Ver non una dies, non una reducit hirundo.
(pron = wair nohn oo-nah dee-ays, nohn oo-nah reh-doo-kit hih-roon-doh)
Spring is not made by one warm day nor the appearance of one swallow.
Comment: Even in the Deep South, we get those occasional days while still in the
midst of winter that sends us all running (those of us who garden, that is) to
the garden stores, buying flower/vegetable seeds and rushing home to plant a
garden. Three days later there is a deep freeze because, after all, it is
still winter. The one day was a teaser. It looked and felt and sounded like
spring (we don’t do swallows, but we have their counterparts).
So what? This proverb is suggesting that we “not count our chicks until the
eggs are hatched”. Doing so can be embarrassing and wasteful—sometimes even
dangerous. But, it also points to a reality that we can take some delight in.
In the midst of winter, we get a glimpse of coming spring. The teaser is also a
blessed promise. Spring will come. Rather than rejecting such gifts with
skepticism because, after all it’s still winter, we can receive them as an hors
d’oeuvre that anticipates the main course. This is also a reminder that nature
and, hence, human life, unfold. They do not show up as black and white slides
in a slide projector. Nature unfolds. Black and white are many, many shades
of gray before they come full form.
Wrapped up in the mundane today may come little blessings, little hors
d’oeuvres. We can be on the alert for them, and delight in them, in the
moment, when they come.
Portugallia incendiis vastatur
Portugallia ab Unione Europaea auxilium petivit, ut incendia silvarum et camporum passim vagantia coercerentur.
Post mensem Ianuarium nullae fere pluviae in Portugallia ceciderunt et praeterea ventis vehementer flantibus labor siphonariorum difficilior redditus est.
Hac aestate incendia iam centum quadraginta milia hectarearum ex silvis fruticetisque Portugalliae vastaverunt.
Nebula densa die Mercurii orta aliquid auxilii laborantibus attulit, sed illo die adhuc circiter mille quingenti siphonarii et plus sescenti milites incendiis exstinguendis operam dederunt.
Franci, Germani, Italiani, Hispani Nederlandiensesque aeroplana, helicoptera aliaque ad ignes coercendos necessaria Portugallis auxilio miserunt.
The majestic spectacle of the trial, in other words, is becoming rarer, even as its prestige grows, and a swelling army of lawyers, covered by Court TV, stand ready to serve it. If Socrates were alive today, a plea bargain might have been in the cards. Instead of hemlock, he could have got off with probation and a hundred hours of community service.
The author, after a short review of the research to date and the criteria with which to approach the topic, discusses a number of acrostics to be found in Aratus' Phaenomena, Callimachus' Hymns, and Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica, all of them recently detected by himself. It turns out that Aratus was particularly fond of inserting syllabic 'gamma-type' acrostics, which should not always be taken as examples of mere art for art's sake since they may allude to, or are supported by, the immediate context. Special attention, nevertheless, is given to the interpretation of a 'regular' acrostic (EPhiAThetaE, Phaen. 220-4), in which the poet's empathy with nature is emphasised. The examples from Callimachus (h. 1.60-2; 5.116-9) and Apollonius Rhodius (1.180-4; 2.421-3; 3.1008-11; 4.1489-92) show that the interrelation between the acrostic and its context may have a ludic character when, for instance, the acrostic serves as a kind of humorous authorial comment. It is interesting to observe that the acrostics in Callimachus and Apollonius Rhodius seem to be mostly connected with important moments in narration.
The Herodes Atticus Hamam, situated in Çanakkale's ancient ruins of Alexandria Troas, is believed to be the largest bath from the Roman era in Anatolia and is just waiting to be unearthed.
Excavation team leader and German archaeologist Professor Elmar Schwertheim told the Anatolia news agency there are a total of 30 people on the team from Münster Wesfalische Wilhelm University and Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University (ÇOMÜ).
Schwertheim said digs were started by the Çanakkale Archaeology Museum in 1997 and that he's been in charge since 2002. "This year we are working on uncovering the temple, the city's main avenue, the agora and the wall. Restoration work on the city's east door [main entrance] is also under way," said the professor.
Schwertheim said St. Paul passed through this city on his journey to Europe, where he would spread the Christian faith, adding significance to the ancient city's faith-based tourism appeal.
Herodes Atticus Hamam:
Professor Schwertheim said the most significant structure of the ancient ruins was the Herodes Atticus Hamam, which was built in 135 A.D. and which has become the symbol of the city. He said the bath was just waiting to be unearthed but much funding and time were needed to do the job. "Up until 1809 the major part of the structure was standing, but after an earthquake only the visible part of the arches remains. This bath is the largest Roman-era bath in Anatolia. Its facade measures about 100 meters. Arches that are still standing attest to its monumental dimensions."
Restoration began in 2000. One of the arches, made out of soft seashells and limestone, was facing further destruction and was taken under protection. Schwertheim said this season's dig began on Aug. 1 and will last through Sept. 15.
The city's history:
The ancient city of Antigoneia was built by Antigonos Monoftalmos (one-eyed Antigonos) at the end of the fourth century B.C. It was rebuilt by Lysimakos at the beginning of the third century B.C. and renamed Alexandria Troas in honor of Alexander the Great.
It is believed this area was used as an area of settlement during the Hellenistic period since it was built on the coast.
Greeks from the cities of Gargara, Hamaxitos, Neandria, Kolonai, Larisa, Kebren and Skepsis settled down here to make it the biggest settlement in Anatolia at the time. Based on Roman texts, Alexandria Troas was visited by Julius Cesar and deemed important enough to be declared a capital city.
Some wanderers in the Middle Ages thought this ancient city, visible from the sea, to be the ruins of Troy, which brought many visitors. The city was a center of maritime commerce in its heyday and collected customs fees from seamen passing through on their way to the Black Sea.
Let me quote from Michgan University Prof. Juan Cole, who took on Andrew Sullivan of Sunday Times for his 28 August article ‘Iraq still offers a tantalising prospect of success’;
“It should be remembered where the word "tantalizing" came from” wrote Prof Cole . He then lets Odysseus describe a scene in Hades in Homer's Odyssey:
'"I also saw the awful agonies that Tantalus has to bear. The old man was standing in a pool of water which nearly reached his chin, and his thirst drove him to unceasing efforts; but he could never get a drop to drink. For whenever he stooped in his eagerness to lap the water, it disappeared. The pool was swallowed up, and all he saw at his feet was the dark earth, which some mysterious power had parched. Trees spread their foliage high over the pool and dangle fruits above his head—pear-trees and pomegranates, apple-trees with their glossy burden, sweet figs and luxuriant olives. But whenever the old man tried to grasp them in his hands, the wind would toss them up towards the shadowy clouds.
“The American Right playing Tantalus, and Iraq as their punishment in Hades, is a more appropriate comparison than Mr. Sullivan perhaps realized. Tantalus was notorious for ever wanting more, for wanting to be god-like, just as the Bushies think that they are manufacturers of reality and the rest of wretched humanity is clay in their divine hands. It should also be remembered that some say Tantalus was punished by the gods for having invited them to a banquet and having served them food into which the remains of his son, whom he had killed, had been ground up. The warmongers' sacrifice of Americans' children for their aggressive policies is a similar sin.
The University of California, San Diego with the help of the local Greek community recently created the Gerry and Jeannie Ranglas Chair in Ancient Greek History and the Alkiviadis Vassiliadis Chair in Byzantine Greek History. Donations totaled more than $1 million.
The campus Gerry and Jeannie Ranglas and Carol Vassiliadis each presented leadership gifts for the two UCSD endowed faculty chairs, while contributions from members of San Diego's Greek community and cultural organizations provided the remainder of the funding.
UCSD expects to establish an endowed chair in Modern Greek History. When the $500,000 goal for the chair is met, UCSD will become the only university in the United States to have endowed faculty chairs for all three major eras of Greek history. Money raised for the UCSD Greek History chairs contribute to UCSD's $1 billion fund-raising initiative, The Campaign for UCSD: Imagine What's Next.
UCSD's new endowed chairs will cover: Ancient Greek history from circa 800 B.C. to the death of Alexander the Great, circa 300 B.C.; more than 1,000 years of the history of the Byzantine Empire, from circa 324 A.D. to 1453 A.D.; and the last 200 years of Greek history, from circa 1800 A.D. to the present.
Late next year, Foundation of the Hellenic World's (FHW) innovative cultural center/museum, Hellenic Cosmos, will feature an immersive virtual tour of Agora, the heart of ancient Athens. For the development of this stunning virtual reality (VR) presentation in advance of the 2006 opening of a state-of-the-art immersive 128-seat domed theater, the Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW), a not-for-profit cultural institution in Athens, Greece, selected visualization technology from Silicon Graphics (NYSE: SGI - News). FHW will use the SGI® system to add more animations and much more realistic graphics to the Agora presentation than its previous VR datasets. The final implementation solution will be decided at a later date.
The Agora's buildings were the center of public life, a site of political meetings, commercial transactions, the administrative center and also the judicial and religious center of the city. Socrates often met his disciples there, in the shade of the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios. The ruins of the Agora can be visited today, below the hill where the Acropolis stands, but for the first time, visitors and residents of Athens will be able to tour the ancient Agora immersively and interactively, filled with the living, breathing activities of its long history.
An SGI customer for many years, FHW expanded its permanent virtual exhibits at Hellenic Cosmos last year to coincide with the 2004 Summer Games. The Foundation opened three new exhibits, also created using SGI visualization technology, including an immersive 3D tour of Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, which has been enormously successful for the center. To create an even more spectacular virtual tour for the new domed theater, FHW purchased two Silicon Graphics Prism(TM) visualization systems, one with four ATI graphics processor units, a compositor and four Intel® Itanium® 2 processors running the Linux® environment. The second Silicon Graphics Prism system is a two-processor, two graphics pipe configuration that is being used for porting and testing applications.
"Our Ancient Olympia tour had 33 virtual buildings and, at about half a gigabyte, was double the size of our previous dataset; it was straining our 7-year-old system. We knew we had to move to a faster machine with bigger texture memory and bigger shared memory for the Ancient Agora, which has 43 buildings, plus we're planning much more interaction," said Athanasios Gaitatzes, head of the Virtual Reality Department, Foundation of the Hellenic World. "We also wanted to move all our existing productions onto the Linux environment of the Silicon Graphics Prism and see how the new graphics cards that SGI is using will work with our old data, and get some exposure to the new machine's new architecture. We looked at clusters and they are very painstaking to use. The Silicon Graphics Prism system was the only machine that could offer speed, shared memory, and graphics power, along with the compositor, where you can assign quadrants for projection."
FHW has just started designing the scenario and modeling the ancient buildings of the Agora on the Silicon Graphics Prism system. Artists and software developers at FHW use Softimage|3D(TM) and Softimage|XSI(TM) for modeling the 3D data and write their own framework for development of environments. OpenGL Performer(TM) is the main, underlying software at FHW. The OpenGL® graphics system specification, introduced by SGI in 1992, allows developers to incorporate a broad set of rendering, texture mapping, special effects and other powerful visualization functions and provides a graphics pipeline that allows unfettered access to graphics hardware acceleration. The OpenGL Shading Language supported by the ATI graphics cards in the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system allows FHW to create the highest level of realism ever achieved.
Gaitatzes has already noticed that their software runs much easier, and that software written in the UNIX® environment is very compatible with the Silicon Graphics Prism system's Linux OS.
"Porting the Ancient Olympia presentation did not require a lot of changes at all and we expect that the Silicon Graphics Prism is going to make our life easier as developers," said Gaitatzes. "We have also discovered an unexpected benefit. For our interactive cave and an immersive desk environment, the audience uses wands that have one joystick and three buttons. The wands cost about $3,000 US each. We thought we would see how the Logitech® Rumblepad(TM), which has two joysticks, 10 buttons and costs only $50, interfaces with the Prism system. FHW's engineers actually got it to work, so in the lab we can move around in Ancient Olympia using one of those Rumblepads. We haven't tried it with our audiences yet, but it opens up a lot of possibilities for interaction."
Still in the specification stage, FHW is investigating stereoscopic capabilities for the dome theatre, which is under construction, and has not yet decided on the exact interaction devices.
"The Foundation of the Hellenic World has used SGI visualization technology for the design, development and exhibition of complex immersive and interactive 3D environments ever since they opened Hellenic Cosmos, and we are gratified they are now relying on the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system to transport audiences to a time in history when the Agora was the center of democracy in Athens," said Shawn Underwood, director, Visual Systems Group, SGI. "Many museums and other interactive venues are discovering why professionals in the sciences, manufacturing and energy exploration fields have rapidly adopted the Silicon Graphics Prism system: the shared memory architecture delivers the robustness required for the most highly detailed visualization imaginable."
About the Foundation of the Hellenic World
The Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW) is a not-for-profit cultural institution based in Athens, Greece. Established by Lazaros D. Efraimoglou and his family with an initial endowment, the Foundation's creation and constitution were ratified in September 1993 by a unanimous vote of the Greek Parliament. As a privately funded institution, additional financial support in the form of donations, grants, awards and sponsorship, from the private, public and corporate sectors, are of vital importance to the operations of FHW. Its staff is made up of archaeologists, historians, architects, museologists, museum educators, computer scientists, graphic designers, producers of multimedia programmes and 3D animation modelers. The Academic Board and the Planning and Development Board of the Foundation include many distinguished academics in the fields of History, Archaeology, Art History and Architecture. The Foundation uses state-of-the-art, cutting-edge information and computer technology in its pursuit of the research, awareness and understanding of Hellenic history and culture. For further information, visit www.fhw.gr.
Alibi diluvia et tempestates
Eodem tempore, quo siccitas in Portugallia perseverat, Europa media et orientalis tempestatibus et diluviis laborat.
Imbres continui labinas in terris montuosis effecerunt, lineas electricas, vias stratas ferratasque diruperunt, vicos secluserunt.
Magistratus Germaniae et Austriae aestimant iacturas iam maiores esse quam in diluviis anni undebismillesimi.
Maxima damna diluviis totam per aestatem durantibus facta sunt in Romania et Bulgaria, in quibus moles aquarum plus quinquginta homines secum abstulerunt et multa domorum milia deleverunt.
In quibusdam partibus Austriae occidentalis, in Helvetia media et orientali et Croatia status necessitatis edictus est.
The Atlantis Chronicles Forgotten. The Hispano-Romans authors.
By Georgeos Diaz-Montexano.
The Petrus’s Chronicon of Caesar Augusta, Zaragoza, Spain and the Dex’tro Chronicon (attributed to century IV AD)
This Chronicon, attributed to Petrus de Caesar Augusta (Zaragoza, Spain), about century IV AD, it treats on old history from Spain to way of the style of medieval chronicles, that is to say, a successive chronological exhibition with additional data on the reign of each personage and his main landmarks, profits or events. As all the medieval chronicles of Christian authors use the system of Biblical chronology with few differences. The period that includes the Chronicón starts off from year 525 after the Biblical deluge to the 40 after Jesus Christ.
Ex pede Herculem.
(pron = eks peh-deh Hehr-koo-lehm)
We recognize Hercules by his foot.
Comment: It is said that the first Olympic stadium course length was established
by 600 of Hercules’ foot lengths. Someone has done the math and determined that
Hercules would have worn a size 46 (European) shoe! I wear an American size 12,
and that often converts to size 41 or 42 European. Hercules had big feet!
But, I suspect that this little proverb is less about Hercules feet than that he
had a characteristic by which he was recognized and against which other things
It’s a simple reflection: what do people know us by? Against what in us are
they measuring themselves, their own actions, other things? We might shrink
back and say that others measure nothing against us, but this simply isn’t
true. Somewhere, someone looks at each of us and sees something that they
admire, or fear, or hate, or love, and then he/she draws conclusions about us,
about him/herself and about the world. Perhaps that is not fair. In fact, I
think it probably not very wise to let any other person be the single measure
against which we measure anything, but we do leave our impressions—on the wise
and the not so wise. So, what is it? And how do we leave those impressions?
The world is interconnected. One thing always touches on, and changes, another
After quitting Macedonia, before he could declare himself a candidate for the consulship, he died suddenly, leaving behind him a daughter, the elder Octavia, by Ancharia; and another daughter, Octavia the younger, as well as Augustus, by Atia, who was the daughter of Marcus Atius Balbus, and Julia, sister to Caius Julius Caesar. Balbus was, by the father's (73) side, of a family who were natives of Aricia 109, and many of whom had been in the senate. By the mother's side he was nearly related to Pompey the Great; and after he had borne the office of praetor, was one of the twenty commissioners appointed by the Julian law to divide the land in Campania among the people. But Mark Antony, treating with contempt Augustus's descent even by the mother's side, says that his great grand-father was of African descent, and at one time kept a perfumer's shop, and at another, a bake-house, in Aricia. And Cassius of Parma, in a letter, taxes Augustus with being the son not only of a baker, but a usurer. These are his words: "Thou art a lump of thy mother's meal, which a money-changer of Nerulum taking from the newest bake-house of Aricia, kneaded into some shape, with his hands all discoloured by the fingering of money."
After the subjugation of Spain, while Caesar was meditating an expedition against the Dacians and Parthians, he was sent before him to Apollonia, where he applied himself to his studies; until receiving intelligence that his uncle was murdered, and that he was appointed his heir, he hesitated for some time whether he should call to his aid the legions stationed in the neighbourhood; but he abandoned the design as rash and premature. However, returning to Rome, he took possession of his inheritance, although his mother was apprehensive that such a measure might be attended with danger, and his step-father, Marcius Philippus, a man of consular rank, very earnestly dissuaded him from it.
I find in the theological books of Asclepiades the Mendesian 248, that Atia, upon attending at midnight a religious solemnity in honour of Apollo, when the rest of the matrons retired home, fell asleep on her couch in the temple, and that a serpent immediately crept to her, and soon after withdrew. She awaking upon it, purified herself, as usual after the embraces of her husband; and instantly there appeared upon her body a mark in the form of a serpent, which she never after could efface, and which obliged her, during the subsequent part of her life, to decline the use of the public baths. Augustus, it was added, was born in the tenth month after, and for that reason was thought to be the son of Apollo. The (139) same Atia, before her delivery, dreamed that her bowels stretched to the stars, and expanded through the whole circuit of heaven and earth. His father Octavius, likewise, dreamt that a sun-beam issued from his wife's womb.
Octavius, at the age of about nine [twelve?] years, was an object of no little admiration to the Romans, exhibiting as he did great excellence of nature, young though he was; for he gave an oration before a large crowd and received much applause from grown men. After his grandmother's death he was brought up by his mother Atia and her husband Lucius Philippus, who was a descendant of the conquerors Philip of Macedonia.
At the time when the Civil War had laid hold on the city, his mother Atia and Philippus quietly sent Octavius off to one of his father's country places.
Caesar had by this time completed the wars in Europe, had conquered Pompey in Macedonia, had taken Egypt, had returned from Syria and the Euxine Sea, and was intending to advance in to Libya in order to put down what was left of war over there; and Octavius wanted to take the field with him in order that he night gain experience in the practice of war. But when he found that his mother Atia was opposed he said nothing by way of argument but remained at home. It was plain that Caesar, out of solicitude for them, did not wish him to take the field yet, lest he might bring on illness to a weak body through changing his mode of life and thus permanently injure his health. For this cause he took no part in the expedition.
Octavius asked permission to go home to see his mother, and when it was granted, he set out. When he reached the Janiculan Hill near Rome, a man who claimed to be the son of Gaius Marius came with a large crowd of people to meet him. He had taken also some women who were relatives of Caesar, for he was anxious to be enrolled in the family, and they testified to his descent. He did not succeed in persuading Atia at all, nor her sister, to make any false statement concerning their family; for the families of Caesar and Marius were very close, but this young man was really no relative whatever.
It bore out the earlier news, and said that the whole populace was aroused against Brutus and Cassius and their party, and was greatly vexed at what they had done. His stepfather Philippus sent him a letter asking him not to take steps to secure Caesar's bequest but even to retain his own name because of what had happened to Caesar and to live free from politics and in safety. Octavius knew that this advice was given with kind intent, but he thought differently, as he already had his mind on great things and he was full of confidence; he therefore took upon himself the toil and danger and the enmity of men whom he did not care to please. Nor did he propose to cede to anyone a name or a rule so great as his, particularly with the state on his side and calling him to come into his father's honors; and very rightly, since both naturally and by law the office belonged to him, for he was the nearest relative and had been adopted as son by Caesar himself, and he felt that to follow the matter up and avenge his death was the proper course to pursue. This is what he thought, and he wrote and so answered Philippus though he did not succeed in convincing him. His mother Atia, when she saw the glory of fortune and the extent of the Empire devolving upon her own son, rejoiced; but on the other hand knowing that the undertaking was full of fear and danger, and having seen what had happened to her uncle Caesar, she was not very enthusiastic; so it looked as if she was between the view of her husband Philippus and that of her son. Hence she felt many cares, now anxious when she enumerated all the dangers awaiting one striving for supreme power, and now elated when she thought of the extent of that power and honor. Therefore she did not dare to dissuade her son from attempting the great deed and effecting a just requital, but still she did not venture to urge him on, because fortune seemed somewhat obscure. She permitted his use of the name Caesar and in fact was the first to assent. Octavius, having made inquiry as to what all his friends thought about this also, without delay accepted both the name and the adoption, with good fortune and favorable omen.
So much for Antony's conduct. Now Gaius Octavius Caepias, as the son of Caesar's niece, Attia, was named, came from Velitrae in the Volscian country; after being bereft of his father Octavius he was brought up in the house of his mother and her husband, Lucius Philippus, but on attaining maturity lived with Caesar. section 2For Caesar, being childless and basing great hopes upon him, loved and cherished him, intending to leave him as successor to his name, authority, and sovereignty. He was influenced largely by Attia's emphatic declaration that the youth had been engendered by Apollo; for while sleeping once in his temple, she said, she thought she had intercourse with a serpent, and it was this that caused her at the end of the allotted time to bear a son. section 3Before he came to the light of day she saw in a dream her entrails lifted to the heavens and spreading out over all the earth; and the same night Octavius thought that the sun rose from her womb. Hardly had the child been born when Nigidius Figulus, a senator, straightway prophesied for him absolute power. section 4This man could distinguish most accurately of his contemporaries the order of the firmament and the differences between the stars, what they accomplish when by themselves and when together, by their conjunctions and by their intervals, and for this reason had incurred the charge of practising some forbidden art. section 5He, then, on this occasion met Octavius, who on account of the birth of the child, was somewhat late in reaching the senate-house (for there happened to be a meeting of the senate that day), and upon asking him why he was late and learning the cause, he cried out, "You have begotten a master over us." At this Octavius was alarmed and wished to destroy the infant, but Nigidius restrained him, saying that it was impossible for it to suffer any such fate.
He lost his father when he was only four years of age; and, in his twelfth year, pronounced a funeral oration in praise of his grandmother Julia. Four years afterwards, having assumed the robe of manhood, he was honoured with several military rewards by Caesar in his African triumph, although he took no part in the war, on account of his youth. Upon his uncle's expedition to Spain against the sons of Pompey, he was followed by his nephew, although he was scarcely recovered from a dangerous sickness; and after being, shipwrecked at sea, and travelling with very few attendants through roads that were infested with the enemy, he at last came up with him.
And in general Cato esteemed the customs and manners of men at that time so corrupt, and a reformation in them so necessary, that he thought it requisite, in many things, to go contrary to the ordinary way of the world. Seeing the lightest and gayest purple was then most in fashion, he would always wear that which was the nearest black; and he would often go out of doors, after his morning meal, without either shoes or tunic; not that he sought vain-glory from such novelties, but he would accustom himself to be ashamed only of what deserves shame, and to despise all other sorts of disgrace.
Semel emissum volat irrevocabile verbum.
(Horace, Epistulae 1.18.71
(Pron = seh-mehl ay-miss-soom wo-laht ihr-reh-woh-kah-bih-leh wehr-boom)
Once a word has been sent flying out, it can not be called back.
Comment: The full line of this saying from Horace is that he avoids the
talkative nosy person who, even with ears wide open is incapable of retaining
or keeping secret what has been said to him, and therefore, once a word has
been sent out to him, it cannot be called back. In even more context, Horace
is offering advice, saying: watch out to whom and about what you speak.
This is really very good, very practical advice. In my own life, and then
repeatedly with my own children and students, the perennial lesson comes up for
review: if something is important to keep to yourself, then you really cannot
tell it to anyone. Invariably in schools or other communities, when an
important piece of information becomes fodder for the rumor mill, it is because
the source only told his/her “best friend” who promised not to tell anyone. And
often enough with some individuals, this happens over and over again.
Why don’t we learn this lesson? I think it has something to do with the
momentary thrill of being the one with a secret that we get hooked on. The
sobering reality is found in Horace’s words: once that word is sent flying,
once the secret is told, it cannot be called back.
The mosaic floor was grand enough to grace an idyllic setting: a sprawling villa with sweeping views of the Mediterranean and the surrounding mountains near ancient Antioch. It was assembled cube by tiny cube around the third century A.D. in the villa's courtyard, and its wonders include rosy cherubs astride gamboling dolphins, their rods dangling in pursuit of darting fish.
The villa, known as the House of the Drinking Contest - for a mythological theme in another remarkable mosaic there - is no more. Only its foundation outlines remain, buried under farmland at a remote site in what is now southern Turkey.
But now, some 5,000 miles and 18 centuries away, the mosaic floor has gained a second life in a gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts here. Using special tools for slicing and chiseling, museum workers have already removed about 4,200 pounds of concrete that was poured onto the back of the mosaic for safe transport when it was originally removed from the site in Turkey.
As the conservators clean and restore the mosaic, piecing together the bits of glass and limestone known as tesserae and reproducing the border that once bound the floor's three panels, museum visitors are being treated to a ringside viewing.
"This is one of the few places in the world that you can actually see conservation work on Roman mosaics done in the public view," said Christine Kondoleon, the museum's George and Margo Behrakis curator of Greek and Roman Art.
The mosaic is one of some 300 floors that were uncovered in the Antioch area in the 1930's in a dig organized by Princeton University with help from the Louvre, Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Antioch was then part of Syria, and conservators say that local officials kept roughly half the find, which can be seen at the archaeological museum in Antakya, the modern name for Antioch, now in Turkey. The other museums divided up the bounty. (Princeton owns the mosaic with the drinking-contest theme.)
After traveling to Dumbarton Oaks, the mosaic, which then weighed 6,600 pounds with its concrete backing, remained in its shipping crates for 65 years in a shed outside the institution's main garden. Dumbarton Oaks "has always had a very limited amount of space," said Stephen Zwirn, its assistant curator of Byzantine art.
Intrigued by the floor's impeccable provenance, the Museum of Fine Arts negotiated a purchase in 2002. (Both institutions declined to specify the price.)
Once the restoration is complete, scheduled for late 2006, the museum will use the floor as the centerpiece of a re-creation of an ancient living room and dining room to shed light on how the Romans - at least the affluent ones - in the eastern Mediterranean region lived.
Given the mosaic's size and complexity, it was clearly commissioned by a wealthy family who probably chose the theme and ordered it from a mosaic specialist, Ms. Kondoleon said. The courtyard was a center for entertaining, with reclining couches normally placed along the outer panels of the mosaic so relatives and friends could gaze upon its splendors.
At the center of the mosaic are the cupids on the dolphins. Their rods are cast into a sea brimming with luminous mullets, mackerel and wrasse in dark reds, oranges, yellows and lapis blue.
To Romans, fish tanks were status symbols. Some villas had freshwater tanks and some had saltwater ones, said John R. Clarke, regents professor of art history at the University of Texas at Austin.
In that era, fish were considered an expensive delicacy, Ms. Kondoleon said, and the Romans aspired to be connoisseurs. She cited a text from the fifth century B.C. mentioning an eel that cost a laborer three days' pay. Mr. Clarke mentioned one about a Roman who spent a fortune to bring a giant sturgeon back from the Black Sea, served at the table with a trumpet fanfare.
Beyond its prestige, the fish mosaic was possibly a source of whimsical amusement, Professor Clarke suggests. The little cupids were the children of Venus, the goddess of love, who is often represented in Roman art as a fisherwoman; as they cast their lines, they were undoubtedly trying to "catch love," he said. "It is like landing the big fish."
