From Fortean Times 211 (2006 Special Issue)

"All phenomena are approximations between realness and unrealness" - Fort, Books, p14.

A second look at de Boinod's futurology [FT 206: 12]... Bibliomancy sought the future via random openings of texts. Several papyri (e.g. Papyri Magici Londinienses 121.148a) evince the Greek use of Homer's poems. Romans naturally exploited Virgil, especially emperors: Historia Augusta, Lives of Hadrian (ch 2 para 8), Clodius Albinus (ch 5 para 4), Alexander Severus (ch 4 para 6, ch 14 para5), Claudius II (ch 10 para 4). Hence Virgil's mediaeval status as a great magician. One verse (Aeneid, bk2 v314, "Frantically I seize arms, yet there's no sense in this") stumbled upon by Albinus, was likewise chanced on by Charles I in the Civil War. In Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, the Consul makes similar use of Shakespeare. Augustine mentions unspecified poets so used, while extending bibliomancy to the Bible (Confessions, bk4 ch3; Epistles, 119), as did Christians at large, from Martin of Tours to Francis of Assisi.

(What price Sortes Forteanae?)

Aeschylus (Prometheus Bound, ws501-14) credits his hero with inventing hepatoscopy, divining animal livers. Given the eagle's daily feasting on his own, this looks logical, though it had long been a Babylonian speciality: "The King looked in the liver" (Ezekiel 21. 21). Experts analysed this and related organs for various blemishes, e.g. streaky gall-bladders, all suggesting future disasters (Euripides, Electra, v825; Cicero, On Divination, b1<2 ch13). As one facing gall-bladder excision, I have a vested interest in this skill - Liver Let Live? Liver Let Die?

The Romans traced haruspicy and extispicy back to the Etruscans. A bronze liver marked out for novice diviners was found (1877) at Piacenza in Northern Italy, their territory, while key texts, the Libri Tagetici, were associated with the Etruscan Tages (Cicero, On Divination, bk2 ch50). Claudius's Etruscological interests (Suetonius, Claudius, ch42 para2) enhanced this derivation. Of other emperors, Nero received a bad haruspical omen, Vespasian a good one (Suetonius, Nero, ch56; Vespasian, ch5 para2) When Alaric was besieging Rome (408-10), Pope Innocent I invited haruspices to perform their pagan rites (Zosimus, New History, bk5 ch4l). None dared to come forward - Rite On, Rite Off.

Haruspicy extended to interpreting lightning strikes and cognate phenomena. Extispicy specialised in animal entrails. Pliny (Natural History, bk28 ch2 para5) forbade inspection of human viscera, a rule gruesomely violated by the teenage emperor Elagabalus who (Historia Augusta's Life, ch8 para2) sought his future through the organs of children.

"Aery tongues that syllable men's names,/On sands, and shoars, and desert wildernesses" (Milton, Comus, ws207-8). Greek and Roman literature abounds in tales of mysterious prophetic sounds and voices, e.g. those that forecast Caesar's assassination (Virgil, Georgics, no1 v476) and Nero's downfall (Suetonius, Nero, ch48 para2). They were often attributed to Pan, Fauns, and similar beings (Cicero, On Divination, bk2 ch6). Ridiculing all this, poet-philosopher Lucretius (On The Nature Of Things, bk4 ws580-94), concludes "Mankind everywhere has greedy ears for such romancing," a line that brings us back to Fort (Books, p 1046) on rhabdomancy (dowsing): "Sometimes we may receive wisdom from the vaporings of yokels."

Barry Baldwin
(reprinted with permission of the Author; blame any typically graphic transcription errors on dm)
Ringing out the old year with our usual eclectic selection of contributions to the blogosphere from our Classicarnies:

N.S. Gill tells us the ASCII codes for the Greek alphabet ...

Adrian Murdoch had a mini-carnival, with assorted items of interest for later antiquity ... he also noticed something interesting about Fergus Millar's latest ...

Campus Mawrtius sprang to life this week with a post on the Pretense of a Classical Education (by Dennis)

At Classics Reloaded, MJD continues to ponder the nature of Athenian democracy ...

Curculio also sprang to life this week, trying to etymologize mazomanie ...

Ed Flinn posted a number of interesting coins this week ...

Troels Myrup had a post on Pompeii in the Popular Imagination ... he also posted some photos from various sites/venues at the Stoa Gallery ...

Michael Gilleland found assorted refs in assorted periods to laughing waters ... then there was Chilson Aldrich on 'knowing Latin' ... finally, there was a look at the invective against Kleon "the tanner" ...

Irene Hahn went to the Cloisters and saw the Caesar tapestries ... she also gave some info about Sedulius (cf. our post below) ...

Nathan Bauman comments on books 17-19 of the Odyssey ...

The New Antiquarian posted a pile of good stuff this week, so we'll just link to the main page rather than individual items ...

The Sparta Journal also had a Sparta Carnival this week ...

Perhaps in anticipation of the ManU toga party which we mentioned, Mary Beard was pondering drinking in the ancient world ...

On a semi-related note, an article in the Times Argus claims Alexander the Great has a blog ... I haven't come across it ...

Also semi-related, last week R. Bragg sent in (thanks!), but I forgot to post (d'oh) this website about a Neptune festival in Virginia Beach, which might be of interest ...

Other than that, we've posted issue 9.36 of our Explorator newsletter and will soon be doing our AWOTV listings (which will be posted before the end-of-year revelries/nap begins) ... I'm pondering the possibility of making rss feeds for these items, by the way.

As Foxtrot goes to Sunday-only (alas), it brings the year to a close with a nice doorworthy one:

From the Independent:

It was one of the defining television dramas of its time and a career-making role for the then relatively unknown Derek Jacobi. Now he is to reprise his role in I, Claudius for a whole new audience. The series, to be aired by BBC Radio in January, will see him return to the pivotal role in what was widely considered to be one of the greatest pieces of TV drama after a gap of 30 years.

Based on two novels by Robert Graves, the epic tale chronicles the fortunes of Rome's rulers in the first century AD, as seen through the eyes of Claudius - who rose to power at the age of 49 - in the form of a secret autobiography. Claudius, who succeeded the psychotic Caligula, was an unusual choice for emperor because of his physical disabilities. Some scholars now believe he may have had cerebral palsy.

Sir Derek was keen to get involved in the revival and showed no reluctance over returning to the role that won him a best actor Bafta in 1977, according to Frank Stirling, the series' producer. "He found it a very pleasant trip down memory lane," he said. "I wish there were some great story to tell about how I had persuaded him, but he instantly said that he'd be delighted to do it."

The drama has proved an enduring success for the BBC and regularly tops its sales of drama series on DVD. It was also named as one of the top three UK drama series of all time in a poll conducted by the British Film Institute.

The revamped eight-part serialisation has been staged for BBC Radio 2 and will be broadcast from 12 January. Though the 1976 TV version - which also starred Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed and John Hurt - combined Graves's 1934 novel and its sequel, Claudius the God, the radio revival will stick solely to the first book.

Mr Stirling said: "What's interesting is that when you watch the original TV series, he has to age from a teenager right through to old age. Now he is a middle-aged man, and he can just as easily turn his hand to playing a youth. Because of the span of ages, there is really no wrong age to play Claudius."

There is still a great affection for I, Claudius. Dr Who actor David Tennant said that, for him, viewing the whole series on DVD for the first time was the highlight of the past year. "It's a real gem, the best BBC series of the 1970s. There's a clutch of great performances in it. Derek Jacobi in particular is a genius."

Sir Derek said recently: "I think most actors rather enjoy having a role they are identified with. And it's not as if I could get typecast. There are not too many stuttering, limping, twitching emperors around.

Even so, his initial starring role was nearly not to be: "They'd tried everybody for Claudius before they tried me: Charlton Heston, even Ronnie Barker."

Sir Derek, 68, has recently been filming the movie The Riddle, a murder-mystery about the discovery of an unpublished Charles Dickens novel.
Apologies to folks who get multiple notices of 'updates' today ... I'm fiddling with all sorts of webstuff all day ... by the way: make sure to check out the Spurious Claim post from yesterday ... much has been added.
An excerpt from John Derbyshire's (rather chatty) National Review column:

Muddling Through. I opened my Christmas edition of Radio Derb with a clip of Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I noted with interest as I put the broadcast together that Judy sang the last verse as:

Someday soon we all will be together,
If the Fates allow.
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow...

Nowadays you much more commonly hear the lines as:

Through the years we all will be together,
If the Fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough…

When and why was the change made, I wondered? The original lines were much superior as lyrics to the revised version. Were they just thought to be too downbeat? In the old USSR, Swan Lake used to be performed with a happy ending, the original (in which the Prince and Odette both perish) being thought too “negative.” Everything had to work out for the best in the People’s Paradise — no negativity! The Soviets never reported domestic plane crashes, on the same principle. Was there some similar political dynamic at work here, I wondered? Then I read Hugh Hewitt’s witty riff on exactly this topic, and all became clear. It was Frank Sinatra’s fault. Or possibly Judy’s.

What a pity. Apart from being lyrically superior, the “muddling through” version celebrates a fine old Anglo-Saxon tradition — the tradition of muddling through. As Hugh Hewitt says, in some of the most memorable words I’ve read this December:

LIFE IS ONE BIG MUDDLE. Sometimes you have to muddle more, sometimes you have to muddle less, but for all of us “muddling through” is the natural state of things. Luckily, while we muddle, we can surround ourselves with things we cherish. We can muddle nobly, happily and with a sense of purpose. We can choose to love and allow ourselves to be loved as we muddle. Ultimately, if you want it to be and let it be, it’s a beautiful muddle indeed.

Roger on that, Hugh.

The Market for Epic Poems. Just one more point on that song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”: Was the lyricist Ralph Blane a Latinist, at least to the degree of having studied Latin in school? I only ask because the line “If the Fates allow” is an exact translation from the 18th line of The Aeneid. Until about 30 years ago, every pupil at a decent secondary school had to “do” (in my school, memorize) the first couple of pages of The Aeneid, and the words si qua fata sinant would have been lying around in Blane’s head waiting to be put into a lyric, if he’d done school Latin.

Incidentally, there is a new translation of The Aeneid by Robert Fagles. I haven’t exactly read it, but I have looked into it, browsing in a bookstore, and it seems pretty good. To judge from the reception of Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf a year or two back, the market for epic poetry is pretty healthy; though personally I’d want a parallel text for anything like that, just to satisfy occasional curiosity as to what the original said.

FWIW, Derbyshire himself seems not to be a Classicist by training ... interesting that he'd pick up on that apparent Aeneid ref (although he is British and probably was exposed to Virgil).


Tony Keen scripsit:

Given what he says in that piece and his approval elsewhere of single-sex schools, I'd think that Derbyshire almost certainly studied at least four years of Latin at school. Twenty years later, at my single-sex grammar school, everyone did Latin 'O'-level, even if they went on to study maths or sciences at 'A'-level or University. I suspect Derbyshire's school was the same.
A different spin from Forbes:

Michael H. Steinhardt believes there is money in antiquities. The legendary hedge-fund-manager-turned-full-time-philanthropist has quietly managed to assemble one of the largest and most important antiquities collections in the world. Now, he believes, its time has come.

"Ancient art has not appreciated much in value for a long time," says Steinhardt. "It has been under a certain cloud because there are issues of provenance, which have made headlines in the last five- to 10-years and continue to make headlines."
In Pictures: Ancient History For Collectors

To be sure, shady characters and illegally obtained objects are lurking, but the antiquities market is not dominated by crooks. In fact, it is possible to build a world-class collection of legal, museum-quality pieces for a fraction of what it might cost to build a collection of similar quality in another field, such as Impressionist or contemporary art.

Still, the collection of antiquities (ancient objects from western civilizations including Italy, Greece, Turkey, Mesopotamia and Egypt) has been around nearly as long as the items themselves. Julius Caesar and Pompeii were avid collectors. Thomas Jefferson collected ancient Roman coins. Financial titans from J. Paul Getty to J.P. Morgan to William Randolph Hearst amassed large antiquities collections. Today, Steinhardt is counted among the most serious of collectors, along with Shelby White who built an impressive collection with her husband, the late financier, Leon Levy.

Antiquities are considered to be relatively undervalued and only recently have prices begun to climb, much like the newfound popularity of Old Masters a decade ago. In 2000, Sotheby's (nyse: BID - news - people ) sold at auction a marble torso of Eros, the Greek god of love, that had been deaccessioned by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The low estimate for the 20" tall statue, which dates back to the Roman Imperial period (second half of the 2nd century), was $60,000 to $90,000. It sold to a dealer for a hammer price of $240,000. Four years later, the dealer sold it to a collector in Monte Carlo for $729,000. The current owner was recently offered $1.15 million for the statue.

Experts believe prices will continue to escalate, with fewer museum-quality objects remaining in private hands. The supply of high-quality pieces is dwindling because many objects have been taken out of circulation--either they have been donated to museums or are no longer allowed to leave their country of origin.

"Thanks to this positive recent clarification of the market, everyone is searching for the well-provenanced, works," says Hicham Aboutaam, antiquities expert and co-founder of Phoenix Ancient Art, a leading dealer with galleries in New York and Geneva. "This has obviously affected the prices for objects in this category, and they will continue to appreciate daily."

Certainly there's no shortage of mystery, intrigue or tales of the looting of excavation sites and illegal trafficking which has made antiquities arguably one of the most controversial areas of collecting.

In February, under pressure from the Italian government, the Met agreed to transfer title to Italy for some of its most prized antiquities including a group of 16 Hellenistic silver pieces and a 2,500-year-old vase. Since 1972, the vase, known as the Euphronios Krater, has been a showpiece of the Greek and Roman collections at the museum.

Collectors can avoid legal trouble by investigating an object’s provenance--the history of its ownership. "The due diligence before making a purchase can be exhaustive," says William Pearlstein, a New York-based attorney who specializes in the fine arts and antiquities trade.

"Collectors have to be very well advised," says Judith L. Pearson of the ARIS Title Insurance of New York, which underwrites title insurance for fine art. "Even then, you still might not know positively how it was acquired, whether it was legally imported or if it was stolen from an excavation site. And the provenance might have been faked, too. There are dozens of things that can go wrong."

The best documentation of provenance includes published articles, books and auction catalogs describing the object. Sales records and affidavits from previous owners are also helpful. An object should have documentation showing where it originated.

"Even then, it can still be very difficult to show provenance," says Pearlstein, a partner at the New York law firm, Golenbach Eiseman. Pearlstein recommends collectors buy from reputable dealers who are knowledgeable in both American and foreign legal environments.

Antiquities originating from certain countries routinely set off alarm bells when entering the U.S., including pre-Columbian artifacts, ancient Egyptian objects and items from Italy's pre-classical, classical and Imperial Roman periods.

It is important to determine when an object left a particular country of origin and if there was a national ownership law at the time. Italy, for example, enacted a cultural patrimony law in 1939 that declared all archeological artifacts to be government property unless the items were in private hands before 1902. The United States signed a bilateral agreement with Italy in 2001.

Likewise, if the object originated in Egypt, it would need documentation proving it left the country before 1983 when Egypt enacted its patrimony law. This law declares all antiquities discovered after 1983 to be government property though the U.S. does not have a bilateral agreement with Egypt.

"Inquire before you buy and check with customs before the object enters the country," says Lawrence W. Mushinske, the national imports specialist for the U.S. Customs Department. Potential buyers can protect themselves by writing to the Customs Department with a request for a written ruling which "binds" the Customs and Border Protection.

The written ruling will address the proper Harmonized Tariff Schedule number (goods that enter the United States must be categorized according to the HTS, which determines how much duty will be collected), as well as duties that will be owed and, most importantly, admissible, says Mushinske. As with the purchase of any work of art, it is always a good idea to check the Art Loss Registry to make sure the item is not stolen property.

An object with a documented provenance that dates back decades tends to be free and clear of headaches. Although rare, some provenances date back centuries. Aboutaam's Phoenix Ancient Art has two museum-quality ceramic vases (circa 520-500 B.C.) as part of "The Painter's Eye,” an exhibition of Greek vases at its New York City gallery. Both have a documented provenance that dates back to the year they were excavated in 1829.

The 45 cm. tall ceramic vases, each decorated with a scene depicting Dionysus, the god of wine and a lively entourage of satyrs and maenads, were discovered during an excavation in Vulci, Italy by Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino (a younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France). Painted by the Leagros workshop (a group of vase painters who worked in the black-figure technique) the vases are offered for sale for $250,000 each.

Steinhardt says the inherent risk in antiquities collecting doesn't intimidate him. "It is a little bit dangerous, but that is what makes it exciting," he says. "But life is filled with risks, isn't it?"

A very nice (and informative) slide show accompanies the original article ...
A notice from Lukasz Niesiolowski-Spano that seems to be working its way through various lists:

I am pleased to announce the publication of the first volume of a new Journal dedicated to both Classical and Ancient Near Eastern history.

_Palamedes. A Journal of Ancient History_ is sponsored by Warsaw University, and can be purchase at:
< =en>

The contents of volume 1 (2006) are:

Editorial Statement
Leslaw Morawiecki (1949-2004)
Pierre Vidal-Naquet (1930-2006)

MARIO LIVERANI, New Discoveries in the Land of the Garamantes. From the Archaeology of Libyan Sahara

RAFAL KOLINSKI, Old Assyrian or Old Babylonian? The Cultural Setting of Northern Mesopotamia at the Beginning of the 2nd Millennium BC

EDWARD LIPINSKI, Sozomène II 4 et le site de Ramat al-Halil

WLODZIMIERZ LENGAUER, Eros among citizens

KRYSTYNA BARTOL, The Lost World of Inventors: Athenaeus' Sentimental Heurematography

ADAM PALUCHOWSKI, Le nombre des bouleutes et le président de la boulè dans les cités crétoises aux deux premiers siècles de l'Empire

ANDRZEJ WYPUSTEK, IZABELLA DONKOW, Christians and the Plague in the 2nd Century Asia Minor

MICHAL STACHURA, Stadt und Peripherie in der Häretikerpolitik der frühbyzantinischen Kaiser (ca. 325 bis 455)


JAN K. WINNICKI, Eine demotische Votivinschrift aus Saqqara

ADAM LAJTAR, An Epitaph from Olbia (?) in the Princes Czartoryski Museum in Cracow

KRYSTYNA STEBNICKA, Die Münzen der Sophisten und Rhetoren aus der Zeit der zweiten Sophistik

Maciej Münnich, Obraz Jahwe jako wladcy choroby w Biblii Hebrajskiej na tle bóstw bliskowschodnich [The Image of Yahweh as the Lord of Illness in the Hebrew Bible against the Background of Near-Eastern Deities], Wydawnictwo KUL, Lublin 2004, 409 pages, with English summary (Lukasz Niesiolowski-Spanò)

Marcin Pawlak, Walka o wladze w Rzymie w latach 425-435 [La lutte pour le pouvoir à Rome dans les années 425-435], Wydawnictwo Naukowe GRADO, Torun 2004, 214 pages, résumé en français (Marek
Nice feature from the Guardian:

If it wasn't for the fact that she likes to make jokes - "I think of it as a bit of a defect" - Anne Carson wonders whether she might have become a serious philosopher. Instead, her books sit in the poetry section, where they generate mild outrage for failing to conform quite to genre. The subtitle of her latest volume, Decreation, is Poetry, Essays, Opera, and the one before that, The Beauty of the Husband, was described on the dust-jacket as "a fictional essay in 29 tangos". This seemed to cause pain in particular to a group of male poets from Canada, Carson's birthplace, and they convened on the internet to decry her "pretentiousness".

Carson is 56 and a heavyweight: the first woman to have won the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, twice shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and made a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. She also sells very well for a poet, which is why, even though her work militates against almost every commercial principle in publishing - this is a woman who will happily devote 50 pages to discussing 14th-century French mysticism and round it off with a joke about Kant - her publisher, Knopf, leaves her pretty much alone. "Lucky," she says, and giggles.

She is a classicist by training, who after graduating from Toronto University taught Latin and Greek at Princeton and for the past three years has taught part-time at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a bijoux town an hour's drive from Detroit. "I kind of rest in the margin of being foreign," she says, and it suits her nature. We sit on the balcony of the house that she shares with her boyfriend, a conceptual artist, Carson like a scholarly Joni Mitchell in cut-off denims and a billowy white shirt, and when she talks it's in a faint, hippy-ish voice that makes it hard to tell if she's joking.

Her books are like collages, a combination of memoir, poetry, dissertation and drama, held together each time by an overriding theme. The question of what formal category they fall into doesn't interest her. "You write what you want to write in the way that it has to be." The language is often acute. The opening page of The Beauty of the Husband is as arresting as any modern poetry I have read. "A wound gives off its own light / surgeons say / If all the lamps in this house / were turned out / you could dress this wound / by what shines from it." She can be surprisingly gossipy. In her latest book, in the poem "Gnosticism IV" (the title gives you an idea of how little interest Carson has in, say, making Oprah's Book Club) she asks readers to imagine the awfulness of an academic dinner with "Coetzee basking / icily across from you at the faculty table". What, as in JM Coetzee? She giggles. "Yes. That was unkind of me, but it's him. I met him once and I can't say he was unkind to me, he was very courtly, but his effect in general was odd. He was confrontationally aloof, if that's possible."

To give you an idea of how hard it is to describe what Carson does, you need to see a fullish running order of her latest book. Decreation starts with some sad, wry poems about her late mother - "to my mother / love / of my life, I describe what I had for brunch." Then two academic essays, one in praise of sleep, the other about the sublime as it appears in the work of Longinus, a first-century Greek essayist, and Michelangelo Antonioni, an Italian modernist film-maker. Then some poems about the sublime; then an "oratorio for five voices", called "Lots of Guns", which is very funny and was originally written as a tribute to Gertrude Stein (Carson reminds one a bit of Stein, the way she tries to make points about the nature of connectivity by sailing very close to randomness). Then an essay about eclipses; a screenplay recasting the medieval French lovers Heloise and Abelard as an American sitcom couple; and finally the main event, "Decreation", an "opera in three parts", which examines the work of three female mystics, Sappho, Marguerite Porete, who was burnt at the stake in 1310 for writing a heretical book, and the French philosopher Simone Weil. "We participate in the creation of the world by decreating ourselves," writes Carson.

Her critics accuse her of being wilfully obscure and she agrees with them up to a point, although she says that it's a question of personality rather than affectation. "I am kind of a curmudgeonly person, so I don't gravitate to groups or traditions, which is probably just pretentious of me." Her wacky juxtapositions (in her book Men in the Off Hours she imagines a dialogue between Virginia Woolf and Thucydides taking place on a TV panel show) are, depending on your view, either highly original and revealing or highly contrived.

Carson says she's not trying to show off; it's just the way her mind works. She is a messy writer: "[it's] a basket of stuff that eventually looks like it has some informing idea. Then I grope around in it to see what that is, try different orderings and different concepts and then fix on one." Classicists are probably more sensitive than most to the suspicion that no original thoughts are left to be had in the world, but in any case, Carson believes that thoughts themselves matter less than the routes one takes between them. "I don't know that we really think any thoughts; we think connections between thoughts. That's where the mind moves, that's what's new, and the thoughts themselves have probably been there in my head or lots of other people's heads for a long time. But the jumps between them are entirely at that moment." She says, "It's magical."

Originally she wanted to be an artist, and her first book of poetry, Short Talks (1992), began life as "a bunch of drawings which I put titles on, and then the titles got longer and longer" until the drawings disappeared. Her ideas still tend to come to her in shapes first and her poetry is very visual - she arranges it in crazy shapes on the page. I ask if they refer to anything or if it's possible for them not to refer to anything. "The shapes are [meaningless] I guess, although shapes aren't non-referential, but then it's not a shape of anything but itself." There is a long, confounded silence. "This is why we're not philosophers."

When Carson was a child she read a book called Lives of the Saints and loved it so much that she tried to eat the pages. It sounds like an apocryphal story, but yes, she says, "I did do that." Neither of her parents went to university. Her father had fought in the second world war and liked to read history books; her mother liked abbreviated versions of the classics sent by Reader's Digest. "We had zillions of those around the house. I used to read them, but they're not very satisfying ... We were always sitting around, the three of us, reading in a room in the evening. And my brother, who had a quite different personality, would come and stand in the doorway and say, 'I can't believe you people.'" She smiles. "He was into cars and girls and bars."

Carson took Latin in high school because it was the alternative to typing. Her Latin teacher was also conversant in ancient Greek, so Carson took Greek lessons in her lunch hour. "Greek is one of those things that, when you do it, you realise it's the best experience in the world, there's no reason ever to stop. It's just some amazing combination of the kind of puzzle-solving that goes into crosswords and amazing literature. You think, well, they're nerds, they were born that way. But they're not just nerds, they're all kinds of people who stumble into this happy field of endeavour and stay there." To her parents' alarm, she announced that she was going to pursue these two, entirely impractical dead languages at university. "My father kept telling me to get a marketable skill on the side. He suggested typing. He was worried for some time. And then I got a job at Princeton and he sort of calmed down."

If her study of Greek and Latin has affected her own writing style, Carson suspects it is to be found in the way she makes patterns between things. "There is something about the way that Greek poets, say Aeschylus, use metaphor that really attracts me. I don't think I can imitate it, but there's a density to it that I think I'm always trying to push towards in English. It's a kind of compacting of metaphor, without a concern for making sense ... it's just on the edge of sense and on the edge of the way language should operate."

The danger with this, and with Carson's writing, is that it drifts into whimsy or nonsense. "It does fall apart a lot. It gets just too weird for anyone to care about reading, or else it gets diluted into a sort of parody of itself. Intuition is the only way to keep on the line between them. And also focusing back on to the first time the idea came into your head has some kind of pristine conviction that it gradually loses." Carson returns to the actual piece of paper on which she wrote down the beginning of the idea, usually a coffee-stained back of an envelope. "Because there's something almost magically convincing about that piece of paper. The same words typed on a nice clean piece of paper wouldn't have whatever it is - fidelity, to your original thought."

You wonder what her parents make of it all. She remembers when her first book came out, Eros the Bittersweet, in 1986, which was based on her PhD thesis about Sappho. "My father was puzzled. My mother read it up to page 37, she turned down the corner and put it back on the shelf, intending to return to it, but never did. I used to look occasionally, in a casual way. After that, I don't know that they really read things diligently. I would send the books to my mother and she would put them on a shelf near the door and point proudly; but I don't think she really enjoyed them."

She was married once and wrote about the break-up in The Beauty of the Husband, including an account of how her husband spitefully stole her notebooks when he left. (He eventually sent them back.) The conventional, storytelling quality of Carson's poetry is so readable that I wonder if she has ever thought about writing a novel. "I tried that. Well, I had the aspiration, when I wrote Autobiography of Red, to write a regular novel, like one you would buy in an airport. I kind of started it as a dare and then it turned into that ... poetic thing." She laughs. (Autobiography of Red is in part an updated version of the myth of Geryon and Heracles.) You got bored? "Yeah, it just kept having too many words. When I get too many words, I don't feel that I'm saying anything. I'm just saying the words, not the thing. So I have to keep cutting it down, cutting it down, and it gets turned into verse. It was hopeless."

The academic and high-concept stuff in Carson's books seems at times to be a cloak for the humour, which she half- dismisses as frivolous and is a little embarrassed by - although these are the bits that you come away wanting more of. She continues to defy any one category. She has just translated a new version of four plays by Euripides; there is a plan to go to Germany to do some kind of performance poetry with her boyfriend, who looks nonplussed when she mentions it. Carson sighs. "Not knowing what one is doing is no prohibition on doing it. We all grope ahead."
Not sure about some of the claims in this piece from the LA Times:

In the first Olympic games, back in 776 BC, the title of winner went to a man named Koroibos, a local cook who won the games' benchmark 210-yard race.

Koroibos and his fellow Olympians ran naked except for a layer of olive oil, which they slathered on from head to toe before and after any workout. (This ancient locker-room oil was a grade or two lower than the stuff used in kitchens at the time.) The oil prevented dehydration — and produced a nice, deep tan after a day in the sun.

Glistening with oil, the athletes would parade before the judges in a precontest display of fitness and beauty. (In later years, after other sports were added to the games, some athletes would powder themselves too.)

Evidently, the ancient judges cared as much about looks as they did about performance: An ideal runner, they felt, should be tall, but not too tall, have slim legs but well-built arms, and hands of average size.

To the music of a flute, the runners stretched and warmed-up while spectators in the stands snacked on bread and wine.

Races began at a marble starting line, still visible in Olympia today. The runners' starting postures would seem odd to most modern runners and spectators. They began races from a standing position, arms spread wide, toes hooked into grooves in the marble, putting one bare foot just inches in front of the other.

A rope was stretched taut at chest-height along the row of runners to keep them in line. Archeologists still haven't quite figured out how it was released to signal the start of the race.

In the earliest games, runners sprinted west toward a temple to Zeus, to whom the games were dedicated, and who was reputed to have been a pretty good athlete himself. In later games (long after the temple was in ruins), runners continued their symbolic run to the west.

In longer races, they ran back and forth along the straight track — but they always ran their last lap in the direction of the god of gods.

Even those long races capped out at a few miles — three, to be exact. In fact, the only "marathon" ever run in ancient Greece was done by a messenger who had to carry news of war from the city of Marathon to Athens, 26 miles away.

It was the one-lap sprint, called the stadion, that stole the show for the ancient Greeks and conferred immortality on its winner: The year's games were named for the man who finished the stadion first.

The winner also received pine branches and victory ribbons encircling his arms, a crown of olive branches cut from a sacred tree, a hail of music and flowers and an elaborate feast.

And then, of course, he had the knowledge that he had been smiled upon by Nike of Samothrace — long the ancient winged goddess of victory before she became the inspiration, thousands of years later, for a running shoe.Running is among the oldest of all competitive sports — in fact, for the first centuries of the Olympics, it was the only sport in the games. Ancient Olympic competitors either sprinted or ran for distance, but the similarity to today's events end there. Ancient poets and writers tell tales of runners (barefoot, bare and slick with oil) tripping each other, cutting corners, pulling competitors' hair to get ahead and even of all-out fights erupting over who crossed the finish line first.
Plato votes to condemn land for sewer project


Worker accused of stealing money from Plato's Closet

... this is the side of Plato we never get to see in his writings ....
From Daily India:

England soccer ace Rio Ferdinand is planning a Roman toga theme party for his Manchester United club-mates.

The 28-year-old is hosting the Roman-style bash at his lavish mansion, to be attended by all the team's top players, such as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, reports the Daily Mirror.

A club insider said: "It would be fantastic to see such familiar faces dressed up with swords, sandals and giant white sheets. There will no doubt be some skimpy numbers for the WAGs".

According to him, the party might witness a bit of debauchery as well to retain its authentic Roman flavour.

"The Romans were known for their debauched antics and I'm sure the lads will have an absolute ball. The full team will be there," he said.
From the Interior News, inter alia natch:

I have read that the ancient Romans used to toast a woman’s health by drinking a glass of wine for every letter of her name! That concept could add to the length of the party, eh?

This claim seems to come from the Classic Encyclopedia, where one reads:

Thus the Greek practice of drinking to the Nine Muses as three times three survives to-day in England and elsewhere. The Roman gallants drank as many glasses to their mistresses as there were letters in each one's name. Thus Martial: " Six cups to Naevia's health go quickly round!

If someone can tell me which epigram of Martial this comes from, I'd be happy to know. I can't find it in any of the 'Naevia' epigrams.


Dennis over at Campus Mawrtius has figured it out (although the reason I couldn't find it was because I was looking for Naevia, not Laevia) and has some cogent comments. I wonder if the 'toasting' isn't rather somewhat similar to the 'Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time', with Laevia requiring six cups of Falernian to look good, Lyde four, etc. ... The now-defunct (?) Martialis blog has a conventional translation ....


Jacob Eikelenboom scripsit:

Although I've totally no knowledge on this subject, I always like to check on my ability to find info on the net.

I was able to find something about this quote on

and also in this pdf (page 100):

A possible older source can be found at the Gutenberg Project (although no reference to Martial):
(a large document, search for 'Naevia')


The last one is particularly useful ... it's from a collection of essays from the Spectator from back in 1891. Here's the relevant bit:

We had some Years ago in this Town a Set of People who met and dressed like Lovers, and were distinguished by the Name of the _Fringe-Glove Club_; but they were Persons of such moderate Intellects even before they were impaired by their Passion, that their Irregularities could not furnish sufficient Variety of Folly to afford daily new Impertinencies; by which Means that Institution dropp'd. These Fellows could express their Passion in nothing but their Dress; but the _Oxonians_ are Fantastical now they are Lovers, in proportion to their Learning and Understanding before they became such. The Thoughts of the ancient Poets on this agreeable Phrenzy, are translated in honour of some modern Beauty; and _Chloris_ is won to Day, by the same Compliment that was made to _Lesbia_ a thousand Years ago. But as far as I can learn, the Patron of the Club is the renowned Don _Quixote_. The Adventures of that gentle Knight are frequently mention'd in the Society, under the colour of Laughing at the Passion and themselves: But at the same Time, tho' they are sensible of the Extravagancies of that unhappy Warrior, they do not observe, that to turn all the Reading of the best and wisest Writings into Rhapsodies of Love, is a Phrenzy no less diverting than that of the aforesaid accomplish'd _Spaniard_. A Gentleman who, I hope, will continue his Correspondence, is lately admitted into the Fraternity, and sent me the following Letter.


'Since I find you take Notice of Clubs, I beg Leave to give you an Account of one in _Oxford_, which you have no where mention'd, and perhaps never heard of. We distinguish our selves by the Title of the _Amorous Club_, are all Votaries of _Cupid_, and Admirers of the Fair Sex. The Reason that we are so little known in the World, is the Secrecy which we are obliged to live under in the University. Our Constitution runs counter to that of the Place wherein we live: For in Love there are no Doctors, and we all profess so high Passion, that we admit of no Graduates in it. Our Presidentship is bestow'd according to the Dignity of Passion; our Number is unlimited; and our Statutes are like those of the Druids, recorded in our own Breasts only, and explained by the Majority of the Company. A Mistress, and a Poem in her Praise, will introduce any Candidate: Without the latter no one can be admitted; for he that is not in love enough to rhime, is unqualified for our Society. To speak disrespectfully of any Woman, is Expulsion from our gentle Society. As we are at present all of us Gown-men, instead of duelling when we are Rivals, we drink together the Health of our Mistress. The Manner of doing this sometimes indeed creates Debates; on such Occasions we have Recourse to the Rules of Love among the Antients.

'Naevia sex Cyathis, septem Justina bibatur.'

This Method of a Glass to every Letter of her Name, occasioned the other Night a Dispute of some Warmth. A young Student, who is in Love with Mrs. _Elizabeth Dimple_, was so unreasonable as to begin her Health under the Name of _Elizabetha_; which so exasperated the Club, that by common Consent we retrenched it to _Betty_. We look upon a Man as no Company, that does not sigh five times in a Quarter of an Hour; and look upon a Member as very absurd, that is so much himself as to make a direct Answer to a Question. In fine, the whole Assembly is made up of absent Men, that is, of such Persons as have lost their Locality, and whose Minds and Bodies never keep Company with one another. As I am an unfortunate Member of this distracted Society, you cannot expect a very regular Account of it; for which Reason, I hope you will pardon me that I so abruptly subscribe my self,

Your most obedient, humble Servant,
T. B.

I forgot to tell you, that _Albina_, who has six Votaries in this Club, is one of your Readers.'

So -- outside of the apparent existence of a variant reading of Laevia/Naevia -- it would appear that this supposed 'practice' of the Romans is more likely a Victorian drinking game semi-similar to 'Hi Bob'.

Haven't heard anything related to this ongoing dispute in ages ... from Kathimerini:

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) yesterday approved the renaming of the Skopje airport after Alexander the Great in a move Greece said will harm the country’s ties with its neighbors.

FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki confirmed the name change and pointed out that the historic military leader was an international figure and not the property of one country.

Milososki said the move is not a concealed attempt by FYROM to monopolize the name and Greece should not take it as a provocation.

But Athens responded by describing the name change as an attempt to use “spurious props from the past” to strengthen its position.

“The attitude shown by Skopje is not in line with its obligations for good-neighborly ties that result from its commitments to the European Union and are not in favor of its Euro-Atlantic ambitions,” said Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

Diplomatic sources in Skopje said that the name “Alexander the Great” was chosen over the other option, “Alexander of Macedonia,” so the title would be closer to the English name for the 4th century BC hero.

FYROM also approved yesterday the renaming of its second international airport in Ohrid as “Saint Paul.”

Greece has quarreled with FYROM over its name since the former Yugoslav republic declared its independence in 1991.
An account of a sensational murder case in Victoria includes this tidbit (from the Times-Colonist):

Darren, then acting as the lead in a high school production of Caligula, had promised the teens $1,000 a month, a car and a house in exchange for performing the killings.

... perhaps the Camus play?
From the LA Times:

In a bitter letter to the J. Paul Getty Trust, former antiquities curator Marion True complained last week that the institution has left her to "carry the burden" for its purchase of apparently looted ancient art.

True, on trial in Rome on charges of trafficking looted objects, wrote Dec. 18 that her superiors at the Getty Museum were "fully aware of the risks" of buying antiquities and had approved the acquisitions.

Yet the Getty has not publicly defended her innocence or explained her role at the museum, she said.

The press and foreign prosecutors make it seem as if "I was in charge of the Getty, made the decisions, wrote the checks and swanned around Europe looking for archeological sites to plunder," she said. "No Getty colleague, supervisor, officer or legal representative has stepped forward to challenge publicly this distorted scenario."

The Getty's "calculated silence … has been acknowledged universally, especially in the archeological countries, as a tacit acceptance of my guilt," True said in the two-page letter. It was addressed to acting Getty Chief Executive Deborah Marrow, Museum Director Michael Brand and Getty spokesman Ron Hartwig.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, sheds light on long-standing tension between True and the Getty.

