just so folks know ... we're on a brief hiatus until Saturday afternoonish ... hecticity of various appointments ...

ante diem v kalendas apriles

37 A.D. -- arrival of Gaius (Caligula) in Rome

193 A.D. -- murder of the emperor Pertinax; recognition of Didius Julianus as Augustus

364 A.D. -- elevation of Valens to the rank of Augustus

... in the early Church, this was one of the days claimed as the day of Jesus' birth ...
inveigh @ Merriam-Webster

sessile @ Wordsmith

presentiment @ Dictionary.com
This is a two parter:

It gets off to a bad start (the opening bust looks like Trajan), but it okay otherwise.

Biography of Caesar I

Biography of Caesar II
From YLE:

Nova Felinarum species inventa
: Nuntii Latini

23.03.2007, klo 08.44

Anno proxime praeterito in Borneo quinquaginta duae novae herbarum et animalium species repertae sunt, ut refert Ordo internationalis naturae tuendae (WWF).

In iis est animal felinum, quod antea pro Neofele nebulosa, bestia in Asia continenti vivente, habebatur.

Recentioribus autem investigationibus apparuit feram insularem a Neofele continentali tantum differre, quantum leonem a tigri et tigrim a pardo.

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

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: Nuntius Iraquiae: 50 homines occisos
This looks like another (lost-in-translation?) chapter in the sputtering attempt to repatriate the Altar ... from Turkish Daily News:

The Bergama Zeus Altar, one of the most important pieces among Anatolian historical treasures, lures crowds at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, thousands of kilometers away from its motherland, reported the Anatolia news agency.

Pergamon is one of the five museums on the Berlin Museum Island (Museumsinsel), visited by almost all tourists in Berlin. It exhibits archaeological works, which were found during the archaeological excavations initiated in 1865 by Carl Humman. The Bergama Zeus Altar (165 B.C.), regarded as the most precious piece among the archaeological works that are exhibited in the museum, receives great interest from domestic and foreign tourists in Berlin. It is reported that the visitors of the Pergamon Museum pay 30 million euros in a year for the entrance fee and gift products that are sold in the museum.

The museum's Islamic Arts section, where pieces from various regions including Anatolia are on display, also draws attention of visitors. It is reported that Humman came to the region in 1864 for a road construction project and showed great interest in the works found by chance during the construction. Bergama (Ancient Pergamon), one of the oldest settlements in the history of civilization, came to light during the excavations started after 1864.

The Zeus Altar, which was constructed by the Pergamon King Eumenes II (197-159 B.C.) as a memorial of his victory against the Galatians, was taken to Berlin nearly 130 years ago. What is interesting is that the tomb of Carl Humman, who took the Zeus Altar to Germany, is in the Acropol in Bergama by his will.
From the Signal:

Students in the Classical Studies Club face a huge risk at the College: getting "assassinated." This is the first year the club is running a game of Assassin, which gained the attention and participation of 50 players. The club shares an interest in the history and culture of ancient Greece and Rome and the ways in which social and political issues that characterize those cultures are still apparent in contemporary societies.

The Assassination Game is part of "Classics Week," a week to celebrate what the club is all about. Activities have included a trip to see the feature film "300," a vicious retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, and a trip to Zorba's Brother in Princeton to have some Greek eats.

The club is still fairly new but the members are creative in their endeavors. As club advisor Holly Haynes, Latin professor, commented, "The club consists of some really fun, smart people who share a common interest and wanted to create a new kind of social network."

In the Assasination Game, each player is assigned to "assassinate" another player. As club publicist Jeff Hatley, sophomore mathematics major, explained, "You assassinate your target by approaching them, putting your hand on their shoulder, and saying 'You're dead.'"

After the player's target is assassinated, you have to then assassinate their target. The game will be running until there is only one person remaining or until March 29, when the player with the most "kills" wins. Players cannot be assassinated in their own dorm room, at their place of work or in class.

To help avoid assassination each player was given a "safety": a laminated piece of paper giving the day, time and location of the club's meetings. If the player's safety is conspicuous in his hand or he is wearing it, he cannot be assassinated. But the game has a twist, as starting on Tuesday, March 27, the safety will no longer keep the player alive.

Just as a real assassin has his or her moves mapped out, players have been encouraged to use any means necessary to complete their kills. While most are weary of stalkers on Facebook, these players face the risk of being revealed to those trying to "kill them."

Players have been logging on to find out who their target is, when their classes are, even who they hang out with. Many players have chosen to take down their Facebook picture and have made their accounts visible only to their friends. The game has proven to be popular and bystanders have expressed a desire to play next semester. "We are hoping to double the participation next semester," Hatley said in response to the game's popularity.

The game ends tomorrow. There is no telling the lengths that players will go to "assassinate." If you are playing, be weary of friend requests on Facebook, and don't forget about guarding your MySpace.

Much plotting and trickery will occur, with each member hoping to make it to the end. Who is next to be assassinated? What means will the assassins take?

This week should prove to be exciting and reveal the winner of the competition. Until then, check out the Classical Studies Club meetings on Wednesday afternoons at 1 p.m. in the Brower Student Center TV Lounge, located above the Rathskeller, if you are interested in participating in games like this in the future. Make sure not to greet them with a hand on their shoulder ­- they might just call you an assassin.
The incipit of a very lengthy piece in the LA Times ... I was unaware of the existence of colatura:

IT'S a sweet, languid summer evening on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. A waiter walks onto the veranda carrying a vial of red-amber liquid. At your table, he dips a twig of dried oregano into it and applies a few drops to your dish. Instantly it turns into something memorably appetizing.

The magic fluid is colatura di alici, a traditional flavoring made in two local fishing villages: Cetara, six miles west of Salerno, and Pisciotta, about 60 miles south.

To call colatura a cousin of Vietnamese nuoc mam scarcely does it justice. It's the free-run juice of salted anchovies, so it's richer and more aromatic than the typical southeast Asian fish sauce, which is brine in which fish (or fish parts) have been pickled. At first, colatura smells incredibly fishy, but a few minutes later it may strike you as meaty or winy instead. It's overflowing with the protein-type savor the Japanese call umami.

Colatura is a rare ingredient, used sparingly; "It's like adding truffle oil," says Piero Selvaggi of Valentino Restaurant in Santa Monica. Currently no Los Angeles market is selling it, nor are any of our local Italian restaurants featuring it.

But it is available online. This is one chance for the home cook to get out ahead of the pros.

The ancient Romans had a fish sauce called garum, and many people speculate that colatura may be descended from garum. Others connect it with the Cistercian monks of San Pietro di Amalfi, who were salting anchovies centuries ago.

Either explanation could be right. The fact is, colatura arises naturally from the process of salting anchovies Cetara-style. When the fish are caught in summer, the Cetaresi throw them in chestnut wood barrels, alternating layers with handfuls of salt. Then the fish are pressed down by a wooden lid weighted with rocks.

By December, the anchovies have produced a bit of fragrant amber juice. A tiny hole is poked in the bottom of the barrel and a bowl collects the colatura that drips through ("colatura" means dripping or filtration).

Evocative flavor

UNTIL the 20th century, this was exclusively a homemade product. Families would exchange bottles of their own colatura at Christmas, when it was a prominent flavoring at the meatless Christmas Eve dinner. These days, four companies make it commercially in Cetara and nearby Pellezzano. (Pisciotta's version of colatura, made in terracotta urns instead of barrels, is not available outside its locality.)

"You can use colatura anywhere you'd use salt," says Naples-born Enzo Battarra of Enzo & Angela in West Los Angeles. "Just a hint," warns Carla Capalbo, author of "The Food and Wine Guide to Naples and Campania" (Pallas Athene, London, 2006), "or it becomes unbearable."

The most common thing to do, though, is to make a salsetta by mixing a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil with a clove or two of crushed garlic and a teaspoon or so of colatura. This "little sauce" most often goes on spaghetti, linguine or vermicelli (the Amalfi Coast is renowned for its artisanal pasta), but it is also used with fish.

... the rest
7.00 p.m. |HINT| Decisive Battles: Marathon
Marathon, Greece, September 490 BC. King Darius leads his Persian
army in an attack on Greece. When the Persian fleet, carrying massive
infantry and cavalry, arrived on Greek soil at Marathon Bay, the
Greeks were outnumbered 4:1. But in an heroic effort, the Athenian
hoplite warriors were victorious in a fight against both greater
numbers and time. Yet while they fought on land, Persian ships were
sailing round to sack the undefended city. Athens had to be warned--
thus Phidippides' 26-mile run.

7.30 p.m. |HINT| Battle of Alesia
In a bold move for political power, Julius Caesar invades Gaul.
Using a strategy of divide and conquer, Caesar's army marches through
Gaul and seems unstoppable. But then, a young Gallic warrior named
Vercingetorix rallies the Gauls together to drive Caesar out of their
land for good. Armed inside the Gallic fortress at Alesia, with
thousands of warriors, it seems that Vercingetorix has the advantage
when Roman and Gallic forces face off. But Caesar will not give up.
He orders his troops to surround the fortress with a massive barrier.
When the armies finally clash, it's a showdown that will determine
the fate of Gaul.

HINT = History International
ante diem vi kalendas apriles

47 B.C. -- Gaius Julius Caesar is victorious in Alexandria

47 B.C. -- Ptolemy XIII drowns while trying to cross the Nile (related to the foregoing event?)
corrigendum @ Merriam-Webster (don't often see the singular)

roborant @ Dictionary.com
From YLE:

Theatrum antiquum repertum
: Nuntii Latini

23.03.2007, klo 08.43

Theatrum Acharnanum, quod in Graecia antiqua clarissimum erat, abhinc paucas septimanas a quibusdam structoribus fortuito inventum esse nuntiatur.