The world has noted — though it will not credit, and will soon forget — those deeply moving scenes of the Israeli evacuation of Gaza: the discipline and self-control of the Israeli army; the cohesion of a society torn over policy but determined to follow the dictates of democracy; and the deep, abiding attachment of Israelis to every inch of soil they have reclaimed from sand and swamp.
But there was one detail of the evacuation that went little noticed: the manner of the evacuation of the great menorah from the last synagogue of the last settlement to be evacuated, Netzarim. This menorah is not the nine-branched Hanukkah thingie that shows up on an equal-time basis by the shopping-mall reindeer display at Christmas time. It is the seven-branched candelabra — like the one that was in the ancient temple in Jerusalem and is today the official seal of the state of Israel.
The Gaza menorah was carried off in a very remarkable and significant way, perched on a horizontal rod borne on the shoulders of men walking one behind the other.
Seen in profile, that image has a shocking familiarity. If you go to the eastern entrance of the Roman forum today, you will see the huge triumphal Arch of Titus erected in A.D. 81 to commemorate the conquest of the Jews and the destruction of the Jewish state — Judea — in A.D. 70. One of the friezes shows the seven-branched menorah they were carrying out of the temple in Jerusalem — as booty and symbol of the conquest of Judea — perched on a long horizontal staff borne by Roman soldiers walking one behind the other.
No one steeped in Jewish history could fail to see the intended resemblance. The intended message was that the Gaza evacuation was a replay of the Roman conquest — made all the more cruel and ironic because this time it was carried out by fellow Jews.
In my view, the religious messianists who are saying this are totally wrong in their strategic assessment. Gaza was a necessary retreat in order to hold higher, more defensible and more critical ground elsewhere.
Nonetheless, the parallel images carried an unintended truth. It is not the Gaza withdrawal itself, but what follows that could lead to another and final extinction of Jewish independence, this time not just for 2,000 years but forever.
De Carelia recuperanda
26.08.2005, klo 00.41
Finito bello mundano secundo magna pars Careliae Finnicae ad Unionem
Sovieticam annexa est.
Unione Sovietica dissoluta de illa regione recuperanda apud Finnos diu multumque disceptatum est, praesertim cum praesidens Boris Jeltsin confessus esset bellum, quod dicitur hiemale, iniuria Stalini contra Finniam commissum esse.
Hodie, cum plerique ex eis circiter quadringentis milibus hominum, qui domibus relictis ex Carelia evacuati sunt, iam diem obierint, pauciores inveniuntur, qui illam velint recuperare.
Ex demoscopia nuper facta patet vix tertiam partem civium adhuc desiderare, ut Carelia a Russis occupata Finnis restituatur.
Xie Xiaodong, a life sciences researcher, has finally started the laboratory test he wanted to do 10 years ago.
He hopes a comparative DNA analysis may get him closer to unraveling a mystery that has haunted him for a decade.
The findings may help establish a genetic link between some villagers in Yongchang County, Northwest China's Gansu Province, and the ancient Romans in the Mediterranean.
When Xie was attending his post-graduate courses in Lanzhou University in 1995, he heard about stories of some ancient Roman soldiers who later ended up in Yongchang County, about 500 kilometers to the northwest of Lanzhou, the provincial capital.
Xie was intrigued, hoping to explore it with his studies in genetic research.
Xie, however, is a newcomer in the search for the ancestry of the small group of farmers in Zhelai Village of Yongchang County. In June, he went to the village to collect samples from the villagers who have blue eyes, blond hair, big noses and prominent cheekbones. They look more Caucasian than Asian.
According to Song Guorong, a local villager with a good knowledge of Liqian (ancient name of Zhelai Village), Chinese researchers suggested that Liqian might have some links with ancient Rome in the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1955, Homer Hasenflug Dubs, professor of Chinese history at Oxford University, surmised that some of the 10,000 Roman prisoners taken by the Parthians after the battle of Carrhae in southeastern Turkey in 53 BC made their way east to today's Uzbekistan and later enlisted with the Hun chieftain Jzh Jzh against the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).
Dubs derived his speculation from ancient Chinese Han Dynasty history annals, which described a battle between the Han empire and Jzh Jzh in western China.
The annals noted that about 150 men from Jzh Jzh's army took up a "fish-scale formation," which Dubs surmised to have been the Roman testudo formation.
Dubs then asserted that these men, captured by the Chinese, then settled and built their own town called Liqian (Li-chien) the Chinese transliteration of "Alexandria."
In 1957, Dubs published his book entitled A Roman City in Ancient China.
Thirty years later, David Harris, an Australian writer and adventurer, read Dubs' book and came to Gansu to search for Liqian, which he called "a city built by Romans in China 1,300 years before Marco Polo entered Cathay."
During his trip, he met Guan Yiquan, a scholar in the history of Central Asia at Northwest University of Nationalities in Lanzhou, who had already probed into Liqian for about 10 years.
Guan, who was a young interpreter for the American Air Force in Chongqing during World War II, discussed in detail the questions Harris raised during his journey to Yongchang.
In 1991, Harris published his book, Black Horse Odyssey, mainly sharing his experiences of the journey.
Meanwhile, Guan was still writing his own work on his research into this possible "Roman city." However, Guan died in 1998, leaving behind a draft of 450,000-Chinese characters.
Guan Heng, Guan Yiquan's son, said he is trying to continue his father's studies and hoping to publish the work one day.
In his letter to Guan Heng, Harris wrote: "Without (Old) Guan's work, we in the West would know so little about the story of the Roman troops in China."
Indeed, today, in an e-mail to China Daily, Harris admitted that there was no new development in the study of "Roman city in China" in the West.
Over the years, a few more scholars have joined in the search.
Chen Zhengyi, a historian at Lanzhou University who had introduced Guan Yiquan to Harris, said he could cite proof from Han Dynasty annals to support these scholars' speculations.
So far, their research has remained inconclusive.
Dubs' theory was considered "interesting and provocative" but was criticized as jumping to too many conclusions in his assertions, according to an article on the Pennsylvania State University website.
Yang Gongle, professor with Beijing Normal University, said there has not been sufficient proof to link the villagers with the ancient Romans.
According to Yang's research, Liqian County was established in 104 BC, half a century earlier than the proposed arrival of the Roman soldiers.
Meanwhile, he noted that the fish-scale formation had nothing to do with Roman legion's testudo strategy.
The double wooden palisade, which might have looked like fish scales, was widely used in constructions in Central Asia and India at that time, Yang said.
There is no link between the name Liqian and the Roman legions, Yang argued.
The debate took a new turn after a group of ancient tombs dating back more than 2,000 years were uncovered in Yongchang in 2003 during the laying of the country's giant west-to-east natural-gas pipeline project.
From one tomb, archaeologists found the owner of one tomb to be 1.8 meters tall in life. Some researchers believe this offered more proof that soldiers from ancient Roman legion once lived here.
However, Zhang Defang, director of Gansu Provincial Archaeology Team, pointed out that the tombs were dated to the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220). The tomb owners should have no relations with the ancient Romans.
The development and wide application of DNA technologies have opened a new approach for researchers like Xie, who are bent on unraveling the mystery.
DNA lends a hand
However, Xie and his colleagues are encountering tremendous complexities.
The area where Yongchang is located was a trade hub along the ancient Silk Road, where people of various ethnicities from as far as the Mediterranean came and went, Xie said.
Moreover, soldiers in the Roman legions were supposed to consist of peoples of different ethnic and national backgrounds.
Because the Roman Empire was at that time at the height of its power and splendor, it had conquered many countries and regions across Europe, Africa and West Asia, he added.
According to Zhou Ruixia, Xie's assistant, they will build up the genetic data from the local villagers with Caucasian features and compare the data with those of European as well as Western, Central and East Asians.
They will report their research results in academic journals in the United States or Britain.
Two years ago, Ma Runlin, a bio-chemist based in Beijing, also collected blood samples from Yongchang people for DNA analysis.
However, he has not finished his research yet.
In an e-mail to China Daily, Ma said he is collaborating with British researchers in the genetic study of the villagers' ancestry.
He does not know when he will finish the research.
"I have backache. I needed to input 1,000 lines of data with 16 numbers in each line yesterday ... We're doing the experiments at the fastest speed we can," the 26-year-old said. "Please don't push me any more."
GUARD geese are snapping at the heels of would-be burglars across back yards as home owners embrace them as family pets.
The birds, famous for saving the Roman Empire from a surprise attack by the Gauls in 365BC, have become part of honk-squads patrolling homes, car yards and council property.
Home invaders are being scared away by deafening shrills and the threat of attack by territorial geese that can weigh up to 15kg and have bills like serrated-edged knives.
Guard-dog trainer Chris Egan said goose ownership was booming as the birds, which fed on grains such as corn and wheat, were a cheap alternative to dogs.
"And they do the mowing," Mr Egan said.
"You better have friendly neighbours because they honk at anything.
"I would only recommend them on larger properties which have access to water and grass."
Brisbane-based produce agents say breeders are busy incubating hundreds of eggs of the slow-breeding birds to meet demand.
A rush on the low-maintenance family pets has led to shortages and recent hikes in the cost of the birds, which are fetching between $20 and $100 at pet shops and produce agencies.
Bridgitte Walls, of Capalaba Produce, said she was struggling to keep up with the demand for watch geese.
"We get no more than a dozen and they are gone within a few weeks," Ms Walls said.
"People like them because they are very good guard dogs, they are vicious and very protective."
Burpengary-based breeder Bob Whitehouse said geese were renowned for their savage nature, which made them excellent for security.
"They are certainly very good watchdogs. They can leave a nasty bite and have serration on the top and bottom of their mandible," he said.
He once owned a killer goose capable of tearing up swans and other large birds.
"I had to eyeball it and never turned my back," Mr Whitehouse said.
"The man who sold it to me was dead scared of it.
"He had to keep it in a brick house because it was killing the swans and birds on his property."
Geese owner David Green, of Durak, said the birds were also preventing theft at car yards.
"Just about anything will set them off," Mr Green said.
He said breeds such as toulouse geese were just like "cuddly labradors", but the bigger emden variety was capable of "clawing and biting" intruders.
"The toulouse will stand and hiss but won't chew your leg off," he said.
Goose trading has become a huge pastime on the Sunshine Coast, where there are pockets of semi-rural housing estates and families eager to find a pet.
Tina Crutchley, from Cedarton in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, said the birds were capable of "taking the top of your finger off".
The watchdogs of the bird kingdom have also gone on duty inside the fortified fenceline of whisky distilleries in Scotland and Ireland.
The big birds are used in the United States to guard defence-force property.
Brisbane residents have reported seeing geese on patrol at a council bus depot.
A second lieutenant, looking crisp in his gabardine and khaki uniform, sat in the front row. He had just graduated from Officer Candidates School, and would escort us on the hour's drive to the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. Shortly after we pulled away from the recruiting office, he stood in the aisle and turned to face us. I expected a welcome, a joke, some commiseration.
"Honor, courage, and commitment are the Marines' core values," the lieutenant shouted over the engine.
He sounded scripted, but also sincere. "If you can't be honest at OCS, how can the Corps trust you to lead men in combat?"
Combat. I glanced around the bus's gunmetal interior, surprised to see people reading or pretending to sleep. No one answered the lieutenant's question. He stood there in the aisle, glaring at us, and I sat up a little straighter. The lieutenant was my age, but he looked different. Shorter hair, of course, and broader shoulders. It was more than that. He had an edge, something in his jaw or his brow that made me self-conscious.
I turned toward the window to avoid his gaze. Families drove next to us, on their way to the lake or the beach. Kids wearing headphones gawked, surely wondering what losers were riding a school bus in the summertime. A girl in an open Jeep stood and started to raise her shirt before being pulled back down by a laughing friend. They waved and accelerated past. I thought of my friends, spending their summer vacations in New York and San Francisco, working in air-conditioned office towers and partying at night. Staring through the wire mesh at the bright day, I thought this must be what it's like on the ride to Sing Sing. I wondered why I was on that bus.
I went to Dartmouth intending to go to med school. Failing a chemistry class had inspired my love of history, and I ended up majoring in the classics. By the summer of 1998, my classmates were signing six-figure contracts as consultants and investment bankers. I didn't understand what we, at age twenty-two, could possibly be consulted about. Others headed off to law school or medical school for a few more years of reading instead of living.
None of it appealed to me. I wanted to go on a great adventure, to prove myself, to serve my country. I wanted to do something so hard that no one could ever talk (expletive) to me. In Athens or Sparta, my decision would have been easy. I felt as if I had been born too late. There was no longer a place in the world for a young man who wanted to wear armor and slay dragons.
Dartmouth encouraged deviation from the trampled path, but only to join organizations like the Peace Corps or Teach for America. I wanted something more transformative. Something that might kill me — or leave me better, stronger, more capable. I wanted to be a warrior.
It took 12 years, but Hand Middle School principal Marisa Vickers finally found a Latin teacher this year.
“There are just not many out there,” Vickers said.
Hand parents and students have been clamoring for years to join the ranks of nearly a dozen Midlands schools that boast the classical language offering. Mostly, they want it for SAT preparation.
Data show that students who take Latin score higher on the verbal portion of the SAT than students who take other languages. Only students who studied Hebrew scored higher on the verbal portion, according to 2004 SAT data.
A USC Latin professor said the once regular calls from school districts seeking leads on Latin teachers have tapered off.
“I think they’ve honestly just given up,” said Ward Briggs, a Carolina Distinguished Professor of classics.
Ward attributed the dwindling Latin teaching corps to the counter-culture movements of the 1960s, when the language was shunned.
“I have no more succinct reason other than it was the ’60s and people were challenging everything,” Briggs said.
Interest in the language never fully rebounded, he said.
STUDYING classical Greek literature would present a challenge to most scholars at any age but one student chose to tackle the works of Homer at 15 years old.
Of course it helped that Effie Costalas already had a grade A GCSE in modern Greek under her belt after taking the exam at the tender age of 12.
Effie, from Penylan, Cardiff, has the added benefit of spending summers with her Greek family on Chios, one of the Greek islands that is in Homer's work.
But the Cathedral School pupil still had to tackle the ancient language and heavyweight literature to earn an A* grade GCSE in the subject a year before she took the rest of her exams.
Today Effie, now 16, was celebrating gaining another set of A* grades in 10 more GCSE subjects including one in Latin.
"I was very nervous when they entered me for my modern Greek at 12," the teenager said.
"I started doing classical Greek as an after-school activity and I enjoyed it so much that a group of us decided to take it as a GCSE.
"I knew the alphabet but the literature was a lot harder because we had to read Homer and all the pronunciations are different.
"I love my Latin and my Greek but I'm not sure which one I would want to continue with."
Although an obvious candidate to study classics at university Effie does not want to drop her sciences.
Instead she hopes to put her knowledge of ancient languages to use as a medical lawyer.
A major part of Orpheus tomb near the Bulgarian village of Tatul has been damaged by the torrential rains.
Professor Nikolay Ovcharov, who heads the expedition working at the tomb, announced that just a month after the end of the excavation works, the only Thracian overground temple might be completely destructed.
Ovcharov urged for emergency measures. He told the National Radio that Culture Minister Stefan Danailov has requested a report on the condition of the historical treasure.
The Orpheus' tomb needs some BGN 50,000 for its reconstruction.
At the end of July the team of Ovcharov said that they have discovered Orpheus' grave near the village of Tatul. Continuing excavation works come to confirm preliminary suggestions by archaeologists that the sanctuary at Tatul has flourished for more than two thousand years in ancient times. It is probably the largest temple after the sanctuary of Dionysius in Perperikon, also located in the Rhodopes Mountain.
Maggie Cheung has always been a fashion trend setter and a role model for many young ladies.
Maggie has always has been offered by many cosmetic companies, wanting her to become their spokesperson.
The latest company Maggie has agreed is Olay. In the advertisement, Maggie will be wearing a white dress and driving a nice car.
Maggie's beautiful skin is so white and pure that I could be said as nice a young school girl. This advertisement tries to portray Maggie as the Roman goddess, Muses.
Each movement Maggie does, shows her inner beauty, making females want to do exactly the movements same.
When I explain that I've written a book about ancient Rome, people always ask about the research. Did I scour the remotest ruins of Italy, like some bespectacled Harrison Ford? Or did I visit the Cinecitt film studios, where they've been shooting Rome, the raunchy new HBO series that promises to be Deadwood with togas? Well, yes. But to capture the fabric of ancient life, I didn't really have to leave home.
The ideal place to be writing about imperial Rome, from an imaginative point of view, is right here in New York.
In fact, every time I wake up in my cramped East Village apartment, all I have to do is squint and I might as well be back in the Subura, Rome's feistiest neighborhood in the days of the Caesars. The Subura (nobody knows where the name comes from) was the original gritty downtown: Located conveniently close to the Forum, it was jammed full of tenement houses, each six stories high, called insulae or "islands," and broken into rental apartments that were touchingly familiar—notorious, one historian says, for "the fragility of their construction, the scantiness of their furniture, insufficient light and heat, and the absence of sanitation." In those days, harassed Roman tenants would climb 200 steps to their top-floor garrets, whose walls were so thin they could overhear the most intimate sounds of their neighbors (and this before stereos). They battled rapacious landlords, who ignored the most basic building repairs: "The agents propped up a tottering wall," notes one historian, "or painted a huge (ceiling) rift over, and assured the occupants that they could sleep at their ease, all the time that their home was crumbling over their heads." Adding insult to injury, they paid extortionate prices for the privilege:
"Ever-rising rent was a subject of eternal lamentation in Roman literature," notes the French historian Jér Carcopino of the brutal real estate market.
We know all this because back in the first and second centuries AD the Subura was full of impoverished Roman writers like Juvenal and Martial, bitching about their tiny apartments and the indignities of their impecunious lives—and surprise, surprise, it doesn't take a huge historical leap to get inside their heads.
Just listening to my beloved 10th Street cacophony every morning puts me at one with the ancients: "Insomnia is the main cause of death in Rome," ranted Juvenal. "Show me the apartment that lets you sleep!" Of course, instead of sirens and car alarms, the Romans were driven mad by the shrieks of street vendors and bells from pagan rituals. The night traffic was deafening: Axle grease was rarely used in ancient times, so the high-pitched squeal of wagon wheels grinding through the narrow streets was as piercing as the brakes on New York's garbage trucks.
Whenever I make my way downstairs to the rubbish-strewn sidewalk, I can gather more inspiration about ancient life: Strolling the Subura was once an assault on the senses, weaving through an obstacle course of filth and pushy crowds. ("One man digs an elbow into my side, another a hard pole," wrote Juvenal, "one bangs a beam, another a wine cask, against my skull.") There were serious dangers from above: Rome was a permanent construction site, and you had to look out for falling bricks as well as the fetid slops from chamber pots; whole buildings would regularly collapse, swallowing their unlucky tenants. Today, we New Yorkers still have to keep an eye out for falling scaffolding, pot plants, masonry, or air-conditioners—although even the Romans would have been appalled at the scale of the Henry Hudson Parkway collapse last May.
Squalid as it could be, the Subura lured aristocrats slumming on bar crawls and even became home to some of the bohemian Roman rich, whose palatial villas the author Pliny the Elder once compared to "the mad schemes of kings." As for me, I walk every day past the glittering new Astor Place Tower, boasting a price tag of up to $12 million an apartment. "Where has the purse of greed yawned wider?" asked Juvenal, wondering why the Romans had set up no altars to Mammon, the pagan god of wealth.
The book's profiles begin with Orpheus, the legendary father of poetry and music, whom Schmidt boldly treats as a real person: ''I take Orpheus to have been an actual man with an actual harp in his hand.'' After his wife, Eurydice, was lost in Hades, Orpheus turned to boy-love and was reputedly the first to practice it in his native Thrace. His death was gruesome: he was torn to bits by bacchants, and his severed head floated to the island of Lesbos, which was thereby impregnated with poetic genius.
Schmidt's chapters on Homer, while rich, seem too long for a survey book -- and we're still at the start of the ''Odyssey'' on the next-to-last page. Far more interesting than the excessive plot summary is Schmidt's treatment of Homeric diction as ''a composite of different dialect strands . . . as though a poet wrote in Scots, South African, Texan and Jamaican, all in a single poem.''
Much attention is devoted to controversies over the authorship of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'': Was Homer a myth? Did one man (or even a woman) compose both poems? Was Homer merely a collator of inherited material? Schmidt makes Homer concrete by taking us on a lively fictionalized odyssey through his hypothetical life and experiences. As for those who allege there were two poets, Schmidt rightly scoffs, it's ''as though Shakespeare could not have written 'The Comedy of Errors' and 'Othello.' ''
To deny Homer's existence, Schmidt argues, ''impoverishes our reading.'' Regrettably, he doesn't joust with the notorious ''death of the author'' dogma of literary poststructuralism. He oddly fails to describe the classicist Milman Parry's pioneering use of recording technology to document survivals of the epic oral tradition in rural Yugoslavia in the 1930's. And he hurries past an influential 19th-century theory that a single bard, long after the Trojan War, wove heroic lays of military adventure into two integrated poems -- a process that would be repeated in medieval romances.
In his chapter on Hesiod, whose ''Works and Days'' and ''Theogony'' rivaled Homer's epics for near-biblical status in Greek culture, Schmidt gives glimmers of the more reader-friendly book that might have been -- an alluring, dreamlike travelogue of the Greek sites where ancient poets lived and created. ''Even today it is no easy matter, getting to where Hesiod's farm used to be,'' he says. Hiking through a parched landscape up Mount Helicon, he sees ''old olive trees clenched among the rock'' and is surprised by ''tiny gusts of exquisite scent'' from the ''wild, almost leafless cyclamen, pale dots of purple.''
With Archilochus, Schmidt hits his stride. ''The only Greek soldier-poet we have,'' Archilochus was born on wind-swept Paros, famed for its translucent marble. As a young man, he was leading a cow to market when the Muses appeared, stole the cow, and left a lyre in its place. Archilochus became a brazen sensualist, caustically irreverent. Schmidt calls him a ''cad,'' a cruel exploiter of women and ''an early defining figure of patriarchy''; his imagery has ''a reptilian eroticism.''
Alcman, who labored for Sparta, provides an eloquent contrast to cynical Archilochus. The ''I'' of Alcman's ''civic'' choral poetry was collective. Schmidt compares Alcman's work to masques like Milton's ''Comus,'' where poetry and music are interwoven. Alcman's poems were ''sung not in the intimacy of the symposium,'' a male dinner party, he writes, ''but in the open, public air.'' Schmidt also laments Sparta's cultural decline. Famous in the seventh century B.C. for its ''music, pottery and poetry,'' it became an imperial power so besotted by militarism that ''three centuries later, the adjective 'Spartan' had become synonymous with 'Philistine.' ''
Next we meet Mimnermus, whom Schmidt calls ''an elegist of pleasure,'' and the misogynous Semonides, who sees woman as sow, vixen and bitch. Then come the great poets of Lesbos, Alcaeus and Sappho, both aristocrats born during the politically unstable early seventh century. Schmidt calls Alcaeus ''a brilliant poet of wine'' and ''debauchery'' but also ''a survival poet, enduring exile and hardships.'' Ancient writers assumed he ''preferred the company of his own sex.''
In a substantial but uneven chapter on Sappho, Schmidt intriguingly speculates on where she was born and raised on Lesbos (a large island near the coast of Asia Minor): was it in the western village of Eressus in rough, barren country, or in the cosmopolitan eastern seaport of Mytilene? He subtly evokes her poetic style: ''Sappho's art is to dovetail, smooth and rub down, to avoid the over-emphatic.'' And he aptly compares the relationship between voice and musical accompaniment in Sappho's performance of her poems to the recitative in opera.
But although he acknowledges the way Sappho has ''appealed to the sexual prurience or moral severity of centuries of scholars and readers,'' Schmidt doesn't adequately summarize the passionate arguments over Sappho's character, public life and sexual orientation. He omits altogether the role played by the medieval church in burning her manuscripts. While Swinburne's darker rewriting of Sappho is quoted (with minimal comment), Catullus' far more important version receives only a passing mention. As for Sappho's two brilliantly original major poems, ''He Seems to Me a God'' receives less than a page of attention, and ''Ode to Aphrodite'' is barely glanced at. Instead, Schmidt wastes space with long, dreary quotes from a feminist classicist stuck on the usual dated ideology of male oppression.
THROUGHOUT AUGUST IN Edinburgh we are privileged to hear a host of superlative authors. Salman Rushdie and AL Kennedy, Yang Lian and Sylvie Germain: it seems as if, for a few weeks, a corner in the West End of Edinburgh partakes of a small measure of immortality. Charlotte Square becomes, in the words of poet Robert Lowell, "the minor slopes of Parnassus". I am there, in a way, in a role akin to that of the slave whom Julius Caesar had next to him on his triumphal processions, whose job was constantly to whisper, "You too are mortal."
To explain, let me take you, Doctor Who-style, to four places: Athens in 416 BC, London in 1613, Cardiff in 1953 and Edinburgh 11 months ago.
In 416 BC, the philosopher Socrates was drinking at a celebration symposium with two playwrights: Aristophanes the comedian and Agathon the tragedian. Agathon had won first prize in the annual dramatic competition, fending off both Sophocles and Euripides. He was famous enough to be quoted by Aristotle, and lampooned by his comedic co-boozer at that party. He had also done the unthinkable: created plays with plots of his own devising. Rather than recasting myths and legends, he wrote an original play, The Flowers. Only a smattering of his lines survive.
In September 2004, someone opened the window of the house where my wife and I live and nicked my laptop. That evening I had put the finishing touches on the book I had been writing: The Book of Lost Books, a history of the literature that was destroyed, unstarted and unfinished, a compendium of books that could never be read, my personal library through the looking-glass. Luckily, I had e-mailed the text to my publishers before retiring, woozily and triumphantly, to bed. Thus, The Book of Lost Books narrowly escaped being part of its own subject matter.
A word often used to describe great literature is "deathless", and, frankly, authors have been instrumental in this assumption. "I have created a pyramid more lasting than bronze," wrote Quintus Horatius Flaccus. "The poet's words are always hovering around the Gates of Paradise, knocking softly, beseeching and gaining eternal life," opined Goethe. Immortality is not, however, the norm: loss is the inescapable rule of the literary universe.
From Homer to Hemingway, the great and the good are only apparent to us in a fractured form. They are badly taken photos, with an arm or a hat missing. Homer, as well as writing The Iliad and The Odyssey, wrote a comedy epic called Margites. Hadley Hemingway misplaced her then husband's entire creative endeavours to date. And is loss so bad anyway? Would Hemingway have taken the advice of Ezra Pound and ditched the lot, if it hadn't been snatched anyway? Umberto Eco made the loss of Aristotle's second volume of Poetics, On Comedy, the linchpin in The Name of the Rose. But imagine if we did have as strict a template for comedy as we once had for tragedy: no As You Like It, no Bartholomew Fair, no Tartuffe, no Pygmalion: maybe one extinction is worth such flourishings.
But it is needful to remind ourselves that what we take for granted may not be so persistent. Do grants from state bodies guarantee permanence? Look at Agathon. Does a "big name" mean your work is perpetually famous? Look at Shakespeare. Does being shocking preserve your notoriety? Look at Burroughs, whose typed pages were on sale in North Africa after he decided a flit was necessary, and who never turned back to look at those pages that never made it into The Naked Lunch.
Literature, as we have it, is a shoogly proposition. More is gone than has been retained, more was lost than is treasured. For every vigorous new voice there is a maelstrom of anonymity, for each bunch of indecently talented writers awaits a vortex of void. Ask Xenocles, Cynewulf, Torquato Tasso and Frank Norris: in their days, praised; now nigh unknown. Every author in my book is a mere representative of centuries of failure.
For me, The Book of Lost Books was a bit like being Scott's Old Mortality, tending the graves and rejoicing in the memories of those who are infinitely better, but gone beforehand. I hope the book reminds people of the days when booksellers had whole walls devoted to "the classics". It was there and then, back in the not-so-long-ago 1980s, that I found names I had never seen, heard or read before: Hesiod, Camoens, Melville, Gogol and Pound. Everyone deserves the chance to stumble on the greats; and make them their own. Writing The Book of Lost Books reminded me what literature is about: not the next biggest thing, but the oldest, strongest, most bizarre and most accessible thing.