That tension began soon after the curator was implicated in an Italian investigation into the looted antiquities trade in 2000. Since then, the board has been torn between defending True and returning a number of contested objects to Italy to end an escalating dispute, according to records and interviews.

Some Getty officials believed that returning the objects would be seen as an admission of the curator's guilt, an argument that paralyzed the Getty while Italy's demands grew for the return of items Italian prosecutors say were illegally excavated from ruins in recent years and smuggled out of the country.

In recent months the Getty has agreed to return 30 contested antiquities to both Italy and Greece, which has recently begun legal action against True for alleged antiquities trafficking. Many of the returned items bear directly in the charges against True. The Getty is paying for her defense in Greece and Italy, and has said that True is being unfairly singled out by foreign prosecutors. But in recent public statements, the Getty has stopped short of saying she is innocent and has been wrongfully charged.

"We certainly hope that she will be exonerated, but with her at trial, I don't want to be any more specific than that," Hartwig said.

Hartwig acknowledged that in the past, True's criminal woes have complicated the negotiations with cultural officials in Italy and Greece over the return of allegedly looted antiquities.

He said that current Getty officials hope the returns will build a rapport with the governments and have a "therapeutic impact" on her legal situation.

But True said in her letter that giving items back without any public statement in her support has not helped. She described being presented with criminal charges in Athens by a judge in mid-December, days after the Getty's return of a golden funerary wreath, the focus of the Greek case.

Although the Getty suggested at the time the return may prompt Greek officials to reconsider their criminal charges against True, the curator said that "any openness to discussion was not apparent" when she sat before the judge, who gave her three weeks to answer the charges.

"Once again you have chosen to announce the return of objects that are directly related to criminal charges filed against me by a foreign government … without a word of support for me, without any explanation of my role in the institution, and without reference to my innocence," True wrote of the episode.

As the Getty's antiquities curator from 1986 to 2005, True was responsible for recommending what objects the museum should buy from private dealers and at public auctions. The decision to approve her recommendations rested with the museum director, the Getty Trust's chief executive and members of the board of trustees.

During those years, True frequently raised concerns about acquisitions with her superiors and pushed to toughen the museum's acquisition standards in 1987 and in 1996, according to the testimony of John Walsh, the director of the Getty Museum during much of True's career.

"From the beginning, we knew that there was the potential of being offered material that had been illegally excavated, or illegally removed from Greece or Turkey or Italy," Walsh told True's Italian prosecutor in a 2004 deposition. "This was a common problem. Everybody knew it in 1983; everybody knows it now."

Contacted by The Times this week, Walsh declined to comment, as did his deputy, Deborah Gribbon, who succeeded him as director in 2000 and resigned from the museum in late 2004.

True was asked to retire in October 2005 after The Times reported that she had accepted a $400,000 loan from one of the museum's major antiquities dealers. She repaid the money in 1996 with a second loan from Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman, who days earlier had sold part of their collection to the Getty for $20 million.

Barbara Fleischman became a board member in 2000, and was a vocal advocate for True. When Fleischman stepped down last year, she complained about the Getty's treatment of True in a departing letter to the board.

Getty officials managed the crisis incompetently, Fleischman said, and True was isolated internally and had to fight to get legal representation in Los Angeles. "Shockingly, True became the prosecutor's stand-in for John Walsh, her superior, and the Trust. She was been wrongly accused and endured almost five years of battering," Fleischman said.

Fleischman said she could understand the motives of the Italian prosecutor and journalists covering the story. "What I cannot understand and accept is the malice, the attempt to bend the truth, and the injustice within the Trust itself," she added.

True said in her letter last week that she had hoped "the Getty's entrenched position of offering no public defense for me" would change with the departure of former Getty Trust Chief Executive Barry Munitz, who was forced to resign in February for financial improprieties.

"The continuation of this policy of isolation, however, suggests that those who are now making or advising the adoption of such decisions lack the courage or integrity to change it," True said.

Harry Stang, True's Los Angeles attorney, would not comment on the letter, saying that "it was a document intended to be private."
AG waxes political -- but not overtly so -- in the LA Times:

WHAT WOULD Julius Caesar do in Iraq? "He'd win" is the simplest answer. How he would do it is harder to say — after all, just how would a man like that behave in the modern world? We can never know, but his campaigns in Gaul give us a fair idea.

When Caesar led his legions into Gaul — basically present-day France and Belgium — in 58 BC, many of the tribes there greeted him as a liberator. Six years later, almost all of them rebelled against him in a war fought with appalling savagery. Through skill and luck, Caesar won. He then spent the better part of two years in painstaking diplomacy. As one of his own officers put it: "Caesar had one main aim, keeping the tribes friendly and giving them neither the opportunity nor cause for war." It worked, and Gaul remained at peace when he left in 49 BC.

From the start, Caesar backed his campaigns with concerted and highly personal diplomacy. He met the tribal leaders as a council at least once a year and visited them individually more often. The great rebellion in 52 BC was all the more surprising because it was led by chieftains who had done very well out of their alliance with Caesar. They had decided that they would do even better if the Romans were expelled. Allies, and especially those in an occupied country, may not necessarily have the same long-term ambitions.

Of course, Gaul in the 1st century BC was a very different place from Iraq today. The many mutually hostile tribes of Gaul, divided by language if not religion, had never been combined into a single nation. Caesar came as a conqueror, the agent of a blatantly imperialistic Roman Republic that had already occupied much of the Mediterranean world. There was no talk of creating a free democracy, still less of exit strategies. Gaul would remain part of Rome's empire for more than five centuries.

Caesar was effectively a free agent because there was no way that the Senate could have directed events from Rome when messages took weeks to reach Gaul. He also combined supreme civil and military power in his office as proconsul, so that he both devised and implemented political and military strategy. There was a single mind and purpose behind Roman policy in Gaul. Despite his power, Caesar couldn't lose and get away with it. Failure would have meant exile or death. Put simply, Caesar could not afford to consider withdrawal.

Even without 24-hour news and an international community watching his every move, Caesar was acutely aware of the need to win over public opinion. Each winter he produced an account of the year's campaign, designed to be read aloud and to thrill an audience of Romans. From the beginning, these were acknowledged as one of the highest expressions of the Latin language.

The Bush administration has been far less effective in selling the war to the U.S. public, and Tony Blair's government has made even more of a mess of winning over domestic opinion in Britain. More seriously, from the beginning there were major errors in strategy. The coalition forces have performed superbly, but too few troops were sent, especially because insufficient attention was paid to reconstructing Iraq.

When Caesar suffered one of his few defeats and lost 1 1/2 legions in the winter of 54-53 BC, his response was to replace them with twice as many men. The idea was to show that Roman resources and determination were inexhaustible.

Caesar knew that soldiers could only do so much and that lasting peace needed a political settlement. In Gaul, the tribes were left to govern themselves in their day-to-day affairs — that was the Roman way. In the long term, the leaders would be absorbed into Rome's aristocracy. In the short term, they had to be treated fairly and persuaded that accepting Roman rule was more attractive than resorting to violence.

At times, Caesar was ruthless in ways that would and should be utterly unacceptable to the United States and its allies. One prominent chieftain who displeased him died "resisting capture." Another was publicly flogged and beheaded without the formality of a trial. These were misjudgments and helped provoke the great rebellion in 52 BC. Other brutal warnings of the price of opposing Rome were more effective — the defenders of one captured town had their hands cut off. Caesar also launched attacks on neighboring Germans and Britons because he felt that they threatened the peace in Gaul. Today he would presumably be more ready than seems sensible to make similar strikes on Iran or Syria.

Caesar made mistakes in Gaul, and came very close to defeat, but he never doubted his ultimate success. This was not just a question of staying the course. Caesar was able to admit when he had made a mistake. He adapted, changed his plans to meet a situation and threw every resource — including his own massive energy — into achieving his aim. In a few years in Gaul, initial victory turned to apparent disaster, and that was turned into lasting success.

Caesar's experience shows how a seemingly desperate situation can be salvaged, but it does not suggest that this is easy, and there is a lot about his example we would not want to follow. The time it took for Caesar to turn the situation around in Gaul shifted the political balance in Rome hugely in favor of his bitterest opponents. Victorious in Gaul, he still saw his career threatened with extinction. He didn't hesitate. He left Gaul to make war on his own country. Mavericks like Caesar make effective war leaders — but can be dangerous if a state fails to control them.

Speaking of Adrian Goldsworthy, folks might be interested in a radio interview with him at OnPoint Radio ...
From Payvand:

Cultural heritage exerts at the Achaemenid Palace of Persepolis were outraged to see stains of fake blood used for special effects by a group of film makers shooting a feature-length movie at this ancient palace complex on the walls and floor of a palace denoted to the Persian king Xerxes I (reigned 485-465 BC).

Last week, Persepolis security guards arrested a film crewmember for trying to steal heads of two Achaemenid bas-reliefs, completely removing head of the bas-relief of an Achaemenid soldier and destroying the other one to a large extent. Following this incident, the provincial Cultural Heritage Police Department confiscated all their filming equipments and asked the filming crew and casts to immediately evacuate Persepolis.

“After the group left Persepolis, one of the security guards took experts to the filming scene where fake blood were poured on the wall and floor by the group, ignoring warnings by the guards,” said Afshin Yazdani, an archeologist at Persepolis. He further added that artificial gunshots used by the filming crew while making the film caused panic among the people visiting Persepolis that day.

A team of experts is now cautiously removing the paints from the walls using special detergents. According to these experts, chemical substances used for making this type of fake blood are absolutely detrimental to ancient monuments. On the other hand, removing the blood from the surface of the walls and floor of the palace is a very difficult task and could seriously harm the palace.

Meanwhile, officials of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Fars province have filed a lawsuit against the vandals and are determined to pursue the case through legal means.

Why the film crews were given enough time to cause such massive destruction to Persepolis, the symbol of Persian glory during the Achaemenid Empire (550 BC–330 BC), is not clear but is partly the result of lack of security at this Achaemenid palace. This is while experts had previously warned that the number of security guards at Persepolis is by no means sufficient, but no action was taken to increase the number of guards at this ancient site which is one of the most visited historic sites of Iran with an average number of 1200 daily visitors.

More than 16 centuries ago in 334 BC, Alexander of Macedon savagely burnt down Persepolis. Since then, this Achaemenid palace complex has seen much harm due to irresponsible behavior, whether on the part of individuals or responsible organizations.
Just so folks know, I've deleted our Classics Central discussion board. Over the past while it has become a target for spammers (you never saw them because everything was set to be approved by yours truly) and I cannot keep up with the volume of deletions. I have culled a number of comments on rc items and will append them to the appropriate posts when I get time. If you are a fan of ancient-themed discussion boards, I'd suggest checking out the following:'s Ancient History Forum

Alexander the Great's Forum

Ancient Mediterranean Cultures

Roman Army Talk


... if there are others (with a reasonable amount of traffic and which deal specifically with the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome), send them to me and I'll consider adding them to the list.


Dmitri Minaev suggests:

Sorry for such a brazen bragging, but, being a co-moderator of a history discussion board, I would like to add one more name to the list you have posted: Sima Qian Studio ( It is not confined to the antiquity, but, at least, our Ancient History subforum
( is active enough.
Suzan Mazur's latest in Scoop is an interview with Italian prosecutor Maurizio Fiorilli ... although the whole thing is interesting, I found this bit a nice little tease:

Suzan Mazur: The Getty, America's biggest trust - $5.5 billion - would suffer a significant monetary loss if the antiquities Italy has asked to be repatriated are, indeed, returned to Italy. And California's Attorney General has said the Getty board of trustees would be viewed as negligent for making unwise investments.

How much of a monetary loss to the Getty are we talking about?

How much of a gain would there be for the Getty to cooperate?

Maurizio Fiorilli: You cannot do culture based on fraud and theft [emphasis added].

The economic value is of little consequence. What is important is the gain Getty will derive on the ethical plane. Moral gain is the reward.

Also, the monetary value of the objects is not Italy's problem. It is the problem of those who spend good money for objects that are without clear title and are illicitly removed from their place of cultural origin.

It is up to the authorities in the USA who are responsible for controlling the Getty to investigate how the money was spent.

Culture predisposes honesty and transparency.

The Getty has made a "loss sheet" -- if it were required to return certain objects. Why has it not made public the source documents used to create this "loss sheet"?

Read the whole thing here.

Notice that phrase 'place of cultural origin', though ... I guess this is how Italy is justifying things which were originally part of a shipwreck and it opens the door for them to pretty much lay claim to anything 'Roman' found in Europe, no? So what's going to happen when some scholar -- and you know it will happen sooner or later -- demonstrates that something labelled as a 'Roman copy of a Greek original', is actually Greek? Will Italy see 'moral gain' as a reward and return it to Greece? Is there a (for want of a better term) statute of limitations on moral loss?
Mike Salter sent this one in (thanks!) ... an oped piece from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Split Enz got it wrong. History does repeat. From Achilles' heel to Pandora's box, we constantly dip into the stories and legends of the past to understand the present. The media are especially partial to the classical metaphor.

The US is indisputably "an economic and cultural colossus". But would it rate, like the statue of the sun god at Rhodes, the original colossus, as a wonder of the world?

Cricketers are accorded godlike status in India, so it's not surprising that the recently deceased Test all-rounder Pahelam "Polly" Umrigar was described in his obituary as a "titan" - even if he did spend some time as a selector.

Private equity firms, likened to "barbarians at the gate", are besieging corporate Australia. They are aptly named. Many are a mixture of Australian and US investors and therefore meet the original barbaric test of being non-Greek.

All Greek to me are the references to Achilles' heel - the only part of the legendary warrior's body that wasn't dipped in the river Styx by his mother when he was a child to make him, she hoped, invulnerable. The heel remained unprotected because it was where Thetis, his mother, had hold of him.

The Prime Minister's Achilles' heel is said to be a slowing down in Australia's economic performance, or maybe climate change. A chap called Kevin will no doubt probe for others.

Perhaps John Howard would prefer the Midas touch, which the new head of the investment bank Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, is said to have. But as Midas, the mythical king of Phrygia found out, if everything you touch turns to gold it's very hard to eat or drink or kiss babies.

Opening Pandora's box is to be avoided. From her box all the ills of the world were released. The High Court was accused of lifting the lid in November when it gave the Federal Government the power to centralise industrial relations laws.

The lid stayed up during Parliament's recent debate on allowing human embryo research. It's not all bad, though. Legend has it that trapped in the bottom of the box was one blessing: hope.

Pandora isn't the only femme fatale. Cassandra, the daughter of Priam, king of Troy, spurned the advances of the god Apollo and was condemned to possess the gift of prophecy without being believed. Her warnings about the dangers of bringing Helen of Sparta to Troy were ignored. So, when the Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce says he doesn't want to be a Cassandra on media reform we should pay him closer heed.

The most famous Trojan is the wooden horse. It wasn't really Trojan but Greek, built by Agamemnon's Greek soldiers as an apparent offering to end the war but concealing warriors to infiltrate Troy's impregnable walls. Plans by Macquarie Bank to enter the taxi industry were interpreted as a Trojan horse. So, too, changes by the Federal Government to the Comcare workers compensation scheme.

There was nothing pyrrhic about the Greeks' triumph in the Trojan War. But the decision to stop ABC staff electing a director to the board was dubbed a pyrrhic victory, as was Prince Charles's legal win to keep his diaries private.

In the third century BC, King Pyrrhus recognised the hollowness of routing a Roman enemy but losing the cream of his army in the process. What would Pyrrhus make of the war in Iraq? History goes on repeating. Its richness endures.
From CNN:

Unlike its larger, postcard-perfect neighbors in the Aegean Sea, Keros is a tiny rocky dump inhabited by a single goatherd.

But the barren islet was of major importance to the mysterious Cycladic people, a sophisticated pre-Greek civilization with no written language that flourished 4,500 years ago and produced strikingly modern-looking artwork.

A few miles from the resorts of Mykonos and Santorini, Keros is a repository of art from the seafaring culture whose flat-faced marble statues inspired the work of 20th century masters Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore.

Indeed, more than half of all documented Cycladic figurines in museums and collections worldwide were found on Keros. Now, excavations by a Greek-British archaeology team have unearthed a cache of prehistoric statues -- all deliberately broken -- that they hope will help solve the Keros riddle.

When they were unearthed, the white marble shards were jumbled close together like a pile of bleached bones, an elbow here, a leg there, occasionally a head.

British excavation leader Colin Renfrew now believes Keros was a hugely important religious site where the smashed artwork was ceremoniously deposited.

"What we do have clearly is what must be recognized as the earliest regional ritual center in the Aegean," he said.

This could put it on a par with the sacred islet of Delos -- also in the Cyclades -- revered from early antiquity until Christian times as the birthplace of Apollo, god of music and light. The finds on Keros date to about 1,500 years before the cult of Apollo started on Delos.

There is no evidence the Cycladic culture worshipped the Greek gods of Mount Olympus, who first appeared in the 2nd millennium B.C., and their beliefs are shrouded in mystery as no sanctuaries dating to before 2000 B.C. have been excavated.

However, some experts think the islanders' religion was probably built round a fertility cult tied to the mother-goddess of Neolithic times, whose worship survived in various forms until Christian times in the Greco-Roman world. The Cycladic statues, many depicting pregnant women, may have played a part in such beliefs, and their deliberate destruction would have been a ritual act.

During excavations in the spring and early summer, Renfrew's team found an undisturbed trove of figurines missed by looters who ransacked the islet in the 1950s and 1960s. They all had been deliberately smashed around 2500 B.C.

"We've got hundreds of marble bowl fragments and many dozens of figurine fragments, which don't seem to fit together," said Renfrew, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Cambridge University and former director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

"You have a head here, a single foot here, a torso there, some thighs here -- and all very deliberately broken. Pieces have been deliberately broken again into small pieces."

The Cycladic culture -- a network of small, sometimes fortified farming and fishing settlements that traded with mainland Greece, Crete and Asia Minor -- is best known for the elegant figurines: mostly naked, elongated figures with arms folded under their chests. It flourished in 3200-2000 B.C., then was eclipsed by Crete and Mycenaean Greece.

A group of broken figurines like that found this year is known from private collections formed after the looting. But for the first time, experts can now try to piece a story together from the subtle clues that treasure hunters destroy.

The excavation disproves theories that the artifacts came from cemeteries -- as no human bones were found -- or were wantonly broken by modern vandals.

"We can say that the breakages are definitely old," Renfrew said. "(The figurines) weren't smashed there because (then) you'd find the bits together. And there's differential weathering, which suggests that not only were they broken elsewhere and brought there, but some of them became weathered elsewhere."

Renfrew believes the figurines -- some originally up to a yard high -- may have come from sanctuaries throughout the Cyclades. And pottery finds indicate the site could have attracted worshippers from as far away as mainland Greece.

"Maybe at some point in some life cycle, the figurines were ritually smashed and taken to Keros in some ceremony," he said. "It's going to take a while to sort out what's going on."

Experts agree the figurines, which initially had details painted in bright colors, were highly prized in the early bronze age Cyclades, but still don't understand what they were made for. Some 1,400 have survived, although only 40 percent are of known origin, since looters destroyed evidence on the rest.

The figurines were made following a pattern that changed little over 800 years. They have been variously interpreted as depicting gods or venerated ancestors, serving as replacements for human sacrifice, grave goods -- even children's toys.

While Renfrew believes they should not be associated with the cemeteries many were found in, he concedes there is little evidence of how they were used in everyday life.

"So there's a lot we have yet to learn," he said. "We may be on the path towards learning now."
From Sabah:

A statue belonging to the Roman era was found in an olive depot located in Gemlik, Bursa.

Police have raided an olive depot after being notified about an illegal historical artifact trade. A statue of two women holding a globe in their hands is assumed to belong the Roman era was captured.
Police said the owners of the depot was trying to sell the statue for $ 15 million to some foreign buyers.

According to an information obtained from Bursa Police Department, Gemlik police was notified about two illegal traders; 46 year old Kemal K. and his friend Ismail A. Security teams have detected 6 different addresses for the suspects and raided all 6 addresses concurrently on Wednesday.
Police found the marble statue in Ismail A.'s olive depot located in Gemlik.
Both suspects were taken under custody.
Suspects said they bought the statue for a very cheap price from Aegean region.

Now I don't usually link to images in newspapers but ...

... I simply have to join the New Antiquarian in expressing my skepticism at the 'authenticity' of this. It really looks like something 'inspired' by the thing they give out at the World Cup.
From the Edwardsville Intelligencer:

SIUE Associate Dean Carl Springer has been chosen as the recipient of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award, which has been granted to the prestigious Catalogus Translationum et Commentarorium project.

Springer, from the College of Arts and Sciences, said it will take him at least five and possibly as many as 10 years to track down translations and commentaries of the fifth-century Christian Latin author Sedulius, according to information from the university's Public Affairs Office.

The project published its first volume in 1958.

The associate dean for student development and general education, and a professor of classics at the University, Springer is perusing these works to gain more knowledge about the reception of Sedulius, an author whose numerous Latin hymns, poems and literary works were steeped in the Roman Catholic faith. Springer already has completed several books on Sedulius.

"What I'm doing is studying the commentaries and any translations there were of this author from the very earliest manuscripts we have through the 16th century," Springer said in a news release.

"I'm really excited to be part of this because it asks pre-eminent scholars in the field, throughout the world, to take responsibility for one author and find out all the different translations and commentaries that were produced for the works of that classical author in the medieval and renaissance periods."

Mellon Foundation awards are making it possible for scholars to catalogue translations and commentaries on the works of hundreds of ancient authors, Springer said.

Springer has spent many years of his life studying, as a recipient of the Alexander Von Humboldt award in Germany, and as a Fulbright scholar in Belgium.

With his family in tow, he did research in libraries throughout France, Italy, England, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Spain, and Germany.

Some of his fondest memories during his years of research abroad include living in a cottage built in 1603, eating silent meals with Belgian monks, and working closely with manuscripts over a thousand years old.

His next great adventure will take place this summer at the Newberry Library in Chicago and at the Pontifical Institute in Toronto, Canada, Springer said, where he plans to study translations and commentaries in early printed editions. In addition to travel, the award will help pay for ordering microfilms of the work.

One of the components to the research initiative that thrills Springer is, "you're actually discovering knowledge," he said.

"Some of our earliest examples of the English language are found in the glosses (interlinear and marginal notations) from Sedulius' works, as well as old high-German glosses, an earlier form of the German we know today."

He said additionally the opportunity to share his scholarly passion with advanced students who have helped him with his research is one of the major reasons for his excitement about receiving the funding.
Saw this on the Classicists list and thought someone might be interested:

In conjunction with the international conference 'Ruins and Reconstructions: Pompeii in the Popular Imagination', to be held in Bristol in July 2007, the organisers are running a competition entitled 'The Casts Project'. This invites creative responses, in any media, to the body casts of Pompeii. Winning entries will receive a cash prize, and will be displayed at the conference. We would be very grateful if list members could help us in publicising The Casts Project to likely participants. We are primarily targeting schools, but the competition is open to all ages. Full details of the competition brief and rules of entry can be found on our website, but please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Many thanks Joanna Paul ( and Shelley Hales (

Hic incipit what will hopefully be a long-running series of posts gleaned -- with permission of the author (Dr. Barry Baldwin from my alma mater University of Calgary) -- from the "Journal of Strange Phenomena" Fortean Times. Long ago, when Fortean Times' website was in its infancy I had written them asking to make these columns available on the web. Long ago I was told "Great idea" ... then nothing. Then a month or so ago I wrote directly to Dr. Baldwin (Barry), who gave me his permission. The Christmas break finally gives me the opportunity to put some of this in a form that works on the web. I think this will be a regular feature on Sundays until I run out of material (although there is a lot of it). Since a previous online article on ancient swearing (which we mentioned) by Barry Baldwin seems to have been so popular, it seems a good thing to begin with this one ...

From Fortean Times 192 (January 2005):

'Googling' offers 52,400 farting sites - clearly an explosive topic. Pride of place remains with Joseph Pujol, Le Petomane (Fartiste), whose 1890s Moulin Rouge wind-breaking performances attracted fans as diverse as Belgian King Leopold and Sigmund Freud.

Apparently a Gallic speciality. Montaigne (Essays, bk1 no21) knew a man who could fart at will, arranging them in metrical sequences - shades of Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles - also one who "had an arse so stormy and churlish that it has obliged its master to fart unremittingly for 40 years and is thus bringing him to his death."

Eighteenth century England was hyper-flatulent. Apart from the jingle "Piss and Fart, Sound at Heart," Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) lists the onomatopoeic synonyms Fice, Fizzle, and Foyse - they sound like Wilson, Keppel, and Betty - while Randle is defined as "a set of nonsensical verses, repeated by schoolboys and young people guilty of breaking wind backwards before their companions; if they neglect this apology, they are liable to kicks, pinches, and fillips." Scabrous reminiscence: every Monday morning at school, we had an in-class farting contest. Keener competitors predosed themselves with sulphur tablets, the ethics of which were hotly debated; we had never heard of randles.
John Aubrey (Brief Lives) records "the Earle of Oxford that lett the fart before Queen Elizabeth: whereupon he travelled; this eruption was celebrated in the verse Drolleries of Sir John Hoskyns."

Cue for old joke: Sir, you have farted before my wife. Sir, I am sorry; I didn't know it was her turn.

Farting is part of our classical heritage. Characters constantly crepitate in Aristophanes's comedies. Two slaves compete in Petronius (Satyricon, ch117). Martial (Epigrams, bk4 no87 & bk12 no77) knew Bassa who constantly broke wind at her baby, and a man who let go in Jupiter's temple, despite first exploding 20 times in a public lavatory, perhaps the same one where Suetonius (Life of Lucan, par6) says that poet risked treason charges for quoting Nero's verse "So loud it thundered'neath the earth" to accompany a huge fart.

Anti-Semites broke wind at Jews (Horace, Satires, bk1 no9 v70). Petronius's dinner host Trimalchio (ch 47 para4) bade his guests let fly at table, possibly a joke on Claudius's (Suetonius, Life, ch32) law sanctioning such behaviour.

Horace's pasquinade (Satires, bk1 no8 v46) against witches ends with them being scattered by the tremendous fart of a Priapus statue. This incident is both scatological and theological, apotropaic wind-breaking being a good omen in (e.g.) the fourth Homeric Hymn (w295-8), two inscriptions (nos 6 & 10) from Aphrodisias, and the Chariton stage mime ( Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vo13 no413 v3) where (text uncertain) Fart may even be deified as a goddess; cf. RW Daniel, `Laughing Stones,' Zeitschrift f. Papyrologie u. Epigraphik, vol 161,1985, pp127-30.
So, the difference between Fart and Fort may be both bowel and vowel. (NB: See Munroe Scott, Oh, Vulgar Wind: a Sympathetic Overview of the Common Fart (Culture Concepts, Toronto, 1994).

Barry Baldwin
(reprinted with permission of the Author; blame any typically graphic transcription errors on dm)
From the CBC:

British poet John Heath-Stubbs, who was also a translator of classic works such as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, died Tuesday at a London nursing home at 88.

He had been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year.

Heath-Stubbs' works included poetry, plays, criticism and translations and his own epic poem, Artorius: A Heroic Poem in Four Books and Eight Episodes, based on the legends of King Arthur, published in 1973.

He was drawn to classical myth as an inspiration for his verse, which included 1969's Satires and Epigrams and The Immolation of Aleph.

"I will remember him as a very generous man, a quiet but committed Christian and someone who was very critical of a lot of modern fashions," said his friend Guthrie McKie.

"He strongly objected to actors reading poetry, and believed that only poets should read poetry. He made a lot of enemies but that's the nature of the literary world."
Continue Article

Born in London on July 9, 1918, Heath-Stubbs earned a degree at Queen's College, Oxford, where his classmates included the writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

In 1941 his first published poems appeared in the book Eight Oxford Poets. He helped edit the 1942 edition of Oxford Poetry and the British poetry anthology Images Of Tomorrow.

In 1973 he won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry and in 1988, he became an officer of the Order of the British Empire.

In 1978, he went blind, but he told the Independent newspaper his only regret was that he could no longer comb second-hand bookstores. He continued writing.

His 1979 translation of the Rubaiyat was written with Peter Avery.

In 2000, Heath-Stubbs completed an English-language version of a work by Sulpicia, a contemporary of Ovid and Horace, and the only woman whose writings survive from ancient Rome.


Adrian Murdoch collects several more links to obituaries and other background info


Ian Tompkins notes:

There's a howler in the CBC obituary of Heath-Stubbs. C S Lewis and Tolkein would have been among his teachers but not his class-mates. He was a generation younger.
From PR Inside comes a bit on a somewhat chronologically-challenged Hugh Jackman:

The 'X-Men' star is fascinated by time travel but thinks the disadvantages would outweigh the benefits.
He said: "The 1920s hold a fascination but I don't think you'd want to be sick in the 20s. Health care wasn't great and there were no computers. All the movies, flappers and parties were great, but let's face it, I'd switch everything for the right medicine. Also, I do quite like my email and my BlackBerry." Earlier this year, history obsessed Hugh admitted he would love to portray the Greek philosopher Socrates in a movie.
He said: "I've always been a huge fan of Socrates. I think his story is great, and I figured that he died, like, 3,000 years ago so people don't really remember him. I could probably have a go there.
Hi jokingly added: "We could turn it into a musical because apparently he loved show-tunes, Socrates. That's a little-known fact!"
Not sure whether this one will survive for next week's Explorator, so here's full text from the NY Times:

Of all the old saws about the Eternal City, at least one remains simply true: dig a deep hole almost anywhere here, and you’ll unearth an archaeological artifact, or two.

Yet a wave of public and private building projects is suddenly focusing unusual attention on Rome’s rich subterranean world as one treasure after another emerges at a steady clip.

“We’re walking on the world’s largest untapped underground museum,” said Maria Antonietta Tomei, a government official responsible for coordinating archaeological digs in Rome.

During the last week reports surfaced that 800 coins from the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. had been unearthed during the reconstruction of a movie theater near the Trevi Fountain.

Earlier this month a temple from the second century A.D. dedicated to Matidia, mother-in-law to Emperor Hadrian, was discovered when a former orphanage was rebuilt to create offices for the Italian Senate. La Repubblica, the daily newspaper, hailed that find as “the most important archaeological discovery in Rome in recent years.”

And on a trip to New York in late November the Italian culture minister, Francesco Rutelli, revealed that some rare fourth-century regalia belonging to Emperor Maxentius, including spears and javelins, had been found wrapped in linen and silk and buried in wooden cases on the Palatine Hill, near the Colosseum.

Archaeologists view the fervent media interest as a reflection of Italy’s rising concern for its cultural patrimony. “In the last 10 or 15 years there’s been enormous attention on the part of the public” regarding Rome’s ancient past, said Silvana Rizzo, an archaeologist and top aide to Mr. Rutelli.

In what may seem like a paradox, globalization has also deepened the resolve of many countries to protect artifacts that reflect national cultures, said Angelo Bottini, the chief archaeology official for Rome. “There’s greater desire to establish an identity, and archaeology is identity,” he said in an interview in his office here, on the top floor of the building that houses the National Roman Museum.

The increased interest is also an offshoot of growing vigilance among government-appointed archaeologists, who supervise all major private and public building projects in Italy. “Today you can’t move a shovelful of dirt without it being examined, so more archaeological finds come to light,” Mr. Bottini said.

Construction activity has also ballooned in Rome in the last decade as the city has undergone urban renewal projects related partly to the Vatican Jubilee celebrations observing the 2,000th anniversary of Christianity, along with investment in train and tram lines, underground cabling and housing projects.

And a new spirit of collaboration has been forged between archaeological experts bent on protecting the national patrimony and developers bent on transforming Rome.

“Archaeology used to be brandished as a not-in-my-backyard instrument to halt public works,” Mr. Bottini said. Now, he added, archaeologists are not aligned against development as a matter of course.

Ms. Tomei agreed. “We used to be seen as the enemy,” she said. “Now there’s greater willingness on our part to facilitate the exploratory digs and to expedite the controls.”

And developers have begun to embrace the notion that archaeological discoveries can be exploited to raise the profile of their projects. An exhibition that opened this month at the Olearie Papali, a former papal olive oil storehouse in Rome, devoted to archaeological material unearthed in Rome during the last 25 years, was largely financed by companies whose construction led to the finds.

And as a major subway project begins in downtown Rome (in ancient times, as now, the heart of the city), discoveries are likely to accelerate. Experts entrusted with protecting Italy’s ancient heritage expect to be busy.

“The metro line is really going to spotlight the preventive work we do,” Ms. Rizzo said.

For now archaeologists and engineers are gently poking into the ground at a series of sites along a major access road that cuts across the city, from the Vatican to the central Piazza Venezia and beyond. The goal, Mr. Bottini said, is to draft a subway construction plan that will “minimize the risks” to the underground city. The first leg of the line is expected to be ready in 2011.

Several artifacts that surfaced during the preliminary digging for the subway line — a Roman-era bronze compass and a bronze-and-copper spatula once used to mix makeup, for example — are on view in the show at Olearie Papali, “Memories From the Underground: Archaeological Finds From 1980 to 2006.” Archaeologists organized the exhibition to take stock of the recent finds and learn from them, Mr. Bottini said.

“It is the prelude to a larger reflection on the enormous transformation of Rome through the centuries,” he added.

Particularly important artifacts from the subway sites will be added to the show as archaeologists continue to sift down through the millennial stratifications of Rome.

Some objects in the show came to light as a result of long-planned archaeological digs at the Colosseum or the Palatine. But for the most part the ceramic vases, glass, statuary and even the odd mosaics and frescoes were accidentally mined in the Roman suburbs, home in ancient times to a dense succession of villas and tombs.

“No matter where you dig in Rome,” Ms. Rizzo said, “you’re bound to find history.”
From Information Week comes a tale which seems like one Classics types should know about:

Christmas is the time for giving, and for many people this means technology. It's certainly no different in my family--my Dad got a new gigabit Ethernet rig, my little brother got some games, and my niece got a portable DVD player. Mom? She got a new VM.

This probably needs some explanation. My mother is a professor of ancient civilization, and being in the educational profession means that she does a lot of research writing, some of which involves citations of ancient languages in their original form. This isn't too much of a problem with modern operating systems and applications that are capable of using Unicode character sets and encodings, but until just a few years ago, most operating systems and applications had to rely on platform- or even program-specific encoding technologies, and this was particularly true with dead languages like Latin and ancient Greek (the latter of which has different glyphs than modern Greek). As such, most of the manuscripts and papers that she wrote just a few years ago used program-specific character technologies.

Some of these tools, such as the old WinGreek, were married to specific technologies, such as a particular version of Microsoft Word for Windows, which in turn only ran on Windows 3.1. That's why mom still had a couple of old DOS PCs in her closet--she needed the software that could read the papers that she had written, and nothing else could do the job. My Christmas present for mom then was to get her old systems migrated into VMware Player so that she could still work with the original materials and programs, but using her everyday (modern) system, with the legacy stuff running in a virtual machine.

This was actually a bit more challenging than it sounds, given that some of her equipment is around 15 years old. For example, she had a Toshiba T4850CT laptop, and an IBM PS/2-E mini-desktop (a laptop in a non-mobile form-factor, basically), both of which were limited to PCMCIA cards for system I/O, and neither of which had CD-ROM drives or networking capabilities (nevermind USB). Meanwhile, the Toshiba laptop had 8 MB of RAM, while the PS/2-E had PS/2-E had less than 4 MB.

Normally, I would simply remove the hard drives and use imaging software to create a snapshot of the drive, but that was a no-go in this situation. The hard drive in the laptop uses an older thick form-factor that physically won't work with any of my other laptops, and requires a special controller to get power over the IDE interface. As for the PS/2-E, the case was locked and mom had long since lost the key. If I was going to do this, I had to use software.

Even though I have a that is capable of working on these classes of system, the lack of CD-ROM drive support meant that it wasn't possible to use those tools in that form factor. Next I considered using Acronis True Image, but that required multiple floppy disks to create a bootable image, and the systems didn't have enough RAM to run the Acronis recovery tool (a customized Linux-based kernel) anyway. Eventually I was able to get a single-floppy install of Norton Ghost 2003 (since discontinued) working with a Belkin direct-connect cable (a bi-directional, host-to-host parallel cable) that I picked up at Staples on Christmas Eve. In this setup, I booted Toshiba laptop under the Ghost agent, and then used her modern PC to suck the contents of the hard drive into an image file across the direct-connect link. From there it was a simple process of creating a new VM in VMware Workstation, and then using ghost to restore the image to the new VM.

This didn't work on the PS/2-E system, however, because it did not have enough memory to run the Ghost agent. For that machine, I used the old DOS interlnk utility to create a host-to-host network connection across the direct-connect cable, then mounted the old PS/2-E hard drive from within the modern PC. Once that was done, I was then able to use the old msbackup utility to create a backup of the system, and then was able to restore that backup to another VM.

I spent another day or two doing cleanup work, installing networking, and doing other minor tweaks to get the systems integrated into their new homes, and I still need to do a lot more. For example, I need to upgrade the systems to Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (look out eBay here I come), without breaking her legacy applications. Another problem is that Windows 3.x doesn't have support for the HLT instruction that puts the CPU into "idle" mode when nothing else is happening, so these VMs run the CPU at 100% whenever they are "on" which prevents her from doing much of anything else even with her modern kit, so I need to find a way to tame the CPU under Win 3.x. I also need to consolidate her files and get her VMs integrated into their normal backup schedule. All told, this is shaping up to be quite the project.

But still, it's a lot better than worrying about the calls that would come whenever one of her ancient machines eventually took the inevitable nose-dive. As difficult as this has proven to be, it would certainly be a lot harder if the machines weren't working, so all told this is time well-spent.

