ludi Victoriae Sullanae (day 6)
286 -- martyrdom of Quentin
He who is greedy is always in need.
He who is a miser is always in want.
The avaricious one is never satisfied.
He who wants always wants more.
(pron = EH-ghet SEHM-per kwee ah-WAH-roos ehst)
Comment: Depending on how we translate this, perhaps no commentary is needed! I
think of a miser as someone who always refuses to spend money on anything, and
so, by that fact, actually has a stockpile of gold hidden away somewhere. Even
if that is true, there is something about the miser that is terribly
impoverished. Perhaps it is psychological malfunction or some sort of
post-traumatic distress, but something does not allow him/her to use resources
toward the benefit of life—his/hers or anyone else’s. So, the miser comes off
as greedy, stingy, anti-social—clearly in need (even if not of money).
But I think the fourth version of the translation makes it most clear, even if
it is not the best sounding translation. The avaricious man/woman wants. And
because he/she wants, he/she is always wanting. Want has become his/her
paradigm for living. He/she becomes a kind of human black hole that sucks
everything into it never to be seen again—no gratitude, no compassion, no
return of deeds, no generosity. Only more want.
Little lines like this make me stop cold in my tracks. How often do I stop to
offer my gratitude to others who have enriched my life?
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day is now available on the web.
When tourists board the boats down Rome’s Tiber River they’ll have noticed they all bear the names of great Roman ladies. Among these “Rea Silvia”, the mother of Romulus and Remus and “Cornelia” the mother of Tiberius who according to Cicero was a dab hand at Latin...
Hiems in Finnia init
His diebus primae nives in maiorem partem Finniae ceciderunt. In regionibus septentrionalibus clivi cum anabathris aperti sunt et semitae sunt iam in usu scridatorum.
Peregrini, qui Finniam petere solent, ut athleticam hibernam exerceant, plures fore aestimantur quam anno proxime praeterito, quo centum quindecim milia numerabantur.
Commeatus vehicularis fit apud Finnos mensibus hibernis lentior, nam a Kalendis Novembribus usque ad mensem Martium vel Aprilem velocitas maxima vehiculorum in viis publicis ad octogena, in viis autocineticis ad centena chiliometra horalia circumscripta est.
Praeterea illo tempore autocineta propter lubricitatem viarum canthis hiemalibus ornata esse debent.
Latin will be taught in hundreds of state schools for the first time using a new programme designed to reinvigorate the subject. Hi-tech lessons, created by Cambridge University at a cost of £5 million, will give step-by-step tuition in the language, history and culture of the Romans.
Launched earlier this month, the initial run of 300 interactive DVDs were snapped up by schools in just one week.
Will Griffiths, the director of Cambridge Schools Classics Project (CSCP), said the enthusiasm could signal a revival in the number of state schools offering the subject, currently just 100.
"Latin has been under threat but this programme can secure its long-term future," he said.
"It can refresh lessons in schools that already teach it and give schools who have never taught it the practical means to do so." Aimed at secondary school pupils, the on-line course, which has 1,000 activities, including video clips, audio sequences and grammar exercises and tests, takes children up to GCSE level.
Crucially, the programme can be taught by non-specialist teachers, with students communicating via e-mail with classicists at Cambridge, making it ideal for state schools where there is a shortage of classics teachers. Only 35 are trained each year and most go into the private sector. With the number of pupils taking Latin GCSE in the state sector plummeting from 8,493 in 1988 to just 3,468 in 2004, the project has a lot of ground to make up.
Schools involved in the pilot said pupils were keen on the work, while parents regarded its provision "as a privilege".
At Saffron Walden county school, in Essex, Latin lessons have boosted modern foreign language learning. A teacher Rebecca Anderson said: "It has been a great success. A lot of the children have really taken to it. You can see they have a greater understanding of other languages."
An expert on cuneiform and a doctor have teamed up to find that medicine 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia was sophisticated and effective.
In fact, patients in Assyria probably got more useful treatment than anyone in Europe before the nineteenth century, JoAnn Scurlock and Burton R. Andersen told the Chicago Tribune.
Scurlock, who holds a doctorate in Assyriology from the University of Chicago, and Andersen, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Illinois, examined the available medical texts in cuneiform. They found descriptions of procedures still performed, like draining pus from the lungs and chest of pneumonia patients.
The book published by the University of Illinois has a formidable title, Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine, and a formidable price, $150. But its 900 pages appear to be full of fascinating detail.
While doctors were priests and believed that illness was divine punishment, they also treated night blindness by feeding patients with liver, now known to be rich in vitamin A.
Greek medicine, which became the model in the West for more than 2,000 years, was a step backward.
"Their best known treatments were bleeding, purging with laxatives, puking and starving," said Andersen. "We now know, of course, all four of those are injurious and very seldom helpful in any circumstance."
The best way to judge a modern recreation of ancient Rome - in film or fiction - is to apply the simple "dormouse test". How long is it before the characters adopt an uncomfortably horizontal position in front of tables, usually festooned with grapes, and one says to another: "Can I pass you a dormouse?"
The basic rule of thumb is this: the longer you have to wait before this tasty little morsel appears on the recreated banquet, the more subtle the reconstruction is likely to be. On these terms Rome, the new joint HBO-BBC series, does not do badly. It is not until at least 30 minutes into the first episode that anyone pops the dormouse question.
It is a cliche among modern critics that public fascination with ancient Rome is driven by politics and imperialism. Rome now equals America, as once it equalled Britain. So in watching the rise and (crucially) fall of the Roman empire, we can enjoy some entertaining analysis of contemporary superpowers - as well as indulging in the gratifying thought that their dominance too will one day end.
Occasionally, this is very obviously the message. Robert Harris was clear enough that his Pompeii had something to say about the modern United States. American viewers in the 1970s certainly took the seedy court politics on display in the BBC adaptation of Robert Graves's I Claudius as an allegory of Nixon's White House - a parallel which may possibly have been in the mind of the film-makers, but hardly of Graves himself (who wrote the original books in the 1930s). Certainly too, though with a different political tinge, Mussolini invaded Abyssinia against a backdrop of Italian movies celebrating the ancient Roman conquest of Africa and the heroic exploits of Scipio Africanus.
But as the dormouse test hints, it is not only geopolitics that is on the agenda of our recreations of Rome. There are dietary habits and the rules of consumption, for a start; but also sex, religion, luxury and cruelty - in short, cultural difference in all its many forms. For more than 200 years we have read about and watched make-believe Romans eating strange unpalatable delicacies in a position we associate more with sleeping; making themselves sick between courses in order to stuff in yet more (the old vomitorium joke); killing human beings for sport; and enjoying indiscriminate sex on the lines of a modern goat.
Alma-Tadema's marvellously decadent Victorian painting The Roses of Heliogabalus captures this nicely. A group of typically prostrate diners (guests of the emperor Heliogabalus) is surrounded by the usual Roman cuisine, and all the while is being smothered to death - literally - by a vast shower of rose petals. The message is not simply that Roman luxury was a life-threatening vice, but that the Romans ate the wrong things in the wrong ways, with disastrous consequences.
Why do we choose the Romans for these cultural displays? Partly because they are sufficiently familiar, and like ourselves, to be manageable; but sufficiently unlike us to be interesting. Not to mention the fact that, thanks to the Roman invasion of Britain, they even have a foot in our own home territory and can almost play the part of our own ancestors. This is where they score over the ancient Greeks. It is simply impossible to imagine what those white-robed intellectuals did at home, or that they were ever like us at all.
The answer is partly too, of course, that the classical world has always offered a convenient alibi for enjoying sex and violence. To have two actors on primetime television indulging in prolonged and (almost) full-frontal sex would normally be classified somewhere on the spectrum between titillation and pornography. Take exactly the same actors doing exactly the same thing, but pretending to be Romans - and it suddenly becomes legitimate, educational even. At the very least it is clothed in the respectability of classical culture. Many a 19th-century gentleman's study paraded a raunchy Alma-Tadema nude, safe under the fig-leaf of classicism. The new Rome series has an awful lot of bonking dressed up as "an authentic glimpse of the ancient world".
But there is also, I suspect, a particularly 21st-century imperative behind the rash of recent "Romes", from Gladiator on. In the world of publicly sanctioned multiculturalism (excellent, in many ways, as that is), popular representations of cultural difference have become increasingly dangerous and heavily policed. All the old ways of celebrating "our" identity against the peculiar habits - often the eating ones - of the outside world now seem a bit risky.
A BBC series which presented the French as garlic-reeking gluttons, tucking into frogs' legs and snails, or the Germans as a load of jack-booted cabbage eaters, might not end up with a prosecution but it would certainly prompt an appearance from the relevant ambassador on the Today programme, lamenting our dependence on these worn-out stereotypes.
This game of defining ourselves against the habits of the "Other" is a very old one indeed. The Romans did it against the Greeks (a load of over-perfumed intellectuals), the Greeks against the Persians (effeminate despots). We are now finding it much safer to look to the remote past - the recent past is, of course, another matter - for our anti-types. For that past cannot answer back, has no government machinery on its side (or not usually), and you can do what you like with it. If they were portraying a modern religion, the lurid, blood-soaked representations of Roman paganism in the new Rome would probably end with the director up before the beak on a charge of "incitement to religious hatred". As it is, it's only Rome, so it doesn't count.
But what of the dormouse test? Did the Romans themselves pass it? Did they actually eat them? There is here an uncomfortable historical truth for many a modern film director. Unsuccessful and temporary as the ruling almost certainly was, the Roman senate banned the eating of dormice in 115 BC. And as for the vomitorium, it was not a handy place for Roman over-consumers to make room for another course: it is the name given to a passageway through which the audience "spewed out" of the amphitheatre.
According to The Washington Post, Mr Libby, like Mr Cheney, "greatly admires the work of Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian who posits that warfare is an inevitable part of civilization, evil is a basic condition of humanity, and tyrants must be confronted by the harshest possible means."
La testa di un Satiro di epoca romana, databile fra il I e il II secolo dopo Cristo, e' stata recuperata nel corso dei lavori di sistemazione dell' area archeologica di Fiesole. Secondo il conservatore del Museo archeologico fiesolano, Marco De Marco, la testa di Satiro recuperata nello scorso giugno era probabilmente parte di una lastra in marmo decorata ad altorilievo pertinente ad un edificio pubblico di una certa importanza, forse lo stesso teatro. I Satiri infatti, a volte chiamati anche Sileni, erano demoni della natura legati al culto di Dioniso, i cui cortei e processioni dettero origine alle rappresentazioni teatrali. ''L'alta qualita' artistica della testina barbuta e con due corna - prosegue De Marco - e anche la sua iconografia possono fare avanzare un'altra ipotesi, e cioe' che non di un Satiro qualunque si tratti ma bensi' del dio silvestre Pan''. La scoperta e' avvenuta nel corso dei saggi preliminari precedenti i lavori di scavo all'ingresso occidentale del Teatro , dietro i due cosiddetti ''altari'' romani risalenti al I-II sec. d.C., quando e' stata rinvenuta una zona notevolmente ribassata, tanto da far supporre una gradinata di collegamento con il Tempio, ed e' saltato fuori uno strato di riempimento costituito da frammenti di laterizi, ceramici e altro materiale riferibile ad un edificio andato perduto. Il materiale recuperato, oltre a numerose ceramiche risalenti al I-II sec. d.C., contiene anche il frammento di un lastra decorativa in marmo con un altorilievo raffigurante appunto la testa del Satiro. Gli scavi successivi hanno dato alla luce altri elementi architettonici, tra i quali un rocchio di colonna in pietra serena, poggiato su una lastra in pietra e fondi di ceramica aretina risalenti al I secolo a.C. Sono inoltre stati rinvenuti altri due muri che fanno immaginare un edificio a pianta rettangolare, probabilmente risalente alla prima fase dell'urbanizzazione della zona in epoca romana e, a giudicare dai reperti, contemporaneo alla costruzione del Teatro, realizzato fra il I sec. a.C. e il I sec. d.C. L'edificio venne demolito e ricoperto dai vari livelli di riempimento nel corso delle trasformazioni urbanistiche che investirono la zona nei due secoli successivi.
In their decade-long investigation of the illicit antiquities trade, Italian authorities have amassed the strongest evidence to date that the most prized ancient Greek vase in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art was looted.
The Euphronios krater, described as one of the finest antiquities ever obtained by the Met, has been a source of controversy since the museum acquired it 33 years ago.
Italian authorities have long maintained that the vase was looted from a tomb north of Rome, but the Met has refused to return it, saying the Italians lack "irrefutable proof."
Italians prosecutors now believe they have it, according to previously undisclosed court records obtained by The Times.
The records include excerpts from the handwritten memoir of Robert E. Hecht Jr., the American dealer who sold the krater, a terracotta bowl, to the Met in 1972. At the time, he told museum officials that he had acquired it from a Lebanese man whose family purchased it well before a 1939 Italian law prohibited the unauthorized export of antiquities.
But in his memoir, seized during a raid of his Paris apartment in 2001, Hecht tells a very different story. Instead of buying the krater from a reputable dealer with a documented ownership history, he says he purchased it in 1971 from an Italian dealer, Giacomo Medici, who was convicted last year of trafficking in looted art.
Medici turned up one morning at Hecht's apartment in Rome and showed him a Polaroid photograph of a krater signed by Euphronios, a master vase painter of ancient Greece, the memoir says.
Within an hour, Hecht writes, the two men flew to Milan and caught a train north to Lugano, Switzerland, where Medici had the bowl in a safe-deposit box. Hecht says he offered Medici 1.5 million Swiss francs — about $380,000 at the time — for the krater on the spot, making a cash down payment of about $40,000. He then headed straight to Zurich, he writes, where he left the krater with a restorer before heading back to Rome to go on a family ski trip.
In this account, he makes no reference to documentation establishing that the object had been legally excavated and exported from Italy.
Thomas Hoving, who acquired the krater when he was the Met's director, said Thursday in an interview that Hecht's memoir is "a very important piece of evidence."
"It proves, as the final nail in the coffin, where it came from," Hoving said.
Hecht said Thursday that this version from his memoir involving Medici was a fiction. Medici, in a recent interview in Rome, also denied the account.
The Italians' new evidence about the krater's origins emerges at a time of heightened controversy over the ethics of antiquities acquisitions, with Italy, Greece and other source countries pressing claims for the return of rare items they say were illegally removed.
Hecht and Marion True, the J. Paul Getty Museum's former antiquities curator, are now facing trial in Rome for allegedly trafficking in looted art. Medici was convicted last year in the same case and is appealing a 10-year prison sentence. Italy is also demanding the return of 42 objects from the Getty.
Among the other new evidence cited by the Italians is a sworn deposition by True before an Italian prosecutor. In the document, also obtained by The Times, she said Met antiquities curator Dietrich von Bothmer showed her an aerial photograph and pointed to the exact tomb in a heavily looted necropolis north of Rome where the krater had been excavated.
The Italians say Von Bothmer could not possibly have learned this from Hecht's Lebanese dealer, who said he had inherited the vase from his father and did not know where it was originally found. Von Bothmer denies True's account.
Additionally, Italian officials said in recent interviews in Rome that two men from Cerveteri, site of the ancient necropolis, have told them that they helped illegally remove the krater from a tomb in 1971.
Finally, the Italians say in court records that they have photographs of Hecht and Medici posing next to the vase at the Met. Medici, the records say, has traveled the world, posing next to objects he has sold to major museums.
Toward the end of Hecht's memoir, he briefly restates the official version of how he acquired the Euphronios Krater from the Lebanese dealer, the court records show.
But Italian authorities dismiss this version in court records as "a story told to hinder penal and civil actions in Italy," citing contradictions in the account.
On the basis of this new evidence, Italian authorities have renewed their demands for the return of the 2,500-year-old krater.
Used for mixing water and wine, the bowl portrays the death of Sarpedon, a son of Zeus, in a rarely depicted scene from Homer's "Iliad." It is considered one of the finest Greek vases to have survived antiquity. Only about two dozen kraters painted by Euphronios have survived, and experts say this is among the best preserved and most beautiful.
Today the krater is displayed in a first-floor gallery off the main corridor of the Met's Greek and Roman wing among dozens of other Greek vases.
The museum refused to comment on Hecht's memoirs. In a statement, the museum said that in February, it requested a meeting with the Italian Ministry of Culture for a "full discussion of works in the Metropolitan's collection that were the subject of the ministry's concern."
"The Metropolitan has reiterated its request for a meeting on several occasions this summer, and looks forward to such a discussion," the statement said.
Acquisition of the krater in 1972 sparked a media frenzy and judicial investigations in both the United States and Italy. But the Met has clung to Hecht's official story for decades.
Hoving called the piece "one of the two or three finest works of art ever gained by the museum."
But he later changed camps and called it "a hot pot," writing in a 1993 memoir about his stewardship of the museum that he was convinced it had been looted from Italy and that Hecht had duped the museum with the story of the Lebanese dealer.
Italian officials acknowledge that the statute of limitations has expired on possible civil and criminal claims that could have been used in the 1970s to repatriate the krater. They say the new case they are mounting is largely a moral one.
But they also note that substantial evidence implicating other antiquities at the Met has emerged in their investigation, and they suggest that criminal cases targeting the Met and other American museums may be in the works.
Hecht, reached by phone at his New York apartment, said of the two versions in his memoir, "One is the fact and the other is a fancy invention."
When pressed, he said the story of the Lebanese dealer was the truth and that he wrote the other version in the hope of selling more copies of the memoir, which he wanted to have published.
In a lengthy interview with The Times, Medici denied having anything to do with the Euphronios krater and cast doubt on the account in Hecht's memoir, saying Hecht got Medici's age wrong at one point in the account. He also provided The Times with photographs of him in front of the krater and other famous antiquities and paintings, saying it was his practice to take pictures in front of beautiful art — not just objects he bought or sold.
The material in Hecht's journals is only the latest evidence suggesting that the Euphronios krater was the product of illicit excavations.
Days after the acquisition, experts called Hecht's story of the Lebanese dealer suspicious. It led to inquiries by legal authorities in the United States and Italy.
In the mid-1970s, the Italian government pursued an unsuccessful criminal case against Hecht. A grand jury was convened in New York to investigate the transaction involving Hecht, Hoving and Von Bothmer. The grand jury found insufficient evidence for an indictment.
Vespere promittunt multi quod mane recusant.
Many make promises in the evening which they reject in the morning.
(pron = WES-per-eh proh-MIT-toont MOOL-tee kwod MAH-neh reh-KOO-sahnt)
Comment: “It seemed like such a good idea last night.” Sometimes that
sentiment might be the product of the obvious—chemical influence—drugs or
alcohol. Or it might be the product of clarity. This proverb really can cut
two different ways. And it all depends on what “evening” means to us. I note
that the proverb does not conclude which side of the promise making was wise
and which was foolish—only that day and night bring different attitudes about
The popular interpretation will be that evening brings darkness, and darkness
implies all kinds of evil indulgence and influence. Hence, night time is when
people drink and drug and make bad decisions in the midst of drug induced
stupor. And, there are plenty of willing testimonials to back up this
There are mystical traditions, however, which see darkness, especially darkness
that borders on daylight—like dawn and dusk—as magical times, powerful times of
clarity which allow the individual to really see him/herself, to gain real
clarity about life, relationships and choices. What daylight brings, then, are
all the influences that interfere with such clarity. In these mystical
traditions, dawn and dusk become places of very important reflection and
meditation—the places to make good decisions, the places out of which we live
when the conflict of daytime arrives and makes us doubt.
I suspect that most of us have had these moments in the dark—when, alone with
our selves, we, even if for a moment, really hear, really see, really
understand. Later, when daylight comes, when social and other expectations
bear down on us, we doubt what we saw, heard and understood in the quiet, still
of night. Those moments are worth revisiting, and paying attention to.
Occasio aegre offertur, facile amittitur.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 449)
(Pron = oh-KAH-see-oh AI-gray ohf-FER-toor FAH-kih-lay ah-MIT-ti-toor)
The right moment comes along rarely and is easily lost.
Comment: There was a television evangelist who was on prime-time religion
broadcasting for many years whose theme was “miracles are coming towards you or
past you every day.” He would say that Publilius has a dim view on the right
moment or opportunity, and how often it presents itself.
I think that while I would not want to make a claim about miracles, and how
often they come flying by, I would also question the negative tone of
Publilius’ sententia. I find that the moments or opportunities that come along
in my life are the ones I am looking for. Let that sink in for a moment. What
are you looking for today? My own experience is that my expectations, hopes,
fears, wishes, needs, etc, tend to define and frame how I will experience the
people and situations around me all day long.
Likewise, if I can acknowledge these “things I am looking for” and gently let
them go, I will still have a day, still be in touch with people and situations,
and each of them becomes the right moment—each as it happens. And each, then,
comes with its own delightful qualities—as they are, to me, as I am.
I will agree with Publilius—such moments can be easily lost. It all depends on
what you are looking for.
Stultus nil celat; quod habet sub corde revelat.
The fool hides nothing; he reveals what he holds under his heart.
(pron = STOOL-toos neel KAY-laht kwohd HAH-bet soob KOR-day reh-WAY-laht)
Comment: This proverb raises questions for me. Is it intelligent to hide
things? Is it intelligent to hide what is in your heart? Is it stupid to be
transparent? Is it stupid to let others see what you hold in or under your
I can anticipate the practical answers. It is foolish to reveal everything you
know, because then your enemies will take advantage of you. If you keep
nothing back, you have no cards to play, no strategy. If you do not keep
secrets, then you will always be the loser to the more calculating player who
will see you coming for miles, be ready for you, and take you before you know
what hit you.
The practical response is very cynical, and I suspect, is how the many folks
would respond to these questions. It is a self-defensive response.
In western wisdom traditions, “the fool” is often the symbol of the Innocent one
who is willing to put all his cards on the table, take risks, leap over the edge
of the cliff for the sheer adventure. The fool does wear his heart on the
outside. Everyone knows who he is, how he feels, what he is doing. He has no
secrets. I find it no surprise that this proverb comes out of the middle ages
when the religion of Europe made the heart and the things in the human heart a
dangerous thing to have. One could only survive if one hid what was in the
heart and lived a life that conformed to what the church demanded. Remember
Abelard and Heloise? The Fool as symbol of covert wisdom arose during that
time in Tarot cards to remind those who had not succumbed that honoring
themselves and who they really were was worth the risk.
The wisdom of the fool is that he is still alive, still in touch with the very
energy of the life force that fuels the universe, and while he is often derided
by those who are more “intelligent” he, simply put, enjoys his life, and could
care less what others think—if caring means that he must betray himself.
Influentia avium diffunditur
Influentia avium iam ad portas Moscuae advenisse videtur. Narratur enim magnam gallinarum, anatum et anserum copiam ex illo morbo virali in regione Tula ante Moscuam sita perisse.
Apparuit illud virus letale ex eo genere esse, quod ex animalibus in homines transire posset. Etiam medici Macedoniae de uno casu suspicioso nuntiaverunt, Huc accedit, quod aliquot aves ferae in Romania inventae symptomata illi epidemiae congruentia ostenderunt.
Marshall Clagett, a scholar of science in ancient Egypt and Greece and the way it was received in medieval Europe, died on Oct. 21 at a hospital in Princeton, N.J. He was 89 and lived in Princeton.
His death was announced by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he was a professor emeritus in the Department of Historical Studies. He arrived to teach in 1964 and took emeritus status in 1986, but continued to publish, and at his death was working on the fourth and final volume of his "Ancient Egyptian Science," the institute reported.
Dr. Clagett's major work was his five-volume "Archimedes in the Middle Ages," published over 20 years starting in 1964. It covered the range of work and the influence of Greece's most famous mathematician and inventor, about whom little is known.
Archimedes worked mostly in his native Syracuse, the principal city-state in Sicily, but is believed to have spent time in Egypt early in his career and later corresponded with Alexandrian scholars. Dr. Clagett's achievement was to trace and document the continuity of science from antiquity, through Byzantium and Islam to the Europe of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
His volumes analyzed, interpreted and, at times, retranslated Archimedes's surviving treatises and examined them in a new context under subtitles like "Fate of the Medieval Archimedes, 1300-1565." The final volumes on the subject were published by the American Philosophical Society in 1984.
In the same fashion, "Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book" stretched over several volumes - the first of which appeared in 1989 - surveying the entire scope of the ancients' knowledge and mechanics. Volume 2 (1999), for instance, lists "Calendars, Clocks, and Astronomy" in its title.
Dr. Clagett was the author of "Greek Science in Antiquity," first printed in 1955 and reissued by Dover Press in 2000. It provided an inventory of Greek medicine, biology, mathematics, physics and astronomy, along with Roman and Latin science in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages.
Marshall Clagett was born in Washington and began his studies at the California Institute of Technology. Transferring to George Washington University, he graduated in 1937 and received a doctorate in history from Columbia in 1941. His thesis was on the history of science.
He saw combat in the Pacific during World War II, returning as a Navy lieutenant commander, and started his academic career at Columbia in 1946 as an instructor in history and the history of science. Moving to the University of Wisconsin a year later, he became a full professor of the history of science in 1954, and directed the university's Institute for Research in the Humanities from 1959 to 1964.
Novelist Margaret Atwood and Phyllida Lloyd first met in 2002, at the premiere of the opera of Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, directed by Lloyd. Now they have collaborated on a staged reading of Atwood's latest book, The Penelopiad, a reinterpretation of the Odyssey told by Odysseus's wife Penelope and her 12 maids (who were hanged by Odysseus on his return) from the underworld where they have languished for centuries. Atwood is to play the part of Penelope.
Margaret Atwood: Phyllida and I first talked about staging The Penelopiad last fall, when she was in Toronto directing The Handmaid's Tale, the opera. I had just finished writing The Penelopiad and Phyllida said she'd like to read it. We agreed it had a theatrical dimension, and when I was next in England we got together to talk it over. Various schemes were suggested, and finally we decided to do this staged reading. It's not a fully fledged performance and it's been done on a shoestring. And I'm playing the part of Penelope because I'm cheap - in fact, I'm free.
Phyllida Lloyd: I think we are always looking for an escape from the well-made play. This is not a play. It's not really even a musical. It's a very unexpected shape, and the venue - St James's, Piccadilly, a beautiful Wren church - is another unexpected shape. There's no stage: we've got to build it and create the underworld in a day. It's a journey, an Odyssey, an adventure.
MA [The Penelopiad] is dipping a toe in the theatrical waters out of which it came in the first place. Penelope's opening speech presupposes an audience. She is speaking from the world of the dead to the world of the living. She wants to tell "you" that she's not what people thought, that other people had told stories about her, but now she is down in the underworld she doesn't care about social convention, she's going to tell her own story. She lives or dies depending upon which version of the myth you are reading or listening to. But Penelope doesn't get as much airtime as Clytemnestra or Helen of Troy because she was not a tragic figure in the same sense. She didn't kill anybody as such, and she was not killed herself. Where Helen was very tall and extremely beautiful, Penelope was short and people emphasised her intelligence because she obviously wasn't as beautiful. By the time the suitors got around to her she was quite old for those times, so you know they were after the loot. I'm quite old myself, so I'm not at all worried about playing her. I haven't seen yet what the maids are doing; I don't know what Phyllida has cooked up for them.
PL There's something very potent about the idea of the 12 hanged maids - their parts will be performed by three actresses, who all sing beautifully, and are all musicians too. They are very big Margaret Atwood fans. We rehearsed today, and I had to keep reminding them that they looked at this empty chair [where Atwood, as Penelope, will be sitting] with reverence and awe, and that they've got to think differently. "She's Penelope, she's enslaved you. You've got to find more rage and menace here." So we are going to have to have a rapid acclimatisation. The maids have to play all the other characters as well - Odysseus, Helen of Troy, Penelope's mother ...
MA The mother of Penelope is a naiad [a water nymph], and we have yet to see, or at least I have yet to see, what the costume will be.
PL I've got to go shopping for some of the costumes in Berwick Street market. We are trying to be a bit emblematic, not too literal.
MA The book is in essence theatrical. It's a lot like the structure of a Greek tragedy, in that the central characters' stories are told in quite long monologues, then the chorus comment on the action. The book has the chorus line; the 12 women were hanged - pretty maids all in a row - with their feet twitching, which brings to mind the chorus line, except with a different kind of twitching feet. The singing and dancing in the court of Odysseus and Penelope would have been performed by slaves. Then the guests would be allowed to help themselves to the maids - they were entertainment, servants and sex toys all in one. Some of their numbers are written as songs, some dance numbers, some chanting.