Fodiebantur fundamenta cuiusdam aedificii, quod decem chiliometra a mediis Athenis in septentriones aberat, cum fori theatri lapidei reperti sunt.

Scaena autem et ceterae parietinae sub platea domibusque propinquis obrutae latebant.

Illud theatrum saeculo quinto a.Chr.n. sive aetate urbis Atheniensium aurea adhibebatur.

Tom Bergman
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
The quest continues ... here's the latest developments from Centre Daily:

A geological engineering company said Monday it has agreed to help in an archaeological project to find the island of Ithaca, homeland of Homer's legendary hero Odysseus. It has long been thought that the island of Ithaki in the Ionian Sea was the island Homer used as a setting for the epic poem "The Odyssey," in which the king Odysseus makes a perilous 10-year journey home from the Trojan War.

But amateur British archaeologist Robert Bittlestone believes the Ithaca of Homer is no longer a separate island but became attached to the island of Kefallonia through rock displacement caused by earthquakes. The theory could explain inconsistencies between Ithaki and Homer's description of Odysseus' island.

"Because no one has ever been able to find Ithaca, people felt the Odyssey was like a Lord of the Rings story," Bittlestone said in an interview. "This would say Ithaca was a real place - it doesn't say Odysseus was a real person, that's another jump."

The Dutch-based engineering services company, Fugro Group, will use high-tech surveying equipment normally used in oil-and-gas exploration for the Ithaca project, due to start this summer and last about three years. The Greek Geological Society is also sponsoring the research.

"The technology will be very varied and that attracted Fugro to this," said Steve Thompson director of airborne survey at Fugro. "It's unusual to be faced with a problem where you can apply the broad range of services that we have."

"We're all secretly hoping the thesis is true," he added. "But we are approaching this is in a very scientific way."

To test the theory, engineers and geologists will examine rock where Bittlestone believes a narrow sea channel once existed, possibly separating Kefallonia from a flat peninsula called Paliki. They hope to discover whether it is made of solid rock or debris, which would suggest Paliki was once an island.

Homer describes Ithaca as low-lying and "furthest to the sea" - but Ithaki is mountainous and is not the outermost Ionian island. Paliki, on the other hand, is generally flat and could theoretically have been the outermost island.

Kefallonia lies in a seismically active area, and was rattled Sunday by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake, followed by scores of aftershocks Monday.

Thompson said the company would sink sensors into bore holes, and likely follow up with sonar analysis of the seabed, as well as using material detectors that dangle from a helicopter and undersea sensors dragged through the water by ship.

Bittlestone, a management consultant, said he came up with the theory while reading up for a Greek holiday in 2003 and gained support from two British academics who help attract archaeologists to excavate in Paliki.

The academics - James Diggle, a professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University, and John Underhill, an Edinburgh University professor of stratigraphy - co-authored a book with Bittlestone about his hypothesis, "Odysseus Unbound - The Search for Homer's Ithaca."
Robert McNeil opens a column in the Scotsman (which is payfer) with:

MANY readers - and I use the word "many" in its original Etruscan sense of "hardly any or no" - have asked me to intervene in the deteriorating situation with the young royals.

... that tweaked something in my brain and I note that he's used the device before:

I have, of late, neglected this questionable half-hour, even though it is said to be the highlight of the parliamentary week. And I use the word "highlight" in its original Etruscan sense of "a tedious interlude, a load of cack".

... and:

But I shall miss the old place. I shall miss the brisk march up the Mound (I use the word "brisk" in its original Etruscan sense of "tiring, knackering") and, on a fair day, stopping for a seat outside the two gothic towers to take in the wonderful view across the Firth of Forth to Fife and green distant hills.

So ... is this a McNeilism (if so, I like it), or is it a 'wider' idiom/expression (in which case I still like it) ...
From Today's Zaman:

A statue of Mars, the god of war, discovered in the ancient city of Zeugma and now kept at the Gaziantep Archeological Museum, has suffered damage to the shoulder and hands.

Gaziantep Museum Deputy Director and archeologist Dr. Mehmet Onal said any metal could suffer from oxidation over time but that it does not necessarily mean the damage is permanent. Onal added that restoration experts have been assigned to develop a permanent solution. A detailed report and the necessary measures would be undertaken very soon, he said. Onal explained that the Mars statue would be kept under glass and that they will use climate control to regulate the conditions inside. “We will keep it under better conditions. We will expand our report with more details in the coming weeks. The Mars statue will be preserved for thousands of years. That’s why we will find a permanent solution for it. Our restoration team is taking the necessary action,” asserted Onal.

The statue of Mars is made of bronze and the figure’s torso is in an “S” shape. Mars, bending his right elbow, looks like he is holding a pike and in his left hand he holds a curled flower. This only statue of Mars symbolizing both war and abundance and is thought to date from the second century B.C.

When first discovered, the statue of Mars was not standing, its left arm was broken, the torso was burnt and damaged and the hand was in pieces. The statue was restored in 2001 by an Italian team led by Dr. Roberto Nardi and after one year of work, it was ready for display in a special exhibit room at the Gaziantep Archeological Museum.

A photo accompanies the original article ... it's an interesting statue ...
Something that just popped into my less-than-caffeinated brain ... is it possible to IM in Latin? I mean the Romans already had a start on such things, what with abbreviations in inscriptions and salutations to letters etc. (SPD ... SVV) ...
From France24:

The archaeological museum of the Greek Ionian Sea island of Cephalonia was closed on Monday after a weekend of seismic activity damaged the building and smashed items, the culture ministry said.

An undersea tremor measuring 5.9 points on the open-ended Richter scale on Sunday toppled a number of exhibits at Argostoli Museum, smashing three of them, the ministry said without offering further details.

The museum building itself sustained minor damage, with cracks appearing in its walls.

The ministry said the museum, which displays antiquities from Prehistoric to Roman times and includes a valuable Mycenaean collection, will remain closed until the seismic activity is over.

A number of aftershocks up to 5.1 points Richter were recorded on Monday.

There were reports on Sunday of minor damage to homes and limited rock slides on roads, but no injuries.

Government engineers have been dispatched to Cephalonia to inspect schools and other public buildings in addition to the island's roads, many of which are built along steep cliffs.

The Argostoli Museum was entirely destroyed in a 1953 earthquake that devastated the island.

Greece is the most seismically active country in Europe, accounting for half the number of earthquakes recorded on the continent.
Current Debates in Classical Reception Studies
A Conference to be held at The Open University, Milton Keynes
18-20 May 2007
Current Debates in Classical Reception is an international cross-disciplinary conference organized by the Open University Reception of Classical Texts Research Project. The conference marks the importance of Reception as a main area of research in Classics and Ancient History. Through its Plenary and Panel sessions, the conference will promote international debate on current work, including investigative approaches, research methods and theoretical frameworks. It will seek to create new cross-disciplinary contacts and collaborations in the study of relevant aspects of material and literary culture and to promote awareness of the histories of scholarship that have developed in different national and international contexts.

On Friday 18th May, at 19.30, there will be an Open Session, sponsored by the Classical Receptions Studies Network, at this conference: The poet Maureen Almond in conversation with Stephen Harrison (University of Oxford): Translating the work of Horace in the twenty-first century. All are most welcome to this session. [For further information about Maureen, and details of her publications, go to www.maureenalmond.com/]

Bursaries are available for graduate students, kindly sponsored by the Classical Association, the Hellenic Society and the CRSN (early application advised). Forms available at the Conference Website.

Conference website (for further information, booking form etc.):

7.00 p.m. |DCIVC| First Scientists

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Cannae
Cannae, Italy, August 216 BC. In a classic example of double-
envelopment maneuver, Hannibal inflicts the greatest ever defeat on
the forces of Rome. A mighty Roman army, eight legions strong,
marches out to crush the Carthaginian general on an open battlefield.
Though Hannibal has far fewer men at his disposal, and none of his
famous elephants, he manages to surround and slaughter the superior
Roman force. See why Hannibal's military genius is still being lauded
and taught in academies today. Hosted by Matthew Settle (Band of

DCIVC - Discovery Civilizations (Canada)
HINT - History International
ante diem vii kalendas apriles

1546 -- death of Thomas Elyot (compiler of the first major (?) Latin-English dictionary)

1859 -- birth of A.E. Housman
panoply @ Merriam-Webster

omnifarious @ Wordsmith

epassyterotically @ Worthless Word for the Day

autochthonous @ Dictionary.com
From YLE:

Concentus ecclesiasticus Latinus
: Nuntii Latini

23.03.2007, klo 08.42

Chorus Neapolitanus musicae barocae deditus nomine Mysterium vocis die Lunae (19.3.) vesperi Helsinkii in Ecclesia Iohannis sacra concentum Latinum edidit.

Programma imprimis ex tribus hymnis Latinis mediaevalibus constabat, quorum modi a musicographis Neapolitanis saeculo duodevicesimo compositi erant.

Cantus ecclesiastici, quos ille chorus mira arte praesentabat, erant "Dies irae", "Stabat mater", "Veni Creator Spiritus".