This whole process has also got me to thinking about how common this kind of problem must be. There are millions of old systems out there running on ancient hardware without any of the luxury technologies that we take for granted today, such as old NetWare servers and OS/2 application servers and SCO servers, and ... and many of those systems date back to the early 90s, with system specs that are appropriate to that era. Yet, recovery tools are becoming harder to find for this class of machine--imaging software now routinely requires more memory than the average workstation had back then, and new versions often assume technology that simply didn't exist back then. Imagine having to migrate a a NetWare/286 server with a Hercules graphics adapter... *shudder*


Richard Baker adds:

VMware really is an excellent set of products for those sorts of
legacy applications. You might like to add a note to the end of your
post noting that VMware Server and VMware Player are both free now.
(For people running OS X on Intel Macs, there's also the new VMware
Fusion beta and a product from another company called Parallels
Desktop. Either of those can run non-Mac operating systems like
Windows, DOS or Linux too.)

For folks who are interested, here's a link to VMware ...
The LA Times has a lengthy feature:

THE book cost $2 million at auction, but large sections are unreadable.

Some of its 348 pages are torn or missing and others are covered with sprawling purple patches of mildew. Sooty edges and water stains indicate a close escape from a fire.

"This manuscript is, by far, the worst of any manuscript I've ever seen," said William Noel, curator of manuscripts for the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where it now resides. "It's a book that is on its last legs."

The sheepskin parchment originally contained a 10th century Greek text, which was erased by a 13th century scribe who replaced it with prayers. Seven hundred years later, a forger painted gilded pictures of the Evangelists on top of the faded words.

Underneath it all, however, is an exceptional treasure — the oldest surviving copy of works by the ancient Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse, who lived in the 3rd century BC.

About 80% of the text had been transcribed and translated in the 1910s after it was rediscovered in an Istanbul monastery, but since then much of it became unreadable again because of deterioration.

Fully deciphering its mysteries has had to wait for advanced technologies, some of which had never been applied to ancient manuscripts.

The unusual cast of detectives includes not only the imaging specialists who helped photograph the Dead Sea Scrolls, but also a Stanford University physicist who studies trace metals in spinach with a particle accelerator.

Together, they have been carrying out one of the most remarkable "salvage jobs" in the history of codicology, the study of ancient manuscripts.

Archimedes, it turns out, is only one secret of the text.

AMONG the mathematicians of antiquity, Archimedes was one of the greatest and most cunning.

He was one of the earliest to devise ways to calculate the area beneath curves and was the first to prove that a circle's circumference and diameter are related by the constant pi. He developed the Archimedes Screw to lift water and invented deadly devices, such as the Claw of Archimedes, which was designed to grapple enemy warships.

Archimedes died in 212 BC, when Syracuse was sacked by the Romans. Legend holds that he was drawing figures in the sand. "Don't disturb my circles," he supposedly told the soldier who killed him.

Knowledge of Archimedes' work is derived from three books.

Codex A, transcribed around the 9th century, contained seven major treatises in Greek. Codex B, created around the same time, had at least one additional work by Archimedes and survived only in Latin translation.

Codex C has been an enigma.

It was originally copied down in 10th century Constantinople, now known as Istanbul. Three centuries later, the manuscript was in Palestine. By then, it was no longer a precious vestige of ancient learning but an obscure text that could be put to better use as a prayer book.

A scribe began by unbinding the pages. He washed them with citrus juice or milk and sanded them with a pumice stone. He cut the sheets in half, turned them 90 degrees and stitched the new book down the middle.

The scribe wrote prayers over the blank pages. Codex C had become a "palimpsest" — a recycled book.

The book eventually was brought back to Constantinople, where it sat until the 1890s, when a Greek scholar wrote down a fragment of erased text that he was able to read.

That fragment was brought to the attention of Danish philologist Johan Ludvig Heiberg in 1906, then the foremost authority on Archimedes. Armed with a magnifying glass, he translated everything he could read, publishing his work in 1910.

The palimpsest disappeared amid the chaos of World War I, only resurfacing in 1998, when a French family named Guersan offered it for auction at Christie's in New York. An anonymous book collector paid $2 million and deposited it at the Walters Art Museum for conservation.

Mold had attacked much of the manuscript, and four forged paintings of the Evangelists made in the 20th century covered some of its most important pages.

"That was our worst nightmare," said Abigail Quandt, senior conservator of rare books and manuscripts at the Walters Art Museum.

ROGER L. Easton Jr., a 56-year-old imaging specialist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, had just come off his success revealing hidden text in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Christie's had commissioned him to make ultraviolet images of the palimpsest for the auction catalog, and now he offered his help to the museum.

Easton and his colleagues began their work in 2000. They tinkered with different methods for capturing the image with the ultraviolet light, which makes the parchment glow more whitish.

They then merged those images with another set taken under a tungsten light, which enhanced the reddish hue of the Archimedes text. The resulting "pseudocolor" image made it easier to distinguish the black prayer book writing from the burnt sienna words of Archimedes.

Using this painstaking method, Easton and his team took two years to uncover another 15% of the text.

They were stymied in penetrating the rest.

Two more years passed before Stanford physicist Uwe Bergmann, 43, read a magazine article about the Archimedes palimpsest that mentioned it had originally been written with iron gall ink.

One of Bergmann's projects at Stanford was investigating the process of photosynthesis in plants by using the synchrotron X-rays to image small clusters of manganese atoms in spinach.

"Why not find traces of iron in an ancient book?" he asked.

Bergmann sent an e-mail to the Walters Art Museum, and the museum agreed to a test.

Bergmann set up the palimpsest experiment at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. Spread over an area the size of a football field, the synchrotron is part of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, a Department of Energy facility set in the foothills of Menlo Park.

The synchrotron hurls electrons at near light speed, forcing them to give off X-rays as they veer around bends. That X-ray beam is channeled away into the laboratories.

Bergmann figured the powerful and precise beam could be used to make iron molecules fluoresce, thus allowing him with a sensitive-enough detector to pick up even the faintest traces of ink.

Bergmann first had to determine the exposure time. Too much time and the powerful synchrotron X-ray could damage the parchment. Then, they adjusted the intensity of the beam, which could be so strong that it blinded the detectors that picked up the glow from the iron gall ink.

After two years of refining their technique, Bergmann and his colleagues began the laborious process of imaging the palimpsest this summer.

Each side of a page, mounted in frame that moved in front of the beam, took 12 hours to record. The machines processed the pages continuously for two weeks.

Beneath a moldy, torn painting of St. John emerged two layers of writing.

On the edge of the first page, they saw a signature dated April 14, 1229: "By the hand of presbyter Ioannes Myronas."

It was the name of the priest who had erased Archimedes.

IN an office near Memorial Church at Stanford, Reviel Netz flicked off the lights. Netz, a slight 38-year-old with dark hair, leaned close to the screen of his laptop.

Bergmann's X-ray work had produced a black-and-white picture of a page from "The Method of Mechanical Theorems," a text found only in the palimpsest.

One phrase — "let them be arranged so they balance on point theta" — had already been translated by Heiberg, although he had had to guess about the word "on," which was unreadable.

Netz, a professor of classics, looked at the X-ray image and nodded. He smiled.

The actual word was "around."

"That's not trivial," he said, explaining that the change altered the meaning of Archimedes' calculations involving an object's center of gravity.

The X-ray image also revealed a section of "The Method" that had been hidden from Heiberg in the fold between pages. It contained part of a discussion on how to calculate the area inside a parabola using a new way of thinking about infinity, Netz said. It appeared to be an early attempt at calculus — nearly 2,000 years before Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz invented the field.

The discoveries may seem small, but they are significant in the understanding of ancient mathematics, Netz said.

One passage he studied several years ago involved the innumerable slices and lines that could be made from a triangular prism similar to a wedge of cheese. Netz said the passage, which was unreadable to Heiberg, showed that Archimedes was grappling with the concept of infinity long before other mathematicians.

For Netz, a specialist in ancient mathematics and cognitive history, the chance to decipher the palimpsest "is the fulfillment of an incredible dream," he said.

One of his biggest breakthroughs involves a quirky part of the palimpsest called the "Stomachion," which literally means "Belly-Teaser."

Stomachions were children's games in which 14 geometrical shapes were rearranged to create new shapes. Heiberg translated fragments of the manuscript but paid little attention to it, thinking it was just a game.

Netz saw a deeper significance. Archimedes asked a more restricted question in his "Stomachion": How many different ways could you combine the 14 triangles to make a square?

Netz believes the fragments address an area of mathematics known as combinatorics that scholars have only recently believed interested the Greeks.

For all the high-tech efforts, there are still gaps remaining in the Archimedes text, perhaps 2%, Netz guessed.

AMONG the jumbled fragments are clues that perhaps the deepest secrets are yet to be found.

A century ago, Heiberg copied down two lines that he couldn't identify. They began: "The youngest had been abroad for so long that the sisters wouldn't even know who was who."

The passage was not Archimedes.

In 2002, scholars were able to cross-reference the quote. It came from "Against Timandros," written by a 4th century BC Athenian orator named Hyperides.

Although Hyperides is little-known now, contemporaries frequently compared him to Demosthenes, an acknowledged master of oratory.

No complete versions exist of "Against Timandros," which Hyperides had written as part of a lawsuit over an inheritance, said Judson Herrman, a classicist at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.

Further study determined there were 20 pages of Hyperides in the palimpsest, including a previously unknown text called "Against Diondas."

The palimpsest, it turns out, took parchment from seven texts, including what are believed to be a commentary on Aristotle's "On the Soul" and a group of biographies of the saints, plus two still unidentified texts.

The works are even more difficult to discern than the Archimedes because the ink is different and the pages more thoroughly scrubbed.

"I have been cursing all morning," Herrman said of his work on a few lines of Hyperides.

The scientists aren't giving up.

Easton's team recently began experimenting with precisely tuned light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, to illuminate the text. The team also is using angled light to detect the outlines of letters etched in the parchment by the acid in the ink.

The team made progress on a few pages, but it may take decades — or longer — before technologies are developed that can unveil all the texts.

"We'll probably leave something for future scientists to work on," Netz said.
From the Sofia Echo:

A joint project of Bulgaria and Greece under EU PHARE programme will promote two Bulgarian and one Greek archaeological sites as tourism destinations.

PHARE would provide more than 244 000 euro for the project, BGNES news agency reported.

Bulgaria’s Regional Development and Public Works Ministry will take part in the project together with the Bulgarian Ivailovgrad and Greek Kiprinos municipalities.

The project includes roman villa Armira and a hill near the Ivailovgrad village of Svirachi in Bulgaria and a family necropolis in the Greek village of Zoni.

Villa Armira has to be transformed into an open-air museum. The project includes the reconstruction of antique decorations as well as construction of parking lots, tourist paths and other infrastructure.

A Bulgarian-Greek tourism catalogues will promote the archaeological sites.

Villa Armira was the richest Roman private house found in Bulgaria, BGNES said. The villa was possession of a wealthy Thracian family 2000 years ago.
And just as mysteriously as my Squeet feeds disappeared, they have reappeared (maybe ... still don't seem 'full'). In any event, as might be expected this time of year, it's been a quiet week in the Classicoblogosphere:

Busiest among the ClassiCarnies was N.S. Gill, who had a number of interesting items including one on Cato the Elder ... Atalanta (no, not the football team) ... the Essenes and their latrines ... and one on the dating of Christmas (which you can compare with a semisimilar post of our own below)

Michael Gilleland had a couple of items within our purview ... Apes in Gold and Silk and Purple ... and a bit from Plutarch's Pyrrhus on Why Wage War ...

It seems timely to remind folks that Laura Gibbs has been posting Latin Christmas Carols all month ...

One of the mysterious Squeet refugee posts was from a few weeks ago ... Irene Hahn on J.B. Bury ... another was Mary Harrsch on what Sulla really looked like ...

Over at Classics Reloaded, MJD was pondering how democratic ancient Athens really was ... with a followup post too ...

Adrian Murdoch was looking at digitized codices from St. Gall ... an interesting (maybe) oracle from Claudian ...

Ed Flinn continues to post his massive collection of coins (the Nero/Poppaea Sabina caught my eye this week) ...

Debra Hamel now has her entire talk on Periclean Athens available ...

Not sure whether we've mentioned the New Antiquarian before, but this week the 'Antiquarian' was putting up pix of various artifacts (with some commentary) from museums and auctions ... of particular interest are the small jewellery pieces (to me, anyway) ...

The Stoa alerted us to some preliminary announcements about the joint APA-AIA Task Force on Electronic Publication, including an extensive (and excellent) response by Greg Crane of Perseus Project (and other) fame (note in passing ... not sure why one of the documents of background material is not a pdf) ....

Speaking of the APA, abstracts for the 2007 Annual talkfest are available ... the AIA has their abstracts too (and I note the AIA has partially taken up the challenge I threw down last year for generating personalized programs; it's not pokcet mod based but will do just fine; will the APA follow?)

On the enewsstand, the Autumn 2006 issue of Diskalia is now available ...

On the 'real' newsstands, you might want to check out the article in the current issue of Archaeology on Hiking with Hannibal ...

Issue 9.35 of our Explorator newsletter is available at the Yahoo site ... I'm hoping to have the Ancient World on Television listings up before we're off for a few days for holiday revelling ...
From ANI comes a review of a documentary which will probably be seen soon:

Author Dan Brown caused an uproar when he suggested in 'The Da Vinci Code' that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and that they had a family. However, a never seen before ancient portrait suggests that though Jesus may have had a family, it might not be the one Brown suggests.

The portrait, which was discovered deep in the wilderness of the Judean desert, in a remote part of the Holy Land in an ancient Greek Orthodox monastery of St Gerasimos, has a highly unusual portrait of the Holy Family, for along with Mary, Joseph and Jesus, it also shows the presence of a fourth member - a young man.

And what makes this young man's presence even more interesting, is the fact that though simply clad in a dark robe and carrying his belongings on a stick, there is a golden halo which envelops his head.

According to a controversial Channel 4 documentary, the man's name is James, and reason why he is included in the picture, is because he happens to be Jesus' blood brother.

James' inclusion in this picture is a clue to a real-life church conspiracy to cover up the fact that Jesus did have a hidden family - his siblings: James, Joses, Simon, Jude (sometimes referred to as Judas), Salome and young Mary, reports the Daily Mail.

Dr Robert Beckford, a committed Christian and reader in theology at Oxford Brookes University as well as the man behind the new findings also reveals in the documentary that the Bible itself mentions Jesus' siblings with a reference in the Gospel of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, where when Christ preaches at the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, the citizens question his claim to be the new Messiah with the words "Is not this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother called Mary, and his brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judas? And are not his sisters here with us?"

Dr Beckford further supports his argument with a passage from the gospel of St Mark in which Jesus' family go searching for him one day when he is preaching.

"A multitude was sitting around him and they told him: 'Behold your Mother, your brothers and your sisters are outside looking for you.' "

The documentary also suggests that not only did Jesus' siblings apparently play a crucial role in the founding of Christianity, but that their teachings were so much of a threat to the official church that it ruthlessly tried to eradicate them from history by rewriting Christ's life story, fabricating his place of birth, falsely crediting him with creating the Lord's Prayer and even inventing the idea that his mother Mary remained a virgin throughout her life.

It also implies that James, the man in the portrait, was the one chosen by Jesus to lead the church after his death, and not St Paul, as is commonly believed.

The documentary about Jesus' lost siblings airs on Channel 4 on Christmas day.

cf: the argument of the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia (which I find somewhat difficult to follow with only one cuppa in me)


Gene O'Grady observes:

If the ANI story on the putative family of Jesus is really saying that Paul was chosen by Jesus to be the head of the church after his death one wonders what credence can be put in the rest of it!

Outside of that, folks might also be interested in this more extensive description of the argument ... this article includes a photo of the painting ... (wonder if anyone has thought to 'do the math' in regards to the age of this haloed young man compared to Mary)
From Reuters:

The palace of Nero, one of Rome's most popular tourist sites, will partly reopen to the public in January after being closed for more than a year for emergency repairs, officials said.

The Domus Aurea, or House of Gold, had attracted an average of 1,000 visitors every day until water leaks last December stoked fears that the nearly 2,000-year-old palace might collapse.

Italy's government and the city of Rome have earmarked more than 4 million euros ($5.27 million) for the repairs, which officials described on Tuesday as part of a broader initiative to rescue the city's eroding archaeological sites.

"The Domus Aurea is the crown jewel of a more important (restoration) job we're doing," said Rome mayor Walter Veltroni.

Nero's palace got its name because of gold leaf covering some of its walls, a colossal gold statue of Nero himself which dominated the complex and a play of light from its unusual window designs which gave it a golden sheen.

Only about half of the 32 rooms that were previously open to public will be made available, officials said.

The shut-down has underscored the troubled state of Italy's most treasured ruins.

A 15-meter (50 ft) stretch of wall in the city's ancient forum collapsed last year, crumbling onto a walkway that leads to the Arch of Titus and the Colosseum.

The wall, which experts had considered solid, fell apart at night. Officials said that if it had collapsed during opening hours, the path would have been packed with tourists.
From the Chronicle:

Lynne Snyder Abel, former associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences, died in her Ithaca home Nov. 29 from complications of multiple myeloma. She was 66. Until Nov. 10 she had been teaching a course in classics as an associate professor.

"Working in several Arts College administrations over the last quarter of the 20th century, Lynne Abel was the principal force behind both the preservation and the renewal of liberal arts education at Cornell," said Philip Lewis, professor of romance studies and former dean of the college. "A fine humanist scholar herself, she staunchly defended academic principle and at the same time gave unstintingly of herself to students, staff and faculty in need of guidance and moral support. Having someone of her wisdom and stature at the helm of undergraduate education in Arts and Sciences was a singular blessing for the alma mater she cherished."

Born in Los Angeles, Abel '62, met her husband, John, while attending Cornell. He is now Cornell professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in classics from Stanford University.

Abel joined Cornell in 1974 as an assistant to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences supervising the College Scholar and Independent Major programs; she later also became an adjunct faculty member in classics. In 1977, she was named associate dean for undergraduate education, a position she held until her retirement in 2003. She supervised the college's Academic Advising Center and Office of Records and Scheduling and chaired faculty committees on educational policy and academic records.

Abel's handbook for parents of first-year students has become a model for other colleges. At the start of each academic year, she conducted an orientation for parents of incoming students that became legendary. In the 1990s she took a leadership role in improving conditions for lecturers and implemented a nationally innovative merger of the offices of advising and admissions to serve better the needs of students.

Abel usually taught one course per year in the classics department. Her book on "Prokrisis" in Athenian Law was published in 1983. Jeffrey Rusten, acting chair of classics, said, "She served us as an energetic (and of course magnificently knowledgeable) director of undergraduate studies up to the end of her life."

Abel was also a longtime member and supporter of the Women's Studies Program and a lifetime believer in the value of recognizing and enabling the significant gifts and abilities of women alongside those of men.

Memorial donations can be made to Ithaca Hospicare, the Finger Lakes Land Trust or the Snyder Cornell Tradition Fellowship (Cornell University, P.O. Box 2600, Ithaca, NY 14851), established by Abel and her mother. Her family said that blood donations to the Red Cross would honor her memory and her family's commitment to the community.
One of the ones I couldn't get to yesterday ... from the CBC:

Greek authorities will move seven sculptures from the Parthenon into a museum and replace them with replicas to avoid damage from acid rain.

Natural erosion and pollution are taking a toll on the marble metopes.

The ancient Parthenon monument is reflected in a puddle following heavy rainfall in Athens. Sculptures from the frieze will be replaced to avoid damage from acid rain.The ancient Parthenon monument is reflected in a puddle following heavy rainfall in Athens. Sculptures from the frieze will be replaced to avoid damage from acid rain.

Metopes are sculptures carved into square blocks in the friezes that stretch in a band above the columns of the ancient structure.

The metopes, most of battle scenes, will be exhibited in the new Acropolis Museum due to open next year, said Maria Ioannidou, director of the Acropolis restoration services.

The metopes are among the Parthenon's few remaining original sculptures, dating from around 447 B.C. They will be replaced by replicas to maintain the structure of the building.

The sculptures have also been defaced by marauders over the centuries, including damage done by Christians when the Parthenon was converted into a church.

Removal of the sculptures is to be completed by 2008, archeologists said. Greece is in the midst of a major project to restore and preserve the fragile buildings of the Acropolis.
From the Bradenton Herald comes an unlikely bit of ClassCon:

A strip club that has been in the spotlight after a yearlong investigation into former Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies, has changed ownership.

Cleopatra, in the 3800 block of U.S. 41 North, is now Pandora's Box.

I guess we won't see a strip club named after say ... Octavia (Minor) or Antonia (Major or Minor) ...
Suzan Mazur's latest looks at a bronze statue that I don't recall having seen before ... here's the incipit from Scoop:

" I was in Sotheby's [December 1996] on my way to an old master sale, when I noticed a bronze statue of a boy perched on top of an eight foot tall French armoire. They got me a ladder and I was able to see only the toes. Under the loupe I saw immediately that the statue was ancient. It had a magnificent underwater incrustation patina, and traces of the holes which held silver toenails. I nervously descended and got the sales room frisson you get at times like this. The catalogue said 19th century bronze statue, $6 thousand to $9 thousand. Property of Sotheby's. Exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and eight others, ex collection William Herbert Hunt. I saw this thing sell six years before [at Sotheby's for half a million dollars]. What's going on?

"Next day psyched up to go to seven figures I bought the bronze statue by phone for $75 thousand. The great sculpture expert Michael Hall was underbidder and was luckily tapped out at that moment. A group supposedly bid to $40 thousand planning to cut it up and sell the parts separately. The head would make $500 thousand, the torso $100 thousand, the hands and feet $10 thousand each. Everything you buy has an interesting tale, but that of the Roman boy is an odyssey. "

--Stuart Pivar

New York collector Stuart Pivar says the odyssey of his "nearly life-size" Roman bronze boy includes a chapter on an attempted "assassination" of the statue. He identifies the place of treachery as the Hunt-Sotheby's auction, June 19,1990. And he fingers the lead assassin: Bob Hecht.

Hecht is now on trial in Rome for another conspiracy, one to traffic in ancient art, including pieces from the Hunt-Sotheby's sale.

I covered the Sotheby's antiquities auction of the collection of Bunker and Herbert Hunt for The Economist magazine. Pivar's bronze boy statue, then owned by Herbert Hunt, was the most expensive piece on the block. Sotheby's billed it as 2nd C. AD, derived from a prototype of the 5th C. BC and estimated its value at $800,000 to $1.2 million. The catalogue noted the piece may once have been a Roman lampbearer.

The statue had been introduced to the international ancient art market in the 1970s by the late Swiss numismatist and antiquities dealer, Herbert Cahn of Munzen und Medaillen in Basle. It then went on consignment to New York dealer Andre Emmerich before being exhibited widely in the US and Hecht's partner at Summa Gallery, Bruce McNall, acquiring it.

McNall got it in Basle, almost certainly from Herbert Cahn -- although Cahn's son David says he doesn't know the details pertaining to his father's sale of the statue or where his father's files are. Quite odd, because Dr. Herbert Cahn was a scholar and his papers would likely be preserved.

In any event, McNall then sold the bronze boy to Herbert Hunt.

Pivar claims that it was Bob Hecht, the once unquestionable grand man of the antiquities trade, who spread the word in the market that the bronze was a forgery. And I do remember Hecht telling me and Turkish journalist Ozgen Acar prior to the Sotheby's sale that the statue was a fake, made in a foundry in Italy.

... more.
Allergies and a computer which seems to be having allergy problems too are combining to make this a difficult update ... not sure how much I'll be able to put up before real life calls ...
2.00 p.m. |DTC| Real Family of Jesus, The - Part One
Little is known about Jesus' family -- who they were and what role
they played in his public life. Uncover evidence from the gospels and
archeology that reveals Jesus as a part of a large extended family
that spearheaded the spread of Christianity.

3.00 p.m. |DTC| Real Family of Jesus, The - Part Two
The traditional image of the Holy Family includes Jesus, Mary and
Joseph, but Jesus lived in a society in which the extended family was
the norm. Find out how Jesus' network of relations inspired and
supported his work as founder of Christianity.

4.00 p.m. |DTC| The Quest for the True Cross
Scholarly detective work and historical adventure draw conclusions
about the remains of Christ's actual cross. Based on the New York
Times best-seller, this comprehensive study could overturn centuries
of academic assumptions about the crucifixion.

5.00 p.m. |DTC| In Search of the Holy Grail
What is the Holy Grail? A team of experts explores four intriguing
items: a glass bowl from England; an ancient cup from Wales; a small
stone; a papal chalice in Spain; and an intricately engraved silver
chalice from ancient Antioch.

6.00 p.m. |DTC| Spear of Jesus
In the Hofsburg Museum in Vienna, Austria, lies a metal spearhead
said to have been used to pierce the side of Christ during his
crucifixion. For the first time, scientific testing will establish if
this ancient relic really is the Spear of Christ.

7.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Vesuvius: Deadly Fury
ante diem xii kalendas januarias

Saturnalia continues (day 5)

Divalia Angeronae -- Angerona was a goddess named for the disease angina (she apparently had remedies for it) who also represented the 'secret name' of Rome, which presumably could not be uttered out of fear it would give Rome's enemies the opportunity to 'call out' Rome's own gods (i.e. to get them to abandon the city). Secret rituals, of course, would honour her on this date ...

69 A.D. -- Vespasian is officially recognized as emperor by the Senate

253 A.D. -- martyrdom of Themistocles
Parthian @ Merriam-Webster

From YLE:

Multi mafiosi in Italia capti
: Nuntii Latini

15.12.2006, klo 12.45

Custodes publici Italiae, dum duos impetus in criminalitatem ordinatam faciunt, amplius centum homines comprehenderunt.

In Italia septentrionali et in Calabria, regione meridiana, triginta quattuor mafiosi capti sunt, cum non abesset suspicio, quin mercaturas armorum et drogarum exercerent et cum grege criminali nomine ?Ndrangheta? colluderent.

Inter alteram incursionem aedilibus Neapolitanis contigit, ut octoginta coniuratos de commercio drogarum suspectos in diversis partibus Italiae deprehenderent.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

9.00 p.m. |HISTU| The Spear of Christ
Follow one of the world's most holy relics on its two-thousand-year
journey down through history. It began as an instrument of mercy in
the hands of a Roman soldier at Christ's Passion and became one of
history's most powerful relics. The Spear of Christ is believed to
have been infused with miraculous power as it pierced the side of
Christ and has been linked to some of history's most remarkable
episodes. Travel through history as we examine each of four artifacts
claiming to be the Holy Lance. Scientific analysis helps in our
attempt to discover if a true Spear of Christ exists today. Through
high quality re-enactments, shooting on location, and the use of
historic images, we tell the amazing tale of this sacred relic.

HISTU - History Channel (US)
From Discovery Channel News:

The mountains of garbage that often fill the streets in the Italian city of Naples and surrounding areas aren't just a modern-day problem, suggest ancient wall inscriptions.

Using infrared reflectography, a non-destructive technique commonly used to peek beneath the surface of paintings, Italian researchers have brought to light two inscriptions against garbage dumping in the ancient Roman town Herculaneum.

The modest town was destroyed, along with its more famous neighbor Pompeii, in the first-century eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

The finding shows that even before the eruption buried Herculaneum under 75 feet of ash, local authorities were already trying to reign in trash.

Luciano Rosario Maria Vicari, director of an applied optics laboratory at Naples University, and colleagues analyzed Herculaneum's notice board, which was found on the eastern side of the city's water tank.

The board for public notices consisted of a plastered rectangular area that housed the "tituli picti," — painted inscriptions used to communicate decrees and measures.

Painted in black, the inscriptions were carefully placed on straight parallel lines carved on the plaster.

"The plastered area worked as a blackboard — the previous inscriptions were wiped with a thin plaster layer to make space to a new inscription," Vicari told Discovery News.

The most recent inscription was found by inscriptions expert Matteo Della Corte in the mid-1900s. It contained a decree by the magistrate Alficius Paulus against the dumping of waste.

Della Corte realized there was a second inscription on the plaster layer underneath, and tried in vain to bring it to light. Painted inscriptions fade quicky in the sun and rain, once exposed.

"Indeed, the ink was almost gone and the plaster was seriously damaged. But infrared reflectography has succeed in recovering that lost inscription, showing that we can apply this technology to other sites in Herculaneum and Pompeii," Vicari said.

The inscription below was another decree against garbage dumping in the area around the water tank. It was issued by two joint magistrates, Rufellius Romanus and Tetteius Severus.

"The authorities were very strict" said Vicari. "Transgressors, if free citizens, would have had to pay a fine. Lashes were reserved for slaves who infringed the rule."

Overlooking the Bay of Naples, Herculaneum was home to a wealthy elite, a cluster of fabulous villas and gardens.

"The town's social makeup was rather different from Pompeii's. But the fact that 'no dumping' decrees were repeated over and over on the board, means that this was a serious problem in the town," Herculaneum scholar Mario Pagano told Discovery News.

Vicari also found a third inscription, which has yet to be decoded. Most likely, it was made by a passer-by, as the water tank was close to a market, Vicari said.

"This is important research," said Pagano. "Inscriptions in Pompeii abound, but they consist mainly of electoral notices. The finding in Herculaneum, on the contrary, is rather unique."
I'm getting confused with all this stuff now ... from Reuters (India):

Italy said on Wednesday it was ready to break off ties with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles unless it agrees quickly to return art works that Rome says were looted.

Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli said he was tired of stop-go talks and was making a final call to the Getty, one of the world's richest museums.

"Either there is an agreement or there is a breakdown," he told reporters in Rome. "The time has passed when people could turn a blind eye to looting."

Getty director Michael Brand told Rutelli last month that his museum would return 26 of 46 pieces that Italy wants back.

Rutelli, showing photographs he said proved the works were looted, reiterated that the offer was unacceptable. "That would be saying 'yes' to international trafficking," he said.

Rome has insisted the Getty return a prized bronze sculpture called the "Statue of a Victorious Youth" and a limestone and marble statue of the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

In its letter last month, the Getty said it would not hand over the 2,500-year-old sculpture because it was found in international waters in 1964. The museum said evidence on the Aphrodite piece was inconclusive.

Rutelli did not say what measures he might take if the Getty did not agree to Rome's demands. Maurizio Fiorilli, a lawyer representing the Culture Ministry, said a complete break with the Getty would probably put an end to joint scientific work, scholarships and Italian loans of art work to the museum.

A cut-off could hurt Italy more than the Getty, which since the 1980s has lent Italy more than 80 objects, twice as many as Italy has sent to the museum.

The Getty case is complicated by the trial in Rome of former curator Marion True, accused of conspiracy in trafficking stolen Italian antiquities. A Greek prosecutor has charged True with illegally buying a 4th-century golden wreath smuggled out of Greece 13 years ago. True has denied any wrongdoing.

Italy's campaign to recover looted antiquities has led to agreements with other U.S. institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Periculosum est credere et non credere.
(Phaedrus 3.10.1)

pron = peh-rih-koo-LOH-soom ehst KRAY-deh-reh eht nohn KRAY-deh-reh.

It is dangerous to trust and it is dangerous not to trust.

Comment: First a distinction. The Latin verb "credere" is often translated as "to believe" as well as "to trust". I am using the second meaning exclusively for distinctions that I draw for myself, which you, the reader, may not adhere to. In short, I see it like this. Belief is required when there is no evidence at all to accept a thing, ,and is often pressed on the individual under coercion. Religious belief, for instance, is often demanded under threat of eternal damnation: believe or burn.

Trust requires a relationship, and as such, bears with it some evidence. The evidence is experience over time with the person whom one chooses to trust.

Someone may be able to wield enough coercion to threaten me into belief, but there is no threat strong enough to elicit and evoke in me trust. Conversely, anyone who attempts to coerce me to believe simultaneously insures that he/she cannot be trusted.

With that distinction, the proverb bears a powerful wisdom. Trusting is dangerous because we allow the person that we have a relationship with access to our lives, our emotions, our bank accounts, our reputations, etc. As no human being is a static being, that openness at any given point may end in pain or destruction. It is a dangerous risk to open one's life to another, to risk it all, so to speak. Such trust should be offered cautiously and probably rarely.

Not trusting is dangerous. If we choose never to trust, we close off our lives to others, and yet we are social creatures. To be in dialogue with others requires some opening of ourselves, or else we are simply insincere and are not long to be trusted by others. Not to trust risks sealing ourselves off from the humanity that we share with others. There are times when we should not trust. Choosing not to trust, though, is a difficult choice, and should be done so with a great deal of reflection and clarity.

Living an authentic human life is dangerous and quite an adventure.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
ante diem xiii kalendas januarias

Saturnalia continues (day 4) - major, popular festival in honour of Saturn with banquets, the wearing of soft caps (pilei), and general good cheer. Shops and schools were closed, gambling was legally permitted, gifts were exchanged and masters might even wait on their servants. Obviously this festival is often seen as a precursor to our modern-day Christmas celebrations.

69 A.D. -- supporters of the Flavians capture Rome; murder of the emperor-for-a-little-while Vitellius
majuscule @ Worthless Word for the Day

derogate @
From YLE:

De condicione fluminis Rheni

15.12.2006, klo 12.44

Commissio internationalis fluminis Rheni protegendi aquam Rheni iam esse bonae qualitatis confirmat.

Abhinc enim viginti annos incendium in quadam fabrica chemica Helvetica effecit, ut viginti tonnae materiae venenosae in Rhenum effugerent et pisces per spatium multorum centenorum chiliometrorum morerentur.

Existimantur sexaginta miliarda euronum ad flumen restituendum adhibita esse.

Tom Bergman
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
Excerpts from a piece on the art of conversation in the Economist:


Great brilliance, fantastic powers of recall and quick wit are clearly valuable in sustaining conversation at these cosmic levels. Charm may be helpful too—although Samuel Johnson, one of the most admired conversationalists of 18th-century England, seemed to manage without much of it. For those of more modest accomplishments, but attached to conversation as one of life's pleasures and necessary skills, there is a lively market in manuals and tip-sheets going back almost 500 years, and a legacy of wisdom with an even longer history. One striking thing about the advice is how consistent it remains over time, suggesting that there are real rights and wrongs in conversation, not just local conventions.

The principle that it is rude to interrupt another speaker goes back at least to Cicero, writing in 44BC, who said that good conversation required “alternation” among participants. In his essay “On Duties”, Cicero remarked that nobody, to his knowledge, had yet set down the rules for ordinary conversation, though many had done so for public speaking. He had a shot at it himself, and quickly arrived at the sort of list that self-help authors have been echoing ever since. The rules we learn from Cicero are these: speak clearly; speak easily but not too much, especially when others want their turn; do not interrupt; be courteous; deal seriously with serious matters and gracefully with lighter ones; never criticise people behind their backs; stick to subjects of general interest; do not talk about yourself; and, above all, never lose your temper.

Probably only two cardinal rules were lacking from Cicero's list: remember people's names, and be a good listener. Each of these pieces of advice also has a long pedigree. At a pinch you might trace the point about names back to Plato. Both found a persuasive modern advocate in Dale Carnegie, a teacher of public speaking who decided in 1936 that Americans needed educating more broadly in “the fine art of getting along”. His book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is still in print 70 years later and has sold 15m copies. To remember names, and to listen well, are two of Carnegie's “six ways to make people like you”. The others are to become genuinely interested in other people; smile; talk in terms of the other person's interests; and make the other person feel important.

Cicero's rules of conversation seem to have been fairly common across cultures as well as time, if varying in strictness. It might reasonably be said that Italians are more tolerant of interruption, Americans of contradiction and the English of formality, for example. These rules of conversation also intersect with those of politeness more generally, as formulated by two American linguists, Penelope Brown and Steven Levinson, the pioneers of “politeness theory”.
Courtesy counts


The Athens of Socrates and Plato, in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, is often seen as home to a first golden age of conversation. That view has relied mainly on the writings of Plato, whose dialogues, often with Socrates as speaker, constitute “a search among friends...for the divine ideas of the true, the beautiful, the good”, says a modern French scholar, Marc Fumaroli.
From BMCR:

Michel Sève, Aristote. Constitution d'Athènes: Le régime politique des Athéniens. Librairie Générale Française.

Stefan Radt, Strabons Geographika, Band 4, Buch XIV-XVII: Text und Übersetzung.

Martin Lindner, Drehbuch Geschichte. Die antike Welt im Film. Antike Kultur und Geschichte, 7.

Cathy Gere, The Tomb of Agamemnon.

Andreas Krieckhaus, Senatorische Familien und ihre patriae (1./2. Jahrhundert n. Chr.). Studien zur Geschichtsforschung des Altertums, 14.

M. Cultraro, I Micenei.

Aldo Brancacci, Philosophy and Doxography in the Imperial Age.

Lyvia Morgan, Aegean Wall Painting: A Tribute to Mark Cameron. British School at Athens Studies 13.
Slow news day, so here's something with ClassCon from the Times:

A miniature two-headed creature from the age of the dinosaurs has been discovered in China, astonishing scientists who never imagined that so rare a mutant could be preserved for 100 million years.

The skeleton of a young aquatic reptile, known as Sinohydrosaurus lingyuanensis, is the first fossil ever unearthed which has two heads and necks, showing that a developmental abnormality seen in modern snakes, turtles, lizards and crocodiles also afflicted their ancient forebears.

The find is remarkable because it is extremely rare for any dead animal to be preserved as a fossil: the vast majority decompose without leaving a trace of their existence.

For a specimen as rare as a mutant with two heads to survive defies the laws of probability, scientists said.

The two-headed creature measures only 7 centimetres (2.75in) from heads to tail, indicating that it must have died in infancy or while still a foetus. Had it lived to adulthood, it would have grown to 1 metre (3.3ft) in length.

The extraordinary creature seems to have suffered from a malformation known as axial bifurcation, which leads to the development of a duplicate head and neck on a single body.

It is well-known among modern reptiles and was first reported by Aristotle. About 400 cases of two-headed snakes are known to science and it has also been noted in crocodiles, lizards and turtles.