PL For a ladies' ensemble, it is a dream theatrical project. You can show off your rap, your tap, your opera, your madrigal, your choral speaking. Women generally make up 50% of the audience, but they are seldom represented on stage to that degree.
MA It's surprising how many women there are in the Odyssey and they all help Odysseus, which is why I made him so charming. He's the kind of guy women like - he has a lovely voice, he takes an interest in them, he understands human nature. That's why he's so persuasive: he doesn't get his way by force, he's not a thug. He was fun to be around. That's why Penelope is sad he's not there. He's helped by women at every turn: by Helen in The Iliad, and by all the goddesses he meets along the way in the Odyssey. And then there's Penelope holding the fort while he's away. That's the kind of guy he was.
PL The National Theatre Studio has been very supportive of this project, and I think is keen to help us develop it in the future. We have many journeys to go on this. This is just the first.
MA We've been invited to put it on at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival next year. I've already said yes. But it's probably going to be an unrepeatable event, because we might not be able to get the same maids.
PL Maybe we will have more maids by then. Maybe we will have more each time we appear, until we reach the full 12.
MA Whatever they do, people are going to love it, because everybody understands that it's not a West End show and that it involves one amateur performer - me. The maidens will look great no matter what they do, because they are going to look better than me.
PL I hope to turn it into a fully fledged production eventually. For me, it may be a question of trying not to squeeze it into a genre that impresarios recognise as something that makes them feel safe. It's the very unstable nature of the work that I think could be its power. It's a question of whether we will ever be able to do it without Margaret Atwood as Penelope.
Construction of Greece's new Acropolis museum, which has dragged on for four years, will be finished by the end of 2006, deputy culture minister Petros Tatoulis said in a statement on Tuesday.
In June, after an unannounced visit to the site at the foot of the famous Athens landmark, Tatoulis outlined the delays in the project and called on the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum (OANMA) to accelerate the works.
OANMA's director, Nicos Damalitis, had given assurances that "the work advances in accord with the high technical standards and quality requirements" and that "all matters affecting its execution by the enterprise have been resolved", the minister's statement said.
In November 2004 Tatoulis signed a new contract for construction of the museum, which was supposed to be completed in time for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The three-storey building - 23 meters high, covering 25,000 square meters and costing €129 million ($156 million) - was designed by Franco-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi.
Construction stalled because of lawsuits claiming that the museum would destroy historic remnants on the site.
Residents, architects and Greek and foreign intellectuals campaigned against the project, arguing that the museum's bulk would spoil the World Heritage-listed Acropolis.
The project is a key part of Greece's strategy for pressuring the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles, removed by the British diplomat Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, in the early 1800s.
If the sculptures were returned to Greece, they would be housed in the new museum.
Qui fugit molam, fugit farinam.
The one who flees from the grindstone also flees the flour.
(pron = kwee FOO-git MOH-lahm FOO-git fah-REE-nam)
Comment: The flour in our bread, pancakes, cakes and pies, takes work. And the
grindstone is just the last point of work before flour appears. There is
plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting all before the grindstone.
This proverb, or those like it, are often applied to simplistic economics. If
you don’t get a job and work, you don’t eat. No one will argue with the
sequence of those events, but it is like saying that if you want flour you must
show up at the grindstone and do the work. It fails to take into consideration
the plowing, planting, cultivating and harvesting that produce the grains that
must be ground at the grindstone.
Work and productivity are the grindstones in our lives, but there is so much
that goes into the life of a person who shows up to work, and to do particular
Cultural critics often point fingers at the poor and at welfare recipients and
say “get a job”. They rarely are willing to look at what went wrong in the
cultivation of life for so many poor that make getting a life-sustaining job so
Today as I write this, our nation mourns the death of Rosa Parks. Here is a
life where cultivation, deep cultivation along the way of a woman’s life,
brought her to the moment when she was prepared to do the difficult work at the
grindstone. She made some damn good flour, and our nation has feasted at the
wonderful loaf ever since. I doubt we appreciate much at all the plowing,
planting, cultivating and harvesting that went into the life of Rosa Parks.
Rosa Parks did not just show up one day on a bus and decide on a whim to
challenge an entire culture. Somewhere, someone (or several someones, I
presume) cultivated a life. My deepest gratitude for her life, today. One way
or another, one direction or another, we are cultivating life. For what?
A sign taped to the concrete-block wall of Candy Hahs' classroom reads: "To learn a new language is to acquire a new soul."
If that's true, Hahs' students at Saxony Lutheran High School are acquiring a soul to which fewer and fewer young people in Southeast Missouri are exposed.
Saxony Lutheran is the only school in Cape Girardeau County that still offers Latin as a regular class. But at the end of this year, the classes there will also extinguish with the retirement of Hahs.
"Learning Latin is like putting a puzzle together. I've always liked that," said Hahs. While it's now more likely to be taught in parochial schools, Latin was a staple in public schools at one time.
Hahs taught at Central High School in Cape Girardeau until her first retirement. Latin at Central ended with her leaving because a replacement teacher could not be found for the salary offered.
Other local schools have faced the same problem and found the same solution: discontinuing the language.
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages reported in 1990 that 163,923 public high school students, about 1.5 percent, studied Latin. In 2000, 177,477 public high school students, 1.3 percent, took the language course.
But for now, Latin is alive and well in Hahs' classroom at Saxony. Some of her students are in their fourth year of studying Latin.
On Monday, Hahs warned her third-year Latin students to study the story of Romulus and Remus for an upcoming test.
"Think of it, you're part of a dying breed," she said. "You know how Rome was founded."
Latin was a required course at Saxony until this year. Many students continued to take it though, mainly because they enjoy having Hahs as a teacher.
But that's not the only reason.
"It's fun to learn where English words come from," said senior Justin McCollem. "You can take the same word and just change the end or beginning a little and it's a totally different word."
There's another reason McCollem signed up for the class. Next year, he'll be a pre-medical student at college and he believes the Latin background will help with medical vocabulary.
The students have found the language isn't as intimidating as it initially seems.
"Once you start learning, it really flows along," said sophomore Staci Floyd.
Hahs said the real significance of learning Latin is the vocabulary basis it provides.
"The students aren't going to go somewhere and have any long conversations in Latin these days," said Hahs. "The value for students is the background is gives them."
Richard Welch, a brilliant Harvard-educated classicist, had been stationed in Greece as CIA station chief only a few months before he was murdered, by a radical Greek terrorist organization called the 17th of November, in the doorway of his house in Athens on Dec. 23, 1975. Had Agee not divulged his name, there is every reason to believe that Welch would be alive today after decades of loyal service to his country.
Largely as a result of Agee's perfidy and Welch's unnecessary death, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) of 1982 was enacted, making it a felony to knowingly divulge the identity of a covert CIA operative. It carries penalties of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for each offense.
Pons in Freto Siculo fiet
Regimen Italiae decrevit in Freto Siculo pontem pensilem faciendum esse, quo continens Italia cum Sicilia coniungeretur.
Agitur de ponte in toto orbe maximo, quippe cuius longitudo plus trium chiliometrorum futura sit. Quae moles, si omnia prospere successerint, anno bismillesimo duodecimo (2012) in usu publico erit.
Eo perfecto iter ex ima Italia in urbem Messanam decem minutis confici poterit, nam novus pons non solum viam stratam latissimam habebit, sed etiam celeri ferrivia instructus erit.
Booksurge has announced the publication of "Homer Realized," by Martha Battle.
The legends of Troy and Ancient Greece have played pivotal roles in every phase of the modern arts, particularly literature and theater. One cannot speak of that period of civilization without mentioning the great and revered Homer, author of The Iliad and The Odyssey. These narrative epics were composed and performed nearly three thousand years ago, yet they are taught today, in nearly every high school and university in the world. When, in the late 1980's, archaeological digs were undertaken again at Troy, the centuries-long fascination with Greece led to a German exhibition in 2001-2002 that attracted 850,000 visitors.
A long-standing interest in Homeric epic is evident in Martha Battle’s "Homer Realized." Ms. Battle has written an engaging fictional biographic novel that imagines life in Homer’s time. Her novel probes the possibilities of Homer’s use of particular elements in his two great narratives and reveals how life could have been lived three millennia before the modern age.
In "Homer Realized," the author links Homer to the island of Samothrace and suggests that a cataclysmic earthquake drove him from Smyrna to Chios.
This novel is timely, entertaining, and a thoughtful addition to the collection of literature written to honor a genius about whom we know so little.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, embroiled in a fight with the Italian government over allegedly looted antiquities, now faces demands by the Greek government for the return of four objects authorities say were illegally removed from their country.
The Greeks have presented archeological evidence that they say proves the Greek origin of three objects the Getty purchased in 1993: a gold funerary wreath, an inscribed tombstone and a marble torso of a young woman.
The three artifacts, which date from about 400 BC, are ranked among the masterpieces of the Getty's antiquities collection. The fourth object that Greek officials are seeking to recover is an archaic votive relief bought in 1955 by J. Paul Getty himself.
The Greeks first lodged their claim nine years ago and formally renewed it in May through diplomatic channels. Officials here say that they informed the Getty before it purchased the funerary wreath and the marble torso that they almost certainly had been looted and smuggled out of Greece.
In renewing their demand, Greek officials acknowledge that they lack the kind of hard evidence that their Italian counterparts have used to launch a far-reaching criminal case aimed at stopping the international traffic in smuggled antiquities.
The story of the Getty's acquisition of the funerary wreath — drawn from interviews and Greek, German and American law enforcement records — provides a rare look inside the shadowy trade in antiquities.
The Getty's former chief antiquities curator, Marion True, acquired the wreath from a Swiss art dealer, Christoph Leon, for $1.15 million. Leon guaranteed that it came from a private Swiss collection. But a German police investigation later determined that Leon had acted as an intermediary for a Yugoslav and two Greeks, who had shopped the wreath around Europe in a cardboard box.
True first viewed it in a Zurich bank vault but walked away after she realized the men she was dealing with were impostors, according to internal Getty documents obtained by The Times. She went ahead with the deal anyway six months later, Getty records show.
When the Getty paid for the wreath, it forwarded funds to a Swiss bank account controlled by Leon and his partners, records show.
In an unrelated case, True went to see a bronze statue that days later was seized by Greek authorities in a sting operation targeting Greek smugglers. Police records show the Greeks initiated the sting after they were told by an informant that the Getty was considering buying the object, which was taken illegally from the Ionian Sea.
True's attorney referred questions to Getty officials, who declined to comment. In the past, they have said that the museum never knowingly purchased looted art.
The Italian government is scheduled in November to resume its criminal prosecution of True on allegations that she conspired with a network of dealers to traffic in looted art.
True resigned this month after The Times raised questions about her purchase of a vacation home in the Greek Islands, financed with a $400,000 loan that she obtained with help from one of the museum's main suppliers of ancient art. The Getty said True's conduct violated its conflict of interest policy.
After she became curator in 1986, True worked to build closer ties with Greek cultural officials, archeologists and members of the country's elite. But those efforts were undermined by the 1993 acquisitions, records show.
True was first offered the funerary wreath in 1992 for $1.6 million by someone identified as Dr. Preis, a man she had never heard of.
Two months later, Preis sent True a cable saying Leon, a dealer she knew in Basel, Switzerland, would act as a middleman in negotiations. Preis arranged to show True the golden wreath in a Zurich bank.
What transpired at that Zurich meeting isn't clear. In a letter to True, Leon apologized for the "disaster" and the "misbehavior" of the two men who met her at the bank. True replied that "whoever was impersonating Dr. Preis" had done "tremendous damage to a great object.
"I hope you will find a possible buyer for it," True wrote, "but I am afraid that in our case it is something that is too dangerous for us to be involved with."
Subsequent investigations revealed more details. In 1994, Athansios Seliachas, a Greek citizen living in Germany, told German police that two Greeks and a Yugoslav, L.J. Kovacevic, had asked him to be an intermediary "because I was credible."
Seliachas said one of the men told him the wreath had come from Greece.
He said he referred the men to Leon, who offered about $120,000 for it on the spot. When the smugglers rejected the offer, Seliachas said, he suggested they call True. He knew her name through his brother, an archeologist, he told German police.
Seliachas said he arranged for the men to have access to two friends' telephones to use in negotiating the deal. "Pries" later told True to contact him at the same numbers, records show.
Seliachas told German authorities that he heard Kovacevic talking to True on the phone "like they were good friends."
Leon said in an interview that the police reports were "in a minor fashion correct" and that he had discovered there was no Dr. Preis. German authorities came to the same conclusion, records show.
True, despite her earlier conclusion that the object was "too dangerous," notified Leon four months after viewing the wreath that the museum wanted to buy it for $1.15 million.
The Getty sent an inquiry to the Greek government informing it of the museum's intent to purchase the wreath, the tombstone and the torso of the young woman and requesting any information about the origin of the objects that might cause the museum to reconsider.
In response, Greek authorities asked the Getty to identify the owner of the tombstone. The museum did not respond, Greek officials said, and the Greeks later concluded that the object had been looted.
Regarding the wreath and the statue, Greek officials said they lodged an immediate protest with the Getty, saying the objects were almost certainly looted.
European governments have become more aggressive in prosecuting antiquities smugglers over the last 20 years as new laws and court opinions have tightened restrictions on the sale, export and import of ancient objects. Artifacts that lack a documented ownership history are presumed to have been illegally excavated.
Despite the initial Greek protests, the Getty acquired the three artworks for a total of $5.2 million.
In 1996, three years after the purchases, Yannis Tzedakis, then the director of antiquities for the Greek Ministry of Culture, made his government's first formal request for their return.
The inscribed tombstone could have come only from the region of Boeotia, based on the distinctive lettering, he wrote. The Getty paid $750,000 for the object.
The marble torso of a young woman, Tzedakis wrote, was stylistically similar to those in ancient Athens and even today is rarely found outside of Greece. The Getty paid $3.3 million for the statue.
The gold funerary wreath, he said, is similar to those made in ancient Macedonia, a part of modern Greece.
Tzedakis closed his request with a veiled threat, saying the Ministry of Culture would be "forced to follow legal procedures" if negotiations proved fruitless.
The fourth object sought by the Greeks, the votive relief bought by Getty in 1955, had earlier been identified in an archeological article as having been stolen from the Greek archeological site of Thasos.
Since the Greeks' original demand, additional information has surfaced about the origins of the objects.
Getty documents show the museum purchased the sculpted torso of the young woman from Robin Symes, a London dealer who has been implicated in the Italian criminal case against True.
In addition, Polaroid photographs of the sculpture were seized during a raid on the Geneva warehouse of a dealer who was convicted last year in the Italian investigation.
The Polaroid photos show antiquities encrusted with dirt and unrestored — proof, the Italians say, that they had been excavated recently, therefore illegally.
After the sale of the funerary wreath, True's name came up again in a second police investigation. It grew out of the Greek art squad's surveillance of a network that smuggled looted items out of the country in container ships and vegetable trucks to the European antiquities market operating in Switzerland, Germany and Holland, officials said.
Waiting in those countries were Greek nationals who helped sell the objects. They worked through well-established vendors who would often launder looted objects by providing invented ownership histories, or provenance, to create the necessary cover required by museums and other high-end buyers, officials said.
In the mid-1990s, the squad tracked reports that an ancient bronze recovered from the Ionian Sea was working its way through the network. Repeated attempts to seize the statue as it moved through Europe had failed.
In May 1998, the art squad sent an undercover officer to Germany to participate in a sting aimed at recovering the bronze. In requesting money and a plane ticket for the officer, the art squad said speed was of the essence because True had flown to Germany to see the statue and might buy it.
"If you don't issue a ticket and give him the money, then there's a possibility … this object is going to be bought by the curator of the Paul Getty Museum," the request said. "She is now in Germany to see the object."
Records show True arranged to see the bronze in Leon's apartment in Basel, in May 1998. It was unrestored, oxidized and barnacle-encrusted, police photos show.
Leon confirmed that True saw the piece but said her visit was "based on archeological interest" and that she never intended to buy it.
Days after True saw the object, the Greek art squad arrested Michail Kotsaridis, a Greek citizen, and three accomplices and retrieved the statue from the trunk of a car.
Kotsaridis and another man were convicted of smuggling the statue and are in prison, Greek authorities said.
The art squad passed information about the Getty's interest in the statue to the public prosecutor of Athens.
A July 1998 cable from the squad said that True and Leon had exchanged faxes about the deal and that Leon had demanded a $1-million commission. The cable said the Getty was interested in buying the piece for $6 million.
Three months after the smugglers' arrest, the FBI questioned True.
"Dr. True insisted that the Getty was not going to buy this object, but she wanted very much and was very interested to personally see it," according to an FBI report to Greek authorities. The report said True was "suspicious in regard to the provenance of the object."
Damnant quod non intellegunt.
(Anonymous; but cf. Quintillian Institutions 10.1.20)
They condemn what they do not understand.
(pron = DAHM-nahnt kwod nohn in-TEL-leh-goont)
Comment: There is not space for all of the examples that we might give of this
little proverb (which, my source says is anonymous, but which I found a version
of in Quintillian).
This is an idea that I have encountered often in Buddhist writings—that
suffering and harm stem from ignorance. So often I see this in situations
where people have polarized on an issue. Both sides condemn the other; neither
can see or hear the other’s perspective; neither is willing. Ignorance of the
other’s view, experience and perspective makes it easier to condemn the other.
This proverb offers a simple and powerful self-test. As I prepare to condemn
someone or their idea (or write them off, dismiss them, etc) I can ask: do I
condemn because of what I do not know?
Filius regius in Dania natus
Mary, principissa hereditaria Daniae, postridie Idus Octobres (16.10) filium peperit coniuge Frederico in puerperio praesente.
Praeco aulicus, dum de nova re refert, et parvulum et matrem bene valere nuntiavit. Qui puer, primigenitus utriusque parentis, in ordine successionis regni secundus a patre suo numeratur.
Infans regius recens natus in Dania more translaticio celebrabatur classicis canentibus, vexillis publice propositis, ignibus ad signum accensis.
O TEMPORA, o mores! The rolling thunder that is the Latin language is in such trouble, even in its last redoubt, the heirarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, that cardinals and bishops have begged Pope Benedict XVI to put it on a life support machine.
The Princes of the Church appear to have the same problem that bedevilled generations of baffled English schoolboys battling their way across the three divided parts of Gaul with Julius Caesar — they don’t speak it, read it or understand it. And while the grandly dressed and highly respected congregation at the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops may not have to write out 100 times Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres as a punishment for their ignorance, they appear now to be at least as embarrassed as any ink-stained duffer who confuses the vocative with the nominative.
When Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice, opened the synod, he gave his address entirely in Latin, sending many of the 241 participants rushing for headsets to hear a translation. Nothing could have better illustrated the Church’s fading proficiency in its own language.
To help bishops to follow the written text in front of them, Scola gave his audience useful pointers, such as, “paginam decimam quartam”. For many, this was of little help. It was clear that some kind of extra tuition was needed. So yesterday, after the three-week gathering had helped to demonstrate how serious was the need for a simple means of communication across the language barriers amidst the Church’s international flock, the synod called on the Pope to help to stop Latin falling entirely into disuse.
One of the synod’s 50 “propositions” to the Pope is that the language should feature prominently in Masses at major international events, where Catholics speaking many different languages are present.
It is expected to appeal to the Pope, who in June invited Catholics to pray in Latin whenever possible, emphasising its universal dimension. “Latin makes it easier for Christians from different countries to pray together, especially when they meet for special occasions,” he said .
Although ever fewer people outside the Vatican understand Latin, the language is used for papal encyclicals and other important Church documents.
There are few, even in the Church, who can speak it fluently. The tradition at Vatican synods of having at least one discussion group work in Latin was abandoned this year.
According to reports, only one synod participant spoke Latin every time he took the microphone: Latvian Cardinal Janis Pujats, the Archbishop of Riga. He did the same at the previous synod in 2001, when a disconsolate Pope John Paul II commented: “Paupera lingua latina, ultimum refugium habet in Riga” (Poor Latin, it has its last refuge in Riga).
The next time a Pope makes a joke in Latin, perhaps more of his cardinals and bishops will understand him.
De lupis in Finnia viventibus
Plerique Finni censent in finibus suis iam satis luporum vagari, cum numerus eorum hodie circiter ducentorum sit.
Benignissimo animo in has bestias sunt adulescentes viginti quinque annis minores, sed cives seniores, praesertim qui rude donati sunt, expansioni eorum vehementer adversantur.
Commissio Europaea nuper Finnos accusavit, quod lupos illegaliter occidissent. Sunt, qui putent Commissionem flagitare, ut in silvis Finniae etiam mille lupi vivere sinantur.
Our “Latin Lover” describes Horace as a kindly figure who helped the up and coming young men of literary ambition of his day. A friendly image enhanced by the knowledge it was this same Latin author to invent that charming “fabula” of the country mouse and the town mouse...
Christopher Logue (b1926) has been working on his acclaimed mosaic of versions from Homer’s Iliad since 1959, when he began with a commission from BBC radio. This fifth and penultimate extract, Cold Calls, deals with the crisis faced by the Greek army when its champion Achilles angrily withdraws from combat after Agamemnon, the commander-in-chief, steals the slave girl Briseis from him. It closes with Achilles’ s ultimatum to the desperate Greek envoys. Unless he receives satisfaction he will sail home and leave them to the currently rampant Trojans.
Logue is not a classicist and began without knowing Greek. Of the work as a whole, he has commented that he hoped he was writing “a poem in English” rather than attempting a faithful reproduction of the original, and in support has cited Samuel Johnson’s belief that “We must try its effect as an English poem . . . that is the way to judge of the merit of a translation.” There are those who might disagree with the broad permission thus granted. Logue cuts, reorganises and is at times cheerfully anachronistic: the goddess Aphrodite, for example, mother of the Trojan prince Aeneas, is called here “Our Lady of the thong”, while the gods in general behave like a ghastly family of celebrities — and are the least interesting feature of the book. But if we side with Johnson it is clear that what Logue writes has a compelling life of its own, particularly in its unmediated savagery. It is difficult to convey the horror of violence afresh, but Logue appears to understand the unapologetic, craftsmanly attitude of a warrior society. Here Aeneas beheads an opponent: “Took his head off his spine with a backhand slice — / Beautiful stuff . . . straight from the blade . . . / Still, as it was a special head, / Mowgag, Aeneas’ minder — / right as a box of rocks, but musical — / Spiked it, then hoisted it . . . twizzling the pole / Beneath the blue, the miles of empty air”.
That gleeful celebration of atro-city speaks to our own age, from Stalingrad to Chechnya and Iraq. Both Quentin Tarantino and bad British gangster films attempt an equivalent swagger, only to end up with a pose. In this Iliad, however, there is no escape into alleged irony. Nobody leaves before the end, and there is nowhere else to be but on the plain before Troy.
It must be tempting to produce a richly decorative version of The Iliad, full of local flourishes and curlicues. In Cold Calls, Logue’s economy is severe: nothing is present solely on its own account; everything serves the complete, chilling effect. His work has been called cinematic, and in an austere, functional sense this is true, as in the chariot-borne spear-duel between Hector and Diomedes: “Those skewers trading brilliance as they passed — / And missed — both vehicles slither-straightening”.
The poem comes back over and over again to the blood-soaked killing ground between Troy and the sea, dramatising the double time-scale: on the one hand the daily grind and uproar of fresh battle, on the other the slipping-away of 10 years in virtual stalemate. War becomes a machine for reproducing itself, while the Greek commanders squabble on their hill of bones. In Achilles’s response to the pleas for him to return to battle, Logue imports a Tennysonian note in such a way as to upend it, to complex effect: “My mother says I have a choice: / Live as a happy backwoods king for aye; / Or give the world an everlasting murmur of my name, / And die. / Be up tomorrow sharp / To see me sacrifice to Lord Poseidon and set sail.”
Achilles must serve as his own mourner. Colonel Tim Collins would understand this blend of the sentimental and the authentic, as well as knowing its effect on the like-minded.
There is nothing in Cold Calls that quite rivals Logue’s amazing rendering of Achilles’s fight with the river Scamander in Book XXI, whose lavishness makes plain that his methods elsewhere are the result of choice rather than limitation. But this is hardly Logue’s fault. The question now is how long we must wait for the appearance of the whole of his version in a single edition.
It wasn't exactly the ancient siege of Syracuse, but rather a curious quest for scientific validation.
According to sparse historical writings, the Greek mathematician Archimedes torched a fleet of invading Roman ships by reflecting the sun's powerful rays with a mirrored device made of glass or bronze.
More than 2,000 years later, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona set out to recreate Archimedes' fabled death ray Saturday in an experiment sponsored by the Discovery Channel program "MythBusters."
Their attempts to set fire to an 80-year-old fishing boat using their own versions of the device, however, failed to either prove or dispel the myth of the solar death ray.
The MIT team's first attempt with their contraption made of 300 square feet of bronze and glass failed to ignite a fire from 150 feet away. It produced smoldering on the boat's wooden surface but no open flame. A second attempt from about 75 feet away lit only a small fire that burned itself out.
Mike Bushroe of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory tried a mirrored system shaped like flower petals, but it failed to produce either smoke or flames.
Peter Rees, executive producer of "MythBusters," said the experiment showed Archimedes' death ray was most likely a myth.
"We're not saying it can't be done," Rees said. "We're just saying it's extremely impractical as a weapon of war."
The experiment showed it may be technically possible, but didn't answer whether Archimedes used it to destroy enemy ships, MIT professor David Wallace said.
"Who can say whether Archimedes did it or not?" he said. "He's one of the great mathematical minds in history. I wouldn't want to underestimate his intelligence or ability."
Historical text describes Archimedes defeating a Roman fleet using the ray.
MORE Roman gold is found in Britain than anywhere else - and now a Welsh academic has come up with an intriguing theory explaining why.
Thousands of gold and silver artifacts from the Roman period, especially when the conquerors finally left these islands in the 4th and 5th centuries.
Dr Peter Guest, of Cardiff University's School of History and Archaeology, is the leading expert on the biggest ever Roman gold treasure discovered in Britain. In 1992, 15,000 gold and silver coins were found at Hoxne in Suffolk in 1992.
In a lecture, Dr Guest is to propose that the large amounts of Roman gold and silver buried beneath our feet could be because something happened in the late Empire similar to the abolition of the gold standard in the 1930s.
He explained, "The Hoxne treasure is the biggest collection of gold and silver from anywhere in the world.
"A very small part of eastern England produces more gold and silver in the ground than Italy, Greece, Syria or North Africa.
"The amount deposited in the ground is substantial compared to the rest of the world. Why that is remains a mystery. Why is there so much precious metal from that particular period in Britain?"
Dr Guest explained that the gold mostly comes from a 50-year period towards the end of Roman occupation.
He said, "Before then, Britain is not very special, but in that 50-year phase, which coincides with the end of Roman control, lots of stuff is found.
"It normally consists of gold jewellery, spoons, toothpicks, thousands of coins and other items. I think connected to the fact that the Roman administration in Britain stops around 400 to 410 and the fact that the separation Britain experienced from the Roman Empire would have been so sudden.
"We had been part of the Empire for 350 years by that time, which is a very long time.
"It happened very suddenly and it might have been quite violent and one of the reasons for the huge amount of gold and silver is related to this separation.
"People weren't able to leave Britain and move somewhere else or weren't able to reuse it and recycle it and for some reason it has just stayed there." A theory already exists that people buried the treasure because of invasion from the Angles and Saxons of northern Germany.
Dr Guest said, " It is based on the Angles, Saxons and German groups coming over via the North Sea conquering eastern England, forcing all this gold and silver to be buried .
"The reason for that would have been people were being forced into slavery or killed.
"I think there is an element of truth in that but to blame the collapse of Roman gold on the Saxons is unfair. They wanted to come over here and live like the Romans, there was no point in them destroying everything.
"We need to be more careful and sophisticated in the way we approach this. The period we are looking at was known as the Dark Ages, there is very little archeological or historical evidence from the time."
Another Roman site, north of Kenitra and not so very far from Volubilis, is Thamusida, and this was also on the INSAP programme.
This is the last of a series of five articles based on an exhibition on recent archaeological research in Morocco. The exhibition was held in Rabat at the end of December 2004.