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
A very slow a.m. and I just realized I forgot to post videos last week ... so here's a mini film-festival to start the week. First, we have the video which I had intended to post ages ago (just after experimenting whether this would work). In this one, Debra Hamel talks about her book Trying Neaira:

Trying Neaira

Next, we have a little project which Latin teachers might take inspiration from ... a music video translating Breaking Free into Latin:

Breaking Free

We'll fulfill the scholastic law of three with the humourous Olympus Burger: "Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon, Aphroditie [sic], Apollo and Hades work at the fast-food chain Olympus Burger under the watchful eye of assistant manager Craig." (some content might not be suitable for younger viewers)

Olympus Burger
From BMCR:

Kurt A. Raaflaub, Josiah Ober, Robert W. Wallace, Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece. With chapters by Paul Cartledge and Cynthia Farrar.

Benferhat on Harvey on Francois Hinard and Yasmina Benferhat, Ciceron. Discours (Tome 1.2): Pour Sextus Roscius.

Brian W. Breed, Pastoral Inscriptions: Reading and Writing Virgil's Eclogues.

From Scholia:

Bradley A. Ault and Lisa C. Nevett (edd.), Ancient Greek Houses and Households: Chronological, Regional, and Social Diversity
7.00 p.m. |HINT| Attila the Hun
Chalons, 451 AD. What made this battle so compelling? Attila the
Hun, the terrifying menace who had his eyes set on what was left of
the Western Roman Empire. By this time, huge chunks of the Roman
Empire operated under the autonomous control of various barbarian
kings and no unity remained. Rome needed one more hero, and Flavius
Aetuis--the Last of the Romans--was to be that man. He worked
tirelessly and fought tigerishly to drive Attila away and preserve
the West from Hunnic ravages.

HINT = History International
Let's see what the ClassiCarnies (and others) have brought to light this week:

N.S. Gill had a feature on Medusa ... Top Mothers in Ancient Rome ... Andromeda ...

Alun Salt's latest Clioaudio is on the Tomb of Jesus thing ...

Adrian Murdoch put up a mini-carnival of his own ... there was also a piece on Socrates as a professor ... there was also a translation of the de ceremoniis 2.42 (very interesting) ...

Eric notes that Pandora's box was actually a jar ...

Irene Hahn had notes on publicani and tax farming ... Mithridates VI Eupator ... the amphitheatre at Pompeii ... the thraex ...

Glaukopis reviews episode 9 of Rome (I'm hopelessly behind) ...

Gabriel Bodard notes an interesting Wikipedia-as-teaching-tool project ...

Michael Gilleland collected Seneca's thoughts on crowds ... John Adams on Jefferson's Greek ... Samuel Johnson's translation of Horace Ode 4.7 ... bellies ...

Dr Weevil comments on a sadistic Latin teacher ...

Dorothy King had some nice Bactrian Gold ...

Lee Rosenbaum notes another initiative to reunite the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles ...

Mary Beard was commenting on loos ancient and modern ...

Down the hall, Peter Stothard was commenting on the commenting on 300 ...

Phil S. has a Patristics Roundup ...

Troels Myrup hosts the ancient/medieval edition of Carnivalesque ... he also has a photo of a really ugly Roman dog (which looks like a chihuahua/sharpei cross) statue ...

On the US-as-Rome (or whatever ancient) side of things, Eric caught Al Gore snagging Thermopylae ...

New email list: Apparatus Criticus (textual criticism and ancient texts)

Elsewhere, a blog called the Cud looked at Themistocles and Pericles ...

Other than that, our Explorator newsletter issue 9.48 is up ... the weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings will be up later tonight ...
From Fortean Times 216 (December 2006):

(Trunk-ated from: Aelian, On Animals; Pliny, Natural History, esp. bk8 chs 1-13; Plutarch, On Animals' Cleverness, esp. ch97: also historians Arrian, Livy, and Polybius) "Nature's great masterpiece, an elephant/The only harmless great thing" - John Donne.

FT's (198:10-11) prancing pachyderms have nothing on classical jumbos, often described as ancient tanks or the world's biggest scrum halves. Various armies used them down to the sixth century AD. Sometimes they earned their hay: in the `Battle of the Elephants' (275/4 BC), Macedonian beasts routed Gallic scythed chariots, thanks to equine elephantophobia

They in turn were stampedable by mice and porcine oinkings, as the Romans soon discovered. Their tender tootsies were hurt by carpets of sharp objects, causing panic and indiscriminate trampling of friend and foe alike. At the Metaurus river battle (Rome v. Carthage, 207 BC), "More were killed by their own riders than by the Romans, their mahoots being armed with mallets and chisels to dispatch them in the vulnerable ear-neck region" (Livy, bk28 ch49 para1) - What would Sabu think?

Elephantine loyalty worked both ways. Indian King Porus's mount (fighting Alexander) pulled out the javelins from his master's flesh, kneeling to allow him easy alightment. When fleeing Argos in Sicily, the troops of King Pyrrhus (of 'Pyrrhic Victory' fame) were hampered by one creature seeking its unseated rider, while a fallen second one blocked the main gate.

"Nearest to man in intelligence" (Pliny). Their already proverbial memories (e.g. recognising humans from years before) enabled them to master complex entertainments for Roman circus crowds. Emperors Nero and Galba exhibited funambular elephants, notably a quartet bearing a litter containing a fifth dressed up like a lady. Others juggled shields, put on chimpanzee tea party-like shows, and traced personal messages in Greek and Latin on the sand.

One slow-witted jumbo, rebuked by his trainer, was later seen in the moonlight voluntarily putting in extra practice - an example to Premier League mastodons everywhere.

In classical elephant lore, they have two hearts (regenerated Time Lords?), gestate two to 10 years, mature at 60, and live to 300, African ones migrating to an Atlas Mountains geriatric Eden where they self-baptise and worship the Sun. Transplanted ones often expire from nostalgia or go blind through weeping. They get violently drunk on wine. Libyans give special honours to people killed by them. Duelling one was a Roman gladiator's ultimate moment - Where are you, Russell Crowe?

Maritally faithful, they copulate only five times a year: "Such is the male's pudicity that he never covers the female so long as anyone appears in sight" (Dr Johnson's Dictionary). Their strict moral code compelled elephants to unmask human crimes, from one exposing his trainer's short-changing of rations to the pair in India and Rome (AD 79-81) who impaled trainers' adulterous wives and lovers with their tusks, leaving the corpses to be found by the wronged husbands.

Despite their sexual continence, males frequently were smitten by human females, especially flower-sellers. One became locked in a romantic triangle with the famous grammarian Aristophanes of Byzantium. Another brought his inamorata fruit and would fondle her breasts with his trunk - Nowadays, it would be: "Dumbo Charged With Sexual Harassment"...

(Clipping from the Sun - date mislaid: Thai chef Kim Lee Ching, 61, gaoled for attempting sex with an elephant - surely the ultimate macho ambition? - claimed it was his wife reincarnated: "I recognised the naughty glint in her eye.")

"I'd not be much more preposterous if I should tell of an elephant that had produced two bicycles and a baby elephant"
Fort, Books p611.

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

Francois Hinard, Yasmina Benferhat, Ciceron. Discours (Tome 1.2): Pour Sextus Roscius. "Nouvelle edition".

J. C. Yardley (trans.), Livy: Hannibal's war (books 21-30). With an introduction and notes by Dexter Hoyos.

Francesco Paolo Rizzo, Sicilia cristiana dal I al V secolo. Volume Primo. Testimonia Siciliae Antiquae I.14; Supplementi a Kokalos 17.
Francesco Paolo Rizzo, Gli albori della Sicilia cristiana. Secoli I-V. Temi e luoghi del mondo antico 17.

McDonnell on Kaster on M. McDonnell, Roman Manliness: Virtus and the Roman Republic.
... in the Chronicle:

From Romans on the tube to Spartans at the cinema, ancient peoples are hot, and Steven Saylor knows why. "They're the jet-setters," he says, the Brads and Angelinas of their day.

What's more, they're sociopathic jet-setters who meet horrifically gory ends, adding a prurient element for history buffs and fans of human misery. When Cicero was killed, his head and hands were chopped off and displayed in the Forum: good stuff for supermarket tabloids. As a result, Saylor says, "There's a reptilian fascination about them."

No one's more fascinated than Saylor, whose own writing life is steeped in the blood of antiquity. The Goldthwaite native, University of Texas graduate and part-time Austin resident is the author of 13 previous books, 11 of them in his popular Roma Sub Rosa series of detective novels — set in the final decades before the Christian era and narrated by a shrewd Roman gumshoe named Gordianus the Finder.

In a phone interview from his home in the San Francisco Bay area, Saylor spoke of his latest book, the just-released Roma (St. Martin's Press, $25.95). It goes back almost a whole millennium further than the Gordianus novels, offering an epic portrait of a hilly stop on the salt-trade route that became a city, then a republic, then an empire.

Over 555 pages and 999 years, it tracks members of two families as they wend through a landscape crowded with war, political intrigue, sex, murder and religious practice. There are vestal virgins, slaves, plebeians, patricians, senators and soldiers. Famous figures make appearances (Cleopatra, the dictator Sulla), and famous episodes in Roman history: the rape of Lucretia, the defection of Coriolanus, the Gauls' siege of Rome.

The origin of Rome is knotty, the origin of Roma less so. Saylor's London publisher just sat him down and suggested he write "a big book" for a broader audience. "To me, a big book means [a novel by] Edward Rutherford or James Michener," he says. "The city or the country is the character and the title." Immediately, he knew he would name it Roma and cast it as a multigenerational saga.

