
Uwe Bergmann, a physicist at the synchrotron lab, says the technique is fairly straightforward, although he doesn't think it has been used to illuminate antique manuscripts before.
Alexander Jones, a classicist at the University of Toronto in Canada, thinks the technique could be useful in a wider context. "What we know about the Greco-Roman world depends very heavily on texts," he explains. "There are undoubtedly other damaged manuscripts to which this method could be applied."
ROMAN emperor Julius Caesar had become too popular and too powerful when he met an untimely end at the hands of those he trusted more than 2000 years ago.
So it was with surprise that Senator Santo Santoro yesterday evoked Caesar's name to introduce Prime Minister John Howard to a Brisbane fundraising gathering of almost 500 Queensland Liberals.
"I believe they have come here to praise you, not to do anything else, just as they did Caesar, and I'm sure you are not going to disappoint us later on," Senator Santoro said.
While Mr Howard may have had no cause to say "et tu (and you) Brutus", as Caesar did to his betrayer Brutus, mingling with the Queensland Liberals can be a case of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. [...]
In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon's brilliant narrative power and avalanche of names and numbers is peppered with words like "dissolution," "vice," "fear," "avarice," "lust," "cruelty," "religious zealotry," and "gluttony." The empire, it's clear, was not so much conquered by barbarians as it was felled by the sheer weight of its decadence. The glory that was Rome was, as Tony Bennett put it, "of another day." The Romans, in short, were resting on their laurels. As a result, they were willfully ignorant of the outside world. They believed that their status as "the world's only superpower" (is there an echo in here?) was ordained by God. Thus, they believed they could do anything they wanted -- including squander the world's riches -- without remorse or retribution. This, famously (see Fellini's Satyricon), included orgies of sex, drink, gore and food. Lots of food. Their empire, and waistlines, expanded, even as they collectively grew more weak.
Flash forward to America in 2005. The same suicidal mindset has been reborn. George W. Bush is our Nero, jogging and riding bicycles while Iraq burns. Rumsfeld is our Caligula, blood dripping from his fangs. James Dobson and Pat Robertson share the role of Constantine, religious whack jobs willing to take the rest of us down with them in their rush to the Rapture. And so on. A great writer put it this way: "There is nothing new under the sun."
What inspired these thoughts, besides flipping through an abridged copy of Gibbon's great work, was the latest news bubbling up from the fast food cesspool. Even after Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation offered grim, irrefutable warnings of the deleterious health effects of America's dietary obsessions, the madness continues ... and gets worse. To wit: Pizza Hut now offers a "Full House XL" pizza, 30 percent bigger than its previous biggest; it contains 2,240 calories (the maximum daily recommended caloric intake for humans is 2400). Burger King has introduced "Enormous Omelette the King of Breakfasts" and an "Ultimate Double Whopper" with bacon and cheese. Ruby Tuesday's, blaming a "slimmed down" menu for lower profits, has an "Ultimate Colossal Burger" made from two half-pounds of beef, packing a 1,781-calorie punch. Wendy's new "Triple with Cheese" has 1,000 calories, and Hardee's' "Monster Thickburger, the mother of all hamburgers" has 1,430 calories.
Italy will finance restauration of archaeological finds in Bulgaria, Italian ambassador in this country Gian-Battista Campagnola said Wednesday.
He said that a leading Italian bank would provide the necessary funds.
Campagnola would not immediately identify the bank.
He added that an Italian specialist would head a Bulgarian team that would carry out the restauration.
The restored artefacts will be part of a future exhibition of Bulgaria's Thracian cultural heritage dating back from the sixth and fifth century B.C. to be shown in Italy in 2007.
The Fairfield Prep hockey team has nothing to worry about. The Prep catapult team won't eclipse its limelight anytime soon.
Both neon yellow softballs fired from Prep's 4-by-3-foot wooden catapult fell far short of the mark Tuesday during the 24th annual Connecticut State Latin Day held at Holiday Hill in Cheshire.
No matter — the five-member Prep Latin team led by sophomore Lawson Kurtz, 16, of Westport, professed to be in it merely for the competition.
On a day when 2,000 students from 69 middle and high schools across the state helped shake a dead language awake, Connecticut Latin Day had something for everyone.
For Chris Audie, 16, of Ansonia, there was the chance to model a Roman legionnaire costume made out of overlapping metal strips pinned together with chain links. "It taught me why legionnaires wore certain types of armor," said Audie, a sophomore at Notre Dame of West Haven.
For Tom Keane, 16, a Prep junior from Fairfield, it was a morning spent checking out the competition in the chariot pit. He was draped in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bedsheet.
"It's a lot of fun," said Keane, who took Latin because he was tired of French and had no desire to learn Spanish. Plus, Spanish doesn't come with its own day.
For Rebecca Schutzengel, 13, of Stratford, it was a chance to wile away the morning creating a Roman bracelet, a sculpture and a mosaic, outside on a picnic bench.
Inside the main pavilion, a waxed tablet Schutzengel entered in the projects competition placed first in the civilizations category. Students in ancient times carved notes into such tablets, then smoothed out the wax for reuse, thus saving a papyrus tree or two, said Schutzengel, an eighth-grader at Hopkins School in New Haven.
In the same category, Henry Hernandez, a Trumbull High student, placed second. Another Trumbull student, Zoe Eisenberg, placed first in calligraphy, and Henni Cottle of Trumbull placed third in sculpture.
Laura Guadagnoli, Trumbull High's Latin teacher, took 24 of her 35 level I and II Latin students to Latin Day.
"They are so enthusiastic about this," she said, even about academic competitions. However, a near-disaster struck when Trumbull High's chariot flew off the back of a pickup on the Merritt Parkway last week, necessitating speedy last-minute repairs.
The theme of the day was "Lingua Latina: Vox Populorum,"
A real-life supermom used a bottle of breast milk to douse an amputee yesterday after his wheelchair was set ablaze by punks on a Staten Island bus, cops said.
The nursing mother's fast actions helped save Vietnam vet Francis Abrams, 57, from becoming a human torch, and stopped the fire from engulfing the S-54 bus, police and the victim said.
"It was put out with breast milk," said a police source, who was awed by the bizarre incident that happened just after 11 a.m.
Abrams, who lost his left leg in Vietnam, said he was minding his own business as he rode the city bus to the Staten Island Mall to buy a video of "The Exorcist."
Just after he boarded the bus, three teens playing hooky from Tottenville High School pulled a cruel prank, cops said.
"They set my chair on fire," an angry Abrams said last night, refusing to allow photographers to take pictures of his face. "They thought it was a joke."
Cops said the teens used a cigarette lighter to ignite a plastic bag hanging from the back of Abrams' motorized wheelchair.
The flames quickly engulfed the bag, containing the Greek classics "Odyssey" and "Iliad."
As the fire spread to Abrams' jacket, he screamed: "Water!"
As her baby looked on, the new mom and a friend sprang into the action, dousing the fire with a freshly pumped bottle of breast milk and another bottle of water, authorities said. [...]
An extra 5 million euros will be provided for the Acropolis conservation works, bringing the total of European Union and national funding for the mammoth project up to 12 million euros over the next two years, the government said yesterday.
While announcing the extra funding, a Culture Ministry release urged state archaeologists and conservators handling the works — which started in 1975 and are not expected to finish before 2020 — to step up their pace and improve the project’s organization.
“Works on the monuments, and on the new Acropolis Museum, must be speeded up so that our country can present credible arguments both in seeking extra [EU] funds for culture and in demanding the return of the Parthenon sculptures,” the ministry said.
Greece has linked its lagging efforts to build the new museum under the ancient citadel to its campaign for the return of the British Museum’s Elgin Collection of sculptures from the fifth-century BC. temple. The museum was supposed to have been ready last summer. But, so far, only the foundations have been laid.
Citing tight budgetary constraints and a need to “rationalize” and render “credible” the schedule for the Acropolis works, in December the Culture Ministry cut 4.5 million euros from the 10-million-euro budget for 2005 of the project’s supervisory body, the Service for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments (YSMA). Last month, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis indicated that the government might break a 30-year taboo by seeking private sponsorship for the works.
“The ministry and YSMA still wish to attract private sponsorship, but time will be required to draft the regulations on the terms and preconditions for such deals,” the ministry said yesterday. Out of YSMA’s 12-million budget for 2005 and 2006, only 1.5 million will be provided by Greece. The rest will come from the EU coffers.
On Monday, YSMA chief Maria Iordanidou said the current work under way on the Parthenon, the Propylaea and the Temple of Athena Nike should be finished by the end of 2006.
A Greek-American developer has proposed putting a replica of the Parthenon atop an office building he intends to construct in the Californian capital.
Angelo G. Tsakopoulos unveiled plans last week for a 29-story office tower near the state capitol that would honor his Greek ancestors.
“As a family, we will cherish the building as a tribute to the perseverance and accomplishment of our parents,” Tsakopoulos told The Sacramento Bee newspaper.
The developer’s family, which has made money in real estate and is active in charitable organizations, has been in the United States for five decades since coming from the Greek village of Rizes.
The 430,000-square-foot (38,700-square-meter) office building is estimated to cost between $105 million (83.23 million euros) and $115 million (91.15 million euros).
While Tsakopoulos’s company said city planners have expressed support for the project, not everyone is enthusiastic about the plans.
Architect David Eisen called a rendering of the design an “uncomfortable mix of boring and overbearing.”
“This is the kind of kitschy proposal that might make sense in Disneyland or Las Vegas,” said Eisen, a former architecture critic for the Boston Herald newspaper. “It sends a very bad message to out-of-towners. It’s like you have no faith in today or the future, so imitating the past is the only direction you can go.”
Architect Edwin M. Kado, who designed the building with the replica of the fifth-century BC marble temple, said he heard criticism when he designed a terraced pyramid that opened in 1998 along the Sacramento River. It was called gaudy, but is now featured on nationally televised Sacramento Kings NBA basketball games.
“Any worthy architecture needs to incite some interest and controversy,” he said, “especially if you’re going to create a memorable, distinctive building.”
Ongoing restoration work on the Acropolis will be completed on schedule, and all scaffolding currently encumbering the ancient citadel will be removed by 2006, Greek archaeologists supervising the project have said.
"The Acropolis works...are proceeding rapidly," Acropolis Restoration Service (YSMA) director Maria Ioannidou told an annual conference on the project's progress Monday.
"According to (our) plans, the current works will be completed at the end of 2006," she said.
Last month, Greece's culture ministry said it was considering an appeal for private investor funds to help speed up the Acropolis conservation effort, which has dragged on for 30 years.
Despite spending over 30.6 million euros since 1975 on restoring the World Heritage Acropolis site, the ministry said that 16 more years and some 70 million euros in additional funds would be needed to complete the work at the going pace.
Ioannidou insisted Monday that her service will meet the 2006 deadline provided that it receives funding which the culture ministry has delayed paying.
"The 2020 completion date reported by the media concerns future projects that have yet to begin," added Haralambos Bouras, chairman of the culture ministry's Committee for the Preservation of the Acropolis Monuments (ESMA).
YSMA is halfway through reassembling the various Acropolis monuments either partly or wholly taken apart for restoration, including the 5th century BC Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike, Ioannidou said.
Nearly 1,000 structural parts from the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion have been restored, and 470 of them have been repositioned, along with over 1,000 pieces of broken marble masonry which were returned to their original locations, she said.
The process took longer than originally planned because of the "unexpected" deterioration found in the monuments' marble, which added two years and 5.5 million euros to the project, Bouras said.
Restorers have also been collecting and filing small marble fragments spread across the Acropolis site.
The name "Golden Gate" is indeed a translation from a foreign language, but not from Spanish. (The Spanish settlers weren't maritime-minded, remember.) Rather, it comes from classical Greek. John C Fremont rhapsodically deemed the strait Chrysopylae, in conscious imitation of Byzantium's Chrysoceras, aka "Golden Horn".
A series of finds unearthed at a previously unknown Roman amphitheatre in Chester suggest the habits of sports fans have not changed in almost two millennia, archaeologists said yesterday.
Milling about outside the ground, spectators picked up fast food on the way to their seats. Stalls offered cheap souvenirs of the fearsome encounters and feats of physical prowess that took place in front of thousands of fans.
A series of finds from the excavation provide a glimpse into the lives of those who attended gladiatorial contests, floggings and public executions 1,900 years ago.
The remains of flimsy wooden structures thought to have been stalls were found outside the arena and alongside beef ribs and chicken bones - believed to have been the left-overs of Roman Britain's version of fast food.
Parts of mass-produced samian pottery bowls depicting gladiatorial scenes found at the site are thought to have been sold as cheap souvenirs.
The two-storey arena, dating from around AD100, also has an external stairway, making it unique in Britain and providing new evidence of Chester's importance in the Roman Empire.
Tony Wilmott, senior archaeologist at English Heritage, said: "People came, ate some snack food and maybe bought throwaway souvenirs.
"They could buy a bowl featuring their favourite gladiator. In many ways nothing has changed.
"Unlike at most British amphitheatres, there was proper seating in Chester, like a mini-Colosseum. It appears the amphitheatre we already knew about in Chester was built to enlarge this one.
"There are no other examples like this in Britain. Comparable ones are in major centres abroad such as at Pompeii. This suggests Chester may have been an even more important place in Roman times that we previously believed."
The newly-discovered amphitheatre, about 230ft in diameter, was unearthed beneath the remains of a later, larger arena discovered in 1929. Half of the site lies beneath a built-up area.
The latest excavations by English Heritage and Chester city council show a stone arena that could accommodate about 5,000 spectators with some wooden seating.
Large quantities of yellow sand are believed to have been imported to show up and soak up the blood better. A human tooth was found in the sand at the site.
The exhibition's title - "Archaeology of War: The Return From Oblivion" - hints at the Russian pride that has been an undercurrent of the anniversary commemoration this year. For all the flaws of the Soviet Union, the thinking goes, its victory over Nazi Germany was an unassailable achievement.
The museum's curators and two dozen restorers spent five and a half years doing an inventory and restoring the works, which were salvaged from the ruins of a bunker near the Tiergarten in Berlin. (Which side destroyed the bunker is a matter of dispute; the museum says it was German troops, while German officials say records suggest that the cache was intact when Soviet troops arrived.)
After the war, the art spent decades in boxes, mixed with ash and soot, in storage in Sergiyev Posad, a city north of Moscow. "Most of the objects were picked up with shovels," said Lyudmila Akimova, the exhibition's curator and head of the museum's department of antique art and archeology. "They were mixed with dirt and covered with tar. Whatever we managed to restore to this date, we included in the exhibition. There is still more work to do."
Much of the pottery, for example, had been reduced to shards that restorers pieced together, in some cases incompletely. A Greek red-figure vase from 470 B.C., depicting the murder of Aegisthus by Agamemnon's children, Orestes and Electra, has regained its form, though significant gaps had to be patched.
A stunning bronze sculpture, the Zeus of Dodon, made in the fourth century B.C. and just 30 centimeters, or 12 inches tall, had been badly charred by flames, Akimova said.
While restoration may have brought the works back from oblivion, their provenance is not nearly so obscure. Virtually all the works once belonged to Germany's state museums in Berlin. Akimova said that research had traced some of the works to specific collections amassed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and that several of them were well known to art historians.
"I feel joy, of course, that these objects are back in the world," she said, showing visitors around the exhibition's three halls the other day.
The most famous is a collection of gold known as Priam's Treasure, which was recovered by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1873 in what he believed to be ancient Troy. The Pushkin displayed the treasures in 1996 and has since dropped any question of its return.
The gold is back in storage.
The Thracian king Seutus III, whose gold mask was unearthed in 2004 by Bulgarian archaeologists, has been chopped with an axe after his death, an expert research showed.
According to archaeologists this discovery is pure sensation because it proves the theory that ancient Thracians used to chop into pieces their rulers' bodies and buried them in different places.
The discovery was made after an examination of the king's bones, which were found in a tomb near the Shipka Peak, southern Bulgaria in 2004.
Only his legs and lower jaw were found together with the 680 g gold mask.
In the summer of 2004 a group of Bulgarian archaeologists came upon an astounding founding of a whole Thracian treasure, including a gold ring, ornate silver, bronze and ceramic pieces. The gold mask, which was also found there, proved to be 2,500-year-old.
The whole collection will be displayed for the first time on Wednesday in the Archaeological Museum in Sofia.
Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov and the Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg will attend the opening of the new exposition marking the 100th anniversary of the museum.
Sigh. Remember when idols were really, really BIG? Elvis Presley. Frank Sinatra. Zeus.
It may be asking too much to expect Greek deities to emerge from American Idol (Tuesday on Fox, 8 ET/PT), but as long as we're pretending that the show's three finalists represent the finest voices to be culled from the great American choir, why not dream big?