This site, mainly Roman but with a long earlier history, was excavated in the 1930s, 1950s and again in 1959-62. It has recently been the object of a five-year Morocco-Italian project, involving archaeologists from INSAP and Sienna University.
The programme envisaged excavation but also the application and experimentation of non-destructive methods – an excavation inevitably destroying layers as it goes down. The project aimed to reconstruct the history of the town from the first human establishment up to the Islamic period. Magnetometric prospection has in fact revealed a large part of the site's monuments still underground and, consequently, not visible.
The sequence of events at Thamusida was complex. Stone tools, dating from 59,000, 10,000 and 6,000 BC, showed that the hill of the Sidi Ali ben Ahmed marabout in the centre of the site was inhabited in prehistoric times. Then there seems to have been a gap in occupation, since the first recognised village dates to the second half of the 3rd century BC. Bowls and a great many amphora indicated that the inhabitants of Thamusida traded with other centres of the western Mediterranean, especially with Spain and Italy.
In 40 AD, when the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana was created, the village was destroyed by military operations. An army camp was then built, followed by a small new town. The new settlement had all the usual Roman requirements: houses, baths and temples. However, the Forum, an important monument in any Roman town, has not yet been found.
For Rome, Thamusida served to control the Empire's frontiers and to manage the agricultural and productive activities of the Gharb. This region was important since it regularly sent great quantities of wheat to Rome (about 1,000 tons a year).
In the second half of the 2nd century AD, the built-up area was surrounded by ramparts. But in the 3rd century AD, the Roman army withdrew, as part of their general policy of retiring from outlying areas. However, the town continued to be occupied. The old walls, which had remained standing until the 18th century, collapsed as a result of the Lisbon earthquake in 1755.
Excavations started here as early as 1915 and have been continued almost every year ever since. The site is often used as part of the training of young archaeologists from the Rabat archaeological institute.
INSAP and University College London's Institute of Archaeology have recently taken up work in the south-west corner of the town. However, the research is not now concerned with Roman times - it concentrates on the post-Roman occupation of the town, evacuated by the Romans at the end of the 3rd century AD. Around 284-285, Rome was forced to abandon its province of Mauretania Tingitana, due to endless pressure from the surrounding tribes. But the end of the Roman occupation did not mean the end of Volubilis, since the town continued to be inhabited for many centuries.
In this perspective, the current work aims to collect information on the Islamic occupation layers, and to define the Islamic urban characteristics and extent of the medieval town.
The state of conservation of the buildings and the mosaics is also being studied, in order to integrate them in a general site management plan.
Magnetic surveying was carried out on the western part of the site, not far from the ramparts and in the immediate neighbourhood of the Islamic thermal baths. This prospection showed structures oriented differently from the Roman ones, giving rise to reflexions on the urbanisation and occupation of the site during the Islamic period.
Current research also aims at revealing the northern remains of the site, to the north-west of the Triomphal Arch of Caracalla, which show the extent of the town during the Idrissid period, which then occupied the whole of the western zone.
Post-Roman research also revealed an Almoravid occupation in part of the site (D section): a small door was unearthed which gave a clue to this period. The team continued work here, and also on another nearby section (B). More detailed information on this part of the research is awaited.
Margaret Atwood is almost mythical herself, a magnet for truths and half-truths, accolades and criticisms. But, like her new version of the ancient heroine Penelope, she is sardonic about the whole myth-perpetuation business.
So maybe that's why Atwood found Penelope so easy to recreate in The Penelopiad, her rewrite of the Greek myth of Penelope and Odysseus. Atwood, like Penelope, immediately sees beyond the heroic posturing of Odysseus, Penelope's crafty husband who deserts her for decades, and Telemachus, her walking-in-dad's-footsteps son. Penelope, in Atwood's hands, is a wry woman making do, fully aware of the mythology (that is, public opinion) surrounding her.
"The guy is gone. She's left with this baby that she's raising, and he turns into this lippy teenager who essentially borrows the family car without asking" — or, given that this is the ancient world — "he takes a ship and goes off secretly," Atwood adds in her characteristic monotone, laughing under her breath. Whether ancient Greece or the contemporary world, it's all just the usual family dynamics. "Remove the fancy language, and that's what it is," Atwood says.
The Penelopiad, officially due in stores this weekend, is one of the first arrivals in what could be this season's biggest publishing blitz — a series in which famous writers reinterpret the world's myths that is being simultaneously released in more than 30 countries.
Along with The Penelopiad, the first round of books in the series includes Jeanette Winterson's Weight, a staccato rewrite of the myth of Atlas and Heracles, and Karen Armstrong's academically minded book-length essay A Short History of Myth. Given the many international publishers involved and the writers still coming on board, the series is attracting attention throughout the industry.
But sitting in a meeting room at Random House Canada's Toronto office a few weeks before the Myths series kicked off, Atwood is content to mull the personal details of the life of Penelope, that ever-faithful, ever-patient wife who, according to some ancient versions of the tale, let a suitor or two (or 120) slip through the back door and into her confidence while Odysseus was away fighting the Trojan War and getting lost in other sagas.
Atwood's Penelope is aware of the naughtier versions of her myth, perpetuated by ancient oral sources other than Homer's The Odyssey, which is perhaps more complementary in its depiction of Penelope as the long-suffering wife. This Penelope acknowledges the steamier side those other versions, but it's all just hearsay, she claims. Written in the first person, Atwood's Penelope also retells her tragedy with a certain irreverence in the Greek satyr-play tradition.
"Oh, she's pretty sarcastic. But think of her situation," Atwood says.
"She knows perfectly well she's been married off, as people were. Noble family women were vehicles for wealth transfer and power consolidation. She knows all about that."
Penelope also knows that her husband (the scheming politician or salesman of Greek mythology, as Atwood describes him) and their son were involved in the murder of her 12 maids. Add in the sexpot Helen of Troy, along with all the other family rivalries and power grabs associated wit Penelope and Odysseus, and you have "a kind of gigantic ancient Dallas," Atwood says with a laugh.
The Penelopiad, a quick read that's already garnering good reviews, could be seen as a blockbuster made to order.
The rest of the Myths series, which will include contributions from A..S. Byatt, Donna Tartt, Victor Pelevin and others, is to follow the same format. Each book is small and only 150 to 200 pages long, with not much text per page.
The series was dreamed up by Jamie Byng of Edinburgh-based Canongate Books, who has since risen to international prominence as publisher of the best-selling novels Life of Pi and Vernon God Little. He originally mentioned the idea one night at the Frankfurter Hof hotel in 1998 in a gathering of a small Who's Who of international publishing: Louise Dennys of Random House Canada and Knopf Canada, Arnulf Conradi of Berlin Verlag and Morgan Entrekin of Grove/Atlantic.
"It was very much one of those great Frankfurt Book Fair nights, where you are sitting around with like-minded fellow publishers and looking at book ideas," Dennys says. The notion of keeping the Myths series light and fun, rather than heavy and scholarly, was key.
"The fun of it is something that has, in fact, remained with the series since the beginning, and it's very much a part of Margaret Atwood's book and some of the others that are coming down the pipeline too."
New books in the series could still be coming out in 2015 or 2030, Dennys continues.
"The way that it is being conceived at the moment and the way in which writers are approaching it is that we are looking to go forward over the next 10, 20 years — to do something that will involve all the great myths of the world, reinvented and rewritten for our contemporary times."
In rewriting the Penelope myth, Atwood limited herself to sources such as The Odyssey and other ancient versions. She didn't invent anything, she says, other than dialogue and the occasional scene that transposes modern-day elements, such as a brief mock trial held in the afterworld. Winterson's recreation of Atlas and Heracles, on the other hand, includes the nice touch of having Atlas rescue a dog from a Russian Sputnik.
Would Atwood like to tackle another myth?
"No!!" she blurts out in a surprisingly girlish, uncharacteristic voice. "No, why would I?" she says, resuming her usual cool demeanour. "No. No reason for me to do another one."
And this makes one wonder: In the end, is The Penelopiad a product of Atwood's or the publisher's inspiration? As Atwood says jokingly, Byng, in particular, cornered her into contributing to the series.
Still, given how amusing and innovative Atwood is in handling the myth, with Penelope and Helen having catty exchanges in the afterworld and the dead maids singing in judgment, the point isn't so much in the originality of the story, but in the storytelling.
THE Roman soldier steps out of the bathhouse's recreation room, a few denarii better off after successfully betting on the outcome of some board games.
Heading back to the nearby fort in the settlement that we now know as Cramond, he shivers and pulls his cloak tighter around him. This life is hard and the winter weather certainly doesn't help, it's not what he's used to.
The soldier was here in Edinburgh during the Roman's second and longest attempt to conquer Scotland, in the middle of the 2nd century AD.
During that spell they stayed for around 20 years before retreating once more behind the safety of Hadrian's Wall.
Yet despite Rome's distinctly light touch in Scotland - they were here for less than 50 years in total over three invasions, compared to almost 400 years of occupation in England - the Empire left a lasting impression on the Lothians: physically, in terms of remains, particularly at the two most important settlements, Cramond and Inveresk; but also, some historians believe, a more intangible legacy - the foundations of the Scottish state.
And, of course, the Roman Empire has also cast a lasting spell over our imaginations, not least thanks to an array of sword -and-sandal blockbusters over the decades, from Ben-Hur through to Gladiator.
Their latest screen outing comes next month, courtesy of the BBC, with an epic star-studded drama series charting the rise of the Roman Empire. It stars former Edinburgh University student Kevin McKidd.
Ron Greer, pictured right, secretary of The Antonine Guard Roman Historical Society - which stages recreations as the VI Legion, one of three legions which built the Antonine Wall - puts our continuing fascination down to the fact that modern society has more in common with the Romans than our Iron Age or medieval ancestors.
"There are so many parallels with our own world; they had politics, engineering, science, a civil administration and a legal system," he says. "But, of course, there was all this horror and hypocrisy under the surface."
Rome, after all, was built on constant warfare, entertained by blood-fests like the gladiator contests, bolstered by slavery and often run by egotistical tyrants.
The Romans first arrived, albeit briefly, under Julius Caesar in 55BC, but it wasn't until AD 43 that serious attempts to conquer Britain were made. And it was AD 79 before the Roman governor Agricola advanced into Scotland.
Stephen Carter, a director of Headland Archaeology in Leith, explains: "The Roman Army was in Scotland essentially for three main periods. In the first century AD they were only here for a few years before withdrawing. They came back again in the second century, in about AD 138.
"They stayed until about AD160. Then in AD 208, there was a punitive military campaign, when they temporarily established themselves and campaigned for a few seasons, then withdrew again, probably by 212AD."
So why were they here at all? "The Roman Empire was very much about conquest," says Bill Hanson, professor of archaeology at Glasgow University. Every emperor wanted to acquire new lands to win glories at least equal to their predecessors.
On their first excursion - when they famously beat the Caledonii tribe at the battle of Mons Graupius - their base in Lothian was at Eskbank. But it was on their second and longest foray into Scotland when the two most important Roman bases in the Lothians were built - at Inveresk and Cramond.
This was the period when the 37-mile Antonine Wall, ending at Carriden, near Bo'ness, was built. The 15 foot-wide turf barrier was a major investment, proving the Romans were determined to settle here.
Professor Hanson adds: "What the Romans did was to conquer an area, then try to 'Romanise' the indigenous population. It was very much a hearts and minds thing.
"There were battles when the Romans attempted to conquer on three occasions but there wasn't constant fighting, there were extensive periods of peace."
As the Romans were serious about staying in Scotland, they would have certainly attempted to broker peace with the native tribe, the Votadini, while they created their Cramond fort.
This fort was occupied during the last two incursions, and would have housed up to 1000 men. The presence of the Romans there has been known about since at least the 17th century, but more finds are constantly being unearthed - not least the Cramond Lioness, found in the river in 1997.
Val Dean, of the Cramond Heritage Trust and the Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society, paints a picture of a thriving, cosmopolitan small community.
"We had people from Gaul - what we now call France or Belgium - and Germany, and there have been altars found referring to a group of Hungarians. There has been pottery found in a North African style but made out of local clay, which could mean there were North Africans here.
"We know there would have been a lot of craftsmen here and in later periods they would have been allowed women and children with them."
A child's shoe and a woman's ring have been found at the site. In the last two years, excavations have also revealed that an annex to the east of the fort was much bigger than originally thought, pointing to a civilian settlement.
A second such settlement had also grown up around the Inveresk fort, now under St Michael's Church's graveyard.
"One of the fascinating things about this site is the village, or victus, outside the fort," says Dr Alan Leslie, of the Glasgow University Archaeology Research Department, who led excavations on the site between 1991 and 2001.
"They are known in England and other parts of the Roman Empire. Scotland was a bit more like the Wild West and we don't have anything like the same number of settlements, so Inveresk is quite unusual."
The village would have housed wives, children, traders and hangers-on, both international and local. "We should probably think about these places as melting pots," says Dr Leslie.
More evidence that the Romans and the locals mixed comes from a native site, Traprain Law, near Haddington, where Roman artifacts, including silver, have been uncovered.
"More Roman material has been found on that site than any other site in Scotland, " says Prof Hanson.
The material could have been stolen, of course, but it's more likely it was either traded for hunting dogs or precious metals, or given as payments or bribes to keep local leaders quiet, a regular Roman practice.
But even during peaceful times, the north of Britain wasn't a favourite posting. "The Romans did not like our climate," chuckles Ron. "They called it 'the island of arthritis'."
Was it the climate that forced them to leave? Most historians believe the Romans were forced to withdraw because the manpower was needed elsewhere in the Empire.
But, as he knows himself from wearing Roman armour, Ron believes the landscape would have worn the soldiers down. "It doesn't matter how fit and strong you are - in armour, when you are in a bog, you sink further in than the man without any armour.
"It's difficult to get into formation and it's very, very draining."
The Romans were here for too short a period to change Scottish lifestyles. But apart from the physical traces, Roman influences remain - including indirectly, Christianity and our legal system.
And there may also be one other important legacy from their stays here.
As Prof Hanson says: "One possibly change that we can't prove is that the presence of the Romans helped to make the tribal groupings in Scotland a more consolidated whole."
Stephen adds: "The suggestion is that the Romans may have caused or precipitated the cause of the political development of Scotland."
For of course, once the Romans withdrew, the natives left behind were faced with a powerful military force just on their border.
"That's when we see the emergence of larger political units, leading to the emergence of the Pictish kingdom," adds Stephen. "That ultimately leads to the emergence of Scotland as a country. It is possible that without the Romans that wouldn't have happened or wouldn't have happened as quickly."
So it seems they certainly did something for us after all.
The Antonine Guard will be giving demonstrations and interactive displays at the Museum of Scotland this Sunday. The group is also looking for new members, both male and female. For more information on the group, log on to their website at www.theantonineguard.org.uk.
IN the fourth chapter of his On the Art of Poetry, Aristotle wrote: "Homer was the supreme poet in the serious style ... the first to indicate forms that comedy was to assume, for his Margites has the same relationship to our comedies as his Iliad and Odyssey bear to our tragedies."
The Margites, it is claimed, was Homer's first work. The name of the hero, Margites, derives from the Greek margos, meaning madman. All that is left of Homer's comic epic are a few lines, pickled in other works. The Scholiast, writing on Aeschines, gives a thumbnail sketch that fits with his etymologically unfortunate name: "Margites ... a man who, though fully grown, did not know if his mother or father had given birth to him and who would not sleep with his wife, saying he was afraid she would give a bad account of him to his mother."
Plato and Aristotle each record a snippet of the poem. From Plato's fragmentary Alcibiades we learn that "he knew many things, but all badly". Aristotle, in Nicomachean Ethics, offers a different hint: "The gods taught him neither to dig nor to plough, nor any other skill; he failed in every craft."
Aeschylus, the lost plays
AESCHYLUS wrote more than 80 plays. Only seven have survived, although copious fragments persist on papyrus or in commentaries.
Much of the blame attaches to Ptolemy III (247-222BC), who ordered the systematic cataloguing of all 200,000 scrolls in the Library of Alexandria.
When this labour began in earnest, an anomaly of unthinkable proportions was discovered. The library lacked a complete text of Aeschylus. Given the reverence in which the Athenian dramatist was (and is) held, this seemed an unforgivable oversight.
There was, however, only one such text in existence. It belonged to the Athenians.
After, one assumes, protracted negotiations, it was agreed that these precious scrolls might be transported to Alexandria for scholars to make an accurate copy, then returned to Athens.
To ensure that this agreement was honoured, Ptolemy III would deposit 15 silver talents with the Athenians, repayable when the text was brought back intact. This was a phenomenal amount of money: the entire annual Jewish tribute payment amounted to only 20 silver talents and that had driven them close to rebellion. Following the agreement, the manuscript arrived in Alexandria.
This was the sole complete copy of Aeschylus and was worth losing 15 silver talents for. The scripts stayed in Alexandria, with a strict injunction that no copy should be made. Then Ptolemy III died. Later, Ptolemy XIII died. Their empire died. Their religion died. But the manuscript remained.
Since its transcription was forbidden, scholars flocked from around the known world to read works such as The Priestesses, Phineus, Sisyphus Rolling the Stone and Sisyphus the Runaway.
But on December 22, AD640, a reader with a very different agenda was in control of Alexandria. Where literary works were concerned, he was strict: "Those which disagree with the Word of God are blasphemous, those which agree, superfluous." Amrou Ibn el-Ass, on orders from his caliph, decreed that the library be burned. The scrolls opened a final time, unfurled by the flames, and the complete works of Aeschylus became lost forever.
Quot campo lepores, tot sunt in amore dolores.
There are as many problems in love as there are rabbits in the field.
(pron = kwoht KAHM-poh LEH-poh-rays toht soont in ah-MOH-ray doh-LOH-rays)
Comment: We might just conclude that loving was bitter during the middle ages,
but anyone who has really loved understands.
This is not the silly stuff of pop culture: women are so difficult, men are so
stupid, therefore love is so painful.
My Latin III students are reading a story sequence right now about a 14 year
old girl who has been arranged into marriage with a 50 year old Roman senator,
who has already divorced two wives. This is not an unusual Roman scenario.
The young lady is beside her self. Not only does she not wish to marry the old,
unattractive man who has already done away with two wives, she has a young man
that she prefers. Mom insists that she go through with the marriage because
the Emperor (Domitian) has himself arranged the marriage, and anyone who
crosses Domitian dies.
As far fetched as that sounds to American ears, it reveals some stark truths
about “love”. Often “I love you” from parent to child means “do what I tell
you, because my approval of you is conditional”. One off the most contentious
places I have ever experienced was the typical wedding rehearsal before a
wedding ceremony. I have presided at many as a clergyman. All of the reality
comes to play: the expectations of parents, grandparents and other relatives
on the bride and groom. In many cases you can see that what is being acted out
is not warm and fuzzy, but emotionally pretty deadly. The young man and young
woman are acting out many agendas, few of their own. And the next day, they
will each say “I love you”. It’s a loaded term, and often means many things
other than warmth, acceptance and support. As many things as there are rabbits
in the field.
Autumnus in Finnia calidior
Mensis October in Finnia calidior et serenior fuit quam umquam ante, ut ex Instituto meteorologico confirmatur.
Quam peculiaris haec rerum condicio fuerit, vel inde patet, quod rosae in hortis denuo effloruerunt, item fraga in areolis, proinde ac si nova aestas adesset.
Huc pertinet, quod aves, quin etiam hirundines, solitam migrationem autumnalem in posterius tempus distulerunt. Arbores quidem iam flavescere coeperunt, sed mirum quam sero folia earum deciderunt.
A University of Colorado classics professor and a regent are creating an oasis for traditionalism in Boulder, a campus whose liberal leanings have led some to call it "a Berkeley where you can ski.""If you ask a student on campus to discuss American history, it's really sad how little they know about our founders," he said.
The Center for Western Civilization will add "intellectual diversity" to CU by attracting speakers and forums, said director Christian Kopff, a professor who teaches Greek literature and introduction to the Bible. It eventually will offer a certificate for students who take groupings of classes such as Latin, philosophy and the American Revolution.
This fall, the center is Kopff's office in Norlin Library. But the 58-year-old imagines that someday, as grants and donations pour in, it will have space of its own, a place where students will gather to study how America was born.
The Center for Western Civilization is part of a conservative movement sweeping the country to reform college campuses and guide students to a traditional curriculum. It's a backlash to the wave of innovative classes on social issues, such as gender and ethnic studies.
Kopff said he won't be surprised if the center draws students who are conservative politically, acknowledging that CU is perceived as a left-leaning campus.
"It's sort of a Berkeley where you can ski," he said, referring to the University of California campus known for liberal protests.
Kopff's purpose, though, is to educate students in "areas that used to be very common on campuses and then became rare." He said CU spends a lot of time keeping up with the latest areas of multicultural studies.
"What students need is good training in traditional subjects," he said.
Kopff and Regent Tom Lucero, a Republican from Johnstown, are careful to say the center is about academics, not politics.
"It's not liberal or conservative," Lucero said. "It's a founding in who we are and what makes us American."
Former CU President Betsy Hoffman backed Kopff when he proposed the center last year.
She told Harper's Magazine the movement from the right compares to the "almost revolutionary process" of the 1960s and 1970s from the left that created women's and African-American studies.
"Today, groups of conservative faculty are forming centers for the study of Western civilization," Hoffman, who declined an interview for this story, told the magazine. "If there is sufficient student interest, as there was in the 1970s, these conservative subfields will become institutionalized."
The push from conservatives began about 20 years ago, said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C.
"They wanted to make sure that the history of Western civilization was not lost," he said.
Jerry Hauser, chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, said undergraduates "should be learning about our identity as a country so that they are able to participate fully as citizens."
But he said innovative courses based on gender and ethnic issues are valuable, too.
"The fact of the matter is that women and people of color have not always been treated equally in the United States and that's a part of our history too," he said. "I don't think it is a liberal bias. That is historical fact that we need to examine."
Kopff hopes to organize the center's first events this spring. He is planning a symposium in the spring of 2007, perhaps with the C.S. Lewis Foundation in California, which is dedicated to renewing Christian scholarship at universities.
Kopff has taught at CU since 1973 and has been associate director of the Honors Program since 1990. His book, "The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition," is widely cited in the classical Christian education movement.
The center has a $5,000 yearly budget from the arts and sciences department. Kopff plans to seek private donations and federal grant money as the center gets rolling. He still is selecting a board, which so far includes Lucero, arts and sciences dean Todd Gleeson and Patricia Limerick, co-founder of the Center of the American West at CU.
Gleeson approved the center and Kopff presented his idea to regents in December.
Lucero's role in the center is unique; it's not often that regents have such strong involvement in a campus project, Kopff said.
"Typically, the regents or boards are kept far apart from faculty," he said.
The idea for the center was Kopff's, and Lucero jumped on board when he heard about it.
Lucero took time out of his New Mexico vacation last summer to visit St. John's College, where the curriculum is based on classics such as Homer, Descartes, Nietzsche, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers.
"Until a student has an appreciation for their Western heritage, it's difficult for them to knowledgably, actively participate in our democracy," Lucero said.
Students need a center to guide them toward Western civilization classes already offered at CU, said Ian VanBuskirk, chairman of the College Republicans.
A reconstructed version of the world's oldest computer has been unveiled in Greece.
The 2,000-year-old device was found by chance on the ocean floor more than a century ago.
Michael Wright, a former senior curator at London's Science Museum, unveiled the complex collection of gears and dials at a conference on ancient Greek inventions.
Experts attending the symposium praised the model as the best yet of a device that is believed to have calculated the motions of the sun, moon and planets.
Mr Wright said the shoe-sized box object not only illustrated the ancient Greeks' love for gadgets but how advanced they were technologically.
The Stanford Classics Department recently acquired an endowed professorship established in honor of former Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis. The professorship will be funded by a $2 million donation made by the Tsakopoulous family of Sacramento.
The shared aim for the professorship is to provide a roster of courses that examine the resonance of Greek philosophy and values in modern American culture. The family hopes that recognition of the connection between ancient Greece and modern American society will heighten appreciation for where contemporary culture is grounded.
“I hope this endowment takes one of the foundational roots of Western civilization and keeps it fresh,” Tsakopoulous-Kounalakis said. “Ancient Greece holds a very specific relevance to the culture of America. The founders of our country drew upon many of the foundations of this period in history.”
In addition, the family made a specific request that whoever holds the professorship be able to reach as many Stanford students as possible. In compliance, the Classics Department devised three classes that will span a broad range of concentrations pertaining not only to classics majors, but also to students of other concentrations ranging from political science to mathematics.
“These are new courses that we designed so they can reach out to most people,” said Prof. Richard Martin, chair of the Classics Department. “They’re not just general introduction courses, but those that really examine the impact that Greek culture has had on American life in a vast range of areas from politics, engineering, biology to art.”
“New Atlantis” will be the first course, starting this winter quarter. Led by Martin, the class will explore the entire range of Greek thought from the eighth through fifth centuries BC by making consistent and explicit comparisons to modern American political and intellectual culture, covering major works such as the “The Iliad”, “The Odyssey”, “Republic” and “Antigone.”
A new palm pilot device provides virtual visitors with a virtual trip through Etruscan funerary tunnels and settlements. The device developed by Siena University known as "Guida In&Out" marks an innovation in interactive archaeology, and is still at the prototype stage. The device is to be submitted to the press in Chiusi next Saturday, as part of Siena local authority archaeological tourism programs.
MANY people know that the so-called "Elgin Marbles" in the British Museum are separated, by a long distance, from the Parthenon in Athens to which they belonged.
What is less well-known is that a roughly equal proportion of the sculptures of the Parthenon are still in Athens: there are the pieces which Lord Elgin decided, for various reasons, to leave behind; and there are the pieces which he simply missed because they were still buried in the ground, but which came to light later. These pieces make an interesting comparison with the sculptures in London: in some respects, they are in better shape today.
What should be done? The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, since it was set up in 1982, has argued that there is only one right answer, to bring the two halves together; the British Museum, on the other side, has sought to detach the "Elgin Marbles" from their original source and argues that they have become a self-contained, independent work of art.
This disagreement is summed up in the differing use of the word "context": for the British Museum, it means the context in which the sculptures are exhibited in Bloomsbury, alongside the sculptures of the earlier civilisations of Egypt and Mesopotamia; for their opponents (and I think for the general public) "context" means primarily the place where, and the setting in which, the sculptures were found.
This second context is a building which is still well enough preserved and restored to be an icon, not only for Athens and Greece, but for Western civilisation as a whole. Many of the sculptures in London were forcibly and destructively detached from it, so that they cannot be directly reunited with the building today.
But they can be reunited with their counterparts in Athens, in the New Acropolis Museum (due to be completed in just over a year's time) which has been built for this purpose. What arguments are deployed by the two sides in this debate? Many of the British Museum's claims are either unfounded, or have now become obsolete.
"We own the Marbles because Lord Elgin fairly bought and paid for them" - but he did not. "More people see the sculptures in London than in Athens" - no longer true. "The Greeks would not look after the sculptures properly" - this one is a case of "people living in glass houses..." What happened to the London sculptures in 1938, when they were attacked with chisels and abrasives to make them look whiter, has no counterpart with the Athens pieces, as was shown particularly in 2004 when the West Frieze of the Parthenon, which Elgin had left in place, was first exhibited (after a long process of conservation) on the Acropolis.
Nor has there been anything to compare with the catalogue of minor breakages in London, between 1960 and today, which have just come to light under the Government's Freedom of Information Act.
Finally, there is the weakest argument of all: "It would be no use returning the London pieces to Athens because nine other museums in Europe also have pieces" - yes, but Athens and London hold 98 per cent of what survives, and in any case some of the other museums have indicated that, if London made a move, they would follow suit.
On the other side, the British Committee does not chop and change its arguments - its case has always been based on the fact that the Marbles were forcibly detached from their context - but is prepared to discuss a variety of solutions, whereby the sculptures can be exhibited in the best possible way. There are legal and constitutional problems about reuniting the Marbles, but the Greek government has put forward flexible solutions to these.
The key to a solution, and the future of international museum policy generally, lies not in confrontation but in collaboration, between museums and between governments. A sign of the times is that there are now 11 other countries which have set up committees corresponding to the British one, and with the same aim. This has become an international issue, no longer a bilateral one.