Responsa, and the complete text of the XII Tables ...
In the winter of 1406 enough snow fell on the city of Florence for locals to build a 20ft snowman in the shape of the mythological demigod Hercules - even in sport Florentines took their creative subject-matter from antiquity, adapting and moulding it to suit the occasion. At Ferrara the labours of heroic Hercules made another ephemeral appearance on three large pastries presented to Ercole [Hercules] d'Este's bride Eleonora of Aragon during an overnight stop on her journey to the wedding in 1473. In the Renaissance, Malcolm Bull tells us, mythological figures could crop up decoratively almost anywhere - on the most transient of items as well as in the more lasting form of high-art paintings and statuary.
At 12 years old, Aubrey Binkley may appear too young to know much about ancient mythology or the Latin language, but he does.
And he's got national awards to prove it.
The Augustine School seventh-grader received the only Julia K. Petrino Book Award from the American Classical League in the country for his perfect score on the National Mythology Exam.
"His dedication to classical studies will help him have a better understanding of the modern world," said Mark Dubis, Aubrey's Latin teacher.
Dubis found out about Aubrey's award while attending the national American Classical League conference this summer.
According to a press release from the school, the award was given based on classroom work, Aubrey's performance on the National Mythology Exam and Dubis' recommendation.
"I had to sit down for a second," Aubrey said about his reaction to winning the award.
"I thought, 'Wow, I was just having fun with Latin and doing my best like the Lord wants us to and I won an award,' " he said.
Aubrey was honored Thursday during chapel at the school after Dubis demonstrated his style of teaching - complete with togas and laurels.
Even Brad Green, head of school, got into the spirit of things, donning a toga with a light blue stipe.
The school has offered Latin for its entire five years of existence and plans to offer Greek when the K-8 school expands to high school, Green said.
"Latin is not commonly spoken but the greatest minds spoke Latin," he said. "Half of our words come from Greek and Latin, and it trains a student to think well."
Aubrey's mom, dad and two of his five siblings attended Thursday's presentation. Aubrey's parents said that his accomplishments will inspire his siblings and his peers.
"I hope that other children his age will aspire what they desire and give the Lord his glory," said Lynn Binkley, Aubrey's mom.
You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.
The Augustan constitution remains one of the major products of the human intelligence. It was a whole into which the parts fitted smoothly, but both whole and parts were elastic and capable of swift adaptation to unforeseen conditions. It was elaborate, but that was necessary, both because of its origin and its purpose.
Throughout the work of the preparatory school, the teacher should insist upon it that what the pupil is primarily aiming at is to learn to read in a great literature, with as slight a barrier as possible between him and his author; and he should make himself regard cases, modes, and tenses, and make his students regard them, as keys to the literature, as direct conveyors of thought from mind to mind. How the last may most effectively and rapidly be done, I have tried to show. This is all that strictly falls within the scope of the present pamphlet. But I cannot forbear to add that the teacher who is conducting a class through Caesar, or Cicero, or Virgil, should never lose sight of the fact that his work is not wholly preparatory, – that he is already dealing with a great literature. The more he can make his students see that it is a great literature, through the virtue of his own enjoyment of it, and, in particular, through the power with which he can read it to them in the Latin, and the power with which he can train them to read it themselves, the easier will be his task, and the richer its palpable rewards; and the greater will be his contribution to the sum total of the classical education.
BOOKS FOR GREECE
This is a link to the website of the British School at Athens and a
catalogue containing a miscellany of books devoted to Greek history
and culture. They have been given to the Friends of the British
School at Athens by individual Friends and other persons for a
fund-raising sale, which ends on 1st October 2005. The proceeds will
be sent to the Friends' committee in Athens to be used in its
constant support of School purposes, particularly for the libraries
in Athens and at Knossos.
We hope that recipients of Books for Greece will spare time to search
its pages and send in their orders (see attached files on How to
Order Books and the Order Form) to augment both departmental and
personal bookshelves and, at the same time, lend their support to the
work and objectives of the Friends of the BSA. To that end, books are
offered at prices below current market values. Please forward this
e-mail to anyone you think may be interested in the catalogue.
If you would like a hard copy of the catalogue or know of anyone who
would appreciate receiving it, please notify:
12 Sovereign Court
51 Gillingham Street
London SW1V 4QF
I would like to formally announce the forthcoming production of an annual in print and electronic Journal. The Journal title is as follows: Journal of Hellenic Religion (JfHR) and has already acquired its ISSN code. You can visit the homepage here: http://journalofhellenicreligion.atspace.org.
JfHR research and explores ancient Greek religion, namely Hellenic religion, in concepts of material culture, linguistics and text analysis, devotional and liturgical objects, architecture and sacred space, works of art and artifacts, social and behavioral and humanistic sciences. In addition the Journal accepts research on theological and comparative-theology research and critic.
The Journal accepts any contributions of scholarly study of the material, texts, cult and practices of the Hellenic religion. Articles, comments and book-reviews of material discussing on the past & present existence of the Hellenic religion, cult and praxis are always approved.
The first volume (Volume 1) will be published in print and electronically on 25th of December 2005. Please ensure that you submit your written material no later than the 20th of December 2005. For more info for the contributions’ mode visit the following webpage: http://journalofhellenicreligion.atspace.org/JfHRMain.htm
Submission of any material must be on electronic form (doc, rtf), accompanied with the legal name and email of its author and emailed to the Editor: email@example.com
Robert Lominack became a defense attorney to help people. But starting this year, he’s trying to help before they end up in a lawyer’s office.
The 32-year-old lawyer traded the courtroom for the classroom — along with about a 50 percent pay cut. He teaches Latin at Hand Middle and Dreher High schools in Richland 1, far away from his work on high-profile death-penalty cases in South Carolina.
“I just got burned out,” Lominack said. “It’s a tough job. It’s one that if you can’t put 100 percent into it, you’ll do more harm than good.”
The towering workload wasn’t the problem.“It was emotionally draining because your clients were in such a terrible place in their lives,” he said.
A LAWYER’S LIFE
Lominack didn’t anticipate that either of his passions would became careers.
The Greenville native found them during his freshman year at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. He majored in Latin because he liked it, and whetted his interest in the defense of capital punishment during a freshman political science course.
The summer before law school, he volunteered to clerk for attorney David Bruck during the trial of Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman who was spared a death sentence after she was convicted of drowning her two young sons in 1995.
After law school, Bruck invited Lominack to work with him.
“To call it a once-in-a-lifetime experience would be a real understatement,” Lominack said. “Not many people get to say they learned from David Bruck.”
Bruck is saddened by Lominack’s decision to stop practicing law, but said he understands the young lawyer’s motives, which he called “heartfelt and admirable.”
He understands that Lominack wants to impact people’s lives before things go wrong.
“I know that feeling, and when you’re trying to defend somebody from the death penalty who has committed a horrible crime, part of that job requires a painstaking re-creation of that person’s life,” Bruck said. “And you often see a point when things could have turned out differently if someone had cared about them a little more.”
“That weighed heavily on Robert,” Bruck said. “I think he thought that person could be him.”
Indeed, Lominack said his clients’ childhoods made a huge impact on him.
Lominack found that one of his clients was homeless as a child. Teachers learned of the situation and provided him with clothing, bedding and food.
“They were nice to him when nobody else was,” Lominack said.
He worked on some of South Carolina’s highest profile death penalty cases, including Quincy Allen’s murder trial this year in Richland County and the 2003 murder trial of C. Robert Northcutt in Lexington County. Both received death sentences.
A TEACHER’S LIFE
When Hand Middle School teacher Llewelleyn Shealy heard from her husband, who is also a lawyer, that Lominack was considering becoming a Latin teacher, she got in touch with him.
“I said, ‘Latin? Really?’” she recalled. “‘Well, I think you could probably get a job at my school.’”
Hand principal Marisa Vickers had been on the lookout for a Latin teacher during her 12-year tenure at the school. The language is in high demand among parents and students who know it can boost verbal scores on the SAT college entrance exam.
Lominack’s previous profession is a bonus.
Students may see Latin isn’t just good for SAT scores, but perhaps as a gateway to a career such as law, Vickers said.
“It’s important for our students to see the real world application of things,” she said.
While most students don’t know about Lominack’s past career, it made an impression on Stephen Browning when he heard about it.
“That’s kind of cool that he was a lawyer and now he’s a teacher,” the eighth-grade Latin student said.
Lominack will earn his teaching license through the state’s alternative certification program, which is a three-year process.
While there are some similarities between teaching and law, like deadlines, writing reports and lots of prep work, Lominack said the work load isn’t very different.
He’s exhausted, but it’s not the same kind of exhaustion as trying to save people from death row.
“I’ve been shocked at how hard it is to do it well and keep students’ attentions,” he said.
Bruck, his old mentor, sees a great future for him in the classroom.
“He has a great deal to give — a lot of energy,” Bruck said. “He’s really quite a wonderful young man, and I think he’s changed direction rather than burned out.”
When in "Rome," speak as the British do.
Yes, HBO's ancient Rome will be like all the ancient Romes you probably remember from old movies - and PBS' "I, Claudius" - full of Brits wearing togas.
Those that aren't British, according to "Rome" co-creator Bruno Heller, are Italian.
Is that because "Rome" - the bill for which HBO entertainment president Carolyn Strauss says was "massively footed" by her company - is a joint production with the BBC?
"No, it was a very deliberate choice to restrict it to a British cast," Heller told reporters in Beverly Hills last month.
"Certainly for English people, accents are very telling," he said.
"And we wanted to make... the class system in Rome clear, for instance, and make people's characters rooted in some kind of reality, as opposed to some kind of false pretend accent or pretend sense of being. So it was important that the actors could act naturally. If, for instance, you have an Australian actor who's having to put on a different accent to fit in with the rest of the cast, it wouldn't have worked as well," he said.
Not that high-class Romans need necessarily sound as if they grew up on the playing fields of Eton, according to Heller.
"I think you could do a very good drama [without English accents] but you'd have to be consistent. So you'd have to use all American accents and run with that," he said.
Some would argue, though, that Americans themselves could never accept a Julius Caesar who sounded like them.
"Is it perhaps that the United States is, relatively speaking, a young country?" asked James Purefoy, the Somerset, England-born actor who plays Marc Antony. "Possibly the world thinks that the English people have been speaking like we do since God was a very, very small child and so we just accept it as that."
Fumem fugiens in ignem incidit.
The one who is running away from smoke falls into a fire.
(Pron = foo-mehm foo-ghee-ehns ihn ihg-nehm ihn-kee-diht)
Comment: This must be medieval slap-stick comedy at work, weaving the picture,
essentially, of the fool running away from smoke. Perhaps he has his head
turned back looking at the smoke, so he doesn’t see the fire he is
inadvertently running toward before he falls into it. The audience would
laugh, because we know, metaphorically and perhaps literally, how often we have
been that fool.
Running away from danger can be a good thing. Likewise, being very still and
keeping focused attention on the thing that seems to threaten us can be a good
thing. It is however, the split of attention in running away while we look
back over our shoulders that does us in. Ironically, we cannot really run away
from something that we are still looking at! We are bound to fall into
something. Another way of putting it is this. Anything/one that we are
reacting to (complaining about, arguing with, resenting, hating) has our
attention. We cannot really move away from them even though we may think we
are. We can either stand still and pay attention to what they are showing us,
or we can let them go and move on. Inevitably, though, trying to move on while
carrying our reaction to them with us means one thing. We will run into them,
in some form, again, and again, and again. We will keep falling into that
fire—until the fool learns his lesson.
A nine-metre-long Roman mosaic dating from the 2nd Century has been unearthed by an Egyptian-Polish archaeological team in northern Sinai, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) said on Wednesday.
The mosaic was found while the archaeologists were restoring a Pelusium Roman theatre in an area 25km east of the Suez Canal.
"It is the most unique piece of mosaic ever found in Sinai," said SCA Secretary-General Zahi Hawass.
The mosaic, made from a combination of glass, marble, clay and limestone, features a blooming garden with two birds on a tree branch and other birds flying over roses.
It is believed to have once been part of the theatre's decorated floor.
The theatre itself is believed to be one of the largest Roman theatres ever discovered, according to the SCA statement, with a one-metre stage, and 28 eight-metre-long granite pillars.
Saxum volutum non obducitur musco.
(pron = sahk-soom woh-loo-toom nohn ohb-doo-kih-toor moos-koh)
A rolled stone is not enveloped in moss.
Comment: Even in English “A rolling stone gathers no moss” is an old proverb. I
love to see an area in the woods covered in moss. It’s green is lush, and it is
usually as soft as a blanket. Yet, the conditions required are dark, stagnant
moisture with little movement or disturbance of any sort. Hence, the rock
covered with moss is the one that never moves, lives in the dark, and is sot
with stagnant moisture.
If darkness and stagnation are what we want, the directions are clear: do
nothing. Don’t move. Don’t allow any disturbance of our present condition.
It occurs to me that cemeteries can be great places to find moss growing!
There are times to be quiet, sit in the cool shade, and do nothing. There are
times to light a fire, get up and move and disturb everything that has been
sitting around in stagnation. Like every other kind of experience in the
world, wisdom teaches that the pendulum swings and it takes both extremes of
its trip to keep life working.
So, it might be good for us to check to check our rocks. How long since any of
them were moved? Got moss? Move those rocks!
ASCANIUS ANNOUNCES NEW WEBSITE
WAYNESBORO, VA The Augusta County Institute for
Classical Studies has a new name and a new look! On August
1, the Institute changed its name to Ascanius: The Youth
Classics Institute. A new, more organized, and more useful
website, www.ascaniusyci.org, accompanies the change.
The Institute began as a small summer program in
Augusta County, Virginia, and was instantly successful. At
the time, no one could have guessed that over the next five
years the Institute would introduce Latin to over six hundred
students across the country.
Since its inception in Augusta County, the Institute
has expanded its vision and has become a major national
nonprofit organization. Students in four states have now had
the opportunity to attend a LatinSummer program, and nine
different states have expressed interest in hosting the
program. The Institute is the first and largest organization
of its kind in the country, and its new name reflects this
broader audience that it now serves.
Executive Director Doug Bunch remarked, "We never
imagined that we would accomplish so much in such a short
amount of time. Although our name has changed, the
Institute's purpose remains the same: to promote the teaching
of Latin and Classics on the elementary and middle school
The Institute takes its new name from Ascanius, the son of
Aeneas. After the fall of Troy, he accompanied his father to
Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. The
Institute would like to recognize and thank its website
designer, Tiffany Broadbent of the College of William & Mary.
Well ... I didn't put all of the collection up because it seemed like it was getting tedious, but I mark the anniversary of the eruption with what I consider to be the best of the lot (and the most Warhol-like). Since my own eruption of Vesuvius page is in dire need of some updating (lots does work, though), folks might want to check out JD's page at Paleojudaica ....
A group archeological burial site dating back to the Roman period was unearthed 800 meters northwest of Sheizer village, Hama Governorate, as a statue of a goddess was also discovered in a nearby place.
Director of Hama Ruins Department, Majd Hijazi told SANA that the statue depicted a naked woman believed to be goddess Venus. The statue was broken in two haves and relies on a 40-cm base.
He added that one of the tombs unearthed was uncovered and included a skeleton, three golden rings, various earrings, little funeral clay pots and rotten metal nails.
Hijazi said several items were found in another tomb, including a clay pot, some copper flat and circular pieces, glass bracelet, fractions of earrings and some very old coins. He said all the tombs were documented while the findings were sent to the laboratory of Hama Museum.
Concordia res in rebus maxime adversis utilis.
In the most adverse situations, harmony is a useful thing.
Comment: Concordia is one of my favorite Latin words. It is a compound of the
preposition “cum” and the word for heart in the plural, “cordia”. So,
literally, Concordia means “with hearts, or with hearts (working) together”.
Adverse situations abound. Almost all adversity, at some level, includes the
dynamic of human beings who are lost from each other. Some years ago, I had a
student in my class who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It is a mild
form of Autism that generally makes social interaction painful and difficult
for the individual, and hence, painful and difficult for those they are around!
Those with Asperger’s themselves range in severity. This student had, as I
have come to see, a fairly severe form. Walking into a room and sitting down
was an ordeal for him, every day, every hour when the bell rang. Latin was the
last thing on his mind. It was easy to think of how much easier my job would
be if they would just put him in another class.
Here was a child who was in many respects lost from himself. But, he was lost
to me and I to him as well. In other words, we were not connecting, our hearts
were not together. Toward the end of the semester, I had my students working on
a joint project with the art teacher with modeling clay, and I discovered for
myself how very talented this student was. He sculpted beautiful dragons every
day. His work was captivating, and around those clay dragons he and I met.
He did not learn much Latin. I learned a LOT about Asperger’s and what I needed
to do to be a better teacher for students like him. Every year since then, I
have had at least one student with diagnosed Aspeger’s in my room. Their
adverse situations range—some not so severe, others more severe. Finding a way
for our hearts to meet makes the adversity more humane.
THE CASUALTIES OF WAR: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE IRAQ MUSEUM
(BOSTON, Mass. 22 Aug. 2005) – The July 2005 issue of the American Journal of Archaeology presents an engaging report on the looting and recovery of artifacts from the Iraq Museum during Gulf War II. Written by Matthew Bogdanos, a colonel in the U.S. Marines, who has served in Iraq three times and who received a Bronze Star for counterterrorism in Afghanistan, it is the official published account of the antiquities rescue operation and corrects many inaccuracies that have been reported in the media (see http://www.ajaonline.org/archive/109.3/bogdanos_matthew.html).
The world reacted with shock and outrage at the pillaging of the Iraq Museum: it was a “crime against humanity,” a “tragedy that has no parallel in world history.” “It’s as if the Uffizi, the Louvre, or all the museums of Washington, D.C., had been wiped out in one fell swoop,” cried another. There was ample reason for gloom. The list of missing objects read like a “who’s who” of archaeology: the Sacred Vase of Warka, the world’s oldest known carved stone ritual vessel; the Mask of Warka, sometimes called the “Mona Lisa of Mesopotamia”; the Treasure of Nimrud, a collection of more than 1,000 pieces of gold jewelry from the eight and ninth centuries B.C. And so many more.
In the wake of the looting, the world was also vocal in its condemnation of the United States and the United Kingdom for failing to protect the museum. In April 2003, the international media reported that over 170,000 of the finest antiquities from the very cradle of civilization had been stolen while U.S. forces stood idle. In response, the U.S. dispatched a highly specialized multiagency task force to determine what had happened at the museum and to recover as many antiquities as possible. Colonel Bogdanos, who holds a master’s degree in Classics from Columbia University, headed the operation.
Among several startling discoveries were that the museum compound had been turned into a military fighting position, and that the initial reports of the number of looted artifacts were wrong. Although final inventories will take years to complete, the best current estimate is that approximately 15,000 pieces were stolen. The investigation also determined that the international black market in Iraqi antiquities continues to flourish. Working closely with Iraqis and using a complex methodology that includes community outreach, international cooperation, raids, seizures, and amnesty, the task force and others around the world have recovered more than 5,000 of the missing treasures.
The American Journal of Archaeology (http://www.ajaonline.org) is one of the world's most distinguished and widely distributed archaeological journals. Founded in 1885, it is the flagship publication of the Archaeological Institute of America (http://www.archaeological.org), the oldest and largest organization in North America devoted to the world of archaeology. The AJA continues to dedicate itself to the advancement of archaeological studies and to the promotion of interest in them. Its circulation reaches over 50 countries and almost 150 universities, learned societies, departments of antiquities, and museums. AJA is published quarterly in both print and electronic formats in January, April, July, and October.
Near the Gulf of Corinth, the ancient city of Helike fits the Atlantis profile as it was a flourishing city struck down in its prime by an earthquake in 373BC. The city state was the centre of a cult of Poseidon, second only in importance to the Oracle at Delphi. Generations of fishermen in the Gulf have told of snagging their nets on statues of, an apparently wrathful, Poseidon. BBC Horizon claimed to have located the site.
Considered by many as the likeliest because Plato's description of a grand civilisation matches what we know of the Minoans whose rule stretched from Crete to the volcanic island of Santorini. Nay-sayers point out that the dates and scale of Plato's story don't match what we know of the violent seismic past of Santorini. However, if Solon, the source of Plato's writings, exaggerated the extent of Atlantis we could be in business - which is what the numerous Hotel Atlantises are on the modern-day holiday island.
As if the mystery of Atlantis location weren't enough, the author and geologist Bernhard Zangger has bound it up with the hunt for Troy.
The Moscow Institute of Meta-History has avoided the obvious in locating Atlantis about 100 miles off Land's End. The site, at the edge of the Celtic shelf which may have been dry before the Ice Age, is thought locally to be the site of the competing myth of the City of Lions.
If anyone is going to find Atlantis then surely it should be someone with a name like Colonel John Blashford-Snell. Unfortunately, the soldier-explorer has stretched credibility by claiming that satellite images of a site in Bolivia fit Plato's description. "A lot of people laugh at us," said the colonel.
A Brazilian nuclear physicist, Nuñes dos Santos, has told us we've been looking in the wrong places for 30 years. We should be looking in the Indo-Pacific, he insists. This summer a team of well-funded Malaysians deploying remote-sensing satellites will try to prove him right.
Sergio Frau, an Italian writer, starts by telling us the Pillars of Hercules are not in Gibraltar but in the SicilianChannel. So Atlantis was really Sardinia. He says its inhabitants were hit by an earthquake and migrated to the mainland to form the basis of what became Roman civilisation.
South Asian Atlantis-hunters point out its similarities to stories about the submerged Kumari continent, between Sri Lanka and India.
A Finnish amateur historian, Ior Block, tells us the lost city is in southern Finland where a community lived in the Ice Age. Inevitably this theory is part of a grander saga of oral history passed down through generations of Blocks dating back to the creation of language itself.
Combine a Swedish oceanographer and a book called Mapping Fairy Land and what do you get? The revelation that Atlantis was off Ireland.
The idea that Atlantis is really a submerged island off central America is based on the musings of a Canadian-Hungarian geologist-topographer who called his book Atlantis: The Seven Seals.
Kutalmis Gorkay, the head of the excavation team active in Zeugma ancient site said on Monday that the team wanted to bring to daylight many important artifacts which were still buried.
Speaking to A.A about the recent excavation which was started on July 25th in Zeugma ancient city --which is near Nizip town of southeastern Gaziantep city--, Gorkay said that Turkish and foreign archaeologists took part in this year's excavation.
The artifacts unearthed up to now were all displayed in Gaziantep Zeugma Museum and Museum of Mosaics, said Gorkay.
Gorkay stressed that the excavations in Zeugma would continue for a long time.
Gaziantep Governor Lutfullah Bilgin said in his part that Zeugma excavations and the new museum would turn Gaziantep into a center of culture and tourism. Bilgin stressed that the aim was to reveal all the richness of the Zeugma Ancient City.
Recently L'Express magazine ranked Zeugma as the leading wonder among its ''New Seven Wonders of the World'' classification.
Well, fair enough, but hardly news. The real story is that Chandrasekhar plans to get back together with his Broken Lizard buddies for his next outing, and it sounds like they have some interesting plans. "Yeah, we're gonna make a new [Broken Lizard film] - one of two. One's called The Greek Road, and it's set in ancient Greece, with the Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, and Socrates and Plato appear. It's a road movie, where Socrates and Plato are road tripping from Athens to Mount Olympus so Plato can wrestle in the Olympics.
Introducing the extended edition of his 2000 Oscar-winning epic "Gladiator" (DreamWorks, $27), director Ridley Scott says this new version isn't his director's cut — that was the one released in theaters five years ago. But he thinks the 17 additional minutes woven into the box office hit should please the movie's legions of fans.
Of course, this three-disc set is also a way to add a few more dollars to the coffers — the original "Gladiator" DVD, released in fall 2000, was a big moneymaker and is still one of the top 15 bestselling DVDs of all time.
A lot of the new material is quite good. Though some are just short extended scenes, a few sequences really stand out, including one in which Commodus visits the burial crypt of his father, Marcus Aurelius. At first he brutally attacks his father's bust with a dagger but then breaks into a flood of tears as he hugs the bust. Joaquin Phoenix, who received an Oscar nomination, is particularly strong in this deleted sequence.
The high point of the set — which also includes the theatrical version — is the disarming, informative commentary of Scott and Russell Crowe, who received the best actor Oscar for his memorable turn as the gladiator Maximus. Adding to the viewing experience of the extended edition is an informative trivia track, "Are You Not Entertained?" The trivia box turns red every time there is new footage.
The second disc features the lengthy documentary "Strength and Honor: Creating the World of Gladiator" and the third disc explores the image and design of the film.
One of ancient Rome's most popular and important landmarks is "close to collapse", covered in graffiti, with valuable frescos peeling away.
Castel Sant'Angelo, whose parlous state was revealed yesterday by Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's most authoritative newspapers, was built by the Emperor Hadrian as his own mausoleum on the banks of the Tiber. Its proximity to the Vatican persuaded popes in the Middle Ages to add ramparts and battlements to the marble structure and use it as a shelter when the city was under attack. A passage between the castle and the Vatican, once used by popes in time of crisis, still exists.
Today it is almost as celebrated a symbol of Rome as the Colosseum, and it is the third most-visited landmark in the city. With interest in the ancient city certain to boom as a result of a new HBO/BBC drama series calledRome, set in the time of Julius Caesar and beginning this week, even more tourists are bound to tramp across Bernini's Ponte Sant'Angelo between the angels the sculptor called his "breezy maniacs", to the imposing citadel. But when they get there they are in for a nasty surprise.
The new drama series promises to give a warts-and-all vision of ancient Rome in contrast to the scrubbed marble and starched white toga tradition of the MGM epics. Rome in the new series, as The Independent's John Walsh wrote recently, "looks more like backstreet Tangiers or Calcutta, where the temples are dirty ... the streets full of mud and the walls covered in graffiti." Two thousands years on, Castel Sant'Angelo as it is today fits right in.
Neglect and bad management have reduced it to such a state of disrepair that there is reason to worry about its physical survival.
An air of seedy neglect hangs over the entire place.
Cobwebs drape the lamps, cigarette ends and pigeon droppings litter the ground. Beggars are encamped under plastic sheets in the dried-out moat. Within the castle, many rooms are closed to the public; but those that remain open look as if they should not be. Ancient frescos are crumbling away, as is the plaster on which they were painted, exhibits lack captions, ancient woodwork is rotting. At the entrance there is a scale model of the way the castle looked when first erected - but the model itself looks like another piece of abandoned rubbish, and its broken enclosure is repaired with sellotape.
Iucundi acti labores
(M. Tullius Cicero, Brutus 70)
(Pron = yoo-koon-dee ahk-tee lah-boh-rays)
Work that is all done is delightful.
Comment: Cicero offers us here a little mirror into a human dynamic that I
suspect is rather universal (and I will add here that this makes a saying much
more “proverbial” than any other—a reflection on human experience that has
universal application. That said, not all proverbs are always so “wise”).
I love “to cut the grass” after I am done. I love “to work through a poem of
Propertius”, when I have finished (not my favorite Roman poet). I love “to
clean out the garage” when it’s nice and clean. And to truly more enjoyable
projects: I love to paint a painting once it is taking shape in front of me, or
to write a poem once I am caught in the magic of it, or to go on a walk on the
beach once I have begun it.
There is something about beginning a task, a “labor” that we fight with our
inertia, but which very same task can be delightful once we have overcome the
inertia and begun it. I remind myself to remember this from time to
time—usually just after deciding to cut the grass—tomorrow!
MARAUDING rabbits are threatening to destroy important Roman fortifications constructed by the invading legions as they advanced into northern Britain more 2,000 years ago, a leading archaeologist has claimed.
Dr David Woolliscroft, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool, has identified four important Roman sites in Scotland and the north of England which he says are under imminent threat from "undermining" caused by rabbits. As well as sections of Hadrian's Wall, other endangered sites include Ardoch, an ancient Roman fortress constructed around 80AD near Braco in Perthshire, and Gask Ridge, also in Perthshire, which has been identified as Britain's earliest Roman frontier.
One of the worst affected sites, however, is Fendoch Fort in Perthshire, which Dr Woolliscroft warns will be lost forever unless immediate action is taken to control the spiralling rabbit population.