Still presiding supreme over the acropolis is Carrie Underwood, or Nike, goddess of victory and soon-to-be-spokesmodel for running shoes and whatever else Idol deems worthy of sponsorship. It not only takes drive and focus to get through Idol's elimination rounds, you have to drive a Focus to meet the contract stipulations.
Bo Bice can be Hyperion, the god of light, or for Idol purposes, lite. He could be Hype for short. And Vonzell Solomon? She's the tragic Adikia, goddess of injustice, who despite tackling challenging tunes and improving greatly over the past 12 weeks is routinely subject to harsher criticism than her co-finalists and most likely will be kicked to the curb on Wednesday.
Music mogul Clive Davis, who produced albums by past Idol winners and will face the daunting task of making a record with Bo or Carrie, joins the judges tonight. Let's make him Poseidon, god of the sea, or the high C, in this case. And let's see if he can make a Poseidon adventure that doesn't end in campy, capsizing disaster.
A Greek goddess label isn't a bad fit, in terms of the vacant-eyed alabaster variety found in sculpture gardens. Gamble and Huff, the Philly songwriting/production duo, should have left in a huff after Carrie's limp and lost version of If You Don't Know Me by Now. The bombastic arrangement deserves some blame, but nothing except an overdose of curare could explain Carrie's total emotional disconnect. The limestone cowgirl managed to break out of her marble cast in a naughty and high-kicking cover of the Dixie Chicks' Sin Wagon. All was forgiven. She remains the front-runner.
NBC is touting Robert Halmi Sr.'s three-hour "Hercules" movie as "the definitive retelling" of the mythological muscleman's life. Well, not quite.
Certainly it hews closer to the original myths than "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," the late-1990s syndicated hit that transplanted the hero from ancient Greece to some vaguely medieval time and represented him as a tanned and wiry surfer type (Malibu Herc?) who dressed as though he were fronting Aerosmith or Def Leppard.
But if you want to see how much Halmi and screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue have modified or left out completely, grab a copy of "Bulfinch's Mythology" or look up "Herakles" on the Web at www .mythome.org/greek.html. As labyrinthine as the movie's plot may seem, it's as straightforward as an episode of "JAG" compared to the infinitely twisted yarns of yore.
Halmi's is sort of a secular-humanist Hercules. Or maybe Unitarian. Zeus, Hera and other Greek gods are prayed to and yelled at but never actually depicted on-screen, and even Hercules' son-of-a-god lineage is questioned. Near the end, he makes a big declaration from a sea cliff's edge about respecting and worshiping all creation but having had his fill of fickle creators.
Half of the famous 12 labors of Hercules are omitted. In the case of his cleaning the Augean stables, where 3,000 oxen had done their business for 30 years, it's probably just as well. But it would have been fun to see him temporarily relieve Atlas of his burden - holding the heavens on his shoulders - in order to retrieve the golden apples of Hesperides.
Then again, maybe not. The movie's computer-animators have a difficult enough time bringing to life the lesser labors - slaying the Nemean lion, orwhacking
the multiheaded Hydra - without generating unintentional laughs.
The CGI creatures - centaurs, golden stags, bird-like harpies that fling off feathers like knives, the aforementioned Hydra - look halfway realistic in some shots, ridiculously artificial in others. But the effects are no more inconsistent than the actors, who often stumble over the obligatory semi-classical dialogue. Shouting lines at a thunderstorm is never easy, even if William Shakespeare provides them. And Pogue is no Bard.
Ex-007 Timothy Dalton ("License to Kill") and Elizabeth Perkins ("The Ring Two") occasionally wring some humanity from their roles as Hercules' loving stepfather, Amphitryon, and treacherous mother, Alcmene. As Deianeira, the nymph who eventually becomes Hercules' wife, Leelee Sobieski ("Joan of Arc"), comes across like a giant Tinkerbell who's spent too much time at a tanning parlor. Sean Astin ("Lord of the Rings") gets sidekick duty again, with much dopier dialogue. He's Linus, the lyre instructor young Hercules accidentally kills. In the myths, Linus stays dead. In the movie, he's revived and becomes Hercules' Sancho Panza.
Indiana Tech has dumped its former American Indian warrior mascot and replaced it with a helmeted figure resembling a Roman soldier.
The new mascot -- complete with armored breastplate, shield and helmet -- was unveiled Saturday during Indiana Tech's commencement at Memorial Coliseum.
Indiana Tech President Arthur E. Snyder said the change was made out of respect for American Indian culture.
"We decided to put our collective heads together and put together a neo-Roman warrior," Snyder said.
Indiana Tech's move makes it one of the dozens of other colleges and high schools across the nation that have either eliminated American Indian warriors as mascots or changed the warrior from an American Indian to another kind of warrior.
In another change, the school's new mascot carries a shield rather than a weapon, giving it a less confrontational appearance than the previous American Indian mascot.
"We look to make it a defensive warrior as opposed to an offensive one," Snyder said. "It dignifies our mascot warrior and shows strength and perseverance."
One of the more controversial coins of the Ancient World is the Gold Stater of Koson or what is often called the Gold Stater of Brutus. This magnificent coin was struck around 42 B.C., and embodies a story involving murder, war, and suicide. It is no wonder it is a favorite among collectors.
On the Ides of March of 44 B.C., Marcus Junius Brutus, Cassius and a group of Republicans assassinated Julius Caesar. This caused Civil War, and Brutus fled Rome to an area of Greece called Thrace where he raised and army of Dacian mercenaries awaiting the expected backlash of his actions. While in Thrace, Brutus attempted to gain financial backing. It was Polomocratia, the widow of the Thracian dynast Sadalas, who consigned gold to back the army of Brutus.
After Brutus fled Rome, Octavian and Marc Anthony pledged to hunt down Brutus, and bring him to justice in an attempt to restore order and peace within the Roman Empire. They assembled their armies, and began their march.
The Gold Staters of Koson were considered as military payroll for the army of Brutus, and were a part of his ‘War Chest.’ They were minted in the Koson area of Thrace of what is believed to be an anonymous Scythian group. Each of these Greek Staters was made of 8.5 grams of pure gold, and about the size of the U.S. $2 ½ gold piece. The obverse side of the coin is almost a direct copy of the Roman Brutus silver denarii from 54 B.C. It depicts three figures in togas, the middle one being Lucius Junius Brutus, an ancestor of Marcus Junius Brutus, and the other two ligates. Below the three figures is the word “Koson.” The reverse pictures a Roman eagle perched on a scepter while holding a wreath of victory in one of its claws. This is very similar to the type of motif found on many Roman Republic silver and gold coins. Even though these coins look very Roman, and were made to emulate Roman coins, they were made in Greece.
It is believed that all known examples of these coins in existence today originated directly from the ‘War Chest’ of Brutus’ army. A ‘War Chest’ is the payroll from which an army was compensated. Prior to battle the ‘War Chest’ would be buried to prevent its capture by the opposing armies. After the battle, the chest would be dug up and the soldiers would be paid.
When you teach Latin and make people like one Roman cab driver come out of school hating it “criminosum est”, says our Latin Lover. Stressing the idea that making students learn declensions with a stick over their heads is just sinful...
I've managed to cull some 'different' items at the auctions for the next while ... a case in point is this interesting painting by Gregorio Lazzarini depicting Tiberius Gracchus killing a snake. Details
Having completed the first two narratives, we now may proceed to take a view of misfortunes, not less remarkable, in the Roman couple, and with the lives of Agis and Cleomenes, compare these of Tiberius and Caius. They were the sons of Tiberius Gracchus, who, though he had been once censor, twice consul, and twice had triumphed, yet was more renowned and esteemed for his virtue than his honors. Upon this account, after the death of Scipio who overthrew Hannibal, he was thought worthy to match with his daughter Cornelia, though there had been no friendship or familiarity between Scipio and him, but rather the contrary. There is a story told, that he once found in his bedchamber a couple of snakes, and that the soothsayers, being consulted concerning the prodigy, advised, that he should neither kill them both nor let them both escape; adding, that if the male serpent was killed, Tiberius should die, and if the female, Cornelia. And that, therefore, Tiberius, who extremely loved his wife, and thought, besides, that it was much more his part, who was an old man, to die, than it was hers, who as yet was but a young woman, killed the male serpent, and let the female escape; and soon after himself died, leaving behind him twelve children borne to him by Cornelia.
"In Lucania, it was alleged that the heavens had been on fire; at Privernum the Sun had been glowing red through the whole of a cloudless day; at the temple of Juno Sospita in Lanuvium a terrible noise was heard in the night."
Not to mention children born of "uncertain sex," or a lamb with a pig's head in the town of Frusino.
Auroral view from Ontario
Roman sky signs followed an 11-year cycle and, like modern auroral displays, were more frequent before and after the cycle's peak. Rick Stankiewicz [larger image]
In 200 B.C., authorities of the Roman Republic recorded such events with the enthusiasm of a modern tabloid. While these omens cataloged by ancient historians won't tell us much about heaven's wrath, astronomers say they form an indirect record of what the Sun was doing 2,000 years ago.
In March, Andrew Solow of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts published the most detailed analysis of Roman sky signs so far. He built on similar work done in 1979 by Richard Stothers of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
The work of Roman historian Titus Livius (Livy, in English), who lived from 59 B.C. – A.D. 17, formed the basis of both studies. Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, written in the time of the first emperors, chronicles Rome's history with the help of written records dating back hundreds of years. Many times, he reports how Romans interpreted natural events as warnings that something was amiss in the relationship between the state and its gods.
During the Republic, Romans chose two new consuls every year, which means relative dates in Livy's work can be reliably determined. Leaving aside two-headed lambs and five-footed foals, Livy's history presents a time series of heavenly phenomena.
When Stothers embarked on his project 30 years ago, he thought Livy had done the most consistent job for the 133-year period from 223 B.C. to 91 B.C. He showed these events increased and decreased with a period of about 11 years. That's the average activity cycle for the Sun, and Stothers concluded most of the heavenly portents Romans worried about were aurorae — atmospheric glows triggered when solar storms sweep past Earth.
With descriptions such as "the sky lit up during the night," "the sky appeared to be on fire," or even "a phantom navy was seen shining in the sky," one can well imagine Livy's sources are reporting aurorae.
Solow's work, which appeared in the March 30, 2005, issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters, shows these events happen most often 4 years and 8 years into the 11-year cycle. This twin-peaked, or bimodal, distribution matches that seen in the modern aurora record.
Brian Hartley was one of those scholars whose work illuminates his whole field of research - in his case, the contribution that the disciplined study of one class of pottery could make to the understanding of the archaeology of the north-west Roman provinces, by refining the chronology of excavated sites and by revealing unsuspected details of trade and of the organisation and technology of the pottery industry.
Hartley first became involved in archaeology as a schoolboy at King's School, Chester, excavating in Chester itself with Graham Webster and Sir Ian Richmond, and at the nearby site at Heronbridge with W.J. Williams. After National Service in the Royal Air Force and a first degree in Natural Sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he took the Diploma in Prehistoric Archaeology with distinction, and became Research Assistant at Cambridge under Grahame Clark. His responsibilities were to lecture and supervise in Romano-British archaeology, a discipline that he found much more congenial than prehistory. In 1956 he was appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Latin at Leeds University, where he stayed until his retirement in 1995.
This seemingly quiet career conceals a major contribution to the archaeology of the north-western provinces of the Roman Empire. His excavations on military sites in Yorkshire during the 1960s did much to elucidate the history of the area during the Roman period. But it is his work on pottery, notably the fine red pottery known as Samian ware which was imported to Britain in large quantities from France and Germany, that has had the greatest impact for the chronology and interpretation of archaeological sites.
He early recognised that pottery could become an essential tool in establishing the chronology of sites, as well as providing specific information on both local and long-distance trade and on the technology and skills used to manufacture different wares. His friendship with two of the pioneers of Romano-British pottery studies, Philip Corder and John Gillam, and his own excavations at kiln-sites in the Nene Valley, Northamptonshire, showed that the study of Samian, with its more rapidly changing forms and its potential for relatively precise dating, could be used to provide a firmer chronology for other wares that were made and traded more locally.
In 1963, he began the work that would occupy much of his spare time for the rest of his life, a study of the potters who worked in the Samian industry. Most Samian ware carries the name stamp of the potter who made it and, in collecting records of hundreds of potters, distinguishing those with the same name, identifying the individual dies that they used, and establishing the dates when they were working, Hartley's study has added incalculably to the value of Samian as a dating tool.
It has also revealed much fine detail on the mechanism, and occasional quirks, of the pottery trade, and on the organisation of the workshops themselves, where graffito records show that kilns firing up to 30,000 pots at a time were the norm. A landmark paper on the Roman occupation of Scotland, published in the journal Britannia in 1972, showed how the advance in Samian studies could be used to illuminate not merely the dating of individual sites but wider aspects of the history of the province.
The material gathered for this index of stamps came from excavations and museum collections all over the north-western Roman provinces: workshops such as the French potteries at La Graufesenque, and at Lezoux where Hartley excavated with Sheppard Frere in the 1960s, and other sites ranging from provincial capitals and military headquarters down to the humblest of rural farmsteads.
Hartley was fortunate in his assistants, Felicity Wild and later Brenda Dickinson, but his own generosity in dating finds for excavators and in sharing his information was crucial in ensuring that so much data has been accumulated. One recent result has been the 13-volume corpus of stamped and decorated bowls manufactured at La Graufesenque, published last year by the Römisch-Germanisches Museum at Mainz. While the final text of the index itself was unfinished at Hartley's death, it is the intent of his friends and colleagues to bring it to completion.
Apart from his archaeological studies, Brian Hartley was an enthusiastic cook with an appreciation of good food and wine, loved Baroque music, especially J.S. Bach, pursued his family's genealogy and took great pleasure in the restoration of his 18th-century house in York. He was wonderful company and a kind and supportive friend and colleague, with a dry wit and the true raconteur's gift with a story - no one who heard his deceptively simple account of missing a succession of trains in the company of John Gillam will ever forget it.
The movie's portrayal of a would-be savior's unavoidable steps toward sacrifice is not unlike Christianity's Stations of the Cross. It's not the first time Christian imagery has cropped up in the films (Anakin's was a virgin birth), along with sprinklings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American symbolism and Greek tragedy.
"Lucas took things from Campbell, but there are other things at work in the 'Star Wars' films," says Prof. Adele J. Haft, a professor of classics at Hunter College specializing in epic literature. "Homer's 'Iliad' is a story about what it is to be a warrior, and 'Star Wars' has echoes of that, though it's more similar to 'The Odyssey,' which is about right versus wrong.
"And all are about the end of an empire. What's fascinating is that with 'Sith,' we now fully understand an in-between character, Anakin. His story is similar to Achilles, who committed gross errors, isolated himself, and ended up destroying parts of himself that were dear to him.
"These movies have become our collective myth," Haft continues. "Anakin is a slave with great talents, shows himself to be extraordinary, and grows up to do terrible things. His son Luke is living an existence he doesn't like, has no sense of his real family, is thrust into his fate by tragedy, and is ambivalent about his skills. These are 20th- and 21st-century myths we can all share."
Richard Janko and his colleagues are using scientific techniques developed at the California Institute of Technology to decipher ancient texts, a breakthrough resulting in hundreds of long-lost writings from authors such as Sophocles and Aristotle.
Janko is working with papyrus scrolls from Herculaneum, a town buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Similar efforts are under way with texts once buried in a trash heap at Oxyrhynchus, which is southwest of Cairo. The material includes everything from tax receipts to religious texts.
The writing is often illegible, sometimes because the papyri were burned, but researchers at Brigham Young University have made them readable via multispectral digital imaging.
Q: Please describe your work.
A: I've been working to reconstruct the ancient books found in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum.
We started without much technology. At a certain point, better microscopes were introduced, and that was a big change, but then in 1998, multispectral digital imaging came along. That has certainly transformed the way we work.
It was developed for viewing distant objects in the solar system, the remote planets where everything is black - the planet is black and the background is black.
The papyri were burned in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79. In their case, too, the papyrus is black and the ink written on it is black, and it's very hard for the naked eye to see.
You can see the ink most of the time, although you have to tilt the papyrus because it looks like burnt newspaper. The ink is matte and the background is shiny, and that's how you tell the difference. But obviously you can't work away from the originals, given that situation, and they can't be photographed by normal means.
The multispectral imaging developed by Cal Tech for NASA can bring out frequencies that the human eye can't see. When this was first applied to these burned texts, of which there are many hundreds remaining to be read, whole pieces became more visible.
I remember once when I went back to one piece that had very few letters visible. I had toiled for a long time to read very little. Basically, I wanted to confirm the handwriting so I could assign it to the correct scroll, and the imaging showed lots of letters the human eye couldn't see.