Pericla timidus etiam quae non sunt videt.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 452)
The fearful one even sees dangers that are not there.
(Pron = pehr-EEK-lah tih-mih-doos eh-tyam kwai nohn soont WIH-deht)
Comment: The person who is afraid has a history. The history includes events,
both remembered and lost in the subconscious, that leave him/her afraid.
He/she is afraid about life, and those things in particular that remind him/her
of the particular history that makes him/her afraid. Sound circuitous? It’s
the nightmare of the run-away merry-go-round that never ends—one fear after
another coming toward or past every day.
This has certainly been my experience, and as I look around and listen to people
and observe, it seems to be a common human experience as well—to varying degrees
for each person.
I watch students in my class. We approach new material, a new story in Latin,
and I call for responses to the story. And I see students who sit silently
with a response that turns out to be insightful, dead-on. “But, I was afraid
that I was wrong” the student will say.
I don’t even ask who taught them to be afraid of wrong answers. The list will
be too long, and most of them will be teachers. Why would teachers treat
students in such a way as to make them fearful of making a mistake? We do it
because . . . we are afraid that a student with mistakes means that we are not
doing our jobs and someone will think that we are bad teachers. And the
It’s an insidious ride. The longer we shrink back from the things we fear, the
larger they will get, and they will multiply. The mind is incredible and
creating more things for itself to fear.
There’s always that “golden ring” to grab, though. When the merry-go-round
spins, and we see that fear coming, we can grab it, hold it, look at it, see it
for what it is, and then let it go. It changes the ride.
Associate Professor of Classics Steve Reece will deliver the fall Mellby lecture, "Homer, Jesus and Bass Fishing in Minnesota" on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. in at St. Olaf College in Viking Theater, Buntrock Commons. The lecture is free and open to the public.
More than 15 years of research have gone into Reece's lecture, which will compare oral and textual cultures. According to Reece, the difficulty in reading ancient texts is figuring out how they were first performed before being written down. He will use examples of groups that today rely on oral communication to explain how early cultures functioned and how they relate to today's culture of written texts.
Reece believes that some phrases in works by the Greek epic poet Homer, which do not seem to fit in the context of the larger story, result from misheard or wrongly divided words. Reece sought out these phrases and compared their use in other ancient texts. And he looked at other languages where similar changes were known to have occurred. He expected to find only a dozen phrases with signs of being misheard but instead discovered 60. Reece hopes that researchers in a variety of disciplines will use his methods.
"My research would not have been possible 10 years ago," he says. "You have to take advantage of the time you live in and see what opportunities it offers." A wide variety of materials, including all ancient Greek texts, are now readily available via computer. He also hopes that his research will help them to look at the implications of an oral culture more closely, noting that for the majority of history people have lived in one.
Presenting the Mellby lecture also will be important for Reece personally. "It gives me the opportunity to share what I've learned with a variety of people," he says. "I think it's a healthy thing to have to explain your work to others and explain how it's relevant to their lives. What happened with Homer has happened with every language and every culture," Reece says.
MODERNISTS LIKE to believe that we have entered an entirely new era of armed conflict. To some military thinkers, it's the primordial nature of the terrorists' beheadings, suicide bombings and improvised explosive devices that has marked a completely new form of "asymmetrical warfare" in which the two sides are terribly mismatched.
Others have a different argument. They say it is our own high-tech, computer-enhanced munitions that have reinvented the very nature of conflict into something called "4th-generational war."
But neither argument could be further from the truth. War is like water — its fundamental character remains unchanging precisely because the nature of the humans who fight it is constant over the centuries. True, the pump — the delivery system of flint, arrows, firearms, nuclear bombs, guided missiles and satellite weapons — radically changes the face of battle with each generation. But the essence of war nevertheless stays the same, as we are reminded when we study the distant past.
More than 2,400 years ago, the Spartans fought the Athenians in a bloody 27-year war that nearly wrecked the Greek city-state in its greatest age. Almost every horror we have experienced since 9/11 had a counterpart centuries earlier in that awful Peloponnesian War.
Limb-lopping? The Athenians ordered the right hands of captured Spartan seamen cut off.
Terrorism? On the island of Corcyra, factions burned innocents alive and executed civilians by running them through a gantlet.
Disease and fear of biological attack? The Athenians lost a quarter to a third of their population to a mysterious plague, and they blamed the outbreak on the Spartans.
Roadside executions? The Spartans rounded up 2,000 of their Helot serfs and butchered them all.
Kidnapped diplomats? The Athenians captured Spartan envoys on the way to Persia, ignored their diplomatic immunity, killed them and cast their corpses in a pit.
We recoiled in horror last September when Chechen terrorists stormed a school in Beslan and more than 150 children were killed in a bloody shootout. But in 413 BC, the Athenians unleashed their Thracian mercenaries on the tiny Boeotian town of Mycalessus. The killers slaughtered men, women and children, burst into a schoolhouse and butchered all the students. They even attacked livestock and, according to the historian Thucydides, "whatever living thing they saw."
But the Peloponnesian War not only reminds us of how thin the veneer of civilization is when war, plague or natural disaster rips it off, it also shows that the reasons states fight each other have remained mostly the same over the years.
Thucydides says the Spartans attacked Athens "in fear" of its growing power — the "real" reason despite the numerous pretexts alleged. And the Athenians defended their earlier acquisition of territory on grounds that they took and kept it out of "fear, honor and self-interest."
In our age of sophisticated economics, we tend to look for material causes for wars — land, resources, populations — rather than remembering these age-old emotional urges. But perhaps we could learn from Thucydides the next time Osama bin Laden alleges in his fatwas that we provoked him by stationing troops in Saudi Arabia or by enforcing the U.N. oil-for-food embargo.
The fact is, the deep-seated anger and humiliation of Al Qaeda were more likely incited by a globalized and Western culture that really did threaten all the old hierarchies of an increasingly dysfunctional Arab and Islamic world (and the worried mullahs, patriarchs and theocrats, whose sense of privilege and honor derived from that world).
In other words, Bin Laden probably went to war over a sense of lost honor, in Thucydidean fear of Western globalization and due to his perceived self-interest — given perceptions of Western appeasement of radical Islamist terrorism since 1979 — that he had more to win than lose by hitting New York and Washington.
Of course, we must be careful when evoking the past to make sense of the present. Many, for example, recently cited the Iraq war as the modern equivalent of the disastrous Sicilian expedition of 415-413 BC, when Athens lost most of its fleet by assaulting distant Syracuse. But Syracuse was democratic, larger than Athens and, until the invasion, mostly neutral during the Peloponnesian War. A more historically apt analogy to that expedition would be if the United States had attacked democratic India during the midst of the U.S. war against Al Qaeda.
Study of the Peloponnesian War should also remind us that it is not assured that the wealthiest, most sophisticated and democratic state always triumphs over less impressive enemies. After all, Athens, for all its advantages, finally lost its war. And as Thucydides reminds us about the democratic empire's lapses, arrogance and major blunders, more often the chief culprit was its own infighting and internal discord than the prowess of its many enemies.
Plato’s Apology of Socrates is a work considered to be among the foundations of Western thought, and Topia Arts Center is thinking about solid beginnings as they continue to rebuild their theater space. For this second Fundraising Benefit Performance in the still raw theater space, Topia is presenting a classic with a twist. Actor Yannis Simonides brings Socrates to life in this one-man show, staged uniquely within the current "voicepaper" sculpture installation of artist Ven Voisey.
Magnificent terrace houses with muraled walls trickled down the hillside to marbled streets lined with sophisticated shops, cafes and temples counted among the most elaborate in the Roman world.
Statues of curvy women in clingy togas - like winners of a wet T-shirt contest in the Roman times - were strategically stationed near the civic area, designed to raise the spirits of men on their way to work. Athletes exercised naked in the public stadium - contributing, it is said, to a sexually charged atmosphere.
In its day, Ephesus must have been quite a place. It was, after all, the grandest and busiest hub of Asia Minor, where countless traders from Africa, Asia and Europe flocked to trade their wares, pay homage to the goddess Artemis and kick back in a chic city of 250,000.
Its day was nearly 2,000 years ago. And though the Romans, Macedonians and Alexandrians have been gone for millennia, it takes no more than a squint on a relentlessly sunny day to imagine the teeming harbour city that drew the Apostle Paul and other early Christians determined to convert the populace.
The throngs still come by the millions, on cruise ships and tours or wandering on their own, to see the most complete ruins of any Roman Empire site. When friends who have visited here regale you with florid descriptions and gush, "You must visit. It's incredible," they aren't overselling the place.
Christopher Ratte, an associate professor of classics at New York University and co-director of an archaeological dig at nearby Aphrodisias, says Ephesus owes its current fame to its past status.
"Ephesus was important in antiquity, the capital of the Roman province of Asia. In many ways, it was the most refined and civilised and prosperous part of the empire," said Ratte.
Also, archaeologists have been working at the site for more than a century, unearthing ruins and re-assembling monuments, so that visitors have plenty to see.
The site is enough to make your eyes pop. The one-time civic area - a sprawl of columns, foundation and an amphitheatre as impressive as many ancient cities - is only a prologue. From here, a widethoroughfare leads nearly 1.61 km between two small mountains, past hot-and-cold baths and an upscale public latrine (men only), beyond elaborate fountains and luxurious terrace houses, to the awe-inspiring, 15.24 metres-high facade of the marbled Library of Celsus.
The road turns, leading past the main marketplace, past the grand theatre where 24,000 might have come to see gladiators in battle, and on to the stadium and gymnasium. Around every bend stands a delicate statue, graceful column or sweeping arch, intricately carved with a human figure, the head of a cow or a flourish of flowers and leaves. Only 15% of the site has been excavated by the joint efforts of Turks and Austrians, said guide Hursit Celikkaptan.
As remarkable as the ruins are, it's the stories of life here that really mark Ephesus as a must-see on a visitors' itinerary. A word of caution: Don't believe everything you hear, or even read; a city this famed was sure to give rise to hyperbole, and texts about the site don't always agree.
This much seems sure: By the 6th century BC, Ephesus had become an important city in what today is western Turkey, and for the next 1,000 years it played a crucial role as the nexus of trade in theWestern world.
The list of rulers, influentials and visitors reads like a Who's Who of the Ancient World, including the wealthy Sixth Century BC Lydian ruler Croesus; the Persian King Xerxes; the famed Fourth Century BC Macedonian Alexander the Great; the Second Century BC Carthaginian general Hannibal (who crossed the Alps on elephant); 1st century BC visitors Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra; and such early Christians as Paul, Luke, John and the Mother Mary.
Because of its importance, Ephesus was also home to the Artemision or Temple of Artemis, the mother goddess - so splendid that it was counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This 18.29-metres-high edifice - measuring four times the size of the Parthenon in Athens - was destroyed and rebuilt as many as nine times.
Little remains of the renowned temple. Today, the chief ruins visible at Ephesus are those of the third of four cities in this region to bear the name. According to one legend, the first city was founded by the female warriors known as the Amazons; another credits Androclus, son of the king of Athens. Subsequent shifts were precipitated by politics - Alexander the Great, it is said, forced the residents to move by clogging the sewage system - and silting that altered the physical location of the harbour. (Today, the coast lies about 6.44 km away.)
Around 130 BC, the Romans came to power and, in the bargain, imposed heavy taxes. The locals revolted; the Romans fought back with a massacre in 88 BC that reportedly left the city's streets literally red with blood.
But the reign of Augustus in the mid-1st century B.C. brought calm, prosperity and a building boom that resulted in most of the structures seen today. Ephesus became the New York of the era. The financial district stood at one end of town, separated from the rest by a statue of the goddess Nike. Modern conveniences abounded - for instance, heat circulated through earthen pipes beneath the floors of the vast public bath with the help of bellows pumped by slaves, sequestered because they were unable to pay their debts.
Philosophers, artists and intellects were welcome guests. But the early Christians earmarked this important metropolis for religious conversion. The Apostle Paul is said to have come here briefly on his second journey to Asia Minor and again, for almost three years, during his third journey. Though many Ephesians initially were attracted to Christianity, local merchants railed against the new religion, fearing it would lead to the destruction of their prosperous businesses.
Christian precepts eventually took hold, and in the Fourth Century AD, it was declared the official religion of the empire.
Though Christianity flourished in the modern era, the town did not. Earthquakes, silting of the harbour, political change and malaria led to Ephesus' decline, and by the early Middle Ages the city was a memory.
Terrae motus in Pakistania
Die Saturni mane regiones in confinio Pakistaniae et Indiae sitae vehementi terrae motu concussae sunt.
Qua calamitate, cuius vis amplius septem graduum Richterianorum fuisse nuntiatur, triginta aut etiam quadraginta milia hominum vitam amiserunt.
Testes oculati rettulerunt motu sismico factum esse, ut omnes fere scholae Pakistaniae, quae in zona calamitatis invenirentur, repentina ruina conciderent.
Ordines auxiliares internationales de clade certiores facti subsidium necessitatis in Asiam mittere coeperunt. Inter eos est Ordo Finniae a Cruce Rubra, qui una cum Norvegis valetudinarium campestre in Casmiriam deportandum curavit.
Officials from Berlin's Pergamon Museum announced plans Wednesday to dismantle and remove much of its famed Market Gate of Miletus over the next year and a half and to spend the next 10 years restoring it.
The towering Roman gate, built around 120 A.D. as the entrance to the market square in the Aegean coastal city of Miletus in what is now Turkey, is one of the museum's chief attractions. But metal supports built decades ago are sagging dangerously.
In the next three weeks, workers will cut a hole in the 75-year-old museum's southern exterior wall. Through it, they will pass 58 of the gate's marble blocks — weighing about 110 tons — to load them onto flatbed trucks and take them to an offsite facility for restoration.
The entire project is expected to take about 10 years and cost about $60 million, according to Gisela Holan, who oversees reconstruction work on the Pergamon and the four other museums that collectively make up Berlin's Museum Island.
The museum plans to put up a transparent wall that will contain dust and noise but let visitors continue to view the gate. Peter-Klaus Schuster, city museum director, said the unique setup will help make the Pergamon an "academy of restoration work."
The gate's ruins were recovered by German archeologists and brought to Berlin in the early 1900s.
Ubi iudicat qui accusat, vis, non lex, valet.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 692)
When the one who accuses is also the one who judges, violence, not law, is the
(pron = OO-bee YOO-dee-kaht kwee ak-KOO-saht wees nohn leks WAH-let)
Comment: The violence that prevails when the accuser also gets to be the judge
ought to be obvious, but I am afraid that it often is concealed from us. This
one little line, in all honesty, could be enough for me to chew on, look at,
listen to and consider for quite a while.
What moves me to accuse? What or who in me accuses? What or who in the other
do I accuse? What feelings have been stirred up in me as I accuse the other?
The Latin word “accusat” not only means “to accuse”, but it also means “to
blame”. Who do I blame today for (fill in the blank)? More basic—why must
someone be blamed? Where did I learn to blame? How often have I been blamed
for (fill in the blank)? As I approach blaming the other for (fill in the
blank) when was I first blamed for this same thing?
I submit that every single one of these questions and others are at stake every
time we approach accusing or blaming another—even—perhaps especially if—the
blaming only goes on in our heads and never gets verbalized formally. With all
those questions at stake, what sort of judgment are we capable of?
I would also submit that since these questions are difficult and painful for us
to answer—they are all attached to deep memories for each of us—that we rush to
judgment in order to avoid reflecting on our blame/accusation. The violence is
that we violate the integrity of the other with our own unresolved patterns of
blame and guilt, and call it objective judgment.
Teachers are in prime place to do this every day, but we are not alone. How
often does a student raise some hackle in us, which kicks in some old pattern?
We could stop and observe it. Or, we could rush to judgment—punish the student
in some fashion, and feel . . . well, superior for a few minutes. We have just
sent our own emotional pattern deeper inside, making the judgment, and the
violence, that much easier next time. At some point, the process crashes on
us, but that’s another reflection.
Bone-eating snot flower (Osedax mucofloris) is the unglamorous name given to a species of worm discovered feeding off minke whale carcasses in the North Sea.
Angela Merkel nova cancellaria
Germani feminam cancellariam foederalem acceperunt, cum Angela Merkel, praeses factionis democratarum Christianorum ad hoc munus curandum electa est.
Qui magistratus tamen partibus eius magno stetisse videtur: apparet enim, nisi socialistis magna auctoritas in novo regimine concessa esset, futurum non fuisse, ut Angelae Merkel summus honor daretur.
Gerhard Schröder, pristinus cancellarius, recusavit, quominus novo consilio rei publicae administrandae interesset.
The real Count Dracula wasn't quite the pretty face that today's vampires boast in books, movies and at Halloween parties, says a Purdue University classics professor.
"Stories and traditions vary over time, and the Western world shifted from portraying vampires as repulsive and horrible to more human creatures that are sexually desirable and even sympathetic," says John T. Kirby, professor of classics and comparative literature. "This dramatic change really began with Anne Rice's remarkable series of vampire novels in the 1970s and other novels, films and television shows that followed her lead.
"While people are having fun with this new image of vampires, it's important to remember the historical figure who inspired vampire legend as we know it in the West today."
The Dracula legend is based on Vlad the Third, the prince of Wallachia, which is in present-day Romania. Vlad ruled during the Middle Ages and is considered a national hero in Romania for defending the country from invading Ottoman Turks.
"However, he was merciless in killing thousands of both the Turks and, shockingly, his own people," says Kirby, who is teaching an honors class this spring on vampires in folklore, fiction and film, as well as leading a study abroad program during spring break to Transylvania, which is in modern-day Romania. "Because his favorite method of execution was to impale people on a stake, he's known as Vlad the Impaler."
His other nickname was Drakulya, which means son of the dragon. Vlad's father, Vlad II of Wallachia, was a member of the Order of the Dragon. From this knightly order, the older Vlad adopted the nickname Drakul. Kirby says it was Bram Stoker's "Dracula" novel in 1897 that made the connection between traditional vampire lore and Vlad the Third.
"However, with the popularity today of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Interview with a Vampire,' it's much easier to imagine vampires as objects of desire, not just of pure revulsion," Kirby says.
Just a few weeks ago, three tins of ancient papyri belonging to the University of California, Berkeley, finally arrived home, shipped across the Atlantic more than a century after they were collected in Egypt.
British archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt excavated the temple, town and cemetery of Tebtunis, Egypt, in an expedition for UC Berkeley in the winter of 1899-1900 at the behest of university benefactress Phoebe Apperson Hearst. After uncovering a treasure trove of papyri and artifacts, the two stopped off with their finds at Oxford University to study there temporarily.
Research and illness kept the pair there longer than planned, and for decades after their deaths, the papyri were essentially forgotten, said Todd Hickey, a papyrologist and director of the Center for Tebtunis Papyri at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library.
Although much of the material was eventually sent to the campus from the late 1930s through the '50s, additional containers remained overlooked, Hickey said.
But a couple of years ago, Hickey noted that some pieces of the center's more than 30,000-piece collection were nowhere to be found. The newly hired director also noted that a research paper published by a University of Toronto scholar cited pieces of papyri that he studied at Oxford; they contained excavation numbers that identified them as part of UC Berkeley's Tebtunis collection.
"So, we had a pretty good idea there was material at Oxford that belonged to us," Hickey said.
Next, Donald Mastronarde, a UC Berkeley professor of classics and the former head of the Tebtunis Center, wrote to the chief of Oxford's Oxyrhyncha Center, which houses an extensive papyri collection assembled from a community north of Tebtunis, through the Egyptian Exploration Society.
Oxford University acknowledged possession of some pieces of the Tebtunis papyri collection, said Hickey, and efforts began in earnest to bring them home.
Some of the papers went on display today (Tuesday, Oct. 18) at UC Berkeley in a ceremony at the Morrison Library within Doe Library to celebrate the largest papyri collection in the United States.
Among the new materials are fragments of Euripides' "Phoenician Women," Homer's "Odyssey," an ancient medical handbook, and papers from an influential prophetess of the local crocodile god, as well as a family priest's writings that trace that a family's history over eight generations.
"There remains unknown and potentially blockbuster items in these boxes of mummy cartonnage," said Hickey.
Whatever they find, he said, UC Berkeley students and scholars will benefit by having still more papyri to review and study, he said.
In ceremonies today, Mastronarde noted that Hearst had hired the German scholar George Reisner as her agent to help with the Egyptian and Greco-Roman civilization materials from Tebtunis, but he ended his employment with her in 1905. He went to work for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where some of the Tebtunis documentary materials and four Middle Kingdom papyrus rolls remain to this day.
"We hope that the good example set by Oxford in the delivery of Mrs. Hearst's Tebtunis papyri may have some effect in persuading others to show a similar sense of cooperation," said Mastronarde.
Roger Bagnall, the 92nd Sather Professor of Classical Literature for fall 2005 at UC Berkeley and a professor of classics and history at Columbia University, said the recently transferred pieces of papyri appear relatively complete and in even better condition that some of the rest of the collection.
A leader in the field of papyrology, Bagnall said the items seem to push the date back even earlier for some of the materials found in Tebtunis, a village inhabited over 1,700 years ago.
The materials also will "connect some of the dots" between the Tebtunis Center material and that obtained from the Egyptian village by clandestine means and housed in other institutions scattered around the world, Bagnall said.
In addition, he said, studying the new documents should help shed new light on the archaeological processes used by Grenfell and Hunt in excavating what he called "one of the great finds in the field of papyrology."
The collection is significant for the insights it offers into everyday social relations and economic life in the 2nd century B.C., said Bagnall, and reflects the differences and similarities between the past and present.
Some of the findings made from the Tebtunis collection will be explored in an international conference, "Papyrology: New Directions in a New Generation," to be held at UC Berkeley Nov. 11-12.
More information about the Center for Tebtunis Papyri is available online at: http://tebtunis.berkeley.edu/new.html.
AN image of a Roman gladiator wearing only a G-string has been dug from the bed of the River Tees.
Broken Roman pottery, decorated with the picture, was recovered from the river at Piercebridge.
Archaeologists believe the figure of a gladiator, who also appears to be holding a whip, may be the first of its kind ever discovered.
Philippa Walton, who works for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said: "The pottery sherd depicts a man wearing a G-string and holding a whip. The sherd is a fragment from a larger vessel, probably a beaker.
"Similar pottery has been found before depicting some gladiatorial scenes, some quite pornographic, but I can't think of an example where the gladiator only wears a G-string.
Divers Rolfe Hutchinson and Bob Middlemass came across the figure.
Over the past 20 years the pair have uncovered thousands of ancient artefacts from the river while diving.
THE Capital will play host to one of Britain's leading authorities in classical archaeology later this week for a debate about the future of the Elgin Marbles.
Anthony Snodgrass, professor emeritus in classical archaeology at the University of Cambridge, will speak on the hotly contested issue at the Edinburgh College of Art on Thursday.
The Elgin Marbles take their nickname from Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin, who stripped the ancient Athenian Parthenon of its sculptures while he served as the British Ambassador to Constantinople in the early 1800s.
As a result of his actions, almost half the Parthenon's ancient treasures were plundered and shipped back to Britain.
They were sold to the British Museum in London, where they have been on display to the public since 1816.
The sculptures have been scattered between the two countries, with single figures split between museums in London and Athens
In his lecture, The Parthenon Divided, Prof Snodgrass will address the audience in his capacity as chairman of the British committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, arguing for the marbles to be returned to Athens.
The Edinburgh College of Art is home to a complete set of casts of the Parthenon Frieze.
Today's offering from Bonham's comes in time for U.S. Thanksgiving ... it's a Silenus, of course, dating to the 4th century B.C. from southern Italy. The official description tells us he's carrying a cornucopia
The once bustling Roman town of Claterna is slowly re-emerging from the soil 15 centuries after it was abandoned and then vanished beneath farmland .
As a result of haphazard excavations in the past, the remains of a few patrician homes have been uncovered at the site near Bologna, along with mosaics and some pottery shards .
But a methodical, long-term research project is now getting under way for the first time ever, with funding from regional and provincial authorities, which have acquired the site .
So far digs have uncovered small portions of the town, revealing the street layout and mosaic paving from homes. Archaeologists have also found pottery, coins, metalwork and decorated bone .
An Etruscan-Celtic settlement stood in the area prior to the arrival of the Romans, who founded Bononia (Bologna) in 189 BC before spreading out to the surrounding area .
Claterna took its name from the river that still runs in the area today, the Quaderna, a clue that helped archaeologists identify the Roman ruins .
In fact, while Claterna's precise location was a mystery, historians had long known of its existence from various documents and maps .
A careful study of local place names, combined with the large number of Roman finds being unearthed by farmers, led experts to place Claterna between Bologna and Imola .
The town's prominence in ancient times was partly due to its location, at a crossroads between the ancient Roman highway of Via Aemelia, now the Via Emilia, and an important route across the Apennines, which archaeologists believe was probably the Via Flaminia Minor .
Both roads, constructed as consular routes in 187 BC, were major highways in Roman times, ensuring Claterna a constant flow of visitors, who brought with them trade, business and cash .
Claterna thrived and it eventually became the biggest town in the area .
During its glory years in the first centuries AD, the town boasted several patrician complexes, complete with a variety of decorated buildings, and ample space for food production and storage .
However, archaeologists believe that as well as these luxury houses, Claterna was home to various medium and smaller properties, scattered among the surrounding hills. There were also more modest dwellings, with floors of beaten earth and facades of wood and clay, they say .
The roads leading out of the town were flanked by Claterna's necropolis, including important funerary monuments, in addition to manufacturing complexes and services centres .
The team has so far discovered glass and metalworking sites, as well as a cluster of buildings that were probably used as the town's mansio, on the eastern edge of the city past the Quaderna. Mansios were relay or post stations along a fixed route, providing fresh riders and horses for the delivery of mail on horseback .
In its heyday, Claterna swelled to a size of some 30 hectares, with suburbs extending for a few more hundred meters, but it eventually fell foul of barbarian incursions from the north .
Following a gradual decline, it was eventually abandoned for good at the start of the 6th century .
Spina etiam grata est, ex qua spectatur rosa.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 610)
Even a thornbush is a pleasing sight from which the rose is observed.
(Pron = SPEE-nah EH-tyam GRAH-tah ehst, eks kwah spek-TAH-toor ROH-sah.)
Comment: So, it really is a matter of perspective. I grew up “in the country”,
and I’ve suddenly come upon both the wild rose and the wild blackberry bush
which don’t really announce themselves unless they are in bloom or fruit.
Otherwise, one suddenly finds oneself entangled in bramble that is covered with
thousands of tiny, razor sharp thorns.
These thorns cut right through the toughest blue jeans, and the bleeding seems
interminable. Cursing ensues.
But, the same bramble of wild roses or blackberries can stop you cold—when you
see or smell the flowers (often, with the wild rose, the scent caught me long
before the thorns). When the blackberry is in fruit, the red, unripened ones
shine almost like little lights, and the black ones are almost dripping with
juice from the bush. Now, a ginger approach, and the flowers or the fruit are
the wonder to behold. No cursing. Only praise.
I have grown in my garden both cultivated roses and hybridized, thornless
blackberries. I likely will again. But, the roses mildew and require a great
deal more care than sometimes they are worth. The blackberries—well, they
create huge berries that are eye-appealing, but have little taste. There
really is something about the thornbush that make those wild roses or berries
We may encounter a thornbush today. Go ahead. Curse. Sooner or later,
though, the same thornbush will produce something sweet. The same thornbush
will evoke wonder.
Silicon Graphics Prism technology will be the driving force behind the immersive virtual tour of Agora, the heart of ancient Athens, to be launched at the non-profit Foundation of the Hellenic World's (FHW) innovative cultural center, Hellenic Cosmos in Athens, Greece.
Long an SGI client, The FHW is utilizing visualization technology from Silicon Graphics for the development of its stunning virtual reality (VR) presentation. FHW has started designing the scenario and modeling the ancient buildings of the Agora on the Silicon Graphics Prism system, and will use the SGI system to add hyper-realistic graphics and superbly detailed animations to its VR datasets in preparation for final implementation.
Ancient Agora was the epicenter of public life, a site of political meetings and commercial transactions, administrative center, as well as judicial and religious nexus 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 will be able to tour ancient Agora teeming with activity.
Artists and software developers at FHW are using the OpenGL framework introduced by SGI in 1992 for developing environments. The platform enables developers to incorporate a broad set of rendering, texture mapping, special effects and other powerful visualization functions, and provides a graphics pipeline allowing unfettered access to graphics hardware acceleration. The OpenGL Shading Language in the Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system allows FHW to recreate Agora with unprecedented realism.