He said last night: "We did some survey work on the site just over a year ago. It looks to be nicely preserved, but in some parts the ground just gives way.
"It is almost totally honeycombed. I almost broke my leg at one point when I went in up to my thigh. It is on a very steep slope, so sooner or later it is going to collapse, and when it does, it will end up in the river at the bottom of the site."
Dr Woolliscroft warned that a myriad of burrows inside the defensive clay ramparts now threatened to bring down the structure entirely.
Should that happen, it will be an act of destruction never quite achieved by the warlike Picts, as they attempted to stem the advance into Caledonia of the all-conquering Romans.
Although there are currently around 38 million rabbits in the UK - and numbers are on the increase - the population is still well below the high of over 100million recorded in the mid-1950s before myxomatosis was introduced to Britain.
The decay of Scotland's Roman sites, however, has now prompted some historians to call for the re-introduction of the disease to curb the rabbit population and preserve the sites. But last night a leading animal welfare group described the idea as "pie in the sky".
Ross Minnett, the director of the Edinburgh-based Advocates for Animals campaign group, said the disease should never be re-introduced, and claimed that if it ever was, its effectiveness would be negligible due to resistance to the disease built up over the past 50 years.
He added: "The suggestion is absolutely ridiculous."
Nihil est . . . simul et inventum et perfectum.
(M. Tullius Cicero, Brutus 70)
(Pron = nee-hill ehst sih-mool eht in-wen-toom eht pehr-fehk-toom)
There is nothing that is at the same time both a new discovery and a finished
Comment: The space shuttle disasters come to mind. The recent verdict against
Merk, the maker of Viox, comes to mind. Why? Relatively speaking, both the
travel into space with the shuttles and the anti-inflammatory drug are new
discoveries in their fields. They both arrived on the scene, in our culture,
as the latest breaking discovery or development that would change life as we
They did change life as we know it. Two horrible shuttle disasters meant the
deaths of beloved astronauts along with the scientific gains of numerous
shuttle missions. The deaths of untold numbers of Americans taking Viox is
only now beginning to surface, after the initial praise for pain relief from
the drug. Neither the shuttle nor the drug were finished products. They were
new discoveries, new developments. They, in their development, were not
The English word “perfect” comes from the Latin word “perficere”. Literally,
perficere means “to make through”. The idea is to finish something to
completion. That is what “perfect” really means—to see something through its
journey, through its course. Perfection, as in flawless, I am coming to see,
simply does not exist. All life, all things that have a history, also have a
path that must be seen through. We make the tragic mistake of thinking that
anything is finally finished, or worse, perfect. Discoveries, then, are
beginnings, however wonderful, and they have a process. To assume anything
else is careless. Drugs and technology aside, each life is a process, a
journey. None is “perfect”, none is finished. Each has a step to take, today,
on the journey
Classical archaeology is not a profession that offers combat pay, but perhaps it should.
One summer afternoon in 1980, as UC Berkeley Professor Stephen G. Miller sat with the window open in his office in Ancient Nemea in Greece, international relations took on new meaning for him.
"I heard what sounded like a screaming mosquito going past the back of my head," Miller said. "I jumped to the floor, and two more shots came. There was a long silence, and I was finally able to get hold of the police in the next village. They came and found two of the bullets lodged in the wall."
Miller, who retired this summer from his chair in UC's department of classics, went to Nemea in 1973 to learn about the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, which was built between 330 and 320 B.C. on the foundations of an even earlier temple.
He didn't anticipate that his presence would tip a local election and that disgruntled farmers would shoot at him.
About 80 miles southwest of Athens on the Peloponnese, the area around ancient Nemea is fast becoming a notable Greek wine region, but 2,500 years ago it was inhabited only by sheep and shepherds. The land was swampy in winter and dry and dusty in summer.
Every two years, the valley filled with athletes and spectators, magicians, vendors and peddlers. The temple of Nemean Zeus was the religious centerpiece, where athletes and others offered sacrifice to the games' patron saint in what was one of the four sites of the ancient athletic games that came to be known as the Olympics.
Mind-set of farming village
In 1973, many Greeks in this agricultural region were wary of the American who had come to dig for evidence of the ancient culture.
"People nowadays accept it," Miller said, "but there were people initially who were very much opposed. This is a small agricultural village, and I thank my lucky stars I was raised in a small agricultural village in Indiana, because I could really understand the mind-set."
Miller said the village had some very poor families and a couple of wealthy families who owned lots of property. The males of the poor families would gather every morning and hope they would be picked up to work in the fields.
When Miller came, he hired these poor workers, and suddenly, instead of begging for work on a daily basis, they had regular jobs for four or five months each year.
"There were guys who were living in mud brick hovels who now have two- story modern houses with all the appliances and conveniences you could ask for, " he said. "A large part of that came from the resources they got working here at the excavation.
"The wealthy people resented it because I had usurped their labor force," Miller said.
Not only did the landowners no longer have all their poor workers, the workers were getting uppity.
Miller recalled how one night he overheard in a coffeehouse a story about one of his poorest workers. "Did you hear that old so-and-so is sending his daughter to nursing school? Who does he think he is, that little shepherd? Miller hires him and gives him these big ideas."
In 1979, the local mayoral election was run between two slates of candidates, the pro-Miller and the anti-Miller. The anti-Millers were the wealthier families. The pro-Miller slate was poor and left-wing, so the gossip was that Miller was a communist.
In 1980, a few months after the pro-Millers had won the local election, hard feelings still existed. Miller became the literal target for the anti- Miller frustration.
Miller is almost certain he knows who shot at him and who ordered the shooting. The police chief didn't have any evidence, but he knew a certain family was behind it. He called on the family and said, "Look, if anything happens to Miller -- I don't care if it's a bus in Berkeley that runs him down -- I'm coming for you guys.
"So there has been a major impact, and frankly, I'm proud of it."
Miller surveyed the Nemean plain 33 years ago and knew that somewhere beneath the dry surface he would discover the fourth site of the ancient Panhellenic games.
The UC professor would eventually lay bare an entire stadium and locker room area close to the nearly destroyed Temple of Nemean Zeus. Not everyone initially believed that a stadium was buried there, and some thought it not worth looking for.
"What I did not expect was the vaulted entrance tunnel," Miller said. "The greatest thrill, in terms of goose bumps, was the discovery of the tunnel. We realized early one morning in May 1978 that there was a tunnel that was preserved nearly complete." That proved that the ancient Greeks at the time of Alexander the Great (around 320 B.C.) knew how to build the vaulted arch.
"Then we began to see the graffiti on the walls of the tunnel and realize we had direct contact back to ancient athletes. It's given us a sense of the continuity of human endeavor."
Barbara Gold, the APA Vice-
President for Outreach, and
two members of the APA Outreach
Committee, Mary-Kay Gamel and
Judith P. Hallett, will establish an
APA Web site for “Current Events
in Classics” (lectures, museum
openings, outreach events) and
find people in key areas around the
country who can feed steady information
to that site. Mary-Kay
Gamel will coordinate theatrical
productions, films, and videos in
particular. They will create links to
existing Web sites of this nature
and also use state coordinators to
help identify classically-related
events around the country; many of
these coordinators will ideally be
leaders of the state classical organizations.
The lead writer of the series, Bruno Heller, is British as is the director of the first three episodes, Michael Apted.
“It was a merciless existence [in ancient Rome], dog-eat-dog, with a very small elite, and masses of poverty,” said Heller who is also an executive producer. “We see the same problems today — crime, unemployment, disease and pressure to preserve your place in a precarious society.
“Human nature never changes and the great thing about the Romans, from a dramatic perspective, is that they’re a people with the fetters taken completely off. They had no prosaic God telling them right from wrong and how to behave. It was a strictly personal morality, and whether or not an action is wrong would depend on whether people more powerful than you would approve. You were allowed to murder your neighbour or covet his wife if it didn’t piss off the wrong person.
Mercy was a weakness, cruelty a virtue, and all that mattered was personal honour, loyalty to yourself and your family.”
The series is likely to draw comparisons with the much derided 1979 film Caligula, in which the respected American author Gore Vidal took up an offer from Bob Guccione, owner of Penthouse magazine, to write a script that depicted the decadence and debauchery of the Romans.
[...] Some of Britain's finest actors, including Lindsay Duncan, who plays Servilia, Polly Walker, as Atia, James Purefoy as Marc Antony, Ciaran Hinds as Julius Caesar and David Bamber as Cicero have starring roles.
Much of the sexual intrigue surrounds the scheming of Walker's character.
Within nine minutes of the first episode opening she is shown topless astride one of her lovers with slaves in attendance.
Seconds later she is shown addressing her son Octavian while fully nude. The relationship between mother and son is particularly fraught.
Atia continually lambasts her son, who is 11 when we first see him, for being too effeminate. She orders him to eats goats' testicles. "Eat them while they are warm, they will put oak in your penis," she tells him. In another scene, she taunts him about his virginity and asks: "Have you penetrated anyone yet?"
She later orders him to be taken to his brothel where he is given his choice of male and female lovers.
Brothels would appear to be a favourite location for the programme. In episode two, there are shots of couples copulating in one of Rome's most notorious dens of vice.
Some of the language would appear to be as colourful as the scenes. One character vows to "piss on Caesar" while others talk about "kissing arse".
Violence is also endemic in the drama, which shows slaves and prisoners being branded, crucified and tortured while hanging upside down from a ceiling.
A naked Marc Antony orders two topless women to fight each other with swords. When one is injured he comes to a rescue by licking blood off her chest. Earlier, a Hindu merchant has his arm broken while he is being pinned to the floor by a Roman boot.
Sex and violence in "Rome" are predictably explicit and unsuitable for children. (Suffice it to say that back then, men not only worshipped goats, they borrowed their mating habits.) The depiction of Roman religious practices is more interesting - a confused pastiche of piety and superstition that ranges from monks in red robes singing pre-Christian chants to disgusting animal sacrifices.
To secure Octavius's safe return from a dangerous mission, for example, Atia takes a bovine shower: she sits in a tub while, from a loft above her head, priests slit the throat of a live bull, letting the still warm blood pour down all over her face and bared chest. (It works better than Calgon: Octavius lives, and Atia's skin looks radiant)
We know little of small peoples who died out in antiquity or even Medieval times, but the case histories that have come down to us are compelling, precisely because they include the most successful civilizations of the West, namely classical Greece, Rome and Byzantium. Countless small tribes disappeared into the hands of the Roman slavers, doubtless quite against their inclinations. As Robert Marcellus wrote in The Human Life Review:
The Greek geographer and historian Strabo (63 BCE-21 CE) described Greece as "a land entirely deserted; the depopulation begun since long continues. Roman soldiers camp in abandoned houses; Athens is populated by statues". Plutarch observed that "one would no longer find in Greece 3,000 hoplites [infantrymen]." The historian Polybius (204-122 BCE) wrote: "One remarks nowadays all over Greece such a diminution in natality and in general manner such a depopulation that the towns are deserted and the fields lie fallow. Although this country has not been ravaged by wars or epidemics, the cause of the harm is evident: by avarice or cowardice the people, if they marry, will not bring up the children they ought to have. At most they bring up one or two. It is in this way that the scourge before it is noticed is rapidly developed. The remedy is in ourselves; we have but to change our morals." 
Sparta, the model of slave-based military oligarchy, had 5,000 land-owning families at the time of the Peloponnesian War, but only 700 by the third century AD after Epiminondas broke the Spartan hold over its helot population. Rome's population fell to perhaps 100,000 during the seventh century from 1 million in the second century. Between 150 AD and 450 AD, the population of Rome's Western empire fell by about four-fifths. Constantinople held 250,000 people in the ninth century and between 600,000 and one million during the 12th century, yet it had fallen to only 100,000 when the Turks took it, at least in 1453. After Constantinople, the world's largest city west of the Indus, well may have been the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Estimates of the annual number of humans sacrificed by the Aztecs range from 20,000 to a quarter million per year. Although Aztec civilization was overthrown by the conquering Spaniards, it could not have lasted indefinitely given such practices.
There is endless debate about such data. Roman population data are somewhat conjectural, and Strabo's estimates have been disputed by some scholars. Explanations have been forwarded that range from the collapse of the slave-based agricultural system to mass infanticide and venereal disease.
Nonetheless, it seems clear that the Romans did not so much conquer Greece as to occupy its shell; that the Germanic tribes did not so much conquer Rome so much as to move into what remained of it; and that the Arabs did not so much conquer the Byzantine hinterland as migrate into it. On this last point, a new book by Yehuda Nevo and Judith Koren argues convincingly that the Byzantines ceded frontier territories to Arab foederati in the mid-seventh century and that the famous battles of the Islamic conquest in fact never took place.  In one form or another the antecedents of Western civilization died of existential causes, rather than external ones.
Bush has a firmer handle than even Rumsfield on how empires think and act.
And I don't mean that as a criticism.
It's time for us to accept and defend our imperialism. Imperialism has received bad press for most of the last hundred years. We think of pith helmets when we hear the word, and tiger hunts, and pathetic little bands in remote Indian provinces playing "God Save the King." We think of a stiff upper lip that looks, over time, more like foolish bravado than noble resolve. We think of colonial hubris and the blind assertion of cultural superiority.
But ancient Rome _ always the brand name in empires _ is the better model.
Rome demonstrated that empires can be about much more than blood sports, tiger hunts, rapacious oil companies and military adventures in far-off places.
Empires can also stand for things that make the world a better place. Political stability, the rule of law, the virtues of political enfranchisement, the preservation of learning and the arts, and the respect for other cultures and religions: These are some of the better legacies left to us by the Romans.
The Romans pulled this off _ with all their faults _ because they believed in that quaint concept we call destiny. Americans, too, have always believed in a higher purpose. Four hundred years ago, John Winthrop described America as "a shining city on a hill." Ronald Reagan echoed that language in speeches that resonated deeply with the American people. The liberal elites in America and Europe never understood the mythic power of Reagan's rhetoric, just as they don't understand Bush's simple vocabulary today.
GUY LEE’S forceful versions of Latin poetry bridged the gap between the classical world and a donnish life in Cambridge with elegance and apparent ease.
At a time when the study of Roman life and literature has declined enormously since its Victorian heyday, studies and translations like his did much to make the literature enjoyable to those without Latin and to show how it was a sparkling ancestor of the present.
His work had a freedom and freshness that crossed the centuries and the cultural differences between them. Somehow he managed to dwell in the ancient world and transfer it without strain or affectation to our own.
Lee was born on Guy Fawkes Day in 1918, and as his father, an eye specialist, was then working at Guy’s Hospital, he was not surprisingly named Guy.
He was brought up in Leeds, where at a dame school he first came across Latin. The word for “Moon” being luna in Latin stuck in his mind because he liked the sound of it, and Latin and Greek were very well taught at his prep school, Glebe House, in Hunstanton, Norfolk, where the headmaster could have been called, like Horace’s teacher Orbilius, plagosus or “the whacker”, since three wrongly answered questions in a row meant the cane.
At his public school, Loretto, near Edinburgh, the teachers were equally good, though without the cane (sine ferula), and he learnt Greek and Latin verse composition in his last year. Through Loretto he met his wife Helen, whose brothers were there with him. She too was to be a Cambridge graduate.
At St John’s College, Cambridge, Lee was supervised by the President, Martin Charlesworth, editor of the Cambridge Ancient History, “the friendliest and most interesting man I had ever met”, he wrote later, and the Public Orator, a much-published classical scholar, taught him Latin lyric verse. In part I of the tripos he got a first, with distinction in Greek and Latin verse, a John Stewart of Rannoch scholarship and a medal for a Latin ode on the subject of Horace’s Orbilius. When it came to part II, he found it hard to concentrate while the country was at war. So he joined the Army and was posted, to his disappointment, to Iceland, though he stayed long enough to learn Icelandic and earn a War Office award as a cipher officer, then on to French North Africa, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Norway, where, to his amazement, he heard from his supervisor, Charlesworth, suggesting he return to Cambridge and put in for a fellowship at St John’s.
When his application succeeded his career was in place. He had a grand room to work in, attended lectures on Latin textual criticism and (from F. R. Leavis) on English literature, and decided to work on Ovid. His translation of Book I of Metamorphoses was published in 1953 and, 50 years later, was still in print. Modestly, he admitted that his edition of a minor work of Cicero, The Stoic Paradoxes, published the same year, was remaindered. But the following year Pope Pius XII awarded him a medal for a Latin poem, Aerii vehiculi ope ad lunam ascensus, the subject being “an ascent to the Moon by means of a spacecraft”. This was 15 years before the US astronauts got there, and was cobbled together from Patrick Moore’s Guide to the Moon.
In the meantime he had been made a tutor by St John’s, and served for seven years; then he was praelector for five, and librarian for twenty-three. He published steadily. There were many book reviews for classical journals; translations and editions of Ovid, Cicero, Virgil, Horace and Catullus; translations from English into Latin of Robert Herrick, William Morris, Walter de la Mare and others; poems of his own in the TLS; and many learned pieces on classical literature and translation.
In 2000 his English version of Ovid’s Amores, first published in 1968, was reprinted by John Murray as Ovid in Love with delicately suitable drawings by John Ward. But by then Lee’s ideas on translation had turned around; after many years, he had decided to reject his early free expression as a translator. This was what had given his versions of Latin verse a verve and attractiveness that had kept them fresh and possibly would make them last.
As an example of the liberties he had taken with the Latin text, he quoted a couplet from Ovid. Literally translated, it would read: “If some god said to me, ‘Give up love and enjoy life’, I’d refuse — girls are such sweet torment”. In his, it became “Offered a sexless heaven I’d say No thank you — women are such sweet hell.” His work on Ovid’s Amores over seven years produced a fluent, brilliant version, but gradually he worked round to an exactly opposite view of what translation should be.
It had become clear to him that Greek and Latin would eventually have to be taught in translation, as the Hebrew Bible has been taught since the 16th century. So what was needed, he believed, was close translation, as literal as possible, and that Greek and Latin poetry should be treated by the translator as sacred text.
Lee was a man of great charm and integrity, who managed to be learned without pedantry and to live with simplicity; to be humorous, hospitable and friendly.
He is survived by his wife and their two adopted sons.
Guy Lee, classicist, was born on November 5, 1918. He died on July 31, 2005, aged 86.
Performance coach Darren Smallridge, and head of professional development Bruce Wooding, gave me a crash course in learning the basics of this cut-glass accent, although their techniques were somewhat unorthodox.
For example, wedging a cork in my mouth and attempting to read lines from Julius Caesar was invaluable, helping me keep the tongue flat and speaking with restricted lip movement, but I did feel like a snake who had tried to open a wine bottle with his fangs, only to get stuck.
Demetrius, the Phalerian, tells us that he was informed by Demosthenes himself, now grown old, that the ways he made use of to remedy his natural bodily infirmities and defects were such as these; his inarticulate and stammering pronunciation he overcame and rendered more distinct by speaking with pebbles in his mouth; his voice he disciplined by declaiming and reciting speeches or verses when he was out of breath, while running or going up steep places; and that in his house he had a large looking-glass, before which he would stand and go through his exercises.
A Greek Studies Program is operating since the beginning of 2004 in the People's Liberation Army of China Foreign Language University with the economic support of the Greek Ministry of Defense.
The initiative belongs to Chinese Hellenist Shiu Khai, also known as the “Greek of Shanghai”, who teaches passionately the Greek language and civilization to the Chinese.
A total of twenty Chinese army officers have enrolled in the Greek Studies Department “Thucydides”. In statements she made to the Melbourne newspaper “Neos Kosmos”, Shiu Khai stressed that the army officers attending the courses are destined to hold top ranking positions in the Chinese army and aspire to visit Greece to practice the language.
Rome's once-mighty Colosseum will soon be fenced in as part of efforts to protect Italian cultural sites and the millions of tourists who visit them from potential terrorist attacks, officials said on Thursday.
A meeting of Rome's regional security committee agreed that a barrier would be erected around the arena where gladiators once battled wild animals to the death, creating a security zone for guards and video cameras to step up controls on tourists.
No details about the planned barrier were provided.
Italy vowed to tighten security on tourist destinations following the deadly bombings in London last month. The culture minister said ticket prices at some of the most popular spots could rise as a result.
Metal detectors were already reintroduced at the entrances of the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre earlier this month.
The ampersand symbol is a combination of the letters "et," which is Latin for "and." In an article by award-winning design consultant Max Caflisch on the Adobe Systems Inc. Web site (www.adobe.co.uk/type/topics/theampersand.html) he writes that "one of the first examples of an ampersand (is) on a piece of papyrus from about 45 A.D."
One of the first examples of an ampersand appears on a piece of papyrus from about 45 A.D. Written in the style of early Roman capital cursive (typical of the handwriting of the time), it shows the ligature ET. A sample of Pompeian graffiti from 79 A.D. (fig. 1) also shows a combination of the capitals E and T, and is again written in early Roman script.
Historical movies, no matter what the time period, have always been a favourite of mine. When younger I used to be in awe of moves like Cleopatra, Sparticus and Ben Hur. Cecile B. DeMille's name meant an epic movie with a cast of thousands and back then there were thousands of real people in the crowd and battle scenes, not computer generated figures. Of course, Hollywood was Hollywood with too many sequins, clean faces and changed story lines, but they did bring the interest in history alive.
Today the interest in historical epics is flourishing once again with Troy and Alexander, so my forth coming musical Esther, The Concubine Queen is right in keeping with the times and actually set between those two time periods.
Many exciting stories about Greece have lived through the millennium, but what most people don't realize was that Greece and the rest of the known world, including Egypt were at one time captured by Darius, Shah or King of Persia. Esther takes place during the rein of Darius' son Xerxes, who in 479BC began to lose his hold over the rebellious Greeks. Minor wars had been fought to keep the Persian Empire but on the whole by the time Xerxes was in power the Persians had become too complacent and too wealthy.
Xerxes had fought the Greeks many times and at one point captured Demaratus, a king of one of the provinces, which we now consider Greece. Although treated royally, Demaratus was still a prisoner and used by Xerxes for information on his former countrymen. Unfortunately Xerxes, being the ruler of the world, had a few personality issues and did not like to be crossed, whether wrong or right. Demaratus has the difficult job of telling Xerxes what it would be like to fight the Greeks, especially the famous Spartans, without having Xerxes get mad and cut his head off. Not an enviable position to be in and one made even worse when Demaratus' predictions of Xerxes' losing to a handful of Spartans came true!
In Esther we meet Demaratus and visit the Straits off Salamis where Xerxes loses the first of many battles with the Greeks. Well, I would like you to meet Demaratus, but in fact I do not have the part cast and I am looking for a man for this role.
Demaratus has some speaking lines in the first two scenes of the show and is seen in various scenes throughout the show although he no longer has any lines. Esther is a musical and although Demaratus has no solos it would be nice if he could carry a tune, as we need his presence in a couple of chorus numbers. (Please notice I said carrying a tune would be nice but I will consider non-singers also). The person in this role would, later on in the show, change characters, to a guard for one scene.
We have been rehearsing chorus numbers for a few months but will start the final rehearsal schedule on Aug 29th. We are rehearsing specific scenes with leads on Monday nights, the repeating the same scenes with leads and all chorus people on Thursdays. Some leads will be required out one week but not the next. As of October we will be having run throughs of the show
and everyone will be required on both Mon and Thur. The show goes on the first two weekends in November.
I need to cast this role immediately as Demaratus is needed August 29th. I would prefer a more mature man for the role but will also consider just about any age as with the help of the makeup and costume department we can age the cast member.
This is an excellent role for someone new to theatre. Just enough to cut your teeth on and not too big to be terrifying. Please help spread the word.
Forbes.com readers, editors and a panel of experts rank the saw as the tenth most important tool of all time, in terms of its impact on human civilization. (Read more about how we developed the rankings.)
Very few tools are so important they have their own creation myth. According to an ancient Greek legend, the first saw was made by a boy named Perdix, who was nephew of the famous inventor Daedalus. While serving as his uncle's apprentice, Perdix was inspired by the ridges on the backbone of a fish, and invented the handy cutting tool.
Things didn't turn out so well for the young inventor--Daedalus became jealous of his talent, and threw him off the top of the Acropolis. [...]
Hunc miseri tumulo ponentem corpora nati
garrula limoso prospexit ab elice perdix
et plausit pennis testataque gaudia cantu est,
unica tunc volucris nec visa prioribus annis,
factaque nuper avis longum tibi, Daedale, crimen.
namque huic tradiderat, fatorum ignara, docendam
progeniem germana suam, natalibus actis
bis puerum senis, animi ad praecepta capacis;
ille etiam medio spinas in pisce notatas
traxit in exemplum ferroque incidit acuto
perpetuos dentes et serrae repperit usum;
primus et ex uno duo ferrea bracchia nodo
vinxit, ut aequali spatio distantibus illis
altera pars staret, pars altera duceret orbem.
Daedalus invidit sacraque ex arce Minervae
praecipitem misit, lapsum mentitus; at illum,
quae favet ingeniis, excepit Pallas avemque
reddidit et medio velavit in aere pennis,
sed vigor ingenii quondam velocis in alas
inque pedes abiit; nomen, quod et ante, remansit.
non tamen haec alte volucris sua corpora tollit,
nec facit in ramis altoque cacumine nidos:
propter humum volitat ponitque in saepibus ova
antiquique memor metuit sublimia casus.
A partridge, from a neighb'ring stump, beheld
The sire his monumental marble build;
Who, with peculiar call, and flutt'ring wing,
Chirpt joyful, and malicious seem'd to sing:
The only bird of all its kind, and late
Transform'd in pity to a feather'd state:
From whence, O Daedalus, thy guilt we date.
His sister's son, when now twelve years were past,
Was, with his uncle, as a scholar plac'd;
The unsuspecting mother saw his parts,
And genius fitted for the finest arts.
This soon appear'd; for when the spiny bone
In fishes' backs was by the stripling known,
A rare invention thence he learnt to draw,
Fil'd teeth in ir'n, and made the grating saw.
He was the first, that from a knob of brass
Made two strait arms with widening stretch to pass;
That, while one stood upon the center's place,
The other round it drew a circling space.
Daedalus envy'd this, and from the top
Of fair Minerva's temple let him drop;
Feigning, that, as he lean'd upon the tow'r,
Careless he stoop'd too much, and tumbled o'er.
The Goddess, who th' ingenious still befriends,
On this occasion her asssistance lends;
His arms with feathers, as he fell, she veils,
And in the air a new made bird he sails.
The quickness of his genius, once so fleet,
Still in his wings remains, and in his feet:
Still, tho' transform'd, his ancient name he keeps,
And with low flight the new-shorn stubble sweeps,
Declines the lofty trees, and thinks it best
To brood in hedge-rows o'er its humble nest;
And, in remembrance of the former ill,
Avoids the heights, and precipices still.
-- Garth/Dryden translation
QUINTUS FABIUS MAXIMUS (fl.200BC): the Roman praetor who choked to death on a single goat-hair within a cup of MILK.
How to Serve the Ministry of Reshelving
1. Select a local bookstore to carry out your reshelving activities.
2. Download and print "This book has been relocated by the Ministry
of Reshelving" bookmarks and "All copies of 1984 have been relocated"
notecards to take with you to the bookstore. Or make your own. We
recommend bringing a notecard and 5-10 bookmarks to each store.
3. Go to the bookstore and locate its copies of George Orwell's 1984.
Unless the Ministry of Reshelving has already visited this bookstore,
it is probably currently incorrectly classified as "Fiction"
4. Discreetly move all copies of 1984 to a more suitable section,
such as "Current Events", "Politics", "History", "True Crime",
or "New Non-Fiction."
5. Insert a Ministry of Reshelving bookmark into each copy of any
book you have moved. Leave a notecard in the empty space the books
6. If you spot other incorrectly classified books, feel free to
7. Please report all reshelving efforts to the Ministry. Email your
store name, location, # of 1984 copies reshelved, and any other
reshelving activities conducted, to reshelving @ avantgame.com.
Photos of your mission can be uploaded to Flickr, tagged
as "reshelving", and submitted to the Ministry of Reshelving group.
Our goal is to relocate one thousand nine hundred and eighty-four
copies, and to complete successful reshelving of 1984 in all 50
United States. Global contributions are welcome.