So we went back to the original to confirm it, and I thought I would be able to confirm those letters, but then after looking at the original for 10 minutes under the microscope, I realized from the shape that I had it upside-down. Couldn't see any of the letters, it was so bad.
Q: What papyri are you currently studying?
A: These books, which were found in the 1750s, were buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79, but they were much older. A lot of them comprise the library of a philosopher who was the teacher of the poet Virgil, and I've been interested in reconstructing his books, which are about poetry, because this philosopher was himself a poet. His name was Philodemus (c.110-40 BCE). He dedicated some of his works to Vergil, actually.
The connection with the Oxyrhynchus Papyri is that recently the multispectral technology was used. Paradoxically, (researchers) started with the most difficult papyri, the ones that were burned and therefore very hard to read. Now they're reading the ones not burned, and they're much like our paper.
Oxyrhynchus was a place on the Nile River where earlier this century, they excavated the town dump and found remains of innumerable documents and a great many ancient books which unfortunately are more fragmentary, whereas the collection from Naples is whole books. (Naples is near the ancient town of Herculaneum, where the Villa of the Papyri is located.)
Although the largest collection of Oxyrhynchus papyri is kept in Oxford (University), there's a very large collection here at Michigan. All the Michigan papyri come from Egypt, and quite a number of them from Oxyrhynchus.
Q: Excavation at the Villa of the Papyri stopped in 1998. Why?
A: Some people say we've already got more than we can safely conserve. That is true; on the other hand, I think books are in a different category from other material, and we should try to retrieve them before the volcano erupts again, which it is scheduled to do.
Q: What has this work taught you about ancient literature?
A: All the philosophy from the previous 250 years before Philodemus was lost, and he has a habit of summarizing what people thought about poetry in that intervening period - between the time of Aristotle, who died in 322 B.C.E., and the time of Augustus, when Horace wrote about poetry and wrote about Philodemus, and quite probably knew the man himself.
Philodemus tells us there was a whole school of critics who thought the important thing about a poem is not what it means, but how it sounds.
Of course, a lot of modern poets and critics have thought the same thing - Mallarme, for example.
Philodemus didn't agree with them and he wrote quite long attacks on them. He also wrote very naughty love poems.
Q: What's surprised you about the work?
A: The biggest surprise is how much hasn't been done. ... There are hundreds of texts to be done, now that we've got the new technology.
Q: What's most excited you about this research?
A: The thing most exciting for me is the prospect of recovering new pieces or even new works of ancient literature that nobody's seen for a couple of thousand years. What we have is just a pitiful survival of a lost civilization. It's like having, from our own civilization, only those books that are read in high school, and not even all of those.
The Elgin Marbles have survived an invasion by Turkish hordes and a bombardment by the Venetian Navy - but two rowdy schoolboys were too much for them, secret papers reveal.
The documents, released by the British Museum under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the 2,500-year-old antiquities have had to be repaired after a number of mishaps, acts of theft and vandalism by visitors.
The 2,500-year-old Elgin Marbles have had to be repaired
The papers, which were released at the behest of The Telegraph, also shed new light on the continuing battle for control of the antiquities, which were removed by the seventh Lord Elgin from the Parthenon between 1801 and 1804.
Some officials at the British Museum believe that their own institution is superior to the Parthenon and regard Lord Elgin as a hero who rescued the friezes from a Greek public unable to appreciate their worth.
In a letter to Tony Blair written in 2002, Sir John Boyd, the chairman of the museum's trustees, loftily dismissed the Parthenon as a "ruin that can never now be restored" - a comment likely to infuriate Greek public opinion.
Campaigners fighting for the restitution of the pieces will, however, seize on the disclosures about their damage to further their claims that the marbles would be better off in Greece.
They reacted with fury in 2002 when it was claimed that the chemicals used to clean the marbles in the 1930s had damaged them. The latest papers highlight nine instances of "minor damage" from the 1960s to the early 1990s.
In 1961 two schoolboys permanently damaged one of the 17 pediment figures in the museum's collection when they began fighting in the forecourt. One of the boys fell and knocked off part of a centaur's hind leg. The documents show that archivists were unable to replace "two small chips of marble" at the back of the leg.
Other pediment figures have also been damaged over the years. In June 1981, a workman from the Property Services Agency lost his balance and caused part of a glass skylight to fall on the west pediment figure. The accident caused "slight chips and scratches" to the top of the sculpture.
Damage to the antiquities are not down to accidents alone. In 1966 vandals scratched "four shallow lines" on the back of one of the figures, and in 1970 someone scratched letters on to the upper right thigh of another. Four years later, thieves damaged the dowel hole in a centaur's hoof trying to steal lead from it.
Despite such mishaps, both the Government and the museum insist that it is vital for the objects to remain in Britain.
In his letter to Mr Blair, sent in November 2002, Sir John wrote: "To remove any element of the collection - Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Indian, African, Mexican or Chinese - would be to dismember one of the very few places where the world can discover the world.
"This is a creative and living achievement of the Enlightenment. The Parthenon, on the other hand, is a ruin that can never now be restored."
In June 1997, Chris Smith, then culture secretary, told Dr Robert Anderson, then director of the museum: "Modern pollution on the Parthenon has caused tragic damage to those friezes which Lord Elgin did not remove... It is clear that the sculptures owned by the British Museum have benefited by being the property of the museum."
An internal museum briefing document states: "There is no evidence that the early 19th-century Greeks actually had any real sense of the archaeological or artistic importance of the sculptures."
Other papers reveal that in 2002 museum officials were worried that ministers might offer to loan the marbles to Athens in an attempt to gain support for their 2012 Olympic bid.
One unsigned internal memo from 2001 states: "Furthermore, there is little to be gained politically in securing a supportive vote for a United Kingdom Olympics in 2012 from the Greek delegation, since their vote alone would not secure the Games. This message needs to be get through to DCMS Ministers."
Museum officials appear to have fought a rearguard action to ensure that they and not the Government maintained control of the issue. They feared that any concessions by the Government would serve only to encourage other countries to seek restitution of their national treasures through diplomatic circles.
In an internal memo dated 2002, Dr Neil MacGregor, the British Museum's director, told a colleague: "I shall urge the Secretary of State to be extremely firm on the point that discussions be held only between museums. If once HM Government intervenes in a matter of this sort, the precedents for Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria etc become uncontrollable."
Dr MacGregor last night told The Telegraph: "When you put sculpture on public show you expose it to damage. Every museum in the world that has sculpture on public show has a record of regular damage.
"Graffiti, scratching, bumping whatever. You simply cannot put sculpture on show at a level where people can see it to study it without accepting the risk. It's the price you pay for making it available."
The British Museum said that it will make a number of documents available on its website - www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk - later this week.
The modern perception of the legendary Egyptian Queen Cleopatra as a beautiful and manipulative diva is opposed by a new study that suggests that the real Cleopatra was in fact far more respected for her intellectual prowess than for her physical beauty.
In his new book, Egyptology: The Missing Millennium. Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings, Dr Okasha El Daly presents substantial new evidence from studies of a neglected thousand-year period of Arab scholarship which uncovers a Cleopatra in stark contrast to the popular image of a hedonistic, deceiving and over-ambitious ruler.
The Arabic sources newly uncovered by Dr El Daly often refer to Cleopatra as “The Virtuous Scholar,” and cite scientific books written by her as the definitive works in their field. These sources focus on her many talents but make not one reference to sexuality or seductive power. Instead they admire her scientific knowledge as a scholar and her administrative ability.
“One remarkable omission from all the medieval Arabic sources that I have studied is any reference to Cleopatra's seductive physical beauty,” writes Dr El Daly. “This absence perhaps emphasises that the fascination on the part of the Arab writers was with the conducts and achievements of the Queen rather than with her appearance. To judge from her appearance on her coins, she was not a beautiful woman in any conventional sense.”
“The most interesting aspect of her image is that of a scholar who made significant contributions in the fields of alchemy, medicine and mathematics. She is shown conducting courtly seminars attended by scientists from different fields, at which she contributed to the discussions as a polymathic scientist.”
In the words of the traveller and historian Al-Masudi (d 956): “She was a sage, a philosopher, who elevated the ranks of scholars and enjoyed their company. She also wrote books on medicine, charms and cosmetics in addition to many other books ascribed to her which are known to those who practice medicine.”
The book examines a hitherto neglected period in the study of Egyptology, from the Moslem annexation of Egypt in the 7 th Century CE until the Ottoman conquest in the 16 th century. The commonly held view among European scholars was that there was nobody with knowledge of Ancient Egypt, outside the context of European literature, from the Classical to the Enlightenment periods.
As well as suggesting a reinterpretation of Cleopatra, “Egyptology: The Missing Millennium” examines how the medieval Arab scholars portrayed Ancient Egypt as the land of wisdom and science. The Arab sources attributed to pre-Islamic Egyptian scientists many scientific innovations - Mirabilia – including the ‘early warning system' burning mirror at the top of the Alexandria lighthouse which guided ships into harbour, an automatic public clock that sounded every hour, and mechanical devices such as water-clocks and water wheels.
“It is quite clear that the study by medieval Egyptians and Arabs, its language, religion, monuments and general history, flourished long before the earliest European Renaissance contact,” writes Dr El Daly. “Contrary to the prevailing view that Moslems, Arabs and Egyptians had no interest in Ancient Egypt, the sources show not only a keen interest, but also serious scholarship that seeks to understand and benefit from the study of Ancient Egypt.”
They look like lumps of coal, and when the Swiss military engineer and his team who first explored the buried town of Herculaneum in the 18th century encountered them, that was how they were treated: as ancient rubbish, to be dumped in the sea.
But before being hit by a cascade of molten volcanic rock at more than 400C (the so-called pyroclastic flow that inundated the town), these now-blackened and nondescript objects were part of the library of the grandest villa in the town, where the father-in-law of Julius Caesar was regaled with the epigrammatic gems of his in-house Epicurean philosopher, Philodemus.
They were the papyri on which the ancient world preserved its literature, as the tunnelling archaeologists of 250 years ago belatedly understood. Some 1,800 have so far been recovered, and although both papyrus and ink were carbonised, modern thermal imaging techniques have made it possible to decipher them, with the help of a considerable amount of computing muscle.
Half have already yielded their secrets. None are likely to enter the best seller lists: mostly they are works of Epicurean philosophers, like Philodemus, the one-time resident of the villa. Indeed, although he died a century before Vesuvius's disastrous eruption, the papyri discovered so far may well have come from his private library. But experts suspect that only a fraction of the papyri inside Villa dei Papiri ("the Villa of Papyri"), as it is known, have been discovered. New excavations in the 1990s revealed two more previously undiscovered floors to the villa, below those already explored. But because the entire villa is encased in tufo, the tough stone that results when the pyroclastic flow hardens, a major task of engineering and archaeology is required to find what more remains to be brought to the surface.
A group of classical scholars is now calling for excavations inside the Villa of Papyri to be resumed without delay. Thanks to the fluke of its preservation within the inferno of the eruption, this is by far the oldest extant library in the world. And nobody has a clue what is in it. It is known that its owner when Philodemus was alive was Lucius Calpurnius Piso Cesoninus, a senator and a wealthy, cultured figure who entertained Roman high society down here at his fabulous country pad by the sea. The villa was full of beautiful vases and statues and other works of art, many of which are now in a museum in Naples.
It is highly probable that Piso also possessed a large library, as became someone of his wealth and culture: not merely the works of Epicurean philosophy that reflected the special interest of Philodemus, but all the other works, Greek and Roman, with which a man of his civilised tastes could be expected to be familiar: the plays of the Greek tragedians, for example, or the dialogues of Aristotle, or Livy's History of Rome. And given the freakish survival of Philodemus's collection, it is argued, the rest of the library may be in a similar condition: carbonised but accessible. The figure that has been suggested as the likely cost of bringing them back to civilisation is between €20m (£13.6m) and €30m. But the prize, Robert Harris, author of the novel Pompeii, and the scholars argue could be quite literally priceless: our knowledge of the literature of the ancient world could double overnight, with this single excavation.
But at the Villa of the Papyri all is quiet: no drills or jackhammers batter at the villa's tufo shell, no new mines are being bored through the rock, no teams of volunteers sift spoonful by spoonful through the recovered debris.
In fact there is nothing going on here at all.
The villa was built a couple of hundred yards away from the town of Herculaneum, set apart from it along the beach that the eruption of 79AD destroyed. Today it occupies a site adjacent to the ruins of the ancient town, separated from it by a seedy lane lined on one side with old tenements and newer but already shabby-looking apartment blocks strung with washing. Groups of British and American and French tourists pad about through the ruins of Herculaneum, which looks like a fragment of Grozny after the Red Army had been battering it for a couple of years.
The tightly packed houses, shops, temples and taverns are built of diagonally set, cream-coloured stones: all are roofless and with weeds and wild flowers sprouting from the walls, though structurally they look in remarkably good shape.
But nobody pads around the Villa dei Papiri site: it is only open for groups with special permission. When I visited this week it was completely deserted. Behind a high concrete entranceway and massive steel gate, more befitting a municipal refuse site than an important ancient monument, what remains of the Villa of the Papyri is wrapped in its rock-encrusted sleep.
And now the scholars are demanding to know why. Last year they formed the Friends of Herculaneum Society, and with Robert Harris have begun lobbying for excavation to begin again as soon as possible.
Professor Robert Fowler, professor of Greek at Bristol University and a trustee of the new society, said: "Everyone thinks it is possible that there is more to be found, because of the very peculiar, one-sided nature of the library as so far discovered: this is one of the great country houses of one of the great Roman potentates. Where are the other philosophers? Where are the Greek poets? Where are the Latin books? If you were under siege by a volcano, would your first priority be to get the books out? We have an obligation to finish the excavation."
75. There is a region moreover in Arabia, situated nearly over against the city of Buto, to which place I came to inquire about the winged serpents: and when I came thither I saw bones of serpents and spines in quantity so great that it is impossible to make report of the number, and there were heaps of spines, some heaps large and others less large and others smaller still than these, and these heaps were many in number. This region in which the spines are scattered upon the ground is of the nature of an entrance from a narrow mountain pass to a great plain, which plain adjoins the plain of Egypt; and the story goes that at the beginning of spring winged serpents from Arabia fly towards Egypt, and the birds called ibises meet them at the entrance to this country and do not suffer the serpents to go by but kill them. On account of this deed it is (say the Arabians) that the ibis has come to be greatly honoured by the Egyptians, and the Egyptians also agree that it is for this reason that they honour these birds. 76. The outward form of the ibis is this:--it is a deep black all over, and has legs like those of a crane and a very curved beak, and in size it is about equal to a rail: this is the appearance of the black kind which fight with the serpents, but of those which most crowd round men's feet (for there are two several kinds of ibises) the head is bare and also the whole of the throat, and it is white in feathering except the head and neck and the extremities of the wings and the rump (in all these parts of which I have spoken it is a deep black), while in legs and in the form of the head it resembles the other. As for the serpent its form is like that of the watersnake; and it has wings not feathered but most nearly resembling the wings of the bat. Let so much suffice as has been said now concerning sacred animals.
During his first study, published in Nature in August 2002, Socha described a few aerodynamic features of the paradise tree snake -- one of five snake species that are purported to "fly." He videotaped and photographed various snakes taking off from a 33-foot-high tower in an open field at the Singapore Zoological Gardens. He positioned two video cameras to record in stereo, enabling the 3-D reconstruction of the head, midpoint and vent coordinates of the snake throughout its trajectory.
Socha found that the snake uses its ribs to change its body shape; it flattens from head to vent. The snake takes control of its flight by undulating through the air in a distinctive S-shape as if swimming -- moving the tail up and down and side-to-side. While gliding, these snakes make turns up to 90 degrees and always seemed to land without injury.
Cyprus was the first Mediterranean country to make wine, an Italian archaeologist said Friday in a declaration likely to upset other nations in the region claiming to have been the first to develop the tipple.
Maria-Rosaria Belgiorno said she uncovered evidence during an archaeological dig near the southern coastal town of Limassol that Cypriots produced wine up to 6,000 years ago.
"At Pyrgos we found two jugs used for wine and the seeds of the grapes. It's amazing. And at Erimi, of the 18 pots we looked at, 12 were used for wine between 3,500 BC and 3,000 BC," Belgiorno was quoted as saying in the Cyprus Weekly newspaper.
It was previously believed that the Mediterranean wine-making tradition originated in what is now Turkey and Syria, or with worshippers of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus.
The world's first wine is thought to have been made from rice in China around 9,000 years ago, followed by a grape-based alcohol not entirely dissimilar to modern day claret in what is today's Iran 7,000 years ago.
Belgiorno said she plans to reveal the evidence to back up her claims on Monday.