The effort involved about two years of study and legwork. "Boy, I learned a lot, lemme tell ya. A lot of it was new research for me," says Saylor, who studied history and classics at UT. Establishing the whens and hows of Rome's construction, he then personalized the story by zeroing in on two founding families, the Potitii and Pinarii.

"Those are two actual families mentioned in Livy," he says. "They're the first people we hear about that we have names for other than mythological figures." Saylor's book follows their descendants — whose fortunes diverge dramatically — along with a gold "fascinum," an amulet in the shape of a winged phallus. Through 11 sections, the author builds character and emotion on a foundation of history. At each stage fiction is used not to alter fact but to illuminate it, humanize it and bring it to life.

"I like writing in the novelette form, and it's something you're rarely allowed to do these days," he says. And he enjoys the time spent in another era. "I do take some comfort from living in the past, because I am sensitive to the world we live in, and I'm often brought down by it. It is a form of escapism to go back into the past, although it's not really a better place. Maybe it's worse."

Saylor sees parallels between the ancient Romans and the behavior of modern rulers, particularly in the manipulation of religion to justify power and control the populace ("Jupiter told me to"). He is not entirely convinced that humanity has made much progress, though he concedes that he's better off in this age than he might have been under the Nazis; he and his life partner, Rick Solomon, have been together 30 years now. The vengeful Sulla, whose opponents were decapitated and their property seized by the state, became an early standard-bearer for tyranny, but he was hardly the last.

Saylor's book includes Sulla's self-penned epitaph: "No friend ever did him a kindness, and no enemy ever did him a wrong, without being fully repaid." Asked to write his own inscription for a monument on the Field of Mars, Saylor doesn't hesitate a beat: " 'He wrote about his own times by writing about ancient times."

"Because that's really what I'm doing," he says. "I am processing my own psyche and the times I live in, but it's being done with mirrors. And why that is my device and my tool I do not know. But it's a gift I've been given."

Other writers, he says, might channel this reflective urge through another genre — science fiction or fantasy, perhaps. Readers often assume that Saylor bears the mantle of Robert Graves (I, Claudius) or other Roman chroniclers, but the author says his greatest inspiration has always been J.R.R. Tolkien. Yet he's too much a fan of The Lord of the Rings to venture close to Middle Earth.

"I could never write fantasy, because the perfect thing — it's been done already, and anything else is going to be pastiche," he says. "I couldn't really do what Tolkien did: It's too intimidating, it's too magnificent. And yet I've ended up emulating him, because that Rome is my Middle Earth."

If the Gordianus books are his Lord of the Rings, Roma is his Silmarillion: "This is the back story." Not to besmirch the name of Tolkien, but isn't Roma a better read? "Well, I hope so, for better or for worse," he says with a laugh. "I'm not dead, for one reason. I actually got to finish this book. No one finished it for me."

And having finished it, he's on to the next one — a new entry in the Roma Sub Rosa series tentatively titled The Triumph of Caesar, in which Gordianus tries to ferret out a conspiracy to kill a certain balding, charismatic dictator.

Julius Caesar appears in Roma just long enough to plot world domination before expiring, on the Ides of March, at the foot of Pompey's statue. Of all the figures in history, he intrigues Saylor the most because he can be heroized as a visionary or demonized as a genocidal despot. The same leader who expanded the vote and put Gauls in the senate also laid waste to entire populations. "Bad man. Not a good man," Saylor says. "On the other hand, he really did have a vision of changing society ... so he's a figure who is still very much fascinating to me."

Someday, he says, he'd like to fictionalize another empire: Mirabeau B. Lamar's dream to expand the Republic of Texas. It would be his third book set in Texas, after Have You Seen Dawn? and A Twist at the End: A Novel of O. Henry. Neither "was so successful that [it] knocked me out of my niche," but he's content in his niche, in any case. He's happy to have one.

"I found something that I love to write about, and there are readers for it," he says. "I'm really lucky that way." Or as the Romans would call him, Felix.
... and there's an interesing oped piece by Colin McEnroe in the Hartford Courant:

I probably have an inflated and idealistic notion of what government can be.

Whenever I am reaching for a symbol of governmental perfection, I almost invariably mention the Age of Pericles, because my ninth-grade classics teacher, Mr. David Francis, one of the last men I ever trusted, assured me that Pericles was a good egg and that he had Athens running about as well as could be expected.

Mr. Francis was a learned man and an ex-Marine. I took many courses from him over the years, and such was my veneration of him that I never pointed out that he did not really know how to pronounce my first name correctly. After a while I got kind of attached to the way he said it, so that it would not have seemed like Mr. Francis talking if he did not address me as "Colon."

Anyway, I started reading about Pericles today, and it seemed as though his reputation was a little more sketchy than I had thought. Plutarch's entry for Pericles says that "many others say that the people were first led on by him into allotments of public lands, festival-grants, and distributions of fees for public services, thereby falling into bad habits, and becoming luxurious and wanton under the influence of his public measures, instead of frugal and self-sufficing."

I don't even know what that means, but it does not sound completely admirable. There were a lot of other negative accusations, but then I became fascinated by the story of Pericles and Aspasia, a love story not unlike that of John and Elizabeth Edwards, except that Pericles and Aspasia were not married to one another. Pericles left his wife to be with Aspasia (sort of a courtesan with a green card), who was supposedly brilliant and beautiful and may have even written some of his famous speeches. She bore his child, and Pericles publicly wept when she was prosecuted for impieties by Hermippus the One-Eyed, a comic poet and playwright.

I'm not making any of this up.

Why HBO does not have a series in the works about this is beyond me. I actually am quite addicted to the HBO series "Rome," which concludes its second season tonight. It also contains quite a bit of information Mr. Francis did not see fit to impart to me, including the idea that almost everybody of any consequence in the early days of imperial Rome was engaged in very aggressive, athletic sex during which they would frequently hit and choke each other. (I've reached an age where, when I watch people having hot, inventive sex on television, my first reaction is often, "Wow. You could really wrench something doing that," as opposed to some form of vicarious gratification.)

"Rome" is also a pretty good depiction of what a very powerful nation looks like once its leaders have fully dispensed with the entire notion of shame, which is why it's very easy to confuse things that go on in "Rome" with things that go on in "Washington."

I can't even fathom the idea that there may be no third season of "Rome." We haven't even gotten to Caligula, whose reign is notorious for its madness, cruelty and sexual license, as well as for the fact that Caligula tried to have his horse elected consul.

This doesn't seem like such an outrage now, when so many state and federal offices would actually be improved by replacing their current occupants with horses. Here in Connecticut, the speaker of the House is not as smart nor the governor as hard-working as most horses. At White House level ... well, we seem to be run by one part of a horse, and that is not as satisfactory.

According to a Internet bulletin board of "Rome" fans, Caligula was a veritable Pericles (not that that means what it used to) compared to Elagabalus, who tried to make Rome worship a big black stone that was the symbol of a sun cult. He then attempted to marry a statue (Pallas) and was turned down, so he married a different statue (Urania). He appears, during a four-year reign, to have had three wives and one husband (not counting statues), a feat not equaled even by Larry King.

I don't know. A lot of that could have been just bad press. Elagabalus' reputation would probably be better if he had had a daily briefing guy named Antonius Snowius to say things like: "Well, I've told you what our position is. And the Emperor - we have put out a supplemental - I mean, a statement of imperial policy. We think that this is inappropriate. What we want to do is to make sure that the funds have - that our Emperor has the flexibility he needs, which is a paramount consideration in his relationship with statues. Next question."

Anyway, "Rome" could keep going for many seasons before the Visigoths show up and sack the place. And then you could do a whole bunch of series from the Goth point of view. "Goths in the City" and "It's All Goth to Me." Theodoric the Great, technically an Ostrogoth, could be a great Tony Soprano-type character, constantly trying to juggle competing interests among the Franks, the Beans, the pope (who asked Theodoric to mediate a schism), Rome, rival Goths, etc. He gave his favorite daughter in marriage to a Visigothic prince, hoping to unite the Goths, but the prince died young.

Maybe the Goth series could be done by the makers of "300," a movie about Spartans who have the bizarre notion that the men who think up wars ought to actually go fight them. On the other hand, the Spartans talk all the time about how "free" they are, despite living in a totalitarian country where sick people are left on mountainsides, which is now known as "managed care."

All I really ask is that I be kept busy watching the scandals of antiquity until I die, so I don't have to pay any attention to what's happening now. It's not that today's leaders aren't as corrupt, duplicitous, conniving, arrogant and deranged as the old ones. It's just that the old ones were considerably more interesting. Mr. Francis just thought a kid named Colon was probably not ready to hear that.
Seen on the Classics list:

To members, former members, and potential new members,

The Classical Society of the American Academy in Rome was established in the 1930s to support the School of Classical Studies of the AAR, its programs and activities. To this end, one of our major projects each year is funding two to three scholarships for individuals enrolled in the Classical Summer School of the AAR. In addition, we work to support the AAR Library through monetary gifts and donations.

Membership in the Society is open to all AAR Fellows of the School of Classical Studies and to participants in programs affiliated with the School. These programs include NEH Summer Seminars, the Classical Summer School, the Summer Program in Archaeology, the Summer Program in Roman Pottery Studies, and other past programs of the School.

Annual dues for the Society are currently $25.00. This money supports scholarships for secondary school teachers and graduate students attending the Classical Summer School, and when possible, donations to the Library of the American Academy in Rome.