Note: this project is not a critique of bookstore culture, the state
of the shelving industry, or even of pervasive government
surveillance. It is merely an observation that 2 + 2 = 5, and 5 is no
Qui tenet anguillam per caudam non habet illam.
(pron = kwee the-net ahn-gwil-lahm per cow-dahm nohn hah-bet il-lahm)
The one who catches an eel by the tail does not really have it.
Comment: This strikes me as another version of “knowing enough to be dangerous”.
When I was a child, my brother and I got ponies for Christmas one year. We
lived in a rural community in Alabama, and had pasture land as well as woods to
play in. Our ponies had the run of it all, and in short time returned to their
wild state. My father and my uncle felt that they needed to be “broken”, and
so, they set out to “break” them. I’ll never forget watching the two of them
successfully grabbing one of the ponies, only to have her rake the two of them
down the barbed wire fencing. There was a “breaking” that day, but it was not
of the ponies! They remained wild.
I hear a spectrum in this proverb. On the one hand, human study, preparation
and knowledge are all necessary in many fields in order to be competent, in
order to excel, in order to be safe, in order to be just. Knowing enough to
catch an eel by the tail will only get you bitten. On the other hand, humanity
is a part of creation. We do not own it. We are one of the members of a vast
universe that has a place, a role. In some arenas it is not ours to dominate,
but to cooperate. Sometimes, cooperation means standing back and watching the
wild pony run and realizing that the wild is simply beautiful as it is.
Un'anfora "massaliota" in ottimo stato di conservazione, risalente al periodo che va dal VI al VII secolo a.C., e' stata trovata dai militari della guardia di finanza in una spiaggia di Alghero, in provincia di Sassari. Il ritrovamento si deve a un pescatore della zona che tra la sabbia ha notato il reperto e poi ha avvertito le forze dell'ordine. L'anfora e' stata consegnata al responsabile della soprintendenza dei Beni Archeologici di Sassari.
Dictum, factum (pron = dik-toom, fahk-toom)
(Terrence, Andria 381 adapted)
Said and done.
Comment: At first glance this might seem to have some kinship to the proverb of
last week—some additional little commentary on words and actions. There is not
space here to summarize Terrence’s play and this snippet from one line, but in
short, the issue here of words and actions is one man being urged to do
something quickly because he has been told to. The urgency is to deceive, to
control and manipulate others. Honestly, it reminds me of an interchange I've
heard from adults to children on more than one occassion the likes of which
means: do it because I said so (and I owe you no explanation). There is a
sniff of "but what's really going on here?"
So, for me, this raises another element in the midst of the things we say and
the things we do. That additional element is “being”. We say things. We do
things. But before the saying and the doing, we are—we have being. Our words
and actions can have source in who we are, or they can have source in a
thousand other things. The question for reflection is: if my words and
actions are not coming out of who I am, what is their source? Put another way:
Who or what is running me?
While hundreds of thousands of young Roman Catholics sing and dance their way through World Youth Day festivities, some start each morning in silent prayer attending the rarely celebrated old Latin Mass.
It was standing room only in the large Saint Antonius church in Duesseldorf, one of several venues for the Catholic youth jamboree centred in nearby Cologne, as over 300 young believers gathered on Wednesday morning for Mass in the ancient language.
The traditional liturgy, almost forgotten since the Church switched to vernacular tongues for its services, is full of reverent rituals and ornate vestments which were put aside as outdated after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
But these traditions are making a quiet comeback among a tiny minority of young Catholics who find the strict Roman rite more sacred and prayerful than the loud guitars and chatty priests they see in their local parishes.
Pope Benedict, who arrives in Cologne on Thursday to head the first World Youth Day since the death of his charismatic predecessor John Paul last April, has long argued that the old Mass should be more widely available to those who want it.
'There is so much depth and richness and tradition in this Mass,' said Andrea Nolan, 27, a teacher from Oklahoma City.
'This is the same Mass that saints like Ignatius of Loyola and Catherine of Siena heard,' said another American, recent law graduate Matthew Dalrymple, 26.
'We don't understand everything, but we know what it means,' said Hary Soerijanto, an Indonesian now studying in Berlin.
Bishop Fernando Areas Rifan from Campos in Brazil, who celebrated the Mass, even began a short sermon in Latin to a hushed congregation straining to pick out familiar words.
Relief spread throught the pews when he repeated his address in German, French, English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. 'NOTHING WISHY-WASHY ABOUT IT'
Although it was never banned by the Vatican, the Latin Mass has become a bone of contention among Catholics, with devotion to it often seen as so traditionalist or nostalgic that many parishes refuse to offer it.
The fact that some excommunicated schismatic groups cling to the Latin Mass has also put off some loyal Catholics.
'There is a lot of suspicion in Switzerland, because one of these groups has its seminary there in Econe,' said Raphael Waldis, 19, who regularly attends Latin Mass at his home in Bulle. 'But we're not schismatics. The Vatican allows this.'
In 1988, Pope John Paul urged bishops around the world to provide some Latin liturgy if congregations wanted it. Latin Mass societies sprung up in some countries to lobby for it.
'We support people who want to ask their bishop to offer it,' said Robert Lane, an Irish student from County Galway.
Adrian O'Boyle, another Irish student from County Mayo, said the timeless permanence of the Latin Mass attracted young people to it. 'There's nothing wishy-washy about it,' he said.
A new movement called Juventutem – Latin for 'youth', its main constituency – organised the Latin Masses and other traditional devotions here, the first time they have featured among the modern rites that most young Catholics prefer.
About 800 pilgrims with Juventutem came from France and 200 from other countries, French traditionalist priest Fr. Jean-Marie Robinne said after the service here.
'Most of these French youths come from families that have always attended Latin Mass,' he said.
Several prelates, including Cardinals Francis George of Chicago, George Pell of Sydney and Francis Arinze of Nigeria, have agreed to lead Latin prayers here with Juventutem.
Bulgarian archaeologists have unearthed 15,000 miniature golden rings that date back to the end of the third millennium BC.
They say the treasure is a find that equals the famous treasure of Troy.
Many of the rings are so finely crafted that their design etchings are invisible, even with the use of an ordinary microscope.
The golden ornaments have been gradually unearthed over the past year from an ancient tomb near the central village of Dabene, 120 km east of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
The site consists of an ancient settlement and three burial mounds.
Archaeologists on site have not identified the ancient inhabitants.
They say they are likely ancestors of people who lived in what is now Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Romania and Turkey until they were assimilated by the invading Slavs in the 8th century AD.
I know I skipped number seven (it was small and boring) ... but this one mentions "giant spectacle drama"!
Forma viros neglecta decet. (pron = for-mah wee-rohs neh-glek-tah deh-ket)
(Ovid, Ars Amatoria 1.509)
Neglected concern for appearance is befitting men.
Comment: Someone should tell GQ. Someone should tell all the 11-18 year old
boys who are spraying Axe deodorant on themselves by the bucket load (we would
all breathe easier—yes I have one of these young men-to-be living in my house).
Someone should tell me as I bathe everyday, ponder the clothes in my closet,
and try to decide if what I am going to wear is "professional enough" and still
allow me enough freedom of body to be with teenagers all day.
I have been going to the gym to work out regularly more or less for 18 years.
It does make me feel better. It probably makes me look better too, but I am
getting old enough that feeling better wins over looking better. One day I
noticed how the gym was filled with mirrors, and people, men and women,
checking each other out. That’s probably normal, but it made me consider just
what it is we are checking out. Who looks good? Who looks good is better?
Better than what? So I tried an experiment (in my own mind, of course). For
one visit to the gym, I decided that every person I saw, I would really look
at, and accept, as “better”. I don’t know what Ovid was after, but if he was
saying that men are not concerned about how they look, he didn’t know us. For
that one trip to the gym, everyone looked wonderful. I found myself really
seeing people. And, in fact, it has changed the way I look at people a bit.
That experience has made it possible for me to find the “neglected beauty” in
anyone I look at—as long as I don’t neglect to see.
Sorry ... that's as large a one as I have of this. Kind of cute how 'Pompeii' is the smoke from the volcano. I've been meaning to commont on the vampirishness of that guy clutching the woman in all these ...
A rare Roman bronze pan recording the building of Hadrian's Wall has been acquired by three British museums.
The Staffordshire Moorlands Pan, dating from the second century AD, was found by a member of the public in June 2003.
The pan, or 'trulla', will be shared by the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, the Potteries Museum in Stoke-on-Trent and London's British Museum.
The acquisition has been made possible by a £112,200 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Both a functional vessel and a commemorative 'souvenir', the pan is engraved with the names of four forts located at the western end of the Wall - Bowes, Drumburgh, Stanwix and Castlesteads.
It also bears the inscription of 'Aelius Draco' - believed to be the person the pan was made for.
"This 2,000-year-old souvenir is a very special part of our past and one which people across the country should have the chance to see," said Kate Clark of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Replicas will be made to enable the public to see a representation of the pan while the original is elsewhere.
Otium sine litteris mors est.
(Seneca, Epistulae Morales 82.3)
(pron = oh-tee-oom see-nay lit-ter-ees mohrs ehst)
Leisure without learning is death.
Comment: Let me start by admitting that in the habits of my life, I am in total
agreement with Seneca. “Litterae” can mean education, literature, learning,
letters (epistolary as well as alphabet) and all that these things involve.
Books. Magazines. Journals. Email. I love them all, and in much of the
leisure that I have, I am reading these kinds of things.
But, I can also take issue with Seneca. There is a leisure that allows (Horace,
I am sure, is on my side here) sitting under a shady tree on the riverbank
listening to the sound of birds, taking in the perfume of whatever is currently
blooming, oblivious of time. No books required. I love this kind of leisure,
but I default to the other kind. Our culture is in step with the likes of
Seneca. And I think we miss a lot of the best “literature” when our noses are
stuck in books or computers too long. Consider the stories that birds tell as
they fly to and fro. Consider the poetry flowers blooming. Consider the
wisdom of the woods and the magic of minerals weaving their wonder in the
world. They can be read. Their messages are powerful. Leisure is required to
read these messages. And, lest I forget, such messages are written in to the
faces and eyes of every human being we encounter, even the one that appears in
Startling evidence of ancient Romans' most exclusive way of dining has been uncovered in a villa in southern Italy, local archaeologists announced.
Excavation at the residence of an aristocratic family in Faragola, in Puglia, has brought to light a rare example of a stibadium, a semicircular couch on which selected guests sat at the most fashionable dinner parties.
Complete with a fountain, which provided fresh water for the meals, the stibadium consisted of a semicircular platform of masonry that formed the basis for mattresses or bolsters on which the guests reclined.
"Only a few stibadia survive, but none of them is so lavishly decorated and well preserved as the one found at Faragola," Giuliano Volpe, the archaeologist from the University of Foggia in charge of the digging, told Discovery News.
Decorated with carvings of dancing maenads, or Bacchantes (the female devotees of the wine-god Dionysus), the newly discovered stibadium couch was covered with "opus sectile," decorations made by using precisely cut pieces of colorful marble.
Described by Latin writers such as Quintus Aurelius Simmacus, Sidonius Apollinaris and Ausonius, the stibadium is also depicted on mosaics, such as the one showing the Last Supper in the church of St. Apollinaire, in Ravenna.
"It started as a fashion for outdoor dining — originally a cushion or bolster on the ground — and later came to be adopted indoors. I think it was seen at first as more casual and relaxed than the normal rectangular arrangement of couches for dining, though it later simply became the fashionable way of dining in style," Katherine Dunbabin, professor of classics at McMaster University in Canada and author of the book "The Roman Banquet: Images Of Conviviality," told Discovery News.
"Its use would be confined to those who were wealthy enough, and had leisure enough, to give elegant dinner parties. Certainly anyone who could afford to have a permanent fixture of this sort decorated with marble in their villa would have had to be pretty rich," she said.
Luxury and opulence abounded at the villa in Faragola.
Built in the 4th century, the residence reached its height of splendor during the 5th century. Belonging to the senatorial Cornelii Scipiones Orfiti family, it featured big and luxurious thermal baths, with rooms for cold, lukewarm and hot baths.
In a large room with a precious mosaic floor, guests indulged in massages.
But the most spectacular room was the cenatio, the dining hall. The dominus, the house owner, sat at the right on the stibadium, while the most important guest sat at the left in front of the dominus.
No more than five to seven selected guests could sit on the semicircular divan.
Sitting there, they could admire musicians, dancers and jugglers and the "carpets of glass" — glass panels with ivory and marble encased in them — which stood on the polychrome marble floors.
"Putting on the floor such precious and frail artworks is really a provocative display of wealth," Volpe said.
Growing wealthy on the grain production, the Orfiti family lived at the villa during the harvest season, and managed all of their lands from there.
Perhaps because of an economic crisis, the Faragola "dolce vita" ended in the 6th century, and the villa was abandoned and forgotten.
"This is a very interesting discovery. The stibadium is indeed spectacular, certainly the most impressive example to have been discovered," Dunbabin said.
We are before a man that has been constantly in the Cuban news media in the last few months. Publishing a novel or another. Nominated for some award or another. His latest book Blood Widows and An Itch in Flandes have had much success in bookstores across the country. With his original and very likable novel Priapos, he recently earned Spain’s Camilo Jose Cela Prize. In Havana he received the Librarians Award because his novels were the most widely read last year. He also received the Critics Award. In other words, both the public and literary specialists value him the same. He is the only Latin American that has received the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Prize for his novel Adio Muchachos. He has also been the only writer that has merited Cuba’s award for the best police novel (Joy) for the entire decade. He is a big tall man, better said, large, clever, intelligent, witty and a very good person; so complacent that, although this may not be the ideal time for an interview, I have him here today answering my questions.
Progreso Weekly(PW): What motivated this professor of languages to write a crime novel?
Daniel Chavarría (DCH): My professorship of the classics has been the culmination of a process started in my adolescence. If I was precocious with something, it was in knowing that Latin and Greek would favor me in writing someday in Spanish with clarity and elegance. And when I took my first steps in Latin, I was not interested so much in understanding antiquity as in preparing my future as a modern pensman.
As for my interest in the police genre, it never existed. What seduced me was the adventurous political novel, as is cultivated by the Soviets during the decade of the 70s and 80s. One day I found out the exceptionality that the Cuban revolution offered. It was the only Western country in a near death confrontation with the United States. Everyone else was more or less their submissive allies or shameful vassals. But since that confrontation Cuba-USA also expressed itself as one between the CIA and Cuba’s State Security, one day I found out that I had an open road to conceive a Cuban hero, black, mulato or Indian; that spoke Spanish, listened to our music, would celebrate our jokes, our food; and that I could place him fighting in a Yakarta alley or in Cairo, while accomplishing a mission. That’s how Mayor Alba came about, from my novel Joy, a member of the scientific counterintelligence, a Soviet graduate in biology, karate expert, cultured, polyglot that ruins a CIA covert action destined to ruin the Cuban citriculture. And as for the person and his circumstances, not only possible, but also a great deal documentary.
CLASSICAL ASSOCIATION OF CANADA: ANNUAL MEETING, 2006
The next annual meeting of the Classical Association of Canada will take place at Victoria College, University of Toronto on May 24–26, 2006. A call for papers will be published in October. In the meantime enquiries may be addressed to the conference organizer John Magee (firstname.lastname@example.org) or CAC President Martin Cropp (email@example.com).
Dr Jonathan Shay, a US psychiatrist who has worked with Vietnam veterans for many years, says combat stress is an age-old problem - certainly one known to the ancient Greeks.
In his book Odysseus in America, he argues that the Homeric hero was a severe combat stress case - a loner and deceiver who had murderous rages.
"Combat stress is as old as the human species," he says - and, in a way, a very normal phenomenon.
"It is an absolutely valid adaptation to survive in a horrific situation. In war, people really are trying to kill you. You are surrounded by enemies and have to be prepared to kill instantly to survive."
Soldiers - and civilians caught up in war - become hyper-vigilant, unnaturally alert and focused.
And combat can have a devastating effect on a person's emotional health.
"We shut down all emotions that do not serve survival - grief, sweetness, fear," Dr Shay says.
But one emotion may remain switched on, he adds: anger.
"So a veteran comes home with all emotions shut down except for anger. Guess what this does in the family, in the workplace. It's a problem," he says.
Some cope with it by withdrawing from society in one way or another.
"There are numerous examples where a veteran will severely limit his life, isolating himself to protect us," Dr Shay says.
"They will tell you: 'If I go out in public, I know I'm going to meet some jerk who's going to cross me and I'll do something and spend the rest of my life in jail.' Many truly don't want to hurt other people."
Those are the extreme cases, of course. Only a minority of soldiers - even those who see combat - experience PTSD.
The near-simultaneous publication of US and Japanese reports analyzing Chinese military power has riveted Taiwan's attention on strategic conditions in the Strait. Both reports documented China's swift military buildup. While the Pentagon hedged about Chinese intentions, however, the Japan Defense Agency strongly implied that Beijing was shifting to an offensive stance.
The common wisdom among Taiwanese strategists holds that the military balance in the Strait will tip in favor of China as early as next year. Improvements to Chinese air, naval and missile forces will ultimately negate the advantage in quality the Taiwanese forces have long relied on to deter Chinese military action.
Burgeoning military power may tempt Beijing to settle the cross-strait impasse by force. But "island warfare" endangers not only islanders but land powers that venture seaward.
Taiwan must preserve the military balance if it wants to choose its own destiny. For its part, China should not assume that military superiority guarantees it victory in a trial of arms.
Wars of antiquity bear out the perils of island warfare. Thucydides, the historian of the Peloponnesian War, recounts an event relevant to Taiwan. During its decades-long struggle with rival Sparta, Athens dispatched an embassy to Melos, an island city-state strategically located off the Greek coast, with an ultimatum: submit to the Athenian empire or be destroyed.
Melian leaders balked, but their city lacked military means adequate to fend off an Athenian assault. The Athenian ambassadors sneered at the Melians' appeals to justice, proclaiming that the strong do as they will in world affairs, while "the weak suffer what they must" when their interests clash with those of the strong.
True to their word, the Athenians crushed the island's feeble resistance, put its male population to death, and enslaved the women and children.
For Thucydides, the butchery illustrated what too often happens when one power defies another without the armed strength to protect itself.
"Questions of justice," he warned, "arise only between equals."
Now as then, effective diplomacy rests on a rough parity of hard power as much as on law or abstract ideals. In other words, Taiwan must arm itself if it expects equitable treatment from China.
Still, Thucydides offers China a cautionary tale of its own. A few years before the bloodletting at Melos, an Athenian expeditionary force landed at Pylos, some fifty miles from Sparta, and erected a fort to harass the Spartans in their own backyard. Grasping the danger, Spartan leaders dispatched forces by land and sea to wrest the Athenian outpost from its defenders.
After an initial skirmish, Spartan hoplite warriors invested Pylos by land. Another force landed on Sphacteria, a long, narrow island athwart the harbor mouth, to cut the fort off by sea.
Spartan fortunes soured when fifty Athenian warships appeared unexpectedly, putting the Spartan flotilla to flight "at once," disabling or capturing "a good many vessels," ramming others, and towing away beached vessels abandoned by their crews. Proud Spartan infantrymen were reduced to wading into the surf in a futile effort to recover their vessels.
"The stunning effect and importance" of the Athenian naval attack, notes Yale University professor Donald Kagan, "cannot be exaggerated."
Their expeditionary force blockaded, Spartan leaders sent an embassy to Athens to sue for peace, only to have their overtures rebuffed by an Athenian assembly that was in no mood for compromise. Reinforcements sailed for the island.
Athenian troops overwhelmed and captured the Spartan defenders, who were brought to Athens as hostages.
Pylos humbled Sparta's vaunted land power, underlining the dangers of island campaigning for a land power facing a dominant sea power in its element.
Judging from the Spartan example, time may not be on China's side in a cross-strait war, as the Pentagon report suggests.
Should the US Navy force the Strait after a Chinese amphibious landing, Chinese forces could find themselves isolated and under siege, much like the Spartan hoplites.
The repercussions of defeat could be as frightful for China's international standing -- even its domestic stability -- as they were for Sparta's.
Both Taipei and Beijing, then, should heed Thucydides' wisdom. To discourage Chinese adventurism, Taiwanese lawmakers should set aside the prolonged bickering that has stalled a proposed special arms package in legislature.
They should either approve this package or negotiate another one that better meets Taiwan's military needs.
And China should ponder the lessons of Pylos before resorting to arms.
Otia corpus alunt; animus quoque pascitur illis
(Ovid, Epistulae Ex Ponto 1.4.21)
(pron = oh-tee-ah kor-poos ah-loont; ah-nih-moos kwoh-kway pah-skih-toor
Times at leisure nourish the body; the mind as well is fed by them.
Comment: Poets like Ovid found this theme of leisure to be a favorite one. And
for them, leisure was often associated with the country and country life as
opposed to life in “the city”. He has even used a verb, pascitur, which is
often used of the flock, grazing on the field, to describe how leisure times
“feed the mind”.
Those distinctions and the desire to “get away” have not changed much for busy,
modern western human beings. Several years ago, I participated in a 12 week
course using a book called The Artist’s Way. During that time, we were asked
to make a weekly “artist’s date” with ourselves. We did not ever have to spend
money on this date, but we were required to do something that nourished
creativity: take a walk in the park or woods, visit a museum, listen to some
beautiful music, go to a movie, read a book just for the joy of it, etc. The
only requirement was that this time be observed, and it be purely for the joy
of the thing we were doing.
Ovid’s words beg the question: how long since we enjoyed some leisure, since we
fed our bodies and minds?
Bulgarian archeologists accidentally unearthed a bronze labrys, a double headed ritual axe, symbol of the King's authority in the history of the Thracian tribes.
The labrys was found during rescue opearions at the Ada Tepe hill, near Krumovgrad. The archaeologists say that the finding dates back to the Bronze era and is unique for Bulgaria.
The bronze labrys is 15cm long and proves Ada Tepe's links to the Minoan culture.
The head of the expedition Georgi Nihtrisov said that the Ada Tepe region hides many historical secrets. He also said that these secrets will remain unsolved as the region will be included in the gold extraction area of the Balkan Mineral & Mining AD.
A unique removal of a 2,600-year Thracian tomb was carried out in the town of Borovo, near the city of Russe.
Archeologists decided on the transfer to the center of Borovo to save the ancient tomb from forays.
The Thracian stone-made building, dated IV-III century B.C., was unearthed in 1995, along with a splendid silver treasure. A copy of it will be also exhibited in a new archeological centre to be built up in Borovo.
Professor Manfred Osman Korfmann, who for 17 years was the excavation leader for digs at the ancient city of Troy, passed away on Thursday.
The 63-year-old academic was a lecturer at Germany's Tübingen University and was known for his diligent work and discoveries in Troy. Korfmann, sadly, had been diagnosed with cancer and began receiving treatment at his home in Tübingen but passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning, reported the Doğan News Agency.
Korfmann received many honors in his lifetime, including a Special Success Award at the Turkish Historic, Cultural Heritage and Art Awards in 1988 and in 2001. He won the Living Together Achievement Award for discovering documents during an excavation he led, organized and funded by the Helga and Edzart Reuter Foundation, that indicated peoples from Eastern and Greek civilizations had cohabited peacefully together.
Korfmann also established the Çanakkale-Tübingen-Troy Foundation in an effort to support excavation efforts and findings from digs in Çanakkale, both with information and funding, and to pinpoint areas of excavation that needed ongoing scientific investigation. His efforts contributed greatly toward having the ancient city of Troy recognized and included as part of UNESCO's World Heritage and the area being declared a national park. He also invested a great deal of time and effort to having a museum built to display the artifacts and chronicle the history of the city and its surrounding areas. In addition he launched a campaign calling for the return of historic treasures on display in other parts of the world back to Troy. Through his many years of work and devotion he won the love and respect of local villagers and was given the Turkish nickname Osman Hodja (Teacher Osman).
Korfmann acquired Turkish citizenship in December 2003 and added the name Osman to his legal name.
Additionally, he received an honorary doctorate from Çanakkale's Onsekiz Mart University and served as dean's office archeological consultant.
At the opening ceremony of the 42nd International Troy Festival on Wednesday night, the Çanakkale City Council named Professor Korfmann an Honorary Freeman of Çanakkale, however; the professor was not able to attend due to his illness. The designation was presented to Professor Muharrem Satır, trustee of the Çanakkale-Tübingen-Troy Foundation, to be forwarded to Korfmann.
Korfmann's funeral will take place in Germany on Tuesday.
Gliding into the operating room for the first time to assist a surgeon, Penelope wasn't nervous.
Unlike other novice medical assistants, "she" felt nothing. That's because Penelope is a robot, a machine that recently made medical history as the first to act as an independent surgical aide during an operation.
During a procedure in June at New York-Presbyterian Hospital to remove a benign tumor from a patient's forearm, Penelope responded to voice commands from a surgeon, handing over clamps, forceps and other instruments with its magnetized mechanical arm. Watching with digital cameras, the robot retrieved the instruments when the surgeon put them down.
Inside its computer brain, artificial intelligence software kept track of the instruments to ensure none was misplaced and predicted what tool the surgeon would ask for next.
"Penelope is just the first step," said Dr. Michael Treat, a surgeon, physicist and lifelong robotics fan who founded the company that developed Penelope.
The robot, named for the resourceful wife of Odysseus in Homer's epic poems, weighs 60 pounds and has a lightweight arm of carbon fiber mounted on a stainless steel frame.
... "We're in a very competitive universe right now," says Carolyn Strauss, HBO's president of entertainment. "We always need a hit. But everybody always does."
"Rome" deserves to be the next one, by Jupiter. The show is an ingenious amalgam of hard-core history and yummy soap opera, with lots of violence and sex. Think of it as "I, Claudius" on steroids and Viagra (and tons more substantial than ABC's cheesy series "Empire"). The series opens with Julius Caesar fighting in Gaul and plotting his return to Rome. Caesar is a man of the people, which scares the pants off the political establishment (who, come to think of it, don't actually wear pants). The most threatened of all is Pompey, a rival who happens to be married to Caesar's only daughter, who soon dies in childbirth, leaving him without an heir. You really can't make this stuff up!
In fact, while "Rome" works hard to stay true to the historical characters, the show isn't afraid of a little fiction. Along with the textbook political intrigue, "Rome" has also created a second layer of largely fiction-al stories centering on two soldiers, lusty Titus and soulful Lucius, who give the show an "Upstairs, Downstairs" effect by taking the show out of the temples and into the chaotic streets of the city. It turns out that Rome wasn't glorious at all. It looks much more like Calcutta during rush hour. And it wasn't all pristine white marble, either. One of the revelations of "Rome" is that all the temples and statues are painted in Mediterranean shades of red, green and yellow, just as they were way back before the colors faded away.
But the color that often dominates "Rome" is blue, as in risque. The Romans weren't shy about their bodies—remember those unisex toilets—and "Rome" isn't afraid of them, either. We see them bathing and fornicating, and we see full-frontal men and women. "Fair is fair," says Bruno Heller, the show's co-creator. "The women were not more liberal than the men. You have to show that and not be coy about it."
One character is nude far more often than the rest. Her name is Atia, and she is Caesar's niece. Atia will do anything to get her family ahead. When she wants to impress Caesar with a white stallion, she sleeps with the local horse merchant. She sleeps with him again to get him to kill her daughter Octavia's husband so that she can make a more advantageous union. And just to keep all her political options open, Atia also becomes Mark Antony's lover. The woman is simply too busy to get dressed. (Though Atia does wear a flowing white gown in one of the show's most shocking scenes, in which she stands under a gored bull and gets showered in blood as part of a purification ritual. It's like "Carrie" with large livestock.) Fortunately, Atia is played by Polly Walker ("Enchanted April"), who looks as if she stepped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting. All of the acting in "Rome" is excellent—as always in Hollywood, the Romans are all played by British actors—but Walker chews the scenery right down to the cobblestone streets. She's the most deliciously evil mother to hit the screen since Nancy Marchand became Livia Soprano.
Archaeologists said Saturday they have unearthed a large Roman-era burial ground in the western Austrian city of Wels that contains at least 50 skeletons, numerous urns and coins.
The graveyard, believed to date to 2 or 3 B.C., was discovered about a year ago during excavation to build an office complex and an underground parking garage, said Renate Miglbauer, the archaeologist in charge of the site.