In earlier excavations, Belgiorno unearthed evidence suggesting that Cyprus was the site of the world's oldest perfume factory, with fragrances produced and exported overseas some 4,000 years ago.
It was a Roman holiday for 10 St. Mary's students who traveled to Italy with Dr. Pat McFadden, Middle and Upper School Latin teacher, and Marilou Mulrooney, Middle School English department chair.
"It's the first school trip we've taken like this since 9/11," said McFadden, who prepared an itinerary of sites that tied in with historic aspects of the school's Latin curriculum. "We wanted to do a lot in one place, so we stayed in Sorrento for five days and visited sites in the Bay of Naples area.
"The ancient sites that the girls have been studying came to life when we visited Pompeii and Herculaneum. The girls got to see a house which they had studied that dated back to 79 AD. ... The entire area is a hotbed of Greek mythology."
"I've traveled to Italy twice before, but the trip Pat put together for us took us to fantastic destinations not typically on the tourist trail," said Mulrooney. "I'd never been on the picturesque Amalfi coast, which twists and turns along steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We also traveled to one of Italy's most majestic and ancient sights, the Paestum settlement which dates back to 5th-Century BC. Three temples from this ancient era are still standing there today."
"The English curriculum in the ninth grade focuses on Greek and Roman mythology. Also, we use the Latin and Greek etymology vocabulary series of Classical Roots in grades seven through 10," said Mulrooney.
Eighth-grade Latin students Zuzia Stepniatowska and Rachel Bluestein said their favorite thing to do was eat gelato every day while their most loved destinations were the Isle of Capri and Rome.
"Capri is absolutely gorgeous. The water is the most beautiful shade of blue and from the highest point, we even saw snow," said Bluestein. "I also loved shopping in the unique designer shops in Capri."
For Stepniakowska, who was born in Poland and is Roman Catholic, the visit to Rome was most memorable.
"I've always wanted to see Italy and the historic locations that mark my faith, like St. Peter's Basilica," she said. "We were given a careful explanation of art history by a woman who's going to become an official Vatican guide. Having just been there made the Pope's recent death even more real to me."
McFadden, in his fifth year of teaching Latin at St. Mary's, along with colleague Jenny Fields is expanding the program next year to include the seventh grade.
"By adding this year, " he said, "it will allow more time to delve into influential authors not currently in our curriculum."
In addition to McFadden and Mulrooney, parent Dr. Ben Anderson accompanied the group. Students included Elizabeth Anderson, Rebecca Anderson, Bleustein, Jasmine Bolton, Sarah Donaldson, McKenzie Fields, Caroline Harris, Brooke Peeples, Stepniakowska and Lauren Wolfe.
It seems that at the beginning of the third millennium of Western civilization, we are still faced with the same perplexing question as our ancestors: What do we really know about our world and ourselves? By “know”, I do not mean to have cognizance or awareness, but to perceive and intellectively grasp a clear and certain understanding. But what exactly is a clear and certain understanding?
The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder posited in the first century A.D. that the only certainty is that nothing is certain. In the 17th century, the French mathematician, physiologist, and philosopher René Descartes started with this idea as a premise (actually an equivalent proposition using the word doubt) and used logic to establish a foundation for human knowledge in a similar manner as Euclid established a basis for geometry. But in his exhaustive search for certainty, he created an intellectual impasse that has since divided the natural world into mental and physical realms -- the Cartesian duality of “mind” and “matter”.
In 1739, the Scottish philosopher David Hume declared two types of truth: “truths of reason” (1+1=2) and “matters of fact” (If I release this ball, it will fall). Hume argued that all knowledge of the physical world is independent of reason and consists of only sensory experience. For instance, we see objects fall all the time, and thereby become cognizant or aware that it is the custom or habit for objects to fall. It is a “matter of fact” that things fall. Any explanation of how and why things fall is a “truth of reason,” and reason does not have any cause-and-effect relationship with the event of the object falling. The “law” of gravity expounded in 1687 by the English mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton demonstrates mathematically how things fall, and it precisely describes our observations of falling objects. But this is a product of reason, a human concept or idea of the cause and effect, not the cause and effect itself. The ancient Greeks called this “saving the appearances” -- i.e. this is a “mental model” or “construct” that we can use to attempt to understand and communicate how things appear to us to be true and real.
The 5th-century B.C. Greek sophist Protagoras, whose works were destroyed in antiquity and whose ideas survive only through Plato’s writings that bear his name, refused to differentiate between sensory experience and reason by denying altogether any possibility of objective knowledge -- that is we cannot know the reality of material phenomena independently of the concepts derived from our senses, and all knowledge of reality becomes subjective by each individual’s unique ability to perceive and reason.
THE SOAP-OPERA life of Martha Lane Fox took another twist yesterday. The 31-year-old who helped build up travel website lastminute.com will get about £13.5 million for her stake of 8.2 million shares in the company, even though she stepped down from the day-to-day running more than a year ago. Following an initial market capitalisation of £800 million in 2000, the firm went from internet success story to near collapse in just two years.
The ancient scourge known as leprosy likely originated in either East Africa or Central Asia and then extended its reach to the east and west in a pattern mirroring human migration, according to a new analysis of its bacterial agent's unusual genetic fingerprint.
Led by researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the study suggests the disease reached North America and West Africa through infected explorers, traders, or colonialists within the past 500 years, and that it infiltrated the Caribbean and South America via the slave trade in the 18th century.
"Colonialism was extremely bad for parts of the world in terms of human health," said co-author Stewart Cole in a news release accompanying the study in the journal Science.
Recorded in China, India and Egypt as early as 600 BC, leprosy attacks nerve and skin cells, resulting in permanent disabilities if left untreated. The bacterial culprit, Mycobacterium leprae, has proven a difficult study subject due to its extreme sluggishness and inability to grow in anything other than humans, mouse footpads, and the nine-banded armadillo.
"Even if we could grow it in a Petri dish, it would take nine to 12 months to form a colony," said Pasteur Institute technician Marc Monot.
Through a genetic analaysis, however, Monot, Cole and their collaborators found that seven M. leprae strains isolated from patients in 21 countries were nearly identical, suggesting the disease spread from a single clone whose DNA sequence has remained remarkably stable for centuries.
To chart the disease's global expansion, the team analyzed a genetic landmark known as a single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP. This uncommon variation in DNA letters -- a CTC sequence at one site instead of TTC, for example -- revealed that all of the collected bacterial isolates could be divided into four main groups.
Leprosy was long believed to have arisen in what is now India and reached Western Europe through infected Greek soldiers returning from Alexander the Great's military campaign in the Indian subcontinent. But the genetic analysis suggests that an East African origin is just as likely, and that Alexander's soldiers may have acquired the disease from other campaigns in the Near East.
In addition to better understanding how errors are prevented, Burton’s research team also learned ways errors are corrected during rapid RNA synthesis. To learn about error correction, Burton’s team stalled the DNA conveyer belt. They did this using a deadly mushroom toxin, alpha-amanitin.
Alpha-amanitin is the poison of the death cap mushroom, which can be deadly to humans. In 54 A.D., Emperor Tiberius Claudius was fed a death cap mushroom by his wife Agrippina to put her son Nero on the throne of ancient Rome. Alpha-amanitin kills people by stalling movement of the DNA conveyer belt.
From reading the well-researched gallery cards, the relationship between gladiator and spectator becomes apparent. The highly evolved Roman culture had also developed a vicious thirst for life, victory and death. Gladiator games had become so popular throughout the Empire in cities such as Ephesus that some noblemen were known to sell themselves into slavery for a fight in the arena. At least seven emperors, including Nero and Caligula, are known to have entered the arena as gladiators. When Trajan became Emperor, he organized 10,000 gladiators to fight within one week.
It's Ancient Roman Field Day - a chance for some 90 sixth graders to show off their research skills for two other sixth grade classes by creating an interactive tour of all things Roman. In the auditorium and in five classrooms, students, teachers, and family have been invited to learn about ancient history through plays, displays of architecture and construction, as well as presentations by gods, goddesses, and Roman emperors.
"Welcome, fellow Roman citizens," announces Kate Walton, sixth grade science and social studies teacher, as she stands at the auditorium podium in her toga. "We have worked very hard preparing this entertainment. It takes a lot of courage to perform in front of people - especially classmates - so show your kindness and respect."
The skit that follows is about two ancient gladiator brothers, Romulus and Remus. Then comes a game show called Quiz Bowl, complete with toga-clad contestants.
"This represents about three weeks of work," says Walton, sweeping hurriedly down the hall from the auditorium to one of the classrooms. "The other sixth grade social studies classes have already done Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt."
This format marks a first for Walton and her sixth graders. Tour guides -- in togas, of course - are leading groups of 10 into classrooms. In one, gods and goddesses are presenting lore about their characters that include Lonesha Smith as Diana, Kathleen Duffy as Ceres, Katie Gerzabeck as Minerva, Shane Vochinsky as Mars, James Fahy as Hercules, Courtney Kennedy as Venus and Kelly Cahill as Vesta.
As Mars, Vochinsky's is looking quite stately in his plumed helmet and leather belt. "We had a guy present a show about gladiators," he says. "He gave us this costume to use."
Across the room, students sit with their architectural creations of cardboard, paint and plastic, ready to describe in detail what they've been learned during the construction process.
"The Romans used this as a performing area," says Nick Horan displaying his Roman theater. "It was carved partly into the hillsides and it was free to get in."
Like his classmates, much of his information was obtained from the Internet. "I learned even more while I was building it," says Horan. "It was a lot of fun."
"The Arch of Titus was the only way into Rome," explains Joe Vitale of his project. "The Romans built it in 203 A.D."
A popular stop seems to be in front of John Michael's replica of a Roman bathhouse. A gold, spray-painted plastic tub filled with water serves as an impromptu splash contest as classmates gleefully hold high the action figures, then release them with a flourish.
Other architectural projects include Nick Ondo's Circus Maximus, the site of those famed chariot races, and Darrell Pace's Coliseum.
"It held 50,000 people," says Pace, pointing to the multitude of Magic Marker circles he drew to represent the crowds. "I also learned that the women and the poor sat on different levels."
Peering out from the opening in his Roman aqueduct is Caesar Millas, a student who could not have a more perfect name for Roman Day.
"It carried water for miles," explains Millas of the red painted, multiple-tiered structure.
In a nearby classroom, a student tour guide is leading visitors around the Cursus Publicus. For the unfamiliar, this is the post office. Turns out, the Romans were the first to have a highly-develop post office - starting it as a way to deliver political messages.
Students act out stations of the postal process, from writing a note on parchment, to handing it to a messenger who would ride up to 40 miles per day on horseback to deliver it.
"We all worked hard preparing for the presentation day and it really showed," Walton says afterward. "Every single student was engaged throughout the day and very interested in their presentation. I think there were valuable lessons learned in public speaking, researching information and being organized.
"I definitely plan to do this project again next year," she adds. "It was worth every minute."
Up on Mount Soledad, Janet Andrews is reporting it rained shrimp on April 28. She and others found masses of baby shrimp on the tennis courts of the Summit residential development.
"They're not crazy," says Bob Burhans, curator of the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. "I haven't heard of it raining shrimp, but I have heard of it raining fish." About 15 years ago, a Chula Vista man reported that hundreds of minnows had dropped out of the sky onto his driveway, yard and roof. A marine biologist at Scripps identified the airborne fish and theorized they were from the Sweetwater Reservoir.
When Gerald Day learned Springfield High School's Latin program was in danger of ending, the scholar couldn't let that happen to his alma mater.
So in early 2003, he packed his bags and moved back to Springfield from Miami to help save a program that many other schools have let fade away.
Today, Latin at Springfield is alive and thriving for more than 100 students because of the dedicated teacher.
'I've never thought of myself as anything else,' he said. 'Since the time I was 10 years old, (a Latin teacher) was all I wanted to be, except for a B-52 pilot. And I was serious about that.'
Luckily for his students, Day stuck to teaching.
Since he was 7, Day said he has been enthralled with Latin. As a boy, he used to flip through his older brother's Latin book. Even though he couldn't read the words, the pictures of ancient Rome fascinated him.
Since then, he has been dedicated to Latin. Even while a forward observer in Vietnam, Day kept his Latin dictionary in his pocket every day of the war. He still has that dictionary.
During his 25 years of studying the language, Day has taught numerous courses at several academic levels, though he describes Latin as his true passion. In the middle of the 2002-03 school year, he was asked to fill a sudden vacancy at Springfield.
The school's classics program since has expanded greatly.
Although the program's numbers were considerably low when Day took over, the first full group of students to take his class the following year almost exceeded the maximum limit of 35.
Interest continued to grow, and this school year, Day had to expand his first-year class into two periods. He expects to have two full first-year classes next year, too.
If expansion continues at the same rate, he said Springfield will have to hire another Latin teacher, which are few and far between.
As the only full-time Latin teacher in District 186, Day is one of just a handful of Latin teachers in downstate Illinois.
His students say they are reaping the benefits.
Stephanie Luke, a third-year Latin student, said Day's teaching has helped her in many ways.
'When I took the SAT and ACT, the verbal was a lot easier, since the majority of the English language comes from (Latin),' the Latin club secretary said. '(Latin also) will impress people and colleges more than other languages.'
Stephanie, a junior, said she appreciates the laid-back environment in Day's class but likes the academic challenge at the same time.
'He's just kind of a 'live and let live' guy,' she said. 'Still, we do a lot of stuff, and we get things accomplished.'
Nothing better describes Day's view of the classics than his 'Penthouse Story,' which all of his students hear on their first day of Latin class.
As Day explains, the penthouse is the top floor and most expensive room or apartment in a building, just as the study of the classics is in the academic world.
Most people can't afford to stay in the penthouse; likewise, most people can't stay in or reach the penthouse of accomplishment in the study of the classics because it's too hard, he says.
To Day, the study of the classics isn't just Latin, although he makes sure it is the core of his classes.
He emphasizes that Latin classes should not turn into 'playing Roman'; instead they should focus on learning the language and literature that dominated the Western world for more than 1,000 years.
'I enjoy the fact that it turns into a literature course ... of the great works in their native language,' said second-year Latin student Sam Schoenburg.
Greek and Roman history and culture often are topics brought up in Latin.
'You really can't be a classicist unless you've had both (Greek and Latin)' said Day, who teaches Greek to his upper-level students every Friday.
Sam said he also likes Day's tangents on how Roman events and history relate to and often reflect current events.
'I love going off (on random topics) on days when we have intellectual discussion about history,' he said.
Day also is involved with Springfield High's Latin Club. As its sponsor, he helps guide students in preparation for regional and national junior classical league conventions.
Every Friday, students use Day's room to practice for Certamen competitions, which are the classics' equivalent of Scholastic Bowl.
Both Stephanie and Sam are members of the Certamen team.
'Latin Club should be the play part of the broader educational experience of studying the classics,' Day said, noting that the club promotes study but should never replace it.
When he's not teaching, Day's personal life is just as interesting as his professional one.
Living most of the summer in Miami with his Antiguan wife, whom he describes as an 'island girl,' the scholar has a passion for model railroads, which fill an entire room in his house, and for R&B artists such as Ashanti and Usher.
He has master's degrees in the classics and history and a doctorate in medieval history, and has taught at the Universities of Illinois, Miami and Vermont, along with studying at Harvard University.
Today, Day is dedicated to helping his students' work toward the same academic prestige.
As Sam said, 'Latin raises us to a new academic standard."
Dr. Emily Wilson, assistant professor of Classical studies, won the National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellowship for The Death of Socrates.
Awarded to 15 emerging artists and 15 scholars each year by the American Academy in Rome, the Rome Prize was chartered by an Act of Congress in 1905 and is a juried open competition.
As a professor of New Testament whose specialty is textual criticism, I was particularly interested in Chris Wattie's piece, "Beast's real mark devalued to '616'" (May 4, 2005). However, I noticed several errors in the essay, some of which I know from first-hand knowledge of the manuscript in question.
First, the papyrus fragment is not 1500 years old. It is closer to 1700+ years old.
Second, the fragment was not so badly discoloured that scholars could not make out the wording without sophisticated imaging equipment. Such equipment--such as multi-spectral imaging (MSI)--is often used on manuscripts that are in very bad shape.
This fragment, however, is part of a score of other fragments which span nine chapters in the book of Revelation. It is about the size of a postage stamp. No imaging equipment was needed to make out its wording.
I saw the fragment two years ago at the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford University. It was published over five years ago; just now it is making its way into popular literature as though it were a new discovery. When I looked at the fragment, the curator had to slice open its case because the verse in question (Revelation 13.18) was on the backside. He told me that no one had asked to see the fragment since it had been published. I looked at it under a microscope to make sure that the wording had not been tampered with. But even with the naked eye, it was quite legible.