Just remembered that Bonham's has some antiquities coming up this week too ... here's a very nice late 5th century red figure Attic krater attributed to the Nikias painter. It's a nice symposium scene and the official description suggests it has been published ....
De praemio Nobeliano pacis
Praemio Nobeliano pacis afficientur hoc anno Ordo internationalis ab energia atomica (IAEA) et praeses eius Mohamed ElBaradei, vir Aegypius sexaginta tres annos natus.
Consilium Nobelianum Norvegicum, dum de rationibus decreti sui publice argumentatur. monuit illum ordinem et moderatorem eius maxime nisos esse, ut energia nuclearis quam tutissime adhiberetur neve usus eius ad proposita militaria peragenda propagaretur.
THE BBC’s controversial autumn drama series Rome is so full of sex, violence and racy language that it will have to be toned down for family viewing in Italy itself.
Although filmed at a £10 million re-creation of Rome in the city’s Cinecitta studios, the Italian state broadcaster RAI was so shocked at the scenes of violent copulation, stabbings and a crucifixion that it will screen an edited version next year.
Paola Masini, an RAI executive, said: “We realised from the start that the makers of Rome had a different concept of Ancient Rome than we do.
“If we had broadcast the version being shown in Britain or America, it would have been incomprehensible to Italians.”
For transmission in Italy next spring a “parallel” Italian version was made, with “excessively violent or sexual scenes” toned down or cut back.
Jonathan Stamp, an award-winning BBC ancient history documentary-maker with a First Class Oxford classics degree, acted as consultant on the series, which stars a British cast.
Thesaurum in sepulchro ponit, qui senem heredem facit.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 626)
Anyone who makes an old man his heir puts his treasure in the grave.
(pron = the-SOW-room ihn seh-POOL-kroh poh-nit kwee seh-nehm hay-RAY-dehm
Comment: It’s important to pay attention to chronology, Publilius Syrus seems to
be saying. On a normal day, one does not want to make an old man one’s heir.
On a normal day, the old man will not outlive you, and then your estate goes to
the grave, or the government. Some would say there are no differences in the
grave and the government!
This proverb is a comical little way of saying—pay attention to how things are
unfolding. That’s all. And, I would throw in, sometimes, it’s not a normal
day. Sometimes, just sometimes, the old man or woman is the perfect heir, the
appropriate one to help you out. Pay attention to how things are unfolding,
but don’t presume that you always know what that is.
Si ispirarono alle deformita' fisiche prodotte dall'ipertiroidismo per tracciare le caratteristiche del volto del demone ritratto in una delle piu' celebri tombe etrusche, quella scoperta di recente a Sarteano, in provincia di Siena. E' questo il risultato di un'indagine condotta dall'etruscologo Maurizio Martinelli sul dipinto della misteriosa tomba etrusca della Quadriga infernale (IV sec. a.C.), secondo quanto riferisce la rivista ''Archeologia Viva''.
Insulam Ulixis repertam esse
Ithaca sive insula, ubi Homerus Ulixem natum esse narrat, tandem reperta est, ut inter eos consentire videtur, qui antiquitati cognoscendae operam dant. Grex investigatorius, cui praeest Robert Bittlestone, nuntiavit se ad hanc conclusionem venisse, postquam analysim computatoriam fecisset ex materia litteraria, archaeologica et geographica in unum collata.
Ithacam eo difficiliorem inventu fuisse, quod terrae motus effecissent, ut illa insula cum quadam alia insula coalesceret.
De tabaco in Sinis consumendo
Constat consumptionem tabaci in Sinis omnium maximam esse, cum fumatorum numerus ibidem trecenta quinquaginta milionum efficiat.
Inde conici potest tertium quemque Sinensem fumificare. Quae cum ita essent, magistratus Sinarum, cum illum abusum in civitate sua coercere vellent, tractatui internationali subscripserunt, qui eo tendit, ut mortes e fumificatione secutae deminuerentur.
Continentur illo documento leges de tabaco commendando et vendendo. Huc accedit, quod omnia automata tabacaria ex Sinis amovebuntur.
Bullying the Latin Lover to opt for the writings of Jules Verne is no mean task. But once persuaded he comes up with some imaginative translations of words such as mechanically operated giant squids, submarines and special effects of film versions of Verne’s writings...
When school libraries are "media centers" and education increasingly depends on microchips, Latin isn't the most obvious choice of studies.
To the unschooled, the language can look a bit daunting. Nouns change form; the word order seems arbitrary. Why hack through a dense thicket of ablatives and datives for something no one even speaks?
About 30 years ago, it seemed no one would. Critics called Latin a dead language, irrelevant and elitist. Even the Catholic Church, its strongest champion, no longer found it necessary in worship services. But it's been going strong lately, especially in Connecticut. In 2004, 7,297 high school students were enrolled in Latin programs, a 48 percent increase from 1995.
It's doing well nationally, also. Almost 135,000 students took the National Latin Exam this year. That's 4,000 more than last year, and participation has increased each year since the American Classical League first offered the exam in 1977.
There's even a small movement to adapt Latin to modern use. A radio station in Finland broadcasts news in Latin every day for five minutes. There are Latin translations of "Harry Potter" and Dr. Seuss books. A dictionary provides Latin terms for contemporary items, some of which can be rather unwieldy. "Capsellarum magnetoscopicarum theca," for instance, is the term for "video store." In Latin, an FBI agent works for the "Officium Foederatum Vestigatorium."
So why now? About 11 centuries have passed since Latin was anyone's native tongue. It stayed on as the international language of science and politics for a while, but even that ended in the 18th century.
One oft-cited reason for the revival is that it helps you do better on the SATs. With at least half of all English words deriving from the Latin, the thinking goes, it gives test-takers an advantage on the verbal portion. According to the American Classical League, Latin students scored the best of all foreign-language students on the verbal portion of the 2004 SAT. And they beat the overall average by 166 points. That's one of the reasons Jackie Crocco, a junior at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, decided to take it. Seeing the connections between Latin and the languages it spawned helps her make better sense of both English and Italian, the other foreign languages she's studying. Once you get the hang of it, she says, Latin's really not so tough.
"It's actually easier than English," she says.
Whether we can really attribute the higher SAT scores to Latin, or whether it just happens that Latin students are more academically ambitious, is a matter of debate. Geri Dutra of the American Classical League figures it's a combination of both. The College Board, which created and administers the SAT, has not researched the correlation between Latin studies and SAT scores.
"We always have Latin teachers calling about it, but we can't draw any conclusions," says Caren Scoropanosof the College Board.
Either way, Jerry Clackat Duquesne University in Pittsburgh hates to think that kids are learning the language of the ancients simply for help on multiple choice questions. The real benefit of learning Latin, he says, is that it provides a direct line to the minds of the Romans. Sure, the ancient texts are translated into English, he says, but it's not the same. The texts lose all their spark when converted to English, and it doesn't give you the same insight into its authors.
Reading the texts in the original Latin, he says, "gives you a comprehension of history and its mistakes, an understanding of the mindset of a foreign culture."
No Longer Lingua Franca
Latin's value fell dramatically between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. It was an odd combination of the pope and the hippies that dealt the language its biggest hit. Most Catholic Masses were held in Latin until Pope John XXIII tried to modernize the church by switching to the vernacular. The change prompted 50 scholars, only a few of whom were Catholic, to petition the pope not to let the Latin Mass die off. They warned him of the "appalling responsibility it would incur in the human spirit." The tumultuousness of the time added to Latin's woes. As pillars of culture in a countercultural era, Latin and Greek became academia's first casualties.
"It was during the era of Vietnam war protests. Colleges were doing away with final exams, and a lot of schools were dropping the traditional courses, and Latin and Greek and were among them," says Marty Abbott, of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. "It was just a strange time in terms of college curricula."
But in the 1980s, the anti-Latin revolt produced its own backlash. Pope John Paul II called for more Latin Masses in 1988, and some churches have taken him up on it. University officials again saw the value of teaching the classics.
"People started to rethink what had been lost when the old ways had gone out," says Roger Travis, assistant professor of classics at UConn. From 1998 to 2002, there was a 14 percent increase in college and graduate students taking Latin.
The language also re-emerged in high schools. At the Modern Language Association's last count, in 2000, 177,477 high school students took Latin. That's a far cry from the nearly 900,000 enrolled in 1934, but about 18 percent more than 1976 figures. It's still well behind the number of students taking French and even further behind those taking Spanish, but Latin has found a secure spot behind third-place German.
Travis partly attributes Latin's rebirth to better teaching at the high school level. No longer a set of grammar rules and vocabulary detached from historical context, he says, Latin instruction now includes the ancient mythology and culture. Now you have students dressing in tunics and competing in chariot races at events like the Classical Association of Connecticut's annual Latin Day in May.
The demand for Latin programs in Connecticut has led to a shortage of teachers, says state world language consultant Mary Ann Hansen.
"We would have more programs if we had more teachers," she says. "Districts have had to go out of the state for teachers." The Old Saybrook school system, for instance, had to put its long-running Latin program on the shelf this year when school officials couldn't find a teacher.
Travis has heard the arguments that those well versed in Latin have a better time picking up on the terminology of law and medicine. He thinks such claims are exaggerated. But learning Latin is going to help people in any field, he says, in a more profound way: It helps you think more clearly and express yourself better.
"It lends a critical element to your thinking that you really can't put down schematically on paper," he says.
Extraordinary statements from officials in the World Health Organization about Avian flu having the potential to kill 150 million people certainly concentrate the mind. They bring to mind Thucydides's description of the plague that devastated Athens in the 5th century B.C., where "no human art was of any avail, and as to supplications in temples, inquiries of oracles and the like, they were utterly useless and at last men were overpowered by the calamity and gave them all up."
To prevent Canada from being overpowered by such a calamity, we must focus on emergency preparedness and public health as one of the greatest issues of our time. Public health has been ignored for a generation: Now, with the public aroused and politicians finally taking notice, we must get it right.
Second, we must invest in public health capacity on the ground. Thankfully, Minister of Public Health Carolyn Bennett is a doctor and has made a career of distinguishing between measures to increase overall community health (nutrition, inoculation, information) and measures to improve health care (systems innovation, technology, etc.).
She should be asking: How prepared are we at the street level? When I went to school in Winnipeg in the 1950s, I received my first polio shot from a school nurse. How many schools today have school nurses? Almost none. Who will deliver the vaccine to kids and seniors even if we have stockpiled it?
In 5th century B.C. Athens, Thucydides wrote that physicians were the first victims of the plague. David Naylor's report on Canadian SARS in 2003 makes the same point; it is health-care workers who are hit first.
Where do people go who want to help? We need to revitalize the Canadian voluntary movement. We need a comprehensive network of Neighbourhood Watch volunteers. The Canada Corps — lost in CIDA — should become a vehicle to encourage mass volunteerism both at home and abroad
The Prime Minister should call a federal-provincial conference on emergency preparedness and public healthcapacity. Let the public see the real state of preparedness in their community. Citizens will be shocked, but action will follow. Athens' fate in the 5th century B.C. need not be ours in the 21st.
THE dawn of Scottish history began with a battle on an Aberdeenshire hill in 84AD. On one side of the field were the vast legions of the mighty Roman Empire. On the other, a 30,000-strong confederate army of Caledonians – our Scottish ancestors. This encounter, which became known as Mons Graupius, was a key moment for the Romans in their almighty struggle to conquer the whole of Britain. For the Scots, it was a battle for survival against a brutal occupation.
“Robbery, butchery, rape: the liars call it Empire,” roared Calgacus, leader of the Caledonians, at the men gathered before him. “They create a desolation and call it peace. Whether you are to endure slavery forever or take summary vengeance, this field must decide.”
In the event, Calgacus and his brave warriors marched into a defeat at the hands of General Agricola, the Roman leader. The legions forced their adversaries to melt away into the great forest . But the Caledonians’ fate would not be decided that day, as Calgacus had believed. Although the Romans won at Mons Graupius, they would never win the war against Scotland.
We should, nonetheless, be grateful that Rome decided to invade this remote corner of Europe. Had the Empire failed to penetrate so far north following the initial conquest of south Britain in around 43AD, we would know next to nothing about the natives. Calgacus – whose name means “swordsman” – is, after all, the first Scot in recorded history.
His identity, and virtually all that we know about our early forebears, was recorded for us by Tacitus – historian of the Roman campaign in Britain (and Agricola’s son-in-law). What Tacitus tells us should not be taken at face value. He aimed to write a glowing biography of Agricola and use his talents as a rhetorician to criticise Rome. He put noble words in Calgacus’s mouth to contrast the freedom-loving, uncorrupted Caledonians with the slavery of the south Britons, tainted by the vice, greed and arrogance of an autocratic empire, which Tacitus considered to have fallen after the golden age of the republic.
Mons Graupius should have been the beginning of a long haul to conquer the Caledonians. But instead, Agricola marched south to winter quarters. With reinforcements required on the Rhine and Danube, the Romans were obliged to give up on Scotland and withdraw to bases in safer southern territory.
In 122AD, just over two decades after Mons Graupius, the building of Hadrian’s Wall began between the Tyne and the Solway. Another 20 years later, a replacement wall of turf was erected between the Forth and Clyde on the orders of Emperor Antoninus Pius – who demanded the reoccupation of much that had been gained and then lost. But the Antonine wall, too, was abandoned under Emperor Marcus Aurelius around 163AD.
Only a handful of outposts would remain beyond the recommissioned Hadrian’s Wall and, by 215, the northern forts were abandoned. From then on, “the hill people of the north and west,” as they came to be known, would be a constant threat.
But Rome’s footprints would never be erased from the minds of Caledonians and the painted northern tribes known as the Picts . Square Roman encampments – with their distinctive straight sides with rounded corners, like enormous drinks coasters – can still be seen as crop marks in some areas .
The remnants of the mightiest marching-camp in the northeast – with space for 30,000 men – can be found at Logie Durno, adjacent to Bennachie hill, near the field where Mons Graupius was probably fought. Enduring as their ghostly outlines are, however, these were not permanent garrisons and attempts to build such had to be aborted.
But besides military engagements, what of the human contact Romans had with the tribes of early Scotland? “We’ve always had to rely on cloak-and-dagger men operating beyond Hadrian’s Wall,” wrote one frontier commander, “but we will need more than spies to win the hearts and minds of the frontier people”. For the most part, the Picts seem to have been almost as mysterious to Roman writers as they are to us.
We don’t even know what name the Picts had for themselves. Did these mountain guerrillas run into battle with their naked bodies covered in elaborate tattoos, as some classical writers suggest? What is the significance of the Picts’ enigmatic standing stones, ornately carved with bulls, birds and fish, as well as other curious symbols? Why the abstract depictions of everyday objects like combs and mirrors? We don’t really know. A debate currently rages over what kind of language the Picts spoke, and which gods they worshipped. There is even an argument that the early Scottish Gaels and the Picts, all adept sailors, were broadly one and the same people. The identity of the tribes who resisted Rome has been a political hot potato for centuries. Was Britain conquered in whole or only in part? England has often argued that Rome’s dominion was complete, while the Scots, perhaps predictably, have disagreed.
The mediaeval manufacture of a united British history with Roman origins can be found in the ninth-century chronicles of Nennius. “The island of Britain is so called from one Brutus, a Roman consul,” he wrote, “and it lives in four nations, the Irish, the Picts, the Saxons and the Welsh.”
This history was remoulded to make a virtue of the Roman conquest of southern Britain by 12th century Welsh chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth. He invented a new Brutus, the founder of Britain and great-grandson of Aeneas of Troy, who in turn had founded the Roman republic.
This Brutus myth was used in the 13th century by England’s Edward I to justify his claim to Scotland. He argued that Brutus had been emperor of all Britain, and had given England and lordship of Britain to his eldest son Locrinus, while he left Scotland and Wales to his younger sons, Albanactus and Camber. After they died, Locrinus claimed the lot. The Scots rejected this as imperialist claptrap, but were equally keen to invent their own classical beginnings – the badge of any self-respecting mediaeval nation. The classical origin myth of an independent Scotland contained in the Latin text of the Declaration of Arbroath carries more than a hint of the rhetoric of Tacitus when arriving at the country’s then predicament. “It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
Even after the Union with England in 1707, the Scots remained ambivalent about the extent of Agricola’s success. The philosopher David Hume wrote that he had “only pierced the forests and mountains of Caledonia”, before cutting off the “ruder and more barren parts of the island”.
There were others during the 18th century who celebrated the Caledonians as an early sign of Scotland’s capacity to endure under the weight of the new Rome: the British Empire. But the question everyone needed answering was: were the Caledonians a race of Gaels or Goths?
This was a matter of profound importance in a nation seeking new ways to define itself. On the one side were those who argued that the Caledonians were Gaelic-speaking Highlanders. On the other, those who claimed they had been Scots-speaking Lowland Goths from northern Europe. Indeed, Tacitus had conjectured that “the ruddy hair and large limbs of the Caledonians point out a German derivation”.
The early Gothic connection even gave rise to speculation about the origins of the kilt. Of the Germans, Tacitus had once said: “They all wrap themselves in a cloak which is fastened with a clasp – leaving the rest of their persons bare.”
But then, perhaps the Caledonians got the idea for the kilt from seeing the Roman toga. It was Tacitus himself who remarked of the early British Celts that: “A liking sprang up for our style of dress and the ‘toga’ became fashionable.”
This observation encouraged many 19th-century antiquarians to comment on the striking similarity between the dress of the kilted Scottish regiments and that of the ancient Roman legions. Could it be that besides the crop-circles and ridges that indicate long-vanished forts and highways – or the ruined altars, ornate battle masks and jewellery dug up by archaeologists – the greatest legacy the Romans bequeathed to Scotland was actually our national dress?
Gli scavi archeologici effettuati in Piazza Marconi, a Cremona, hanno confermato la distruzione della citta' narrata da Tacito. Lo annunciano gli studiosi intervenuti oggi alla Sala delle Colonne della Sovrintendenza per i Beni Archeologici, a Milano. Tacito aveva descritto nelle "Storie" la distruzione di Cremona nel 69 d.C, ad opera delle armate di Aulo Vitellio, ma fino a oggi non si poteva affermare che l'episodio narrato fosse realmente accaduto.
The legions now began to form themselves into a "testudo," and the other troops to discharge volleys of stones and darts, when the courage of the Vitellianists began to flag. The higher their rank, the more readily they succumbed to fortune, fearing that when Cremona had fallen quarter could no longer be expected, and that all the fury of the conqueror would be turned, not on the penniless crowd, but on the tribunes and centurions, by whose slaughter something was to be gained. The common soldiers, careless of the future and safer in their obscurity, still held out. Roaming through the streets or concealed in the houses, they would not sue for peace even when they had abandoned the contest. The principal officers of the camp removed the name and images of Vitellius; Caecina, who was still in confinement, they released from his chains, imploring him to plead their cause. When he haughtily rejected their suit, they entreated him with tears; and it was indeed the last aggravation of misery, that many valiant men should invoke the aid of a traitor. Then they displayed from the walls the olive branches and chaplets of suppliants, and when Antonius had ordered that the discharge of missiles should cease, they brought out the eagles and standards. Then followed, with eyes bent on the ground, a dismal array of unarmed men. The conquerors had gathered round; at first they heaped reproaches on them and pointed at them their weapons; then seeing how they offered their cheeks to insulting blows, how, with all their high spirit departed, they submitted, as vanquished men, to every indignity, it suddenly occurred to their recollection, that these were the very soldiers who but shortly before had used with moderation their victory at Bedriacum. Yet, when Caecina the consul, conspicuous in his robes of state and with his train of lictors, came forward thrusting aside the crowd, the victors were fired with indignation, and reproached him with his tyranny, his cruelty, and, so hateful are such crimes, even with his treason. Antonius checked them, gave him an escort, and sent him to Vespasian.
Meanwhile the population of Cremona was roughly handled by the soldiers, who were just beginning a massacre, when their fury was mitigated by the entreaties of the generals. Antonius summoned them to an assembly, extolled the conquerors, spoke kindly to the conquered, but said nothing either way of Cremona. Over and above the innate love of plunder, there was an old feud which made the army bent on the destruction of the inhabitants. It was generally believed that in the war with Otho, as well as in the present, they had supported the cause of Vitellius. Afterwards, when the 13th legion had been left to build an amphitheatre, with the characteristic insolence of a city population, they had wantonly provoked and insulted them. The ill-feeling had been aggravated by the gladiatorial show exhibited there by Caecina, by the circumstance that their city was now for the second time the seat of war, and by the fact that they had supplied the Vitellianists with provisions in the field, and that some of their women, taken by party-zeal into the battle, had there been slain. The occurrence of the fair filled the colony, rich as it always was, with an appearance of still greater wealth. The other generals were unnoticed; Antonius from his success and high reputation was observed of all. He had hastened to the baths to wash off the blood; and when he found fault with the temperature of the water, an answer was heard, "that it would soon be warm enough. Thus the words of a slave brought on him the whole odium of having given the signal for firing the town, which was indeed already in flames.
Forty thousand armed men burst into Cremona, and with them a body of sutlers and camp-followers, yet more numerous and yet more abandoned to lust and cruelty. Neither age nor rank were any protection from indiscriminate slaughter and violation. Aged men and women past their prime, worthless as booty, were dragged about in wanton insult. Did a grown up maiden or youth of marked beauty fall in their way, they were torn in pieces by the violent hands of ravishers; and in the end the destroyers themselves were provoked into mutual slaughter. Men, as they carried off for themselves coin or temple-offerings of massive gold, were cut down by others of superior strength. Some, scorning what met the eye, searched for hidden wealth, and dug up buried treasures, applying the scourge and the torture to the owners. In their hands were flaming torches, which, as soon as they had carried out the spoil, they wantonly hurled into the gutted houses and plundered temples. In an army which included such varieties of language and character, an army comprising Roman citizens, allies, and foreigners, there was every kind of had a law of his own, and nothing was forbidden. For four days Cremona satisfied the plunderers. When all things else, sacred and profane, were settling down into the flames, the temple of Mephitis outside the walls alone remained standing, saved by its situation or by divine interposition.
There is a dreadful pathos in the search for origins. Along with the thrill of discovery comes the stinging consciousness of loss.
The proud and formidably erudite scholars of the Renaissance mourned the death of the classical languages and literatures we credit them with bringing back to life. One admitted, despairingly, "There is no single book of Roman antiquity which we professors fully understand." The poet Petrarch likewise confessed in a letter addressed to Homer, his ancient predecessor, "I realize how far from me you are."
Colin Farrell, who played Alexander the Great, was dismissed as too sleazy, while Eric Bana, who was the Incredible Hulk as well as Hector in Troy, was ruled out as lacking adequate good looks.
Some time ago, the son of a friend of mine had reached a stage of life where he liked nothing more than to unsettle his father. Nearing the end of year 12, he thought he had at last found the means to put the old man well and truly off his cornflakes. He announced that he intended to go to university to study classics.
Classic is a word that has been so stripped of value that it has long been used to describe a style of jeans, soft-drink bottle or car. But the young man meant he wanted to spend time in the arcane and yet strangely familiar world of Greek and Latin language and literature. The classics are the attic of our culture. In them, you can find all kinds of fascinating and useful things, as well as important reminders of our family history, which have been allowed to gather dust. As a community we don't go up to the attic much. We have forgotten where we've put the key.
Yet there is a growing curiosity about what's up there. You catch glimpses of it occasionally. A large Sydney bookshop, for example, recently had in stock not just a couple of copies but a pile of Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis, a Latin translation of the first Harry Potter book. It wasn't a spoof. Maybe the intended buyers were high school Latin students. But rest assured, there are sane folk who take pleasure and comfort in the reassuring shape of Latin sentences. Some of them are seeking refuge from the traumatic stress disorder suffered by the English language. Others are young people who are bored to sobs by Big Brother.
Luke Slattery is part of this cultural resistance. His account of classic (mainly Greek) culture, Dating Aphrodite, is part of a growing trend in non-fiction writing, one that answers a profound need. The problem for those wanting to find their way up to the attic is not shortage of material. It is the opposite. Enter the name of Homer, the blind Greek bard who sang The Iliad and The Odyssey, into Google and within seconds you will get 21,000,000 hits. Admittedly, a good number of these are for Homer Simpson. But the point is obvious. The culture we inhabit is changing from one based on memory, a human art, to one based on retention. If you take $20 out of an ATM, that factoid will be retained in a computer for all eternity. But the smell of the flowers you bought with the $20 can only be remembered. Telstra may retain an account of every phone number you ever dialled. But the tenderness of a conversation over the phone can't be retained, only remembered.
Retention creates data. Memory leads to story-telling. Dating Aphrodite is an important act of cultural memory. This book and others that take readers by the hand and make them welcome in a particular intellectual passion of the author are a counterweight to the search engine. They are more like rescue engines.
Slattery's enthusiasm for the classics is longstanding. He remembers his childhood encounters with Homer: "My imagination had been set alight." He remarks that once he had discovered Achilles, Hector and Ajax, as well as the Greek gods, "the New Testament never had a chance". This comment is a clue to perhaps the one shortcoming of Slattery's tour of classical storytelling, myth-making and truth-finding. He lets us rub shoulders briefly with St Paul, but doesn't really have much interest in how Christianity helped shape the late classic world and was shaped by it. Given that Slattery's persuasive argument for a new classical literacy is based on an understanding that "the classical world is contemporary", it wouldn't hurt to recall that Christianity is also still around.
Dating Aphrodite is a hospitable book. It touches on the resonances between Gallipoli and Troy, it goes to Ithaca, it retells superbly the story of Alexander the Great, it undertakes a small odyssey in search of the writer Paddy Leigh Fermor, it investigates the tensions between Apollo and Dionysius, it explores the figure of Pan, it seeks to rescue love from the claws of cliche. Slattery's fresh insight is born of rational passion. Yet he is wary of romanticising the classical world, making of it an ideal substitute for our own clouded reality. He advocates a broadband classicism, one that doesn't escape to the classical world but brings classical wisdom on line for modern living. This is evident in one of the strongest chapters of Dating Aphrodite, dealing with Stoicism, Epicureans and philosophical therapy as a means to the good life.
It's worth bearing in mind that the word "attic" originates in Greece: Attica was the area around Athens, which gave its name to a type of elegant architecture, which gave its name to a type of column, which gave its name to a raised room. Sequences like this are the songlines of Western culture.
And what about the young man who wanted to annoy his father by studying classics? His dad was secretly pleased because he thought the boy might learn something. But he couldn't let the boy know that in case he changed his plans. So the boy went to the careers adviser at his school.
"I want to do Latin," he said.
Male secum agit aeger, medicum qui heredem facit.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 626)
It goes badly for the sick man who makes the doctor the beneficiary of his will.
(pron = MAH-lay SAY-koom AH-git AI-gher, MEH-dih-koom kwee he-RAY-dem FAH-kit)
Comment: This proverb made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately the Romans did not
have a good experience with “medicine” or with doctors. Medical knowledge was
not very advanced. A good practicing wise woman (aka witch) might have served
you better with her knowledge of herbs than a Roman doctor.
Martial has an epigram in which he speaks of a man, now an undertaker, who used
to be a doctor. What he used to do as a doctor, he now finishes as an
So, the short of it? See the big picture, and avoid conflicts of interest!
Perhaps we should write this proverb on pieces of paper and send them to US
AMAZING finds by archaeologists during recent excavations at Brading Roman Villa mean history will have to be re-written, not just there but at other important mosaic sites around the country.
Although his findings are still to be published, archaeologist Kevin Trott has compiled a 400-page report, which has dispelled some long-held myths and is set to take the archaeological world by storm.
This week he gave the County Press an insight into the archaeologically-explosive contents.
Palladius, the supposed owner of the villa, is now completely out of the frame. It has emerged that when the villa burnt down in a catastrophic fire in around 300 AD, Palladius had not even been born.
There is now overwhelming evidence that the villa dates from the third century, not the fourth as originally thought from the style of the mosaics.
This revision of its date has repercussions for other prominent Roman sites, which have been dated from the style of their mosaics.
"Our findings have even surprised experts like me but it is clear that basing a date on the style of mosaics is a false way of doing things," said Mr Trott, whose fast-growing reputation means he is being invited to talk at conferences about his work.