She and other colleagues decided not to publicize the find until now for fear of attracting grave robbers, Miglbauer said, calling the discovery "a stroke of luck."
The team uncovered oil lamps, pottery flasks designed to hold perfume and numerous coins, which the Romans buried with their dead in the belief that payment was necessary to enter the afterlife, Miglbauer said.
Authorities have secured the site and excavation work is continuing.
Italian archaeologists believe they are on the verge of finding the ancient ships downed in the battle of the Aegates Islands more than 2,000 years ago thanks to modern technology and a police tip-off.
"This project has an enormous historical value, but perhaps more important is the relevance for archaeology," Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily's chief of marine culture, told Reuters on Friday.
"What we find will help us understand how wars were waged at that time and how battleships were built."
After two years of underwater searches around the islands, which lie west of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, experts last year found a bronze helmet and some amphorae from about 241 BC, the date of the decisive Roman victory over the Carthage fleet.
At around the same time, a team of Italy's famed art police busted a collector who had a ship's bronze battering ram from the same period on display in his home. It turned out the relic had been illegally looted using nets from the same area.
Unfortunately for Sicily's archaeologists, that area lies 70 metres (230 feet) below sea level.
"We couldn't dive on it, so about four months ago we started a technical probe of the region," Tusa said.
Experts from Sicily and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology in Austin, Texas used sonar and multi-beam bathymetric technology to scan the sea bed and sent down remotely controlled cameras.
"Now, we're certain we have found the location of the battle, but we have yet to discover how much was actually preserved," he said.
"What we really expect to find are remnants of the warships with battering rams and various other weapons like helmets, lances and the heavier tools that would have sunk immediately."
He said works, which were put on hold for analysis of the data, will resume in September and that a discovery could be announced as soon as October.
The Battle of the Aegates Islands was the final naval battle between the fleets of Carthage and the Roman Republic during the First Punic War and marked a turning point for the two powers. Carthage went into decline after its defeat.
Pinpointing the location of the battle and the some sunken 60 ships has been difficult since fighting lasted for up to four hours while the vessels moved in a southerly direction.
The Carthaginian force included 250-300 newly built warships as well as about 400 cargo ships bearing food and agricultural and war equipment.
Tusa said the finds will be the showcase of a new museum dedicated to the battle being built in a former tuna fishing factory on the isle of Favignana.
But in recent weeks, US officials have made a startling admission: the key intelligence that prompted the security alert was seriously flawed. CIA analysts believed they had detected hidden terrorist messages in al-Jazeera television broadcasts that identified flights and buildings as targets. In fact, what they had seen were the equivalent of faces in clouds -- random patterns all too easily over-interpreted.
At the heart of the fiasco lies a technique called steganography, the art, and now hardcore science, of hiding messages. There's nothing new about steganography, in principle at least. Herodotus tells the tale of Histiaeus who, in the sixth century BC, shaved the head of his most trusted slave, tattooed a message on his scalp and let his hair regrow. The slave then travelled unchallenged to Aristagoras, who was instructed to shave the slave's head, revealing the message urging him to revolt against the Persians. In common with modern steganography, it ensured that outsiders didn't know a secret message existed.
But to experts, the idea al-Qaeda would be passing steganographic messages through TV broadcasts is ludicrous. ...
Simul et dictum et factum. (pron = see-mool eht dik-toom eht fahk-toom)
What is said and what is done are the same.
Comment: As a teacher and as a parent I have read what seem like dozens of
school policies. I recall one that seems to me sort of the epitome of this
The policy stated up front that the school believed that students were
responsible for their own behavior. The rest of the document, two pages long,
indicated what the adults in the building were prepared to do if students did
not live up to the adult expectations. Punishment after punishment after
punishment. By the time the document was finished, the adults 1) owned all of
the expectations; 2) made all of the rules; 3) levied all of the punishments;
4) and decided when the punishments had been satisfied.
There was nothing left for the students to be responsible for. The school SAID
that students were responsible for their own behavior. The school ACTED as if
the adults were responsible for everything.
The difference is called integrity—from the Latin, integer, which means “whole”.
Human integrity means that what we say and what we do are one. When we
separate them, however good the intentions, we teach and practice just the
Do you remember solons?
When I was a kid, it seemed I was always running across newspaper headlines that said things like "Solons slated to meet."
It should have been enough to discourage me from venturing forth into the "grownup" sections of the paper. I should have stuck with the comics and the box scores. (If a newspaper is like a city, the comics and the sports pages are like the immigrant neighborhoods, where newcomers establish a toehold.)
I suspect I wasn't the only one who didn't get "solons."
Eventually I found out that Solon was the statesman and lawgiver who gave the Athenians their constitution. And lowercased generic "solon" is a highfalutin way of saying "legislator."
But – here's the clincher – it's a five-letter word for "legislator," and one of the letters is "l," which takes almost no space at all. That made "solon" beloved in newsrooms where time and space were tight. "Slated," of course, was a six-letter synonym for "scheduled." Who could resist, even if nobody was writing on slate anymore, even back then? (Nowadays, "Slate" is the name of a hip online journal.)
"Solons slated to meet" was a bit of vintage headlinese that probably topped a story on a meeting of something like the budget committee of the state legislature, or maybe an important session of a congressional committee in Washington. It sounds rather quaint in part because newspapers don't run play-by-play stories like that anymore.
But I've been thinking about "solons" lately, because it's useful to remember that the time and space pressures that we see squeezing the language today are older than your cellphone or your BlackBerry.
Ginny Lindzey is passionate about teaching Latin at Porter Middle School. She's also is passionate about what is and isn't getting done at the Capitol.
Lawmakers are under court order to change the way the state pays for schools, but with fewer than 10 days in the second special session there is still no solution.
"Let's fire them all and send them all back home. They've had how many sessions now? And some of them are getting paid and not even being there. That was in the newspaper today," Lindzey said.
That report states lawmakers may collect a $128-per-day allowance whether they are working or not. Lindzey doesn't think that's fair, especially considering the latest special session may be another bust.
"We have to keep going. We have deadlines. We have hard deadlines and we can't just say, 'Oh well, we just didn't agree, so we just can't do it.' We don't have that luxury," Lindzey said.
But as she and other teachers sit in a classroom preparing for school to begin in less than a week, she does find comfort in the latest pledge from Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. In a letter to Texas Education Agency Commissioner Shirley Neeley, they've both pledged almost $300 million for the new textbooks.
That doesn't mean everything is fine. The new books mean last-minute revisions for Lindzey. For some teachers it can mean completely new lesson plans.
The state's textbooks would have been paid for sooner, but lawmakers chose to include them in their school finance reform bills. A regular session and two special sessions later, they finally decided to keep textbooks separate.
"The fact that they were holding up our textbooks with everything else as some kind of bartering tool, hoping that that would force people to crater on other issues, is just flat out wrong," Lindzey said.
Whatever the reason for tying new books to school finance reform, lawmakers have now changed their minds just five days before Lindzey begins the school year.
The new book money will replace old health, foreign language and fine arts books.
Both the House and Senate are adjourned until Tuesday.
Scores of silver coins dating back well over two millennia have been unearthed in the heart of Athens, officials announced Thursday.
More than five kilos (11 pounds) of silver pieces dating primarily from the 4th century BC were discovered in an excavation project of the American School of Archeology, a statement from the ministry of culture said.
Some 45 of the silver pieces are believed to date back to the 5th century BC.
The discovery at the Athens Agora - the chief marketplace and ancient center of the city's civic life - is of "considerable importance" because it represents one of the most sizable finds of its kind, the statement said.
The new discovery will be "an important and useful source of information about the money of antiquity and the economic life of the times," the text said.
The total number of coins uncovered has yet to be specified.
The Agora, situated at the foot of the Acropolis, is one of the most important excavation sites in the Greek capital.
Well, since it's such a slow news day and I think I've got enough of these to post one per day right up to the anniversary of the eruption, I'll begin a series of posts of posters/movie cards from the 1935 epic Last Days of Pompeii. I love the one-sentence outline from the IMDB: In the doomed Roman city, a gentle blacksmith becomes a corrupt gladiator, while his son leans toward Christianity.
The posters themselves have a wonderful 'warholesque' quality to them, even though they obviously predate him.
An ancient Roman temple dating to the first or second century AD has been unearthed by archaeologists in the southern island of Pantelleria .
They have already dug up a three-metre portion of one of the walls of the temple, situated on a hill known as Cossyria .
In ancient times Pantelleria was a major trading and cultural crossroads between Italy, Africa, Greece and Asia Minor .
It had a flourishing Roman colony whose wealth and sophistication have produced rich pickings for archaeologists .
The archaeologists hit gold in the same area two years when they brought to light the marble busts of Caesar, the emperor Titus and a high-born court lady .
The busts were in an extraordinary state of preservation, allowing them to be immediately identified .
However, there are still some lingering doubts about whether the woman's head is that of Antonia Minor or her daughter-in-law Agrippina Major, since female sculpture in the early imperial age differed from the lifelike images produced for men .
Instead, models of ideal beauty were preferred, topped with the elaborate and trendy hairstyles that were in vogue among the aristocratic women of the time .
The woman's head is therefore without doubt that of an important member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (14-68 AD), but there is still a slight question mark as to whether it is Agrippina, daughter of the Emperor Claudius .
The Greeks inherited a land covered by rich stands of oaks, pines, and other trees with thick, drought-resistant leaves . . . called a "sclerophyllous forest", in the jargon of plant ecologists. But, as the Greek population expanded, it progressively destroyed the forests for firewood, charcoal (needed in firing pottery and other industrial processes), and lumber. The great trees were often burned by accident, too . . . or as part of a military operation, or simply to create more open pastureland.
Soil erosion on the slopes of the rugged Greek hills helped prevent reforestation . . . as did grazing and browsing animals, which killed the seedlings before they could establish themselves. Especially prominent in the latter role were goats . . . the "horned locusts" that have destroyed so much of the vegetation of the Mediterranean region and other areas where they've been introduced. (In fact it's not unfair, today, to describe much of that territory as a "goatscape". )
The ancient Greeks took an essentially scientific view of their environment, and some Grecian writers saw that their land was deteriorating under human stewardship. Four centuries before Christ, Plato described Attica (the region around Athens), saying: "What now remains compared with what then existed is like the skeleton of a sick man, all the fat and soft earth having wasted away, and only the bare framework of the land being left." The description is even more apt today.
The Romans, in contrast, took a strictly utilitarian view of their environment: The land was there to be exploited by Homo Sapiens. The trend toward deforestation started in Greece and spread—during the Roman Empire—from the hills of Galilee in Palestine and the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the east, to the mountains of Spain in the west. Various features of the Roman agricultural economy greatly encouraged this process . . . and their society had no counterbalancing conservation ethic.
Both the Egyptians and Greeks were determined hunters. They forced many larger animals (such as the lions in upper Egypt and in Greece) to extinction. But the Roman Empire had a far greater destructive impact on the fauna of the ancient world than did its predecessors. Not only were animals hunted for skins, feathers, and ivory . . . but multitudes were captured for use in "games".
Huge numbers of beasts were pitted against each other (and against human beings) in lethal combats. Titus, for example, had some 9,000 wild animals slaughtered during the three months' dedication of the Colosseum, and Trajan's conquest of Dacia (modern Romania) was celebrated by games in which 11,000 beasts were killed. When one considers that tens or even hundreds of lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos, and so on must have died—or been killed—in transport or captivity for every one that lived to entertain the citizens, the probable scale of the Roman impact on wildlife staggers the imagination.
The Romans hit hard at their environment . . . but it struck back! Deforestation, the depletion of soils, and the exhaustion of mines were all factors in the fall of Rome's Empire. The Romans didn't finish the job, however. The last great plundering of Mediterranean forest resources occurred in the late Middle Ages, when the demand for timber for fuel and shipbuilding was very great. As a result, there's very little first-growth sclerophyllous forest left in the Mediterranean basin today . . . the best examples being in the Camargue of southern France and on the peninsula of Mt. Athos in Greece (protected by the famous monastery there).
Two brothers are behind Rome's greatest monuments, according to Italian archaeologists who have discovered two furnaces that provided the bricks for buildings such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon.
Found in Mugnano in Teverina, a tiny village some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Rome, the furnaces belonged to Tullus and Lucanus, brothers of the Domitii family, as an inscription found on the road leading to the brickfield confirms: "iter privatum duorum Domitiorum" (private road of the two Domitii).
The furnaces provided bricks for grandiose buildings such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Market of Trajan and the Diocletian and Caracalla Baths, said archaeologist Tiziano Gasperoni, who discovered the furnaces.
"The bricks used to erect these building all bear the same maker's marks. At the Domitii furnaces we found more than 100 of these marks, so there is no doubt that the site at Mugnano provided bricks to build Romeâ€™s most important monuments," Gasperoni told Discovery News.
Marks were a peculiar feature of kilns. Each Roman brickmaker had his own — circular, rectangular or moon-shaped. The mark contained his own name, often with the name of the place or the owner of the brickfield.
Half-moon-shaped, the Domitii brothers mark featured the name of the worker responsible for the kiln — Titus Greius Ianuarius — the name of the brickfield and the name of Tullus and Lucanus.
According to Piero Alfredo Gianfrotta, who teaches ancient topography at the Tuscia University in Viterbo, the furnaces at Mugnano represent an important discovery as they are the only known example of a brickfield destined to provide raw material for Rome's most significant buildings.
Besides bricks and tiles, the Domitii furnaces were also specialized in the production of doli, big containers in terracotta which were buried up to their necks to preserve wine and olive oil, and mortars to grind seeds, herbs and nuts into meal.
"Mortars and doli with the Domitii mark can be found throughout the Mediterranean, mainly in France, Spain and North Africa," Gasperoni said.
Mugnano was an ideal spot for furnaces. It was rich with some of the best clay and had an abundance of water and wood. Moreover, it was close to the river Tiber.
"Bricks and terracotta containers were loaded on large boats and carried to Rome through the Tiber. International trade was also possible because of the Ostia harbor," Gasperoni said.
The Domitii were a noble and well-connected family throughout the first and early second centuries. Indeed, one of its members, Domitia Lucilla Minor, was the mother of the future emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Settled around the first half of the 1st century A.D., the furnaces remained the property of the Domitii family for more than a century. They were then inherited by emperor Marcus Aurelius and remained the emperorâ€™s property until brick production ended in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D.
Archeologists this week completed eight weeks of digging at a cave close to Kibbutz Tzuba near Jerusalem, revealing a monumental rock-hewn water system dating back to the time of King Hezekiah, from the 8th century BCE. Last year the site received world-wide attention with the discovery of a cave said to have been used by John the Baptist and his followers for baptism purposes and cultic rituals. Archeologists say that the new discoveries at the site shed light on the reason why a group of baptizers would have chosen this cave, out of the many thousands existing in the hills of Judah west of Jerusalem, as the scene of their activities.
The archeological work at this site is being undertaken by a team led by Dr. Shimon Gibson and Professor James Tabor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the USA, and with the sponsorship of Kibbutz Tzuba and the Foundation for Biblical Archaeology.
“This is one of the most exciting sites I have excavated during my entire archaeological career,” said Gibson this week. “Not only do we have a cave that appears to have been used by a party of baptizers in the 1st century CE, but it would appear that it was chosen for three reasons: for its seclusion, size and antiquity. What baptizers wanted was a place, distant from nearby villages, large enough to contain groups of people coming to be immersed, and ancient enough so that the cultic side of the rituals was put into a context linking them to the time of the Israelite prophets.”
The recent excavations have shown that the cave where the baptisms took place was part of a much larger Iron Age water system, rock-cut in places to a depth of some twenty metres (65 feet). It was a monumental enterprise with a vertical shaft, an open horizontal corridor, a flight of stone steps above a tunnel, and three external plastered pools, all of which was on the slope above an underground reservoir. Pottery finds from the site show that the entire water system was built in the 8th century BCE at the time of King Hezekiah, at the same time as the hewing of the famous Siloam Tunnel in Jerusalem. “Similar monumental water systems”, Gibson pointed out, “have been found elsewhere, but hitherto only within Israelite cities, such as at Beth Shemesh and Gibeon. Never before has such a massive water system been found isolated in the countryside without any town or city attached to it.”
Such a massive enterprise, archeologists deduce, could only have been a project undertaken by the kingdom of Judah, and it must have been used by the inhabitants of the nearby biblical town of Suba. The dig showed that the water system fell into disuse in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE, although the reservoir-cave below was still being used for its water. During the Persian and Hellenistic periods the cave was still partially being used, but was eventually completely abandoned in the 2nd century BCE.
One hundred years after the cave was abandoned, it was reused by a group of people who practiced cultic rituals in the front portion of the cave and who immersed themselves in water at the back of the cave. These rituals were kept up at the cave from the time of John the Baptist himself and until the 2nd century CE. There was also evidence that the baptizers anointed feet with oil in a stone installation. Eventually, the cave was adapted by Byzantine monks to celebrate the memory of John the Baptist, carving an amazing series of large drawings into the walls of the cave, depicting the figure of John the Baptist, his decapitated head, his relic arm, crosses and other symbols. The cave was eventually abandoned with the coming of the Crusaders and the local Christians apparently fled for their lives.
The Pindus mountain range that runs down the middle of mainland Greece has revealed further interesting archaeological finds. In total, excavations taking place over the past three years have unearthed 25 Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic locations nestled in the high peaks of Mt Smolikas, the lakes of Valia Calda and along small paths.
Farming tools found at the sites confirmed that the mountains of central Greece, which have not been extensively examined from an archaeological perspective, have many interesting things to yield, while also contributing to a shift in views about the role mountainous communities had in the overall history of the country.
The excavations that brought these finds to light were the first to be held at such a high altitude — 1,800 meters — in Greece. Conducted by a team of Greek and Italian archaeologists — Prehistoric Archaeology Professor Paolo Biagi from the University of Venice, specialist Dr Vassiliki Elefandi and Associate Professor Nikos Efstratiou from the University of Thessaloniki — they have opened a new chapter in history.
“The overriding opinion in [Greek] archaeology up to now was that groups of Paleolithic hunter/gatherers, as well as the first Neolithic farmers and livestock farmers were restricted to the plains and low altitudes,” explained Efstratiou.
“Furthermore, taking into account the fact that even the most well-known mountainous Paleolithic locations — such as at the Vikos Gorge in Epirus — are no higher than 600 meters, the results of these excavations have been very surprising indeed,” he added.
The team’s efforts began somewhat tentatively some three years ago. Examining the areas in and around the villages of Samarina, Smixi, Philippi, Polynerio, Panorama and Lavda, around small lakes and passes on foot, the team found numerous open prehistoric sites that contained signs of their very ancient past, such as shards of stone tools. Around the area of Samarina, they found evidence suggesting the resting places of nomadic groups from the mid-Paleolithic period, while it is even possible that these groups were Neanderthals.
“We found what little there was left of camps and places where hunters stopped to rest or spend the night near springs, or constructing tools near sources of flint.
“The chronological order of these sites reveals that these few and constantly moving Paleolithic and Mesolithic groups roved the Pindus range until 8000 BC following prey such as deer, boar and hares. There is also evidence of Neolithic hunters who, as early as 7000 BC, began leaving their permanent villages, their livestock and fields on the plains and headed into the mountains occasionally to hunt.”
What is interesting is that many of these locations were found at passes still used by herders and livestock farmers today.
“One of the most attractive things about these excavations in the Pindus is the fact that we can see that the practices of the people who live here go back thousands of years,” says Efstratiou. “The Paleolithic and Neolithic gatherers that moved around in search of materials to produce tools gave way to occasional farmers from nearby settlements on the plains who went into the mountains to hunt and gather berries and seeds. Today, we have the nomadic livestock farmers who continue to give life to the mountains of Western Macedonia.”
Finding themselves in a catch-22 situation, the authorities have decided to forge ahead with the construction of a "removable" canal over a significant piece of archaeology unearthed in Marsa.
The Works' Division and the heritage authorities have had to find the middle ground between building a water canal to alleviate flooding problems and exploiting one of the most important historical finds in recent years.
The area consists of a stretch of about 125 metres along the northern half of the water channel near Jetties Wharf, Marsa, which may be dated from the ceramics recovered from site to the Roman and Early Medieval periods.
"It's a significant discovery but sadly there are pragmatic realities we have to face. We opted for a practical solution," Anthony Pace, Superintendent of Cultural Heritage, told The Times.
He said the anti-flooding development in the area had now been redesigned in such a way as not to cause any long-term damage to the Roman structures. Special removable blocks will be used to cover the bottom of the trench.
"I've also been assured that the excavation works will not go as deep as they were originally intended to," Dr Pace said.
Officials from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage have been closely monitoring earth clearance at the site after workers accidentally unearthed the Roman remains.
Despite the initial fears, Dr Pace admitted that the damage to the site was minimal.
The Marsa area is notorious for suffering the brunt of rainwater carried all the way from Mdina and this often wreaks havoc to businesses and vehicles.
The problem of rerouting the works was compounded by the fact that a 33kV Enemalta cable, which services the south of the island, runs underground.
"It would be ideal to reverse the gross mistakes made in the past but this would require millions of liri. First, we need to clear the buildings from valleys, which once acted as natural reservoirs. Too many places have been ruined because of lack of planning," Dr Pace lamented.
Though works on other parts of the project are moving at a good pace, the discovery has delayed the works in Albert Town, Marsa.
A spokesman for the Infrastructure and Resources Ministry said the works were meant to have been completed by the end of September, before the start of the rainy season.
A Roman town was established in the environs of Marsa that housed people associated with maritime services including merchants, shipwrights, stevedores and rope makers.
When the discovery was made, the Malta Archaeological Society, among others, recommended that professional archaeologists carry out a thorough investigation of the exposed features and possibly of those that may lie buried.
A COUNCIL has been accused of vandalism after allowing a 2000-year-old stretch of Roman road to be dug up in error.
The criticism was levelled at Perth and Kinross Council after planners approved an application to improve drainage and build a shed next to Kaims Cottage, near Braco, without an archaeological survey.
The go-ahead resulted in the destruction of one of the few surviving undamaged sections of the road, which was constructed by the Romans in 70AD.
Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust had recommended that an archaeological survey be carried out to review the dangers in excavating land surrounding the Roman fort and road.
Its proposal was put to the planning department. But when the consent was issued the essential condition of an archaeological survey was forgotten.
Dr John Woolliscroft, a leading expert on the Roman occupation of Scotland, criticised the council's "carelessness''.
Dr Woolliscroft, of Liverpool University, said: "This was one of the surviving sections that seems to have been still in something like its original state, without modern rebuild-ing/resurfacing, so this bit of vandalism seems to be a sad loss of opportunity.
"It does sound as though the trouble at Kaims is the council's fault. I spoke to the trust, which advises the council on potential clashes between heritage and development, and they tell me that they strongly advised that if planning consent was granted it should be only on condition that an archaeological study should be undertaken before the work was started. They were ignored.
"Sadly, although the little Roman fort is a scheduled ancient monument, and so can't be touched without the consent of the Scottish Parliament, the Roman road is not, despite being well preserved."
The council admitted the mistake. A spokeswoman said: "Historic Scotland had no objections or comments to offer and the trust recommended that a condition be attached to require that an archaeological watching brief be carried out during all ground-breaking works.
"Unfortunately, a condition to this effect in the planning consent for this historic site was omitted, which is entirely regrettable."
HADRIAN’S Wall is in such a dire state of deterioration that parts of it should be closed to the public, a report has concluded.
Peter Fowler, an archaeologist and a World Heritage consultant for Unesco, said in his report that the Roman wall’s condition is much worse than he had feared and that sections of the 73-mile frontier need immediate attention.
“By immediate, I mean this week, today — now,” he said. “Very little is being done to stop the destruction of such an important World Heritage Site. The situation is desperate.”
Although the wall has survived invasions and battles during its 2,000-year history, parts of it could collapse under the weight of an army of walkers. Some 400,000 people have used a walking trail that opened nearly two years ago. But no more than 20,000 people a year were expected when the trail was planned in the early 1990s.
After all, when the Emperor Hadrian ordered a wall to be built in AD122 to define the northwestern frontier of the Roman Empire, only the sentry guards would have walked along it originally.
Professor Fowler, former head of Archaeology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and former Secretary to the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, has been so alarmed by the damage that he has recommended that parts are closed. “People rationing” would be another option, he said.
He called for urgent action from English Heritage, the Countryside Agency and highways authorities, which are among the bodies responsible for the wall — particularly as more people are expected to visit the site during the school holidays.
His report, Hadrian’s Wall and the National Trail, was submitted to the bodies yesterday.
Professor Fowler said: “To put it mildly, I was somewhat disconcerted at what I found . . . serious inadequacies in the management of the trail are apparent . . . the commitment by the Countryside Agency and the highway authorities ‘to manage the trail effectively’ was not apparent on the ground.
“And if the Agency does indeed see the trail as a ‘significant contribution to, and essential part of’ conserving and managing Hadrian’s Wall ‘in ways that matched its international profile’, it appears to be looking through the wrong end of the telescope.”
The Countryside Agency said that it could not comment on the criticisms until it had fully digested the report but said that there was “a robust system” to monitor and manage the trail.
But Professor Fowler said that the facts and figures he picked up along the wall are more alarming than those produced by English Heritage, which said that “large numbers of visitors can be accommodated without damage”.
While the heritage body said that nearly 80 per cent of the trail needs some treatment, Professor Fowler said that 40 per cent of it needed immediate attention.
He said: “Erosion, once established, accelerates. The deterioration needs to be reversed.”
He said that most of the stretch from Gilsland, north of Brampton, to Chapel House needed attention. He added: “It’s very alarming. The trail at Limestone Corner is on the stones that have fallen down from where the wall was. People are walking on archaeology — the stones from the wall itself.”
OISE B.Ed. IN CLASSICAL STUDIES (LATIN) DEGREE
I would like to encourage CAC members to write in support of the
continuation of the B.Ed. in Classical Studies (Latin) degree programme
which has been running successfully for several years at the Ontario
Institute of Studies in Education (OISE). Some members will have heard
the presentation on this subject by Margaret-Anne Gillis, who organizes
the programme. The programme is suspended for 2005-06 but will run in
2006-07; its long-term future is under review. OISE needs to be
convinced that there will be a sufficient continuing demand for the
programme although the numbers entering it in each year will necessarily
be small. Letters in support of the programme should be supportive and
cooperative in tone, express appreciation of OISE's willingness to offer
this unique programme (the only anglophone Latin Teaching programme in
Canada), emphasize its value as employment preparation for those
students who take it, recommend its continuation beyond 2006-07, and
point out that classicists across the country are eager to support it
and see it succeed.
Letters may be sent to Dr. Jane Gaskell (Dean), Dr. Carol Rolheiser
(Associate Dean), and Mr Mark Evans (Secondary Programme Co-ordinator),
all at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 252 Bloor Street
West, Toronto, ON, M5S 1V6.
Excavations from a Princeton University team that started on June 8, 2005, and were wrapped up a month later at the western coastal town of Polis Chrysochous, revealed use-levels of the second and first centuries BC, above which were late Roman and early Byzantine workshops. Right at the surface were sporadic traces of use in the twelfth century.
According to a Cyprus Department of Antiquities press release, the short season was limited to work in one area within the village in which years of excavation had revealed remains of the Archaic-Classical city of Marion overlaid by the late Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine city of Arsinoe.
The objective this year was to explore the western part of the area which appeared in the last season of excavation in 2003 to preserve undisturbed Hellenistic deposits, the first found by the team. This was amply confirmed by this year’s work, revealing use-levels of the second and first centuries B.C. Above these were late Roman and early Byzantine workshops. Right at the surface were sporadic traces of use in the twelfth century.
The Archaic city of Marion had one of the oldest known regular grid-plans of an historical Greek city. This was continued in use in the Roman and Byzantine periods. Evidence from this year’s excavation suggests that this was followed, though only roughly in the twelfth century, after a period of semi-abandonment after the ninth or tenth century.