Fourth, I don't know who Ellen Aitken is, nor Elijah Dann, but it seems that Wattie did not interview textual critics for this piece. Aitken makes the astounding claim that "it now seems that 616 was the original number of the beast."
The famed soldiery of Legio IX Hispana have broken camp and begun marching on Los Angeles, where they will marshal in support of Perpetual Entertainment's Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising.
Legio IX Hispana is the largest Roman re-enactment society in North America, with chapters throughout California and the South-West. Over a dozen members in full legionnaire's kit will be present at various times in E3's Concourse Walkway to promote Gods and Heroes and discuss the tactics and technology of squad warfare in ancient Rome.
"Due to safety concerns, Legio IX Hispana will be unable to hurl our spears and charge with drawn swords," said Sean Richards, founder and centurion of the legion. "We will still, however, be able to show off the armor and kit of the era, and share our expertise in Roman squad-based combat."
"We are extremely pleased to have Legio IX marching for Gods and Heroes," said Stieg Hedlund, lead designer of Gods and Heroes. "With their first-hand expertise re-enacting the warfare and weapons of the Roman era, who better can promote a game featuring innovative squad-based combat and large scale ancient battles?"
About Legio IX Hispana
Founded in February 1994 by Sean "Sheridan" Richards, Legio IX Hispana is devoted to experiential archeology and realistic, hands-on re-enactment of the life of the Roman soldier in the 1st Century AD. The ancient history experts of Legio IX have been featured in documentaries on the History Channel, at live combat displays at E3, on campuses and colleges, and at film festivals and movie premieres throughout Los Angeles. For more information, visit the website at http://www.legio-ix-hispana.org
Even the man from Oxford Archaeology knows. Ian Miller is the man in charge of the dig in Wigan town centre which has been enabled by the building of a new 425,000 sq ft shopping development. Townsfolk have always prided themselves that somewhere around Wigan was the site of the Roman settlement of Coccium.
"Twenty years ago we weren't even really sure if there was anything Roman of any consequence in Wigan," says the archaeologist. "But we have now found a stone building with underfloor central heating from the early second century, a time when most Roman buildings in the north were timber."
His hunch is that he has found a mansio - part of the Roman postal system which would have doubled as a guest house for visiting imperial dignitaries. "The town must therefore have had a strategic purpose. In terms of Roman Britain it has elevated Wigan from the 4th division to the premiership."
'Let me have men about me that are fat," Caesar said, and Lawrence Goldhuber has finally supplied them.
For "Julius Caesar Superstar," director-choreographer Goldhuber borrows from history - the Roman Senate and the red-baiting U.S. Senate of the 1950s; the ancient Roman baths and the American gay bathhouses of the late '70s; and from films and literature, as various as Dante's "Inferno" and "The Wiz." The result is a surreal, alternately creepy and sexy dance-theater piece about power, paranoia and sacrifice and the shapes they take in our minds and the world.
A heavyweight Senate
One of the shapes they take in "Julius Caesar Superstar" is of a chorus of eight senators, each of whom weighs at least 300 pounds - or, if not, is stuffed into a fat suit. In fashioning the sweeping togas for these bulky men and women to reel and raise their fists, costume designer Liz Prince ran out of fabric three times.
"The striking imagery of eight big people dancing, I assume we've never seen before," Goldhuber says.
At a recent rehearsal, the chorus members admitted that they didn't expect to be dancing so much. "I haven't shook my booty since the '70s," said a graying Eric Booth.
At 6 feet and 350 pounds, Goldhuber has always specialized in girth. In 1985, the lanky dancer-choreographer Bill T. Jones hired Goldhuber, then an actor with no formal dance training, because Jones wanted "someone who made him feel small," he says. Goldhuber's presence in the company ended up rearranging audiences' thinking about what a dancer could look like.
In the independent career Goldhuber embarked on in 1996, he has played up his size and taken on every imaginable fat stereotype. He has swathed himself in a fat suit and performed with dancer Heidi Latsky, barely 100 pounds and 5 feet tall. He has dressed as a baby in diapers. For a solo outing at P.S. 122 last year, he invented Barry Goldhubris, man of outsized ego.
Critics have played along, freely designating him "extremely hefty," "unapologetically bulky," "of Falstaffian proportions," "tubby," "mountainous" and "vast." They have also noted, with evident astonishment, that he dances "like an angel."
Asked about his subversive strategy, the native New Yorker says he doesn't have one. "I suppose I'm just harping on the feature that makes me unique in modern dance," he muses. "It's hard enough to stand out in dance - a highly populated and competitive field."
But "Julius Caesar Superstar" is sneaky, like Goldhuber's other work. It introduces stereotypes only to have them grow complicated.
At the start, the eight senators are "a bastion of power," Goldhuber says, "like on a golf course." Except in this case, it's a bathhouse. (He easily cops to the show's gay subtext.) In one scene, the men recline behind a scrim in skimpy towels while Geoff Gersh's inventive score conjures the bath's heat and drip. Four hunks in flimsy white miniskirts pose as Roman statues.
The ancient language of poets, priests and philosophers isn't dead to Matthew Welch.
Welch, a senior at Jordan High School and president of the school's Latin Club, knows many of his peers opt to take Spanish or French as a way to meet their language requirements. But while future employers may look favorably upon a student fluent in Spanish, Welch said he wouldn't trade his four years of Latin for a different "more relevant" language.
"Everyone says, 'Latin is a dead language, you'll never use it,' " Welch said. "But it's still relevant, even though it's not that useful in speaking. It allows you to get an appreciation for literature and an appreciation from where our language today comes from. It's ended up being a great experience for me."
Although Spanish continues to thrive as the dominant language taught in Triangle high schools, Latin isn't going away without a fight. With small but steady enrollments, Latin courses attract top students who hope studying the language also will help them learn about history, art, theater, law and medicine -- and boost their verbal SAT scores.
On the recent National Latin Exam, taken by 145,000 students across the United States, 67 out of the 77 students enrolled in Jordan's Latin courses achieved awards. At Chapel Hill High School, 66 out of 89 students earned awards.
And North Carolina's Junior Classical League, made up of high school seniors and juniors, continues to grow, with a count of 32 school chapters and 1,451 members in February. One local Latin teacher, Peggie Murray from Orange High School in Hillsborough, is the co-chairwoman of the statewide Junior Classical League and plays a large role in convincing area Latin students to attend conferences and conventions.
Barbara Johnson, the Latin teacher at Jordan High School for the past five years, said there are numerous benefits to enrolling in a Latin course, and the earlier, the better.
"Students become so much more aware of their own language by taking Latin," said Johnson, Jordan's Latin teacher. "In English, you have so many derivatives that come from Latin. Two years of basic Latin can prep you for a much higher understanding of English, and for any other Romance language."
But Johnson doesn't teach her Latin class in the same way as a traditional Romance language. No Jordan students are fluent in Latin, and there's no conversational dialogue spoken between students. Instead, the focus is on reading comprehension, vocabulary and translating legendary texts such as Vergil's Aeneid, which describes the origins of the Roman culture.
Also, about 50 percent of class time is spent on Roman history, culture and mythology -- not on conjugating verbs or interpreting poems. The focus on Roman history is one reason why Jacob Bowden, now a senior at Jordan, signed up for Latin as a student at Githens Middle School.
"In sixth grade, I was fascinated with ancient history and mythology, and I had a knack for languages as well," Bowden said. "When you start taking Latin, you realize that seeing an original text as it was written, and not translated, is pretty powerful."
Still, Latin's popularity in public schools doesn't come close to approaching that of Spanish.
"Spanish is overpowering here," Johnson admitted, adding that the school's language department is trying to hire another Spanish teacher for next year to meet increased demand. "But I strongly feel that Latin is the basic language that helps if students want to learn Spanish, French or Italian. There's so much academic discipline that's involved in memorizing words and learning rhetorical devices and syntax that can help in any language."
Spanish also thrives at Northern High School, which enrolls about 55 students in three levels of Latin this year, compared with 475 Spanish students and 70 French students, said Latin teacher Hugh Maxwell.
Although their numbers may be small, Latin students retain at least one advantage over the classmates taking Spanish -- their language choice appears more unique when applying to college.
"It's less common to see somebody who's taking an AP Vergil course their senior year, so certainly that might help a student's high school transcript stand out," said Steve Farmer, the director of admissions at UNC Chapel Hill. "But it doesn't mean a student taking it will be admitted at all costs. Language studies, period, look good to us. We don't play favorites. Latin is great, but no more great than if a student takes French, Spanish or Chinese."
Farmer said admissions officials pay attention to students with an affinity for language.
"It's really important to us that students be able to read, write and think in a language besides their own," he said. "When high school students do that at an early stage in their academic lives, we think it's wonderful."
Numbers to rise?
One of Durham's most recent high school reforms -- a move to a block schedule in time for the upcoming school year -- could lead to more students having room in their schedules to sign up for languages like Latin. At Northern, Maxwell said the school's Latin enrollment has been slowly rising through the years, with more students signing up for Advanced Placement classes in particular.
Next year, when Durham high schools adopt a block schedule, students will take eight classes throughout the course of a full year, instead of the current six classes. Maxwell said he's confident more students will sign up for Latin, in that they have two additional electives to choose from. To meet that demand, Northern plans to offer six levels of Latin next year and two different Advanced Placement courses, Vergil's Aeneid and Ovid/Catullus, in alternating years, Maxwell said.
"More kids can take more Latin, and it's theoretically possible for a student to take up to eight different semesters of Latin," Maxwell said, in praising the block schedule. "We are all very optimistic about how this will help the future of our program, and all looking forward to it."
A stray dog saved the life of a newborn baby after finding the abandoned infant in a forest and apparently carrying it across a busy road and through some barbed wire to her litter of puppies, witnesses said.
The stray dog found the infant, clad in tattered clothing, in a poor neighborhood near the Ngong Forests in the capital of Nairobi, Stephen Thoya told the independent Daily Nation newspaper.
The dog apparently found the baby Friday in the plastic bag in which the infant had been abandoned, said Aggrey Mwalimu, owner of the shed where the animal was guarding its puppies. The seven-pound, four-ounce infant was taken to the hospital for treatment on Saturday.
"She is doing well, responding to treatment, she is stable. ... She is on antibiotics," Kenyatta National Hospital spokeswoman Hanna Gakuo told The Associated Press from the hospital, where health workers called the infant Angel.
Kenya's media often report the abandonment of newborns by mothers. Poverty and the inability to care for the child are seen as the root cause of the problem. Most people who abandon babies are never caught.
The child had not yet been claimed.
"Abandoned babies are normally taken to the Kenyatta National Hospital because it is a public hospital," Gakuo said. "People are now donating diapers and baby clothes for this one."
Studies on three pieces of hide discovered in Uraman of Kurdistan in 1909 revealed them as documents of several sales of one piece of land during one century at the Parthian times with an inflation rate of less than one percent.
The hides were accidentally discovered by a shepherd working in Uraman area in a cave in 1909. They were translated and published by an Englishman in 1915, and rights now are kept in the British Museum, London.
The first two documents are written in Greek and the third in Arami which has been the official handwriting of secretaries of the Achaemenid and Parthian times.
The documents are of the sale of a vineyard in 88 BC, in 21 or 22 BC, and in 11 AD. The land is sold for 30 silver Dirhams the first time and the next two following times, and 55 silver Derhams for the last time.
Head of the Archaeology Research Center of the ICHTO, Masoud Azarnoush, who have studied the inscriptions, sees the discovery of these documents as a unique event that is of great value for history, economy, and for Iranian archaeology.
If silver Dirhams are considered to have a stable value throughout the years, the prices reveal that the inflation rate during the Parthian times has been less than one percent.
According to Azarnoush, the documents date back to the time that Iran was gaining great victories over its neighbors especially the Romans. “We can say that at the time that Iran had a strong military and political situation, its economic conditions were somehow stable too,” said Azarnoush.
An interesting point mentioned in the documents, as Azarnoush explains, is the guarantee by the buyer to cultivate the land. In case the land is left barren, the buyer must pay a large sum of fine, 200 Dirhams which is four times the price of the land, to the government. Meanwhile, the seller also guaranteed to help the buyer out in cultivating the land, so that if the buyer was sick or for some other reason unable to continue production, the seller who was accounted responsible for the matter.
The punishment considered by the Parthians for lack of economic productions, Azarnoush believes, is another reason for improvement of production and boosting economy at the time.
The origin of Vlachs, like that of the linguistically related Romanians, remains an unresolved puzzle. Both peoples are considered by some to represent descendants of Roman peoples in the Balkans, while others argue that they descended from Romanised colonists. Romanian culture was influenced by the Slavs, while Vlachs, originating south of the Danube, show Byzantine and Greek influences.
Historians call them Macedo-Romanians, and they themselves use the name Aromanians. The consensus among linguists is that Vlach and Romanian are variants of the same Latin-based language (another, Dalmatian, died out in 1898, while Istro-Romanian is spoken by a few thousand people in Croatia). Toponyms, such as Mount Durmitor in Montenegro, attest to the continued presence of Latin-speaking peoples in the Danube and mountain regions.
The name "Vlach" comes from Gothic, and originally meant "foreigner", and later "speaker of Latin idioms". German tribes used the name "Welsh" for the Roman population of what eventually became known as Wales, while the Romans of Southern Belgium were given the name Walloons. Hungarians to this day refer to Italy as "Olaszag," or "Land of Olachs" -- their version of the term. During the Byzantine Empire, several Vlach territories were recorded, but they seldom became powerful states. The Vlachs' greatest success occurred during the Assan dynasty (1185-1258), when they established the second Bulgarian Empire or the Bulgarian-Vlach state.
Legions of metalheads who've saluted "the number of the beast" may need to subtract 50 from the numeral that adorns their notebook doodlings, T-shirts and tattoos.
A newly discovered fragment of the Book of Revelation challenges the conventional belief that the Antichrist's mark is 666, indicating instead that it is 616. Expert classicists used multi-spectral imaging to get a better view of the text, which is written in archaic Greek and dates to the late third century.
"It is clearly an important new manuscript, giving us a relatively very early copy of the text of Revelation," said Christopher Tuckett, a theology professor at Oxford University's Pembroke College. "It is probably not the earliest manuscript of Revelation that we have ... but this is the first time [the 616 reading] has been found in such an early text."
Fear of 666 is so extensive it actually has a name — hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia — and has inspired everything from televangelist speeches to Hollywood films. The numbers have long been appropriated into the heavy-metal lexicon and symbology. Black Sabbath, Rob Zombie, Danzig and Sepultura have featured depictions of "666" on their album covers, Slipknot have decorated their stage set with 666 signs, and hordes of other bands have incorporated 666 symbols into T-shirts, stickers and other merchandise.
Most famously, 666 provided the title of Iron Maiden's groundbreaking 1982 album, Number of the Beast. The title track begins with the Revelation passage "Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number. Its number is 666."
The recent 616 discovery, which was found in a collection of documents recovered in Egypt, isn't exactly a whole new revelation. While it dates back the furthest, other ancient manuscripts of the Book of Revelation have the number as 616 instead of 666, provoking some debate in the past as to which were the original digits. Both Greek and Hebrew letters have numeric values that can be added up to arrive at a total. One common explanation of 666 is that it comes from the numerical value of "Nero" transliterated into Hebrew letters. A small change in the transliteration can result in 616.
Many scholars believe that 666 won out because it is derived from a more complex formula and also because it's simply more catchy. "Six hundred sixty-six looks like a more memorable number than 616," said David Parker, a New Testament professor at the University of Birmingham in England. "Six hundred sixty-six steadily took over, and the alternative was forgotten until modern scholars in the past 200 years started to look at more manuscripts and to find ones that had been lost."
Alan Mitchell, a theology professor at Georgetown University, said there's no reason the discovery should detract from the popularity of 666. "In my opinion, it doesn't change anything," he said. "The most reliable manuscripts have the number as 666. There's no reason to change the text of the New Testament, and there's no reason to change the tattoos."
But even if it's not earth-shattering news for metalheads, one group is probably not too thrilled with the discovery — the folks in southwestern Michigan whose area code is 616.
FOR nearly 2,000 years a treasure trove of Roman coins lay hidden just below the surface of an Ipswich field.
But today around 1,000 coins are being examined at the British Museum after being unearthed by two metal detecting enthusiasts.
After Suffolk had thundered to the sound of the Roman legions, the coins lay undisturbed through two world wars, invasions of the Saxons and Vikings and the reigns of numerous kings and queens.
And all it took to unearth them was two men from Chantry with a metal detector.
Rick Talman and Chris Roper could not believe their eyes when they uncovered more than one thousand of the bronze and silver coins in a field just outside the town.
For security purposes the location where the treasure trove was discovered is being kept secret.
Mr Talman, 40, of Coltsfoot Road was detecting alone when he came across the first find.