We are in special need of donations to our scholarship funds at this moment to meet our goals for the 2007 scholarship awards. At present we have a shortfall of about $6,000.  Donations to the CSAAR are tax-deductible. **  All dues, plus any amount above that, go directly toward our scholarship funds.

** Note: CSAAR’s recognition as tax-exempt non-profit under 501(3)c is pending but will be complete within the next couple months.

To those members who have already paid dues, we thank you, and ask that you consider making an additional donation to the scholarship fund.  Anyone who is not a member, we welcome you and encourage you to help us continue to support the School of Classical Studies, and in particular, our scholarships to the Classical Summer School.

To join CSAAR or to make a donation to the scholarship fund, please send a check made out to "Classical Society of the American Academy in Rome" or "CSAAR", along with your name, address, and other contact information, especially email, to our Secretary-Treasurer:

David P. Kubiak
Secretary-Treasurer, CSAAR
Department of Classics
Wabash College
Crawfordsville, IN 47933

Members will receive the CSAAR newsletter, published annually each December, and are encouraged to join us for our yearly meeting held at the annual joint conference of the American Philological Association and Archaeological Institute of America.

Our website is http://www.csaarome.org/index.html

Brief item from the LA Times:

To help visitors navigate classical ruins, Greece's Culture Ministry unveiled a hand-held device that offers high-resolution video, site diagrams, position indicators and stereo sound.

The units, with instructions in Greek, English, German and French, will be available by summer 2008 at 15 sites, including the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi, Rhodes and Knossos in Crete. Rental prices have not yet been determined.

The ministry also unveiled new automated ticketing systems for 18 tourist sites, designed to reduce waiting times.
From ANSA:

Fruits, herbs, seeds and other plant products popular with ancient Romans will go back on sale this week in a renovated herbalist's store in the archaeological site of Pompeii.

The merchandise has all been produced from plants grown in a Pompeian botanical garden, painstakingly restored to its former glory.

An interdisciplinary team, including archaeologists, biologists, botanists and historians, has spent years excavating the remains of the site, identifying exactly which plants were grown where.

The 800-square-metre garden is now once again home to a vast variety of greenery, including fruit trees, medicinal herbs and vegetables.

The project also entailed extensive analysis of Roman texts in order to produce items as close as possible to what would once have been sold in the herbalist.

One of the most popular products grown in the ancient garden were different kinds of nuts, according to the biologist leading the team, Annamaria Ciarallo.

"The inhabitants of Pompeii obviously didn't have fridges to preserve food, so walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts were all very common," she explained.

The garden is also home to apple, quince, fig and olive trees, while there is a range of herbs, used both in food preparation and for medicinal purposes.

These include basil and marjoram, as well as thyme, which has antiseptic qualities, garlic, used for high blood pressure, and rue, which can help induce abortion.

Pompeii's marshy soil made it particularly well-suited to riverside trees, said Ciarallo. These include ash, whose flexible wood was used to make bed staves, willow, used for baskets, and poplar.

Different kinds of cane were also grown for a variety of purposes: to make wicker furniture, to strain ricotta, to act as frames for other plants, to make musical instruments and to make screens to divide rooms in houses, according to Ciarallo.

The herbalist's store and the garden, which is divided into different sections signposted in Italian and English, will remain open to the general public until the middle of April.

This is the second garden developed by Ciarallo's team in the remains of Pompeii, which was buried when Vesuvius erupted in August 79 AD.

Four years ago the team recreated a 4,000 square-meter garden attached to the city's Casa del Profumiere (Perfumers' House).

This led to the sale of the balms, essences and cosmetics in the adjoining building.

Violet, rose, lily, basil, dill, rue, thyme, anise, oregano and lemon balm were just some of the plants cultivated in the garden, although the perfumer living there probably also made use of more exotic, imported ingredients.

Ciarallo's team also uncovered several olive trees in the garden, which were used to produce oil in which herbs, spices and flowers were left to steep.

The finished product was kept in containers made of non-absorbent materials such as bronze and glass to slow down the otherwise rapid deterioration process.

The interdisciplinary group has also been behind a highly successful attempt to produce the world's first recreation of ancient Roman wine.

The project, now in its seventh year, uses grapes from the restored vineyard at the House of the Fountain.

The ruby-red, full-bodied wine was named after one of the buried city's most famous attractions, Villa dei Misteri (Villa of Mysteries).


International Symposium

(from the Bronze Age to the Late Antiquity)

Date: 16th-19th November 2007
Place: Casta-Papiernicka, Slovakia (ca. 40 km northeast from Bratislava)
Symposium languages: German, English, French

The Symposium will focus on archaeological and mythological aspects as well as on topics concerning ancient history, history of art and religion. All papers will be published in our journal ANODOS 6-7/2006-2007.

Papers concerning the archaeology of the ancient Near East are welcomed.

Registration fee: 50 EUR / students 20 EUR (incl. publication, excursion, transport)
Accomodation/pers./night: 25 EUR
Meals/pers./day: 12 EUR (incl. breakfast, lunch, dinner)

The Symposium is organized in cooperation with the Institutes of Archaeology of the Selçuk University in Konya and the Uludag University in Bursa (Turkey), the Slovak Archaeological Society by the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Association Pro Archaeologia Classica.

Further information will be sent to you in the 2nd circular.

The Organising Committee:
Prof. Dr. Mária Novotná, Prof. Dr. Werner Jobst, Prof. Dr. Ahmed
Prof. Dr. Mustafa S,ahin,
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Marie Dufková, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Klára Kuzmova,
Prof. Dr. I. Hakan Mert, M.A. Pavol Hnila, M.A. Erik Hrnc(iarik

Trnava, 12th February 2007



Surname, First Name, Academic Degrees
Affiliated Institution
Participation on the Symposium: active or passive
Contribution: paper or poster
Title of the contribution

The participants are kindly requested to submit their registration
15th March 2007 by standard mail, fax or e-mail to the following

Katedra klasickej archeológie
Trnavská univerzita v Trnave
Hornopotoc(ná 23
SK-918 43 TRNAVA

Fax: 00421/33/5939370
E-mail: klasarch AT truni.sk

University College London

Lectureship/Senior Lectureship in Latin

Applications are invited for a lectureship/senior lectureship in Latin language and literature, tenable from 1 September 2007. Salary will be on the scale £30,012 to £44,074 plus London weighting of £2,572. Membership of USS will be available.

Lectureship in Greek

Applications are invited for a lectureship in Greek language and literature. The appointment will tenable from 15 September 2007 to 15 July 2008. Salary will be on the scale £30,012 to £31,840 pro rata plus London weighting of £2,572. Membership of USS will be available.

UCL’s Department of Greek and Latin obtained the top rating of 5* in both the 1996 and the 2001 research assessment exercises. It has an outstanding tradition of teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and a large and active cohort of highly qualified research students. The successful candidates will contribute to the department’s teaching and research.

Further particulars can be obtained from the departmental secretary, Mrs Alison Angel, Department of Greek and Latin, University College, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, a.angel AT ucl.ac.uk, to whom application should be submitted. Closing date for applications is 20 April 2007.


Blurb from Variety:

Tapping into the current epic battle craze, The History Channel is launching a "Great Battles of Rome" vidgame, its first international console game, which will hit European outlets in May.

Comprising more than 100 battles -- including the Punic and Samnite Wars, and Julius Caesar's conquest of Britain -- "Great Battles" is produced in collaboration with the U.K.'s Slitherine and Italy's Black Bean.

Vidgame, which allows players to control massive armies of legionaries, archers and cavalry, while carving out the Roman Empire in a series of campaigns against Barbarian hordes, will be out Stateside in the fall.

"This is our first videogame to integrate programming into game play," said A&E Television Networks licensing topper Carrie Trimmer, who unveiled "Great Battles" in Rome's Richard Meier designed Ara Pacis museum, which houses a peace altar commissioned by Emperor Augustus.

Thirty clips from The History Channel archives have been spliced in with narration to give the Roman war game added educational gravitas.

"Battles," being released for PlayStation2 and PC, will be marketed via Web sites tied in with the airing of The History Channel's "Rome: Engineering an Empire," and other Rome-themed programming.

"Battles" is the second History Channel branded console game after "Civil War: A Nation Divided," which has sold more than 250,000 units since its 2006 release.

... I heard the Discovery Channel is trying to get a 'Scruples' tie in with its Tomb of Jesus Coverage (not) ....
From Daily India:

What began as exploratory studies in Kerala, has thrown up enough artefacts and structures of two millennia old Indo-Roman trade era to delight archaeologists, who are looking for the lost port of Muziris.

Archaeological teams in Pattanam village, near the port city of Kochi have been working on a site, which has yielded pottery, amphora, beads and other artefacts that are reminiscent of the ancient Romans.

"The initial studies carried out in this region have amply indicated that there was a Roman presence. The Roman ceramics, pottery and coins found here indicates deeper Roman ties and therefore, based on the artefacts abounding this area, we presented a proposal to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which got approved," said the Director of the Kerala Council for Historical Research, P J Cherian,

Cherian has been heading a study that has been a parallel exercise to the excavation and conservation being carried out under his guidance.

"The most exciting thing we have excavated today is a human remains. In our climatic conditions and soil acidity, it is hard to expect these kinds of remains to stay intact. So, now we will send these identified human remains to the laboratory for further analysis," added Cherian.