Una piccola tromba d´aria, un giro di vento affilato e violento si è infilato dentro i corridoi del Colosseo ha soffiato ed ha corso fino a gettare in terra La fanciulla di Anzio, soave e splendida statua nell´antichità capace di fornire, come la Pizia, oscuri vaticini avvolta nei vapori che esalavano dalle fenditure della terra. Bianca e solenne, la Fanciulla si stagliava in apertura della mostra Il Rito segreto, pezzo forte dell´allestimento da pochi giorni inaugurato all´interno dell´Anfiteatro Flavio, protetta e incorniciata da fregi e bassorilievi. Come uno schiaffo, il temporale delle prime ore di ieri l´ha gettata al suolo. Un tonfo pesante quanto può farlo un´opera che pesa tonnellate, abbastanza da far andare in pezzi il piccolo rotolo offertorio che teneva fra le mani, mantenendo salvo il bel volto.
Intorno alla Fanciulla, capolavoro di Palazzo Massimo, ieri mattina un consulto di superesperti: la statua sarà portata via dalla mostra che resterà chiusa per almeno due giorni, mentre una perizia strutturale verrà effettuata su questa sezione al secondo piano dell´Anfiteatro e i restauratori provvederanno a ricomporre i frammenti dispersi anche per i due bassorilievi, uno proveniente da Napoli, l´altro da Ostia su cui è caduta la parete dell´allestimento. «Escludiamo che si sia trattato di un atto vandalico - assicura il soprintendente Angelo Bottini, curatore della mostra - Faremo tesoro anche di questa esperienza per gli allestimenti futuri. Confido comunque che il restauro riuscirà in modo ottimale».
La statua, proveniente dalla Villa imperiale di Anzio, fece ingresso nel museo romano nel 1909 dopo esser stata a lungo custodita dal principe Ludovico Chigi Aldobrandini. È tanto più bella perché fatta di due diversi marmi, quello più fine per gli incarnati. Splendido il panneggio e l´inclinazione della figura, i capelli sono annodati sulla fronte, misura un metro e settanta. Le forme slanciate sono proprie della scuola di Lisippo mentre l´impostazione rimanda a Prassitele e la torsione della figura è propria del primo ellenismo ma il doppio uso del marmo è modalità dell´Asia minore. Un compendio di arti eccezionale che lascia il mistero sulla datazione, un´opera comunque da recuperare in tempi rapidi e da proteggere sempre, anche dagli scherzi della natura che l´ha salvata ancora una volta, come è stato per le mareggiate a cui era esposta sulla facciata della villa dove troneggiava nell´antichità, giovane sacerdotessa capace di leggere il futuro.
Cleopatra dallied with Romans from Julius Caesar to Mark Antony to save her skin and fabulous lifestyle. For scarcely less pressing reasons, at least of political exigency, her male forebears in the Ptolemaic dynasty felt forced into bed with their sisters to secure their power base as foreign occupiers on the Nile by an untroubled succession.
No particular proclivity for "pushing the prong into forbidden fleshpots" - to quote a Ptolemaic poet who paid for such frankness with his life - led to Ptolemy II marrying his bossy elder sister Arsinoe II in 274 BC, says Greek scholar Costas Buraselis. At an international conference at Auckland University July 13-16 focused on Ptolemy II's reign in Alexandria (282-46), Buraselis, professor of ancient history at Athens University, ascribed the incestuous union resulting in Ptolemy III to political savvy.
"To Greeks it was strange and improper," he said. "Greek public opinion distanced itself from the practice." His research, however, has revealed half a dozen cases of full sibling marriage, with issue, among pharaohs in the second millennium BC, then several round the turn of the millennium - "altogether not a negligible set of sibling marriages."
Ptolemy II is known to posterity as Ptolemy II Philadelphus (sister lover), so the fact of his four-year marriage lasting till Arsinoe's death in 270 seems to have been central to his identity. Buraselis argues the union helped to elevate the status of the invader rulers from northern Greece who annexed territory conquered by Alexander the Great. To the Egyptian populace, royal sibling marriage would have seemed modelled on the practice of ancient divinities, and Arsinoe became a cult figure, a deified queen.
Astutely engendered Ptolemaic power structure - and military muscle - facilitated burgeoning of a Greek metropolis in Egypt that for a critical 200 years or so was the centre of the ancient world. A score of top scholars of the period from major universities worldwide vied with each other to analyse factors that made this early Alexandria so legendary.
Oswyn Murray of Balliol College, Oxford, was magisterial: with aptly suave Alexandrian elegance, he indicated how patronage from Philadelphus led to a thriving, if fatally elitist cultural life centred on the new library and museum or temple of the muses. Reliant on royal goodwill, literary talent of the era "hugged the shore and fluttered wings against the ground" - to quote a Sturm und Dranger literary figure C.G. Heyne - never rising to the sublime heights of the free spirits of democratic classical Athens. "But Alexandria was unique in the ancient world, unlike any city in the world today, except perhaps London," he said.
About 100,000 Jews were believed to be among its multi-ethnic citizenry, some with not much Hebrew, so translation of their ancient religious literature into contemporary Greek - koine - was no less important than cleaning up versions of the Homeric epics in circulation.
Greeks in fact created the chronology of the Hebrew scriptures as they were translated into Greek by 70 or so scholars brought from Jerusalem for the job, asserted French-born, Swiss resident Philippe Guillauime of the Near East School of Theology at Beirut (who put himself up at a city backpackers' hostel for the privilege of attending the event). His novel account of the Septuagint translation raised eyebrows, but his insight into Semitic mentality earned judicious respect.
Guest speaker at the conference, which was run by the university classics and ancient history department, was maverick British Marxist Martin Bernal, author of the controversial Black Athena (1987). Little loved in academia - and less in Greece - for debunking the Greekness of ancient Greece in favour of what he alleged was "massive" input from the Semitic world, Bernal gained no new followers from his Antipodean campus lectures. (He did admit to being deliberately somewhat obfuscating though). His opinion that the Macedonian takeover of Egypt in the fourth century BC was to be compared with Japanese occupation of China in Second World War was met with stony scepticism.
Greek ambassador to New Zealand Vangelis Damianakis, of Hania, Crete, and his wife, Glykeria, hosted a dinner for conference participants, complete with fine modern Greek wine, a Mantinea, of the aromatic red Moschophilero grape grown in Arkadia. A further Ptolemaic conference is proposed in two years, possibly in Germany.
As historical whodunits go, it is one of the most compelling of them all. Alexander the Great, overlord of an empire stretching from Greece to India, was suddenly and inexplicably cut off in his prime at just 32.
Over the centuries, suspicion has fallen on any number of potential poisoners, from Alexander's own wife and illegitimate half-brother to his generals and even the royal cup-bearer. But now a British historian believes he has finally solved the mystery: the killer of the greatest warlord in human history was nothing more than a humble mosquito.
Andrew Chugg, a respected authority on Alexander and author of a number of books on the subject, claims he has unearthed new evidence to suggest that the Macedonian conqueror died of malaria, contracted two weeks before his death while sailing in the marshes outside Babylon.
Mr Chugg bases his argument on the Ephemeredes, or Journal of Alexander, an ancient diary kept by one of the king's aides during his reign in the late 4th century BC. Critics have long questioned the authenticity of this source, claiming it was an elaborate later fabrication, but Mr Chugg believes he has now identified a number of "very sharp coincidences" that prove its veracity.
The author, he says, was Diognetus of Erythrae, a surveyor in Alexander's entourage, responsible for mapping out territories as they were conquered. The journal gives a detailed account of Alexander's last days, describing symptoms highly consistent with malaria.
"If you accept that the Ephemeredes is an accurate description of how Alexander died over a period of two weeks, then it is very difficult to believe the poisoning stories," said Mr Chugg, who will put his case in a forthcoming edition of the academic journal Ancient History Bulletin.
"It is known that the incubation period for malaria is between nine and 14 days, and about this time before he fell ill, we know that Alexander was sailing around the marshes outside Babylon inspecting flood defences. This is almost certainly where he was infected. Throughout history, and even to the present day, people have been contracting malaria in that particular area."
Mr Chugg claims he can also prove the authenticity of a second contemporary source: a commentary on Alexander's journal by another man who served under him, Ephippus of Olynthus, which further strengthens his case.
"It is difficult to imagine how anyone could have been fooled into compiling the commentary at such an early date if the journal itself had been fabricated," said Mr Chugg. "Ephippus of Olynthus, who had served Alexander in Egypt, was the author of an indisputably genuine book about Alexander's death."
Alexander, who died in Babylon in the summer of 323 BC, was last year the subject of a Hollywood "sword and sandals" epic, starring Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie, as well as two biographies supporting the poisoning theory.
Bulgarian astronomers have joined the archaeological team TEMP excavating the Valley of Thracian Kings near Bulgaria's city Kazanlak.
The astronomers are set to make a spatial photo of the 15 found graves found at the valley so far. They will also have to disclose how the tombs were designed and constructed.
In the beginning of July archaeologists digging in the excavations of ancient Thracian tombs in Bulgaria disclosed the first for this summer Thracian temple.
The head of the expedition Dr Georgi Kitov said that the temple has been robbed in the ancient times. He also explained that the temple had two pillars. Data about that temple dates back to 1898 when the region was explored by the famous Skorpil brothers.
TEMP is famous for discovering some of the most sensational Thracian finds over the last several years. The team of Georgi Kitov has uncovered several Thracian tombs in the Kazanlak Kettle, which gave it the name Valley of Thracian Kings.
Last summer, the expedition discovered the sepulchre of King Sevt III, a mighty Thracian ruler.
After years of lying in cold storage, the mummified body of a young woman once thought to be an ancient Persian princess will be buried later this month by a Pakistani welfare group.
Found in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta in 2000, the body was at the centre of an archaeological and diplomatic dispute for two years before scientists at Pakistan's Atomic Research Council pronounced it just 20 years old.
Iran swiftly withdrew claims on the mummy that some people believed had been stolen by grave robbers from burial grounds of the Sasani dynasty, which ruled ancient Persia between the Fourth and Eighth Centuries.
Touted as a major archaeological find until it was debunked, Pakistan's provincial governments of Baluchistan and Sindh had also squabbled over whose museum had first rights.
But when nobody wanted it, the Karachi-based Edhi Foundation, Pakistan's largest private social welfare organisation took in the homeless corpse.
"It has been lying in our cold storage mortuary for the last three years," Rizwan Edhi, the trust's administrator, said on Friday, adding that preserving the body had cost $8,000. "We will bury it later this month as no one is willing to claim it now."
A lecture hall in north central Florida isn’t a cinch to be a popular sanctuary at the height of summer, but for six sweltering weeks, CLA 3160 was the longest, most excellent educational concert on the planet.
The first day of class, our teacher’s clip-on lapel microphone was busted. Screaming the unpronounceable monikers of ancient metropoli over 200 students’ chatter is never an option for timid classics professors.
After a few tedious minutes of watching the teacher’s assistant fiddle with the equipment, the prof picked up the antiquated hand-held microphone and apologized for the delay. Sixty seconds later, the TA fixed the lapel mic and all was roses. “I would have liked to use the other microphone,” Prof. Wagman said, “because it makes me feel like a rockstar.”
Imagine that statement in a thick Greek-Italian accent, a glossal combination that comes out sounding like a passable Bela Lugosi impression, despite Wagman’s obvious lack of Transylvanian experiences. It took a few days for my ears to cut through the exotic tone and actually understand (almost) every word he uttered, but deciphering his quirky patois was it’s own reward. Plus, my grade depended upon it.
Having spent too many high school world history classes listening to Leonard Nimoy narrate Discovery Channel documentaries about pyramids and various pharaohs, I was more than excited to delve deeper with Wagman’s instruction.
Lesson one: How to get to Egypt. “In case you don’t know, we are here,” he said as he pointed to Florida on a big world map projected on the screen at the front of the room. “If you swim across the Atlantic and pass Gibraltar into the Mediterranean, you’ll eventually take a right at the Nile Delta and you are in Egypt!” Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Soon enough, to my relief, he began revealing details about everyday life around the Nile that the documentaries left out. “The ancient Egyptians (which came out “oncient A-gyptians”) grew a lot of lettuce because they believed it to be an aphrodisiac,” he said. “And the rats were so big that they used dogs to hunt them.” And New Yorkers think they have it bad.
Wagman promised that every Friday would be dedicated to hieroglyphics. The first word we learned was “brother” and the second was “kiss” since only one symbol separated the two different meanings. “The nose glyph is the determinative for the word ‘kiss’ because the A-gyptians kissed like Eskimos,” he explained. “But they were not fools, the also kissed like we do.” Later, as part of a quiz, one sentence we had to decipher translated into “The lord loves the ladies.”
Our next discussion focussed on early pre-dynastic culture, the dates on the artifacts of which are determined through the appearance of certain styles of pottery. “This method of dating was developed by Sir W.M.. Flinders Petrie,” the prof said. “He liked to live in a tomb where he worked and he often excavated in his underwear.” Archaeologists can be a cheeky bunch.
One day, Wagman presented the class with the kind of material most of us were already familiar with: mummy movies. After displaying some cheeseball old school monster movie posters and screening the trailer for The Mummy Returns, Wagman said, “As you can see, Egyptology is where it’s at.” There really was a Scorpion King, but I’m pretty sure the Egyptian gods never had The Rock in mind.
Wagman spent half a class showing off his vacation photos from when he visited the Valley of the Kings near Thebes. He told us about hiking with donkeys and camels and everything else I dream of doing when I grow up.
After reading as much of The Iliad as I deemed essential and visualizing the slew of wonky Greek gods flying around and meddling with fate and history, I didn’t think theology could get any weirder. Then Wagman told us the legend behind mummification.
Osiris, god of the underworld, had a mischievous brother, Seth. Seth was the kind of guy who would loosen the screws on your chariot’s axle and then laugh at the resulting crash. One time, Seth invited Osiris over for dinner and showed off his awesome new sarcophagus. He asked Osiris to climb in and give it a try, but as soon as he obliged, Seth locked him in and tried to bury him alive.
Seth eventually managed to cut Osiris into thousands of tiny pieces (thus explaining why Egyptian priests dissected mummies) and threw them into the Nile. Isis (Osiris’ wife and goddess of justice), who was less than amused, spent a long time gathering up all the pieces and eventually “sewed” Osiris back up with magic. After that, Osiris decided surface life was no good, so he retired to the underworld, where he watches over the proper passage of deceased pharaohs to this day.
“That Osiris,” Wagman said, “He’s a good god, but kind of dumb.”
The coolest lesson Wagman taught me was to pay attention to Zahi Hawass. He’s the enthusiastic white-haired Egyptian guy you see on all those National Geographic documentaries. He’s the curator of the Giza pyramids and has compiled several fascinating coffee-table books on Egypt’s treasures. He recently gave King Tut an MRI and it seems like he digs up a new mummy every month. Prof. Hawass is the Elvis of Egyptology.
The day I turned on a new pyramid documentary (this time narrated by Omar Sharif!) and didn’t learn anything new, I said to myself, “You’re the biggest nerd who ever lived.” Then I thought of my professor and realized I’ve got a long way to go. But I’m working on it.
Latin, the dead tongue? Hardly.
Just ask members of the National Junior Classical League, which for more than 50 years has preached a love of the classical language among American teens and their teachers. The league now has 50,000 members nationwide, nearly 2,000 of whom gathered this week on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus for an intense spell of academic competitions, pep rallies, mythology-themed costume pageants and Olympic-inspired athletic contests.
"Dead language? That's a technical term," said Jeremy Walker, a high school Latin teacher from Crown Point, Ind. "That doesn't mean the language is not in use."
The list of Latin-inspired elements of contemporary society reeled off by Walker is impressive, from classical architecture, art and music to the periodic table of chemical elements and, that most essential tool of modern commerce, the dollar bill.
"Every time you spend money, you have Latin in your pocket," said Walker, referring to the Great Seal of the United State that proclaims "Annuit Coeptis. Novus Ordo Seclorum." Translation: "Providence favors our undertakings. A new order of the ages."
For Texas high school student Amanda Childers, Latin was initially a way to get a leg up on the classically derived names of body parts she'll need to know in medical school. The "dead" language quickly became alive in ways she didn't expect, fostering improved critical thinking and a love of the written and spoken word.
"If you take Latin, you can learn almost any other language," said Childers, 16, of suburban Austin.
At times, the NJCL convention resembled the two political parties' quadrennial events, with state delegates gathering for the league's general assembly through sartorial shows of support.
There were inflatable cows and bovine-horned helmets (California); bandannas and Lone Star flags (Texas); straw hats (Kentucky); and toy lobsters (Maine, of course).
Alvin Duggan, a 68-year-old retired Lutheran pastor from Eden, Minn., took the frenetic scene in stride. As the first NJCL president in 1953-54, he presided over a group that numbered just over 100 students.
"Latin is alive and well," he said. "Classics are anything but dead."
Duggan went on to study Hebrew and Aramaic in the seminary, a scholarly asset he regularly relied upon when crafting weekly sermons.
"Understanding these ancient languages gives you a concept of where we've come from - and where we could go if we understood where we came from," he said.
Anatole Mori, an assistant professor of classical studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, credits pop culture in part with fostering the resurgent interest in Greek, Roman and Latin. Movies such as "Troy," "Gladiator," "Passion of the Christ" and especially "Lord of the Rings" and the Harry Potter series enliven ancient civilizations for the masses, she said.
The number of classical studies majors at Missouri nearly doubled in the past year, said Mori, who will teach a class in mythology to 300 students this fall. Five hundred students are enrolled in another section of that course, she said.
"There's an immediate sort of indirect benefit" to studying Latin and other classical languages, Mori said. "They're transferable skills."
An annual athletics competition is to be held at Ancient Olympia in Greece, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said on Friday.
The men's and women's shot put competitions were staged at Ancient Olympia during last year's Athens Olympics. They were the first contests since the original Games were abolished in 369.
International Association of Athletics Federations spokesman Nick Davies said the first competition would be held in May, 2006. He said the events would probably be restricted to the shot put, discus and hammer because of possible damage to the protected site.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS from Yorkshire believe they may have found an ancient version of Harrods in the ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii.
The discovery of unusual fish bones in the bottom of a crushed ceramic jar unearthed from the ash has offered fresh clues to life in the city before it was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79.
Bradford University is part of the Anglo-American Project in Pompeii, a long- term exploration of a large section of the ancient city.
Archaeologists digging in a building until recently thought to be a soap factory have found the crushed remains of an amphora, a large ceramic jar, containing hundreds of fish bones.
The bones are believed to be the remains of a fish sauce known as garum which was popular in Roman times with the well-off.
Similar bones found in the city before have come from a different breed of fish raising the possibility this was a particularly unusual, exotic or expensive version.
The building it was found in was named the soap factory because of large shallow vats found inside which were thought could have been used to make soap.
But it stands on one of the main roads through Pompeii and experts now think it far more likely the building was a shop, perhaps selling luxurious items like the unusual fish sauce or a distribution centre for goods heading for shops in the neighbourhood.
Dr Andrew Jones, from Bradford University, said: "This is a unique find. It is of major significance."
One of the many questions left to answer is whether the fish used in the sauce were caught locally or imported from elsewhere.
Pottery experts will look at the remains of the jar to try to work out where it was made although that itself will not be proof as it could have been imported carrying one item then reused for the sauce.
Dr Jones said: "We talk about import and export today but 2,000 years ago the Romans were doing exactly the same thing. They didn't have big tankers powered by diesel they had wooden boats powered by sail and rowed by men carrying pottery containers."
Dr Jones said it was possible the jar was actually destroyed in a violent earthquake in the years before Vesuvius erupted with devastating consequences.
Garum was made from fermented fish mixed with herbs and spices and used as a table sauce or ingredient. The smell generated when it was made led to people being banned from producing it in their own homes.
Thousands of people were killed when Vesuvius erupted covering Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum in pumice and ash. The eruption was so sudden and completely unexpected that there was little chance to flee.
The volcanic ash has preserved the buildings and the bodies of people who lived there have left behind casts in the ash, creating a snapshot of life in the ancient Roman Empire.
Leading off and playing moral centerfield is Diogenes -- more fully known as Diogenes of Sinope. He was the legendary Greek cynic, ascetic and philosopher who made it into the Mediterranean Hall of Fame about 2,400 years ago by supposedly living in self-imposed poverty, dissing Alexander the Great and wandering the streets of Athens in broad daylight carrying a lantern while searching for an honest man.
His biography would include being captured by pirates, then declaring while on the slavery auction block: "I can govern men; therefore sell me to one who wants a master."
Diogenes would preach -- to the Greeks -- his doctrine of virtuous self-control; no wine, women or song. He took shots at the Athenian notion of freedom by pointing out that it was confined to aristocratic males. His message was that human culture is dominated by things that prevent simplicity -- money and longing for status. So when he died in Corinth the Greeks built a lavish marble column by his tomb while the home folks back in Sinope created bronze statues. Apparently the message still hasn't gotten through -- but it's only been 25 centuries.
Prostitution in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Israel was glorified or mildly tolerated, according to a new analysis of "the world's oldest profession."
The findings reveal that attitudes about sex, fidelity and women varied in early times.
Several scholars contributed to the analysis, which is published in the current Zmanim Hebrew historical quarterly. The Israeli news service Haaretz reviewed the journal in English.
According to the review, leaders spoke out against prostitution in the Biblical world, but prostitutes rarely were punished. Adultery appears to have been viewed as the greater evil.
"The Torah, the prophets and rabbinic literature were critical of the profession," wrote Mayer Gruber, a religion scholar at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, but he added that there is little textual evidence showing that prostitutes or their clients were punished.
Gruber said the word "zona" appears in the Bible and refers to a woman who sells sex for money. The similar verb "zana," however, signified a woman who had an extramarital affair. The Israelites disliked those who committed adultery, and a statement against adultery appears in the Ten Commandments.
Ancient Egyptians may not have even had prostitutes, according to Deborah Sweeney, who is a senior lecturer in Egyptology at Tel Aviv University. She wrote there is no evidence that sex could be sold during the age of the pharoahs. However, written and pictorial evidence exists for erotic dancers called "harlots."
She believes that prostitution in the Egyptian historical record only surfaces in the Ptolemaic period, 332-30 B.C.
Lisa Schwappach-Shirriff, curator of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, somewhat disagrees.
"There are oblique references from ancient Egyptian texts to women who were likely prostitutes, but it is not necessarily the same thing as, say, Hollywood and Vine," Schwappach-Shirriff told Discovery News. "Remember, Egypt had no money, so it was all on the barter system. It would be hard to trace sex for barley."
The early Greeks revered prostitution, suggested Yulia Ustinova, a historian at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Ustinova explained that prostitutes performed rituals associated with the cult of Aphrodite and served as intermediaries for the goddess.
Greek finishing schools even trained select girls in politics, the arts and other skills so that they might better mingle with wealthy men. Often such women enjoyed better lives than married women, who typically remained secluded at home.
Avshalom Laniado, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University, translated for Zmanim four Greek laws pertaining to prostitution from the early Roman Empire. The laws suggest officials targeted pimps, not prostitutes.
Emperor Justinian, for example, wrote a law for Constantinople's citizens in the sixth century.
Of pimps it said, "They journey to other countries and lure young girls, deserving of pity, with promises of shoes or some garment... They provide them with meager food and clothing, and invite others to fornicate with them. All the income generated by these bodily sufferings is taken for themselves."
Justinian practiced what he preached, as he chose for his wife an actress named Theodora who came from a poor background.
When she was younger, Theodora dabbled in what might be considered early Rome's version of soft porn. Justinian made Theodora joint ruler of the empire, where she helped to enact many laws promoting women's rights.
Venus, the Goddess of Love (Celeste Lee) sends Cupid to Earth to look for romance. He travels to the home of Dennis Dean (William Walling) in a little fishing village. Dean has two daughters, Moria (Mary Philbin) and Peggy (Alice Day). Nat Harper, a fisherman (David Butler), loves Moria but she becomes fascinated with an artist. The artist tells her the story of Echo (Lorraine Easton), along with weaving tales of Juno (Marilynn Boyd), Neptune (Robert Cline), and other mythological figures. But he is infatuated with Constance Lane (Phillis Haver), who throws a jazz ball which features the female guests in bathing costumes (perhaps the only true selling point of this picture). The artist turns away from Constance's wild life and paints Moria's portrait. The jealous Harper ties the artist to the rocks, but releases him when he realizes that Moria really loves the man. Moria's sister also makes a good match, and Cupid is able to return to Venus with a positive romantic report.
An American researcher on the trail of long-lost Atlantis said on Thursday he will lead an expedition next year to prove the mythological civilisation lies in the watery deep between Cyprus and Syria.
Robert Sarmast believes Atlantis did exist and that his quest is not a wild goose chase inspired by the ramblings of an ancient Greek philosopher thousands of years ago.
"All the evidence points here. This is where civilisation started," he said in Cyprus. Sarmast lives in Los Angeles.
Plato suggested that the civilisation of Atlantis was destroyed in a deluge around 11,500 years ago. The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is its pinnacle, says Sarmast.
Sarmast, an architect, says he has found evidence suggesting man-made structures on an initial expedition some 80 km (50 miles) off the south-east coast of Cyprus in November 2004.
The outlines of what he says is a long wall which forms a right angle were detected by sonars, scanners which use sound pulses to map the sea bed.
He plans to return to the site for a closer look by May, 2006 with remote operated vehicles which will attempt to blast away sediment on a selected site lying 1.5 km below sea level.
"There is not one scientist in the world who can explain these formations as natural ones," said Sarmast, who said he had clinched a contract with a Hollywood production house to produce a two hour documentary next year.
According to Plato, Atlantis was an island where an advanced civilisation developed some 11,500 years ago. Some also believe it to be Garden of Eden, where mankind fell from God's Grace.
Theories abound to why it disappeared, from Atlantis being hit by a cataclysmic natural disaster -- an event which is accounted in many of the world's varied ancient civilisations, to being destroyed by the wrath of Zeus because it became too powerful.
It is invariably placed in the Atlantic Ocean, the Greek island of Santorini, Spain's Azores and even farther afield in the South China Sea.
But the skeptics suggest Atlantis never existed anywhere but in Plato's long decayed brain.
Striking — startling, even — in the cramped hallway of MU’s General Classroom Building on Wednesday was Alyssa Lapan, a 17-year-old senior at Hickman High School. Wearing a dark dress and ornately painted in black and silver, Lapan was guised as Fama, goddess of gossip and rumor.
She was not alone. There were other Famas. There were chimeras — three-headed creatures that spit fire. There were sphinxes — creatures with the body of a lion, wings of an eagle, and the head and bosom of a woman. Even Oedipus, who loved his mother a bit too much in Greek lore, was there.
The costume contest was part of the 52nd annual National Junior Classical League convention held for the first time at MU. Jeremy Walker, a Latin teacher in Crown Point, Ind., called the convention, which began Monday and will run through Saturday morning, “a weeklong celebration of the classical world.” More than 1,400 teachers and students have come together for lectures, knowledge competitions, art shows, sporting events and dances.
In order to attend, Walker said students have to be at least 12 and members of local and state chapters of the Junior Classical League. Although qualifications for joining these chapters are set on the local level, Walker said students must have taken classes pertaining to classical subjects, such as Latin or Greek mythology.
The event is chaperoned by more than 200 adults, predominantly teachers of classical studies. Many of them are former attendees of Junior Classical League conventions.
Kathy Elifrits, co-chair of the event, is attending for the 21st consecutive year.
“I am distinctly not unique in that,” Elifrits said. “There’s probably 100 of us walking around who’ve been here for more than 20 years.”
Walker said people come together at this convention and bond quickly over a shared interest in something not generally considered a popular subject. He said the convention gives attending students the realization that “there are lots of us, and this is cool.”
“That’s what JCL is all about,” said Brendan Hurley, 16, of Norman, Okla. “It’s about meeting people who like Latin.”
Hurley is attending his second national convention after bonding with new people last year and having “a lot of fun.”
Some of the events the convention’s attendees can still look forward to are a talent show, lectures on classical figures, a tour of MU’s Museum of Art and Archeology and a procession across campus where everyone has to wear a toga.
Cory Pruitt, 19, is attending his first national convention but is already planning to return next year as a chaperone, when the convention will be held at Indiana University. He said his favorite part so far was Tuesday night’s dance.
“I don’t even like dancing, but I had a blast,” Pruitt said. “I danced with my teacher, and that was … awesome.”