He said: "When I found the start of them I was just messing about really.
"We had done three corners of the field and I went to do the fourth and stumbled over them - they were right on the top.
"I found 82 on the first day and they were just scattered everywhere.
"I was just stunned but because I was on my own I couldn't really do anything. If Chris had been there I would probably have run round the field a few times."
When he realised the extent of the find Mr Talman contacted his brother-in-law Chris Roper.
Mr Roper, 41, of Lavender Hill, said: "I managed to get the next day off work and we went back and found about 670 altogether.
"We have been doing this for about ten years and have found a few coins and brooches before but nothing on this scale.
"We took it up as a hobby and because of an interest in history."
After another day's digging the men had found a total of 1,013 coins believed to date back to the third century, a time of great unrest.
Mr Talman added: "We had to inform the Suffolk Archaeology Unit. They think they were buried in a case and not a pot because there are nails everywhere and no pottery."
Mr Roper said: "They were sent on to the British Museum to be recorded, they go to the coroner first and he sends them on. They are going to stabilise them to stop them deteriorating and if no museums are interested we will get them back. Otherwise they will pay the market value for them."
The value of the coins is not known but Mr Roper said they are unlikely to reach a high value as they are not particularly rare.
Just down the hall from the pope's apartment and office in the Apostolic Palace, Carmelite Father Reginald Foster eyeballs processions of Latin words like Caesar reviewing the vaunted 10th Legion before a crucial battle.
This Wisconsin native, plumber's son and graduate of Milwaukee's former St. Anne Parish grade school has come a long way from the world of beer, brats and bubblers.
But not so far that he doesn't still routinely wear plain blue work shirts and pants from J.C. Penney.
He is the pope's senior Latinist, a gifted and demanding linguist who did the lion's share of the translation when Pope Benedict XVI followed tradition and delivered the first formal speech as pontiff in Latin to the cardinals on the morning after being elected.
Known as Father Reggie to some friends and students, he also is an internationally renowned Latin teacher and a fluent speaker of complex, Ciceronian Latin, not to mention a world-class curmudgeon and quirky critic of the temporal and spiritual universes around him. His sometimes intemperate outbursts of personal opinions apparently are offset by an expertise that has enabled him to survive and to serve four popes over 36 years.
This is how Foster reacted when Karol Wojtyla began signing papal documents in Latin as "Joannes Paulus II" instead of "Ioannes Paulus II" after being elected pope 26 years ago. He quickly pointed out to a papal adviser that there is no letter "J" in Latin.
"I said, 'By the way, friend, there's no J,' " Foster recalled. "And the answer kind of came back that the pope said, 'Well, now there is.' Well, fine, fine. He's the boss. And if you look at his tomb, the J is gone. One of my brethren said, 'Well he enjoyed his J for 26 years, and now it's gone.' His tombstone has 'I.' "
Mortals who dare to call Latin a dead language can expect a volley of, "Well, you're just brain dead. Why don't you just go and talk about chipmunks or hamsters?" One should "dismiss them, ditch them, throw them out" because Latin is "the whole Western world, all of literature, all of language."
His appearances on a weekly Vatican Radio segment dubbed "The Latin Lover" are legendary among some seminarians at the Pontifical North American College, partly because of his reputation for political incorrectness and unpredictability. Computer users can hear Foster tell the story of Rome's founding, burst into liturgical song in Latin, and react to Benedict XVI's first speech on archived shows at www.105live.vatican radio.org/en_latin.html.
Ides of March field trips
Yet, he also is a monk with a ready smile and a willingness to help visitors to Rome and the students from around the world who take his Latin classes at the Pontifical Gregorian University or his free Latin-immersion course in the summers. He makes the subject come alive through conversation and by doing such things as taking students on the Ides of March - the anniversary of Julius Caesar's assassination - to the site of the stabbing.
This also is the same Father Reggie Foster who didn't hesitate to interrupt the pope's calligraphers with a special request last month as they rushed to complete the final documents of John Paul's papacy before the new pope was elected. He needed to personalize a sterling silver plaque of the Holy Family that he was sending to the now 89-year-old School Sister of Notre Dame who taught him in seventh and eighth grade in Milwaukee. It was to honor her 70th anniversary of professing vows in her religious community.
That plaque now sits on a shelf in the room of Sister Ladisla Gogowski in Resurrection Life Center, a nursing care facility in Chicago. The paper attached to its back bears her name, notes her anniversary and years of service as a sister, and includes the words "Rome, Italy, April 17, 2005."
Rush for translation
"Well, I'll hear about that forever. Maybe not that long, because I don't have that many years (left)," Foster, 65, said during an interview in a Roman restaurant next to Vatican City three days before the conclave began. "The fact is, I shouldn't have done it, because they wanted to finish the pontificate, which I thought was total madness. I mean, because they want all the documents that John Paul II did finished by today."
Foster still has a brother, sister and other blood relatives in the Milwaukee area. But on his annual return trips to the Midwest each August, he also goes to see Gogowski.
"He always says I'm the one that's responsible for his having the job he's got," said Gogowski.
"You wouldn't know him now, compared to what he was when he was a kid in school. He wasn't very outgoing when he was a kid, but he loved (English) grammar, and that's what put him into that Latin translation. He would stay after school sometimes and say, 'Was there anything you taught the kids today that you didn't teach all the way through, that there's more to it?' "
Patrick Harvey, 40, a lawyer from Washington, D.C., who was interviewed in St. Peter's Square in Rome after John Paul II's death, studied Latin with Foster years ago and recalled him as "very dynamic," "very respected," "the best Latin teacher I ever had," someone who has been speaking Latin since the age of 14.
Regarded as the best
"He's reputed to be the best Latin teacher in the world," Harvey said. "Instead of teaching grammatical forms . . . he teaches it as a living language.
"Really good classical scholars will invite him to meetings because he's terribly respected. He's read everything. It's hard to find somebody who's read more Latin than he has, not only the classical works, but also medieval. . . . He can quote Cicero. He can also speak as Cicero did."
Bob Kaster, Kennedy Foundation professor of Latin language and literature at Princeton University, has never met Foster but is aware that Foster has an international reputation. At least two dozen students whom Kaster has taught at Princeton and at the University of Chicago have taken Foster's summer immersion program, for which applicants must take an admissions test.
"I think I can say without exception it's been a really transformative experience for all of them, both in terms of improving their skill with the language, but also being led by someone not just of obvious skill, but of real charisma," Kaster said.
The use of Latin has declined in the church, but Latin's popularity as an academic course is huge, Foster said. Only about a third of the 150 people who take his classes at the Gregorian University are clerics. The others are among a growing number of philosophers, art historians, classical scholars, Latin teachers and others who see its value, he said.
Lived at Holy Hill
Foster, who entered the seminary after eighth grade, said he studied at Milwaukee's St. Francis Seminary, went to a Carmelite seminary in New Hampshire, studied and was ordained in Rome, was at the monastery at Holy Hill in Washington County for about a year, and then returned to Rome to study at Salesian Pontifical University.
He became a papal Latinist when the pope's Latinist had a heart attack. "They said, 'We need someone to do this work (for Pope Paul VI) because it's piling up.' And one of my teachers said, 'I think I know the man you're looking for.' "
He's translated everything from encyclicals to the appointments of bishops into Latin. But though he works right down the hall, he rarely sees the pope.
The last time he was with John Paul II was in January 1982 after employees in the palace complained that they hadn't met the pope since his election in 1978. In response, the pope had them in for lunch in groups of 10 each day for a week or two.
"We have had very little personal contact with him," Foster said. "That's how the system works. That's no state secret. His apartment is right down the hall from me, but I never got chummy or friendly with him. No one does with any pope. We don't go over to the desk and say, 'JP, I have this idea.' "
Perhaps that's fortuitous for Foster, who says popes should ride buses instead of limousines, and who thinks the church needs to be more open to women and more willing to address other contemporary issues.
"I think we need a revolution in the church, but no one seems to agree," he said.
A LEEDS mum was quite literally left breathless with joy when she scooped £10,000 in a radio quiz.
In the shock of the moment Grace Marshall, 31, left, started having an asthma attack live on air having just learnt she had landed the grand prize. Luckily the new mum, who gave birth to twins Peter and Alicia just six weeks ago, eventually managed to catch her breath and is now looking forward to spending the money.
Presenter Simon Hirst said: "It's in my contract to build tension, but when she started gasping I got really worried that we'd finished her off."
Grace walked off with the cash after correctly naming the Greek philosopher who was Alexander the Great's tutor (Aristotle).
That was the final question in a competition called 'Smart Arse', on Galaxy 105. Grace, being half-Greek, had had a bit of an advantage with the question in the competition's final round on the Hirsty's Daily Dose breakfast show.
Written in the 1620s by the little-known playwright Philip Massinger, The Roman Actor has only recently been given stage space by professional theatre companies. The latest production has been by the RSC in 2002, with Anthony Sher in the central role of the Emperor Dominitian Caesar. The play cleverly mixes acting with reality and in Guy Westwood’s production the audience sit on either side of the stage, in a formation faintly mimetic of a Roman amphitheatre.
The set is minimalist but the structural pillars of the Pilch theatre make the setting more convincingly Classical in tone. As a director Guy Westwood has some interesting ideas and a noble cause to promote, as he views the play as an opportunity to get “a number of enthusiastic young Balliolites involved in Oxford drama.” However there is not always subtlety in his direction and opportunities for more inventive interpretation have been lost.
Simon Morgan falls somewhat short of the director’s intention of a “flamboyant, amiable Paris” with his nervous physical disposition and his twitching distracting rather than engaging. It is difficult to believe that this Paris would be the object of any noble lady’s amorous desires, particularly as he lapses into a ‘naughty schoolboy’ attitude when confronted by Caesar in the penultimate scene.
Neil Ashdown is more than faintly reminiscent of Ray Winstone in his interpretation of the role of Emperor Dominitian Caesar. His heavy, slightly earthy vocal intonation is supported with a strong physical presence throughout, behind which sexual undertones are palpable to the audience and his role as a man of power is convincingly portrayed. Domitia (Megan Murray-Pepper) is unfortunately not a fair match for her husband in terms of acting conviction.
Her voice can become monotonous in its almost unvarying intonation and her supposed passion for Paris is never truly believable. Although she makes good use of her eyes and feminine wiles in her seduction scene, on the whole her performance lacks passion and purpose. This production has the uneasy air of the schoolroom about it.
Perhaps this is partly due to the youthful nature of both cast and director, almost all of whom are first years, and it is apparent that the performance lacks something in terms of balance. However the play is competently put together and one could do worse than spend an hour or so in the company of these Roman actors.
The phenomenon causes deep revulsion in many of us but nevertheless requires to be understood if we are to respond to it in any meaningful way. This link between rape and marriage must not surprise us because it is as old as human history itself. The word “rape” has its provenance in rapere, Latin for steal or seize. The act of “stealing” the Sabine women by raping them and making them “wives” is the foundational myth of ancient Rome. This incident of mass rape is believed to have helped the city state stabilise itself. Interestingly, if we are to examine this particular myth, the injury caused by the assault was borne, not by the women — what they experienced, what they suffered, does not figure in the legend — but their fathers and brothers, whose honour was seen to have been compromised. The Sabine men battle the Romans in protest against the “stealing” of their women; the women themselves are portrayed as having quickly reconciled themselves to their state and making peace between the warring groups.
The Greek goddess of revenge, Poine, was sent to punish the mortal fools who had angered the gods. Poine also gave us our word "pain," a fact not lost on people who suffer from bodily torment so brutal it feels like divine vengeance.
The English come to New York for a piece of the American dream, seeking a more commercial, less classicist society.
Let’s bring back the Censor! That’s right, the Censor. Not censors. The Censor was an elected position in the days of the Roman Republic that entailed two responsibilities. First, taking a “census” of Roman citizens and compiling a list of their property for tax purposes. (Don’t ever expect to get away without paying property taxes.) Second, he – actually they, as normally there were two Censors – were responsible for watchdogging public morality. These guys had real power. In Plutarch’s Lives is a description of how Cato the Elder – Cato the Younger, his great-grandson, is he for whom the Cato Institute is named – took to confiscating property for the public treasury from those he deemed to be living in a profligate manner. You didn’t mess with this guy. If you had it, prudence dictated that you didn’t flaunt it.
As one would assume, this office required the election of a person of high moral standing and great personal discipline so as to avoid the temptations presented by tax avoiders offering bribes and public self-indulgers wishing to continue indulging. And Cato the Elder was just such a man. Despite his wealth, he often cooked his own meals, ate what the help – freedman or slave – ate and worked his own fields. He eschewed the tinsel of life and wondered why so many so highly regarded what was least necessary for life.
So let’s, by all means, change the Constitution and establish, in deference to our pagan roots, the office of Censor. Public morals will be in his or her or their hands. Elect the Censors every two years along with the Representatives to Congress and we can eliminate all this wasted adjudicatory time and fire several thousand attorneys in the process. At least we’ll get persons of our choice to directly impose morality on us rather than the ACLU, judges and overly-talkative Senators.
After all, even the Romans didn’t entrust their morals to their Senators.
This is a sublime moment for Andrea Carandini, an imposing man with white hair under a blue beret who looks every inch like what he is: one of Italy's most renowned archaeologists. It is not just that he has discovered something extraordinary underneath the tightly packed ruins of the Roman Forum: a palace that he believes belonged to the first king of Rome, who just maybe was actually named Romulus.
But after 20 years of digging into the very heart of Rome, he is also convinced that now, finally, other scholars, whom he calls "my opponents," will be forced to "shut up."
"I can see, little by little, them falling apart," he said, in English unnervingly more refined than that of most people who grew up speaking it.
"Opponents" may be too strong a word. But in the two decades that Dr. Carandini, 68, has excavated in and around the Palatine Hill, the epicenter of successive generations of Roman rulers, he has without doubt attracted a fair share of skeptics. That is not for his skills as an archaeologist or for his discoveries, which everyone agrees are world class.
The issue, they say, is how much weight to give the mythical accounts of the early histories of Rome when archaeologists decide what it is they have dug up. How seriously to take the story of Romulus, who by legend was suckled by a she-wolf, killed his brother Remus, then founded Rome on the Palatine, by some accounts, in 753 B.C. (before being swallowed up by a cloud).
Dr. Carandini's answer - and this is what gets him into trouble - is, very seriously.
In fact, he says his latest discoveries show the myth to be quite possibly true, even if the king's name was not necessarily Romulus (though he thinks it could have been), and that his wet-nurse was not a she-wolf.
The new discoveries, he says, also add weight to one he made in the late 1980's - still contentious in the sharp-elbowed world of ancient history - of what he says was a fortifying wall on the Palatine built by the founders of Rome, dated, he says, to about 750 B.C., the same time as Romulus.
He says he is not, as some of his detractors suggest, obsessed with the idea of Romulus or proving the Roman legends correct. But he does think that in the end, he is proving that they are not completely false either.
"There is a convergence between the king who built this wall and the literary tradition of Romulus," he said on a recent tour of his entire excavation, which slopes down from the reconstructed Temple of Vesta. "I don't say one is identical to the other. I say there is convergence."
Others say that in his two decades at the site, Dr. Carandini has sometimes worked backward from myth to explain what he has found, rather than waiting for evidence to emerge from the finds themselves.
"He's a distinguished archaeologist, with a very interesting and imaginative way of interpreting his evidence," said Tim Cornell, director of the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London.
Dr. Carandini's most recent discoveries have not yet been formally published - a fact that in itself raises some scholarly eyebrows. But over the last two years, he has uncovered what he says is a giant aristocratic house, with two big wooden beams, a banquet hall, seats, pottery and a large courtyard. Just outside the palace, he says, are other important and related discoveries, notably a house that he believes held the household fire of the Virgins of Vesta, the goddess of the early Romans.
On their own, many scholars agree, those discoveries could add important details to the still-vague history of the early Romans. But as a whole, they take on a larger significance - and academic contentiousness - given two other conclusions that he makes.
First is that the palace and what surrounds it could belong only to a king, and probably the first king of Rome - a claim that if proven true would be an invaluable historical find. Second, that like his earlier-discovered wall, it was built at the roughly the same time as that of the Romulus legend, between 775 and 750 B.C.
For Dr. Carandini, the date is important, not only because to him it shows some truth behind the legend of Romulus. It also shows, he says, the development of true political power, a city-state, here in Rome at least a century before some standard estimates. In other words, he argues, it provides more evidence that Rome was not what has often been portrayed, as a backwater lagging behind the Greeks, waiting for the invasion of the Etruscans from the north for a more developed political culture.
Many of his critics are hesitant to speak publicly. But Dr. Cornell echoed the view of half a dozen prominent archaeologists and classical scholars interviewed by saying Dr. Carandini's theories, while intriguing, for the moment run ahead of his proof.