Historians believe the lost port of Muziris was key to trade between India and the Roman Empire. For many years, people have been in search of the almost mythical port, known as Vanchi to the locals.

Pattanam is the only site in the region to produce architectural features and material contemporary to the period.

Speculations and guesses for the location of Muziris had initially hinted on the mouth of the State's Periyar River, at a place called Kodungallor - but now evidence suggests a smaller town nearby, Pattanam, is the real location.

Many pieces of amphora were found, at the now excavated site, which is a Mediterranean pottery.

The ancient town was an exchange point according to scriptures. The Romans brought in gold and took back the region's aromatic spices, including 'black gold'- pepper.

In 1983, a large hoard of Roman coins was found at a site around six miles from Pattanam.

However, even if Muziris has been found, one mystery remains - how it disappeared so completely in the first place.

While archaeologists and scholars celebrate, the owners of the piece of land are worried about their rights to the place.

"A few archaeologists came to us and asked permission to carry out excavations on our land. They said that they wanted to do some research on the place. They began digging deep and found artefacts and now that it is an archaeological site, we wonder what will happen to our land," said Valsala Kumari, who hoped to get back her land.

With the site now being marked as an Archaeological treasure, Kumari and her family say, they never knew the place would throw up so much of the unknown.
From Nature:

The wonderful acoustics for which the ancient Greek theatre of Epidaurus is renowned may come from exploiting complex acoustic physics, new research shows.

The theatre, discovered under a layer of earth on the Peloponnese peninsula in 1881 and excavated, has the classic semicircular shape of a Greek amphitheatre, with 34 rows of stone seats (to which the Romans added a further 21).

Its acoustics are extraordinary: a performer standing on the open-air stage can be heard in the back rows almost 60 metres away. Architects and archaeologists have long speculated about what makes the sound transmit so well.

Now Nico Declercq and Cindy Dekeyser of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta say that the key is the arrangement of the stepped rows of seats. They calculate that this structure is perfectly shaped to act as an acoustic filter, suppressing low-frequency sound — the major component of background noise — while passing on the high frequencies of performers' voices1.

It's not clear whether this property comes from chance or design, Declercq says. But either way, he thinks that the Greeks and Romans appreciated that the acoustics at Epidaurus were something special, and copied them elsewhere.

Sound steps

In the first century BC the Roman authority on architecture, Vitruvius, implied that his predecessors knew very well how to design a theatre to emphasize the human voice. "By the rules of mathematics and the method of music," he wrote, "they sought to make the voices from the stage rise more clearly and sweetly to the spectators' ears... by the arrangement of theatres in accordance with the science of harmony, the ancients increased the power of the voice."

Later writers have speculated that the excellent acoustics of Epidaurus, built in the fourth century BC, might be due to the prevailing direction of the wind (which blows mainly from the stage to the audience), or might be a general effect of Greek theatre owing to the speech rhythms or the use of masks acting as loudspeakers. But none of this explains why a modern performer at Epidaurus, which is still sometimes used for performances, can be heard so well even on a windless day.

The acoustic cut-off frequency is right where you would want it

Nico Declercq, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

Declercq and Dekeyser suspected that the answer might be connected to the way sound reflects off corrugated surfaces. It has been known for several years now that these can filter sound waves to emphasize certain frequencies, just as microscopic corrugations on a butterfly wing reflect particular wavelengths of light. The sound-suppressing pads of ridged foam that can plastered on the walls of noisy rooms also take advantage of this effect.

Declercq has shown previously that the stepped surface of a Mayan ziggurat in Mexico can make handclaps or footsteps sound like bird chirps or rainfall (see 'Mystery of 'chirping' pyramid decoded'). Now he and Dekeyser have calculated how the rows of stone benches at Epidaurus affect sound bouncing off them, and find that frequencies lower than 500 hertz are more damped than higher ones.

Murmur murmur

"Most of the noise produced in and around the theatre was probably low-frequency noise," the researchers say: rustling trees and murmuring theatre-goers, for instance. So filtering out the low frequencies improves the audibility of the performers' voices, which are rich in higher frequencies, at the expense of the noise. "The cut-off frequency is right where you would want it if you wanted to remove noise coming from sources that were there in ancient times," says Declercq.

Declercq cautions that the presence of a seated audience would alter the effect, however, in ways that are hard to gauge. "For human beings the calculations would be very difficult because the human body is not homogeneous and has a very complicated shape," he says.

Filtering out the low frequencies means that these are less audible in the spoken voice as well as in background noise. But that needn't be a problem, because the human auditory system can 'put back' some of the missing low frequencies in high-frequency sound.

"There is a neurological phenomenon called virtual pitch that enables the human brain to reconstruct a sound source even in the absence of the lower tones," Declercq says. "This effect causes small loudspeakers to produce apparently better sound quality than you'd expect."

Although many modern theatres improve audibility with loudspeakers, Declercq says that the filtering idea might still be relevant: "In certain situations such as sports stadiums or open-air theatres, I believe the right choice of the seat row periodicity or of the steps underneath the chairs may be important."


Al Schlaf writes:

I can attest to the acoustics at Epidauros.  I was there in the summer of 1971 when workmen were constructing a stage on site for a performance.  I climbed to the top row and could hear their conversations almost as well as if I were next to them.
An excerpt from a recent (?) press briefing with Tony Snow and his former colleagues:

SNOW: Well, the fact is what they re trying to do is to establish their own set of precedents.
What we re trying to do is to set a precedent for adult behavior in a way that is going to reflect well on a situation and offer an opportunity -- I don t think you re going to find any case where there has been no allegation of impropriety, no specific --
Q It s not about --
MR. SNOW: -- any specific allegation of impropriety, suddenly to say, we re going to offer up internal deliberations.
But we re doing this because we know there are concerns on the Hill and we want to address them.
I think that this is -- I m not sure that there are any situations for which there is a precedent for this.
Q Even transcripts?
MR. SNOW: For any of this.
Q But, Tony, the idea of minutes goes back to the beginning of Western thought. Plato kept minutes on Socrates. What does Karl Rove have on Socrates? (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: Plato kept -- was that the case, or was it Aristotle who kept notes on Plato?
Q Well, Plato also --
MR. SNOW: Inquiring minds want to know. This is Maimonides. Let s just start dropping philosophers names. The fact is --
Q The point is --
MR. SNOW: No, here s the point, is we ve set up a situation in which we think members of Congress and staffers -- this is open to members and staff, who are able to take notes, and we also believe that writing goes back to the inception of Western civilization, and the ability -- I m not sure that they had recordings or transcripts, but they did have writing. There was writing.

... Snow, by the way, has a B.A. in philosophy ...
From AP via Yahoo:

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has returned two ancient masterpieces long claimed by Greece on grounds of illegal provenance, the Greek culture ministry said on Friday.

The items, a gold funerary wreath and a marble woman's torso, arrived on Thursday evening on an Olympic Airlines flight from New York in "excellent condition", a ministry official told AFP.

"The antiquities will be stored at the Archaeological Museum in Athens, and will be officially presented by Minister George Voulgarakis on March 29," she said.

Greece had demanded for over a decade the return of the two works, in addition to two other items yielded by the Getty last summer, arguing that they were illegally removed from the country.

The museum decided to restore the wreath and torso after seeing evidence on their provenance from the Greek culture ministry, museum director Michael Brand said in December.

Four months previously, the Getty had also signed over ownership to a fourth-century BC engraved funeral stele, and a late fifth-century BC engraved sculpture.

The ancient gold wreath returned on Thursday is part of Greece's case against a former Getty museum curator, Marion True, who is also under investigation over 29 undeclared antiquities found last year in a Greek island villa she owns.

In addition to True, who is also on trial in Italy and denies involvement with antiquity smugglers, Greek authorities are also investigating Christophe Leon, a Swiss-based art dealer.

True and Leon are suspected of having received the Hellenistic-era wreath, which police say was illegally excavated in the northern Greek region of Macedonia in July 1993, and subsequently selling it to the Getty Museum for 1.15 million dollars (860,000 euros).

The Getty insists it never knowingly bought illegally acquired artefacts.

The Greek authorities have recently stepped up efforts to clamp down on the illegal trafficking of antiquities that has plagued the country's rich archaeology heritage for decades.
From the Garden City News:

Garden City High School Latin Teacher Linda Fabrizio has published a Teacher's Guide to Cicero's pro Archia Poeta Oratio (Speech on Behalf of the Poet Archias), one of three options in the Latin Literature portion of the Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum.

At the invitation of the publisher, Bolchazy-Carducci, Ms. Fabrizio spent 18 months writing the new guide. The project involved amending existing notes in a college text newly published for high school students; providing a large-print text of pro Archia for teachers to photocopy and use with overhead projectors; creating a manual with a full translation and questions with long and short answers; and compiling a bibliography.

A new high school guide was necessary because the NYS Regents recently added pro Archia to the AP Cicero syllabus.

Ms. Fabrizio uses passages from pro Archia in Latin III, a non AP class. "Cicero starts his speech by defending Aulus Licinius Archias, a poet charged with falsely claiming to be a Roman citizen, and then turns his argument into a sweeping and very beautiful defense of the arts and humanities," she said.

In her AP course, Ms. Fabrizio uses another AP option: the Vergil syllabus, which focuses on the Aeneid, an epic poem that describes the adventures of the Trojan hero Aeneas. "Vergil is my favorite Latin author," she said. "His epic is a fabulous story about the founding of Rome and a classic of Western literature."