Two-headed reptiles rarely survive in the wild — the heads have independent brains and tend to fight over food — but snakes and turtles with the condition have been known to live for several years in captivity.

One of the most famous examples is a two-headed albino black rat snake, known as “We”, which is kept at the City Museum in St Louis, Missouri. We was born in 1999 and put up for sale by the museum, on eBay, earlier this year. It attracted no worthwhile bidders. The snake is now sponsored by a Florida biotech company that uses snake venom to develop new drugs.

A two-headed turtle has also survived at the Natural History Museum, Geneva, for 10 years. Similar two-headed creatures are thought to have inspired many of the monsters of ancient legend.

The Hydra was a water serpent with nine heads, each of which would grow back if cut off. It was eventually killed by Hercules during one of his twelve labours. Cerberus was a three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the Underworld.

The fossilised two-headed reptile was discovered in the Yixian formation of northeastern China, which has yielded many of the most remarkable dinosaur finds of recent years.

Scientists have ruled out any possibility that the specimen is a fake and details of the discovery are published today in the journal Biology Letters.

“This two-headed reptile seems to be unique in the fossil record,” said Eric Buffetaut of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, who led the study team.

“This simply isn’t something you would expect to find. It is rare enough for anything to fossilise, and cases like this are unusual even among modern animals. The chances of finding a fossil like this are almost impossibly small.”

Mutant Myths

# Cerberus The mythological three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to Hades, the underworld, in Greek and Roman myth. Subdued and captured by Hercules as one of his 12 labours

# The Hydra Water beast with many serpent heads. When one was cut off, two would grow back. Killed by Hercules, who solved the problem by burning each neck stump after severing each head

# Maya two-headed monster Double-headed dragon used often in Maya art and culture. It is thought to signify the power of the Earth and natural disasters

# Ghidorah or Ghidrah Three-headed monster from Japanese film, defeated by Godzilla

# Fluffy A modern variation on Cerberus: a three-headed dog kept by Hagrid to guard the Philosopher’s Stone in the first Harry Potter novel and film
5.00 p.m. |HISTU| Lost Worlds: Atlantis

8.00 p.m. |HINT| The Mother of Archaeology
St. Helena was the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine. She
convinced him to establish Christianity as the official state
religion in the 4th century. She was also the first Christian
pilgrim. Join host Simcha Jacobovici as he visits some of the holiest
Christian sites to find out how accurate St. Helena was.

10.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Atlantis - Mystery of the Minoans

HISTU - History Channel (US)
HINT - History International
DCIVC - Discovery Civilization (Canada)
Nam et uxorem ducere et non ducere malum est.
(Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta Memorabilia, 7.2.1, adapted)

Pron = nahm eht ook-SOH-rehm DOO-keh-reh eht nohn DOO-keh-reh MAH-loom ehst.

Marrying is fraught with difficulties. Not marrying is fraught with difficulties.

Comment: Valerius Maximus acknowledges in his own ancient Roman way (literally = it is a bad thing to take a wife, and a bad thing not to take a wife) what every adult at some point, perhaps, comes to see.

Adults who enter into married life face the difficulties of making a life together. Even those who are successful at weaving together such a life find it difficult work.

Adults who live a single life face the difficulties of making a life on their own. Even those who live out the single life successfully find it difficult work.

The real wisdom in Valerius' words is the acknowledgment that the other path is not the better one or the easier one. The only thing left to say is that both paths, while difficult, may also yield a life of joy.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
ante diem xiv kalendas januarias

Saturnalia (day 3) - major, popular festival in honour of Saturn with banquets, the wearing of soft caps (pilei), and general good cheer. Shops and schools were closed, gambling was legally permitted, gifts were exchanged and masters might even wait on their servants. Obviously this festival is often seen as a precursor to our modern-day Christmas celebrations.

Opalia -- unknown rituals in honour of Ops, the wife of Saturn

rites in honour of Juventas (= Hebe?) -- a somewhat mysterious festival, probably connected to Roman 'coming of age' rituals

69 A.D. -- a major fire on the Capitoline hill in Rome, caused by Vitellius' troops

307 A.D. -- martyrdom of Nemesius of Alexandria and Thea
impassive @

arsy-varsy @ Wordsmith (sort of)
From YLE:

Sepulcrum S. Pauli inventum

15.12.2006, klo 12.44

Archaeologi se reliquias Sancti apostoli Pauli in crypta cuiusdam ecclesiae Romanae invenisse credunt.

Sarcophagus, in quo ossa eius condita esse existimantur, repertus est, postquam investigatores duas magnas tabulas marmoreas de altaribus sustulerunt.

Postea locus repertionis cancellis circumdatus est, per quos latus sarcophagi marmorei conspici potest.

Traditum est Sanctum apostolum Paulum anno sexagesimo quinto Romae martyrium subisse.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: Nativitas sine nive in Europa quid est?
Seen on the Classics List:

Dear colleagues!

This is to inform you that the Classics Department at Lund university is under threat to be closed down, or at the very least to be dramatically reduced. The faculty has recommended that all courses in Ancient Greek and Latin be suspended as from fall 2007. The reason for this is purely financial. In fact, with the economic model forced upon us, no Swedish classics department is likely to survive.

We, i.e. the staff in Lund, are of course concerned on a personal level. Some of us are likely to lose our jobs.

But more than so we cannot understand how a university of this size and diversity could exist without a strong classics department. How could teaching and research in Romance languages, rhetoric, law or philosophy continue without any expertise in Greek or Latin? And how will this affect the international prestige of Lund?

In this urgent and fairly desperate situation we would like to invite you to send a word of protest to the following:

Prof. dr. Gøran Bexell, rector magnificus,

Prof. dr. Jan Svensson, dean for theology and humanities,

Dr. Eva Wiberg, dean,

We would be most grateful for any expression of solidarity. For any questions you may have, do not hesitate to contact us.

And we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Chairs of Greek and Latin

Arne Jonsson,
Anders Piltz,

Staffan Wahlgren,
From BMCR:

R. Pera, L'immaginario del potere. Studi di iconografia monetale.

Susan I. Rotroff, Robert D. Lamberton, Women in the Athenian Agora.

Thomas Mannack, Haspels Addenda. Additional References to C. H. E. Haspels Attic Black-figured Lekythoi.

Steven L. Tuck, Latin Inscriptions in the Kelsey Museum. The Dennison & De Criscio Collections.

Martin Amann, Komik in den Tristien Ovids. Schweizerische Beiträge zur Altertumswissenschaft 31.

John Bulwer, Classics Teaching in Europe.

From Scholia:

Zahra Newby, Athletics in the Ancient World. Classical World Series
6.00 p.m. |HINT| The Odyssey of Troy
What is it about the legendary city that more than 3,000 years after
its fall, we still try to unravel Troy's mysteries? Scholars attempt
to answer the question by researching the Greek poet Homer, possibly
one of the greatest poets in Western Europe's history, and his epic
tale of love and war, and comparing his text to archaeological

7.00 p.m. |NG| Jesus: The Preacher
How did Jesus really travel around Galilee to spread his message to
his followers? NGC examines the places Jesus went, the people he
spoke with and the lessons he taught. Using the gospels as a guide
coupled with expert analysis, viewers will get insidethe mind of
Jesus and the long-dead language he spoke. Jesus: The Preacher also
reenacts the famous "Sermon on the Mount," examining how far Jesus'
voice would have carried and how many followers would have heard his

The Iliad is one of the most famous literary works of the Western
world. It's an epic tale of Greek Gods, earthly soldiers, and a
decade-long fight over the most beautiful woman in the world. But,
could the Iliad be based on fact? Could the Trojan War really have
happened? Josh Bernstein travels to Greece and Turkey on the search
for Troy. Along the way, he'll learn what it took to live and fight
on the coasts of the Aegean in the late Bronze Age. He'll test the
tools of Trojan warriors, and he'll uncover a city in northern Turkey
that just might prove the Iliad was far more than a simple work of

8.00 p.m. |HINT| Jerusalem
In this history of the storied Holy City and the dominant building
at the Temple, which once contained the Ark of the Covenant, we visit
the sacred city where Jesus spent his last days on earth, and the
mysterious temple under which so many secrets may be buried. Viewers
will feel as if they walk in Christ's footsteps in this documentary
featuring new location footage, stylish period reconstructions,
groundbreaking 3D graphics and animation sequences, and
interpretation and analysis by the world's leading authorities,
including explorer and archaeologist Richard Andrews, Dr. David
Jacobson from the Palestine Exploration Fund, and Professor Martin
Goodman from the Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

9.00 p.m. |NG| The Hunt for the Lost Ark
The Hunt for the Lost Ark takes an epic scholarly journey around the
world, in search of the truth behind one of the most coveted
artifacts of the Bible. The Ark of the Covenant was terrifying beyond
belief - consuming those who sought to look upon it infire. According
to tradition, the Israelites used it to destroy their enemies and
assure their conquest of the Holy Land. And then, in perhaps the
greatest biblical riddle ever, the Ark simply vanished...and the
scriptures never mentioned it again.

HINT - History International
HISTC - History Television (Canada)
NG - National Geographic
From the CBC:

Ottawa's National Arts Centre and the Royal Shakespeare Company of Stratford-upon-Avon in Britain are collaborating to create a musical stage version of Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad.

It is the first time the Royal Shakespeare Company has collaborated with a Canadian theatre company.

Atwood is adapting her book, The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus, for the stage in a format that the producers are calling a "cabaret."

"Because it takes place in the underworld, in the afterlife, it’s obviously not a piece of realism," Atwood said in an interview with CBC Radio.

The book retells Homer's Odyssey from Penelope's point of view.

In Homer's version, Odysseus returns from the Trojan War to kill his wife Penelope's suitors and her 12 disobedient maids. Atwood tells the story of what Penelope was up to during the 20 years her husband was gone.
Continue Article

The Penelopiad is one of a series of ancient myths and classics retold by modern writers being published in a partnership of international publishers.

The stage version will star an all-female cast, including seven Canadian actors and six from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

It's rare in featuring so many roles for women, Atwood says, but the format can be adapted to be played by as few as six performers.

The Penelopiad will premiere in July 2007 at Stratford-upon-Avon's Swan Theatre, then open the 2007-2008 season in English theatre at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa next September.

The creative team, including the director, has yet to be named, but will comprise artists from both countries, Peter Hinton, NAC artistic director, said Monday in announcing the production.

"I love the idea that Canadian artists are going to one of the foremost recognized classical theatres in the world to tell an old classic mythic tale written by a Canada, reinterpreted by a Canadian," Hinton told CBC Radio.

Hinton, who in his first season as artistic director of the Ottawa theatre company created a completely Canadian program, sees this project as an extension of his artistic vision.

The Penelopiad will help raise the international profile of Canadian work, and provide unparalleled opportunities for Canadian theatre artists on the international stage, he said.

Atwood first approached Hinton about a stage adaptation of The Penelopiad in 2005, and the NAC bought the world rights to a premiere production in 2006.

"When the script came to me, you go 'OK, well she's a wonderful novelist. Is this going to work as a play?'" Hinton said.

"I took a peek and went, 'This is fantastic.' It was so exciting. She has such a range to her voice, from deep, considerate intelligence to very emotional, to laugh out loud funny."

Atwood had already been working on transforming the book, and joined with director Phyllida Lloyd to create a 30-minute reading of her adaptation in London in October 2005.

Deborah Shaw, associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, became intrigued by Atwood's work while putting together a season of plays around the theme of classical stories for spring 2007.

Discussions began with the NAC, which led to a wider collaboration around the production. The British theatre troupe has previously worked with companies from India, Africa, Poland, Russian and China.

The production opens July 27, 2007 in the U.K. and Sept. 17 in Ottawa.

Of course, we await the theory that Margaret Atwood is a man ...
From a press release, fwiw:

In a groundbreaking new work by Graham Campbell-Dunn, "Who Were the Minoans? An African Answer" (now available through AuthorHouse), he presents an in-depth assessment of the origins of the Minoans of prehistoric Crete, solving a mystery that has lingered for more than 100 years. His application of archaeology, anthropology, comparative linguistics and genetics leads to the nomadic Fulani and Yoruba tribes of Africa.

One of Campbell-Dunn's greatest breakthroughs comes in his research about the origins of Minoan language. "Who Were the Minoans?" is a landmark in the history of classical scholarship in that it translates a portion of the Minoan Linear A documents. From vowel harmony to Niger-Congo prefixes, the similarities in Minoan speech and writing and those of Africa are numerous and convincing.

Campbell-Dunn also offers an overwhelming abundance of evidence that points to the Crete-Africa link. For example, the Minoans kept cattle and have red-toned skin like the Fulani herdsman. Their palaces, like the Yoruba, have a main courtyard which is also used as a market. Their double axe is also a symbol of the Yoruba storm god, and Minoan art, with its range of primary colors and decoration based on snakes and cut calabashes, uses numerous symbols of African subject matter. Their male garment, the codpiece, is African. Even their religious worship links Africa to the peoples of Crete: African fertility cults and their worship of the snake goddess Minona are the basis for the Minoan belief system.

"Who Were the Minoans?" is a fascinating glimpse not only into the previously unknown beginnings of prehistoric Minoans, but also the Bronze Age's fashion, religion, sexuality, trade, warfare, sport and entertainment. A work that appeals to scholars for its research breakthroughs, it is also a captivating read for any history lover with its portrayal of the lively way of life of both the African tribes and the Mediterranean Minoans.

Campbell-Dunn was awarded his master's degree in classics with first class honors by the University of New Zealand and went to the University of Cambridge on a postgraduate scholarship. There he studied classical philology under W.S. Allen and R.G. Coleman and was privileged to be taught by John Chadwick who worked on Linear B (Mycenaean Greek). His training also included general linguistics with John Lyons and classical archaeology with R.M. Cook and Hugh Plommer, the architectural historian. He later taught classics and ancient art at university level in New Zealand and completed a Ph.D. on Herodotus, the Greek historian and anthropologist. For the last 10 years he has devoted his retirement to researching Niger-Congo linguistics, art and anthropology. Campbell-Dunn has previously completed eight academic books on classical studies.
Iuris praecepta sunt: honeste vivere, alterum no laedere, suum cuique tribuere.
(Justinian, Institutes 1.1)

pron = YOO-ris prai-KEP-tah soont hoh-NES-tay WEE-weh-reh AHL-teh-room noh LAI-deh-reh soom KWEE-kweh trih-BOO-eh-reh

The requirements of the law are these: to live honestly, to harm no other, to honor each according to his essential dignity.

Comment: I was sitting in my car, in the dark, in my own garage. I couldn't turn off the radio and go inside. My mouth was hanging open.
I had been listening to Ira Glass' radio program from NPR called
"This American Life". A mother and her 12 year old daughter were
telling the heart-wrenching story of how the daughter, as a 9 year old 4th grader had been treated on the first anniversary of 9/11 in her public school classroom.

She is an American Muslim. Her school district bought and distributed literature on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2002 claiming that the tragedy was the work of Muslims--all of whom believe (the booklet affirmed) that non-Muslims must be killed. Short of retelling the entire story, the 9 year old ended up dropping out of school. Her young siblings were routinely harassed at school. Her father fell into a deep depression:
he was watching his own children being treated the same way he was on the west bank of Gaza as a child.

Believe it or not, this really isn't me writing about politics. I am only point out the story to say that Justinian summed up the very best of law in this short proverb, and that any place, any people, any country, including the USA can fall short of these very basic ideals:

1) Live honestly. When you've judged wrongly, the honest thing is to say so and make amends.

2) Harm no one. NO ONE! No one likes to be harmed. No one comes away from being harmed better for it. People come away from being harmed hurt.

3) Honor each person for the human dignity that is his/hers by birth.

A nation is just and free not because of its history, or its documents, but because of how it practices justice and freedom today.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
ante diem xv kalendas januarias

Saturnalia (day 2) - major, popular festival in honour of Saturn with banquets, the wearing of soft caps (pilei), and general good cheer. Shops and schools were closed, gambling was legally permitted, gifts were exchanged and masters might even wait on their servants. Obviously this festival is often seen as a precursor to our modern-day Christmas celebrations ...

69 A.D. -- emperor-for-a-little-while Vitellius abdicates, but changes his mind later

1809 - Death of Alexander Adam, an eminent Classicist
From YLE:

Sollemnitas Sanctae Luciae
15.12.2006, klo 12.43

Die Mercurii sive Idibus Decembribus (13.12.) in urbe Helsinki more translaticio festum Sanctae Luciae celebratum est.

Proprium huius sollemnitatis est lucem tenebris afferre, quam ob rem quotannis aliqua virgo eligi solet, quae corona candelarum ornata et curru per mediam urbem vecta diem brumalem illuminet.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: De Palaestinorum intestinis dissensionibus
Here's the incipit of a very long piece in the Times following up on the UK's purported crackdown on illegal antiquities being auctioned at eBay:

Roman and Anglo-Saxon jewellery and other artefacts are still being sold illegally on eBay, despite the website’s promise to clamp down on the trade.

The British Museum has told The Times that it is alarmed at the number of sellers offering gold and silver that has apparently been found on British soil but has not been reported.

The Treasure Act 1996 requires the reporting of all gold and silver objects more than 300 years old, and groups of coins that are more than 300 years old and found on the same site.

Two years ago The Times reported that the number of potential treasure finds being offered for sale on eBay was so high that it was undermining the credibility of the Act.

This month the journal British Archaeology reports that between August and September this year almost 3,500 antiquities were offered for sale on the British eBay website, of which 600 were “British”.

In October eBay addressed the problem, signing a memorandum of understanding with the British Museum and The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Government’s advisory body. The website promised to discourage the illegal trade in antiquities and agreed to allow the British Museum to contact sellers “to ascertain whether there is a reasonable cause for concern”.

But Claire Costin, of the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum, said yesterday: “The number of potential treasure finds for sale on eBay has not noticeably decreased since we began the monitoring process.”

Sellers have found a way round the problem. On being contacted by the British Museum, they simply insist that the objects came from overseas. Miss Costin said: “Frequently we are told that an item was bought abroad or was from an old collection, in which case there is not much that we can do, although in some cases we will inform the seller that they should provide evidence to buyers that the object has been legally exported from its country of origin.”

Among the recent offerings on eBay was an early medieval gold pendant. When contacted by the British Museum, the seller said that it had been bought at an antiquities fair in Germany in the 1980s.

The owner of a Roman silver bracelet said: “This bracelet originates from Italy. All of my items are from private collections of Central Europeans.”

The seller of a medieval silver ring became agitated after being contacted by the British Museum, saying in an e-mail: “I have responded and answered all your questions. I have been polite and courteous. I would now appreciate you cease this harassment and deal with eBay.”

A spokesman for eBay said: “If people are saying they don’t know where something’s from, then that is the truth, as far as we know.”

As many of the finds are sold by dealers or another third party rather than the finder, there is little information about whether such finds have or should have been reported.

Miss Costin said: “Many sellers also feel that they have no obligation to report the artefacts they are selling, feeling that this is the finder’s responsibility.

“We would love a change in the law to expand the obligation to report. We want all those who are involved in the sale of potential treasure artefacts to ensure that the finds have been reported, and also to be aware of the fact that finds should not be bought or sold unless evidence can be provided that the object has been disclaimed by the Crown.” The Treasure Act confers a legal obligation on all finders of treasure to report them to a coroner within 14 days of making the find, or realising the find was treasure. The penalties include imprisonment for up to three months and a £5,000 fine.
7.00 p.m. |NG| Jesus' Tomb
It is one of the Bible's greatest mysteries. What happened to Jesus'
body after it was taken down from the cross? The debate has raged for
centuries about what happened between Jesus' death and the moment his
tomb was found empty two days later. Did those who love him bury
Jesus with honor in a grand ceremony, or was he buried in shame,
hastily and unceremoniously, at the hands of those who executed him?

9.00 p.m. |NG| The Gospel of Judas
Discovered by chance in the 1970s, a document that lay hidden for
nearly 1,700 years emerges today as the only known surviving copy of
"The Gospel of Judas." The Gospel of Judas traces the incredible
story of what has happened to the document since it was found, the
recent authentication process, and key insight gleaned from its
translation and interpretation. The research will reveal fascinating
details contained within the document as well as key sections
translated from its ancient Coptic script.

10.00 p.m. |HISTU| Jesus' Jerusalem

NG - National Geographic

HISTU - History Channel (US)
I thought the ClassiCarnies had all gone off to hang with the blameless Ethiopians vel simm. but then I realized my Squeet feeds had suddenly died, as had my Watch That Page notifications. The latter seems to have been the victim of some antispam thing somewhere and is now fixed, but Squeet continues to be blissfully unaware of any problems and I'm not in the mood to fight another battle via email for now. So, we'll be going with rssfwd and Google Reader as a backup ... here's what I managed to salvage after this revelation:

It must be guest post week or something ...

Okay ... if this doesn't cause a rip in the fabric of time, nothing will ... over at N.S. Gill's blog, Roman History Books and More blogger Irene Hahn reviews Bread and Circuses' blogger Adrian Murdoch's book on the Teutoberger Forest massacre ...

Walter Scheidel pens a guest post at Academic Presentations on the Roman Empire on Ancient Empires and Sexual Exploitation ... Mary Harrsch herself has an interesting little item on 'anti tank' vehicles at Asculum ...

Over at Apocryphicity there's an interesting guest post about publishing the Gospel of Judas ...

Kristian Minck introduces us to some literature on Roman wagon technology (check out the ongoing bibliography link at the top of the page too) ...

Peter Stothard was pondering comparisons of Anne Coulter with Juvenal ...

Adrian Murdoch has a poster for the Last Legion flick ... he also has a nice little collection of links about Claudian ...

Phil Harland had a piece on using the Internet for teaching courses ...

Chris Weimer notes a Roman rhyme scheme in Catullus ...

Can't remember if I mentioned Tropaion's Carnival last week ... if not, here it is ...

Mary Beard writes about an interesting conference at Williamstown ...

Elsewhere, several folks passed along notice that Magnus Maximus was the subject of the one of the Dictionary of National Biography's Lives of the Week (I'll link to the main page since the urls often appear to change) ...

Hopefully my rss feed woes are now behind me and this Carnival will be rather more extensive next week ... I'm sure some folks have disappeared in the transition ....

Explorator 9.34 has been posted at the Yahoo site (with the wrong subject -- doh! ... go by date) ... the weekly version of the Ancient World on Television listings will follow similiter later today.
Brief item from Cinema Confidential:

Variety reports that Universal has acquired a comedy pitch, tentatively titled "I, Thalus," which is set during the first ancient Olympics for Peter Segal ("Tommy Boy," "50 First Dates") to direct. Craig Cox and Jeff Cox will pen the screenplay.

In addition to Parent and Stuber, Segal and his partner, Michael Ewing, will produce.
Not sure what to make of this thing from the Observer ... here's the first 'graf only because the language and content gets potentially offensive:

Professor Keith Newton, Regis Professor of Ancient History and Classical Civilisation at Warwick University, 71-year-old widower and grandfather of five, renowned expert on the role of oligarchy in Spartan military planning, publisher of a four-volume commentary on Thucydides's History of the Greek Wars and, in his spare time, a campaigner for road safety in rural communities, woke one morning to find he was taking part in a live, 24 hours a day TV reality show and it was now the section where all the house-guests had to drink a litre of vinegar.

... I'm assuming fiction of some sort ...


David Parsons glosses:

Armando Iannucci [sc. the author of the piece] is an intelligent but fairly bad-language-prone comedian who is often on British TV screens. This is just a satirical flight of fancy.
First the Parthenon, now the Colosseum ... from Monsters and Critics:

A U.S. movie crew shot part of a science-fiction flick inside the famed Colosseum in Rome.

The company led by Doug Linman had three days of rare access to the ancient Roman landmark, including the underground chambers, thanks to the receptiveness of Rome`s mayor and movie buff, Walter Veltroni.

The New York Times said Veltroni has actively courted Hollywood and the rest of the international cinema industry and paved the way for the city to rent out the place.

The newspaper noted that even the Roman epic 'Gladiator' was shot in Malta.

Shooting was strictly limited to early morning and late afternoon. No lighting was allowed inside and Linman knew he wouldn`t get a chance to go back and shoot anything over.

Linman`s film 'Jumper' centers on a hero who can teleport through time and space and has included location shooting in China, Paris, the Sahara Desert and Michigan, among others. The film is scheduled for release in 2008.
since my squeet service appears to have died, i'm testing rssfwd ... and feedblitz too
I'm sure I wasn't the only one seeking more details in that antiquities bust we mentioned a few days ago involving some professor from Democritus University in Thrace ... Kathimerini provides some:

A university professor alleged to have been hoarding hundreds of valuable ancient artifacts in his home had hidden thousands more in a rented apartment, police in Thessaloniki said yesterday.

The unidentified professor, who lectures in German literature at the Democritus University in Thrace, was being questioned yesterday following his arrest on charges of illicitly trading in antiquities.

A police search of his home unearthed the marble head of a statue and hundreds more antiquities believed to be very valuable. More than 8,000 bronze coins, pot shards and statuettes were found in the rented apartment.

Thessaloniki police also arrested a wholesale merchant on similar charges yesterday after finding ancient coins, rings and other jewelry in his home.

Police ruled out any connection between the two cases.
From the News:

The bones of fallow deer found at Fishbourne Roman Palace, near Chichester have shown that the animals were around in Britain for 1,000 years longer than previously believed.

The remains, from Roman levels of the site, have been identified by experts, who said the location could be regarded as the country's first safari park.

And the discovery provides the first indisputable evidence that fallow deer (pictured) were introduced to Britain by the Romans, and not the Normans, as has been thought.

Strontium isotope measurements were used on the teeth of deer found at Fishbourne, and it is now believed the animals were first introduced into Britain as a gift to the Romanised aristocracy.

The archaeological journal Antiquity said Dr Naomi Sykes, of Nottingham University, spotted the lower jaw bones of two fallow deer while re-analysing bones that were excavated from the palace in the 1960s.

It was likely they were originally wrongly identified as being from cattle. Carbon dating showed one of the bones dated to around 60AD and the other to around 90AD.

Further chemical analysis showed that the earlier of the two deer had probably been born in Europe and imported as a live animal, while the other was born and died at Fishbourne.

According to Dr Sykes, it is likely that, as well as building the enormous palace at Fishbourne, the invading Romans built a vivarium, or landscaped garden, that was stocked with newly imported species such as fallow deer – their intention being to impress the locals with their extravagant and exotic lifestyles.

Dr Sykes said: 'These discoveries have rewritten a small part of our history. We have never been sure what the land surrounding Fishbourne looked like, but now it seems that at least part of it was set aside as a park to house a species of animal that was entirely new to the locals.

'It could be seen as Britain's first safari park. We hope further research will shed more light on this park and what it looked like.'

The bones, and thousands of other artefacts, are stored at the palace's new collections discovery centre.

The curator of these artefacts, Dr Robert Symmons, said work like this was exactly the reason why artefacts were kept for years, often decades, after they were excavated. Dr Sykes had shown that by revisiting material from old excavations we could learn a great deal using modern techniques.

'It makes you wonder how many other great discoveries like this are waiting to be found,' he said.

It also makes you wonder when someone is going to write about 'Romanization' from a dietary standpoint ... ...
Ever since I first got an email address and started being a PITA to folks on the Classics list (and others) and starting up things like my Ancient World on Television listings, I have often said that sword and sandal flicks and the like were actually good for our discipline. Here's the incipit of a lengthy article in the Times-Union, which seems to confirm what I've noisily said all along:

The literary canon may not be dead across America's college campuses, but its heartbeat has grown weak and erratic.

That's the diagnosis of the Siena Research Institute, which has been putting its finger on the pulse of the so-called Great Books debate since 1985.

Siena's third and latest national survey shows a steady erosion when it comes to the standing of the classics, according to 4,125 freshmen and 215 faculty who filled out questionnaires.

It uses as a baseline a list of 30 Great Books selected in 1984 by William Bennett, then chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Ronald Reagan. Bennett created the list with input from his friends, including the conservative columnist George Will.

Siena repeated its survey on the 30 classic titles in 1997 and 2006.

"In every case, the expectations by faculty what they believe college freshmen should have read in high school exceeds the reality of what they've actually read," said Tom Kelly, a Siena history professor emeritus. He conducted the survey with Douglas Lonnstrom, director of the Research Institute.

"There's a continuity of decline," Kelly said. "When you get to the bottom 10 of the 30 books, they're being read by fewer and fewer students."

For example, Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" was read by only 3 percent of freshmen surveyed, Tolstoy's "War and Peace" by just 4 percent and Aristotle's "Politics" by 5 percent.

The Bible dropped from 80 percent to 56 percent between 1985 and 2006 among surveyed faculty who recommended that freshmen should have read the Scriptures in high school.

Among novels read by freshmen, "Great Expectations" and "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens and George Orwell's "1984" dropped the most, with double-digit declines from 1985.

On the upside, the survey revealed a Brad Pitt factor and the power of Hollywood.

Kelly attributed sharp increases among students surveyed regarding those who've read Homer's "Odyssey" and "Iliad" (up from 43 percent to 59 percent) to the 2004 release of "Troy," a film adaptation of Homer's epic starring Pitt.

Similarly, a 2005 movie of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" starring Keira Knightley caused that book's stock to rise from 14 percent in 1985 to 23 percent among students surveyed in 2006.

... the rest.
From Donga:

“The end of the Roman Empire,” the last in the series “the stories of the Romans” (original work: Res Gestae Populi Romani) by the Japanese book writer Shiono Nanami (age 69) was published in Japan on December 15.

Shiono published her first series, “Rome was not built in one day,” in 1992, and pledged to “publish one volume each year for 15 years to complete the set.” She literally devoted herself to write a story about ancient Rome for the last 15 years, and has fulfilled her promise by spending half of the year collecting historical documents and the other half writing the story.

The critical point, which is consistent throughout the 15 books, is “why Rome was the only successful region to establish a universal empire by overcoming differences among nation, culture and religion.” According to her, Machiavelli’s philosophy, which states that human beings possess both good and wrong side, is linked with the key to its long lasting empire for 1,200 years. While Christianity focused on the next life in the name of heaven, Rome was attached to the world of today, tried to make the present life better, established systems and reformed it afterwards.

For now, the 14 separate volumes of “the stories of the Romans” have been sold, mounting to an estimated 2.2 million books only in Japan alone. The pocket-sized collection, which bound the 10 books into 28 volumes, has sold about 5.4 million copies.

Shiono who scheduled to visit Japan with the publishing of her last book said, “Right now, I am under an utter exhaustion. I will rest for a while so that I can recharge myself.”
From the Boston Globe:

The Uphams Corner Charter School, a Boston school that aims to transform struggling students into classical scholars who study Latin as well as rhetoric, is facing closure next year largely because of low test scores.

On Tuesday, state Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll will recommend that the five-year-old school close at the end of this school year, according to a memo state officials provided yesterday. It would be the seventh charter school to close since the experimental public schools first opened in Massachusetts in 1995. The state has 59 charter schools, which have more freedom than regular schools to devise their own curriculum and control their budgets. Charter schools are supposed to be laboratories of innovation with higher achievement than regular public schools, state officials have emphasized.

Closing Uphams Corner Charter would end a tumultuous tenure for a school that had an idealistic vision but struggled with management and financial problems, as well as with student achievement.

Yesterday the chairman of the school's board vowed to fight the Department of Education's recommendation, saying the school had made significant management and curriculum changes particularly during the last year that would probably yield higher test scores in the future. Students and parents had not officially been informed of the school's possible closure yesterday, but rumors already were circulating. Several of the 200 students in the grade 5-8 school were in tears after news spread through the school.

"We're devastated by the staff's recommendation," said Christopher C. Binns , chairman of the school's board and longtime resident of Dorchester's Uphams Corner, where many of the students are from, though the school is in South Boston. "We don't believe it's an accurate reflection of what the school is doing."

The state Board of Education is expected only to discuss the possible closure Tuesday and not vote on it until January, state education officials said. Charter schools are independent public schools that are up for renewal by the state every five years, and Uphams Corner's charter was due to expire next year . The school, which is trying to move to Uphams Corner , shares a building with a biomedical company in South Boston.

The state Board of Education has the authority to revoke a school's charter or decide against renewing it. The school could appeal and ask for a hearing on the matter. In Roxbury, one school fought its closing for months, and ultimately lost.

Driscoll recommended closing Uphams Corner based on the school's record during the past five years. Though a state inspection team found improvements over the past year in student behavior and classroom instruction, MCAS scores remain low. For the first four years, many classes lacked rigor, and teachers didn't teach a curriculum that was aligned with the state's academic standards. A majority of teachers left the school in the second and third years.

On the MCAS last year, Uphams Corner performed worse than Boston's regular, noncharter public schools in math, and similar to Boston in English, according to the state inspection report. Seventy percent of Uphams Corner's sixth- and eighth-graders failed the 2006 math MCAS tests, compared with about 50 percent in Boston and about a quarter statewide. English scores were better -- 49 percent of Uphams Corner's eighth-graders scored proficient in English, the state's goal. In comparison, 54 percent scored proficient or higher in Boston, along with 74 percent statewide.

Most charter schools do the same as or better than public schools on state tests, according to a recent state report, but Uphams Corner has not been performing at that level.

Driscoll could not be reached for comment yesterday. A state Education Department spokesman would not comment beyond what was in the state's documents.

Uphams Corner opened in 2002 with great ambitions for the neighborhood it is named after. Roughly 80 percent of the students are black, and most come from low-income families. About one-quarter are special education students.

Students study Latin and rhetoric and use the Socratic method of asking questions and debating answers. An underlying goal was to empower students to improve their community. Students spend two weeks at the end of each year doing a research project on a variety of topics, including trash collection in Uphams Corner compared with Beacon Hill.

Edward M. Cook , head of the school, said he and the charter school's board first heard of Driscoll's recommendation yesterday during a meeting with Education Department officials.

A teacher said he hopes the state will judge the school on more than standardized test scores.

"I'm frustrated," said Brendan McGrath, who teaches literacy and rhetoric. "The state spends too much time looking at test scores. They need to look at how the lessons are creative and the opportunities kids have to explore and expand their own learning."

While I wonder about the role the special education students' scores played in the assessment of the school's perfomance, I am actually more interested in knowing how many Classics departments have connections to charter schools such as this. Seems like an obvious/cheap potential outreach source.


Jim Stewart scripsit:

I now teach at Sturgis Public Charter School in Hyannis, MA. We are a school that promotes the International Baccalaureate program, but with a twist. ALL of our students do IB in Grades 11 and 12. Even more interesting, all students must have SIX years of foreign language, including at least two of Latin- many go on and do the IB. I am currently teaching 50 freshmen Latin I and 22 juniors and seniors the first year of IB. We have perhaps 10% of our students as special needs kids, but they are expected to do the IB curriculkum, and many do well.

We are just getting into the program, but results have been pretty positive so far (couldn't quote you any stats, as I am the new kid on the block- but the feeling is very positive). There are FOUR of us teaching Latin here, and working together and with colleagues around the country. It is very exciting, and we want to upgrade the Latin program- there have been a couple of changes in recent years, as often happens.

We had an article recently in the Cape Cod Times about our overall program in connection with athletics- even a bit on Latin at the start with one of our students. Here's the URL- good for 7 days, then you have to pay...
ante diem xviii kalendas januarias

Consualia -- a festival in honour of Consus which likely involved a similar celebration held on August 21 (i.e. horse races, chariot races, and garlanding of the steeds)

337 B.C. -- death of Timoleon (according to one reckoning)

215 B.C. -- assassination of Hieronymus, one of the tyrants of Syracuse (by one reckoning)

19 B.C. -- dedication of the Ara Fortunae Reducis

37 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Nero

130 A.D. -- birth of the future co-emperor Lucius Verus
heterodox @ Merriam-Webster

abliguration @ Worthless Word for the Day

neologism @

This week the Classics Technology Center has Musical Instrucment Terms ...
Item from the NYT's World Briefs section:

In his first official visit to the Vatican, Archbishop Christodoulos, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, asked Pope Benedict XVI to return a piece of the Parthenon held in the Vatican Museums, Greek officials said. According to spokesmen for Christodoulos, Benedict was a bit perplexed by the request, perhaps not knowing that the vast collection included a fragment of the ancient building. He said he would consider the request, they said. Greece has been campaigning for decades to get back all pieces of the Parthenon held in museums and private collections around the world. The two religious leaders signed a joint declaration that calls on all religious leaders to pursue and strengthen interreligious dialogue and calls on scientists to respect human life “from conception to natural death.”
4.00 p.m. |DTC| The Rise
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best of other civilizations.

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Scotland to the Sahara. Yet the same traits that created this vast
expansion eventually turned the Roman military into an unwieldy and
self-serving force of destabilization.

6.00 p.m. |DTC| Seduction of Power
Trace the evolution of Roman politics from the world's first
representative government through the lives of Gracchi, Julius
Caesar, Nero, and Septimius Severus and into a tumultuous and
theatrical display of power over substance.

7.00 p.m. |DTC| The Grasp of Empire
Rome's legacy of trade, roads and architectural and psychological
infrastructure relied on a fragile alliance of slaves, peasants and
the provincial. The glory years of the Roman conquest led to the
longest period of peace the world has ever known.

8.00 p.m. |DTC| The Cult of Order
Roman culture still weaves influence through western art,
architecture, medicine, and urban planning. This enormous empire was
a reflection of the multicultural world it encompassed, as excellence
gave way to excess and decline.

8.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Warrior Women: Boudica

9.00 p.m. |DTC| The Fall
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DTC - Discovery Times Channel
ante diem xix kalendas januarias

250 A.D. -- martyrdom of Heron

283 A.D. -- martyrdom of Justus and Abundius
pelagic @ Merriam-Webster

olla podrida @ (sort of)
From YLE:

Finnia constitutionem Unionis Europaeae accepit
08.12.2006, klo 10.18

Suffragio facto parlamentum Finniae legem fundamentalem Unionis Europaeae accepit.