"The work we have just completed has unravelled everything completely," said Mr Trott, 33, who lives with his wife Kathryn and son, Joseph, one, in Staplers Road, Newport.
After his excavations, which began in 2003, the pottery, glass, coins and other artefacts were sent off to individual experts for their analysis. Once those reports came back, all the evidence was analysed and pulled together by Mr Trott.
He and a team of up to 28 people have looked at the site from the very earliest period 8,000 years ago in the Middle Stone Age up to the present.
During the period of the Roman Emperor Nero, in about AD60, there was a high-status building on the site.
"Not only did the owner have mosaics but also painted wall plaster and the interesting thing is that he could afford minerals to make the paint up — cinnabar and Egyptian blue, which came from Spain and Egypt respectively. Only five other sites in Britain have this and they include such significant places as Fishbourne Roman Palace," said Mr Trott, who comes from nine generations of Islanders.
The villa in Brading, as it is seen today, was built in 270AD, but it was to be completely destroyed in a catastrophic fire just 30 years or so later.
Soil samples suggest there was never a formal garden at the villa. All that was outside was domestic rubbish and toilets in front of the building.
Thousands of charred beans were also found — the largest amount discovered in Britain — and it is Mr Trott's view they were a staple diet on the Island, in the same way that Lincolnshire became known for producing brussels sprouts.
The beans were preserved by being charred, probably in the fire which destroyed the villa.
Our latest from Christie's is a 1st century Roman copy (I've always wondered how they know it's a copy) of a 4th century B.C. Greek piece of some philosopher ... in addition to the official description on this one, folks might like to read a piece from the New York Times about the collection whence this (and most of the previous pieces) comes. [note in passing ... what I find very interesting about much of these pieces is that, unlike many other auctions, most of them seem to have been published]
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre
THUS Kipling saw the end of Empire.
Nineveh is now a collection of dusty mounds on the Tigris near Mosul, endangered by looting in the lawlessness of modern Iraq, but Tyre survives as a modest port on the coast of Lebanon.
It is also an archaeological site of immense potential importance, a study concludes. The silting up of its ancient northern harbour “means that the heart of the Bronze Age, Phoenician, Greek, Roman and Byzantine ports could be excavated on land, in much the same way as a classic terrestrial dig,” say Nick Marriner, a British archeologist.
Marriner, who has been working with Christophe Morhange of the Université de Provence and his colleagues in their investigation of historic Mediterranean ports, notes in the Journal of Archaeological Science: “Tyre’s ancient northern harbour has been a source of scientific intrigue and debate for many centuries. Many scholars have long questioned whether the modern port corresponds to its counterpart in antiquity.”
Tyre was an island fortress until Alexander the Great took it in 332 BC and built a causeway linking it to the mainland. The island itself is said to have been created by Hiram, King of Tyre, who sent cedars of Lebanon to King David for his palace and to Solomon for the first Temple in Jerusalem. Hiram linked the two Ambrosian Isles to create his city, with the principal harbour on the north.
The French team have sunk boreholes and extracted cores of sediment that reveal the history of Tyre. While some sediment came from the Litani river to the south, there were also cultural contributions. Mudbrick architecture yielded clay particles that sluiced down the streets, agriculture inland led to erosion and runoff, and people dumped rubbish in the harbour.
In spite of this, prosperity remained through the Byzantine period, until after the 6th century AD the deteriorating infrastructure no longer sheltered the harbour: the cores revealed an exposed beach, “a classic feature of all abandoned ancient harbours”. This evidence has been combined with a study of the current urban topography and shows that at its greatest extent in the Bronze Age, the harbour was twice as large as it is today.
A large portion of the former basin lies beneath the present market, and another important area is sandwiched between the modern breakwater and its ancient submerged counterpart: the first French investigators in the 1860s estimated the area of the old port with fair accuracy.
“The palaeogeography of Tyre’s northern harbour has been fashioned since antiquity by geomorphological and mareographic factors,” the team conclude. “Rising sea levels and expanding international trade forced the Phoenicians to build early artificial infrastructure, before the apogees of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Problems of silting were overcome by repeated dredging, with deliberate overdeepen- ing to maintain a navigable harbour.”
The team suggests that a management programme be developed for this important site.
De Turcia et Crotia in UE asciscendis
Post longas disputationes Unio Europaea die Lunae constituit, ut consultationes de Turcia in Unionem asciscenda incoharentur.
Putantur autem illae consultationes fore longae et minime decem annorum, cum necesse sit, ut Turci democratiam, iura humana legesque revereantur, antequam in Unionem accipiantur.
José Manuel Barroso, praeses Commissionis Europaeae, monuit Turciam animos civium Europaeorum sibi conciliare debere, nam illos imprimis de Turcis asciscendis decreturos esse; Turciam quidem eodem modo tractandam esse quo ceteras nationes candidatas, sed consultationes cum illa severae et honestae essent.
Etiam cum Croatia de adhaesione consultari coeptum est. Mense Martio consultationes cum Croatis dilatae sunt, cum illi omnes suos de criminibus belli suspectos in tribunal Haagense non tradidissent. Nunc autem Carla del Ponte, accusatrix principalis, affirmavit Croatiam cum tribunali plene cooperari.
When the Roman emperor Hadrian visited Delphi in 125AD, he asked the famous oracle: "Where was Homer born and who were his parents?" You might have thought that the ruler of an empire that stretched from Scotland to Syria and probably included 60 million inhabitants would have had more weighty issues on his mind. After all, there had been conspirators trying to unseat him; there was more than the usual trouble with barbarians (hence, on some interpretations, his decision to build "The Wall"); and a major Jewish uprising was only a few years away.
Nonetheless, it was the family background of the first and most renowned Greek epic poet that was the subject of his inquiry. Quick-thinking, the priestess obliged: Homer was born on the island of Ithaca, and was none other than son of Telemachus, and grandson of Odysseus himself. This curious incident introduces the vast new (self-styled "epic") history of the classical world, both Greece and Rome, over 900 years from Homer to Hadrian, by Robin Lane Fox: Oxford classics don, huntsman, gardening correspondant and academic adviser on Oliver Stone's Alexander - not to mention a rider in one of its cavalry charges.
Lane Fox's basic message is that an enormous amount is lost in the split that most modern writers make between Greek history on the one hand, and Roman on the other. For a start, despite our usual assumption that Greek civilisation came first, the two cultures developed side by side: Rome, according to the Romans' own dating, was founded less than 20 years after the first Olympic Games.
More important, Greece and Rome were constantly interacting, and not just in that Greece was eventually swallowed up in the Roman empire. There were statues of Greek celebrities in the Roman forum from as early as the fourth century BC. And Rome's neighbours in Etruria were eager consumers of Athenian pottery from the sixth century on: the vast majority of "Greek" decorated pottery in our museums was actually found in Italy.
The emperor Hadrian represents the acme of that process of interaction. He was a Roman who more or less became a Greek. He sported a distinctively Greek-style beard; he was known for his "Greek love" of the beautiful teenager Antinous, whose sultry features he replicated in hundreds of statues littered across the empire; and at his "villa" at Tivoli outside Rome (a euphemism for what was a vast palace the size of a small town), he literally recreated the Greek world on Italian soil, with expensive - if somewhat theme-park-style - replicas of major Greek sights, monuments and works of art.
It is for this reason that Hadrian provides the linking thread through Lane Fox's great sweep. We are repeatedly told what Hadrian made, or might have made, of the events and cultures described: he was keen on Spartan values, ill-informed about Sicily, uncomprehending of the complexities of Roman civil wars. He is even introduced at the beginning as the book's "assumed reader".
Apart from this, The Classical World is, by no stretch of the imagination, a radical or particularly innovative account. It is a brisk narrative, which concentrates on the stuff of political and military history, as the chapter headings themselves make clear: "Tyrants and Lawgivers", "Alexander the Great", "The Rise of Julius Caesar", and so on. There is not much on anyone below the ranks of the elite. The nouveaux riches of Pompeii are rather sniffily dismissed for their vulgar tastes, while the Roman plebs are written off as "at bottom conservatives" (an extremely unlikely idea).
Se damnat iudex, innocentem qui opprimit.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia (614)
The judge who crushes the innocent finds himself guilty.
(pron = say DAHM-naht YOO-decks ihn-noh-KEN-tem kwee OHP-prih-mit)
Comment: This is a classic example of “the split”. Aristotle said that what
the pilot is to the ship, what the driver is to the chariot, what the director
is to the choir, and what the law is to the state and the general is to the
army, the Divine is in the world.
“The split” is given voice very clearly there. They are all examples of a force
from outside, and presumably superior, that acts on an inanimate object—until
the last two. Law then, is an example of words being used to act on animate
beings. The general is a human being acting on a human being. Aristotle uses
analogies that break down into nice, separate pieces, but they become the model
for viewing the world, and this energy in the world he calls “theos” in Greek,
translated “deus” in Latin. What is supposed to be a unitive principle,
divides. We all become little judges condemning the innocent.
What if judge, Innocent, punishment, and finding guilt were not separate pieces,
but all of a whole?
What if the judge were punishing the Innocent within him/herself? Then, it
would be much clearer, wouldn’t it, that the one judging is finding him/herself
It happens every day. “I’m stupid”. “I’m dumb”. “I don’t get it”. I hear
students do this every day. They have learned judging the innocent within very
well. Others simply focus that judgment outside themselves—blame. I hear
adults and teens doing that every day. I can hear myself doing that, too. I
learned how to do that well.
Look in the mirror. The judge who condemns the Innocent can just as easily say:
“It’s okay to be who I am right now.” And the split in the universe mends a
Today Christie's offers us a late 1st/early 2nd century A.D. bust of an unidentified man. As the official description suggests, the fact he is wearing a himation (or pallium) marks this guy out either as someone of Greek origin or some Roman with a predeliction for things Greek.
He interpreted the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey,” two of the great classic poems of all time. Now Kansas University professor Stanley Lombardo has translated Virgil’s “Aeneid,” completing a quest that began when he was a teenager.
But Lombardo’s translation — recently released by Hackett Publishing Co. — isn’t a verbatim conversion into English. It is an art all of its own
“It’s like a spiritual struggle,” Lombardo said of the translation process. “You know somehow it’s there. You can’t find it within yourself.”
Like creating a painting, translation is painstaking work. It can take an hour — at a computer, in a coffee shop or at home — for Lombardo to translate 10 lines. In the case of the Iliad, there are 16,000 lines.
The key is to find the original author’s voice and to fuse that with your own, Lombardo said. And that isn’t always easy.
Lombardo labors to create believable voices and to use contemporary American language that is respectful of the original text.
“It’s got to be a page turner,” he said. “The idea is to bring the poems to life, not to embalm them.”
Retired KU classics professor Betty Banks said translation requires being true to the text, while making it speak to a contemporary audience.
“It’s creating a new work of art out of an old work of art,” she said.
Lombardo also performs his translations — sometimes to the music of a folk harper, sometimes to the beat of a single drum. Audio versions of Lombardo’s translations will be released in March.
“I’m telling the story and becoming the characters and creating some rhythmic trance,” he said.
Cassandra Barrett, 12, attended a recent Lombardo reading.
“It was exciting,” Cassandra said. “It wasn’t just cold reading. It was a lot of really emotional stuff. … His word usage: it was really vivid and colorful. It made it easier to picture in your mind.”
Cassandra’s father, Ron Barrett, also attended a reading.
“When he got done reading, the audience sat there in stony silence because they were so shocked by his words,” Barrett said.
Lombardo’s love for poetry began when he was a teenager. He spent his career mastering Greek and Latin, studying poetry, and immersing himself in the history and stories of the classics. That work, he said, enabled him “lock eyebrows” with the original writer.
“You know it so well, you can get beyond the language to the mind,” he said.
With his life’s work complete, Lombardo has felt a little blue. He filled the void with a new translation venture: Dante.
That, he said, should keep him busy for awhile.
UE et Russia cooperantur
Unio Europaea et Russia de cooperatione artiore et visis facilius concedendis inter se consenserunt.
Russi promittunt se immigratores illegales, qui in Unionem Europaeam per Russiam transierint, recepturos esse; Unio Europaea visa legatis diplomaticis, studentibus negotiatoribusque Russis facilius quam ante datum iri pollicetur.
Pacto de his rebus adhuc hoc anno subscribetur. In eodem conventu Londinii habito praesidens Russiae Vladimir Putin affirmavit transmissionem energiae ex Russia in Unionem Europaeam fideliter continuatum iri.
Dimidium gasi terrestris et tertia fere pars petrolei, quibus Unio Europaea utitur, ex Russia aut per illam transmittuntur.
Robert Welch University (www.robertwelchuniversity.org), a new online university headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin, appointed Dr. Lisa St. Louis Executive Director and Full Professor. The appointment, which is subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of Robert Welch University, is effective immediately. Dr. St. Louis, a native of Toronto, Canada, graduated with a PhD in Latin literature from the University of Ottawa in 2001, a Master of Studies degree in Latin from Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 1993 and an Honours B.A. in Classics from Trinity College, University of Toronto in 1992. Dr. St. Louis has previously held teaching positions at the University of Ottawa, Acadia University, Nipissing University and Wilfrid Laurier University.
As Adjunct Professor at Robert Welch University, she created the university's online classical language offering with courses in Latin and Ancient Greek. The courses were prepared within the university's world-class, interactive learning environment which is based on the Moodle (www.moodle.org) open source learning management system. In addition to her duties as Executive Director, Dr. St. Louis will hold an academic appointment at the rank of Full Professor and be responsible for the expansion of the classical studies curriculum and instruction at all levels.
A brief history: voice lessons with local legend Russell Faith, who tutored such other successful young Philadelphians as Andrea McArdle and Joey Lawrence. Dancing with the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, the School of American Ballet, and the Royal Ballet in London. High school at the Professional Children's School in New York (she was pals with Scarlett Johansson). And college at Princeton, where, after extensive time off for theater, movies and now TV, she'll be a junior someday and perhaps the oldest member ever of the BodyHype student dance company.
"I will definitely go back," she says. "It's just a matter of when. Princeton's been there a long time. I'm majoring in classical studies, with a theater and dance certificate. I'm interested in Western literary theatrical traditions."
She speaks ancient Greek - "only at the intermediate level," she's quick to explain. And she seems to cringe a little every time she says Princeton, preferring the generic college.
Improbe Neptunum accusat qui iterum naufragium facit.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 264)
The one who suffers a shipwreck for the second time improperly blames Neptune.
(Pron = ihm-PRO-bay nehp-TOO-noom ahk-KOO-sat kwee EE-the-room now-FRAH-ghee-oom
Comment: Shipwrecks happen. Sometimes it is because the sea was rough, the
waves deep, the wind blew hard and the rain came down in buckets. Sometimes it
is because sharp and huge rocks (or icebergs) laid hidden in the water.
Sometimes it is because the pilot of the ship did a poor job navigating. And
sometimes it is because the ship itself was not seaworthy. Shipwrecks happen,
and there are multiple reasons for them.
Must someone be blamed for them? The wind and the sea, even rocks were only
doing what they do. The energy called “Neptune” is what it is, and it remains
true to that even if true to that means being unpredictable. The only question
then remains: who ventured out into the unpredictable waters that were the scene
of the wreck before? Well, there’s one more question, or two: when someone
ventured into the unpredictable waters that so predictably cause shipwrecks,
was the ship seaworthy? Was the pilot prepared? Was the pilot minding his
duty when the wreck happened?
When shipwrecks happen Neptune is unjustly blamed. The sea was being and doing
what it does. That leaves to wonder: how have I respected this sea? How have
I honored what the sea is? How have I handled the energy that I am as a human
being faced with an interaction with this sea? And finally, if there has been a
second shipwreck, and I am still alive, what now, finally, might I learn from it
UE et Russia cooperantur
Unio Europaea et Russia de cooperatione artiore et visis facilius concedendis inter se consenserunt.
Russi promittunt se immigratores illegales, qui in Unionem Europaeam per Russiam transierint, recepturos esse; Unio Europaea visa legatis diplomaticis, studentibus negotiatoribusque Russis facilius quam ante datum iri pollicetur.
Pacto de his rebus adhuc hoc anno subscribetur. In eodem conventu Londinii habito praesidens Russiae Vladimir Putin affirmavit transmissionem energiae ex Russia in Unionem Europaeam fideliter continuatum iri.
Dimidium gasi terrestris et tertia fere pars petrolei, quibus Unio Europaea utitur, ex Russia aut per illam transmittuntur.
Today Christie's offers us a late 6th century Black Figure belly amphora with a nice pic of Hercules wrestling the Nemean Lion as assorted divinities look on (that Iolaus acting as Hercules' caddy by holding his club). A better photo can be had from the official description page.
The challenge, of course, is how to illustrate Hughes' soothing narration, which is accomplished through a mix of footage as she travels to historic locales, cheesy-looking re-creations and pictures of Bronze Age art, all set to dramatic music. So the camera pans across trees or countryside or the Mediterranean before settling on Hughes, often with her tousled hair waving in the breeze, highlighted by the moment when she wades chest-deep into a mineral spring near the end.
Take that, Indiana Jones.
Although Hughes puts an attractive countenance front and center, "Helen" reinforces an image that PBS has labored to shed -- a stodgy, boring haven for British accents and programs more likely to be written about than viewed. Somehow there has to be room for historical discussion that isn't bastardized, but also doesn't recall every sleep-inducing film students nap through in class.
PBS still has a strong reason for existing in its ability to serve children and older viewers being disenfranchised by commercial TV's lockstep emphasis on young-adult demos. Yet much as I wanted to like "Helen," it was a Herculean feat to stay planted on the couch for its duration. And while this kind of exercise is sure to offend no one -- including conservatives who would transform public broadcasting into theAbstinence Channel -- after a half-hour or so of "Helen," even they might begin surfing cable for the R-rated version starring Brad Pitt.
Non omnes qui habent cithram sunt citharoedi.
(Varro, De Re Rustica, 2.1.3)
Not all those who have lyres are lyre players.
(pron = nohn OHM-nays kwee HA-bent KIH-trahm soont kih-trah-OI-dee)
Comment: Varro also says in this work on farming and life in the countryside:
No one can know everything. And so this proverb for today is an example of
that. Not everyone who owns a guitar or a piano is an accomplished musician.
Not everyone who owns a set of golf clubs is a pro player. Not everyone who
owns a computer is a master at internet technology. And so it goes.
But I do love to get my feet wet in many rivers. And I have. And I will
continue to. It makes life more interesting to taste everything on the table,
so to speak. One of my grandfathers was legendary in his response at holiday
dinners when asked which kind of dessert he would have: a little piece of
everything—and for him that was no metaphor. This was a man who had a very
hard childhood, and a very hard-at-labor adulthood. You could look at his life
and know that he did not enjoy many things. But, he knew the joy of tasking “a
little piece of everything sweet”.
Aren’t there some things in the world around us today that have caught our
attention—things which we know we would love to know more about, experience
more completely, partake of more regularly—or just try out once? As long as
they are not illegal or harmful, why not? I am pretty sure that Varro was
interested in focusing in on the things necessary for good farming, and so in a
more ancient way, was networking among his fellow farmers for “best practices”.
Which makes a point: if everyone does the same thing all the time, there are no
best practices to share—only a very small, very limited little world to live in.
Everyone who owns a lyre may not be a lyre player. And everyone cannot know
everything. By the way, anyone know where I might find a good second hand
Archeologists have discovered rock paintings depicting strange creatures and called them teriantrops, hybrids of humans and animals. Researchers believe that ancient artists made the painting from life.
Paul Takon from the Australian Museum in Sydney and anthropologist Christopher Chippendale from the University of Cambridge say that such hybrids, including centaurs, were highly likely living side by side with primitives. In Australia and South Africa, the researchers discovered dozens of rock paintings showing animals with human heads and humans with animal heads that may be over 32 thousand years old.
They have had the first in history detailed study of the strange drawings. The study covered about 5,000 rock paintings of our ancestors; the researchers systematized the frequency and the types of depicted teriantrops and determined their ages. They arrived at a conclusion that animal men actually existed in the remote past. They believe that primitives could hardly draw what they never saw.
Myths of Ancient Greece and Rome also tell us about animal men, and centaurs are the most frequent ones. These are creatures with the human torso transforming into the feet of a horse or some other animal, a bull, a donkey, a sheep and even a goat. The word centaur is a compound of KEN (kenw) meaning "I kill" and TAUROS meaning "bull", and it reveals astronomic knowledge of our ancestors. When the constellation of Sagittarius (Centaurus throwing a spear) appears in the night skies, we can no longer see Taurus, one of the Sun symbols.
The anciet legends say that centaurs came down from the Greek mountains where they failed to keep up friendly relations with the local population. As far as some centaurs loved drinking wine, they easily flew into a rage and conflicted with people.
Mythology expert, Candidate of historical sciences Alexander Guryev says that animal men were the result of buggery, sex contacts between men and animals, which were quite typical of the ancient epochs. The expert adds that many people believed that they descended from animals: Tibetans believed they descended from monkeys, Hindu believed that horses were their ancestors and people in Thailand thought they descended from the dog.
Some ancient legends are absolutely strange indeed. There is an old Greek myth saying that great conqueror Alexander the Great was conceived after a contact with a grass-snake, into whom Zeus, the patron of all gods and humans, turned with the view to seduce Olympia, the daughter of Macedonian king.
“He had just finished reading ‘The Iliad,’ which is something he always wanted to do, just the Thursday before he died,” she said.
Praemium medicinae Nobelianum
Praemium Nobelianum medicinae duo investigatores Australiani, Barry Marshall et Robin Warren, accipient.
Illi primi erant, qui anno millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo secundo helicobacterium in ventre hominis invenerunt.
Idem animadverterunt homines, qui bacterium haberent, semper fere ulcere aut catarrho ventris affectos esse.
Bacterio reperto illi morbi magnam partem antibioticis curantur.
What the First World War was for Europe, the Peloponnesian War was for the ancient Greeks. It was also their Napoleonic Wars and their American Civil War. The protracted, ruinous conflict between Athens and Sparta, which dragged on for nearly 30 years (431 B.C. to 404 B.C.) prefigured, in one way or another, nearly every major conflict to come, right up the present war on terror.
The "war like no other," as Thucydides called it, continues to fascinate because it always seems pertinent, and never more so than in Victor Davis Hanson's highly original, strikingly contemporary retelling of the superpower confrontation he calls "a colossal absurdity."
In his capable hands, the past, more often than not, seems almost painfully present. Thucydides, the great historian of the war, is described as a kind of embedded reporter. The Athenians, relying on local populations under Spartan rule to greet them as liberators, never encountered quite the enthusiasm they anticipated, and the imperial assumptions behind "Athenianism," which Mr. Hanson calls "the Western world's first example of globalization," suggest uncomfortable comparisons. Like the Athenians, he writes, Americans are "all-powerful, but insecure, professedly pacifist yet nearly always in some sort of conflict, often more desirous of being liked than being respected, and proud of our arts and letters even as we are more adept at war."
The mysterious Etruscans have left us fine razors of bronze. Somehow, their inheritors, the Romans, retreated to iron, which rusted away, leaving few archaeological examples.
The ancient Greeks wore beards until they were conquered by Alexander the Great (356 to 323 B.C.), who was a fanatic about being clean shaven and established the smooth-cheeked ideal.
The Romans, likewise, affected beards until around the late 2nd century B.C., when the Greek ideal began to catch on. Scipio Aemilianus, the adopted grandson of the great Scipio Africanus, looked forward to his daily shave (at the hands of a tonsor) and seems to have done much to establish the vogue.
But it was Julius Caesar (100 to 44 B.C.) who really set the standard. He insisted on being clean-shaven at all times, even late in the day. Jerome Carcopino, in his wonderful book, Daily Life in Ancient Rome, writes that Caesar made shaving such a fixture that "by the end of the first century B.C. nothing but the gravest or most painful crisis would have induced the great men of the day to omit a formality which had become for them a state duty."
And, Carcopino notes, ordinary Romans "would have thought themselves unworthy of their imperial masters if they had not followed suit." Those who could not afford a specially-trained in-house slave to shave them, repaired to the public square, where barbers set up shop, some becoming so famous that they were extolled by Roman poets.
Shaving became almost a religious rite -- a passage into manhood for Roman boys, who would have the hairs from their first shave deposited in an ornate receptacle with the date of the great event duly recorded.
This one's a bit unusual ... it's a fragment of a mosaic (obviously), dating to the 2nd/3rd century according to the official description. I can't claim to be an expert in mosaics, but I can't recall ever seeing a mosaic which contains a dedication such as this (to 'Artemis of the Ephesians')
For the first time in more than a decade, the pleasure of teaching ancient history is mine. Review is necessary to avoid accusations of teaching malpractice, and my colleagues have offered to bolster my rusty skills with advice, information and help. Our classics teacher, Dr. David Mehl, handed me a copy of the "Atlas of the Roman World" by Tim Cornell and John Matthews, and advised me that the book was scholarly and thorough without being pedantic or ponderous. That was a tactful way of saying it wouldn't be too hard for me to handle.
The issue of the decline and ultimate fall of the western portion of the Roman Empire has fascinated scholars for generations, but reasons or answers for such a complicated and multifaceted historic phenomenon resist large- scale or simple interpretation. Complexity resists clarity. My students and occasionally my readers sometimes ask me, "Why don't you give us a few conclusions instead of simply asking questions?" and I respond with the observation that plenty of people seem to know all the answers, while I spend more time wondering if we are even asking the right questions. I prefer to leave certainty to those who are certain.
That is why I like the approach to the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire adapted by Cornell and Matthews.
They acknowledge the human impulse to accept one clear answer, recognizing but not elaborating upon the suspect fall of Rome theories of climate change and blood poisoning from lead pipes. They recognize the analogy between the Roman Empire and a biological organism with its inevitable decline and death, even giving a nod to Voltaire who said simply that the empire ended because all things must end.
On a more serious note, they consider the widely-held contention that the empire declined because leadership morality declined but observe that the late emperors were quite solid and morally earnest fellows. It was the Judio-Claudian emperors and the leaders of the late republic who were famous for their immorality and decadence, and the empire survived long after they were distant memories.
The great British historian Gibbon cannot be dismissed lightly, and he argued that the decline of the Western Roman Empire was a consequence of its structure. Such extraordinary physical coercion was required to sustain the sheer immensity of the empire that citizens lost their sense of liberty and the concomitant interest in its preservation when the invasion came. The military classes had lost the spirit of collective courage and were overindulged by the emperors.
In addition, Gibbon theorized that Christianity diverted men's minds from civic duty to other-worldly concerns. Cornell and Matthews find this unpersuasive because the Eastern Roman Empire was equally Christian and survived for many years after the fall of the West.
Cornell and Matthews consider a few specifics in examining the West's fall: loss of two-thirds of its Eastern field army at the battle of Hadrianople (378), the appalling waste of Julian's Persian campaign, the civil wars of Constantius, the battle of Mursa (351) which depleted manpower, the agreement in 376 to admit Goths to the empire to fight for Rome, thereby eroding Rome internally. All of this together suggests a cause of the decline and fall related to reach exceeding grasp. The Roman Empire did not have the manpower to sustain itself. It lost its soldier/citizens in unnecessary and wasteful military operations.
Another distinct problem that Cornell and Matthews emphasize is the refusal of the senatorial landed class to carry its share of financial obligations. Put another way, the senators put self-interest ahead of the country's interest. They were the richest and most powerful class, but they were unwilling to sacrifice for the benefit of their country. Others could pay or sacrifice, but not the wealthiest. The people who benefited most from the privileges of citizenship were least willing to contribute.
Every history teacher knows better than to impose the lessons of the past on the circumstances of the present. New twists, new circumstances, make the fit of old lessons on new problems a poor one. Nonetheless, and with the purpose of infuriating my students, a question (not an answer) occurs to me: To what extent do the lessons Cornell and Matthews draw from the Western Roman Empire's fall apply to us today?
This is one of the examples of photos from the latest items at Christie's which are not as hi-res as we're used to. This is a 4th century B.C. figure of Pan, believe it or not ... when I first saw it, I thought it was Hercules on top of a lion skin. The details page says that's a rabbit. If you go to the details page, you can click on the photo and get a larger/better res photo ... the expression on Pan's face is almost Elmer Fudd-like ("I've killed the rabbit, now what").