For the AP class, students are required to read the entire Aeneid in English and to translate more than 1800 lines from the Latin. On the examination, they must translate portions of the epic, write several essays, and answer multiple choice questions.
ante diem x kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars continues (day 23)

Tubilustrum -- as part of the general military preparations which are associated with the festival of Mars, the 'war horns' (tubae) were ritually cleaned

Quinquatrus (day 5) -- final day of the gladiator fest

1606 -- Death of Justus Lipsius
From YLE:

Quid Bush in Columbia dixerit
: Nuntii Latini

16.03.2007, klo 09.08

Praesidens George Bush, dum varias civitates Americae Latinae circumlustrat, die Martis in Columbiam venit.

Bogotae, in urbe principe huius civitatis, ubi incolumitati suae consulens nonnisi sex horas mansit, praesidentem Alvaro Uribelle maxime in eo laudavit, quod summo studio adversus mercaturam drogarum pugnare pergeret. Bush promisit se ei novis subsidiis opitulaturum esse, ut regimini Columbiae contra bellatores tectos et duces drogarum dimicanti succurreret.

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

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: IRAQUIA: Dux ONU in explosione illaesus
hirsutulous @ Wordsmith

interaulic @ Worthless Word for the Day

animadversion @ Dictionary.com
Seems to be an awful lot of crime news today ... from Today's Zaman:

A historical crown thought to date to the era of the Kingdom of Pergamum was recovered in the province of Manisa in western Turkey.

The golden crown and other historical artifacts were seized by police disguising themselves as purchasers. The illegal loot will reportedly be delivered to the Manisa Archeology and Ethnography Museum for study. The crown itself is worth an estimated $75,000.

Manisa Police Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Department teams discovered that T.C. and four accomplices would come from İstanbul to Manisa and meet purchasers for the historical artifacts in their possession. Police teams disguised as purchasers at first bargained with the suspects for the golden crown, two golden earrings, one necklace and one wine pot. As the bargaining over the golden crown, the most valuable piece in the collection, ended negatively, the police broke cover and arrested the suspects and recovered the historical artifacts.

Following expert examination, the pieces were determined to be pure gold. Figures on the crown suggest it may belong to the Kingdom of Pergamum that prevailed in western Asia Minor in the first century A.D. Reportedly, the necklace, earrings, and pot may have also been taken from the same site. During initial interrogation, the suspects claimed they did not know the items had historical value. Alleged historical artifact smugglers T.C., K.S., S.T., A.N.O. and I.C were taken into custody and will be referred to a court following medical exams today. The historical artifacts will reportedly be delivered to the Manisa Archeology and Ethnography Museum for further study.
A semi-bizarre spin put on this story ... from the Independent:

Carabinieri sealed off one of the grandest houses in the ancient city of Pompeii yesterday after a tall column was found smashed into seven pieces. Officials at the site fear that the destruction is a sign that Mafia gangs are trying to intimidate them.

Pompeii is Italy's most popular tourist destination, drawing 2.5 million visitors every year. And the house of Obellio Firmo is one of its most important. The villa's owner was a leading figure in the city's political life: at his funeral - before the fatal eruption of AD 79 - 10kg of incense was burned in his memory, at vast expense.

The column stood in the villa's garden. No one yet knows exactly how or why it toppled over. The Carabinieri point out that a fierce wind was blowing this week. The House of Obellio Firmo is undergoing restoration, and a high scaffolding stage next to the column was also found on its side: perhaps, they suggest, the wind caught the scaffolding, causing it to smash into the column, destroying it.

But the superintendent of the site, Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, is having none of it. Nor does he believe the damage was caused by vandals. "It's not vandalism," he said. "It's an act of intimidation. It's an attack against a process of transparency and legality. But we won't be stopped, we won't allow them to intimidate us."

Mr Guzzo pointed out that there is a gap in the railings close to the Obellio Firmo house: he suggested that the perpetrators got on to the site that way, clambered on to the scaffolding and pushed the column over.

Both Pompeii and Herculaneum, the other ancient city destroyed in the same eruption, are in an area where the Camorra, the Mafia of Naples, are a constant menace. Naples has seen dozens of vicious attacks and many murders in recent months as rival gangs slug it out for control of the cocaine trade.

Sites like Pompeii and Herculaneum, which earn millions every year from the tourist trade, are hugely tempting for the gangs. They routinely extort protection money from restaurants, hotels and other facilities catering to the visitors outside the ancient city's gates, but they are not beyond trying to get a slice of the action inside.

In 2000 one of Pompeii's most important villas narrowly escaped destruction after a fire was started on the fringe of the ancient city. Arson is a common way for Mafia gangs in Sicily and southern Italy to warn recalcitrant "clients" to cough up. A minister at the time said: "I point my finger at the Camorra."

Then in 2004 a fake bomb was placed in a brothel of the ancient city; the following year, 13 people were arrested on suspicion of trying to force the management of the ruins to buy coffee from a single source, at an extortionate price. Nasty but trivial, one might think - but the price of defiance can be high. During the campaign to elect councillors to modern Pompei's city council in 2004, a candidate called Carlo Cirillo went missing. Two days later his body was found by the roadside, missing its head.
From Cnews:

Italian police said Thursday they have recovered about 300 ancient artifacts and thousands of fragments believed to have been illegally excavated in central Italy.

Six people were under investigation on possible charges including trafficking of antiquities, but nobody has been arrested, Rome Carabinieri police said.

The items recovered include vases, jars and cups. Among the most precious objects was a 29-centimetre Greek vase dating to 600-580 B.C. and featuring black figures. Some of the items were sold at the Porta Portese flea market, held every Sunday in Rome.

Col. Ferdinando Musella, an official with Italian anti-art theft police, said that tombraiders often break vases and amphorae so that they can sell single pieces and then ask for a higher price for the missing piece that would complete the artifact.

Italy is aggressively combating the pillage of its archaeological and artistic treasures. Its campaign also includes seeking the return of several antiquities it claims were obtained by museums illegally.

From BMCR:

Carl A. Huffman, Archytas of Tarentum, Pythagorean, Philosopher and Mathematician King.

Peter M. Fraser, Elaine Matthews, A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. Vol. IV. Macedonia, Thrace, Northern Regions of the Black Sea.

Glenn W. Most (ed.), Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia. Loeb Classical Library 57.

From RBL:

Mark Chancey, Greco-Roman Culture and the Galilee of Jesus

From Scholia:

A. J. Boyle, Roman Tragedy.
From the Press and Recorder

McAuley High School was the top all-girls high school in the state at the Ohio Junior Classical League State Convention.

The team finished sixth academically and ninth overall out of 40 schools and over 1,000 students.

There were four competitions in Latin at the convention: academic tests, creative and artistic awards, club awards and Certamen (Latin academic team) awards.

Freshman Megan Whitacre, captain of the Latin I Certamen team, has been invited to a summer camp for the Ohio National Certamen Team. If she does well at the camp, she could earn a spot on the all-Ohio team, which will compete at the National Junior Classical League Convention this summer at the University of Tennessee.

The Latin students were prepared for the competition and accompanied by McAuley Latin teacher Rachel Ritchie.

In the academic tests, the following students won ribbons:

[see the original article ... it's a pretty long list]

From the BBC:

A huge cast of the biggest statue ever found in ancient Greece has arrived at Cambridge University.

The plaster version of the Samos Kouros measures 4.8m (15.7ft) and had to be lifted into the Museum of Classical Archaeology by a crane.

It is the only cast of the ancient statue in the UK and can be seen for free along with 600 other casts.

The original Samos Kouros dates back to 570BC and was discovered in 1980 on the Greek island of Samos.

Dr Caroline Vout is giving a public lecture about its history on Thursday, before it goes on display.

Kouros is the ancient Greek word for a male youth and a statue would originally be commissioned as an act of religious piety.

As they became bigger and more expensive to make, they were used as status symbols by wealthy Greeks.

The cast was made following a bequest by the late Professor Robert Cook, a former curator, and was produced by cast-makers in Italy.

From Dive Magazine:

A French court has fined four divers for pillaging artefacts from a 57m-deep Roman shipwreck which dates back to the second century BC. Each diver was fined €1,500 (£1,018) for removing the 30 objects, which included Roman wine vases, from the wreck lying off the coast of Ciotat, 24 miles from Marseille in southern France.

The court in Marseille was told that the divers removed the objects from the wreck over a four-year period, between 2001 and 2005. The Roman vessel - which sank en route from Italy with around 1,000 vases of wine on board - was first discovered by divers in 1984.

According to French authorities, other objects may have been removed from the wreck in addition to those taken by the four French divers. Of the 1,000 vases initially recorded when the vessel was first discovered, only 278 had been counted during a 2005 inventory dive.
There are still a few places available at a short conference on the subject INSIDERS AND OUTSIDERS IN GREECE AND ROME, which will take place at Gregynog (a delightful country house in Wales) on 17-18 May 2007. The Programme is as follows:

Thursday 17 May

2.00 pm onwards: Registration

3.50 - 4.30 pm: TEA

4.30-4.35 pm: Guy Bradley or Stephen Lambert (Cardiff): Welcome

Insiders and Outsiders in Greece I

4.35-5.25 pm: Josine Blok (University of Utrecht): Citizens, metics and monuments in the Classical Kerameikos

5.25-6.10 pm: Fritz-Gregor Herrmann (Swansea): Socrates and his Foreign Friends

6.10-6.45 pm: Clare Kelly-Blazeby (Cardiff): Ancient Greek Bars as Places of Social Inclusion/Exclusion

6.45-7.00 pm: Discussion

7.00 pm - 8.30 pm: DINNER

Friday 18 May

8.00 am - 9.00 am: BREAKFAST

Insiders and Outsiders in Rome

9.00-9.35 pm: Federico Santangelo (Lampeter): Outsiders in the Age of Sulla

9.35-10.10 am: Richard Evans (Cardiff): The Foreign Affairs of Gaius Marius

10.10-10.30 am: Discussion

10.30-11.00 am: COFFEE

Insiders and Outsiders in Greece II

11.00 am-11.45 am: Karen Bassi (University of California, Santa Cruz): Leaving the City Behind: Spatial Contingencies in Thucydides' History.