"It's always difficult to judge a new discovery in the immediate aftermath of the discovery," Dr. Cornell said. "I think it will take 20 to 30 years before you can really assess what this find actually amounts to. At this stage, I would say that it's premature to suggest that this represents the foundation of Rome in 750 B.C."
Even Eugenio La Rocca, the chief architect for the city of Rome and a supporter of Dr. Carandini, urged some degree of caution.
"These excavations have yielded really interesting results," he said. "There are problems of interpretation of the excavations, of course. We have to analyze it, see if they are private houses or public houses. It needs deeper investigation, but we can say that we are at the beginning of something really interesting."
However history judges Dr. Carandini's work, supporters and skeptics alike will soon have an opportunity to judge for themselves. The city of Rome will be putting on the first exhibition of his finds this summer.
Readers of Homer’s immortal poem, The Odyssey, will be familiar with the following story. The hero Odysseus and his companions, on their perilous sea voyage from Troy back to their beloved island, land on an alien shore. Foraging for food, some men venture inland. Soon they come to a gorgeous dwelling, where Circe, an alluring female, offers them a refreshing drink. Alas, Circe is a sorceress and the drink a magic potion. As soon as they quaff it, a horrid transformation takes place. Bristles sprout from their limbs, they grunt, they grow pigs’ heads and bodies. Pitilessly, the witch then with blows drives her victims to a crowded and filthy sty, where they wallow in the mud. Having lost all memory of their former state, they now behave like real swine. Their minds, however, remain intrinsically human.[more]
It falls to wily Odysseus, warned by a god, to break the evil spell. The hero swings into action. Circe is seized and forced to reverse the enchantment. Shedding their bestial shape, the companions stand on their two feet again. Happily, they leave their pigpens. They rejoice in being, once again, human. All’s well that ends well… but does it?
I submit this is a cautionary tale for us today. Call it a parable. The idea of human beings being cheated of their humanity and being turned into something inferior and brutish may turn out to have surprising applications to our ultra-consumerist and ultra-materialist age.
There is nothing new in this, of course. Greek philosophy, divided into rival schools, included that of Epicurus, a philosopher whose chief principle was hedone, pleasure. Epicurus’ followers, after his death, went on to preach that humanity’s essential goal and overarching purpose was hedonism, or the search for sensual, physical fulfillment. Although Epicurus himself was far more sophisticated than his latter-day epigoni, his teaching was soon identified with an exaltation of the lower, purely animal aspects of human nature. Indeed, a Roman writer, to send up the hedonist brigade of his own time, coined an excellent phrase: ‘pigs of Epicurus’ herd.’
I wonder if Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, had hedonism in mind when, in a recent address, he said that the culture that has established itself in Europe “represents the most radical possible contradiction not only of Christianity, but of all the religious traditions of humanity.”
Another significant aspect of Epicurus’ philosophy was his marginalization of the Divine. In this, he is also quite topical. Epicurus was technically no atheist. He did not deny that the gods existed. Rather, he maintained that their existence did not impinge at all on human life. His deities lived intermundia, in the gaps between planets, and were blissfully indifferent to what went on below on earth. In other words, they cared not a jot about the plight of men.
Does all this ring a tiny bell? The consumerist philosophies (though to use the word that used to mean “love of wisdom” is to dignify them too much) holding sway across the Western world, unlike Marxism, do not bother actively to deny the Divine. Instead, they effectively marginalize it. Through steadfast, relentless media advertising and propaganda, plugging the cult of Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Marks&Sparks, etcetera, they have managed largely to push spiritual values out of the human horizon. How diabolically clever indeed.
THE historic Lunt Roman Fort reopened over the Bank Holiday weekend following £100,000 worth of repair work.
Mike Loades, the ancient weapons expert on the BBC's Time Commanders programme, officially opened the fort in Baginton on Sunday, signalling the start of a two-day re-enactment event at the attraction.
The fort was closed six months ago for repairs to the ramparts around the gatehouse. In addition to the repair work, a new staircase has been built to allow visitors to climb onto the ramparts.
On Sunday and Monday, a host of activities took, with
the XIII Geminae giving a unique insight into the lives of Roman soldiers, and the Britannia Gladiators taking arms for displays of Roman combat.
Youngsters had the chance to dress up and learn to fight like Roman soldiers, while other demonstrations included Roman cooking and mosaic making.
REMINDERS of Carlisle’s rich Roman past have been discovered by builders working in West Walls.
The remains, which include a complex under-floor heating system, were found last month while builders were excavating foundations for a property development.
It is believed that they may have been part of a bath-house serving a post house for travelling government officials.
The remains have been removed to be studied, but may return as an display in the garden area of the five flats, to be known as Weaver Court, which will be completed in August.
Dave Sullivan, contracts manager for Boardwell Building company, said: “In the building we were in we had an idea there would be something there.
“It was really good to find them – it’s unearthing part of history.”
The artifacts included large pillars – known as monoliths – and tubes through which hot air would have been blown into a series of rooms via an outside furnace.
Carlisle, which went by the Roman name Luguvallium, was the most north-western town in the Roman Empire.
But remains from the period have never been found so far west, suggesting that the Roman town was larger than historians previously believed.
Archaeologist Ian Caruana, who was on-site to watch the excavation, said: “It has helped us confirm the intention of this building and gives a good indication of the importance of this part of the town.”
The current building was converted into houses in the mid 19th century and then to flats in 1957.
Structural problems have occurred over time due to medieval ground build-up and sewers installed in the 19th century, which weakened the foundations.
The building and the surrounding area have been further damaged by increased traffic and vandalism, making the excavation necessary.
K3D Partnership, the development wing of Phoenix Architecture & Planning of Abbey Street, are developing the building.
They are working with assistance from Carlisle City Council and English Heritage as part of the council’s Heritage Economic Regeneration Scheme.
ATLANTIS researcher Robert Sarmast returned to Cyprus on Monday and is preparing for his second expedition to uncover the lost city he believes he located last year off the island’s coast.
Sarmast, author of Discovery of Atlantis: The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus, believes he located the remains of the legendary civilisation during a much-publicised expedition he launched late last year. He said his book was based on the writings of Plato.
Sonar scans of the area explored showed what Sarmast believes to be the remains of two man-made walls.
“The next step is a second expedition which we are organising now,” Sarmast told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
“We are not sure exactly when it’s going to happen but hopefully it will be sometime this summer. We’ll be launching the ROV, the Remote Operated Vehicle, the robot that actually goes down to the depths to capture real video footage and pictures of the structures that we have found.”
Sarmast said his team was still working on turning the sonar data they acquired during the last expedition into 3D models. “But we do have the images and they are very, very interesting,” he said.
“They do show man-made structures so the next expedition will be the final step, which is the verifiable, undeniable truth because we have actually video footage instead of sonar generated images. “
He said he would be releasing one or two of the images form the last expedition soon and was just waiting for the work of the scientists to be completed “so that people can get a glimpse of what’s down there”
Sarmast said he didn’t know what the cost of the expedition would be as yet but he expected it to cost less than the last time.
“The reason it was so expensive last time was because they had to bring the sonar equipment form England and this time the robot we need is already here on the island so we won’t have nearly as much trouble and we know exactly the location so it’s easier than last time,” he said adding that the expedition would last two to three days at most.
Last November, Sarmast claimed to have “definitely” found Atlantis after the sonar scans appeared to have located a rise on the seabed around a mile down in an area halfway between Cyprus and Syria.
The American researcher has been challenged by several scientists, who say all he has found are old mud volcanoes.
Sarmast has been the subject of some criticism for not yet releasing the results of the last expedition defended his position on Monday on his website discoveryofatlantis.com.
“My primary wish was to share the images as soon as they arrived but life is never that simple. Please understand that this project and the resulting images from the expedition have required years of difficult work by dozens of people, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment money. The images didn't come cheap and to share them with the public for free is not fair to those who have given so much for this to happen.”
He said he would be using the sale of the scans in a way that would ensure the required funding was made available for the second expedition.
“Remember that planning Atlantis expeditions is relatively easy and many people want to do them every year, but funding and executing them properly is very difficult and needs a business-minded approach,’ he said.
“Our expedition last year was the most scientific Atlantis expedition conducted in history. We aim to film the remains of Atlantis City using an ROV and that takes a lot of planning and money, so the images have to be used to make that happen.”
Satanists, apocalypse watchers and heavy metal guitarists may have to adjust their demonic numerology after a recently deciphered ancient biblical text revealed that 666 is not the fabled Number of the Beast after all.
A fragment from the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament, dating to the Third century, gives the more mundane 616 as the mark of the Antichrist.
Ellen Aitken, a professor of early Christian history at McGill University, said the discovery appears to spell the end of 666 as the devil's prime number.
"This is a very nice piece to find," Dr. Aitken said. "Scholars have argued for a long time over this, and it now seems that 616 was the original number of the beast."
The tiny fragment of 1,500-year-old papyrus is written in Greek, the original language of the New Testament, and contains a key passage from the Book of Revelation.
Where more conventional versions of the Bible give 666 as the "number of the beast," or the sign of the anti-Christ whose coming is predicted in the book's apocalyptic verses, the older version uses the Greek letters signifying 616.
"This is very early confirmation of that number, earlier than any other text we've found of that passage," Dr. Aitken said. "It's probably about 100 years before any other version."
The fragment was part of a hoard of previously illegible manuscripts discovered in an ancient garbage dump outside the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus. Although the papyrus was first excavated in 1895, it was badly discoloured and damaged. Classics scholars at Oxford University were only recently able to read it using new advanced imaging techniques.
Elijah Dann, a professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Toronto, said the new number is unlikely to make a dent in the popularity of 666.
"Otherwise, a lot of sermons would have to be changed and a lot of movies rewritten," he said with a laugh. "There's always someone with an active imagination who can put another interpretation on it.
"It just shows you that when you study something as cryptic and mystic as the Book of Revelation there's an almost unlimited number of interpretations."
The book is thought to have been written by the disciple John and according to the King James Bible, the traditional translation of the passage reads: "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
But Dr. Aitken said that translation was drawn from much later versions of the New Testament than the fragment found in Oxyrhynchus. "When we're talking about the early biblical texts, we're always talking about copies and they are copies made, at best, 150 to 200 years after [the original] was written," she said.
"They can have mistakes in the copying, changes for political or theological reasons ... it's like a detective story piecing it all together."
Dr. Aitken said, however, that scholars now believe the number in question has very little to do the devil. It was actually a complicated numerical riddle in Greek, meant to represent someone's name, she said.
"It's a number puzzle -- the majority opinion seems to be that it refers to [the Roman emperor] Nero."
Revelation was actually a thinly disguised political tract, with the names of those being criticized changed to numbers to protect the authors and early Christians from reprisals. "It's a very political document," Dr. Aitken said. "It's a critique of the politics and society of the Roman empire, but it's written in coded language and riddles."
Classics professors hope to add a new major to their department that would allow students without prior knowledge of classical languages to graduate with a classics degree in four years.
Dr. David Sweet, associate classics professor and Braniff Graduate School dean, said the new major, temporarily titled classical studies, would be a modified version of the current major.
In the new major, two upper-level Latin or Greek language requirements can be satisfied instead by courses in translation, instead of reading the works in the original Latin or Greek.
The secondary language, either Latin or Greek depending on the student's concentration, would be taken only through the first intermediate level.
In the present major, the secondary language through the second intermediate level.
Classical studies majors will not write a junior paper or be required to take a modern language.
Dr. Grace Starry West, classics department chair, said the classics professors asked themselves, "What could somebody really do without [in the current classics major]?"; they eliminated requirements accordingly.
West described the new major as requiring the "bare minimum" from students, but stressed that UD's minimum requirements are at least as demanding as those of many well-known universities, including the Ivy League schools.
Sweet said the old classics major will not be replaced, rather the department will now offer students two options.
"We'll retain both majors and urge people who want to go on to graduate work in classics to do the more difficult one.
"If they want to go on in theology or philosophy, then they'll have gotten pretty far down the path of learning Greek or Latin," he said.
Lionel Yaceczko, senior classics major, said the new major will benefit the classics department.
"I thought, 'Finally we can have a legitimate enrollment like the other majors at this school,'" he said. "It opens up the department to a huge new demographic."
Yaceczko said he has heard students who wanted to major in classics complain of the current major's rigorous requirements.
"People tend to feel they're buried under the work they have to do in Latin and Greek," he said.
Patrick Callahan, senior classics major, said he wanted to see how the new major would fare once it was put into practice.
"It's a matter of how it is affected in practice, rather than what the actual changes are, that will say whether it's a good or a bad change," he said.
Callahan expressed reservations about incoming student reactions to the new major.
"Freshmen or sophomores, before habituat[ing] themselves to the virtues of the major, may choose the easy course rather than pushing themselves," he said.
Freshman Elizabeth Malone, declared English major, is one of the students considering the new classical studies major.
"I'm happy to see we're keeping the old major for people who want that, but I think the new major is a good idea," she said.
The proposed major has been approved by Constantin Curriculum Committee, the Faculty Senate, and a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees. If it is finally approved, the new major will be offered to students this fall.
Road rage is a topic that has received much attention recently with reports of serious incidents appearing in the media on an almost daily basis. Road rage has no standard definition, although it has been defined as a situation where "a driver or passenger attempts to kill, injure or intimidate a pedestrian or another driver or passenger or to damage their car in a traffic incident" (Smart and Mann, 2002a). Newspaper reports on road rage have greatly increased in Canada (Smart and Mann, 2002b) and the United States (Fumento, 1998) making it seem like a new phenomenon. However, historical References to road rage can be found as early as 420 B.C.E. in Sophocles' play Oedipus the King (Roche, 2001); a road rage incident is the reason why Oedipus kills his father. The life of Lord Byron contains several incidents of road rage (Smart et al., unpublished data).
Like a doting parent, Dr Stavros Vlizos doesn't play favourites. All of the 163 figurines, ceramics, toys, icons, weapons, paintings and jewellery in the exhibition Greek treasures: from the Benaki Museum in Athens are his babies.
"They are all important - we brought the most representative and qualitative items," the assistant to the Benaki Museum's director says. As he walks around the Powerhouse Museum exhibition, he lovingly describes the pieces, including a marble female figurine from between 2700 and 2300 BC and an exquisite gold cup from 15th century BC decorated with three galloping dogs. Vlizos is in Sydney to launch the exhibition. He's also here to campaign for some other objects he loves.
Yesterday, he spoke to the national conference of Museums Australia, the professional association for museum and gallery workers, about the Greek bid to have the British Museum return the controversial Parthenon sculptures (or Elgin marbles) to Greece. His talk was part of a morning dedicated to an enormous problem facing modern museums - the repatriation of cultural material.
"It's the best way to display [the Parthenon sculptures], to have them in a good condition preserved in connection with their original site," Vlizos says. To that end, Athens is building a museum next to the Parthenon to display the sculptures.
The dispute dates back to 1801, when the British ambassador to the Ottoman empire, Thomas Bruce, the seventh earl of Elgin, began removing half of the surviving Parthenon frieze and many of its statues. He sold them to the British Museum in 1816. The Greeks first demanded the return of the sculptures after independence from Turkey in 1829. Greece's last concerted effort was for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The British Museum argues the statues were legally acquired, that the rich setting of the British Museum is the best place for them, and the restoration of the Parthenon is unachievable.
"The Greek position is that this transaction [between Lord Elgin and the Ottoman authority he dealt with] was not official," Vlizos says. "It was just between two men, not between the governments of that time."
Repatriation is also a hot topic in Australia. Early last year, the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, loaned two Aboriginal bark etchings and a ceremonial carved emu figure to Museum Victoria. Last July, the Dja Dja Wurrung Native Title Group from Victoria claimed ownership and secured an emergency heritage declaration to keep the items in the state. Museum Victoria argued it was legally obliged to send the objects back. The matter has not been resolved.
Because of the legal case, the head of Museum Victoria, Dr Patrick Greene, had to withdraw from the conference. Another no-show was the director-general of Iraqi Museums, Dr Donny George. George, who was to talk about the looting of Iraq's national museum, was not able to travel from Baghdad to Jordan to obtain his Australian visa.
Vlizos says the Greek push for the Parthenon sculptures will continue. "It's not only the nationalistic point, that they belong to Greece, it's about involvement in culture in general, that we want to see monuments completed in the right context."
Vlizos is hoping there will be no dispute over the objects loaned to the Powerhouse Museum. "You will give us back our art treasures, won't you?" he asks, smiling.