In 1865, Washington College, like the rest of the South, was a once-proud institution -- George Washington himself had supported it financially -- that had fallen on hard times. It had suffered extensive damage during the Civil War, including frequent pillaging by Union troops. When Lee accepted the job only four teachers and about 40 students remained at the school.
So Lee once again faced formidable odds. When he accepted the Washington College job, Lee turned down several other job offers that were more lucrative than the $1,500 annual salary the financially strapped college was paying. But, as he said, "I have led the young men of the South in battle. I must now teach their sons to discharge their duty in life."
Lee immediately went to work. He revised the curriculum, adding to the traditional (classical) studies several more practical scientific and engineering courses. During the war Lee had seen firsthand what an advantage the Union North had enjoyed in terms of industrial production, technological development and advanced equipment, and he wanted the South to follow suit. [...]
Periculum obesitatis Americanis imminet. Ex investigatione, in qua corporis pondus quattuor milium hominum per triginta annos observabatur, apparuit septuaginta centesimas feminarum et nonaginta centesimas virorum esse obesos.
Periculum in eo est, quod homines pingues magiss quam ceteri morbis cardiovascularibus et diabetae atque quibusdam cancri generibus expositi sunt.
Iracundiam qui vincit, hostem superat maximum.
(Publilius Syrus, 251)
The individual who conquers his/her anger overcomes a very great enemy.
(pron = ee-rah-KOON-ee-ahm kwee WING-kit, HOS-tem SOO-per-aht MAK-sih-moom)
Comment: Publilius Syrus’ work is made up of long lists of short proverbs like
this. Like many such “books of proverbs” (quite like the Hebrew bible’s book
of Proverbs) there is little context that helps to understand any given
proverb, though at times they seems to be grouped thematically.
This proverb is preceded by one that asserts that “forgetfulness is the remedy
of injuries”, and is followed by one that hopes that “you may make an
acknowledged crime more intense by keeping silent”. Both seem to imply that it
is best not to talk about painful things—which leads me back to this notion of
conquering one’s anger.
Like many Americans my age and older, I certainly grew up in an environment and
culture which taught that the ONLY way to deal with anger was to suppress it.
The suppression was the way to conquer one’s anger. If one suppressed it well
enough, it was conquered. My own experience is that such “conquered anger” is
more like the Trojan horse full of tired, angry Greeks waiting to burn down the
city while everyone is asleep.
There is no way to know what Publilius Syrus means by “conquering anger”. With
adjoining proverbs that suggest silence or forgetfulness as remedies for injury
and crime, I don’t think he gets any awards for good psychological advice. Such
advice serves the society or system that the advice-giver is a part of, at face
value. Of course, in the end, when the anger that has been silenced emerges,
both the individual and the society he/she is a part of pay the price.
This piece from Christie's ... a 5th century B.C. red figure pelike with an image of Nike on it ... strikes me as somewhat bizarre. The official description doesn't shed any light on this, but doesn't it look like the artist originally had in mind a standing Nike, then decided to make her fly?
I assume we all know who this is, but just in case, it's a 2nd century B.C. head of Alexander ... the official description suggests it was originally gilded
Monaci, in urbe Bavariae, dies festi cervisiarii more translaticio celebrati sunt. Hoc anno plures festis diebus aderant quam umquam ante, sed minus cervisiae quam anno proximo potatum est.
Sex miliones hominum prope sex miliones litrarum cervisiae sumpserunt. Sollemnia hornotina fuerunt ordine centesima septuagesima secunda.
There seems to be no doubt at all that Paliki was once a separate island from the rest of Cephalonia. There is a very fair chance indeed that when Homeric Greeks spoke of “Ithaca”, this island (which would, after all, have been the westernmost in the group) is what they would have had in mind.
So far, so good. But sadly Bittlestone does not know where to stop. It is not just a question of trying to fit all the major locational clues in Homer into his theory (which means turning the “island” of the ambush into a peninsula – on the grounds that the Greek for “peninsula”, chersonesos, cannot fit into Homeric verse metre, and that this particular peninsula looks like an island from one direction anyway!). Worse is his keenness to squeeze every single literary episode that Homer sets on Ithaca into the topography of modern Paliki. This involves tracking down not just Odysseus’ palace itself (on the basis, to be fair, of a considerable scatter of Bronze Age pottery), but also such sites as the pig-farm of the loyal retainer Eumaios – where Bittlestone only just resists the temptation of identifying some decidedly modern agricultural walling as the remnants of the Homeric building (and does not manage to resist seeing in the local pigs, as one photo caption puts it, “descendants of Eumaios’ herd”).
Elsewhere Bittlestone wonders whether the Turkish mule path leading up from the harbour might be the very track, or at least lie over the very track, that Agamemnon and Menelaos trod when they came to visit Odysseus; and, near one of the author’s tentative locations for the palace itself, he comes across a suspiciously worn rock, with an indentation which he pronounces “just about the right size for a Bronze Age bottom”.
The end of the book descends into fantasy. Coming across some natural terracing in rock, on the road to what he identifies as the city of Ithaca, Bittlestone concludes that it could once have formed a meeting or performance space. After some initial cautious hesitation (there was, after all, nothing to “prove that it has ever been used for meetings or performances”), he follows the path of intuition. Perhaps this was not just any theatre – maybe it was the very theatre in which the original composer of the Odyssey first recited the poem. The original composer? Maybe – as the Delphic priestess herself once suggested to the Emperor Hadrian – none other than Telemachos’ son, Odysseus’ grandson, resident of Ithaca and hence (by the circular logic that underlies much of Odysseus Unbound) well informed about the details of Ithacan geography. This is Samuel Butler territory, but the words are not written – unless I have missed something – with the same twinkle in the eye.
HBO is actively poisoning the BitTorrent downloads of the new show Rome. In addition to an older tactic of offering bogus downloads that never complete, HBO is now obstructing the downloads offered by other people. BitTorrent downloads are peer-to-peer, but the peers are introduced to each other by a tracker ("you're looking for Rome Season 1 Episode 2, talk to 127.0.0.1"). HBO runs peers that tell the tracker they have all the chunks of the show, but then send garbage data when a downloader requests a chunk. The downloading client can detect that it's garbage and will try another peer for the chunk, but the end result is that it takes much much longer to download shows.
Continuing our look at what's at Christie's, here's a late 1st century B.C. bust of either Gaius or Lucius Caesar ... another interesting official description includes opinions that it might be a picture of Augustus as a lad
DON'T get Andrea Goldstein started on "Troy," the 2004 film based on Homer's "Iliad" that starred Brad Pitt as Achilles. A freshman at the University of Chicago, Ms. Goldstein, 18, was so incensed after seeing the movie that she wrote an anti-"Troy" polemic in her high school newspaper.
"On an absolute value scale of 10 to -10, this film gets a -7," she wrote, granting it a generous 3 points for set design and for its casting Orlando Bloom, whom she said did a good job "playing himself," as self-involved Paris. "It's like a train wreck: you stare in fascinated revulsion."
She's not alone in such objections. "It made too many changes to the story," said Callie Morris, 20, a junior at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. " 'The Iliad' existed for thousands of years and didn't need anyone to tamper with it."
Ms. Goldstein and Ms. Morris belong to a small but steadily growing subculture of young Americans who turn to Ovid for romantic advice and who care more about the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus than that of Angelina Jolie and Mr. Pitt. Some love the history, others the mythology and the literature, and others the languages. But all of them are sticklers for historical accuracy, and they all say that no Hollywood director has anything over Homer when it comes to epics.
Communicating with one another through classes, conventions or the Internet, they can drop words like chiasmus and synecdoche in casual conversation; have favorite Greek gods and goddesses; and call themselves nerds - with pride.
These nerds are at the gates. The number of students taking Latin is down from the turn of the 20th century; in 1905 an astonishing 56 percent of American high school students studied it. But the number has increased since it hit bottom in 1976, said Richard LaFleur, a former president of the American Classical League. A 2002 survey by the Modern Language Association showed a 14.1 percent increase (to 29,835 from 26,145) in the number of college students taking Latin since 1998 (ancient Greek was up 27.2 percent - to 20,858 from 16,402 - in that same period), and 7,892 students took the Advanced Placement exam for Latin this year, up from 4,142 in 1995, according to the College Board.
The National Latin Exam has experienced perhaps the most growth. When it was first offered in 1977 approximately 6,000 students took it. This year 134,873 students did.
For some students figuring out ancient languages itself is fun. Although many English words can trace their roots back to Latin (most estimates hover around 65 percent), the language's grammatical structure is very different from that of English. Nouns are grouped into four main families, called declensions, and each can take at least five endings, depending on their part of speech. (Subjects have different endings than direct objects, for example.) Latin has no set word order, which means that simply finding a sentence's verb can be a challenging game of hide and seek.
"I like math and logic and puzzles and history and literature and always thought that Latin was the perfect combination," said Tara Burton, 14, a high school freshman at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. "You figure out the grammar like it's a code, and then have the reward of getting to read this great literature."
For Ms. Burton and other aficionados of the classics, books are only the beginning. Every year the Junior Classical League organizes a national convention that draws students for five days of what Zachary Fenno, 18, the League's president, describes as a Latin summer camp.
"I'd attend every year for the rest of my life if I could," said Mr. Fenno, of Fargo, N.D., who plans to major in classics and genetics. This summer the convention, in Columbia, Mo., assembled 1,424 students and organizers to compete in sports, costume shows, oratory contests and a classics-theme trivia game called Certamen, a version of Jeopardy with questions about grammar, mythology, history and culture.
"It's just kind of mind blowing," said Al Dungan, 68, who was league president from 1953 to 1954. "Some of these kids practice all year long."
As with any subculture, the Internet has become a welcome meeting place for teenagers. A fan group dedicated to Cassandra, the Trojan prophet cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed, has 185 members. Another site, dedicated to fans of Greek mythology, has postings that range from a discussion of female mythological characters to a question about the correct spelling of the Greek word for "honor," which one group member's posting indicated that she planned to have tattooed on her ankle (or, as she put it, her "Achilles heel").
In some cases fans assume online identities based on the characters they admire. Ms. Morris uses Cassandra as her screen identity. She chose the name before knowing the character, but now refers to it online as "my soul's name."
In 10th grade Ms. Goldstein used her account on a popular blogging service called LiveJournal to start an online role-playing game about the Trojan War. Participants acted out the war through discussion boards and instant message conversations.
And unlike the filmmakers of "Troy," Ms. Goldstein and her fellow moderators cared about accuracy. "We have to stay true to 'The Iliad' and traditional mythology," they wrote in one of the 16 community rules listed for the site. "Cassandra can have a fling with Aeneas, but she can't go to Italy with him, because it didn't happen." But why would these stories, written more than 2,000 years ago, appeal to teenagers today?
"Are you kidding?" asked Kenneth F. Kitchell Jr., 57, president of the American Classical League. "Those are great stories!"
Mr. Kitchell, who helped start what he calls "the great counteroffensive" in the 1970's against the decline of Latin in the United States, seems to be onto something. Kelsey Turbeville, 18, a freshman at Wellesley College in Massachusetts said she had to hold back tears when she translated the part in 'The Iliad' where Hector dies. "I was on the subway," she said, "so I managed not to cry."
At Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, students present a statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, with offerings like balloons and glow sticks. Ms. Burton of Exeter said, "I never feel that sense of being casually close to other writers the way I do to Catullus or Cicero. I imagine the modern scenario of what Catullus would write if he had a blog, or what Cicero would say if he went on Fox News."
FOR Zach Herz, 19, a sophomore at the University of Chicago, ancient literature has an appeal that goes beyond the words themselves.
"What the classics give you is an understanding of our culture as the last expression of forces that have been in play for thousands of years," he said. "It makes you a little bit more modest, makes you understand that you're part of something big, of this great cultural thing that will go on after you're dead and that started before you ever were born."
And as for his thoughts on "Troy," he said it's a modern reflection of a different time. "The Greeks were comfortable with gods ruling their lives in a way that we're not. Instead of being a movie about Zeus and Poseidon and all that, it's a story about Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt is apparently our new god."
Q: What was the theological significance?
A: In antiquity, a kiss on the lips was seen as transferring a little bit of one's spirit to the other person. You have a lot of early -- I kind of think of them almost as Greco-Roman Harlequin -- novels that speak of the kiss as this transfer of spirit. Christians modify it a bit, to suggest that when Christians kiss each other, they don't just exchange their own spirit, but also share a part of the Holy Spirit with one another. So the kiss is seen as a way to bind the community together.
This one's an early 2nd century bust of Pan. The official description is definitely worth reading as it gives the story of the antiquities from Capesthorne Hall (by John Boardman), whence this piece comes.
Science, medicine, law, architecture, pop culture — for a tongue that people haven't spoken for centuries, the influence of the Latin language is so pervasive that we use it every day without realizing it.
Latin is the basis for the Romance languages, including Spanish, French and Italian. Sixty percent of English words — 90 percent of those with more than two syllables — have their roots in Latin. A rudimentary knowledge of Latin, at least certain phrases, remains essential in many professions.
"Latin to most people is a dead language, but even though no one can speak it, Latin is evident in cultures all over the world," said Merlyn Mathew, a 10th-grader at Clarkstown South High School.
Educators have noticed something else about Latin that most certainly will appeal to college-bound students. High school students who study Latin score more than 100 points higher than their peers on college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT. For all those reasons, Blind Brook High School added a Latin class this fall, joining a group of local school districts that offer one or more courses in the language, including Mahopac in Putnam County, Clarkstown and Pearl River in Rockland County, and Ardsley, Briarcliff, Bronxville, Chappaqua, Eastchester, Edgemont, Harrison, Hastings-on-Hudson, Hendrick Hudson, White Plains, Rye, Rye Neck, Scarsdale and Yorktown in Westchester County. Private schools, such as the Montford Academy, Hackley and The Harvey School, also teach it.
Educators have tried to keep the language vital and viable, with classes designed to improve students' vocabulary and grammar, comprehension of literary and scientific texts, history, and understanding of the extraordinary influence of ancient Rome on modern society. For 10th-grader Genevieve Marino, Latin opens up an entirely new world.
"It's unique even if you don't speak it; it's sort of mysterious," said Marino, a student at Pearl River High School.
Pearl River ninth-grader Richard Boyko said he saw immediate results after enrolling in a Latin class.
"My writing was good, but after taking Latin, it began to improve," Boyko said.
However, Latin is often the stepchild of the foreign language department, forgotten or misunderstood, rarely chosen by students and stymied by the lack of qualified teachers. Often, Latin classes don't receive the financial priority of other languages.
Nationally, the number of public high school students taking Latin has remained constant in the past two decades. An estimated 177,500 students take the language, a significant drop from 1934 when the number of public high school students taking it reached its peak. That year, 899,300 people studied it.
But all that appears to be changing, said Tom Sienkewicz, professor of Monmouth College in Illinois and vice chairman of the National Committee for Latin and Greek. This year, more than 148,000 students applied to take the National Latin Exam, a test administered by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League. Compare that to an estimated 6,000 who signed up for the test in 1977, the first year it was given.
"You have to sell Latin on the culture and learning about other people," Sienkewicz said.
The rise in student achievement and interest has caught the eye of local teachers. For years, teachers in the Blind Brook School District taught their fourth- and fifth-graders the Latin and Greek roots of words. Now, Blind Brook High School students can choose Latin as an elective course, and 45 students immediately signed up.
Blind Brook teacher Christine Blyler believes Latin improves a student's reading comprehensive. Take the Latin word "spectare," which means "to see." That one word is the basis for "spectacle," "spectator," and "respectable."
"Instead of having to look up so many words in dictionaries and things like that, they can — if not get the exact meaning — maybe get a feel for what the word is, from the context and from the root," Blyler said.
Reading an excerpt from Petronius' "Satyricon," teacher Tom Hoetzl spouted out Latin phrases that his 27 students didn't understand. First, he said the phrase "quasi embolum navis" (as if it were the prow of the boat). Then he tried to illustrate a boat on the blackboard. His students giggled because his depiction didn't look much like the seaworthy vessel in the story.
"I don't know," Hoetzl said sheepishly while he drew a sail on the boat.
During sea battles, the Romans rammed the bows of their ships into their enemies, he said. The boats became wedged together, enabling the Romans to walk across and continue to fight. Today, military strategists study Roman battle tactics, yet another reason why Latin language and culture remain relevant.
A lack of qualified teachers also impedes the growth of Latin because there is a nationwide shortage, Sienkewicz said. In New York, there are 919 teachers certified in Latin, compared with 11,553 certified in Spanish.
"To be well-educated citizens, (students) need to be aware of our past and not just our American history, but the foundation of our society in the ancient world," said Sienkewicz. "There's that perception that it's hard, it's for smart people. I firmly disagree. It's for everyone."
Trust Germaine Greer to ruffle fresh feathers, even among the scholarly predators of the Classical world. This week at the Bloomsbury Theatre, the refugee from Celebrity Big Brother (and scholar, critic, historian... ) gave the annual Sebald Lecture on the art of translation that follows the award of prizes for the year's best translations from individual languages. Greer sank her fearsome talons into a supposedly new poem by the semi-legendary Sappho, located by researchers on a papyrus in Cologne. She poured scorn on the credentials of the recent discovery, snorting that "if Sappho wrote this kind of stuff, we can afford to be without her". The poem she rejects was presented with a loud fanfare in June by the Times Literary Supplement. And which august journal co-hosted the event? You guessed.
This is described as a bust of an Antonine prince; the official description suggests Annius Verus or Commodus. Not the 'typical' image most of us tend to have of Commodus (if that's who it is).
A vast hoard of treasures from one of Italy's oldest and most mysterious archaeological sites has been tracked down to what Italian police described as "several secret museums" in Austria .
Thousands of priceless objects from Crustumerium near Rome were found on display in private residences in the Danube city of Linz and other Austrian towns, the Carabinieri's art crime division said on Thursday .
There were also finds from "other parts of Italy," the police said .
Some 600 objects have been seized and are already back in Italy, where archaeological teams are set to examine them .
Italian art cops have to keep a constant guard against tomb raids and other thefts commissioned by shady middlemen and unscrupulous dealers. The culture authorities here have been stepping up the fight to reclaim plundered riches now in private - and even public - hands abroad .
Crustumerium is a prehistorical site whose story has yet to be fully unravelled .
In the Aeneid, the greatest work by Ancient Rome's finest epic poet Virgil, the fabled city is mentioned as being renowned for its weapons-makers .
Virgil says they supplied local tribes fighting the Trojan hero Aeneas, who started the blood line leading to Romulus and Remus .
Res Proximae Orientis
Circulus vitiosus violentiae in Oriente Proximo intactus fere remanere videtur. Nam regimen Israelis, cui praeest princeps minister Ariel Sharon, exercitui Israeliano plenam auctoritatem dedit omnes rationes in bello contra terroristas Palaestinenses gerendo adhibendi.
Itaque copiae Israelianae impetu aerio in Gazam facto non solum ducem ordinis militaris islamistarum cum adiutore eius interfecerunt, sed etiam regionem illam multis bombis verberaverunt.
Feliciter sapit qui periculo alieno sapit.
(Plautus, Mercator 4.7.40)
He gains wisdom happily who gains it by means of someone else’s danger.
(Pron = fay-LICK-ih-tehr SAH-pit kwee pay-RICK-oo-loh ah-lee-AY-noh SAH-pit)
Comment: Very simply, we have opportunities to gain wisdom (really understand at
a through and through level—not just thinking thoughts) by listening to what
others have gained from their difficult experiences. These are the experiences
that challenge a human being at a core level—which take us back all the way to
our origins, to our deepest memories. Or, we can learn all of our lessons for
ourselves, by facing some of those same dangers ourselves. That is often not
necessary. We do not have to experience every danger in order to learn from
it. We can enter into the story of others and the wisdom they point to.
Here’s the catch, as I see it. Often, those we can gain wisdom from are older
than us. Young people, though, by the time they are making life choices, have
learned that often the adults in their world cannot be trusted. They have come
to think of adults as those who are not honest with them, who manipulate them,
who do not see clearly. When an adult comes along with something really honest
to say, the field of suspicion is in place.
The result: the young person will go out and enter into his/her own dangerous
experiences and learn (if he/she survives) the lesson that the older person
might have been able to pass along.
Who has a wisdom to point to today? Who is watching for signs of honesty and
trust today? It’s a total package.
NB. Someone was kind enough to write and alert me to the fact that “Numen,
lumen” is NOT the motto of the state of Wisconsin, which attribute I gave for
those words on Sept. 2. On further research, I discovered that it is the motto
of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My apologies for the error.
The place: Athens, Greece. The year: 403 B.C.
Athens has given in to Sparta after a long war, its navy defeated and its protective walls demolished. Democratic forces are on the rise. The Athenians are gathered to forge a new constitution.
Erin Nolen, a radical Democrat, makes an impassioned plea: "The Athenian Navy we take so much pride in is the strongest navy anyone has ever seen. We must continue what was our strength and rebuild it."
"We don't have enough money right now," counters Sarah Smith, a member of the Oligarchy, an elitist party believing Athens should be controlled by a few powerful families.
From the back of the room, University of Georgia classics professor Nancy Felson smiles. Her class is engaged in debate, caught up in the political discourse of ancient Greece. The students are learning. And they are having fun in the process.
UGA is one of only three public institutions in the country offering Reacting to the Past, a teaching method that puts students in charge of the classroom instead of in auditorium seats taking notes. Similar to other forms of role play that have been used in many levels of education, Reacting to the Past was created a decade ago at Barnard College in New York and has swept through private, liberal arts institutions. So far, UGA, the University of Texas and Queens College, part of the City University of New York, are the only public schools that have adopted the curriculum.
Felson taught the first UGA class using the technique last fall.
"No one was absent the whole semester, which I've never experienced before," she said.
Barnard history professor Mark Carnes created Reacting to the Past after he realized both he and his students were bored with traditional teaching methods. He devised a series of games, based on critical moments in history and classical literature. Students are given a course outline and assigned roles. They research their positions and come to class prepared to re-enact historic scenes and win strategic debates against their classmates.
"Students, especially this generation, are caught up in themselves," Carnes said. "Reacting liberates them by putting them into a different world and allowing them to feel what it's like to be free from their preoccupations."
Carnes and fellow scholars have published 11 games. Eight more are in the works. Titles range from "The American Revolution in New York City, 1775-76" to "Kansas Board of Education, 1999: Evolution and Creationism."
A class that meets for three hours a week usually can cover two games a semester, often in different areas of study. Felson, a classics professor, is leading "The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 B.C." In the second half of the semester, UGA history professor Laura Mason will lead the same class through "Rousseau, Burke and Revolution in France, 1791."
Assigned texts include basic history of the time. Felson's students discussed Plato's "The Republic" before the game began. Then Felson assigned their roles.
Once the game begins, the instructor moves to the back of the room and lets the students take charge. One student serves as assembly president, charged with keeping order among the Athenians and recognizing those who wish to speak.
The arguments can get heated.
"If Athens were to mount an expedition, we would be committing suicide," said Lawrence Li, a member of the Socratic party, which follows the teachings of the philosopher Socrates, shunning wealth and power.
Insulted, Nolen — the radical Democrat — fired back: "You're dishonoring the glory of the soldier citizens. You're dishonoring our city."
In a typical class most students speak at least once, and many present speeches arguing their position. Many say they spend several hours a week reading to prepare. Students also meet between classes with other members of their assigned factions to discuss strategy.
Students are forced to do their homework because if they don't, they will look stupid in front of their classmates, Felson said.
"I've learned a lot more here than I've learned in history classes in the past," said Catherine Hay, a freshman from Myrtle Beach, S.C. "You grasp so much more when you're role playing."
The students learn about ancient Greece and hone their public speaking skills. In addition, they often are forced to play roles that conflict with their personal beliefs.
Chuck Cohen, a freshman from Marietta who is playing an Oligarch, found himself in the uncomfortable role of arguing against women's rights.
"I had to argue that women were inferior to men," said Cohen, who says his personal political views are liberal. "I couldn't go more than five minutes without laughing."
In the spring, UGA will again offer "The Threshold of Democracy," paired with "Rousseau, Burke and Revolution in France," as well as a second reacting class that will pair "Confucianism and the Succession Crisis of the Wanli Emperor, 1587" with "The Trial of Anne Hutchinson: Liberty, Law, and Intolerance in Puritan New England."
In May, Felson and classics professor Keith Dix will take a class of honors students to Greece to play "The Threshold of Democracy" in the ancient city where the action is set.
That will add another dimension to the experience, Carnes said. He once received a postcard from a former student who had visited Athens after taking his class. She had stood among ruins where Socrates was believed to have written and had been moved to tears, he said.
"In my mind, Socrates is alive," the student wrote to Carnes. "Thank you for making Socrates real to me."
Quid Bush dixerit
George Bush, praesidens Civitatum Americae Unitarum, concivibus suis suasit, ut energiae parcerent, usum autocinetorum privatorum deminuerent et commeatui vehiculari publico faverent.
"Utinam Americani", inquit, "talibus itineribus abstineant, quae necessaria omnino non sunt."
Quae consilia eam ob causam dedit, quod saevae tempestates regionibus petroleum producentibus magno detrimento fuerunt.
Monuit singulos cives in illa rerum condicione pro virili parte bono publico servire posse. Americani intellegerent procellis effectum esse, ut oeconomia nationalis in magnas difficultates vocaretur.
Paul Cartledge, a professor of Greek History at Cambridge University, presented the Winslow lecture titled “Reuniting the Parthenon Marbles?” in the College Chapel on October 4. In his talk, Cartledge discussed different conceptions of the Parthenon and addressed his belief that the Parthenon sculptures currently being housed in the British Museum should be returned to Greece.
The Parthenon, which was constructed between 447 and 432 B.C., is, as Cartledge noted, “famous for being famous.” It is an icon for modernity as much as it is also an ancient ruin. In 1687, the Parthenon was hit by cannonfire and 28 of its 58 columns were destroyed. Later, in 1801, Lord Elgin was granted a permit to work on the Acropolis, and he ended up removing many of the broken sculptures to England; some were even cut down for ease of transportation. Eventually, as Cartledge explained, the British Museum purchased Elgin’s marbles on behalf of the House of Commons; these sculptures have been in the Museum’s possession since 1816.
In 1982, the British Committee for the Restitution of Parthenon Marbles, of which Cartledge is a member, was formed to encourage the return of the sculptures to Greece. Cartledge stressed the problem of terminology inherent in the group’s name: “restitution” implies that the legal and moral status quo, which has been impaired, can be rectified. He maintained however that the Parthenon no longer exists as it once was and cannot be restored to that state. It is impossible, he said, to experience the Parthenon as it was originally intended; what it has meant and what it has been has changed and evolved with the times.
Explaining one aspect of this evolution, Cartledge said that our image of the Parthenon is quite different from its original state. Originally, the sculptures were coated and then painted various colors, such as red, green, and yellow; they would not have appeared in the white marble we know them as today. They probably held items such as shields and spears, and importantly, were located outdoors, set against mountains and greenery.
While many people would like to see these statues returned to their home country, even if they are unable to be returned to their original state, Cartledge highlighted many political, emotional, and cultural reasons that some Brits cite for keeping the British marbles where they are. He pointed out that the British Museum rests its case for the retention of the sculptures on legal grounds; the Museum is bound to ensure that its collections are preserved for international scholarship and the enjoyment of the general public. Moreover, the Museum states its right to hold the marbles based on its record of stewardship.
Cartledge responded to this argument, though, by challenging the process of international scholarship. He reasoned, based on archaeological interpretation, that scholars presently study the Parthenon as a whole; therefore, the different locations of its marbles actually inhibit their study. Also, according to Cartledge, the sculptures and the architecture of the Parthenon are often studied together as a unity. Further, he highlighted the Museum’s less than exemplary record of stewardship. He indicated that some of the sculptures have been broken while in Museum custody, and a “cleaning” that occurred in the 1930s did not clean the marbles but instead removed part of their original coating; the damage from this effort is still visible today.
Citing another argument for British possession of the statues, Cartledge stated that the loss of the statues would be seen as an affront to the British Museum’s sovereignty, which is closely tied to British sovereignty. Many people stress the fact that the marbles have been in the Museum longer than the present Greek state has existed.