Starting on the left of the shelf above my desk, you can see the white binder that is full of This Day in Ancient History stuff, my big Liddell and Scoot, and my big Lewis and short. The next books are in disarray because of an avalanche I had just before we went to Calgary ... the little baskets are full of yugioh cards which I'm in the midst of sorting. The two speakers there are attached to a clock radio that is perpetually flashing 8.00 p.m. because every time I set it, we get a power failure. I thought not ever setting it might be apotropaic for same, but it hasn't quite worked out.
Down to the desk, going left to right you see my cheap little tv/vcr combo which is perpetually on, usually with some news station. You might be able to see my mp3 player which I just loaded with a bunch of Father Fosters to catch up on when I clean the basement. There's a pile of recordable CDs there because I was trying to see if I could 'send' npr broadcasts to cd (like Windows Media Player suggested I could) to convert them to something mp3able, but it didn't work. There's also a pile of yugioh cards ... this was actually a duel in progress (I duel via email with a minister somewhere near Chicago when my kids aren't around). Of course, you see the omnipresent cup of coffee. Then comes the Dell laptop which gives birth to rc, Explorator, and far-too-many-emails for many people's tastes. Just behind the computer you might see a copy of the Sun (the supermarket tabloid) which has an article on "NASA Decodes Lost Gospels", which I never quite got around to reading/blogging about. The box from my new camera (Canon A520) sits on top of my scanner/printer (this thing has to move), in front of which are a pile of cd envelopes, a headset with microphone (my father and I play crib via the internet every week). Queen's grads might recognize the 'official' Queen's chair which is one of the best chairs I've ever sat in ...
If you're wondering where all the books are, they're in shelves in our loft and in a pile of shelves behind me. I can't boast to having near as many as some on the Classics list, but I think I am approaching a thousand or two (if journals are counted). In any event, hopefully showing you the 'shame' of my messy desk will sput me to clean the darned thing up. Maybe I'll post another photo when I have.
Bulgarian archaeologists have identified the Thracian ruler, whose tomb was found on July 23rd near the village of Zlatinitsa.
The king's name is Kerseblept, according to Daniela Agre, head of the archeological team, which discovered the ruler's body and a number of gold artifacts.
Kerseblept, who was a son of Kotus I, was an amazing warrior, Àgre explained.
He has entered many times in battles with Macedonian king Philip II.
He used to be an honorary citizen of Athens and had the right to participate in the Olympics Games.
There is a hypothesis that the golden wreath, found during the excavations, is a prize for his achievement at the legendary games, Agre shared.
It is more probable, however, that the wreath is an insignia of honour he received in a battle, the archaeologist said.
The unique Thracian golden wreath has been put on display at Sofia's National History Museum on Wednesday.
The entire treasure will be displayed to the public in the end of October, archaeologists announced.
The Romans appeared to have mastered toast. They brought toast to Britain along with the chicken and central heating. By the 1800s, many homes had hearth toasters - wire frames that could be swung into action.
Tradition dictates it'll be a mythological name. A Roman or Greek god. Or goddess. It depends on its orbit - objects with more unusual orbits are given male names (you'd think a male-dominated profession would save that honour for pear-shaped lady planets with naturally wobbly orbits).
A legend-soaked, mythological name is essential for an authentic, astrological back story! Of course, all the good names have been taken.
So we're stuck with minor deities like Minerva, goddess of cities, education, science and war. Yawn! How about Diana, goddess of wild things? Hymen, god of the wedding feast? No?
Unconfirmed reports suggest they'd like to call it Xena. As in, Xena the warrior princess, the nineties television show. The poker-faced science community does indeed have a sense of humour! Perhaps astrologists will put planet Xena in charge of dominatrix instincts, lesbianism and horseriding.
Personally, I'm holding one thumb for Discordia, named for the Roman goddess of, well, discord. The other thumb I'm holding in the hope that they allocate her chaotic planetary influence to my humble star sign of Libra. Although I'll never admit that I read my horoscope every day (and read it from a different source if I don't like the one published in The Star), it would soften the blow when I stupidly take its advice for gentle-hearted Librans.
When Mt. Vesuvius erupted on Aug. 24, 79 A.D., the people of Pompeii didn’t see it coming.
They were killed by the volcano in the very spots where they stood.
The Warsaw Community High School marching band and color guard are taking that historical disaster and using it for their theme this year.
Band director Mickey Ratliff said “Vesuvius” also is the title of one of the pieces of music they play in the show. Assistant band director Matthew Gratton said he looked for other pieces of music to go along with “Vesuvius” that presented what a volcanic eruption would sound like. Audiences should definitely have that feeling of a volcano eruption and fear when they hear the music, Gratton said.
The introduction to the performance is rather slow. Ratliff said the music then goes into a section from “Purgatio” called “Bacchanalia” that is fast paced and energetic. The next section slows down, but is a dance from “Vesuvius” they are calling “Tango.”
“It should be pretty neat because it involves the drummers,” said Ratliff, and one of the drummers does the tango. The show ends with another high-energy section called “Eruption.”
Gratton said some of the music interprets the daily life of the people of Pompeii before the volcano erupted. But the hardest part of the movement to pull off, he said, is their ballad, the “Tango.” Sometimes the hard part is not the pieces with many notes, but in making it musical, he said.
She and her husband, Roberto Lucchesi, and their two daughters moved in 2002 from a two-bedroom condominium to a small development that backs up to a lush pine forest reserve that once belonged to Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder.
Moving away from the Severiana way, along the path that begins where a post indicating no. 16 is situated, the Villa can be reached in a short space of time (the villa is fenced-off and can be visited by appointment). A few metres after the gate, the remains of a Paleochristian basilica can be found. Continuing along the path, at the sides of the road, the peak of the villa's outer walls can be seen. A few metres further on, you come across a large clearing where the remains of the so-called Villa "of Plinius" (Plinius the Younger, to be precise) are located. In reality, recent studies have revealed that the residence in the 'Laurentino di Plinio' was situated south of the Vicus Augustanus, corresponding to the ruins of the second Villa inside the Castel Porziano Estate, whereas the first Villa inside the Castel Fusano Park, is to be attributed to the orator Ortensius, who lived between 114 and 50 BC.
One of these villas is described in loving detail by its owner, the famous Latin letter writer, Pliny the Younger. In the Roman Mysteries, I assume that Pliny the Younger inherited the villa from his uncle, the admiral and naturalist Gaius Plinius Secundus, also known as Pliny the Elder. One day, Flavia and her friends pay a short visit to the old admiral at this villa.
13. This nine-headed monster of Greek mythology was slain, after a terrific struggle, by Hercules.
20. Which of these is not an Indo-European language?
a) English b) Greek c) Hebrew d) Hindi e) Polish
23. Name the more famous son of the Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca.
29. Name the son of Agamemnon who avenged his father's murder by killing his mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover.
a) Ajax b) Hector c) Laertes d) Orestes e) Telemakhos
46. Express 2005 in Roman numerals.
50. Who, in Greek mythology, was the wife of Zeus?
66. The ancient Greek Hippocratic oath sets ethical standards which are followed by _______________s throughout the world.
70. The Strait of Messina separates _____________ from ________________.
77. In Greek mythology a 3-headed ___________ named ____________ guarded the entrance to Hades.
85. Unrhymed iambic pentameter, the poetic meter of Shakespeare's plays, is more familiarly known as ________ ________.
94. Name the beautiful witch in the Odyssey who turned some of Odysseus' mariners into swine.
Nevertheless, Valente, a professional classicist and fantasy fiction writer, will put as much creative effort into this year's Blogathon posts as she did before. For her first Blogathon, she wrote the final 30,000 words of a novel of connected fairy tales, called "The Daughters' Tales," which recently sold to Bantam Dell Publishing Group. This year she's planning to write an adaptation of the Sumerian epic "The Descent of Inanna."
Two versions of Oliver Stone's epic flop hit stores today: the theatrical version has commentary from Stone and historian Robin Lane Fox, a behind-the-scenes doc called--wait for it--"Perfect is the Enemy of Good" (pause for snicker), and a featurette called "Vangellis Scores Alexander" (Vangellis!); the Director's Cut has all that, minus Fox's commentary and eight minutes.
Of the portraits of Cleopatra neither those that are supposed to be authentic nor those that are certainly known to be so, show similarity to the heads on the coins nor to each other. In a marble head in the Capitoline Museum one can perhaps discover in the rounding contour of the face, the regularity of the features and the strong neck, a similarity to our painting.The marble head of a dying woman with a diadem who inclines her head somewhat to the right and opens the mouth in a similar manner described by Bergerus and called Cleopatra, is probably a Niobe, to which also the classically noble lines point. A bronze statuette described by Caylus, which without special reason is considered a Cleopatra, Raoul-Rochette declares to be a Thetis.
Dawn Dunlap has traveled to big cities around the globe. She's worked as a financial analyst in Manhattan. She's studied ancient Greek pottery as an archaeologist at museums in Athens, Rome, Boston and New York.
But to this Cambria native, there's no place like home.
Dunlap was raised on hard work in her beloved small town. She remembers serving tourists who came to the Central Coast back in the 1950s and '60s.
"Every able-bodied teenager in Cambria worked in a restaurant or motel," she said. "I worked as a cook at the Driftwood Café and The Brambles by the Bridge."
In the 1970s, however, the world outside Cambria beckoned. After graduation from Coast Joint Union High School, Dunlap pursued a degree in archaeology. She studied at UC Riverside, UCLA and UC Berkeley, then at the American School of Classical Studies and the British School of Archaeology in Athens.
She earned two master's degrees, but she still wanted to push her limits.
"I applied to any job that would challenge me," she said. "I was a part of the baby boom, and you really had to prove why you were special."
She went to New York and applied for a job at Gulf and Western Corp.
"I just came from studying pots in school," she said, laughing. "I never expected to get the job."
Longing for home, she returned to the Central Coast in 1981. Today, she's a real property researcher, historian and rancher, raising Charolais beef cattle with her mother, Barbara H. Walter, 10 miles west of Cambria.
"I felt that I had seen what the world had to offer, and I just knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in Cambria," she said.
What was your first job, and how old were you?
My first professional job was with the Gulf and Western Corp. of New York. I was an information and financial analyst for Mr. Martin Davis. ... My job was to collect and synthesize information and financial data for all communications with stockholders. The most important part of my job was organizing the information and data for the quarterly meetings and the annual report.
I began working for Gulf and Western when I was 22 years old. I remained there for three years.
What did you like/not like about the work?
In the early 1970s, Gulf and Western Corp. was one of the early international conglomerates. It was headquartered in a 42-story skyscraper that was the sole building on Columbus Circle in Manhattan. ... The quantity and quality of global information that passed through its communication system in New York was phenomenal -- bear in mind, this was the early 1970s, long before computer systems, facsimile machines and cellular phones. ... It was an interesting and stimulating job. I was fascinated by the fact that at the time, a few dozen conglomerates controlled the world of international business.
How much did you earn? $45,000 per year.
What lessons did you learn from your first job that you can apply to your current position?
I am not sure that anything I learned at Gulf and Western is applicable to feeding cows or fixing fences. However, at every opportunity, I do encourage 20-year-olds reared in San Luis Obispo County to move to a major metropolitan area and truly try their mettle. Go after a job that seems out of reach for their age and experience. Challenge yourself while you're young. Learn your limits in the larger world and then, if you so desire, return to the slower and easier life in our area.
Is there anyone who influenced you?
There were 50 applicants when I applied to the position at Gulf and Western. I was very young, but eager, and full of energy. Mr. Martin Davis and Mr. Charles Bludhorn believed in my ability and talent and hired me. I shall be ever grateful to them for the fabulous opportunity and experience I enjoyed at Gulf and Western.
Not that you asked, but we've gotten to the bottom of why Air-India employs the man-horse centaur of Greek mythology as its official logo.
Air-India's earliest long-range planes were Lockheed Constellations, the first one taking off in 1948. With the new planes came a new logo, and the plan was go with a constellation theme. The centaur, representative of Sagittarius, was a logical choice because it suggested movement, strength, and somewhat resembled the farohar, a Parsi heavenly symbol featuring a winged man, like a guardian angel. The Parsis are a Zoroastrian sect of the Subcontinent -- of which Air-India's founding family, the Tatas, were members -- and their farohar is a sign of good luck. Furthermore, incarnation of the Sagittarius brings forth, in the mind of many Indians, images of the master archer Arjuna from the mythological epic Mahabharata. Whatever the exact reasoning, the emblem was adopted and has remained ever since.
Today's movie card comes of something I did manage to find in the IMDB, under its Italian title, Teseo conto il minotauro. I also note from another IMDB page that there is something called The Minotaur currently in production ... hmmmm. Since I'm putting these things up, I should mention that Nick Lowe has a web page for Ancient Greece in the Cinema, which y'all might want to check out.
I've always fought against nostalgia, perhaps because I'm so much given to it. Nostalgia affords the pleasure of an old ache, cherished because it is familiar. The Greek word nostos, however, from which our term (combined with "pain," as in "neuralgia") derives, is anything but pleasurable. For the ancient Greeks, nostos denoted a fierce longing for one's native place; our nostalgia plays with time, theirs by contrast was bound to place. "Homesickness" comes close but still falls short, for "home" conjures up not necessarily some sharply delineated plot of earth but the whole constellation of relations and affections of which home is composed; besides, it has a self-indulgent timbre, which is remote from nostos.
Odysseus, or Ulysses, is the greatest, and stubbornest, exponent of nostos. But Ulysses has also become over the centuries the very epitome of wanderlust. This contradiction in character is appropriate. Homer calls him a "man of many turns" (polutropos); that is, not merely wily, cunning, and tricky, resourceful, and unpredictable but, if I may coin a word for him, polytropical. Of all the Homeric heroes, Ulysses is the easiest to identify with. Because he is fully three-dimensional, he stands outside local time and place and is as liable to pop up in Dublin as in "sandy Pylos."
WHAT do you do when you find a Roman sarcophagus and want to know what's inside?
Archaeologist Mike Griffiths called in the Army Bomb Disposal Squad.
The stone coffin - one of the first of its kind to be discovered in York for decades - was found during a dig in the Mount area.
It consists of a stone trough weighing up to three tons, covered over by a gritstone slab weighing at least another ton.
Mike, of Mike Griffiths And Associates, wanted to get an idea of what was inside before lifting the lid off - for example, whether there was a second lead coffin inside the stone one or there were any valuables buried.
Army experts from Catterick were happy to take a break from their usual military duties to help out.
Staff Sergeant Phil Morley said they used fibre-optic endoscopy equipment, similar to that used by hospital surgeons, to get through a tiny gap between the slab and the trough and see what lay within.
He said the equipment would normally be used to get a closer look if, for example, a suspected explosive device was discovered in an enclosed area, such as under floorboards.
On this occasion, the device found silt which had crept into the sarcophagus over the centuries, and some evidence of bones. He stressed that the squad had remained on call to deal with any emergencies throughout.
Mike said there was no evidence so far of any valuables buried with the skeleton, which would have been that of a man of some wealth.
He said the plan now was to remove the lid, and explore further what was inside. It would be decided later whether to remove the sarcophagus.
The Hollywood production company TMC will undertake the documentary of the second expedition by Robert Sarmast, head of the Cyprus/Atlantis Expedition Project, who believes that Cyprus holds the key to the lost Atlantis.
Sarmast told CNA today that on Thursday he will hold a press conference where he will talk extensively on the production, where the structures on the seafloor will be broadcast live from his boat to a global audience.
He will also present the results of last year’s expedition by showing the sonar scans of manmade structures one mile below water and also announce the support of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.
Archaeologists unearthed a number of works of art including crowns of a prince or a king in the ancient city of Parion (also known as Parium), near Kemer village in Biga town of northwestern Turkish city of Canakkale.
Ataturk University Department of Archaeology Chairman Prof. Dr. Cevat Basaran, who leads the archaeological excavations in the ancient city, said on Monday that they unearthed four sarcophaguses (a stone coffin bearing sculpture and inscriptions) in the city.
''We opened two of those sarcophaguses. We found two crowns of a prince or a king who was believed to have lived some 2 thousand years ago, two golden coins bearing figure of the sun god and several other pieces of jewelry. Also, we unearthed 150 pieces of works of art during the excavations. All these findings reveal the importance of Parion in ancient times,'' he said.
The ancient city had been founded some 3 thousand years ago, and named after Troy King Priam's son Paris. It had been a significant city with its two commercial ports. There were a number of architectural structures, towers and four temples in the city.
The findings will be exhibited in the Canakkale Museum of Archaeology. Also, the ancient city of Parion is expected to be opened to tourism like famous ancient city of Efes (Ephesus).
Much of what ancient scribes carved in stone is lost to weathering. Among the hard-to-read are tablets from Draco, a rather severe politician who codified the laws of ancient Athens.
A new technique promises to reveal these and other stone scribblings using X-rays.
Scientists figure there are at least half a million Greek and Latin inscriptions on stones in various states of decay and legibility.
"Because of the information contained in them, they are invaluable sources for the historian, archaeologist, art historian and every student of institutions and life in the ancient world," said Kevin Clinton, a Cornell University professor of classics and co-author of a new paper on the technique.
Cornell researchers developed a process called X-ray fluorescence imaging to recover faded text on stone by "zapping and mapping" the inscriptions.
The group built a machine that generates X-rays a million times more intense than what the doctor uses to image your bones. An X-ray beam is fired at a stone, scanning back and forth. Atoms on the stone's surface emit lower-energy fluorescent X-rays, and different wavelength emissions reveal zinc, iron and other elements in the stone.
Historians know that iron chisels were commonly used to inscribe stone, and the letters were usually painted with pigments containing metal oxides and sulfides. So where letters and numbers are no longer visible to the eye, the newfound minerals trace their shapes.
Tests conducted on stone tablets 100 generations old clearly reveal writing that was lost to the eye.
The study of incised writing on stone and other surfaces is called epigraphy.
"This means restoring thousands of stones, including, possibly, part of the law code of Draco," Clinton said. "It applies to practically any kind of public document you can think of, including many laws, decrees, religious dedications and financial documents."
You've heard Draco's name referred to in phrases starting with "Draconian." He didn't make up the laws, but he was the first to get them written down. Back then, minor offenses carried the death penalty, and debt was a road to slavery.
"X-ray fluorescence imaging has the potential to become a major tool in epigraphy." said Robert Thorne, Cornell professor of physics. "It's just so much more powerful than anything that's been used in the past."
The technique will be detailed in the German journal Papyrology and Epigraphy.
Earlier this year, scientists said they were using a particle accelerator to reveal writings of the Greek mathematician Archimedes.
Since yesterday's Odissea movie card was so popular, here's another one from my collection: a French ad for the 1926 version of Ben Hur. I've got two or three versions of this, but this seems the most 'lively'.
Every pop singer makes a point of announcing that they were the school weirdo, who took up music expressly to "show them". Madeleine Peyroux's claim, though, rings a little truer than most. Meeting the jazz singer now, at 31, it's easy to imagine her as the unblinking, quietly intense misfit at her Brooklyn junior high school. "My parents were both university teachers, so it was a big part of my upbringing to be talking about Socrates and Greek tragedy," she says, almost as soon we've shaken hands. "Then to go to school the next day and try to have a conversation about this stuff ... And I was overweight and wore second-hand clothes, so to say I was a weirdo was an understatement."
A ROMAN bathhouse discovered in Colchester could have formed part of a huge state-run hotel, archaeologists believe.
The deluxe boarding house, intended for officials travelling across the empire, would have sat on the site of the current sixth-form college.
It would have been close to the town's North Gates - one of the entrances to Camulodunum, the Roman capital of Britain - at the foot of North Hill.
The location would have been typical of a mansio, a high-class establishment where Roman officials, travellers on government business and important messengers could spend the night, eat, or even just change horses.
Philip Crummy, director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, said: “There were lots of mansios in the Roman Empire, dotted around approximately 25 miles apart.
“We know that buildings in Colchester fronted on to the Roman street. But here we have found some remains well back from the street, so we have guessed this must have been a big building.
“Mansios were often found near town gates and often had detached bathrooms, like we found at the college.
“Also we have found a kind of plaster that is an imitation of Greek and Egyptian marble veneer which was used to decorate walls. This is often associated with government or very expensive buildings.”
If a mansio did stand on the site, it would have been used by wealthy and important guests.
“It is just speculation because we have only found a very small amount, but we know Colchester would have had a mansio and what we have found suggests this may well have been it,” said Mr Crummy.
“This also helps explain the detached bathhouse we discovered earlier this year. Most houses did not have detached bathhouses, but you do find them with mansios.”
Earlier this year the archaeological trust also announced the discovery of a Roman circus - a chariot racetrack - on former MoD land outside the town's historic walls.
Have you ever imagined what it might be like to sit in the Sabine hills with Horace on a summer afternoon? Enjoy roast pigeon, sip wine and speak about the Roman way of life, including the emperor Augustus!...
In the old days, quips our “Latin Lover”, the Vatican had a special office to write letters to kings and princes. An office abolished in 1968 under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI and replaced with a Latin Department on a par with other languages...
In the latest in a series of setbacks for the world's richest art institution, the California attorney general's office has opened a wide-ranging inquiry into financial practices at the J. Paul Getty Trust, according to a confidential memorandum.
The memo, written by the Getty's general counsel and circulated to the trust's upper management, said the attorney general has requested eight years of records relating to trust Chief Executive Barry Munitz's compensation and expenses, as well as expenditures made for his wife, grants, gifts to trustees and a 2002 real estate transaction.
State regulators also have asked for documents connected to criminal charges pending in Italy against Marion True, the Getty's curator for antiquities, for allegedly conspiring to purchase looted artifacts.
Times stories describing Munitz's spending, perks and favors for friends prompted the state's review, according to the memo by Peter Erichsen, the Getty's top lawyer. He cautioned 17 senior Getty officials, including Munitz, not to destroy records related to the attorney general's areas of interest and instructed them to preserve all communications with The Times.
The attorney general's office said policy prohibited it from confirming or denying the existence of an investigation.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who has led a national push for stricter oversight of nonprofits, called the attorney general's inquiry into Getty transactions "the responsible course of action." Under state and federal law, foundations such as the Getty Trust must use their resources for the public good, not private benefit.
"Nonprofit status is government-conferred and taxpayer-supported," said Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which is considering the first major overhaul of laws governing tax-exempt groups in 30 years. "Nonprofits have to abide by certain standards to enjoy that status. Public scrutiny is part of keeping nonprofits accountable for their special position."
Getty officials would not respond to The Times questions, but issued a written statement through their public relations consultant saying that it will "fully cooperate" with the inquiry.
"Counsel to the Getty has already met with representatives of the attorney general's office to ensure that information or documents responsive to any request are produced as quickly as possible," the statement said.
In the past, Getty officials have denied that Munitz's practices were out of step with the law.
They have also said the IRS recently concluded an audit of the Getty's 2001, 2002 and 2003 fiscal years and found nothing wrong with Munitz's pay, perks or financial dealings.
They would not provide a copy of the IRS findings letter, which identified other areas of concern.
Experts on nonprofit law said that, in certain regards, California's statutes are written more broadly than the federal tax code. For example, officers have a far-reaching "duty of loyalty" to protect nonprofits' resources.
The attorney general's office is likely to look for patterns of excessive spending or instances when Getty resources may have been diverted for personal benefit, they said.
The epic TV mini-series EMPIRE, a captivating story set in ancient Rome, is available on DVD for the first time ever on November 29 from Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Touchstone Television. In the tradition of Gladiator and Troy, EMPIRE is a sweeping epic with a thrilling storyline of politics and intrigue. Beginning with the assassination of Julius Caesar, which sends Rome into chaos, this exciting story is filled with the infinite power, greed, action and lust that defined the Roman Empire.
ONE of the most important Roman antiquities in Western Europe, at Brading on the Isle of Wight, was reopened by the Duke of Edinburgh yesterday after a £3.1 million mission to prevent its decay.
Discovered in the 1880s, the spectacular 3rd-century mosaic floors of an opulent villa, which remain in near-pristine condition, were threatened when their protective building was found to be unsafe.
Readers of The Times played a key role in saving the mosaics, contributing more than £100,000 after an article in 2003 reported that Brading Roman Villa was on the World Monuments Fund’s list of most endangered sites and English Heritage’s register of buildings at risk.
Engineers reported that the protective building, which was damaged by flood water during a freak storm in 1990s, was unlikely to last more than another two years. The charitable trust that owns the villa hoped for lottery funding to build a new structure, but needed to raise matching funds before they could apply. This was a daunting task on an island with a population of 134,000 and one of the highest unemployment rates in the South of England.
Kenneth Hicks, the managing trustee of the villa, said yesterday that The Times had raised awareness of Brading’s plight. “People as far afield as America and Canada responded as a result of reading The Times,” he said. “As a result, the new building was a rare lottery project to have finished on time and within budget.”
The villa is one of the few domestic Roman buildings in Britain where mosaic floors can be seen in situ. They depict classical scenes unparalleled in the Romano-British world, including peacocks, signifying eternal life, and Tritons, or sea beasts, carrying reclining nymphs. The villa’s luxury suggests that it was owned by the wealthiest of Roman Britons. Such is the extraordinary quality of the mosaics, and the rare materials used, that they have been likened to an art gallery in stone. Research at the villa has detected evidence of burning, suggesting that the villa was damaged by fire in about AD290. One theory is that the villa’s owner was Allectus, who in AD293 murdered his predecessor Carausius, a Roman army commander who had proclaimed himself emperor of Britain. Allectus reigned for only three years before he himself was killed.
A Victorian unearthed the site, which had been preserved under soil and leaf mould, after being shown antiquities that had been found in the area by children. The mosaics were thought to date from the 4th century AD, but new research has put them at 100 years earlier.
Kevin Trott, the villa’s archaeologist, said: “There are very few Roman villas of the 3rd century with mosaics in Britain; this is causing quite a stir.”
Further excavations are planned if funds can be raised. The discovery of painted plaster suggests that another building as important may be unearthed.
When the Duke formally opened the new building — an award-winning, single-storey, grass-roofed design by the architects Rainey Petrie Johns — he returned five Roman clay-fired flue tiles of the 3rd century. They had been given to Princess Beatrice, a daughter of Queen Victoria, in 1915 when she was governor of the Isle of Wight.
Still going through a bit of stuff that might be considered backlog, I remembered this photo, which my uncle sent me. It's the albino (obviously) fawn of a whitetail deer that a friend of his found wandering without a mother near Edmonton. It has since been put in the care of folks who know what to do with it, but of course, it put me in mind of Sertorius
The Lusitanians having sent for Sertorius, he left Africa, and being made general with absolute authority, he put all in order amongst them, and brought the neighbouring parts of Spain under subjection. Most of the tribes voluntarily submitted themselves, won by the fame of his clemency and of his courage, and, to some extent, also, he availed himself of cunning artifices of his own devising to impose upon them and gain influence over them. Amongst which, certainly, that of the hind was not the least. Spanus, a countryman who lived in those parts, meeting by chance a hind that had recently calved, flying from the hunters, let the dam go, and pursuing the fawn, took it, being wonderfully pleased with the rarity of the colour, which was all milk-white. As at that time Sertorius was living in the neighbourhood, and accepted gladly any presents of fruit, fowl, or venison that the country afforded, and rewarded liberally those who presented them, the countryman brought him his young hind, which he took and was well pleased with at the first sight; but when in time he had made it so tame and gentle that it would come when he called, and follow him wheresoever he went, and could endure the noise and tumult of the camp, knowing well that uncivilized people are naturally prone to superstition, by little and little he raised it into something preternatural, saying that it was given him by the goddess Diana, and that it revealed to him many secrets. He added, also, further contrivances. If he had received at any time private intelligence that the enemies had made an incursion into any part of the districts under his command, or had solicited any city to revolt, he pretended that the hind had informed him of it in his sleep, and charged him to keep his forces in readiness. Or if again he had noticed that any of the commanders under him had got a victory, he would hide the messengers and bring forth the hind crowned with flowers, for joy of the good news that was to come, and would encourage them to rejoice and sacrifice to the gods for the good account they should soon receive of their prosperous success.
By such practices, he brought them to be more tractable and obedient in all things; for now they thought themselves no longer to be led by a stranger, but rather conducted by a god, and the more so, as the facts themselves seemed to bear witness to it, his power, contrary to all expectation or probability, continually increasing.