Ex ducentis delegatis centum viginti quinque pro lege suffragia dederunt, duodequadraginta contra legem.

Quattuor delegati vacuam schedulam dederunt, ceteri aberant. Finnia est sexta decima terra, quae legem comprobavit. Antea Francia et Nederlandia eandem repudiaverunt.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

Latest Conspectus Rerum Latinus from the EU
Excerpts from a Eurekalert press release:

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) has announced the winners of its 2007 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. At its meeting on 7 December 2006, the DFG Joint Committee named ten scientists and academics — eight men and two women — as recipients of Germany’s most highly endowed research award. For the first time, the prize winners for 2007 will receive up to 2.5 million euros (previously: 1.55 million euros) and be able to use these funds flexibly over a period of seven years (previously: five years) to finance their research.

The Leibniz Programme, established in 1985, aims to improve the working conditions of outstanding researchers, expand their research opportunities, relieve them of administrative duties, and make it easier for them to employ particularly qualified young researchers. Scientists and academics from any research area can be nominated for the prize. The DFG Nominations Committee considers the slate of candidates and selects researchers who can be expected to particularly advance their scientific achievements through this award. This year’s prize winners once again include several young researchers.

Today’s announcement brings the total number of prizes awarded under the Leibniz Programme to 249. Of these, 54 recipients have been from the humanities, 70 from the life sciences, 89 from the natural sciences, and 36 from engineering. A total of 25 awards have gone to women.

Of 129 nominations received for the 2007 prize, the following ten researchers were selected [...]

Prof. Dr. Oliver Primavesi (45), Classical Philology, Department of Classical Philology, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich (2.5 million euros)

Oliver Primavesi is a Grecian with an unusually broad scope who has successfully initiated a dialogue between his discipline and ancient philosophy. Furthermore he has presented important interpretations of Homer’s works and prepared the reconstruction of a lost Aristotelian treatise on the Pythagoreans by using Aristotle quotations found in other authors’ writings. Together with Alain Martin, he edited the Strasbourg Empedocles papyrus. For the first time, this edition makes a pre-Platonic philosophical text palpable in original fragments and, contrary to popular textbook opinion, portrays the philosopher not as representative of a wide-ranging emancipatory movement away from religious myth and toward the philosophical logos; rather, he shows how intricately cosmology and science, religion and philosophy of nature, myth and logos are interwoven in Empedoclean thought.

Oliver Primavesi initially studied music with success, but then decided to switch to classical philology. After studying in Heidelberg and Oxford, he obtained his doctorate in Frankfurt, where he went on to qualify as a university lecturer in 1997. Following a brief interlude as lecturer at the University of Frankfurt, he accepted a chair at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich in 2000. Here he is currently professor of Greek philology. Primavesi was awarded the Prix Reinach by the Association pour l’Encouragement des Études Grecques (Association for the Promotion of Greek Studies), and the Prix Joseph Gantrelle by the Académie Royale de Belgique (Belgian Royal Academy).
From ERT:

A 60-year old Professor of the Thrace University was arrested when the police authorities in Thessaloniki found in his two houses about 10,000 ancient items. At the same time, a bottling-water merchant, who possessed a small archaeological treasure, was arrested also in Thessaloniki. Culture Minister Georgios Voulgarakis stated after his meeting with Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis on Wednesday that an Illegal Trading of Antiquities Directorate would be set up. At the same time, measures would be taken so that the provisions on illegal trading of antiquities would allow for stricter penalties. He also said that after Christmas holidays; the Ministry of Culture would table three bills at Parliament.

"Effective State"

Mr Voulgarakis also said that things were on course, appearing optimistic over issues managed by his ministry. He also said that more antiquities would be returned to Greece.

"When the state has an objective and operates in a scientific and organized way then it proves effective," pointed out Mr Voulgarakis.

The Telegraph asked assorted folks what they want for Christmas, among them - Michael van Rijn:

Michel van Rijn, art aficionado: "I would not mind the Aphrodite in the Getty museum in Los Angeles. I would give it back to the Italians."

Personally, I'd want a change in the antiquities laws in Italy in regards to artifacts found by private citizens on their own property ... the current laws seem to encourage black market sales rather than discourage them.
From CHN:

Agricultural activities by local farmers near the world heritage site of Pasargadae last year resulted in the accidental discovery of a big stone slab bearing some carvings typical of Pasargadae monuments. The discovered slab was recently proved by archeologists to have been the entrance gate to the mausoleum of Cambyses II, son and successor of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achameneid Empire (550-330 BC).

“A huge stone slab measuring 1.60 meters in height comprised of 5 broken pieces was discovered last March by farmers at a distance of 100 meters from Tall-e Takht and was immediately transferred to Parse-Pasargadae Research Center to be studied by archeologists,” said Afshin Yazdani, archeologist of Parse-Pasargadae Research Center.

Tall-e Takht or ‘throne hill’ is a citadel located at the heart of Pasargadae historical complex, the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great, in Fars province. Remains of an unfinished tomb denoted to Achaemenid King Cambyses II can be seen close to Tall-e Takht, from which only a wall has survived the ravage of time.

Based on studies by British archeologist David Stronach, the Tomb, also known as Zendan-e Soleiman/Eskandar (Solomon/Alexander Prison), originally consisted of an almost square, 4-meter-high tower in which a solitary, raised room was approached by a projecting monumental stone staircase. It resembles the Achaemenid era monument of Zoroaster’s Kaba in Naqsh-e Rostam historical site.

According to Yazdani, the stones used in the gate of Cambyses’ tomb are very similar to a stone slab discovered 50 years ago by archeologists. At the time, Stronach proposed a theory that the stone belonged to the mausoleum of Cambyses and drew a sketch of the original gate which he believed to have had two leaves, each comprising of 6 rectangular frames. He also drew 3 flowers each having 12 petals on the top and bottom of each frame.

“As Stronach himself was uncertain about his own drawing of the gate, recent discovery of the gate proves his theory wrong. Based on the new studies, it became known that the entrance gate of what is called Tomb of Cambyses was made of two stone leaves each having two rectangular 35 by 59 cm frames with three 12-petaled flowers on the top and bottom,” explained Yazdani, adding that the height of each door leaf was found to be 1.75 meters - that is 8 centimeters shorter than the height of the wall. Archeologists believe that the gate was made shorter on purpose to allow circulation of air in and out of the mausoleum.

According to the inscriptions of Bisotun historic site, the mausoleum of Cambyses was destroyed by the Mongol invader Geomat who disguised himself as Bardia, King Cambyses’ brother and came to power shortly after Cambyses’ assassination and razed down Achaemenid temples. Achaemenid King Darius the Great clearly accounts in Bisotun inscription that he restored the Achaemenid temples after murdering Geomat. “Evidence left on the stone gate very well confirms that it was restored during the early days of Darius the Great’s reign,” added Yazdani.

According to Yazdani, the new findings together with the fact that a similar structure to the mausoleum of Cambyses, Zoroaster’s Kaba, was built also by Darius the Great at Naqsh-e Rostam, proved that it was a temple whereas it had previously been variously regarded as either a tomb, or a fire temple, or a depository.

Cambyses was the son and successor of Cyrus the Great who ruled the Persian Empire from the death of his father in 530 BC to his own death in Ecbatane (Syria) eight years later.

During his reign, Cambyses continued the politic of expansion started by his father. First, he took part with his father to the conquest of Babylonia and was named King of Babylon after he captured the city in 539. After rising to the throne, he invaded Egypt in 525 BC, putting an end to the 26th Dynasty of the Pharaohs and beginning a period of Persian rule that covered much of the next two centuries.

Cambyses later personally led a force up the Nile to conquer Ethiopia, but after annexing the north of the country, he ran short of supplies and had to return.

While on his way back from Egypt with his army in 522 BC, Cambyses was assassinated upon order of one of his brothers, Smerdis, which he himself tried to have assassinated. At his death, after a short period during which Smerdis assumed the leadership, more palace struggles led to the rise to the throne of Darius the Great, whose task was to organize such a vast empire.

The mausoleum of the son and successor of Cyrus the Great, Persian King Cambyses II, was also registered with other ancient monuments of Pasargadae historic complex in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.
From a Q&A column in the Arizona Republic:

... Why don't we eat horses? We just don't, although that's not to say we never did. I am told horsemeat was on the menu at the Harvard faculty dining room until 1983, but I don't know for sure that's true.

But over the centuries it has been a taboo in many cultures. The ancient Romans didn't allow it. It is forbidden by Jewish dietary laws.

Did the Romans forbid it? What could be the source of this claim?
Qui tacet consentire videtur.

Pron = kwee TAH-ket kohn-sehn-TEE-ray wih-deh-toor.

He who is silent (about a thing) appears to give consent (to that thing).

Comment: While the source of this proverb is unknown, I think it might as well or even better be labeled "ethical" as "legal", for what is really at stake in this proverb are those things that we know about and say or do nothing about. Our silence both in word or deed is a sign of our consent, or at least our unwillingness to do anything to bring about a change. Our silence becomes passive agreement with the thing, however unpleasant we may say that it is.

Several things come to mind when I consider this proverb: the adult in any situation who knows that a child or minor is being abused (physically, sexually, verbally, emotionally) and says nothing; this is a deadly, life changing thing to be silent about. This silence happens every day, and children suffer. And, it is illegal to remain silent about such things.

Less about law and more about ethics: the conversation that goes around among "friends" about one who is not present. The conversation is disparaging and yet one remains silent who knows that the disparaging comments are not true, or are even not quite true, but says nothing.

These are two examples on opposite ends of a spectrum: both employ
silence as a response to what the listener knows is not acceptable.
The silence implies the listener's agreement with what is being said or done.

I have students right now who have become very interested in and activist about the tragedy that is Darfur. Yesterday one brought me information about a workshop that they want to go to. Do I think the
school would give them an excused absence to attend this workshop?
They will learn, among other things at the workshop, how to use their voices in the face of injustice. They will be joining hands with those who refuse to be silent in the face of injustice.

Holding hands always makes the voice stronger. I think Martin Luther King, Jr. and company learned that when they crossed the Gordon Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL--King who is often quoted quoting Ghandi--all that evil needs to flourish is for good men and women to do nothing. In other words, to remain silent and give evil their consent.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
idus decembres

Rites in honour of Tellus, the earth goddess which perhaps included a lectisternium (a 'dinner party' at which images of the god(s) would 'dine' with participants) in honour of Ceres.

405 B.C. -- battle of Aegospotami (by one reckoning)

304 A.D. -- martyrdom of Lucy of Syracuse

1783 -- Death of Samuel Johnson

We might also note here something mentioned in Josephus (Ant. 14.8), which he places in the year 46 (I believe):

When Antipater had made this speech, Caesar appointed Hyrcanus to be high priest, and gave Antipater what principality he himself should choose, leaving the determination to himself; so he made him procurator of Judea. He also gave Hyrcanus leave to raise up the walls of his own city, upon his asking that favor of him, for they had been demolished by Pompey. And this grant he sent to the consuls to Rome, to be engraven in the capitol. The decree of the senate was this that follows: (13) "Lucius Valerius, the son of Lucius the praetor, referred this to the senate, upon the Ides of December, in the temple of Concord. There were present at the writing of this decree Lucius Coponius, the son of Lucius of the Colline tribe, and Papirius of the Quirine tribe, concerning the affairs which Alexander, the son of Jason, and Numenius, the son of Antiochus, and Alexander, the son of Dositheus, ambassadors of the Jews, good and worthy men, proposed, who came to renew that league of goodwill and friendship with the Romans which was in being before. They also brought a shield of gold, as a mark of confederacy, valued at fifty thousand pieces of gold; and desired that letters might be given them, directed both to the free cities and to the kings, that their country and their havens might be at peace, and that no one among them might receive any injury. It therefore pleased [the senate] to make a league of friendship and good-will with them, and to bestow on them whatsoever they stood in need of, and to accept of the shield which was brought by them. This was done in the ninth year of Hyrcanus the high priest and ethnarch, in the month Panemus."

That little 13 there refers to a note in the Whiston edition of Josephus at the CCEL ... here's the skinny:

Take Dr. Hudson's note upon this place, which I suppose to be the truth: "Here is some mistake in Josephus; for when he had promised us a decree for the restoration of Jerusalem he brings in a decree of far greater antiquity, and that a league of friendship and union only. One may easily believe that Josephus gave order for one thing, and his amanuensis performed another, by transposing decrees that concerned the Hyrcani, and as deluded by the sameness of their names; for that belongs to the first high priest of this name, [John Hyrcanus,] which Josephus here ascribes to one that lived later [Hyrcanus, the son of Alexander Janneus]. However, the decree which he proposes to set down follows a little lower, in the collection of Raman decrees that concerned the Jews and is that dated when Caesar was consul the fifth time." See ch. 10. sect. 5.
euphoria @ Merriam-Webster

centicipitous @ Worthless Word for the Day
From Slate:

Andrew Dalby, Rediscovering Homer

Abstracts from Classical Antiquity 25.2:

Political Discourses at the End of Sophokles' Philoktetes
Kevin Hawthorne

Sophokles' Philoktetes is a response to the oligarchic takeover and restoration of democracy in Athens in 411–10 BC. The play explores the grounds, strengths, and weaknesses of democratic discourse, and measures it against alternatives. The final agon between Neoptolemos and Philoktetes defines a model of legitimate persuasion (logos) that can replace Odysseus' sophistic and oligarchic modes of interacting with others. The deus ex machina, in turn, brings in an authoritative aristocratic discourse (muthos) that is superior even to democratic deliberation.

“I Let Go My Force Just Touching Her Hair”: Male Sexuality in Athenian Vase-Paintings of Silens and Iambic Poetry
G. Hedreen

In Archaic Athenian vase-painting, silens (satyrs) are often sexually aroused, but only sporadically satisfy their desires in a manner acceptable to most Athenian men. François Lissarrague persuasively argued that the sexuality of silens in vase-painting was probably laughable rather than awe-inspiring. What sort of laughter did the vase-paintings elicit? Was it the scornful laughter of a person who felt nothing in common with silens, or the laughter of one made to see something of himself in their behavior? For three reasons, I argue for the latter interpretation. First, some vase-paintings are constructed so as to invite the viewer to adopt imaginatively the persona of a silen. Second, parallels for the less-than-triumphant sexuality of silens occur in Archaic iambic poetry. Like the vase-paintings, the poetry was often constructed so that performers of the poems are incorporated into the narratives as all-too-human protagonists. Third, certain formal features of classical satyr-play encouraged the audience to identify with the point of view of the satyr-chorus, while others reminded it that there were better role models than silens. In all three media, a negative characterization of male characters or silens is combined with a manner of presentation that invites the viewer or performer to see himself among those characters despite their negative traits. That form of humor may have been common in Archaic symposia, but its presence in satyr-play suggests that it may also be a fundamental characteristic of silens.

Mettius Fufetius in Livy
J. D. Noonan

This essay makes the case that Livy's version of the tale of Mettius Fufetius transmits certain facts that relate to inherited ritual practices (horse-sacrifice among them) along with formulas used in early law and diplomacy. Although the author may not be fully aware of the original meaning of all he is handing down (e.g., the etymology of mitis) because he has simply taken materials from his sources without much critical investigation, the traditional elements are important to him because they seem to authenticate this legend about the reign of Tullus Hostilius. For the moralizing historian that Livy certainly is, the treason of Mettius Fufetius and his execution at the command of the Roman king comprise the starting point of a remarkable sequence of episodes in his narrative that demonstrate the dishonorable behavior of Rome's chief rivals in Italy. The legend of Mettius Fufetius thus embodies a kind of “original sin” in the political realm, and becomes the paradigm for Rome's harsh dealing with faithless allies over the next five centuries. The essay concludes that this story typifies many Roman fabulae, insofar as they were often composed on the basis of outdated or unfamiliar idionyms, toponyms, ceremonial words and phrases, and ancient legal terms. In such fabulae characters like Tullus Hostilius and Mettius Fufetius, perhaps mere names in annals and king-lists, become the performers whose ceremonial acts turn into the foundational moments of Rome's public life.

Abstracts from TAPA 136.2:

Sailor, Dylan. Dirty Linen, Fabrication, and the Authorities of Livy and Augustus

At 4.20.5–11, Livy famously interrupts his narrative to report hearing that Augustus had discovered an inscribed linen corselet in the Temple of Jupiter Feretrius. The inscription, Livy tells us he has heard, said that A. Cornelius Cossus had dedicated the corselet as spolia opima when he was consul. Augustus's story thus contradicts the account Livy has just related, in which Cossus dedicated spolia opima as military tribune. Livy's treatment of Augustus's testimony, I argue in the first part of this paper, associates this discovery with prominent episodes early in the Ab Urbe Condita in which persons of authority fabricate supernatural stories and use them to influence persons of lower status. The association distances Livy and his readers from Augustus's account. This distancing, I argue in the paper's second part, has implications for our understanding of Livy's literary project and offers scope for reflection on the interrelationship of historiographical and political authority at the beginning of the Principate.

Jaeger, Mary, Livy, Hannibal's Monument, and the Temple of Juno at Croton

Livy's history recounts several events that take place, years apart, at the temple of Juno at Croton. A reading, both intertextual and intratextual, of passages having to do with the temple argues that the repeated references to the place form a strand of narrative complementing the main thread of Livy's account of Rome's expansion. Moreover, the temple unites geography and history, for it stands at the edge of each, at the place where Italy ends and the ocean begins and where Livy's narrative meets and responds to those of other writers.

Osgood, Josiah, Nuptiae Iure Civili Congruae: Apuleius's Story of Cupid and Psyche and the Roman Law of Marriage

Social historians, despite showing great interest in Apuleius's Metamorphoses, have tended to ignore the novel's embedded tale of Cupid and Psyche on the grounds that it is purely imaginary. This paper demonstrates that Apuleius in fact refers throughout his story to real Roman practices, especially legal practices—most conspicuous are the frequent references to the Roman law of marriage. A careful examination of several passages thus shows how knowledge of Roman law, it turns out, enhances the reader's pleasure in Apuleius's story. The paper concludes by exploring the connections between Apuleius's fairytale and the account of his own marriage to Aemilia Pudentilla in his earlier work, the Apologia. Apuleius seems to be recalling, playfully, his own earlier legal success. At the same time, both works suggest that legal problems arose in Roman families not because of the actions of any official enforcers, but rather appeal to the law by particular family members.
From YLE:

Halonen de statu Russiae sollicita
08.12.2006, klo 10.17

Praesidens Finniae Tarja Halonen dixit se caedibus in Russia politicis et evolutione eius iuridica sollicitari.

Si administratores Russiae de caedibus nescirent, causam esse sollicitudinis, sin scirent, causam adhuc maiorem.

Halonen monuit breve tempus ab Unione Sovietica dissoluta actum esse neque Russiam adhuc usum civitatis iuridicae occidentalis habere.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

Latest headlines from Akropolis World News: Paul the Apostle's grave found, Pinochet has died, Turkey admission process held back

From the Cyprus Mail ... fwiw:

The ANTIQUITIES Department yesterday said there was absolutely no way they would give Paphos Municipality permission to redevelop the area around the town’s lighthouse.

Speaking to the Mail, the Department’s Director, Pavlos Flourentzos said the general area of Kato Paphos was UNESCO World Heritage-protected, as it included ancient monuments such as mosaics and the Odeon Amphitheatre.

He added that it was also of great environmental importance, featuring rare wildlife.
“From time to time, the Municipality apply for permission to redevelop the area and they want to build restaurants and bars there. This has been going on for several years now and is totally unacceptable. I will never allow it to happen,” he said.

Mayor of Paphos, Savvas Verga, hit back though, saying the Municipality was only interested in constructing a coffee shop near the lighthouse.

“I don’t know what all this fuss is about,” he told us. “If you go there, you can see a lot of abandoned rubbish, with some of the buildings so old they are about to fall down. So tell me, what’s better? Having this horrible eyesore or a simple coffee shop?”

He said he had not given up hope and was to discuss the issue with the relevant authorities.

“If everything goes to plan, I hope to build the coffee shop by next summer.”

Back in August, a two-kilometre pedestrian walkway running along the coast from Paphos Castle to the lighthouse was given the green light by the Antiquities Department.

At the time, Vergas explained that the lighthouse would be cleaned and access to it improved as part of the project.

Flourentzos described the walkway as “a scenic one, which will allow people to see more of the area”.

The Antiquities Department needed to give their approval for the walkway, as it will pass through an area set aside for the creation of an archaeological park.

According to Flourentzos, the lighthouse was built, “sometime during the 1930s and we expect it to be added to the world heritage site in a few years.”
Scire volunt omnes; mercedem solvere nemo.
(Juvenal, Satires 7.157)

pron = SKEE-ray WOH-loont OHM-nays MAIR-keh-dehm SOL-whe-reh NAY-moh.

Everyone wants to know; no one wants to pay what is required.

Comment: Juvenal is a little too skeptical, but he makes the point.
Know-how, skill, ability, and talent are all things that we tend to see in others as finished products, and very often, as natural ability that they were born with. It's easy, then, to sit back and envy them or feel sorry for ourselves that we are not "special" in that regard--or worse, do both.

The reality is that people who have special knowledge, ability, talent in the arts, or a fine skill arrived at that point through a great deal of practice, training and hard work. They took whatever ability they had, little or great, and worked hard. So, it is not true that no one is willing to pay what is required. Those who are willing to work hard, practice often, and study diligently do get to know. In fact, those individuals are likely the ones who see their special knowledge, skill, or talent as a lifelong practice, and not a finished product.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
pridie idus decembres

Rites in honour of Consus on the Aventine Hill; this possibly relates to a restoration of a temple of Consus by Augustus.

404 B.C. -- death of Darius II 'Nothus' (according to one reckoning)

250 A.D. -- martyrdom of Dionysia

287 A.D. -- martyrdom of Crescentius
From BMCR:

Daniel M. Gross, The Secret History of Emotion.

Ségolène Demougin, Xavier Loriot, Pierre Cosme, Sabine Lefebvre, H.-G. Pflaum: un historien du XXe siècle. Actes du colloque international, Paris le 21, 22, et 23 octobre 2004. École Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Sciences Historiques et Philologiques. III Hautes Etudes du Monde Greco-Romain, 37

Paul Erdkamp, The Grain Market in the Roman Empire: A Social, Political, and Economic Study.

Roger Beck, The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire: Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun.

Jakob Munk Højte, Roman Imperial Statue Bases from Augustus to Commodus. Aarhus Studies in Mediterranean Antiquity 7.


In Classical Antiquity 25.2 (inter alia; more tomorrow):

Euhemerus in Context
Franco De Angelis De Angelis,Benjamin Garstad

Euhemerus, the famous theorist on the nature of the gods who lived around 300 BC, has usually been discussed as a disembodied intellectual figure, with scholars focusing on his literary and philosophical sources and influence. Although he is called “Euhemerus of Messene,” there is uncertainty as to where he was born, lived, and worked, in particular whether he came from Sicilian or Peloponnesian Messene. Until now, the conquests of Alexander the Great and the establishment of the Successor Kingdoms have been considered the only context for Euhemerus. This paper will draw upon literary, historical, and archaeological evidence to argue that Euhemerus belongs in a Sicilian context. The long history of the worship of rulers in Sicily from the oikistai to the tyrants of Syracuse, the wealth of Sicily, the proximity of the Lipari Islands, the multiethnic milieu of Sicily with its vigorous interaction and syncretism, all contributed to Euhemerus' experiences and thought. We suggest that centuries of Sicilian cultural and political experience, not merely the “phenomenon” of Alexander the Great and the dawn of the Hellenistic Age, provided the impetus to the ideas of Euhemerus, and that Euhemerus brought this Sicilian contribution to bear on the new problems of the wider world.

A History of Lost Tablets
L. Roman

This study examines a recurrent scenario in Roman poetry of the first-person genres: the separation of the poet from his writing tablets. Catullus' tablets are stolen (c.42); Propertius' are lost (3.23); Ovid's (Am. 1.11–12) are consigned to disuse and decay by their disappointed owner. Martial, who does not reproduce the specific narrative of loss, nonetheless engages with the tradition of lost tablets from within the fiction of festive gift-exchange in his Apophoreta (14.1–21): rather than losing or rejecting the tablets, he gives them away to guests/readers at his Saturnalian party. I argue that the representation of writing tablets and their loss is involved in the production of authorial presence. The scene of lost tablets demonstrates how the poet retains the capacity for poetic speech even when deprived of the aid of his material medium. The ostensibly accidental and sometimes lamented loss of the poet's tablets thus contributes to a sophisticated strategy of authorial self-representation. The tablets do not so much stand for the literary text as provide a focus for metapoetic concerns with voice and writing, author and text, presence and absence, immortal ingenium and expendable materia. Examination of the shifting representation of writing tablets from Catullus to Martial will provide insight into the invention of the Roman poetic author.

In TAPA 136.2 (inter alia; more to come):

Mitchell-Boyask, Robin, The Marriage of Cassandra and the Oresteia: Text, Image, Performance

In this paper I seek, first, to re-examine the bridal imagery surrounding Cassandra in Aeschylus's Agamemnon, and, second, to suggest how iconography, and its relationship to performance, can connect this scene's concerns more thoroughly with the two successive dramas of the Oresteia. Cassandra's language casts her as the bride of Apollo, in contrast to the staging of her entrance as Agamemnon's bride. Other aspects of staging, moreover, cast Cassandra as a surrogate for Iphigenia. Attention to language and performance also suggests that Cassandra's cries to Apollo Agyiates are initiated by her perception not of an aniconic stone block, but of a statue of Apollo. My main concern throughout the argument will be the effect of Cassandra's relationship with Apollo on the action of the Oresteia as a whole.

Grethlein, Jonas, The Unthucydidean Voice of Sallust

Since antiquity, Sallust has been said to have modeled his historiography after Thucydides. Focusing on the voice of the narrator, this article draws attention to an aspect that distinguishes Sallust from Thucydides and reminds us more of Herodotus. While Thucydides's narrative seems to unravel itself, Sallust makes his presence as narrator strongly felt by first-person interventions and expressions of uncertainty (I). Moreover, he integrates other voices at the extradiegetic level (II). These features of Sallust's voice give his account a strong mimetic aspect, underscore his reliability and engage the readers in the "act of reading."

aerie @ Merriam-Webster

approbation @
From YLE:

Nova victima veneficorum
08.12.2006, klo 10.16

Jegor Gaidar, olim primus minister Russiae, mense Novembri (24.11.) in Irlandia in morbum insolitum incidit.

Cum Dublini novum librum, quem scripserat, praesentabat, repente male se habere coepit. Medici, qui eum curabant, censebant eum verisimiliter consulto venenatum esse, quia nulla causa naturalis intoxicationis inventa esset.

Acta diurna Russica, quibus nomen est Kommersant, iudicaverunt venenationem Gaidaris cum morte speculatoris Alexandri Litvinenko et redactricis Annae Politkovskaja cohaerere.

Ille venenatione radioactiva affectus post longam agoniam Londinii periit, haec glandibus pistolii transfixa Moscuae in vestibulo domus ipsius occisa est.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

Brief item from MPT:

Macedonian shields from the 2nd century B.C., found near Prilep village Bonce, were gifts for the Gods, says archeologist Dragi Mitrevski. The archaeologists have also found ceramics, a knife and pots.
“We were not familiar with the context of the site. We did not know whether the items were part of a house or a tomb, but now we have solved the mystery. The shields and the other items were buried in a ditch as gifts for the Gods”, Mitrevski explains.
Six parts of the shields are held in the Administration for Cultural Heritage Protection, while the rest are in the Bureau for Protection of Cultural Monuments and Museum in Prilep. Now the two institutions will have to make arrangements for the shields’ conservation.
From Iranmania:

An Iranian archeologist has claimed that he found evidence supporting claims that the Greek conqueror Alexander of Macedonia had flooded the ancient city of Hegmataneh, or modern day Hamedan, as a means of breaking the city’s defenses.

Mehdi Aqakhani wrote in an article that the contention cannot be denied since it is also backed up by accounts attributed to an Assyrian king, reported ISNA.

According to the legend, after Alexander of Macedonia failed to capture of the city of Hegmataneh, he sent a map of the city to the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle seeking his advice on how to overrun the city. Aristotle advised Alexander to build a dam six kilometers from Hamedan city and then, after a year, break the dam and channel the water toward the city. In this way the city can be captured.

Aqakhani pointed out that the claim is supported by the presence of layers of sand in the northern section of Hegmataneh hills. A thick sedimentary layer was discovered during the 15th round of excavations in Hegmataneh hills which serves as evidence that the city was indeed flooded before being captured.

Hegmataneh will be more familiar to Classics types as Ecbatana ... I've never heard of this story before.
We first mentioned this a while back, but the Bulgarian press refuses to let it go ... from the Sofia Echo:

An article accusing Bulgarians of looting their own historical heritage published in National Geographic magazine in December 2006 caused dispute between Bulgarian archaeologists.

The article called Bulgaria's Gold Rush said that poverty turned Bulgarians into treasure hunters looting Thracian tombs throughout the country.

Collapse of the Soviet Union affected Bulgarian economy, hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs and some of them are still unemployed, the article said. Those who have jobs, earn nearly $200 a month. Many Bulgarians had taken up looting to earn a living.

Georgi Kitov, one of Bulgaria's most prominent archaeologists agreed with the article. Bulgarian authorities had to read the article and introduce measures against the treasure hunters, Kitov told Focus news agency. Treasure hunting had to be banned and associated with a prison sentence.

The article accuses Kitov of threatening cultural heritage by using excavators and bulldozers. Kitov agreed but said that his working methods were safe for the remains.

Another prominent archaeologist, Nikolai Ovcharov, said that the article showed lack of respect for Bulgarian archaeology. Such article should show the achievements together with the problems, he told Focus.

The author failed to understand how much efforts Bulgarians were putting into preserving their heritage, according to Ovcharov.

Bulgaria had to legalise private collections, museums and auctions in order to control the antiques exchange, he said.

National Museum of History's chief Bozhidar Dimitrov told Focus that Bulgaria needed strong police and judicial system to cope with treasure hunting.

Not sure when this piece from the IHT was written (in relation to that which follows):

Pooling their resources and diplomatic clout, Greece and Italy plan to forge a formal alliance to pursue the return of ancient artifacts from museums in the United States and Europe, the Greek culture minister has said.

The agreement, which he expects to complete in early 2007, would cement recent collaboration between the two countries as both pursue increasingly muscular campaigns to get back prized Greek and Roman antiquities. Greece especially is focusing on recovering the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

Outlining the strategy in an interview last week in New York, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said Greece wanted to benefit from the Italians' growing expertise in tracking antiquities and mixing carrot-and-stick diplomacy with criminal prosecutions.

"The Italians are very well organized — very, very well organized," Voulgarakis said. "Every country has its own policy and priorities, but we can help each other."

[The J. Paul Getty Museum announced Monday that it would return to Greece two ancient works of art that Greece claims were illegally spirited out of the country, The Associated Press reported from Athens.

[Greece claims the works — a gold wreath dating from about 400 B.C. and a sixth century B.C. marble statue of a young woman — were illegally excavated and spirited out of the country.

[It was unclear if the return would stop a Greek criminal investigation over the alleged theft of the wreath. Italy also has been seeking the return of several antiquities it claims the Getty obtained illegally.]

In late November, Greek prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation of Marion True, the former antiquities curator at the Getty, focusing on her involvement in acquiring the wreath for the museum.

And last week, Greek officials sent the Getty a new dossier of evidence, including documents and photographs, to support their claim for the wreath, whose place of excavation had previously been unclear.

Italian officials have, meanwhile, indicated that they were prepared to drop their own separate claim for the stone statue, which was among 52 objects that Italy requested from the Getty last January. The conflicting claims had previously posed a potential barrier to the object's return to Athens. (In November, the Getty unilaterally decided to return 26 of the 52 objects to Italy after talks between the two sides broke down.)

For countries seeking to claim antiquities in foreign collections and museums, the threat of legal action has become an important tool.

In 2004, Italian prosecutors indicted True on charges of conspiring to import looted artifacts, and in recent weeks Italian officials have made it clear that the outcome of her continuing trial in Rome could depend in part on the Getty's willingness to meet the Culture Ministry's demands.

Voulgarakis stressed that the Greek judiciary was independent of the government and that his talks with the Getty and other museums did not hinge on any legal proceedings in progress.

The accord between Italy and Greece outlined by Voulgarakis would include provisions for both enforcement and cultural diplomacy.

Because of their common interests and shared classical heritage, he said, the two countries might pursue some claims jointly and then determine which objects should go to which country.
From the Star Tribune:

The J. Paul Getty Museum on Monday settled a decade-old cultural heritage dispute with Greece, agreeing to hand over two ancient treasures that Athens claims were illegally spirited out of the country.

Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis and museum director Michael Brand said they had "reached an agreement in principle on the return" of a gold wreath and a marble bust. A formal agreement will be signed soon, they said in a joint announcement issued in Athens and Los Angeles, where the Getty Museum is located.

The deal comes as antiquities-rich Greece steps up its campaign to reclaim looted artifacts, thousands of which are prominently displayed in museums and collections worldwide.

Voulgarakis said the objects' return — which follows a demand first made in 1995 — would not stop a criminal investigation into the alleged theft of the wreath. Last month, an Athens prosecutor brought charges against "persons unknown," a blanket accusation allowing a magistrate to open a wide-ranging investigation to determine whether anyone should be brought to trial.

"Greek justice is independent" of government intervention, Voulgarakis said.

The fourth century B.C. wreath is decorated with sprays of gold leaves and flowers inlaid with colored glass paste and — according to Greek authorities — was illegally excavated in the province of Macedonia. Designed as a burial gift, it was probably made shortly after the death of the Macedonian warrior-king Alexander the Great.

The marble statue, which lacks its head, lower arms and legs, is of a young woman and is a type widespread in southern Greece and the Aegean Sea islands from the mid-seventh to the late sixth centuries B.C.

In September, the Getty museum returned two ancient sculptures dating to the sixth and the fourth centuries B.C. to Greece, following pressure from Athens. These are on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Voulgarakis said Greece had not committed to any trade-off with the Getty in exchange for the works, but said he "cannot rule out" lending Greek artifacts to the private museum or organizing exhibitions there in the future.

Italy also has been seeking the return of several antiquities it claims the Getty obtained illegally.

Under Italian law, all antiquities found in the country after 1939 must be turned over to the state. Rome signed separate deals this year with New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston's Museum of Fine Arts for the return of a total of 34 artifacts in exchange for loans of other treasures.

But talks with the Getty have so far failed to yield a comprehensive deal. Italy demanded the Getty return at least 47 works, and the museum agreed Nov. 21 to return 26 allegedly looted antiquities— an offer that did not include a highly prized statue of the goddess Aphrodite and a bronze of a victorious athlete. Rome called the offer unilateral and inadequate.

Italy's campaign includes the prosecution of former Getty curator Marion True and art dealer Robert Hecht, who are on trial in Rome for allegedly receiving archaeological treasures stolen from private collections or dug up illicitly. They deny wrongdoing.

... somehow I don't think this is the end ...
Humanum amare est, humanum autem ignoscere est.
(Plautus, Mercator 319)

Pron = hoo-MAH-noom ah-MAH-ray ehst, hoo-MAH-noom OW-tehm ihg-NOS-keh-reh ehst.

It is human to love, but it is also human to forgive.

Comment: This proverb, perhaps, betrays something more than the warm and fuzzy language that comes across in translation. It acknowledges that human relationships include loving and forgiving. The cross fire between love and forgiveness includes something that the proverb does not articulate: judgment.

Where there is no judgment, there is no need for forgiveness. What sort of love includes no judgment, and so, no need for forgiveness?

Love, as human beings frequently practice it, includes judgment. It runs something like this in the silent scripts of our minds: if you love me, you will act in a certain way. I love you, and so you must act in a certain way. When you don't act the way I expect or need, then I am hurt and angry, and you are the cause. I judge you. But, I will forgive you if . . .

And it goes on and on, repeating itself, over and over. This version of love really means I want and expect you to be something for me. It does not include honoring you for who you are. It does not allow that you, in any given moment, are doing the best you can.

But, if that is true, if we are each, in any given moment, doing the best we can, where is the cause for judgment? How can I be guilty if I am doing my best in this moment?

I cannot be judged guilty for doing my best. I can only be found guilty of not being what someone else wants or needs me to be. That judgment, finally, is not about me.

Human beings are capable of this kind of love: honoring the other, as he/she is in this moment, knowing that in this moment he/she is doing the best possible.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive

ante diem iii idus decembres

Agonalia -- the fourth and final occurrence of this festival in the Roman calendar; like all instances, the Rex Sacrorum would sacrifice a ram in the Regia, but on this occasion, the sacrifice was apparently in honour of Sol Indiges.

Septimontium -- a somewhat obscure festival apparently originally only celebrated by the 'montani' (i.e. the 'hill-dwellers') which involved sacrifices on each of Rome's seven hills.

287 -- martyrdom of Fuscian (and others)

302 -- martyrdom of Pontian
centenarian @ Merriam-Webster

jugulate @ Wordsmith

postpositive @ Worthless Word for the Day

ossify @

From YLE:

Kofi Annan: In Iraquia bellum civile
08.12.2006, klo 10.14

In colloquio a societate BBC transmisso Kofi Annan, secretarius generalis Nationum Unitarum, dixit condiciones in Iraquia esse multo peiores quam aliquot annis ante in Libano et aliis terris, in quibus civile bellum gereretur.

Propter violentiam in Iraquia iam minime quinquaginta milia civium mortui sunt.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: De Augusti Pinochet interitu

Latest headlines from Akropolis World News: Bush and Blair talk about Iraq, Seminola indians buy Hard Rock, indian airports under surveillance
From a piece in the latest issue of Time:

So why are we left with such wan and infrequent holidays today? The answer, simply put, is that in one historical setting after another, traditional celebrations were deliberately suppressed. The ancient Roman élite slaughtered worshippers of Dionysus with as much zeal as when, in later years, they went after Christians.