Despite these arguments, Cartledge maintained the necessity of returning the Parthenon marbles to Greece. He encouraged a mentality not of “giving up” the marbles, but of “giving them back” so that they might be preserved in the new Greek museum that is scheduled to open near the Acropolis in 2007. However, because the arguments in favor of continued possession are so strongly rooted in cultural heritage and cultural responsibility, he said, it appears that the situation will not be resolved quickly. “Reciprocal exchange is surely the only way forward,” Cartledge said. “To be practical and pragmatic, it is a political issue that will determine the location of the marbles.”
Non bene flat flammam qui continent ore farinam.
He does not blow a flame out well who has flour in his mouth.
(pron = nohn BEH-neh flaht FLAHM-mahm kwee KOHN-ti-neht OH-reh fah-REE-nahm)
Comment: My first thought after reading this proverb was of an old “Little
Rascals” episode in which the children were competing in a whistling contest.
One of the more devilish of the Rascals offered the best whistler some saltine
crackers just before the competition. Of course, with a mouth dried up by the
cracker, his whistling ability disappeared. Crackers, of course, made of
flour, would be an example of a mouth full of flour.
This is one of those down to earth, practical proverbs: don’t try to do
something for which you are not prepared or if something impedes your ability
to do it. Blowing out a candle is no big deal—unless the candle is about to
cause a fire—and unless you’ve just eaten a handful of crackers!
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, Pliny the Younger, an ancient Roman author and natural philosopher, watched the disaster from Misenum, a town across the Bay of Naples.
The natural disaster annihilated ancient Roman cities along the Bay of Naples, covering bustling cities rich in Roman culture with ash and molten lava.
A little more than 1,900 years later, university graduate architecture students are surveying the area to find more effective ways to present these historical sites for visitors.
The local government in the Campania region invited the university, along with seven other schools, three American and four Italian schools, to work on urban design projects for five archeological sites, said Matthew Bell, associate professor of architecture and vice president of the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation.
The project is part of a long-term effort to create an archeological park to connect all the Roman villas, said Cristina Marcantonio, U.S. office administrator for the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation, which started in 1998 after the Italian Embassy invited the university to participate in the project.
The university is the first school to visit the sites and create a feasible master plan, Marcantonio said.
Scattered among the towns being surveyed are Roman villas, luxurious ancient mansions for the elite. The volcanic eruption buried the villas, and only two have been completely excavated. Most have holes in the walls where thieves stole sections of gold or pieces of frescoes, paintings on the walls of the villas.
The students spent 10 days exploring sites in Stabiae, Pompeii, Boscoreale, Herculaneum and Oplontis, all of which were buried by the eruption and have relevance to Roman architecture, Marcantonio said. They returned Sept. 23.
Though it’s only three miles from Pompeii, Stabiae hasn’t drawn a comparable amount of tourists “because the site is still largely unexcavated, unlike Pompeii, and difficult to reach,” Bell said.
“The regional government wants the students to look at ways that we can physically make visiting these places easier to get to and more attractive,” Bell said. “It’s really an economic development project in the sense that they want to attract more tourist dollars.”
Alejandra Hernandez, 26, who went to Stabiae with the university during winter term 2005, is happy to return to the area.
“It was so exciting to be working on a real project,” Hernandez said. “It was a hands-on experience.”
The university students, along with architecture students from the New York Institute of Technology, the University of Virginia and the University of Miami, were teamed with an Italian university and assigned to survey one or two sites. Each American university was teamed with a different Italian school.
They will spend the first few days analyzing the sites before creating design projects on each site.
At the end of the seminar in December, the teams will present a project of their findings to the officials, and there’s a good chance that “these ideas will be implemented,” Bell said.
The uniqueness of the project has all the students excited to get outside the classroom.
“You don’t have that kind of history here,” Hernandez said. “And for that reason it’s much more romantic.”
Ius summum saepe summa est malitia.
(Terrence, Timoroumenos, 796)
The highest law is often the highest evil.
(pron = yoos SOOM-moom SAI-pay SOOM-mah ehst mah-LIH-tee-ah)
Comment: The highest law in any community becomes the highest evil when that law
embodies in known or unknown fashion some element that works against people and
their lives. This strikes me as the principle of the common good in reverse,
and since the idea of the common good is becoming less and less recognizable in
our society, it strikes me that this counter example of it might also go
Perhaps in a dictatorship, the highest law is the dictator himself, and so what
he does to and for people becomes the example of whether or not he is the
highest evil. Certainly plenty of examples abound.
In freer societies, the highest law might include those that carry the greatest
restrictions of freedom and those which curtail the protections of the law.
Some people have concerns at this point in history about some of the new
homeland security laws that have been put into place, and the practice that
currently allows the executive office of the government to declare anyone a
military combatant and suspend all of their civil rights, including those to
due process. We are currently holding hundreds of men at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
now for three years, not having charged most of them with a crime, allowing them
no due process that points to some end for them.
We don’t like to talk about this, and when we do, we say that we must do this to
protect ourselves. That momentarily makes us feel better.
Federal government practices aside, we might ask ourselves—in our families, in
our organizations, employment, clubs etc, what are the laws, the governing
principles? How do they affect people? Is the affect helpful or not?
De influentia avium
Moderatores Nationum Unitarum magistratus Indonesiae hortati sunt, ut contra influentiam avium, qua illa civitas iam diu vexatur, multo efficacius agerent.
Constat quattuor homines post mensem Iulium hac epidemia mortuos et plus viginti symptomatis ei similibus affectos esse.
Rerum periti praemonent fieri posse, ut influentia avium, nisi Indonesiani maiorem severitatem in ea avertenda adhibuerint, in pandemiam globalem crescat.
Renowned classicist Martha Nussbaum spoke to hundreds of sophomores at this semester’s Contemporary Civilization Coursewide Lecture this past Friday, addressing the resonance of Hellenistic philosophy and her own emotional ties to the texts.
The lecture at Roone Arledge Auditorium, titled “The Arbitrariness of Canons: The Neglect of Hellenistic Philosophy and Why it Is a Bad Thing,” focused on the importance of classical Greek philosophy in modern education.
Although attendance was mandatory for those enrolled in Contemporary Civilization, many students were absent from the event. This Friday marked the beginning of the weekend before Rosh Hashanah, and many students had already left to prepare to celebrate the holiday at home. Known to many Columbia students for her essay “Citizens of the World,” a staple of many University Writing classes, Nussbaum is the Ernest Freund Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.
Nussbaum praised Contemporary Civilization and said that it was good to see a group of students come together to discuss the classics.
She views the ancient philosophers as paragons of human achievement. “I think we badly need to look back these models created by the Greeks,” she said.
She specifically mentioned the Stoic, Skeptic, and Epicurean schools of thought and said that they had a profound impact on later philosophers and thinkers, including Kant, Descartes, Hume, and Adam Smith. The classical texts make “the heart of the great books curriculum,” she said.
During the question and answer session that followed her one-hour lecture, one student asked Nussbaum why she considered the mentioned philosophers to be germane today.
Nussbaum answered that Skeptic theories of emotion and the unconscious were similar to modern psychological models, for example, and that many of the philosophers were ahead of their time, acting as the forerunners of women’s liberation.
Sriharsh Gowtham, CC ’08, enjoyed the lecture. Nussbaum’s focus on lesser-known philosophers “might make me braver in expressing my own opinion against Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero,” he said. Others were less impressed. Though Jason Resnikoff, CC ’08, thought Nussbaum was very well informed and eloquent, “There was nothing too mind-blowing,” he said. “A lot of it I could have looked up online.”
The biannual lectures are meant to supplement readings done in Contemporary Civilization, a class required of all Columbia College students. The speakers are chosen by the Core Office committee, which is headed by Philip Kitcher, the James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization.
Kitcher was sympathetic to the students who had to miss the lecture for the holiday preparations, and said that although the department was aware of the conflict, Friday was the only day Nussbaum could attend.
“When dealing with such extremely prestigious people, you don’t get to specify the time,” he said. “[Columbia is] vulnerable to the schedule of the people we invite.”
Students who missed the lecture will be able to review what they missed. Recordings of the lecture will be available at Butler Library for all students. Some professors, including Kitcher, will take time to hold make-up sessions for their classes following the Jewish holidays.
Next semester’s speaker will be Daniel Boyarin of Berkeley, who will discuss Jewish theology.
The Culture Ministry said Monday that the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles will hand over three ancient artworks that are part of a group of artifacts allegedly stolen from Italy, as authorities here vowed to continue a legal battle for the return of all the works.
Italian officials traveling to Los Angeles will receive the artifacts "within the next few days" in the form of a donation from the Getty, ministry spokesman Walter Guarracino said.
He said the donation formula allows the museum to avoid admitting any wrongdoing in the acquisition of the objects and doesn't alter Italy's position in its trial against Getty antiquities curator Marion True.
Italian prosecutors say True was involved in the trade of about 40 archaeological treasures that were dug up in Italy and bought by the museum between 1986 and the late 1990s.
She has denied the charges of criminal association and receiving stolen goods, while Getty officials say they have not found any evidence of wrongdoing.
The trial, which opened in July, is set to resume Nov. 16. In the meantime, True has resigned from her post over a separate controversy on a home loan she secured with help from one of the Getty's main suppliers.
Guarracino said the Getty donation would consist of a large drinking cup from the Greek and Roman settlement of Paestum, south of Naples; a funerary inscription from the Greek colony of Selinunte, on the southern coast of Sicily; and an Etruscan bronze candelabrum from central Italy.
Italian Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione said the three pieces were "important" and that Italy would continue to call for the return of other looted artifacts allegedly sold to the Getty and other U.S. and European museums.
"We request without any doubt the return of all the material that proves to have come from the illegal market," he told daily Corriere della Sera in a statement that was later confirmed by the ministry. "When the evidence is certain we will demand it: but even now our pressure is very strong. And not only on the Getty."
Among the more important pieces involved are a large fourth century B.C. stone sculpture representing Aphrodite that investigators say was stolen from Sicily before being bought by the Getty at the end of the 1980s; and a marble statue from the second century B.C. of Tyche, the goddess of fortune, purchased by the museum in 1994.
Three of the artifacts were returned by the museum to Italy in 1999.
After Saturday’s downpours, Archaeologists have raised fears that rain could begin destroying the Akrotiri archeological site on Santorini, which remains partly uncovered since a British tourist was killed there 10 days ago.
A huge steel roof covering the ancient Minoan city caved in on September 23, killing 46-year-old Richard Bannion and injuring six others. That section of the site has not been covered since the accident due to fears it might interfere with the prosecutor’s investigation. “I cannot understand the lack of action from authorities to protect the monument at Akrotiri from the rain,” Professor of Archaeology Christos Doumas told Sunday’s Kathimerini.
Meanwhile, documents seen by Kathimerini suggest the safety of the site was tacitly approved although never discussed in detail by the Culture Ministry’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS). Records of a KAS meeting last April show that officials discussed how much visitors should be charged to enter the site but that the issue of its safety was not raised.
Sua multi amittunt, cupide dum aliena appetunt.
Many people lose their own things, while they eagerly try to lay hold of those
things belonging to others.
(pron = SU-ah MOOL-tee ah-MIT-toont, KOO-pih-day doom ah-lee-AY-nah
Comment: The accent of this proverb seems to fall on things—whether the lost
things or the eagerly sought after things of others. Western traditions often
get caught in a duality that creates some interesting monsters. One of those
dualities is that material things are inferior to spiritual things, and that
seeking after them marks one as greedy. It’s a very nice position to take if
one lacks for nothing. If one is poor, or lacking in some things that make
life more livable, however, seeking after those things makes one, well, greedy,
according to this way of thinking. The only solution is not to be born into a
poor family! In other words, the duality continues to manifest itself in
horrible gulfs between the rich and the poor.
Some wisdom traditions recognize that such dualities are themselves an illusion,
and offer that what seem to be opposites are really both ends of the pendulum of
life—swinging back and forth. Material is not opposed to spiritual. Both are
necessary elements of life.
The many who lose their things and eagerly try to lay hold of the things
belonging to others will likely lose those things, if they get them, too. They
make the mistake of thinking that if they have enough things or the right things
they will be content. Contentment is not one end of the pendulum’s swing or
another. Those who “give up” all material things to seek after spiritual
things are some of the most miserable people I’ve ever met. No. Contentment
is more like watching the pendulum swing, and observing that it is the moving
of the pendulum that makes the clock work. Freezing its swing on either end of
its journey would bring the clock, and its working, to a halt.
Even though the whimsical Canadian author adheres to the adage, "never predict the future," preferring to make "educated guesses about it," Margaret Atwood plans on two separate appearances in Grand Rapids on Thursday.
Atwood is the author of more than 35 works, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, critical essays and reviews. She is perhaps best known for her dystopia "The Handmaid's Tale," "Oryx &Crake" and Booker Prize-winning "The Blind Assassin."
While abstaining from commenting on her own works -- "I never describe my writing" -- Atwood leaves the job to the literary, and non-literary, gadflies. Frequently, her works employ multiple points of view, the macabre and gothic, as well as nature -- used as conduits through which the author explores the tensions in female-male relationships and female-female relationships.
This month, she will release "The Penelopiad," a retelling of Homer's "The Odyssey," with Penelope and a collective chorus consisting of Homer's hanged maids as dual point-of-views. The gender issues-infused rewriting will appear as part of Canongate Book's international "The Myth Series," employing some 24 international publishing houses and approximately a dozen writers worldwide to retell traditional myths.
Also, the novel will be staged in London by the director of "The Handmaid's Tale" opera, Phyllida Lloyd. The staged reading will feature Atwood as Penelope.
"But Homer's Odyssey is not the only version of the story. Mythic material was originally oral, and also local - a myth would be told one way in one place and quite differently in another. I have drawn on material other than the Odyssey, especially for the details of Penelope's parentage, her early life and marriage, and the scandalous rumours circulating about her.
"I've chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to the twelve hanged Maids. The Maids form a chanting and singing Chorus which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of the Odyssey: what led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in the Odyssey doesn't hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I've always been haunted by the hanged maids; and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself."
De latronibus Suetiae
Numerus ordinum et gregum criminalium in Suetia his decem annis multiplicatus est, ut referunt acta diurna quibus nomen Dagens Nyheter.
Existimantur enim ibidem paene quinguaginta sodalicia nefaria esse, quae in viginti tribus diversis locis agunt.
Plerique socii eorum de vi et latrociniis varii generis condemnati sunt.
Emblazoned on the standards that the Roman legions held aloft as they marched out of the Italian Peninsula to conquer much of what was then called the known world was the abbreviation SPQR. Signifying Senatus Populusque Romanus—Latin for The Roman Senate and the People—SPQR summed up how the ancient Romans regarded their city-state. An alternate translation for SPQR—Senatus Populusque Romae (The Senate and People of Rome)—expressed the same sentiment.
It was from the members of the Roman Senate (made up of the city’s patres, meaning "fathers," from which the term "patrician" comes) and populus (the people, consisting of plebes and proletarians) through their assemblies—the Centuriate Assembly (Comitia Centuriata), the Tribal Assembly (Comitia Populi Tributa) and the Council of the People (Concilium Plebis)—that political authority emanated.
On several occasions, though, certain ambitious politicians sought to subvert the Roman Republic by undermining the SPQR formula via fair means and foul. Among the most memorable of these power-hungry individuals was Lucius Sergius Catilina (108 B.C.–62 B.C.). Known in English as Catiline, he sought election to consul (the equivalent of a modern-day chief executive) by resorting to what one historian called "blatant and excessive bribery."
Try as he might, however, Catiline could not overcome opposition from senators, led by Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC). According to one account, Catiline plotted with his underlings to assassinate Cicero. Alerted to the plot, Cicero assembled his fellow senators who then set aside the election and foiled Catiline’s bid to replace Roman democracy with one-man rule.
It was Cicero’s biting oratory that rallied patrician, plebeian and proletarian opinion against Catiline. The senator’s speech in defense of the Republic is still remembered, especially its opening line: Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? (When, O Catiline, do you intend to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us?)
Over 2,000 years later in a republic some 10,000 kilometers to the east of the Eternal City another senate finds itself on a collision course with a politician in whom her political foes might detect a modern-day Catiline.
With the House of Representatives behaving no better than an extension office of Malacañan and the Supreme Court exhibiting tacit sympathy for the executive branch, the Philippine Senate appears to stand as the last institutional restraint on the presidency.
And because the senators persist in investigating President Arroyo over the reported cheating in last year’s general elections, the mystery surrounding deals with Washington lobbyists, alleged "jueteng" payoffs to her kinsmen and purported irregularities in two contracts covering the $503-million North Rail project, Palace flunkeys are now accusing the Senate of destabilizing the government.
David Hill, former boss of the ABC and Sydney Water, has left the corporate world behind to prepare for an Indiana Jones-like quest to Greece.
Hill has been sighted around town of late, taking measurements with surveying equipment, and now the mystery has been solved.
In an interview with the University of Sydney's Uni News newsletter, Hill explained he was taking a course called practical archaeology. His aim, he said, was to uncover lost Greek sites mentioned in Homer's Iliad, in which, as every schoolchild knows, Brad Pitt seduces Balmain's own Rose Byrne.
"The Catalogue of Ships in the second book of Homer's Iliad names the places in Greece that committed ships and troops to the siege of Troy," Hill explained. "Archaeologists have found fewer than half these sites, places like Mycenae and Pylos. But I believe there are many more to be discovered. I think Homer was right about the locations of many of these towns." Hill's theory will be tested next year when he embarks upon the epic quest.
Lolligo gigantea reperta
Viris doctis Iaponiensibus primis omnium contigit, ut Architeuthim sive Lolliginem giganteam, beluam marinam prope fabulosam, in aquis suis nationalibus photographice imprimerent.
Monstrum illud, cuius longitudo octo metrorum erat, in profunditate maris nongenta metra alta in suo ambitu naturali vivens repertum est.
Not only does our Latin Lover get his scholarly graduates, catholics and non-catholics alike, to sing a Gregorian chant so charming it draws them away from their dinner. But he also gets them to study Pope Benedict XVI's first speech to the cardinals...
As marble is an extremely hard material, it can show the smallest defect. Yet all the ingenuity of the ancient Greeks has been carved into the marble of the Acropolis. This year, 230 specialist Greek scientific and technical personnel are celebrating 30 years of restoring and preserving the monuments.
Restoration began in 1975 with the foundation of the Committee for the Preservation of the Acropolis Monuments (ESMA) by Constantine Karamanlis, then prime minister. In 2000, the independent Acropolis Restoration Service (YSMA) was created and funding was provided by the Third Community Support Framework.
In previous years, mainly between 1984 and 1999, inadequate funding forced the work to proceed very slowly, though without affecting the quality. Some talk of the delays, but any criticism ignores the difficulties and importance of the undertaking.
Such a restoration project demands what the Acropolis restoration crews have described as respect and love for ancient Greek art, as well as motivation and inspiration from the spirit of the ancient artisans.
Over the last four years, 1,000 architectural pieces, weighing a total of 2,315 tons, have been disassembled and refurbished. More than a thousand (1,100) large ancient fragments and many smaller ones have been positioned and reassembled, and 690 supplementary architectural sections and 90 new sections from new marble have been affixed to the ancient fragments.
All this has been carried out with meticulous care since not only are architectural sections considered to be a separate work of art, but even the smallest piece as well.
Matching a fragment with another is carried out with painstaking patience and exhaustive searches among thousands of fragments. The process of disassembling, meanwhile, brings engineers and technicians face to face with highly complex and ingenious techniques unsurpassed by today’s technology and know-how.
Fruit growers have been given the chance to find out whether the apple trees in their back gardens have a direct link to ancient Rome.
The annual Apple Festival, held at Erddig Hall, near Wrexham on Saturday and Sunday, delves into the history of one of Britain's favourite fruits.
The stately home is inviting visitors to bring a home-grown apple along to be identified by experts.
Erddig's own orchards boast more than 100 different varieties.
Apples were first cultivated by the Romans over 2,000 years ago.
"We have a tremendous amount to be grateful to the Romans for," said Erddig's Erin Robinson.
"If it wasn't for them, there wouldn't be any apple pie, apple cobbler, apple fritters, apple cider or even apple butter. Simply expressed, there would be no plump, juicy apples."
When the Romans invaded in 55BC, they brought in their own varieties and also blended them with the then wild British crab apple.
There are now an estimated 6,000 different varieties of the fruit being grown here.
The question of how social conditions affecting Herodotus’s personal life affected his writing history may raise many disputes among historians.
“The state where Herodotus was born in was under Persian Empire at that time; it was governed by Lygdamis, who put to death the poet Panyasis, a relative of Herodotus, for opposition and riots against Persia. Following this event, Herodotus had to leave his native city and went to Samos Island in Athena, and ever since he inhabited in Greek lands. But since he did not have any properties in Greece, according to Perseus law, he could not get a Greek nationality,” Dr. Saeed Oryan, director of language and dialect research center of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization told CHN.
Herodotus, the Greek historian, who is known as the Father of History by many, was born in 484 BC in Halicarnassus, south west coast of Caria, Turkey, then a part of Persian Empire.
“Herodotus was not Greek. He was born in Halicarnassus (today’s Bodrum in Turkey). Therefore he was born in Strapie Lydia and under the Achaemenid kingdom. Not all of the people of the region were Greek, and there were some non-Greek families among them like Herodotus father’s family, who were being called barbaric speakers,” said Touraj Daryaee, associate professor of ancient history in California State University, Fullerton.
Replying to the question of how Herodotus’s life affected his view and inscription of history, Oryan believes that Herodotus has written the history of a country which halted him from getting an Athena nationality due to being born in one of its conquered lands, a place where he had to leave for the execution of his close relative. He wrote his history under such conditions. Even during his own time he was accused several times of writing the history of Persia based neither on what Presesus desired not on the realities.
Morteza Saghebfar, who is translating the whole text of Herodotus History, asserts that Herodotus began writing his history in return for receiving some gold.
Oryan, however, does not deny the importance of Herodotus history and just notes that we should consider Herodotus with regard to his own characteristics.
Daryaee explains that Herodotus more than being a historian was a sociologist and an anthropologist and his view to the non-Greek nations is absolutely different with that of other historians, somehow being closer to philosophers before Socrates.
Herodotus History which has been written mainly about the four first kings of the Achaemenid era, Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius, and Xerxes, was translated to Latin from Greek for the first time in the 15th century. Until the last century, even the Europeans were not very familiar with it and for the first time it was Sir John Malcolm who mentioned it in his book of “The History of Iran”.
By M.C. Southorn: Among the greatest of the Ancient Olympic boxers – indeed one of the greatest Olympic athletes –was Theagenes of Thasos. A boxer, pankratist (no-holds barred fighting) and runner, Theagenes captured the boxing title at the 75th Olympiad in 480 BC, and, four years later, he won the Pankration (no-holds-barred) title. Like all Olympic champions, Theagenes’ victories offered him immortality, and mythology was soon to follow..
His first athletic feat is said to have come at the age of 9, when he single-handedly stole a bronze statue by tearing it from its base. Once caught, he dutifully returned the statue, and was steered towards athletics by his village elders. His first love was sprinting; of his speed, Pausanias wrote:
“His ambition was, I think, to rival Achilles by winning a prize for running in the fatherland of the swiftest of those who are called heroes. The total number of crowns that he won was one thousand four hundred.”
(It is interesting to note that Pausanias numbers Theagenes’ races won as 1400, but Ariston claims 1400 is the number of his Pankration wins, while the inscription at the shrine of Thasos at Delphi describes him as being mainly known for boxing and puts his “total victories” at 1300).
At any rate, by the time he reached his first Olympic games, Theagenes was an accomplished Pankratist, but, after an argument with the reigning Olympic boxing Champion, Euthymos, (another great, and future three-time champion) he elected to enter that event as well. This was deemed by the judges to be arrogant and unsportsmanlike and Theagenes was fined but allowed to compete and ultimately win. Unfortunately, the brash young fighter from Thasos was too spent from the boxing to compete in the Pankration, and he retired from the games. Euthymos must have been a tough opponent, for at the following games in 476 decided to stick to Pankration only, thereby allowing Euthymos to become the first former boxing Champion in history to regain his Title. Euthymos went on to win a third Olympic boxing title in 472 BC, cementing his own place as one of history’s greatest boxers.
Following his death, the people of Thasos erected a statue to Theagenes. A long-time rival of the old fighter, who had never defeated him in life, made a nightly practice of wrestling the statue, until one night the statue fell on the old challenger, killing him. The statue was tried and found guilty of murder (in accordance with local custom), and it was summarily dumped in the sea. Naturally, in the mythological tradition, famine immediately beset the land, and it wasn’t until the statue was replaced that the troubles were ended. Therafter, Theagenes was worshipped as a demi-god of fertility.
Here follows the career record of Theagenes, according to the inscription at the shrine of Thasos at Delphi:
Olympic Games: 2 victories (1 boxing, 1 pankration)
Pythian Games: 3 boxing
Isthmian Games: 9 boxing, 1 pankration
Nemean Games: 9 boxing
1300 total victories
Unbeaten at boxing for 22 years
More than 250 long-distance runners are taking part in one of the world's toughest races - following in the footsteps of a legendary Greek soldier.
The 152-mile (246km) Spartathlon race began at the foot of the Acropolis early on Friday morning.
Runners have just 36 hours to complete the route from Athens to Sparta, which Pheidippides reputedly took in 490BC to get troop reinforcements.
The modern equivalent was started in 1982 by British soldier John Foden.
What is now considered one of the greatest challenges for long-distance runners starts on the last Friday each September at around 0700 (0400 GMT).
It takes participants along highways and dirt tracks and over mountains.
This year I will finish - I promise
This year, the runners have come from around 30 countries across five continents.
"I'm pretty nervous," Samuel Kilpatrick, 41, of Northern Ireland, told the Associated Press news agency before his first attempt at the course. "I'm ready, but nervous sums it up best."
Rina Iwamoto, 37, from Japan - one of 25 women in the race - took part last year, but failed to reach the finishing line. "This year I will finish - I promise," she laughed.
One of the toughest parts of the course is the ascent up the 4,000ft (1,200m) Parthenio Mountain, three-quarters of the way into the race.
"It's really walking and climbing, not running at that point," 50-year-old Michael Brandt, of Germany, told AP.
He has run the race six times, and finished it three times.
The first athlete is expected to enter the main square in Sparta, where the race ends, around 24 hours after setting off.
Each finisher will touch the feet of the statue of the King of Sparta, Leonidas, and will be crowned with an olive wreath.
Greek runner Yiannis Kouros holds the record for the fastest time, completing the course in 1984 in 20 hours, 25 minutes.
The life-sized marble statues of two ancient Greek goddesses have emerged during excavations of a 5,000-year-old town on the island of Crete, archaeologists said Friday.
The works, representing the goddesses Athena and Hera, date to between the second and fourth centuries — during the period of Roman rule in Greece — and originally decorated the Roman theater in the town of Gortyn, archaeologist Anna Micheli from the Italian School of Archaeology told The Associated Press.
"They are in very good condition," she said, adding that the statue of Athena, goddess of wisdom, was complete, while Hera — long-suffering wife of Zeus, the philandering king of gods — was headless.
"But we hope to find the head in the surrounding area," Micheli said.
Standing six feet high with their bases, the works were discovered Tuesday by a team of Italian and Greek archaeologists excavating the ruined theater of Gortyn, about 27 miles south of Iraklion in central Crete.
Micheli said the goddesses were toppled from their plinths by a powerful earthquake around A.D. 367 that destroyed the theater and much of the town.
The statues fell off the stage, and were found just in front of their original position, she said.
"This is one of the rare cases when such works are discovered in the building where they initially stood," she added.
Hopes are high that other parts of the theater's sculptural decoration will emerge during future excavations.
"Digging has stopped due to the finds, but we suspect there may be more statues in the area," she said.
Gortyn, the Roman capital of Crete, was first inhabited around 3000 B.C., and was a flourishing Minoan town between 1600-1100 B.C. It prospered during classical and Roman times, and was destroyed by an Arab invasion in A.D. 824.
Greek mythology has it that the town witnessed one of Zeus' many affairs — with the princess Europa whom the god, disguised as a bull, abducted from Lebanon. Europe was named after Europa, who conceived her first son with Zeus under a plane tree in Gortyn.
The Italian School of Archaeology has been digging at the site since the early 20th century, in cooperation with Greek state archaeologists. So far, excavations have revealed fortifications, temples, baths, a stadium and an early church of St. Titus, who preached Christianity in Gortyn.