Peterborough, ON, Canada, May 3, 2005 - While searching for the secrets of the Bermuda Tri-angle, Chris Shearer stumbled upon a picture of what he believes is the concentric rings and canal system where Atlantis once flourished. Finding even more pictures on the subject he then concluded that with earlier pictures of the area showed much more sedimentary sand deposits. The hurricanes and tropical storms that happened last year and some of the previous years removed some of the sedimentary sand that was on top of the parts of Atlantis which are now visible. Back in the thirties Edgar Cayce who was a world renowned psychic was quoted as saying that parts of Atlantis would rise in 68 or 69, and indeed they did. The Bimini roads were then discovered along with under water temples which are also visible.[more ... although we've seen it before]
The Bahama Islands have been over looked as being Atlantis for many years, until now. Not only was Edgar Cayce right about his readings on Atlantis he is also right about the whereabouts. Chris has done extensive research on the subject and conclude that what he has discovered is in fact the lost city and continent of Atlantis. Of course there will be controversy in the matter but his web-site will show the people that indeed, Atlantis once thrived on an island sized continent. Not only has he discovered Atlantis, but he also has the answers to many of our age old questions, especially what happened! By looking constantly at satellite images of earth, and the continents he has concluded that the disappearance of Atlantis was brought on by the end of the last ice age and the last time the earths continents drifted away from one another. The Tsunami that was created from the Atlantic fault giving away was immensely large enough to submerse a continent, and most of the world. The great flood is even depicted in the Bible.
Perhaps then it is more than a coincidence that the first brand-name whistle-blower was a woman. In Greek mythology, Cassandra had the gift of prophecy. She correctly predicted the outcome of many events, warning the Trojans, for example, in “The Aeneid,” against accepting a wooden horse as a “gift” from their Greek opponents. However, when Cassandra spurned the god Apollo as a lover, he retaliated by making anyone who heard her prophecies believe they were lies. It was mostly men who disbelieved her, leading inevitably to disaster and tragedy as it is written, “Cassandra cried, and curs’d th’ unhappy hour/Foretold our fate; but by the god’s decree,/All heard, and non believed the prophecy.”
Chefs call it their "go-to" ingredient, the one they reach for when a dish is blah or bland or just isn't coming together. Fish sauce, the pungent, tea-colored liquid that perfumes the cooking of Southeast Asia, has infiltrated Western kitchens.[more]
"If something doesn't taste quite right," says Donald Dellis, chef-owner of Grasshopper in Oakland, "fish sauce is often the ingredient it needs."
It's hardly surprising that the condiment appeals to Bay Area chefs with a penchant for Asian flavors, like Hiro Sone at Terra in St. Helena, James McDevitt at Budo in Napa and Arnold Wong of Bacar and Eos in San Francisco. But more telling is fish sauce's presence today in kitchens with no overt East- West bent -- such as Gary Danko and Farallon in San Francisco -- and in dishes as definitively Western as bouillabaisse and Caesar salad.
"It adds that depth that you can't get from anything else," says Wong, who puts fish sauce in his lobster stock at Bacar. Dellis adds it to braised duck and to other braises that need more complexity. At Farallon, chef de cuisine Parke Ulrich uses it to finish sauces and to accent vinaigrettes, such as a grapefruit vinaigrette for scallop carpaccio.
"It's like liquid anchovy," says Danko, who uses it in a lobster salad and in a soup with coconut milk and smoked duck. "It's very high in umami and helps make bland things taste fuller, more round." Umami, often identified as a savory taste, derives from an amino acid found in high-protein foods.
Known as nuoc mam in Vietnam, nam pla in Thailand and patis in the Philippines, fish sauce smells like a cross between ripe Limburger and overripe sardines. On the tongue, it can be almost painfully salty, but it is rarely used straight. More often, it's diluted with water and balanced with lime juice, chiles and sugar to make a Thai or Vietnamese dipping sauce, or splashed into a meat marinade or curry, where it contributes an agreeable background note.
In Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines, fish sauce is never far from a cook's hand. Didier Corlou, the French chef at the Sofitel Metropole hotel in Hanoi and author of a charming booklet about nuoc mam, writes that for him it is almost a drug, a seductive seasoning that he relies on every day.
In the West, fish sauce has been traced to classical Roman times, when it was known as garum. Pliny described it in the first century A.D., and archaeologists have found amphorae used for its production. Alan Davidson, the food scholar, writes in "The Oxford Companion to Food" (Oxford University Press, 1999) that the garum amphorae found at Pompeii still reeked of the stuff.
When fish sauce arrived on Southeast Asian tables remains a mystery, but its invention was inevitable. In a region blessed with abundant fish but, even today, lacking refrigeration, people naturally figured out how to preserve this valued protein source.
The condiment can be made with a variety of fresh and saltwater fish, but most versions rely on anchovies, which are plentiful and low in value. The whole fresh fish are packed in sea salt in wooden barrels, earthenware jars or concrete bins, and allowed to ferment for six months to a year, or even longer, before the resulting liquid is drawn off, filtered and bottled.
This first extraction is the highest in protein, the best flavored and the most valued, but most producers will re-cover the fish with brine to produce a weaker second or even a third extraction, analogous to re-steeping tea leaves. Although a few manufacturers bottle these different grades separately, others will blend them, diluting their best product in the interest of more volume.
According to Kasma Loha-Unchit, an Oakland cooking teacher who leads frequent culinary tours to Thailand, none of the fish sauce available in the United States is pure first extraction. It has all been diluted to be competitively priced.
In Vietnam, the first extraction is called nuoc mam nhi, a phrase that appears on the label, and some cooks reserve this premium product for raw uses, such as vinaigrettes, dipping sauces or final off-the-heat seasoning. For marinades or cooked dishes, they use the less expensive blends. At least two widely distributed imported brands, Viet Huong (also known as Three Crabs) and Phu Quoc, are labeled as nuoc mam nhi, but Loha-Unchit doubts that claim.
Certainly fish sauce labels raise more questions than they answer. Why does Squid Brand fish sauce have a picture of squid on the label but contain no squid? Why do manufacturers put a Vietnamese name, such as Viet Huong or Phu Quoc (the name of a Vietnamese island renowned for its fish sauce), on the bottle when the product is made in Thailand?
Although traditional, premium fish sauce contains nothing but fish and salt, all the brands available here include sugar. Some also contain hydrolyzed wheat protein (a flavor enhancer similar to monosodium glutamate) or preservatives such as sodium benzoate. Loha-Unchit says if a sauce contains hydrolyzed wheat protein chances are it was made in an accelerated fashion, not by the slow fermentation process that produces flavor naturally.
Most of the fish sauce on Bay Area shelves comes from Thailand. Vietnamese fish sauce is a rarity, although Sacramento restaurateur Mai Pham, Chronicle contributor and author of "Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table" (HarperCollins, 2001), says she sees it occasionally.
Le Chung, whose Viet Huong Fish Sauce Co. in San Francisco distributes the Three Crabs brand, says that his company has been unable to find Vietnamese fish sauce suitable to export. A skeptic, especially one who has sampled Vietnam's perfectly tasty fish sauce on its home turf, might suspect that the problem is due to price or logistics rather than quality. Charles Phan, the Vietnamese-born chef-owner of Slanted Door in San Francisco, says that Vietnamese nuoc mam is more fragrant and less salty than the Thai brands sold here, but it oxidizes quickly. The bottles he has brought back from Vietnam have turned dark and changed character rapidly.
Even Thai and Filipino brands, despite their high salt content, will darken and develop off flavors over time, eventually resembling soy sauce in appearance. Fish sauce doesn't need to be refrigerated, but it should be kept away from light and discarded if it shows signs of oxidation. At $2 to $3, a fresh bottle is a modest and worthwhile expense.
Although to some a 24-ounce bottle of fish sauce may look like a lifetime supply, it is easy to develop an addiction. Any place anchovies go, fish sauce can go, too, and more easily -- in a vinaigrette, in a tomato sauce for pasta, or on broccoli rabe or other cooked leafy greens.
"I use it in my Caesar salad in place of anchovy," Pham says. "Anchovy is a little more fishy, in my opinion. Fish sauce is more subtle, more of a caramelized flavor."
Wong adds it to bouillabaisse at Bacar and to an heirloom-tomato relish for fried calamari at Eos. Dellis adds a splash to his fried rice and to a marinade for grilled five-spice chicken. Many chefs mention fish sauce's affinity for beef and use it to season a steak before or after cooking, akin to anointing the meat with Worcestershire sauce or anchovy butter. McDevitt makes a dipping sauce for whole roast fish by marinating sliced chiles overnight in fish sauce, replicating a simple condiment found all over Vietnam.
Slanted Door customers can hardly avoid nuoc mam; Phan estimates it's in 85 to 90 percent of his dishes. It's the "secret ingredient" of his cooking, he says, and it would be impossible to replace.
Not long ago, Phan developed a claypot chicken recipe for a major frozen- food company. Everyone loved the dish, he says, but the marketing people wanted to eliminate the fish sauce.
"They said, 'Let us figure out how to make this,' " Phan recalls. "So they send in the lab-coat people, and they can't figure it out. They figured they could use caramel or 50 jars of fragrance, but they can't create that taste."
It may taste like heaven, but it smells like hell, even to a fish sauce enthusiast. Vietnam Airlines, the national carrier, won't allow fish sauce on board. A partially used bottle transported in a car invariably leaks, Loha- Unchit says, leaving a long-lasting souvenir. Even at home, keep a grip on the bottle. If it breaks, the Vietnamese say, bad luck awaits.
Will Lindquester, an eighth-grader at Woodland Presbyterian School, received a perfect score on the National Latin Exam. The exam is given worldwide to students in grades 8 and 9.
Three Columbia Independent School students earned laurels for getting perfect scores on the National Latin Exam.
Katy Burch-Hudson, Max Vale and Heather Bethel all aced the test. Only 1 percent of the 135,000 test takers in North America, Europe, Australia and China can say the same.
All CIS students take at least three years of Latin, and teacher Sue Ann Moore makes preparation for the National Latin Exam part of every course. The exam covers grammar and reading skills plus classical history, geography and culture.
Moore said 53 of her 87 students earned recognition medals, which are given to students who score at various levels. There’s usually only one flawless test.
"We’ve never had three perfect scores in a single year," she said.
Latin classes focus on cultural studies and reading because there’s less knowledge about everyday spoken forms of the language.
Katy, 13, is in her second year of Latin. Heather and Max, both 15, are fourth-year students and have progressed to translating the first-century B.C. classical epic "The Aeneid" by Virgil from Latin to English.
"You don’t speak Latin, obviously, but it’s a new experience," Heather said.
Max agreed. "You’re probably not going to use Latin unless you’re doing classical studies," he said, but it sharpens the memory and "makes you learn how to think."
Katy said studying Latin helps her decipher new words on standardized tests and in more unexpected places.
"My coach from soccer said we had to figure out what ‘magnanimous’ meant because he said he was being magnanimous at practice the other day," she said. "I was surprised I knew."
Heather and Max got to practice their language skills during the school’s recent spring break trip to Italy. Their skills only helped a little with modern Italian, but there were plenty of inscriptions to read in Rome.
Something strange happened in the Renaissance. The deities of Greece and Rome had been proper gods with temples, rituals, priests and worshippers to go with them. They had disappeared only when Christianity took their place. Yet in the Renaissance, when the gods and goddesses of the ancient world re-emerged, they were no longer part of a religion, they were something else. What exactly?[more]
It is tempting to suppose that the revival of classical mythology was the result of humanist scholarship and the rediscovery of ancient texts. Yet this is not really true, because the most important literary sources for artists were not classical works but vernacular romances and reprints of medieval paraphrases of Ovid that often have little relation to the original text. Even in the mid-16th century when mythographical handbooks of various kinds start to appear, they are often written for, and sometimes by, artists themselves.
Although the revival of interest in antiquity took many forms, the reanimation of pagan mythology is something that took place within the sphere of the arts. And there mythologies emerge first in minor decorative forms - wedding chests and jewellery boxes, the painted plates used in country villas - in the statues for fountains and gardens, and in the decoration of bathrooms and bedrooms. In literature, mythological themes are more common in occasional verse than longer poems; in the theatre, they initially appear as intermezzi, musical diversions staged between the acts of the play, rather than in the drama itself. Mythology did not demand sustained attention and it was not considered suitable for serious public contexts; if it served as more than a filler, it belonged in the private, often female sphere, where people sought undemanding relaxation.
For the contemporary equivalents, you would probably need to think in terms of the style section of the newspapers. But if classical mythology was packaged like the glossies, its content was strictly tabloid - incredible tales and the sexual indiscretions of celebrities: how Jupiter raped me disguised as a woman; pregnant woman stripped at swimming pool; rapist's wife beats up victim; son nearly kills mother in the form of a bear; how I went into outer space. And that's just the story of Callisto - the pregnant nymph whose discovery among the chaste followers of the virgin goddess Diana was the subject of paintings by Titian and others.
But, rather as Jerry Springer transfers easily from late-night TV to the National Theatre, so pagan subjects gradually migrated to more prestigious contexts. By the 17th century, mythology had moved from the intermezzo to opera, the epigram to epic, the frieze to ceiling, and from the gardens of country villas to the state apartments of princes.
Throughout this process, mythological imagery never challenged Christianity directly. No one took down altarpieces or statues of the saints and replaced them with pagan idols. The ancient gods crept back into western culture as fashion accessories and garden ornaments, without anyone taking them seriously. In the end, the result was almost as destructive. There had not been much place for falsehood in the Christian world - cultural products were all meant to contain some truth (even if it needed an allegory to extract it) and those that did not were banned. But the spread of mythological decoration created a tolerance for fanciful imagery.
The effect was corrosive. It made it more difficult for people to distinguish between truths that they were meant to believe, and fictions that they were meant to dismiss as a joke. For the sceptics of the Enlightenment, the ubiquity of the pagan gods was proof that widely disseminated traditions could simply be false, and it was not long before the same reasoning was applied to Christianity and the ancien regime as well. It was, in effect, secularisation through decoration.
But why did the rebirth of the ancient gods transform the culture in a way that, say, 18th-century Chinoiserie, or even the 19th-century Gothic revival, did not? Was it because the superior technical accomplishments of Renaissance artists constituted such a persuasive argument for classical themes? Hardly. Mythological subjects were rarely the inspiration for artistic innovation. If anything, Renaissance naturalism was driven by religious imperatives - the desire to experience the living presence of Christ, Mary and the saints in and through their images - while mythological themes were routinely treated in a way that was flatter and less realistic.
The success of classical mythology in early modern Europe had as much to do with politics as art. Mythological imagery spread after the artistic and intellectual renaissance was well established: from the second quarter of the 16th century in Italy, and later still in northern Europe. The political context in which it developed was not republican Florence, but the imperial territories secured for the Holy Roman Empire by the Habsburg victories in Italy in the late 1520s. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was identified with Jupiter, the king of the gods, and flattered by the rulers of north Italian states with depictions of Jupiter defeating his enemies and making love to mortal women.
Republics continued to prefer allegories but, over the next century, princely states all over Europe developed iconographies in which the ruler was identified with one or more of the gods, culminating in the almost total identification of Louis XIV and the sun-god Apollo. Classical mythology was not just the wallpaper of the leisure classes; it was simultaneously the propaganda of absolutism. This does not mean that every little trinket and fountain carried an ideological message, but, taken collectively, mythological subjects formed a continuous web of fantasies at whose centre was the imagery of royal power.
For example, when Michelangelo presented to his young friend Tommaso de' Cavalieri a drawing of Ganymede carried off to Olympus by Jupiter's eagle, it was a private image inspired by his love for the young man and the lofty ideals he hoped they would share. He certainly was not thinking about contemporary Italian politics. Yet a few years later, Michelangelo's image of Ganymede was used by a later artist as an allegory of the Battle of Montemurlo, where Charles V (represented by the eagle) helped Duke Cosimo de' Medici (represented by Ganymede) achieve victory against his enemies.
A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616.
The new fragment from the Book of Revelation, written in ancient Greek and dating from the late third century, is part of a hoard of previously unintelligible manuscripts discovered in historic dumps outside Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. Now a team of expert classicists, using new photographic techniques, are finally deciphering the original writing.
Professor David Parker, Professor of New Testament Textual Criticism and Paleography at the University of Birmingham, thinks that 616, although less memorable than 666, is the original. He said: "This is an example of gematria, where numbers are based on the numerical values of letters in people's names. Early Christians would use numbers to hide the identity of people who they were attacking: 616 refers to the Emperor Caligula."
The Book of Revelation is traditionally considered to be written by John, a disciple of Jesus; it identifies 666 as the mark of the Antichrist. In America, the fundamentalist Christian right often use the number in sermons about the coming Apocalypse.
They and satanists responded coolly to the new "Revelation". Peter Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, based in New York, said: "By using 666 we're using something that the Christians fear. Mind you, if they do switch to 616 being the number of the beast then we'll start using that."