I'm assuming here that the author is referring to the s.c. de bacchanalibus which, in 186 B.C. or thereabouts, suppressed the worship of Dionysus in Rome. But suppression does not equate with "slaughter" and someone really should have checked the evidence on this one. It's readily available on the web, of course, with a nice page at Diotima with translated excerpts from the senatus consultum (the Latin version is available at the Forum Romanum). The relevant description in Livy is also available, with no indication of "slaughter" other than the suicide of some folks for unspecified reasons. I wonder where they got this idea of "slaughter" from ...
10.00 p.m. |HISTU| Lost Worlds: The First Christians
Here's what caught my eye this week:

Irene Hahn had an article on proskynesis, and one on J.B. Bury ...

Can't remember if I had Chris Weimer's Latin version of Paul McCartney's 'Michelle' here yet ...

Ioannis Georganas had a piece on whether Archimedes really did do the Eureka thing in the bath ...

Peter Stothard commented on the avoidance of the term 'civil war' by Caesar ... there's also an item linking turbot, Domitian, and Bush ...

Hobbyblog had its usual assortment this week, closing the week with an interesting one featuring she-wolf and twins ...

If you want to catch up with the Spanish-language Classics blogs, check out Chiron's feedraider page ...

Mischa Hooker has done some useful things to make Google Books more useful for Classicists ...

N.S. Gill had features on Horace and Cronos ...

Michael Gilleland's usual eclectic assortment included items on Planting Trees, some useful words from Latin, a comparison of various translators' approaches to the vanity of man bit from the Odyssey, and some selections to mark Horace's birthday ...

Phil S. hosted the first Patristics Carnival at hyperekperisou ...

Not sure if I've mentioned a new student blog called Classics Reloaded ... worth a look ...

... I've been fiddling with bookmarks this week and probably missed something/someone ... hopefully all will be better next week if that's the case.

Other than that, issue 9.33 of our Explorator newsletter is up at the Yahoo site for those of you who don't subscribe ... the weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings will follow later today, also at its respective Yahoo site (hopefully they show up this week; not sure why they didn't last week)..
Strange one from the Boston Globe:

Producers of the Jean-Paul Sartre play "The Flies" at Brown University will subject the audience to 40,000 fruit flies to bring to life the existentialist work about flies sent to plague the city of Argos in ancient Greece.

Production Workshop, the student-run theater producing the play, built a 10-foot-high by 16-foot by 22-foot "cage" of netting to surround the stage and about 70 audience members, and to keep the flies from infesting the theater.

"There's a sense of containment and quarantine and pestilence, which ties in with the play very well," said James Rutherford, a senior theater arts major who is directing the play.

Rutherford hit on the idea a long time ago, he said, but finally decided to do it when he talked with a friend who studies drosophila fruit flies at Brown's Biomed Center.

She told him it was easy to breed fruit flies, and it was.

They planned to have 30,000 flies at the play's opening Friday, but Rutherford said they got 10,000 extra because the flies reproduced better than anticipated.

The play tells the story of Orestes and Electra, and Rutherford said the flies represent the Greek furies and people's feelings that they are unable to act.

What's it like to be in an enclosed space with 40,000 fruit flies?

"Basically, like a co-op kitchen in the summer," Rutherford said.

Brown required the students to spray the netting with flame retardant to satisfy fire codes, and Rutherford said it was perfectly safe to sit with the bugs for the hour-and-45-minute play.

"They're not drawn to blood or anything, or people or meat. It's like vinegar and grapes and that kind of thing," he said.

Theatergoers know what they're getting into. Rutherford said the flies' presence has been heavily advertised, and anyone who reserves a ticket on a Brown online ticketing service is greeted with a disclosure:

"I am aware that there will be 30,000 live drosophila in the audience area at this production," the message reads, next to a box that must be checked before reserving tickets.

After the production's six-play run ends Monday, the theater will leave the net up and freeze the flies to death by turning down the heat. But Rutherford said people shouldn't feel sorry for them.

"They're vile," he said. "They're really disgusting little creatures."

... judging by the difficulty in getting rid of the darned things from my kitchen at regular intervals, I don't think they've thought this one through ...
Aegroto dum anima est, spes esse dicitur.
(M. Tullius Cicero, Ad Atticum 9.10.3)

pron = ai-GROH-toh doom AH-nee-mah ehst spays EHS-say DIK-ih-toor

It is said that for a sick person, while there is breath, there is hope.

Comment: On December 7 43 BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero was murdered.
His head and hands were severed from his body and stuck on poles in the public square for all to see what happens to those who oppose change. The politics that brought Cicero to his violent death are too complex to discuss here. It is interesting to note, though, on this anniversary of is death, Cicero's own notion, written to his friend Atticus, of the hope for change in a human life.

While there is breath, there is hope. While there is breath, there is possibility. While there is breath, this breath, this breath I am taking in and letting go of right now, there is all of the power of this present moment. And I can choose to be in this moment, or to squander it on worry or guilt, the future or the past. There may be many things about which I have little or no choice, but I can choose to be in this breath. I can choose to be here, now.

So, if I can be here, now, in this breath, I really don't need to hope. I am. Hope is future talk. Regret is past talk. Being, here, now. That's the power of this breath that I am breathing.

What am I doing with today, while I have breath?

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
Nice feature/reviewish thing in Athens News:

HALF a century ago this year the cracker of the Knossos code, Michael Ventris, died. The distinguished British anthropologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler said of him: "He died like all geniuses at the age of 34." Ventris (1922-1956) radically changed the world's views on when the Greek language was born.

The story starts in 1900 with Arthur Evans excavating Knossos in Crete and finding clay tablets marked with indecipherable signs. He called the script 'Linear B' to distinguish it from Linear A - whose ideographic code is still uncracked - and decided that it could not be Greek. Minoan Crete - which lasted from 2500BC until 1400BC - had, he insisted, nothing whatever to do with the civilisation of mainland Greece that succeeded it. The existence of alloglot (speaking a different language) Cretans is even attested by Homer who wrote in The Odyssey:

Out in the middle of the wine-dark sea there is a land called Crete, washed by the sea on every side; and in it are many peoples and ninety cities. There, one language mingles with another... Among the cities is Knossos...

In his fascinating biography The Man Who Deciphered Linear B, Andrew Robinson describes how Michael Ventris, at the age of 14, first came across the puzzle that would dominate his short life. He and some schoolfriends visited an exhibition of Greek and Minoan art at Burlington House in London. By chance Evans was there and he volunteered to show the boys around the exhibition. Michael, the youngest of the party, intrigued, said: "Did you say the tablets have not as yet been deciphered sir?" "Yes," answered Evans. Fourteen years later Ventris cracked the code with the help of John Chadwick, a professional scholar, who explained the whole story in his book The Decipherment of Linear B, published in 1958.

Ventris had a head start in matters linguistic. His half-Polish mother taught him her native language; he also went to school in Switzerland for two years and thus from a tender age became fluent in English, French, German and Polish. His family background was less than happy, a fact that weighed heavily on his short life. His father - British in spite of his foreign-sounding surname - was an officer in the Indian army who retired early because of tuberculosis that killed him in 1938. The young Michael was deeply affected by his parents' divorce when he was 13 and even more so by his mother's suicide when he was barely an adult. Robertson portrays the young Michael as very bright, fascinated by all things cryptic, timid, gentle and unconventional, with a wayward sense of humour and somewhat forlorn at times. The dominant influence on him came from his mother whose social circle included the architect Marcel Breuer, the sculptor Naum Gabo and the painter Ben Nicolson.

After school, Ventris trained as an architect but never ceased to battle with the Linear B challenge. In order to explain how he succeeded where many a classical scholar had failed, Robinson suggests that Ventris was not only free of prejudices but was also blessed with the gift - useful to architect and decipherer - of understanding the underlying structures of complex patterns, of how to solve problems within narrow constraints and how to be as meticulous and thorough as necessary in order "to combine the functional with the visible".

The first hurdle Ventris had to overcome concerned the language written in the Linear B script. With no "Rosetta stone" - conveniently carved in 196BC in Egypt in three scripts (Hieroglyphic, Egyptian demotic and Greek) - to help the decipherer, Linear B remained an enigma. Hittite, Etruscan, even Basque were mooted as possible languages while most classicists ruled Greek out. The reason was the accepted belief that Greek - the earliest Indo-European language and script - emerged for the first time in the eighth century BC with Homer's Iliad. Then in 1939 Carl Blegen, an American archaeologist, found 600 tablets in Linear B in the Peloponnese on mainland Greece in the ancient palace of Pylos.

The next development that pushed Ventris in the right direction was the discovery by the American scholar Alice Kober - who studied the Linear B tablets closely between 1943 and 1950 - that the ending of the words changed in a predictable way. This meant that the language was inflected, as Greek is. Ventris tried first to squeeze as much information as possible from internal study before trying out any languages to see if they fitted. He concluded that the script was syllabic - each symbol representing a consonant plus vowel combination. This form differs both from an ideographic script in which one symbol represents one word - such as Chinese with its thousands of characters - and from an alphabetic script such as English in which a small number of characters represent the sounds that make up words. In 1952 Ventris tried out an idea that seemed revolutionary at the time: He assumed that certain words in the Knossos tablets might be place names. He then substituted his experimental phonetic values for the signs and found himself reading the familiar names of Cretan towns in Greek.

Thus in 1953, Robinson tells us, three important things happened. The structure of DNA was explained, Mount Everest was climbed and Ventris broke the Linear B code. His discovery did not reveal any new Homeric epics, only palatial business, but it showed that 14th century BC Crete was administered by Greek-speaking monarchs, a complete reversal of received opinion. Ventris died three years later when he drove his car into a lorry. Did he commit suicide because he could not face going back to architecture having run out of a major purpose in life? Some think so.
News from Holy Cross:

Four Holy Cross classics majors are tackling a project of epic proportions.

William Dolan ’10, Michael Kinney ’10, Katherine Schmieg ’09, and Patrick Walsh ’09 have been selected to serve a crucial role in the pioneering preservation of the world’s most important works of literature. They are working during the 2006-07 academic year with their professors on the Homer Multitext Project, a long-term analysis and electronic presentation of all the many variations of Homer’s epic poetry. As the newest Homer Multitext Fellows, their contributions will join those of classical scholars at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Furman University, the University of Houston, and several other colleges and universities.

The project is unusual in several respects, not the least of which is its electronic component. The epic poetry of Homer was originally passed on orally, taking on a slightly different form every time it was told. The work of these scholars involves examining all references and sources in all Homeric variations. When complete, every element connected to the original Homeric poetry will be available in a digital format so scholars and general readers alike will be able to experience much more than reading the plain text on a page.

“We’re putting all the components of Homeric epic as it survives today — in medieval manuscripts, shredded scrolls from the sands of Egypt, the remnants of ancient scholarship on Homer, even vase paintings from Athens — into a single framework, to let them ‘talk’ to each other directly,” explains Jack Mitchell, assistant professor of classics at Holy Cross and one of the editors of the Multitext Project. “This is why it’s called a ‘multitext’— we want as much variety as possible.”

The Holy Cross Fellows have a specific assignment involving the Iliad, working with assistant professor Mary Ebbott and associate professor D. Neel Smith. “What we are doing is using the apparati critici of the text — that is, the very small, dense and exhaustive system of abbreviated footnotes on the sources and variants of different words and phrases that appear in the different papyri and codices,” explains William Dolan. “We’ll use this information to reconstruct the four oldest codices and their texts of the Iliad.”

The Homer Multitext Fellows from Holy Cross have taken on this task, consisting of a minimum of five hours each week, in addition to a full course load. Also, because the fellows have each been assigned a partner, with whom they must work, they need to find overlapping time in their schedules in which to work.

This process will provide students with a unique experience, one that many graduate students in the classics may never encounter.

“We are finding out first-hand the results of oral transmission and the problems it poses for those of us further down the line,” says Patrick Walsh, explaining that as the epics were passed down orally, there were substantial changes depending on the opinions and attitudes of those who told the stories, as well as those who heard them. The work of these scholars will be to help others to understand these variations, as well as to create a source from which one may come to understand the original intentions of Homer in his epics and see how over the decades, others have interpreted and varied the epics.

Professor Ebbott has been involved with the Multitext Project from the very beginning; forming crucial relationships with classics departments at other universities. Professor Smith’s contributions to the project include digitizing the work being done by the fellows and for the project in general. “He is an extraordinary polymath, at home with Homer and with the Internet,” said Professor Mitchell.

Holy Cross fellows will have completed their portion of the project concerning the Iliad by the end of the 2006-2007 academic year, according to Professor Mitchell. However, the project in its entirety will be in progress for the duration of the decade, expanding to include more Homeric epic material and information to illuminate the work.
Interesting article from UH's quarterly mag:

Ancient Rome is now in vogue. The popular television series produced by the BBC and HBO has stirred interest in many of the viewers about how the Romans really lived. Public libraries receive numerous queries on the subject every day. Interest in the topic is in fact so wide that one librarian thought it best to contact Paavo Castrén, a professor emeritus in classical philology, for advice.

Castrén was just the man to help. He has headed the Expeditio Pompeiana Universitatis Helsingiensis (EPUH), the Pompeii Project of the University of Helsinki, for five years, leading the group’s investigative work on Pompeian excavations. This September, Castrén also published his book Pompejilaisia kohtaloita, ‘Pompeian Lives’, later probably to be published in English and Italian.

“Fictive films and books about ancient Rome are good for our cause, as they capture people’s interest and make them ask questions. The series should, however, be watched as entertainment, not as a historical documentary,” says Castrén.

Despite the welcome attention, Castrén is frustrated by the sensationalism in fiction about Rome. “Many details could just as easily be correct, if only the makers could be bothered to check. It is as if our history today were one day to be written based on tabloid headlines alone,” he says.

Castrén’s own book is “90 per cent fact and 10 per cent fiction”. It tells the stories of a freedman’s daughter who becomes a famous actress and of a reckless youth growing into a responsible mayor, and describes the everyday life of Marcus Lucretius, a cavalry officer of the city and a priest of Mars. All the characters are real people who lived in Pompeii; the House of Marcus Lucretius is the very site that the EPUH group is investigating.

“I have written about things as they could have been,” Castrén says. “The marriages and deaths I describe are realistic but fiction in as much as there is no historical evidence of them. My aim was to give as truthful an image as possible of the lives of people living during the classical period without sensationalising it, to show that even this can be interesting.”
Exhibition and book

More information about the real lives of the ancient Pompeians will be available to the public in February 2008, when the Amos Anderson Art Museum opens its exhibition on the results of the excavation. The exhibition will display a 3D virtual model of the House of Marcus Lucretius, findings of the Finnish group and objects to be loaned from the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

Next year, the EPUH group will also produce a scientific publication on the excavations, including contributions from the students who have worked on the site. Each year, the EPUH has employed third- or fourth-year students.

“This is the best training the students can have. The international evaluation of the University commended us for allowing students to train in Pompeii. It has also proved a sound principle that students should write their first international publication under the supervision of senior researchers,” says Castrén.
Making way for the new generation

After the exhibition and the publication, Castrén has decided to retire from heading the project. The insula, or city block, allocated to the Finnish group will provide work for researchers for at least another ten years.

“I have to give way to the new generation. My job has been first and foremost to network and build contacts for the group. I have 45 years’ experience in working in Pompeii, and many of the archaeological group leaders used to be my fellow students when we were young,” Castrén says.

Pompeii is a cosmopolitan working environment. There are archaeologists from at least fifteen different countries working there. Finns have close relations particularly with their Swedish, Italian, Dutch and German colleagues. In addition to research teams, the place swarms with tourists.

“We try to keep the flag flying for the Univer-sity of Helsinki. Although the project now involves others, it was originally based on an initiative of the University of Helsinki, and it would probably have come to nothing were it not for the Rector’s wise decision to grant us start-up funding for the first three years,” says Castrén.

In addition to his recent book, Castrén’s Finnish translation of De agri cultura (On Farming), by Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder, came out this September. It has a wealth of interesting information on the everyday lives of the people in the Roman Republic, including complete ham-curing instructions and praise for cabbage which reveals how cabbage can be used both internally and externally for one’s health.

Paavo Castrén: Pompeian Lives

During the reign of the Emperor Nero, the Pompeians often had the pleasure of seeing performances by Paris, “who was Nero’s favourite pantomimist. Admittedly, he was the best, and he was also very aware of his talent. A philosopher had once ventured to say to Paris that music was the single most important thing in the art of pantomime and that a performance without music could not exist. Paris is said to have responded by performing a scene portraying the adultery of Aphrodite and Ares, without music, with such conviction that it left little room for the imagination.

When Paris and his entourage and orchestra arrived in Pompeii, the whole town came out to see them. Those who organised the shows had made sure to put up advertisements along the streets and in neighbouring towns weeks earlier and many private individuals had scratched graffiti into walls in praise of the great artist. The most ardent supporters of Paris had formed an unofficial society, called the Paridiani. Paris performed both in the square and in the large theatre, where spectators had begun to assemble hours before the performance. He usually stayed at the house of the organising official, who was proud to be able to provide lodgings for such a notable guest and the Emperor’s favourite. In the meantime, the orchestra and their assistants carried instruments to the venue, while the choir practised in the smaller, covered theatre. When the show eventually began, it started off with performances by young, lesser-known artists, building suspense and excitement before Paris’s grand entrance.

Using my mother’s connections, I sometimes managed to see the rehearsals and even actual performances, and once I was fortunate enough to be allowed to watch Paris prepare for the show. He had numerous assistants in his dressing room, as well as a vast selection of women’s and men’s costumes, hanging on stands so that he could quickly and easily change into a new one during the performance. The clothes were luxurious, colourful and probably terribly expensive. Paris would sit by his dressing table, watching himself in the mirror as his assistants fitted wigs and masks on him. He seemed to get into his various roles by occasionally standing up and taking tentative dance steps, donning a flowing piece of costume while he did so. It was said that he went on concentrating like this for hours, and all the assistants had to be completely still the whole time – unless a flautist had to rehearse the musical themes of the performance with the master.
Rescue operation

The EPUH group has been allocated a city block of 3,500 square metres, comprising the patrician house of Marcus Lucretius, a laundry, a couple of bakeries, shops and plebeian houses. The investigations of the Lucretius house are now complete.

Although one-third of Pompeii is still buried in ash, the investigations are targeted at the buildings partly excavated as long as 150 years ago. There is no time to be wasted, since the weather and time severely damage the ruins.

According to Professor Castrén, there is no sense in starting new excavations until the exposed ones have been properly investigated. “The above-ground structures are at the risk of dilapidation due to exposure to wind and rain. In the course of the past five years alone, significant erosion has taken place. One can only imagine what the previous 150 years have done.”

Besides wind and rain, Pompeii is also constantly under the threat of a new volcanic eruption. Vesuvius, which erupted in 79 AD destroying Pompeii, has since spewed lava or ashes at regular intervals, the last time being in 1944. The next eruption can happen any time.

The race against time has roused the Italians to welcome international assistance. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when Castrén was working on his doctorate, the authorities were more protective of Pompeii, and it was difficult to obtain research permits for the site. This attitude changed only in the mid-1990s.
Hard labour

There are currently some twenty Finns working in Pompeii. They have been organised into four groups. The archaeological group is studying the structures to determine which are the original building parts and which parts are later additions. They have also conducted minor excavations below the 79 BC street level and into layers inside the buildings that have not previously been touched.

The wall painting group studies and copies murals, while the survey group takes measurements and draws maps, and the photographer circulates around the site documenting all the stages of the work. Castrén’s task is to find out who the people living in the city block were. His sources include election advertisements on the walls and seals and graffiti discovered in the dwellings.

The EPUH group usually embarks on an excavation trip in May or September, this year in both. In the summer months it is too hot, and in the winter too cold and dark. “The excavation work is actually really tough; sometimes I wonder how my young colleagues manage. Basically you crouch at the bottom of the dig under the scorching sun all day. Still, many people keep contacting us, wishing to join the excavations. I am not sure that they have any idea what the work is really like,” Castrén says.

The archaeologists are not even dreaming of ever happening on any real treasures, but well-preserved waste mounds are valuable finds. Finns have discovered a toilet pit in their city block, into which food scraps had also been thrown. Contained in an anaerobic space, the heap gives clues about the ancient Pompeian diet.
Here's a new one (for me, anyway) ... from the Meadville Tribune:

We celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 each year, but is that really Jesus’ birthday?

Probably not. We celebrate Christmas on that day because Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor, declared it in the year A.D. 320. Scholars believe he did this because Christians were already celebrating Christ’s birthday on that date, the Roman holiday Saturnalia, to avoid persecution.

In fact, the Bible may teach that Jesus was born on the first day of the Jewish festival called The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths). John 1:14 says Jesus came and “tabernacled” with us – literally “pitched his tent with us”. The Feast of Tabernacles was a Jewish holiday that celebrated “God coming and dwelling with us”. It begins on the Jewish date Tishri 15. It celebrates Moses’ building God a tent in the desert.

During this joyous, seven-day celebration, the Jews go outside and live in tents (booths) to remind them that God is with us and that this earth is not our true home.

The Feast of Tabernacles holiday is called the “Season of our Joy” and the Angel told the shepherds, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be to all people.” The holiday is also called “The Feast of Nations”, because it was to be celebrated by all peoples after the Messiah came.

In his book, The Birth of Yeshua During Sukkot, writer Eddie Chumney says the swaddling cloths that Mary wrapped Jesus in even give a clue. During the Feast of Tabernacles, strips of cloths were used to light the 16 vats of oil in the court of women. Even the word “manger” is the same word used for “booth” in the Old Testament. (Genesis 33:17)

The Bible says Jesus was circumcised on the “eighth day”. This was Jesus’ eighth day, yes, but it is also the name of a day on the calendar, called Shemini Atzeret, which is the day after the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles. That’s why Chumney believes Jesus was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

But that’s not all. The Magi were probably Jews from Babylon who had remained there since Nebuchadnezzar captured them. They continued the Jewish traditions and during the Feast of Tabernacles would have stayed out in tents. The tents had a hole in the ceiling so you could see the star of the Messiah!

There’s even more evidence. The Bible says John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus. Zecheriah, John the Baptist’s father, was in the division of Abijah. Chumney says they were in the temple in the 10th week of each Jewish year. You can add nine months from then and see that John the Baptist was born in the spring – during Passover. To this day, the Jews put a plate out for Elijah during their Passover dinner because he is prophesied to return before the Messiah. Jesus said John was the return of Elijah and fulfilled that prophecy when he was born.

Also, shepherds slept out with their sheep during lambing season – spring and fall, not winter.

If all of this is true, Jesus was born on Tishri 15, 1 B.C. Why the year 1 B.C.? Because Luke says Jesus turned 30 15 years after the Coronation of Tiberius Caesar which was on August 19, of A.D. 14 (Luke 3:1). Further, new evidence has proven that Quirinus was governor in Syria until 1 B.C. When Ukranian Monk Dionysius Exignus set the calendar we still use, he used the January after Jesus’ birth as 1 A.D. (There is no year zero.)

Scholars have long stated that Jesus must have been born between 6 and 4 B.C. because of writings from Jewish historian Josephus stating that an eclipse occurred shortly before the death of Herod the Great. Now we know that another eclipse occurred on Dec. 29 of 1 B.C. Many scholars now believe Herod died sometime in 1 or 2 A.D.

When, then, is Jesus’ real birthday? According to a Jewish calendar conversion program, he was born on Saturday, Sept. 30, 1 B.C.

It being Friday and me testing my new podmaker with decent coffee for my Melitta pod machine, I poked around the internet for other suggestions for the 'real date' of Jesus' birth. So here's the beginning of a list:

September 29, 5 B.C.

Some time in April of 5 B.C.

... others?
Sine pennis volare haud facile est.

pron= SEE-nay PEHN-nees woh-LAH-ray -howd FAH-kih-lay ehst.

Without wings it is not easy to fly.

Comment: Pay attention. It is not impossible to fly without wings--just not easy. This proverb makes me think that anonymous was a teacher--or anyone else who on a regular basis must have a "plan b" on a moment's notice.

What is needed, today, to do what you need to do? Wings? And what if you don't have wings? Find another way. The other way will not come through what is at hand, what resources appear to be available. The other way will come through your imagination. Imagination is the magic resident within every human being.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
ante diem vi idus decembres

Rites in honour of Tiberinus and Gaia -- not a lot is known about these rites; Tiberinus had a temple on the Tiber island and presided over the Tiber (of course); Gaia seems to have originally given the Campus Martius (a.k.a. Campus Tiberinus) to the Roman people.

65 B.C. -- birth of the poet Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)
Interesting news from WQAD:

A dean of the humanities division at the University of Chicago has been elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board.
Danielle Allen is a professor in Chicago's departments of political science and the classics. She has degrees from Princeton, Harvard and the University of Cambridge.

The Pulitzer Prizes will be announced on April 16th and presented in May at a ceremony at Columbia University. Columbia awards the prizes in journalism, literature, music and drama after their determination by the 19-member Pulitzer board.

Pulitzer board members serve a maximum of nine years.
logocentrism @ Worthless Word for the Day

interstice @
From YLE:

Cometes periculosus
08.12.2006, klo 10.13

Grex meteororum, qui originem habere videtur in stella crinita antea ignota, ab astronomo voluptario Finno, cui nomen Jarmo Moilanen, visus est.

Situs illius cometae, qui gregem meteororum creavit, nondum compertus est.

Nihilominus in classem quinque cometarum describitur, qui cometae periodi longae nominati Telluri periculosissimi habentur.

Orbitae enim illorum prope Tellurem sitae sunt et facile mutantur, quia perturbationibus gravitationis sunt expositae.

Periculum quidem collisionis exstat, sed mathematice aestimantibus est minimum.

Novus grex cometarum nomen invenit Camelopardalides, nam punctum radiationis prope constellationem Camelopardalis haud procul a Stella boreali iacet.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: Polonio plures, quam antea putabatur, veneficio Londinii affectos esse.
From PhysOrg comes this one which I'm still digesting:

Roman emperors had to implement drastic reforms in the third century. In order to retain their position of power in this turbulent period they developed an emperor ideology. With this they increasingly laid claim to their dynastic and godly position, says Dutch researcher Janneke de Jong. Using Greek papyrus texts she investigated how the power of Roman emperors was presented and received in Egypt, at that time a Roman province.

De Jong analysed about two-hundred Greek papyrus texts from a digital database containing 4500 documents. Examples are edicts, contracts, petitions, administrative correspondence and censuses. In the third century, Greek was the administrative language in the eastern part of the Roman Empire.

Many ancient texts are dated according to the regnal year of the current emperor, who was referred to by his name and/or titles. De Jong noticed a change in the form of legitimisation the emperors’ power position in the titles. The emperors increasingly emphasised their dynastic position by referring to their sons and future successors in the titles. They also increasingly laid claim to godly support.

'Good' emperors were deified after their deaths (consecratio), which is indicated in the titles by addition of the word 'god'. 'Bad' emperors were banished from the memory (damnatio memoriae), which meant that their names and titles had to be deleted from documents and their portrayals had to be destroyed. According to De Jong some emperors used this practice to strengthen their own position of power, and both phenomena occur in third-century papyri.

De Jong believes that the texts reflect a development in the emperor ideology that was a response to other events in the Roman Empire. The third century was a period of crisis and transformation in the history of the empire. The borders were threatened and there were monetary, socioeconomic and religious tensions. During the second half of the third century, in particular, there was a rapid succession of emperors during civil wars and revolts.

With emperor Diocletian, who came to power in 284, a degree of peace seemed to return. Diocletian and his successors implemented a range of reforms in, for example, the governing system and the army. Also in the presentation of emperorship a change can be perceived. Since the first emperor, Augustus, Roman emperors had drawn upon dynastic, military and religious legitimisation when presenting their position of power.

This was an indispensable device for an emperor to legitimise his position of power and demonstrate that he was the right man for the job. From Diocletian onwards, the position of emperor clearly acquired a different character: the emperor became more of an absolute monarch and ruled by the grace of god. According to De Jong this explains the change in the presentation of the emperor's position.
12.00 p.m. |DTC| Secrets of the Colosseum
Visit the ruins of this massive triumph of Roman building and
engineering for clues to its ingenious design. Built in a remarkably
short span of 10 years, the structure combined travertine stone,
iron, concrete, brick and lava rocks from nearby Vesuvius.

DTC - Discovery Times Channel
ante diem vii idus decembres

424 B.C. -- accession of Darius II (according to one reckoning)

424 B.C. -- battle of Amphipolis (according to one reckoning)

424 B.C. -- battle of Delium (according to one reckoning)

43 B.C. -- death of Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero) as he half-heartedly fled the proscription of Marcus Antonius et al.

1985 -- death of Robert Graves (I Claudius, among others)
From BMCR:

Eric Osborn, Clement of Alexandria.

P. van Nuffelen, Un héritage de paix et de piété. Étude sur les histoires ecclésiastiques de Socrate et Sozomène. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 142.

From Scholia:

Waldemar Heckel, Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great: Prosography of Alexander's Empire

parse @ Merriam-Webster

ambrosia @ Wordsmith

haplography @ Worthless Word for the Day

sartorial @

The Classics Technology Centre has a list of Musician words ...
From YLE:

Conventus UE et Russiae
30.11.2006, klo 16.57

Septimana vergente in urbe Helsinki conventus Unionis Europaeae et Russiae habitus est, cui etiam praesidens Russiae Vladimir Putin interfuit.

Ille coetus quidem multis rationibus spem fefellisse dicitur, sed in hoc successum habuit, quod inter utramque partem convenit, ut societates aeronauticae Unionis Europaeae permissu Russorum super Sibiriam posthac paulatim gratis volarent.

Maximum tempus in quaestionibus ad energiam pertinentibus consumebatur, sed de iis nihil novi decretum est.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: De commutatione apud Fidzienses (Fiji)

Latest headlines from Akropolis World News: 12 million euros without heir, Chavez wins elections, more about Judas
9.00 p.m. |HISTU| Seven Wonders of the World
The Great Pyramid of Giza, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Statue of
Zeus at Olympia, Colossus of Rhodes, Temple of Artemis, Hanging
Gardens of Babylon, and the Pharos of Alexandria. Of the Seven
Wonders, only the Great Pyramid remains. Why did ancient scholars
select these sites? What can the crumbled remains say about those who
built them?

11.00 p.m. |HINT| Roman Babies
In 1988 a team was excavating the site of the Roman settlement on
the outskirts of modern day Leiden in Holland when they come across
the graves of 90 infants. Archaeologist Liesbeth Smits initially
considers infanticide, but they had been buried with care, making
this theory unlikely. X-rays reveal that they did not undergo any
physical trauma. Then, using radio-isotoping, lead is found in the
babies' bones. Smits inspects the artifacts found on the excavation
site and stumbles across a lead eating pot. If they had eaten from
pots like these the dangerous metal would have passed into their

HISTU - History Channel (US)

HINT - History International
Vitium est omnia credere, vitium nihil credere.

Pron = WIH-tee-oom ehst OHM-nee-ah KRAY-deh-reh WIH-tee-oom NEE-hill KRAY-deh-reh

It is a vice to believe in everything, and a vice to believe in nothing.

Comment: This proverb asks us to find some place between extremes:
the extreme of the gullible who believe everything and the extreme of the cynical who believe nothing. I will throw one more distinction into the mix. The Latin word "credere" can be translated both as "to believe" and as "to trust". I am not convinced that belief in anything is necessary. To be asked to believe something requires me to accept as real and true a thing for which there is no evidence, no relationship and no experience. Further, with regard to religious or nationalistic "beliefs", I am being asked to accept someone else's judgment on a thing without my own evidence, relationship or experience.

Trust may be a little different in that it implies a relationship, and
that adds an element to the human experience that belief does not.
Within a relationship with a human being or with nature, even, I will have my own experiences and evidence for deciding whether to trust or not. It is still a precarious thing, though. My trust may be violated. My experiences may be painful. But the evidence will be mine, and then I may navigate in life who and what to trust, who and what not to trust.

And that leaves some place between trusting everyone (dangerously
gullible) and trusting no one (dangerously isolated).

The wisdom of this proverbs advises us to avoid both extremes.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive

From the Stanford Report:

University of Chicago Provost Richard P. Saller will be the next dean of Stanford's School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S), President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy announced today.

Saller will succeed Sharon Long, who announced earlier this year she would return to teaching after completing her term as dean. His appointment is effective April 1, 2007.

"Richard Saller has displayed both exceptional talent as provost and astute intelligence as a scholar of the humanities at the University of Chicago," Hennessy said. "He comes to Stanford at a time of particular significance for H&S and the entire university, given the critical role of the humanities and sciences in everything the university does. We are extraordinarily pleased that he will join us in these efforts."

Etchemendy called Saller "one of the most respected leaders in higher education."

"At Chicago, he was a renowned dean of the Social Sciences, and is a visionary and beloved provost," Etchemendy said. "Stanford is honored that he has agreed to lead Stanford's School of Humanities and Sciences, our university's heart and soul."

Saller said he looked forward to the challenges of the new job.

"The opportunity to work with Stanford's faculty and administration to lead the world in research and teaching in the 21st century is irresistible," he said.

Members of the search committee were "enormously impressed" with Saller's thoughtfulness and the experience he gained as provost at the University of Chicago, according to the committee co-chair Robert Simoni.

"His experience at Chicago so closely parallels the committee's view of the needs of the school that he was the committee's clear recommendation and will provide the leadership the school needs going forward," said Simoni, the Donald Kennedy Chair in the School of Humanities and Sciences and a professor of biological sciences. "The committee considered several superb internal candidates but none matched Richard's leadership experience and success. We will have a wonderful new colleague."

Carolyn Lougee Chappell, who also served on the committee, said Saller understands both how to define institutional aspirations and how to bring faculty initiatives to fruition in first-rate programs.

"H&S is going to have magnificent opportunities in the coming years to enhance its programs and renew its faculty," said Lougee Chappell, the Frances and Charles Field Professor in History. "I am confident that Richard is the person who can not only manage this extraordinarily complex school but also engage the faculty broadly in serious discussion of our best paths to new levels of excellence."

Saller is the Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of History and Classics at the University of Chicago. His research has concentrated on Roman social and economic history, in particular patronage relations and the family. He is interested in the use of literary, legal and epigraphic materials to investigate issues of social hierarchy and gender distinctions. He has taught there since 1984 and became dean of the Social Sciences Division in 1994 and provost in 2002. Prior to his tenure at Chicago, he was an assistant professor at Swarthmore College. He has held visiting professorships and fellowships at the University of California-Berkeley and Jesus College, Cambridge.

He is the author of several books, including Patriarchy, Property and Death in the Roman Family and Personal Patronage Under the Early Empire.

The School of Humanities and Sciences awards nearly 80 percent of the undergraduate degrees and more than 40 percent of doctoral degrees at Stanford. The school combines undergraduate education, graduate education and training, and research led by faculty of international renown who are pioneers on the intellectual frontier. The school has more than 500 faculty members, 28 departments and 19 interdisciplinary degree programs, along with a number of non-degree-granting programs and 20 research centers and teaching resources. Seventeen of the school's departments are regarded as being in the top 10 in their field in the nation.
Interesting item from CTV:

Vatican archeologists have unearthed a sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul that had been buried beneath Rome's second largest basilica.

The sarcophagus, which dates back to at least A.D. 390, has been the subject of an extended excavation that began in 2002 and was completed last month, the project's head said this week.

"Our objective was to bring the remains of the tomb back to light for devotional reasons, so that it could be venerated and be visible," said Giorgio Filippi, the Vatican archeologist who headed the project at St. Paul Outside the Walls basilica.

The interior of the sarcophagus has not yet been explored, but Filippi didn't rule out the possibility of doing so in the future.

Two ancient churches that once stood at the site of the current basilica were successively built over the spot where tradition said the saint had been buried. The second church, built by the Roman emperor Theodosius in the fourth century, left the tomb visible, first above ground and later in a crypt.

When a fire destroyed the church in 1823, the current basilica was built and the ancient crypt was filled with earth and covered by a new altar.

"We were always certain that the tomb had to be there beneath the papal altar," Filippi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Filippi said that the decision to make the sarcophagus visible again was made after many pilgrims who came to Rome during the Catholic Church's 2000 Jubilee year expressed disappointment at finding that the saint's tomb could not be visited or touched.

The findings of the project will be officially presented during a news conference at the Vatican on Monday.
Background: back on December 6, 1989 I had just entered the Ph.D. program at McMaster and we heard of the 'Montreal Massacre', at L'Ecole Polytechnique ... among the pieces marking the sad event, CityTV has reprinted the gunman's suicide note which ends thusly and includes some ClassCon which I had never been aware of (such as it is):

"Thus, the other day, people were honouring the Canadian men and women who fought at the frontlines during the world wars. How does this sit with the fact that women were not authorized to go to the frontline at the time??? Will we hear of Caesar's female legions and female galley slaves who of course took up 50 per cent of history's ranks, although they never existed? A real Casus Belli.

"Sorry for this too brief letter. [List of 19 women he wanted to kill] nearly died today. The lack of time (because I started too late) has allowed those radical feminists to survive. Alea Jacta EST.

(The final Latin phrase quotes Julius Caesar and should have read "lacta alea est" - translated as "the die is cast.")

The bracketed part is some editorial comment by the CityTV folk ...
ante diem viii idus decembres

Last year we mentioned St. Nicholas of Myra on this day, so we'll do it again today, even though he's a bit out of our purview (yes, it is the St. Nick)
palimped @ OED

risible @
From YLE:

Quebecum sua natio facta
30.11.2006, klo 16.56

Parlamentum Canadae incolis provinciae Quebeci statum nationis concessit.

Ex nova lege Canada adhuc unica res publica est, intra quam Quebecum suam propriam nationem constituit.

Quamquam plebiscitum in camera inferiore manifeste comprobatum est, illa rogatio tamen regimini Canadensi tantum stomacum moverat, ut unus e ministris munus deponeret.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: De commutatione apud Fidzienses (Fiji)

... and here's the latest Conspectus Rerum Latinus from the EU ...
Somehow, I don't think this will get as much press attention as the original hype ... from the CBC:

Some scholars are refuting an interpretation of a 1,700-year-old document claiming to prove that Judas was a hero and not a villain.

Craig Evans, a professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, was part of the team that unveiled the Gospel of Judas last spring.

"The big headline was in April that the text was discovered," Evans said.

"The second big headline is right now: oops, maybe we misinterpreted it and we need to rethink it."

The 1,700-year-old document, written in Coptic script, is believed to be a translation of an original Greek text.

It was found in Egypt in the 1970s, but an interpretation of it was first published last April by the National Geographic Society.

The scholars who worked on the text said it revealed secret conversations between Jesus and Judas in the week before the crucifixion, and that Judas was obeying his master's wishes in handing him over to his enemies.

They said Judas was a hero, the only disciple Jesus could trust to carry out such a difficult task.

At the time, many people said this document could rehabilitate one of the most reviled men in history: the disciple who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

But Evans, the only Canadian on the society's advisory panel, said he and his colleagues made some mistakes.

"The misinterpretation is based on some questionable reconstructions in places, also the text was simply mistranslated at a few points, and taken together it has led to what I think is a serious misinterpretation," he said.

Evans believes the document shows Judas was duped into believing he was helping Jesus, in effect making him a fool, not a hero.

The Nova Scotia scholar is "very wrong," said Elaine Pagels, one of the society's panel of experts.

"The reason is that we've never seen a gospel written where the principal figure was turned into a fool," said Pagels, an author and professor of religion at Princeton University.

Pagels has a different interpretation of the text and her book on the subject will be published by the spring.

Still other scholars say mistakes were made in the rush to release the story about the Gospel of Judas before Easter.

"It was a lot of pressure from the Geographic Society to sensationalize the release of this around Easter and just prior to the release of The Da Vinci Code movie," said John Turner, a professor of religious studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Turner wasn't one of the scholars who reconstructed, translated or interpreted the text for the society, but he studied the document and concluded it backs up what Christians have believed for 2,000 years.

Judas did an evil deed by betraying Jesus to his enemies, Turner said.

"The decision was made that this is a truly shocking, revolutionary document that throws into question all of the traditional Christian claims about the figure of Judas, and the document simply doesn't support that," he said.

Terry Garcia, leader of the society's Judas project, dismisses the criticism, saying those who say the translation is incorrect are a minority.

Garcia denies the society timed the release to make money, even though it produced two books, a TV documentary, an exhibition and a feature edition of its magazine.

"First of all, it was not a commercial enterprise," Garcia said, adding the society had a responsibility to end speculation about the Gospel of Judas and set the record straight.

Garcia isn't surprised by the debate.

"This is part of the process. When we released it, we told everyone what we hoped would happen is a vigorous debate and discussion and analysis of the materials and it appears we got our wish," he said.
8.00 p.m. |HINT| Masada
After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, legend has it that a group of
about 1,000 politicized Jews committed suicide rather than be taken
into slavery by Rome. Archaeological evidence has proven the legend
to be real.

8.30 p.m. |HINT| Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?
In the 1950s a Bedouin shepherd's sheep stumbled upon some ancient
scrolls in a cave on the shores of the Dead Sea. This accidental find
would prove to be the greatest archaeological discovery of the
twentieth century. Who wrote these scrolls? Join host Simcha
Jacobovici as forensic analysis of their ancient toilets may finally
answer this question once and for all.

HINT - History International
Stultum facit Fortuna quem vult perdere.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 611)

pron = STOOL-toom FAH-kit fohr-TOO-nah kwem woolt PEHR-deh-reh.

Fortune makes him foolish whom she wishes to destroy.

Comment: I have addressed the double-edged meaning of "The Fool" here before. Consider the following quotation from information (Wikipedia) on The Fool as found in traditional Tarot cards. The Tarot represents an ancient wisdom system that can be found throughout the east. We see glimpses of it in stories about a wise man and a foolish man, about the underdog who becomes the victor, etc.

"Although it cannot be seen in all modern cards, The Fool is often walking off a cliff. This raises the question "Is The Fool making a mistake, or is The Fool making a leap of faith?"

A quote: Gandhi said once, ?If you would swim on the bosom of the ocean of Truth, you must reduce yourself to a zero.? The Fool can be
seen as that Zero who can swim in the deeper waters up mentioned.

So, to Publilius Syrus' saying, is Fortune doing us a favor when she "destroys" us by making us a Fool, or harming us? My experience is that it is usually both. We frequently lose something that we think we must have only to learn that without it, we are open to a whole new set of possibilities and insight.

Yesterday I heard an interview on "Fresh Air" with a man who is challenging the medical system's ability to deal adequately with the dying. He recounted his mother's diagnosis with a terminal stage of breast cancer. The doctor was describing to her the only medical option that was going to completely disfigure and disable her entire upper body such that she would never be able to put on close again or likely get out of the bed. He said of his mother: "She patted the doctor on the back, and went home and began her Christmas shopping--in September. She died a few months later at home, in her own bed, with dignity and her family gathered around."

"Fortune" reduced her to zero. And the she was able to swim on the ocean floor of Truth.

I'm not looking for trouble today, but if it comes to any of us, we might remember The Fool and his leap of faith when the ground runs out beneath his feet.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
I think we mentioned this shipwreck before ...from CHN:

Iran’s Archeology Research Center has invited a team of underwater archeologists from Greece to come to Iran to help the Iranian archeologists in raising the newly discovered ancient shipwreck from the Persian Gulf.

According to Hossein Tofighian, head of the underwater archeology department of Iran’s Archeology Research Center, the decision to invite Greek archeologists to Iran was made during the recent visit of Director of the Research Center of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, Dr. Taha Hashemi, to this country. “During his visit, Dr. Hashemi met with Greek underwater archeologists and visited their equipments which he believes are sufficient for undertaking the project in the Persian Gulf. Therefore, he proposed that a team of fully equipped Greek underwater archeologists come to Iran to assist the Archeology Research Center in taking out the sunken ship and its cargo,” said Tofighian to CHN.

The ship was accidentally discovered almost three months ago near the port of Siraf at a depth of 70 meters below the Persian Gulf. Initial studies by Iranian underwater archeologists on the ship and its massive cargo revealed that it was a merchant ship belonging to either the Parthian (248 BC - 224 AD) or Sassanid (224 - 651 AD) empires.

From the early days of this discovery, recovery of the Partho-Sassanid shipwreck of the Persian Gulf was seen far from being just a simple archeology expedition. Considering the lack of experience as well as the insufficient equipments in underwater archeology in Iran, the Iranian archeologists concluded that the current state of technology in underwater archeology in Iran can not meet the demands of such massive project. “We do not have the necessary equipments for diving to the depth of 70 meters, neither do we have much experience in such projects,” said Tofighian.

Tofighian believes that the presence of Greek archeologists in Iran would be a great opportunity for the country’s underwater archeology since this joint project would allow the Iranian experts in underwater archeology to closely observe the activities of the Greek experts and learn more about latest techniques and equipments in this field.

Ever since the discovery of this merchant ship in the Persian Gulf, the necessity to purchase advanced diving equipments is felt more than ever in Iran.

“The use of advanced diving equipments requires training which will be provided to the Iranian archeologists during this joint initiative with Greek experts. On the other hand, we can not depend on foreign archeologists to do the job for us forever. Therefore, as soon as we learn how to use the new technology, we will proceed to purchase the equipments,” added Tofighian.

He also announced that funding for this project will be provided by Southern Pars Oil Company after the signing of a contract with the Archeology Research Center.
nonas decembres

Rites in honour of Faunus: essentially a rural ritual involving an offering of wine and a kid on a turf altar to mark the end of the year's toil and ensure the continued protection of the sheep.

302 A.D. -- martyrdom of Gratus and companions
symposium @ Merriam-Webster

logomachist @ Worthless Word for the Day

dictum @
From YLE:

Indoles puerorum et puellarum
30.11.2006, klo 16.55

Puellae in amicis suis fidem et probitatem pluris aestimant quam pueri, ut ex investigatione recens facta apparet.

Puerorum autem plurimi interest variis delectationibus gaudere et in diversis occupationibus versari.

Accedit, quod a pueris maxime id exspectatur, ut aliquid perficiant et rem bene gerant, cum puellas aptiores ad curam pro aliis agendam et consuetudines sociales iungendas esse credatur.

Tom Bergman
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: De Beryti intercessionibus

Latest headlines from Akropolis World News: New manager for the Opera of Paris, Berlusconi challenges Prodi, 100 condemned in India
... to Adrian Murdoch, who has been elected to the
Royal Historial Society
On the weekend, I had blogged about the then ongoing Liberal leadership thing ... the eventual winner was not Michael Ignatieff, but a guy named Stephane Dion ... here's how a piece in the National Post begins its analysis:

So Claudius is king. You know the story: while all about him members of the Roman court are furiously intriguing and poisoning each other's wine, Claudius -- shy, stuttering, perpetually overlooked -- survives them all to become emperor.

Like Claudius, Stephane Dion is the unintended beneficiary of the fratricidal wars among his party's ruling class, emerging from the ruins of the party establishment as the consensus party leader. But like Claudius, his relentless rise can hardly be chalked up to mere luck.

There is a lesson here for his adversaries outside the party. The failure of the Liberal establishment to agree on a single candidate, dividing instead between two deeply flawed alternatives and unable to the end to bridge the gap, marked the last gasp of the party old guard, the final convulsion of denial after being driven from power last January.

Wow ... I didn't know Andrew Coyne (who penned the piece) had any Classical pretensions ... then again, if he had truly thought about things, he would have seen Jean Chretien as Claudius. For my part, I wonder whether Dion will live up to his Syracusan namesake ...
pridie nonas decembres

ca. 235 -- martyrdom of Barbara
From YLE:

De imbribus autumnalibus
30.11.2006, klo 16.56

Superficies lacuum et fluminum Finniae meridianae hoc autumno propter nives liquescentes et imbres assiduos tam alte ascendit, ut multis locis iam metueretur, ne aquae eorum agros inundarent.

Id autem bonum est, quod copiae lympharum subterranearum, quae post aestatem siccissimam omnino fere exhaustae erant, in pristinum statum restitutae sunt.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

Radio Bremen's version of Nuntii Latini has also been updated

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: De Beryti intercessionibus

Latest headlines from Akropolis World News: Stradivarius secret discovered, Hamas menaces again, Castro stopped by doctors, spy death radiation probe widens
adulate @ Merriam-Webster

oikotype @ Worthless Word for the Day
From BMCR:

R. Malcolm Errington, Roman Imperial Policy from Julian to Theodosius.

Discovery Channel, The Art of War: Alexander the Great.

Kristina Milnor, Gender, Domesticity, and the Age of Augustus: Inventing Private Life.

Antonella Borgo, Il ciclo di Postumo nel libro secondo di Marziale.

Rebecca Armstrong, Cretan Women. Pasiphae, Ariadne, and Phaedra in Latin Poetry.

John Henderson, Morals and Villas in Seneca's Letters: Places to Dwell.

Prudence J. Jones, Cleopatra. A Sourcebook. Oklahoma Series in Classical Culture, 31.

From Scholia:

Michele Fasolo, La Via Egnatia I. Viae Publicae Romanae

From Ancient Narrative:

WILLIAM HANSEN: Ariadne’s Thread: A Guide to International Tales found in Classical Literature.

BERNARD POUDERON – JOCELYNE PEIGNEY (ed.): Discours et débats dans l’ancien roman: Actes du Colloque de Tours, 21–23 octobre 2004.

L. GRAVERINI, W. KEULEN & A. BARCHIESI: Il romanzo antico. Forme,testi, problemi

In the popular press, the Philly Inquirer has a review of Everitt's Augustus ... the New York Sun reviews Cartledge's Thermopylae ...

9.00 p.m. |HISTU| Engineering an Empire: The Persians

10.00 p.m. |DCIVC| First Olympian

HISTU = History Channel (US)
DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)
Okay ... here we go with what will be a 'best of the Classical Blogosphere' type Carnival. I think our field is too broad to post solely 'topically' as is usually done with carnivals, so I'll continue to do it from an individual blog viewpoint, for the most part. Note that during the week, when blogs comment on things in the news which have also been posted by yours truly, I'll mention it in a Bloglossalia section which will be appended to my post on the matter. I'm still not certain how folks can be aware that posts have had something added to them ... from my respondents to my request about updated posts, it does not appear that blog services will tell you whether comments or Bloglossalia items have been added. Suggestions and your comments, of course will be welcome.

Peter Stothard (the editor of the Times Literary Supplement) dropped me a line this week to point me to his very interesting blog which touches on all sorts of things classical. Since this is our first mention, we'll point you to the main page but highlight posts to scroll down to like Julius Bush ... Joy of Joys ... Civil Strife ... Diana and Paul ... etc.

Down the hall, Mary Beard is pondering the question of why we should learn Latin ... interesting comments follow

Another new blog which was brought to my attention is Chiron, which is an ambitious Spanish-language collaborative project ...

Philip Harland has added a third installment to his ancient jokes series ancient jokes ... the first is here ... the second here ...

Michael Gilleland has had his usual eclectic assortment of posts, of which we must draw your attention to Visio and Pedo and the followup post (with assorted comments from assorted folks) ... there's also another example of an asyndetic privative adjective (the post has a link to a page with all the other examples) ...

On Friday, David Parsons posted a pile of images from the British Museum including some hunting mosaics ... a grotty pot with Odysseus ... some Tanagra figures ... some mosaics depicting women at work ... and some depicting fish and fishing ...

Debra Hamel is posting a series on Pericles' Authority in Athens ...

Adrian Murdoch comments on an upcoming auction at Christie's of a ring which once belonged to Valerius and son ...

Over at Iconoclasm, Troels suggests that Italy is going to be targetting the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek next (about time some of those European musea were included in the Museum Case) ...

Kristian Minck adds some further commentary on matters suspensory ...

Dorothy King had an interesting post on Roman Britain and slavery ...

Lucky (?) Irene Hahn has been able to read the Parthenon Code and review it ...

Some blogs just have daily postings which are too good to overlook, so I'll just give a link to the main page. Ed Flinn's Hobbyblog, e.g. fits in this category (the most recent item with Hekate Triformis on it reminds me of those Caligulan coins of his sisters ... coincidence?) ... in a similar category would be Laura Gibbs' educational stuff, but we have to draw every Latin teacher's attention to her page of Latin Christmas Carols ... every year the Latinteach list is deluged with requests for this sort of thing, and now they're available early enough to plan around!

In other Carnivals, Jim West has the latest Biblical Studies Carnival ... also on the Biblical Studies front, Mark Goodacre is collecting reviews of the Nativity ... if you scroll to the bottom of NT Gateway and work your way up, you can follow MG's blogging of the SBL meeting as well.

I imagine it's still kosher to mention in this place that the latest issue of my Explorator newsletter is available via the Yahoo site, for those of you who aren't subscribers ... my Ancient World on Television listings will be posted similarly within a few hours.
Op Ed piece from the ME Times:

School children once read Xenophon's Anabasis, also known as The Persian Expedition, for its account of Hellenic derring-do among the barbarians as his army retreated from Babylon north through high mountains and enemy lands to safety on the Black Sea coast. His most vivid tales of Greek heroism naturally take place on the "march out," while withdrawing after defeat at the hands of the Persians.

But what of the "march in," before their defeat? How did 10,000 Greek mercenaries get to Babylon in the first place, and get into such trouble once they arrived? Is there a lesson for Americans in the first half of his story?

If George W. Bush had not slept through so many classes, he might see parenthetical parallels between what happened in 400 BC and another story from the year 2003 - of how, at the behest of a deceitful pretender to the throne, the President of the United States sent too small an army of the world's best fighters into a Mesopotamian quagmire, from which he now can retreat only after making a politically heroic admission of failure.

For those whose memory of Xenophon is faulty, his story begins when Cyrus the Younger (Iraqi National Congress), the semi-Hellenized ("English-speaking") brother of the cruel Persian King Artaxerxes (Saddam Hussein), living in exile ("London-based") as a provincial governor, recruits a Greek mercenary army headed by the Spartan general Clearchus (Donald Rumsfeld), who, in the words of the Anabasis, is "extraordinarily devoted to war."

Cyrus' secret aim is to seize power, but he lies to the Greeks, saying they are simply to help him clear Pisidian bandits (WMD) out of nearby territory. When the mercenaries suspect an unwanted larger mission (democracy building), he increases their pay to three half-darics per month ($30 per barrel of oil) and promises them easy victory ("flowers and sweets").

Cyrus holds special hatred for his fellow Persian governor Tissaphernes (Ahmad Chalabi) who had betrayed him to his brother in an earlier plot. Tissaphernes is now playing a secret game of his own, ostensibly in alliance with Artaxerxes but in fact hoping to take power after the two brothers exhaust themselves in war.

The Greeks march on, knowing they face a Persian army numbering over 1 million yet still fearing nothing. They feel the right to be confident, for they include the finest Spartan hoplites (Tony Blair), Cretan archers (Berlusconi and Aznar), and Thracian peltasts (John Howard).

Clearchus is joined by a wide Greek coalition - Sosis the Syracusan (neoconservatives), Sophaenetus the Stymphalian (the Christian Right), Proxenus the Boeotian (Vietnam War revanchists), and Pasion the Megarian (Pentagon Likudniks).

Cyrus asks the Greeks to make a show of force ("shock and awe") for the Queen of Cicilia (Gulf emirs) as they cross her land, hoping to convince her to join his side, and they launch a mock attack on her camp. "All the natives were terrified while the Greeks went laughing to their tents," writes Xenophon. "The queen was amazed when she saw the brilliant show the army had made, and Cyrus was delighted when he observed the panic which the Greeks caused among the natives."

With clever tactical feints (Saddam shirking from battle), Artaxerxes draws the Greeks deeper inland, stretching supply lines and isolating them in hostile territory. An inter-Greek feud between Clearchus and Menon the Thessalian (Paul Bremer) threatens cohesion, which Cyrus warns against, "All you Greeks here, you do not know what you are doing ... If things between us go wrong, all these natives whom you see will become more dangerous enemies to us than those on the king's side are."

Finally, in battle at Cunaxa near present day Baghdad, Cyrus is killed and Tissaphernes takes the upper hand. A truce is offered, of which Clearchus says, "what we would like is to march home, provided that no one molests us." Tissaphernes suggests a face-saving formula for the Greek withdrawal, but suspicions remain until he treacherously murders Clearchus (fires Rumsfeld) at a peace council.

Thus ends the "march in." As Xenophon, a wise Athenian who until now has remained anonymous in this chronicle of Spartan military disaster, dryly notes at the beginning of Book III, "with their generals arrested and the captains and soldiers who had gone with them put to death, the Greeks were in an extremely awkward position."

The stage is set finally for Xenophon himself - self-described as "neither a general nor a captain nor an ordinary soldier" - to take command by acclamation following a quintessential Greek debate over the best way forward.

Greek confidence in their newly chosen leader is not misplaced. He marches his 10,000 men in retreat and out of danger, until that joyous day overlooking the Black Sea when they cry out in one voice, "thalassa, thalassa," ("the sea, the sea"), knowing then that they are nearly home.

But the question remains - who will be today's Xenophon? James Baker thinks he has the answer.
From the Seattle Times:

Archaeologists have unearthed what they say are the only existing imperial insignia belonging to Emperor Maxentius - precious objects that were buried to preserve them and keep them from enemies when he was defeated by his rival Constantine.

Excavation under Rome's Palatine Hill near the Colosseum turned up items including three lances and four javelins that experts said are striking for their completeness - digs usually turn up only fragments - and the fact that they are the only known artifacts of their kind.

Some of the objects, which accompanied the emperor during his public appearances, are believed to be the base for the emperor's standards - rectangular or triangular flags, officials said.

An imperial scepter with a carved flower and a globe, and a number of glass spheres, believed to be a symbolic representation of the earth, also were discovered.

The discovery was announced Wednesday by Italy's Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli during a visit to New York.

The items, inside wooden boxes and wrapped in linen and silk, were found buried at a sanctuary last year and have since been restored and analyzed. The depth of the burial allows experts to date them to the early 4th century A.D., ministry officials said.

"These artifacts clearly belonged to the emperor, especially the scepter, which is very elaborated, it's not an item you would let someone else have," Clementina Panella, the archaeologist who made the discovery, said Friday.

"As far as we know, there are no similar findings," said Angelo Bottini, the state's top official for archaeology in Rome. "Similar representations are only on coins and paintings, but we never saw them for real," he said. Bottini added that the artifacts will be shown to the public in February.

Panella said the insignia were likely hidden by Maxentius' people in an attempt to preserve the emperor's memory after he was defeated by Constantine I in the 321 A.D. battle of the Milvian Bridge - a turning point for the history of the Roman empire which saw Constantine become the unchallenged ruler of the West.

"Once he's lost, his objects could not continue to exist and, at the same time, could not fall in the hands of the enemy," she said.

Darius A. Arya, an archaeologist and professor at the American Institute for Roman Culture, said the discovery was highly unusual.

"Here's something precious that represents the greatness of Maxentius, buried by his loyal people to save something that belonged to him," said Arya, who was not involved in the excavation. "All together, they represented the power of this particular emperor and you wouldn't want the enemy or the usurper to get a hold of it."

Excavations on the Palatine in recent decades have turned up wonders such as the house of Rome's first emperor, Augustus. Experts said that much has yet to be uncovered, hidden in underground passageways.

... I'm waiting for them to find a burial of an unchaste Vestal and/or some Gauls ...
I think I missed this one a couple of weeks ago ... from Reuters (via Yahoo):

A Greek prosecutor on Tuesday charged a former curator of the American J. Paul Getty Museum with knowingly buying an ancient artifact which had been illegally dug up and smuggled out of Greece 13 years ago.

The accusation that former antiquities curator Marion True illegally obtained a 4th-century BC golden wreath is the latest controversy surrounding acquisitions she made for the wealthy Los Angeles-based museum.

True resigned from her post in a whirlwind of publicity last year when Italian authorities charged her with conspiring to receive stolen antiquities.

In the Greek investigation, police raided her Aegean island villa earlier this year and retrieved what authorities say are dozens of unregistered ancient objects.

"True as well as two Greeks and two other foreigners have been charged with removing, accepting and distributing products resulting from criminal actions," a police source told Reuters.

"They are charged in connection with the golden wreath which was sold to a Getty representative in 1993 for $1.15 million."

The source said police believe an ancient Macedonian tomb was excavated some time between 1990-2 and it was then that the wreath was found and illegally removed.

Greece has disputed at least three other items in the Getty collection, two of which were returned in August as part of an agreement. In return, the Getty, among the world's richest art institutions, will receive other Greek antiquities on long-term loan and will be invited to co-host exhibitions of ancient Greek art.

Greece has pledged to crack down on the illegal trading of ancient artifacts. To ease museums' concerns, it has said it will only seek the return of objects proven to have been obtained through criminal actions.
From AFP (via Yahoo):

Twenty-five years of archaeological finds will go on show in Rome from Saturday, showcasing priceless ancient artefacts and curious pieces of cultural history mostly uncovered by preservational digs before building works.

"Underground memoires" will highlight the luxurious life of Roman emperors with perfume bottles, game pieces, jewellery, a bronze soap holder and coins.

Unusual finds uncovered by the archaeologists included a cache of passionate love letters from the 1920s found in a lead cylinder under the Appia Antica Roman road, used today by ramblers.

The exhibition in the "Olearie Papale", the public granaries within the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian, aims to show the public that "the world's largest archaeological museum lies under the city".

"There are 1,500 pieces in their exhibition, but there are three or four times more in the warehouses" said Robert Egidi, an archaeologist who worked on the excavations.

In Rome regulations stipulate that excavations must explore the sites of any construction projects, however small, before building can go ahead.

The archaeological richness of the soil delights fans of Italy's cultural heritage, but poses frequent problems for developers. "Every time works start, we find something," Egidi told AFP.

Rome's third metro line is a testament to these obstacles, waiting years for the archaeologists to give the all clear.
From the New York Times:

At the Bronx Latin School, one of New York’s multiplying number of small themed public middle and high schools, Latin is what Alfred Hitchcock used to call the MacGuffin: a plot device that grabs our attention while the story has a larger purpose.

The school’s larger purpose is simple: to get students, most of them “struggling with literacy,” as the founding principal, Leticia Pineiro, said, to read and also do math at grade level or better.

The three-year-old school is gambling that teaching Latin will initiate poor and working-class students into the mysteries of how any language — especially English — works by illuminating the long-neglected art of grammar and enriching their English vocabulary with Latin roots.

In Peter Dodington’s seventh-grade class the other day, the talk was about Latin verbs. With “portat” — he, she or it carries — Mr. Dodington, 61, elicited from his students English derivatives like portable and teleport. That led to a discussion of the Greek root, tele, for far off, which yielded a new understanding of how words like telephone (sound that travels far) and telegraph (writing that travels far) are shaped.

The class then switched to translating the fable about a shepherd saved from having to fight a lion because he had pulled a thorn from its paw. The story was right out of the textbook “Cambridge Latin Course,” used by elite private schools, and the students seemed to enjoy translating phrases like “cur lacrimas, leo?” and “cur me non consumis?” “Why are you crying lion? Why don’t you eat me?” In the era of Harry Potter and recondite medieval mysteries, the students seemed enchanted by Latin’s esoteric, exclusive aura.

“Nobody knows what you’re talking about,” said a proudly grinning Christian Graham, 14.

A visit to Bronx Latin suggests that its approach may be working. Moreover, on this year’s state English test, 50.9 percent of seventh graders read at grade level or better while only 31.8 percent of seventh graders in the surrounding South Bronx region performed that well.

But the visit also did not allay some of the doubts experts raise about small schools, almost 200 of which have been created by the Bloomberg administration in the last three years, often with foundation money. For example, there remains the distinct possibility that higher reading scores at Bronx Latin might be the result of self-selection: families or guidance counselors urging Bronx Latin on children may have higher ambitions for them.

Though she never studied Latin, Ms. Pineiro, 40, a graduate of the private Dalton School in Manhattan and Wesleyan University, deeply believes in her school’s focus. She is an intensely dedicated leader on whom little is lost, the kind who will stoop to pick up a student’s dropped tissue and correct a novice teacher who lets students watch a film without requiring note-taking. She is delighted to be returning to the Bronx community where she grew up.

“This is my passion, this is my baby,” she said of the school.

But people who have studied such schools wonder if idiosyncratic — carpers might say gimmicky — missions like teaching Latin can sustain themselves once their founders move on.

“What happens when that initial spark is gone, when you have second-generation leadership?” asked David C. Bloomfield, the head of the Citywide Council on High Schools, an advisory parent group. Mr. Bloomfield said he supported the concept of small schools, but he has filed a discrimination complaint with the federal Education Department saying that the city has denied spots in small schools to special education students and those who are not proficient in English.

Ms. Pineiro, though, believes that the school can thrive without her. The key to Bronx Latin’s success, she said, is the after-school hours that teachers spend learning its methods, like structured collaboration among colleagues who share students, and the insistence on informing parents when children stumble. She promises that, when the time comes, she will train a successor in the school’s methods. But will another leader be as demanding?

And there are other questions. In a school the size of Bronx Latin, which offers grades from 6th to 8th and will add one grade a year through 12th, students may not have access to advanced classes preferred for college entrance or to extracurricular activities. What happens when students move — as so many children from poor or troubled families do — and attend schools that do not offer Latin? What happens when teachers like Andrew Goldin, who joined Teach for America on two-year contract, move on to other careers? Latin teachers willing to chance public schools are a precious commodity.

WITH just 156 students in the school, classes are almost like seminars; Mr. Dodington’s class had 15 students. But there is already jostling over space with three programs that share the building. Studies have shown that mainstream schools are being squeezed for space because of the small schools placed in their buildings.

Mr. Bloomfield, who also directs training for principals at Brooklyn College, and other critics, like the education historian Diane Ravitch, said too many small schools have been formed with inexperienced, even if enthusiastic, staffs. Although attendance is higher and violence down, there is little reliable information on whether they are actually improving learning.

Bronx Latin is something of a daring adventure. Latin is usually the province of private academies like Horace Mann, where students from middle-class homes are already champion readers,

“When I think about Latin,” said Mr. Goldin, 23, “I certainly think of an environment where kids are reading at grade level and have a grade-level vocabulary, have study habits, get their homework done. That’s not the experience the majority of our students have had by sixth grade.”

Mr. Goldin and Mr. Dodington, however, are eager to prove the conventional wisdom wrong.

“I always thought it would be an interesting goal to teach Latin to everybody,” said Mr. Dodington, whose classics career includes a stop at the elite Collegiate School. “Take a subway car of people — that’s what we do.”

Latin works well with children who are not strong academically, he said. “It’s very organized, very transparent,” he said. “There’s a rule for everything.”

Mr. Goldin, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who in contrast to the button-down Mr. Dodington dresses casually and has shoulder-length hair, is brilliant at running Socratic discussions, where he asks leading questions to guide students to their own well-grounded conclusions. He had a class analyze the meaning of justice through an Indian fable about two kings, one who meets the good with goodness and the wicked with wickedness, another who conquers evil by his goodness. Practically every student had something to say.

“If you give him attitude, he’s going to give you more attitude than you give him,” is how one boy described one king’s philosophy.

Mr. Goldin repeatedly reminded the students that they could not just state random thoughts. “Is that your opinion or is that based on the text?” he asked. He also trained the students to listen, gently pulling a pen away from a boy fiddling with it distractedly.

Whatever the questions about Bronx Latin, membership in a rarefied group that can decode a dead language is a source of pride that is a powerful motivator.

“The idea we’re offering Latin helps by itself,” Mr. Dodington said. “It’s kind of a vote of confidence in the kids.”
From NWI Times comes a FWIW excerpt from the lifestyle pages:

Author Dharma Windham has written a new book about Cleopatra that equates the Queen of the Nile to today's social royalty Paris Hilton.

Windham, who spells the great lady of Egypt's name as "Kleopatra" for historical reasons, also mentions Marie Antoinette as regal trendsetter of ages past on par with Hilton.

"They're each famous for their extravagant displays of wealth, and as movers and shakers who boasted an adoring public, even though they're separated by about 20 centuries," said Windham, a scholar of Hellenistic and Egyptian magic and religion.

Last Thursday, I spoke with Denise Malinich, who's owned Malinich Jewelers in Dyer with husband Marty for 37 years about this Cleopatra subject and she doesn't necessarily buy the Hilton connection.

Malinich knows more than just a thing or two about Cleopatra.

She spent the summer in Rome on the Appian Way with her husband to retrace Cleopatra's steps, while also studying her taste and passion for jewelry.

Windham's book "Reluctant Goddess: Kleopatra and the Stolen Throne" (2006 Infinity Publishing $22.95) hits the stores this week.
One that was lingering in my inbox ...

Male facere qui vult numquam non causam invenit.
(Publilius Syrus, Sententia 336)

pron = MAH-lay FAH-keh-reh kwee woolt NOOM-kwahm nohn KOW-sahm in-VEH-nit.

The one who wishes to do evil is never without a reason to do so.

Comment: We can probably give evil-doers a little bit of a break on this one. The fact is, anyone who has made up his/her mind to do a thing will not be without "reason" to do it.

Best to look out for these folks, and get out of their way. I always start looking for them in the mirror!

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
From the Courier Post's "Multicultural Calendar"

DEC. 17-23 SATURNALIA. Ancient Roman festival honoring Saturnus, the god of agriculture. It was a time of merriment at the end of harvesting and wind-making.

... actually, I strongly suspect that much wind was made during Saturnalia ...
Excerpt from an interview in Slate with David Simon, one of the writers behind HBO's The Wire:

Slate: One thing that struck me about the show, from the get-go—and this may sound like base flattery: It reminded me of Shakespearean drama for the way that even the villains are humanized. No one is just a bad guy. Even Avon, whom I loathed at the opening of Season 1, I came to like.

Simon: It's funny you should say that, because the portrayals in Deadwood are in the Shakespearean model. On The Sopranos, there's an awful lot of Hamlet and Macbeth in Tony. But the guys we were stealing from in The Wire are the Greeks. In our heads we're writing a Greek tragedy, but instead of the gods being petulant and jealous Olympians hurling lightning bolts down at our protagonists, it's the Postmodern institutions that are the gods. And they are gods. And no one is bigger.

By the way: If at any point any character on the show ever talks as I'm talking right now, it would suck. It's crucial that the characters can't lecture us.
Up here in the Great White North ('grey' would be more accurate), we're currently in the throes of one of the quirks in our political system whereby the select few in a political party get to pick who will be the party leader and (potentially) the future Prime Minister. Among those in the running who readers of rc might recognize is former Harvard prof Michael Ignatieff, who has moved from one foot-in-mouth moment to another, but is still considered a front runner. Anyhoo, the Globe and Mail today has an op-ed piece written by Thomas Axworthy (who heads a democracy think tank at my alma mater Queen's) which, inter alia, contains this advice:

'Where have all the Leaders Gone?" is the title of a recent lecture that Mary Lou Finlay, the respected former host of CBC Radio's As it Happens, delivered to the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen's University. It is a question that many Canadians have been asking.

We do know where several aspiring leaders are going -- to Montreal, hoping to become the next leader of the Liberal Party. Whoever wins that contest may not have much time for reading, but there are three classics that define leadership's potential to do good, and also the likelihood that temptations will turn leaders into monsters.

Eager and ambitious leaders should start by reading one of the first histories ever written, and still the best, The History of the Peloponnesian War (available in many editions), by Thucydides of Athens (421-399 BC). Thucydides, a general in the Peloponnesian War, raised the events he knew intimately to a universal plane. His analyses of human nature and the action-reaction dynamic of international relations have never been bettered.

The war between Athens and Sparta, he saw, was not due to any specific incident: "The real though unavowed cause I believe to have been the growth of the Athenian power, which terrified the Spartans and forced them into war." Today the United States, like Sparta the undisputed military superpower, looks very warily at the rising power of China. It was ever thus, Thucydides would say.

But as well as being a primer on international relations, The History of the Peloponnesian War is the story of decision-makers under stress. In his contrasting portraits of Pericles and the demagogue Cleon, Thucydides dissects the human condition and exposes the forces that move political men.

To Thucydides, Pericles was a successful visionary (elected 16 times; Liberals, take note): "The reason for this," Thucydides writes, "was that Pericles, because of his position, his intelligence, and his known integrity, could respect the liberty of the people and at the same time hold them in check. It was he who led them, rather than they who led him." The first rule of leadership is to stand for something and to make your purposes clear. Pericles's mission was to make democratic Athens the "school of Hellas."

Cleon, however, was in the game for ego-gratification. A demagogue, he rose to prominence after Pericles's death and persuaded Athens to reject a favourable peace. He did so, Thucydides writes, because "he thought that once there was peace his corruption would be more obvious and his false accusations less credible." Cleon was a brute who persuaded the Athenian Assembly to slaughter all the men of Mytilene (an order rescinded the next day). Cleon admonished the Assembly in that debate: "What you do not realize, is that your empire is a tyranny exercised over subjects who do not like it."


Character, commitment and communication are the leadership qualities emphasized in these three classics. Despite the vicissitudes of politics, whether in ancient Athens or modern Louisiana, self-government is still a noble idea, and we need leaders committed to it. Pericles had it right when he said in his great funeral oration: "When a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit."

I find this interesting because finally there is some recognition that the Liberal party of the past couple of decades has been more Cleon-like than Pericles-like (I'm sure Axworthy would like to think of Pierre Trudeau as our Pericles -- Axworthy was principal secretary to the former p.m. at one point and has written many books about him, but that's another editorial). Unfortunately, as you can figure out from the implications of the third paragraph, the lack of any real appreciation for Classics in Canada since (I'd argue) at least the late 1960s, means that the likelihood of anyone but an academic making such a connection unlikely. And so it's probably not surprising that since the time of the Jesuit-educated Pierre Trudeau that Canadian politics has been a tale of ever-increasing concentration of power in the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) with very little in the way of checks and balances which one would get from a more republican form of government (let's hope that the recent motion to recognize the Quebecois as a 'nation within a nation' is just a first step on the part of the Conservatives to recognizing other regional 'nations' and the 'nationality' of the aboriginal people, with a view to creating an ELECTED senate to protect the interests thereof from the tyrannies of Parliament (when there's a majority government) and/or the PMO.

... okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. We'll see if translations of Thucydides start flying off the shelves at Chapters ...
From the Boston Globe:

Italy made good on its agreement to loan one of its treasures to the Museum of Fine Arts on Tuesday, turning over a 9-foot marble statue Eirene -- goddess of peace -- in exchange for the Boston institution returning 13 disputed antiquities to Rome this fall.

The statue dates to the first half of the first century and, like many Roman sculptures, is an adaptation of a Greek sculpture. The original bronze sculpture of the personification of Peace, holding the baby Ploutos, was made by Kephisodotos and dates to the 370s or 360s B.C.

The statue -- which no longer has its arms or the infant -- was excavated in 1986 from the garden of a Roman villa in the territory of Palombara Sabina. It will be on view to the public until 2009.

"Experts say this is the most beautiful existing copy in the world," Italian Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli said at a news conference following the unveiling of the statue. "I would say you gained. It's the symbol of peace."

MFA director Malcolm Rogers called the selection "very symbolic."

"It was found in a farmer's field," Rogers said, noting that the plow marks are visible on the back of the statue. "It could have been looted. Instead, the site became an archaeological site. This is a wonderful statue symbolizing what happens when the circumstances are right."

In Italy, the head of Eirene and the torso had been displayed separated, but conservators at the Boston museum have joined the two pieces together for display for the first time.

"The whole thing that makes this statue so expressive and slightly mysterious is the turn of the mother's head to the child which is no longer there," Rogers said. "Unless you have the head in position, you really don't get this emotional and this affectionate aspect of this statue."

Another copy is on display at the Glyptothek in Munich. That copy includes the infant. A photo of it is posted on the Eirene statue at the MFA. Rogers said it's impossible to know who made the copies because few Roman statues are signed.

Italy has been on a campaign to recover antiquities allegedly sold illegally to museums worldwide. Officials have reached a similar deal with New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art but are in dispute with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Italy has demanded the Getty return more than 40 works. The museum last week agreed to return 26 allegedly looted antiquities, a move Rome called unilateral and inadequate.

Italy's campaign includes the prosecution of former Getty curator Marion True and art dealer Robert Hecht, who are on trial in Rome charged with knowingly receiving archaeological treasures stolen from private collections or dug up illicitly. They deny wrongdoing.

Under a 1939 law, all antiquities found in Italy must be turned over to the state.

The MFA returned artifacts including a statue and a bas-relief believed to have decorated Hadrian's Villa outside Rome, and vases from central and southern Italy mostly depicting scenes from ancient Greek myths.

Boston's antiquities were the first to be delivered to Italy, and were exhibited in October at the National Roman Museum. Those included in the Met deal are set to return progressively over the next years.

Rogers has said the treasures were purchased in good faith between the 1960s and 1990s, but the antiquities were returned after Italian authorities presented fresh evidence of their illegal origin during yearlong negotiations.

"At the very moment it was clear that some of the objects here had to be returned to Italy, you have done it," Rutelli told Rogers at the news conference. "That shows... a very clear moral authority."
Interesting item from the IHT ... here's the incipit:

Commenting on the distant past of one of the world's great cultures without being aware of the heritage of later centuries is a high-risk exercise. "Les Perses sassanides: Fastes d'un empire oublié (224- 642)," the alluring show of Iranian art on view at the Musée Cernuschi until Dec. 30, is not immune from the entertaining bloopers to which this can give rise.

Here, misnomers begin with the title. "The Sasanian Persians" is an unfortunate choice of words concerning a land that has called itself "Iran" (pronounced "Eran" in early times) for some 2,200 years. The real gem, though, is the subtitle "forgotten empire." Forgotten by whom?

The Sasanian past has been haunting the Iranian psyche ever since the last ruler, Yazdegerd III, was murdered in A.D. 651 or 652. Every history of Iran written in past centuries deals with it at length. Over one quarter of the 10th- century Shah-Nameh, the "Book of Kings," the most frequently copied work at Persian-speaking courts in Islamic times, sings the deeds of Sasanian emperors and allusions to these abound throughout the 1,000-year-old history of Persian literature.

In an era of globalization keen on international understanding, it might seem elementary for scholars studying the art of the Iranian past to have access to the language, Persian, in which a vast body of literature yields essential keys to its objects.

This, however, is not part of the Western academic tradition. The guest curator of the show, Françoise Demange of the Louvre, is a specialist in Ancient Greek art who does not read Persian, and most of the contributors to the exhibition book are likewise strangers to the living heritage of Iranian culture.

In keeping with time-honored Western tradition regarding pre-Islamic Iran, the objects are looked at as if they were the work of little green men just descended from outer space. Not a single Persian archaeological publication is cited. More surprisingly, Greek words are chosen when referring to objects that are named in Persian dictionaries and sung in poetry from the 11th century on.

One of the great masterpieces in the show on loan from the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington is thus referred to as a "rhyton." The silver vessel consists of a trumpet-shaped section curving abruptly to join up with the stylized head of an animal, perhaps an antelope or a bullock. Seen in profile, the vessel looks like a horn. And a drinking horn it is.

[... and the final graf]

As visitors leave the show, some may retain a hazy impression of glittering splendor. But many will feel uncertain as to precisely what they were looking at. Where Sasanian art is concerned, science still has some way to go.

The piece was written by Souren Melikian and I really want to use that 'doth protest too much' phrase, but that might seem like a Western cliche. If you don't like something being called a rhyton because there's a Persian word for it, tell us what it is. I'm 100% sure it ain't "drinking horn". Oh ... and to get all pedantic over whether we refer to something as Iranian or Sassanid doesn't quite come off well with blanket condemnation of some vague claim of "time-honoured Western tradition".

cf. the coverage by Payvand a few months ago.
Tidbit from the Brock Press:

"In his book The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History Leo Braudy has suggested that Alexander the Great (Alexandros III Philippou Makedonon) was the first proper celebrity because, along with tales of his heroic achievements, many of his images were circulated across the Greek empire through pictures, engravings and on coins," said Film and Media expert, Dr. Philip Drake.
... for those of you monitoring rc via an rss reader of some sort. When I go back (as I've done these past couple of days) and add a couple more links to different versions of some story and essentially republish it, does the item show up again in your rss reader?

... oh, and just for the record, between now and Christmas you'll probably notice various weirdities at rc as I test various things ...
Harry Mount is getting some big time press attention ... this time, from the Guardian:

It is a thoroughly unlikely publishing phenomenon. A book about Latin - that is, about how to learn Latin, with dozens of verb tables and explanations of the ablative absolute and the gerundive - has crept up, unexpectedly but persistently, as high as number 14 in the Amazon bestseller list in the all-important weeks before Christmas. It is possible that the British reading public are labouring under an almighty illusion, since Amo, Amas, Amat ... and All That: How to Become a Latin Lover might reasonably be supposed to be a volume dispensing Roman sex tips (which would be a pretty racy read). But that must just be me, for a glance at the relevant Amazon page shows that "customers who bought this item also bought Revised Latin Primer by BH Kennedy" (ghastly bane of posh English schoolchildren since, quite possibly, the defeat of Boudicca).

Mehercule! As you almost certainly wouldn't exclaim. It's true: there are people out there masochistic enough to put themselves through the passive periphrastic and hic, haec, hoc

A clue to a reason for the success of Amo, Amas, Amat is also provided by Amazon, which has nominated as the volume's "perfect partner" Beyond Words, John Humphrys' cross book about the use of English in today's degenerate world. In other words, Amo, Amas, Amat is, broadly, part of the Eats, Shoots and Leaves phenomenon and thus falls into the category of books that are ostensibly cris de coeur for the correct use of the apostrophe, say, while really, deep down, betraying a sort of posh anxiety about standards in society generally.

So, we may mourn the fact that our streets are thronged with Asbo-wielding, infra dig1 (see footnotes), Burberry-wearing youths who have lost all sense of "respect". But fear not, for Lynne Truss's beleaguered army of careful-English writers, aided by a squad of cut-throat guerrilla fighters led by Humphrys, has suddenly been relieved by crack reinforcements from the Roman cavalry . . . et cetera, ad nauseam2

The author of this surprise hit is Harry Mount, Oxford classics graduate and, until a recent purge of foreign correspondents by the paper, the Daily Telegraph's man in New York. He is possibly more taken aback than anyone about the runaway success of his book and hypothesises over the phone from the US that it's because "people more and more long to hold on to serious things, and old things".

His book is a paradoxical hit because it's not as if Latin is enjoying a revival - instead, it seems inexorably on the decline. Now, as Mount points out, you don't need to have done Latin at school (let alone Greek) to study it at Oxford, by tradition the brainiest place in the country, if not the world, to read classics. Indeed, his book is evidence of Latin's death throes: if it was still thriving in schools we wouldn't need his book to remind us of it.

Amo, Amas, Amat, however, is about pleasure as much as anything else. What Mount purports to give you is Latin without the pain (indeed, he suggests buying Kennedy if you want a "proper" hair-shirt grammar book to consult). He likens his undertaking to JG Links's marvellous book Venice for Pleasure - a fabulously old-fartish tourist guide that suggests tackling the city in the most sybaritic way possible, with many a stop for coffee and ice cream and no guilt if you can't face millions of Tintorettos in the Accademia.

In Mount's book, the equivalent of the millions of Tintorettos are the verb tables and the explanations of how to form various tricky Latin constructions. These tables, it must be said, go on for ever - even the enthusiastic Mount apologetically describes the adjectives as "pretty relentless". According to temperament, they will provide for former school or university Latinists either an inspiring reminder of how much knowledge youthful heads once held; or a depressing memento mori3, inviting one to contemplate faulty memory, the passage of time, and the destruction of precious brain cells. Unless you are a seriously persistent student, it is much easier to skip all that, settle in a notional Venetian cafe, and read the surrounding stuff, which meanders from reminiscences about Mount's Latin masters at school, to a funny-and-useful guide to Latin phrases in regular English use, concluding with a call to arms for proper classics teaching in schools.

The Latin masters of Mount's memory, by the way, are pure Molesworth meets Mr Chips with a pinch of The History Boys. He also makes reference to a modern equivalent, 25-year-old Miss Howard-Johnston, who, if he hasn't made her up for effect, works at a comprehensive in the Elephant and Castle in London, "has a fetching line in scrunched-up hair and boho jangly jewellery" and "teaches Latin by rapping in the language". No, really. Her pupils call her "Miss Ho-Jo".

I speak to a more realistic version of the modern Latin schoolteacher, Rebecca Leek, who teaches part-time "in a rather nice girls' private school in Letchworth Garden City". In year nine the girls can opt for Latin lessons in their lunch hour and by year 10 they can choose to do it for GCSE. She has 14 in her current GCSE group - not a bad number at all. Even for these girls, there is a hint of nostalgia in the exercise. "Parents who did it a bit at school are particulary keen. There's a cachet attached to it, a sort of romanticism," she says.

Mount's starting point in Amo, Amas, Amat is that Latin gives its invoker a touch of class. That is why, out of David Beckham's nine tattoos, three are in Latin, including one neatly demonstrating the correct use of ut plus the subjuntive to indicate purpose (ut amem et foveam, that I might love and cherish). So not only (and most importantly) is learning Latin a sine qua non4 for reading some of the best literature ever produced, it also has useful applications for show-offs.

As a caveat5, however, he introduces a notion supplied by Kingsley Amis's The King's English: A Guide To Modern Usage, which describes "prissy, fussy, priggish" linguistic pedants as Wankers. There are a lot of Wankers in the modern Latin-reading world, warns Mount. As an example of Wankerishness, Mount invokes a Spectator magazine review by Chris Patten in which he describes historian Colin Lucas as "Balliol's quondam Master".

Mount violently objects to the use of a Latin word where a perfectly good English one will do, but applauds the use of the phrase pari passu7 in a Daily Telegraph leader.

Pari passu seems much more Wankerish to me. Poor old Mount seems a bit sheepish about all this when we speak. "It is appalling to show off, really," he says, "and dreadful to use Latin phrases when you know you won't be understood. OK, I am probably a bit of a wanker."

Aside from the dubious show-off value, what is good about knowing Latin? Leek thinks its study is terrific for her students. "These days, what you are asked in exams is very clear," she says. "GCSEs cannot go outside the box of what is expressly put down in the syllabus. But Latin is about being thrown a passage you have never seen before and being asked to decode it - there's still much more risk attached than there is with other subjects. Even the really clever ones come up against something they just can't do immediately, something that's really tricky. And it's good for them."

Then there's the literature. "You read Virgil at GCSE level, but with French and German you don't read literature until A-level. So even at GCSE, pupils become mini-classicists. It's got it all, really. It gives them a better English vocabulary, it helps them read English, especially English poetry, more analytically, because they are used to close study of passages, and then you are reading Virgil - really hardcore literature."

Both Leek and Mount also talk about the historical value of knowing Latin."It allows you to slip the modern skin off everything from language to government systems and see the Roman bones of it," Mount says.

According to Leek: "The Romans provide a useful palate to start thinking about empire- making, about the way we treat different societies or handle different mores8. The more you read about current affairs, the more you come back to analogies with the history of the late Roman republic and early empire." She reserves special disdain for the Cambridge Latin Course, the series of books now most widely used in schools and widely blamed for Latin's "dumbing down" and indeed decline. "It's a complete nightmare. I refuse to use it," says Leek.

I suppose Latin coursebooks have always been dreadful in their way. For the older generation, there was "The Romans are attacking the ditch with arrows" school of dreariness. For my peers, learning in the 1980s, there was an execrable textbook called Ecce Romani (deliciously translated by Mount in his book as Yo! Romans), of which I remember little except boredom.

As a novice, could you learn Latin from Mount's book? I suspect it is really more of a companion volume for people who are learning formally anyway, or for nostalgics who studied at school or university. Like a loquacious teacher easily distracted from the task in hand, Mount is too ready to digress entertainingly on the use of Latin in PG Wodehouse or Monty Python to get a student going on all the horrific slog-work of declensions and conjugations necessary before you climb to the sunlit plateaux where you can read a passage of Virgil with relative ease.

In the end, though, as that great philosopher Molesworth puts it: "Actually it is quite easy to be topp in lat. you just have to work chiz chiz chiz."


1 From infra dignitatem: beneath one's dignity.
2 Et cetera: literally, and the other things. Ad nauseam: literally, until sickness.
3 Memento mori: a reminder of death. Often misspelled as momento.
4 Sine qua non: without which not; in other words, a necessary condition.
5 Caveat: a warning. Literally, let him/her beware.
6 Quondam: former
7 Pari passu: with equal step. "Used to describe two enterprises being treated in the same way," explains Mount.
8 Mores: nominative plural of mos (custom, habit, fashion). "O tempora, o mores!" - Oh the times, the morals! (Cicero, First Catilinarian).


David Parsons comments on the elitist tone of the above at ARLT ...
From ME Times:

Archaeologists have excavated a Roman-era necropolis discovered near the Syrian port city of Latakia during building work for a block of flats, the official SANA news agency reported Tuesday.

"The necropolis, buried at a depth of two meters [six-and-a-half feet], was hewn from a solid block of rock," it said.

"The discovery happened during excavation work for building a block of flats" in Beit Suhin, outside the northwestern city of Latakia, it added.

"Excavations ... saw the discovery of a necropolis in which two terracotta jars dating from around 2,000 years ago were found," Latakia antiquities chief Jamal Haidar was quoted as saying.

"The necropolis consists of six family tombs from the Roman era," he said.
From the (York) Press:

FLAMING torches will be carried through the centre of York by Roman legionnaires to celebrate the ancient festival of Saturnalia.

The striking spectacle will be led by Maximus Gluteus from the city's Lost Legion, which runs the annual Norwich Union-sponsored York Roman Festival.

People will learn about the first Christmas celebrations from Roman times while walking through the darkened streets during the tour.

Saturnalia was one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was held in mid-December to honour the Roman god Saturn with feasting, gift giving and role reversal where slaves acted as masters and vice versa.

The festival was linked to celebrating the beginning of the solar year.

Organiser Nick Eggleton said the flaming tour was a first for the city.

"This will be an eye-catching, atmospheric tour and will have the feel of a genuine Roman march," he said.

"It will have a magical, mystical quality about it. We've never tried anything like this before."

Mr Eggleton said many of the Christmas rituals were originally inspired by the Roman Saturnalia festival, including the wearing of paper hats, the giving of gifts and feasting with family and friends.

"The Romans used to hang wreaths and garlands during the festival and give each other holly as gifts," he said.

"The similarities with Christmas are striking."

The flaming torch tour, which sets off from the statue of Constantine The Great, outside the South Transept of York Minster, at 3.30pm on Sunday, December 17, is one of several events being organised by the Lost Legion to celebrate both Christmas and Saturnalia.

At Ye Olde Starre Inn, Stonegate, York, between 5pm and 7pm, there will be a "Santanalia" event with quizzes, games and a visit from Father Christmas. Roman-style food will be available The pub will then play host to a toga party between 7pm and midnight with free mulled wine for everyone wearing a costume. It will include live music from ADBC and also a Miss Toga competition.

It will be a fantastic day with something for everyone," Mr Eggleton added.

"We are determined to keep bringing Roman history to life."

Tickets for the tour are available from the Visitor Information Centre, at the De Grey rooms in Exhibition Square. Admission is £4 for adults and £1 for children. All the money raised will go towards the York Roman Festival.

Time to eat, drink and be merry
The Saturnalia was a large and important public festival in Rome.

It involved the conventional sacrifices, a couch (lectisternium) set out in front of the temple of Saturn and the untying of the ropes that bound the statue of Saturn during the rest of the year.

Besides the public rites there were a series of holidays and customs celebrated privately.

The celebrations included a school holiday, the making and giving of small presents (saturnalia et sigillaricia) and a special market (sigillaria). Gambling was allowed for all, even slaves.

It was a time to eat, drink, and be merry. The toga was not worn, but the pilleus (freedman's hat) was worn by everyone.

Slaves were exempt from punishment, and treated their masters with disrespect. Slaves enjoyed a banquet served by the masters. Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals which led to more tomfoolery, marked chiefly by having masters and slaves switch places, which led to widespread drinking and debauchery, so that among Christians the (lower case) word "saturnalia" came to mean "orgy".
testing the draft thing
From the Daily Nebraskan:

For some people, putting together a puzzle is a way to pass a snowy winter day. For others, it is their job.

Sidnie White Crawford compares the translating and editing of religious texts to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Except in her translating jigsaw puzzle, there are missing pieces, no picture on the cover to look at, and the pieces are scattered across the room.

Crawford, the chairwoman of the Classics and Religious Studies Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been involved in the translation and editing of many religious documents, most notably the portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls and several manuscripts of Deuteronomy.

The process of translating these manuscripts brought many difficulties, but above all, the work was time-consuming. The translating and editing of Crawford's portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls took her from 1986 to 1994.

Spending this much time on a translation is not unusual.

"It takes a long time, probably a year or more, to produce a good translation," said John Turner, a professor of classics and religious studies at UNL.

Turner has done extensive work translating manuscripts of the Gnostic gospels, and the process he goes through can be very tedious.

First, Turner said, you must try to reconstruct the papyrus, which can date back centuries or millennia. This means taking fragments and trying to piece them together to form a whole or nearly whole page.

Once the reconstruction process is as complete as possible, a transcription is made. This is where incomplete letters and sections are filled in with possible options and educated guesses.

Only after this is done can the work actually be translated into a language that will be readable by the general public. Often ideas and inspiration found during this step will lead the translator back to step one: rearranging the fragments.

Though the process is difficult and lengthy, translators like Crawford and Turner get some help from new technologies.

"Computer technology and digital imaging is very big right now," Crawford said. "It certainly helps with reading these manuscripts. But there's nothing that takes the place of seeing the original."

Turner has found some assistance with technology that allows him to look through several layers of papyrus to see what's underneath. This is especially useful since manuscripts that have been exposed to moisture will often stick together.

Despite the challenges of translating and editing religious texts, Crawford said she thinks it's important and relevant to the general public.

"What people read in English translations of the Bible today is the result of the type of scholarship that I do," Crawford said. "It actually comes down through the publishing process into what people read in church."

The Rev. Fritz Lampe, a pastor at the Lutheran Student Center, takes this scholarship into account when looking at Bible translations.

"I'm very concerned with people thinking that the Bible just dropped out of heaven," Lampe said. "It's been a process of years worth of translation."

Lampe uses the New Revised Standard Version because "it's a translation that's a product of a large group of scholars trying to parse out the most careful but readable version of the text."

Readability and accuracy are the main factors to look for when choosing a translation of the Bible, Lampe said. Which is most important depends on what you are using the text for. Readability is more important for introducing the text to someone, but for studying, accuracy is imperative.

When it comes to translating other holy texts, accuracy is always the primary concern.

Anas Bouzid, a junior electrical engineering major and president of the Muslim Student Association, uses a Koran that has both an English translation and the original Arabic side by side.

Bouzid believes that because the Koran forbids any changes to itself, it's important to be able to compare English translations with the original text.

"When you change something, that human error factor comes into the picture," Bouzid said. "They pile up, and eventually, you don't have what was originally said."

Eliminating or reducing the chance of error is very important in the translating process. Translators have to be careful in understanding their own limitations, especially since many of the texts are written in dead - no longer used - languages.

Translations should preferably be done into the translator's native language, Turner said.

"I can read several European languages, but I'd never dare to translate a text into them."

Although the translation of holy texts is of great importance to their religious followers, the process used is generally no different from translating secular texts, Turner said.

"These are all ancient texts and the main of (translating them) is to let someone from the ancient past speak again. Everyone has a right to be heard."

cf: How to Organize a Group Translation Project - WikiHow
I'm a bit behind with these, obviously:

Iusta . . . ab iniustis petere insipientia est.
(Plautus, Amphitruo 36)

It is foolish to seek justice from the unjust.

pron = YOOS-tah ahb in-YOOS-tees PEH-teh-reh in-sih-pee-EHN-tee-ah ehst.

Comment: It certainly feels foolish to seek help to make something right from the very ones who have wronged you. And it is likely a
waste of time. The ones who have been unjust in their treatment are
going to be quite unable to redress the needs of the oppressed because to do so would mean to find fault in themselves, own it, and then seek a solution that would be contrary to their own disposition.


That is why we have in the US courts that are supposed to be free from biases so that they can render justice to those who have been denied justice. Just yesterday, though, I heard a news report on our Supreme Court's treatment of an environmental issue. The court was behaving according to the politics of its members: liberal justices were behaving one way, conservative just the opposite.

Martin Luther King, Jr and others who worked in the Civil Rights Movement must have wondered if they were fools seeking justice from the unjust. Gay people in the US must be wondering the same thing these days.

Justice did find a voice in the Civil Rights movement, and it has many other times in this country when it has been sought. So, those in our country who wish to eliminate "activist jusdges" usually mean that they want judges who see things their way. In my opinion, these are dangerous times with talk of changing our justice system, or doing away with justice as we know it.

Plautus' line begs a question: are there just people from whom the oppressed can seek help?

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
From Ha'aretz:

The Roman army commander and naturalist Pliny described, in his book "The Natural History," a rare and unique variety of peach that ripens at an early date, in the summer, and not in the fall, as did all the other peach varieties around in his day. No one knows what this rare variety was called in antiquity, but Prof. Mordechai Kislev, an expert on botanical archaeology, claims that peaches matching Pliny's description appear in a wall drawing in the city of Herculaneum, near Pompeii, and that they also grew in the Land of Israel and were part of the diet of Masada's residents.

According to Kislev, up until a few years ago, several trees of this variety grew in Moshav Amikem, located in the valley between Givat Ada and Zichron Yaakov, which is why he and his colleagues from Bar-Ilan University's life sciences department named it the Amikem. Today, the only representative left from this remnant of the ancient world is a single tree in the village of Kafr Kara.

Kislev and his colleagues think that the peach pits found in Masada are of this specific variety. Like the lone tree in Wadi Ara, they, too, match the Roman descriptions from the first century CE. These peaches may indeed ripen early, but they remain edible for a long time, says Kislev, and that is why it's likely that Masada residents preferred them to peaches of other varieties.

Masada's residents did not suffice with just peaches, of course. In excavations at the site conducted by the late Prof. Yigael Yadin, abundant remains of fruits and grains were found. At the beginning of his academic career, in the early 1970s, Kislev received from Yadin all the remains of plants unearthed until then at Masada, and a few years ago, other botanical remains were added to the collection, having been uncovered in excavations there by Prof. Ehud Netzer and Dr. Guy Shtiebel. Today the collection includes thousands of items, representing all the periods when the mountain was inhabited: from the construction of Herod's palace on the peak of Masada in 37 BCE to the era of Roman rule after the conquest of the mountain in 73 CE.

Almost 30 years elapsed from the time Kislev received the findings from Yadin until he found the time and assistance to research the material. In the last three years, he has returned to the collection, with help from Suheil Zeidan, of the Jewish National Fund, and his colleagues Dr. Orit Simchoni and Yonit Tabak, a master's student. The team found that Masada residents enjoyed the full variety of foods produced by the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, apricots, plums, pomegranates, peaches, almonds, figs, grapes and olives.

Masada's olives sparked particular interest because an in-depth inquiry into their qualities found that since the Roman era, there has been no significant change in their agriculture. Masada residents ate olives from the exact same varieties that grow in Israel today, namely, Syrian, Nabali and Melisi. Researchers identified the varieties by inspecting the pits, their structure and symmetry. Olive pits were found whole, an indication that the olives were eaten in pickled form, and not used to produce oil. This speculation was reinforced by the fact that 90 percent of the olives on Masada were of the Nabali variety, which is most suited for pickling among the local varieties that grow in Israel.

The remaining 10 percent were primarily Syrian or Melisi olives, but there were also some amounts found of two varieties that do not grow in Israel, and need to be imported from neighboring countries. One is the Shami olive, which grows in Syria, and the other is the Toffahi, from Egypt. The pits of these varieties are substantially different from those of the local varieties. According to Kislev, who lectured this week at Masada at the Dead Sea Conference on Environmental Resources and Society, the two imported varieties are considered luxuries to this day, and Arab villages tend to use them as decoration for weddings and other occasions. He estimates that they were imported to Masada during the time when wealthy and high-ranking people lived there, such as King Herod himself or the Roman generals who besieged the mountain.

From the Times:

An enormous Roman sarcophagus has been discovered during excavations at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, revealing that Roman London extended well beyond previously known boundaries.

Weighing 1.5 tonnes and containing a human skeleton, the limestone coffin dates from the late 4th or 5th century. It was found a couple of kilometres from the site of the Roman town known as Londinium.

The date of the sarcophagus makes the find all the more exciting, as the buried man may have been a contemporary of the Church’s patron saint, St Martin, a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity and died in AD397.

Other finds include a Roman tile kiln, dating from AD400-450, indicating that a significant Roman building existed near the site, and Anglo-Saxon burial remains from the beginning of the 7th century.

They reveal for the first time that the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields has been a sacred site for far longer than anyone realised.

The Vicar of St Martin’s, the Rev Nicholas Holtam, said: “These discoveries take us right back to St Martin himself . . . This find is extraordinarily moving.” Perhaps, he joked, these are the bones of St Martin himself”.

The position of the sarcophagus suggests a Christian burial.

The sarcophagus was unearthed during excavations by archaeologists from the Museum of London, as part of St Martin’s £36 million renewal programme. It was found 10ft (3m) below pavement level, next to the main building.

Tests are yet to be conducted on the skeleton. It is likely to have been a high-status individual, though, as the limestone would have had to be transported from Oxfordshire or Northamptonshire.

The skeleton is missing its head, which is thought to have been removed from the grave when the lid of the sarcophagus was damaged by workmen building a sewer in the Victorian period. They may also have removed grave goods.

The man, who was 5ft 6in tall, died in his forties. He suffered three cracked ribs, which had healed. He also seems to have suffered from a bad back.

Gordon Malcolm, of the Museum of London Archaeology Service, said: “It will offer rich possibilities in telling new stories of London and Londoners during the decline of Roman influence before the arrival of the Angles and Saxons later in the 5th century AD. This elusive period is poorly understood, and this find will redraw the map of Roman London studies.”

Taryn Nixon, director of the Museum of London Archaeology Service, said: “This is an extraordinary eye-opener for us. We thought that we had an impression of what was going on in the area. All of a sudden we have had to rethink Roman London.”

No other tile kilns have been found in Central London, and the kiln is the latest-dated structure from Roman London to have been found thus far.

The site lies at the western edge of what was once the large middle-Saxon town of Lundenwic. Among the most attractive finds made at the site are grave goods from Anglo-Saxon burials, including an exquisite gold pendant.

The dig has encompassed the dilapidated 19th-century vaults that previously housed many of the activities at St Martin’s — including social care, rehearsal space and day centres for the Chinese community. New modern spaces will be provided for these activities.

Reflecting on the regeneration work that has given rise to the discoveries, Mr Holtam said: “How wonderful that in doing work to secure the future of St Martin’s we have unearthed its unknown past.”

Other versions:

1,600-year-old Roman coffin unearthed in London -

Roman coffin find redraws map of ancient London - Scotsman

Roman coffin find redraws map of ancient London - Reuters
Interesting what gets into some newspapers ... from the River Falls Journal:

In an earlier column, I discussed how Pythagoras’ harmonic fractions (1/8, 1/4, 1/3, etc.) are related to the development of the musical scales used to create harmony today.

The device he experimented with was an ancient instrument called the monochord. It consisted of a single string with a movable bridge stretched over a sound box, upon which one could mark the positions of mathematical intervals.

It was through that process of musical exploration that he identified the primary relationship between fractions and the harmonic overtone series found in nature.

The seven-note scales derived from those fractions are called modes. They are referred to as diatonic scales because they consist of whole and half-step intervals.

Early depictions of the seven-stringed kithara, an ancient Greek predecessor of the guitar, indicate Greek modes were played against a drone which provided a context for the intervallic relationships of the various scales to a tonal center or tonic.

Changing the pitch of the drone would change the mode being played, and consequently the melodic possibilities of the scale.

Plato is credited with naming these modes after the Greek city states, so musicians use the esoteric names of Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Myxolydian, Aeolian and Locrian to describe them.

A great deal of Plato’s philosophical musings are dedicated to nature of the modes, and his beliefs that behaviors, attitudes, abilities, and even social welfare were tied to their qualities.

He recommends, for example, that soldiers listen to the Dorian or Phrygian modes to gain strength, and warned weak minds would result from prolonged exposure to the Myxolydian.

Most would argue today that tempo, inflection, rhythmic meter, context, expectation and harmonic progression have more to do with the mood of a song than the mode, but it seems happier songs are played more often in major keys, and sadder songs are played in minor ones.

Perhaps there are innate emotional qualities to the scales themselves.

Considering that an unlimited number of pitches exist in nature, it is amazing to find such a seemingly endless array of musical styles and expression based on just a few seven note scales. Most of us understand the emotional appeal of a particular song, but it is more difficult to put a finger on just what creates the mood of the piece.
There will be a new Cleopatra flick on the way, according to Variety ... just in case that expires, Coming Soon has a summary too ...
Another one from EurekAlert:

An ancient curse aimed at a thief is one of a number of treasures to be unveiled to the public for the first time, following the largest archaeological excavation the city of Leicester has ever seen.

Over the past three years, a team of up to 60 archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services has been working on a number of sites in the city. Almost 9% of Leicester's historic core has been subject to investigation in some form, giving new insights into the appearance and development of the Roman and medieval towns.

One of the most interesting finds from a site on Vine Street was a 'curse' tablet – a sheet of lead inscribed in the second or third century AD and intended to invoke the assistance of a chosen god. It has been translated by a specialist at Oxford University, and reads:

'To the god Maglus, I give the wrongdoer who stole the cloak of Servandus. Silvester, Riomandus (etc.) ... that he destroy him before the ninth day, the person who stole the cloak of Servandus…' Then follows a list of the names of 18 or 19 suspects. What happened to them is not recorded.

Before the discovery of this object, archaeologists only knew of the names of three or four of the inhabitants of Roman Leicester, so the find is of great significance.

Richard Buckley, co-Director of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, said: "Curse tablets are known from a number of Roman temple sites in Britain, and are thin rectangular sheets of lead bearing the 'curse' inscribed with a point or stylus. They were usually rolled up and were probably nailed to the wall of a temple or shrine. Most curses seem to relate to thefts and typically the chosen god is asked to do harm to the perpetrator. It has been suggested, on the basis of name forms and the value of items stolen, that the curses relate to the lives of ordinary people, rather than the wealthy, and that they were perhaps commissioned by the dedicator from a professional curse writer.

"The Leicester curse is unusually well preserved and had not been rolled up. After initial cleaning by a conservator, it was clear that it was covered in handwritten script, including a column of text which looks rather like a list. The inscription is currently being translated by a specialist at the University of Oxford. He notes that the Latin of the script reflects the spoken language in several ways. There are 18 or 19 names, a mixture of commonplace Roman (like Silvester and Germanus), Celtic (like Riomandus and Cunovendus), and 'Roman' names found in Celtic-speaking provinces (like Regalis). The god's name might be a title - 'prince' in Celtic.

"The curse is a remarkable discovery, and at a stroke, dramatically increases the number of personal names known from Roman Leicester. So far, we have the soldier, Marcus Ulpius Novantico, from a military discharge certificate of AD106, 'Verecunda' and Lucius' from a graffito on a piece of pottery and 'Primus' who inscribed his name on a tile he had made. The name forms will help us to understand the cultural make up of the population, whilst the subject matter tells us about the spread of spoken Latin and the religious practices of ordinary people".

The excavations have also produced many thousands of sherds of pottery, together with building materials, animal bone and a large variety of smaller objects, including Roman weighing scales, coins, brooches, gaming pieces and hairpins. A find of note from the medieval period is a piece of high status chain mail.

Four large sites were excavated in 2005 and 2006 as part of the Highcross Quarter and Leicester Square Developments, funded by Hammerson plc and Thomas Fish and Co. respectively. Now that the fieldwork has finished, the archaeologists would like to share the discoveries with the public

On Saturday 2nd December, between 11am and 4pm there will be a 'meet the specialists day' at the Jewry Wall Museum (by kind permission of Leicester City Council) with posters and displays of finds to showcase some of the main results of the work.

Images of the ancient curse tablet will be on show- the tablet itself is in safekeeping with experts in Oxford.

Highlights of the project have included:

* The discovery of the lost medieval churches of St Peter and St Michael and their graveyards, with the excavation of over 1600 burials

* The excavation of a substantial Roman town house of the 2nd century AD and an adjacent public building

* The investigation of the northern Roman and medieval town defences and the discovery of part of the town wall, together with an interval tower

* The collapsed wall of the macellum or market hall, one of Leicester's Roman public buildings – rare evidence for the appearance of a Roman structure in the city.

* The investigation of a deep sequence of medieval and post-medieval properties on Highcross Street, with evidence for a brewery

* New evidence for Dark Age Leicester, from the discovery of Anglo-Saxon structures of the 5th-6th century AD

The site directors will be on hand to talk about the results of the excavations and there will be the opportunity to view some of the finds and meet specialists in Roman pottery, medieval and post medieval pottery, animal bone, human bone, building materials, small finds and environmental evidence.

Richard Buckley commented: 'The recent excavations have been on a scale rarely seen in British cities, and for the first time in Leicester it has been possible to look at large areas of the Roman and medieval town. This has made it possible to examine complete buildings and to see how an entire neighbourhood changed over almost 2000 years.

'Now begins the painstaking process of analysing the results of the project. The work will involve many specialists and is expected to take several years.'


ARLT - Note to self: Never steal a Roman's cloak
(another version)

Other versions:

ScienceDaily: Archaeologists Unearth Ancient Curse: Tablet To God Maglus Invokes Destruction Of Cloak-pilferer

2nd century curse is a blessing to scientists - Los Angeles Times
Finally ... normalcy returns. My box has filled in the past couple of days with various versions of this one ... here's the EurekAlert press release version:

An international team has unravelled the secrets of a 2,000-year-old computer which could transform the way we think about the ancient world.

Professor Mike Edmunds and Dr Tony Freeth, of Cardiff University led the team who believe they have finally cracked the workings of the Antikythera Mechanism, a clock-like astronomical calculator dating from the second century BC.

Remnants of a broken wooden and bronze case containing more than 30 gears was found by divers exploring a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera at the turn of the 20th century. Scientists have been trying to reconstruct it ever since. The new research suggests it is more sophisticated than anyone previously thought.

Detailed work on the gears in the mechanism show that it was able to track astronomical movements with remarkable precision. The calculator was able to follow the movements of the moon and the sun through the Zodiac, predict eclipses and even recreate the irregular orbit of the moon. The team believe it may also have predicted the positions of some or all of the planets.

The findings suggest that Greek technology was far more advanced than previously thought. No other civilisation is known to have created anything as complicated for another thousand years.

Professor Edmunds said: "This device is just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind. The design is beautiful, the astronomy is exactly right. The way the mechanics are designed just makes your jaw drop. Whoever has done this has done it extremely well."

The team was made up of researchers from Cardiff, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and the Universities of Athens and Thessaloniki, supported by a substantial grant from the Leverhulme Trust. They were greatly aided by Hertfordshire X-Tek, who developed powerful X-Ray computer technology to help them study the corroded fragments of the machine. Computer giant Hewlett-Packard provided imaging technology to enhance the surface details of the machine.

The mechanism is in over 80 pieces and stored in precisely controlled conditions in Athens where it cannot be touched. Recreating its workings was a difficult, painstaking process, involving astronomers, mathematicians, computer experts, script analysts and conservation experts.

The team is unveiling its full findings at a two-day international conference in Athens from November 30 to December 1 and publishing the research in the journal Nature . The researchers are now hoping to create a computer model of how the machine worked, and, in time, a full working replica. It is still uncertain what the ancient Greeks used the mechanism for, or how widespread this technology was.

Professor Edmunds said: "It does raise the question what else were they making at the time. In terms of historic and scarcity value, I have to regard this mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa."

Discussion of this item on the Classics list has been varied, but I agree with amicus noster John McMahon that the primary purpose of this thing would be astronomical (rather than, e.g., for astrological or tide-predicting purposes). Even more specific, though, I'd suggest this was used for calendar purposes. We don't hear -- as far as I'm aware -- of Greek calendars getting as out of whack as the Roman one did on several occasions. Perhaps it was because of the existence of technology such as this, which would allow whatever archon was in charge a means to more accurately determine, e.g., when the new moon would occur to start the month. If we engage in speculation, we might suggest the technology wasn't widespread or was lost by the time Julius Caesar did his reforms of the calendar and based them on the work of Sosigenes. Or perhaps, Sosigenes had a 'mechanism' of his own.


Alun Salt comments on the device at Archaeoastronomy ...

Outside of that, a thought that occurred to me in the past few days was I can list 'other versions' of news items if they turn out to be particularly good/different or in case folks come later and want to track things down, so here's how that might look;

An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists - New York Times (John Noble Wilford)

In search of lost time - The ancient Antikythera Mechanism doesn't just challenge our assumptions about technology transfer over the ages — it gives us fresh insights into history itself. - Nature

Ancient computer was ahead of its time - ABC

Experts: Fragments an Ancient Computer -

A device light-years ahead of its time -

Ancient Moon 'computer' revisited - BBC

Ancient Greek computer reveals its secrets - Telegraph