11.45 am -12.30 pm: Ruth Rees (Cardiff): Foreign Bankers in Greece

12.30 pm - 1.00 pm: Discussion and Closing Remarks

1.00 pm- 2.00 pm: LUNCH

From 2.00 pm: Free to walk in grounds/depart

The cost (including board and lodging for one night) will be £63 (salaried), £26 (students). If you are interested in attending or would like more information please contact Stephen Lambert at the University of Cardiff (lamberts AT cardiff.ac.uk).

Practical Epigraphy Workshop

27-28th June 2007

Roman Legionary Museum, Caerleon

A Practical Epigraphy Workshop is taking place for graduate students and
non-student members of the British Epigraphy Society who are interested in
developing hands-on skills in working with epigraphic material. With expert
tuition, participants will gain direct experience of the practical elements
of how to record and study inscriptions. The programme will include the
making of squeezes; photographing and measuring inscribed stones; and the
production of transcriptions, translations and commentaries. Participants
may choose to work on Latin or Greek texts, and both those with some
epigraphic experience and those who have not studied inscriptions previously
are welcome.

Places on the workshop are limited and applications will be accepted until
30th April. For further details please contact Dr. Charlotte Tupman:
clyontupman AT hotmail.com or 07714 073805.

This workshop is sponsored by:

The British Epigraphy Society: http://www.csad.ox.ac.uk/BES/

Classics in the Subject Centre (CSC), via a Themed Network Grant from The
Higher Education Academy Subject Centre:

ante diem xii kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars continues (day 21)

Quinquatrus continues (day 3) -- originally a one-day festival with rites in honour of Minerva, by Ovid's day it had been increased to five days, with the last four involving gladiatorial bouts
augur @ Merriam-Webster

refluctuation @ Worthless Word for the Day
From YLE:

Memoria stragis Matritensis
: Nuntii Latini

16.03.2007, klo 09.06

Die Dominico (11.3.) tres anni acti erant ab ictu terroristico funestissimo in urbe Matrito effecto, quo paene ducenti homines occisi et amplius mille octingenti sauciati sunt.

Ad memoriam mortuorum recolendam in uno ex iis tribus locis, quibus facinus perpetratum erat, monumentum vitreum cylindroides revelatum est: inter caerimoniam, cui etiam rex Hispaniae Iohannes Carolus cum coniuge Sophia aderat, silentium triste quinque minutarum actum est.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
Various versions of this one kicking around ... here's the AP version via Yahoo:

A huge column in the garden of an ancient Roman villa at Pompeii was toppled in what officials said Wednesday was an act of vandalism.

"This isn't a simple act of vandalism, which, while bad enough, could be explained by ignorance," superintendent Giovanni Guzzo said, calling it "an act of intimidation."

Spokeswoman Francesca de Lucia said the sheer force needed to topple the large column, which broke into at least five large pieces, suggested that the perpetrators were trying to make a statement.

Authorities were investigating possible motives, including disgruntled employees, but had not ruled out an accidental cause despite the effort needed to make the column fall, she said.

The damage was discovered Monday. Officials at Pompeii believe the vandals broke into the closed excavation of the villa over the weekend and apparently climbed up scaffolding to push over the column from above.

Experts who examined the column said it can be restored and put back into its proper place, the statement said.

The ancient city of Pompeii was buried by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
From the Sofia News Agency:

Bulgaria is to look for its precious antiquities, which were illegally exported to countries all over the world, prosecutors announced at a meeting with UK, US, Italian, German and Dutch police officials on Wednesday.

Nine out of fourteen Bulgarian silver plates, found recently, are in Greek museums, one was put up to an auction in UK as the authorities did not manage to prove it belonged to Bulgaria's national heritage. There is no information about the location of the other four.

The prosecutor's office said this data has been given by the treasure-hunter, who found the valuable objects.

Prosecutor Nikolay Solarov said Bulgaria has serious problems with its antiquities' protection, as a new law on it has not been prepared yet.

"Cases for historical values' stealing will soon be heard by the court and the old ones are to be re-opened," prosecutor Solarov added.

At the beginning of his mandate, the Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev said he would start a check-up of the private collections. It has not been arranged yet as first the museums' one should be put to an end.
XVIIth International Congress of Classical Archaeology
Meetings between Cultures in the Ancient Mediterranean

The 17th meeting of the quinquennial conference of the Associazione
Internazionale di Archeologia Classica will be held in Rome in September
2008 on the theme of 'Meetings between Cultures in the Ancient Mediterranean'.
This represents the 50th anniversary of the first conference organised
by AIAC in Rome in 1958.

The conference will be organized strictly around a single theme, but a
broad one, of the meetings and interactions of cultures across the
Mediterranean world in antiquity. The conference will seek to approach
this theme from the widest possible range of angles, embracing all
archaeological disciplines, from landscape archaeology to urbanism to
art history to study of ceramics and material culture; and covering all
areas of the Mediterranean, extending to the areas under the control of
or in closest contact with Mediterranean powers (including all provinces
of the Roman Empire). The official Languages of the Congress will be
English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.

Proposals are invited for sessions, consisting of up to 6 short papers
on closely related themes. Each sessions will last 2 hours, including
10-15 minute presentations of each paper, and a 15 minute discussion by
a nominated discussant. Proposals for sessions should include the name
of an organiser who will take responsibility for contacting other
session members, a theme, an abstract of no more than 200 words
describing the theme and its relevance to the theme of the congress, and
names and paper titles of at least two and not more than six speakers.
The AIAC Organising Committee in Rome may add further speakers to a
session where the number is below six.

Each session will have a discussant; names of suitable discussants may
be proposed by the organiser. Proposals should be received by 31 May
2007; notification will be sent of acceptance or rejection by 1 August
2007. Proposals will be assessed by members of the AIAC Directive Committee in
Rome; those not bearing a clear relationship to the theme of the
conference will not be accepted. The following suggested topics are
intended to be illustrative; proposals need not be limited to them.
Themes which compare aspects of the same topic in different periods or
geographical areas are encouraged.

Proposals for individual papers may be submitted at the same time,
though the Committee will accept proposals for individual papers up to 1
July 2007. Where these proposals are accepted, the Committee will assign papers
either to sessions already accepted, or put together new ones.

In order to secure precirculation and publication, complete texts of all
papers must be received in digital form by 31 July 2008. These will be
made available electronically to all registered participants on the AIAC
website. For further information, please contact AIACCongress2008 AT gmail.com, or
visit www.aiac.org. You will find any specific information concerning the Congress at both
the websites:
http://www.aiac.org/ing/congresso_2008/home.htm (English version)
http://www.aiac.org/ita/congresso_2008/home.htm  (Italian version)

Velleius Paterculus - making history

April 1-3, 2008
School of Ancient History and Archaeology
University of Leicester

Velleius Paterculus’ short history is the earliest surviving attempt on
the part of a post-Augustan historian to survey the history of the res
publica from its origins, within the context of the rise of the
Principate. In a period in which no other contemporary historical
narrative survives in more than meagre fragments, therefore, Velleius’
work is uniquely important. It is a critical counter to the later accounts
of Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio, not simply because it offers a
different view of Tiberius, but because Velleius saw continuity where
later authors saw only radical change which destroyed the Republic and put
monarchy in its place. Velleius, who lived through this period and
examined it, did not question the continued existence and relevance of the
res publica, but neither did he question the supremacy of the Caesars.

Confirmed speakers include: Catalina Balmaceda (Pontificia Universidad
Católica de Chile), Martin Bloomer (University of Notre Dame), Eleanor
Cowan (University of Leicester), Andy Fear (University of Manchester),
Barbara Levick (University of Oxford), Ruth Morello (University of
Manchester), Luke Pitcher (Durham University), Chris Pelling (University
of Oxford), John Rich (University of Nottingham), Ulrich Schmitzer
(Humboldt-Universität, Berlin), Clemence Schultze (Durham University),
T.P. Wiseman (Exeter University) and Kathryn Welch (University of Sydney).


Titles and abstracts (250 words) are invited for 40 minute papers OR 20
minute papers on any aspect of Velleius’ work, to be sent to Eleanor
Cowan, erc5 AT le.ac.uk by 31st May, 2007. Papers offered by postgraduates
are welcome.

We hope to publish papers delivered at the conference with the Classical
Press of Wales.
6.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Warrior Women: Boudica

DCIVC - Discovery Civilizations (Canada)
ante diem xii kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars continues (day 21)

Quinquatrus continues (day 3) -- originally a one-day festival with rites in honour of Minerva, by Ovid's day it had been increased to five days, with the last four involving gladiatorial bouts

1766 -- death of Richard Dawes (Classical scholar)
sidereal @ Merriam-Webster

pogonotrophy @ Wordsmith

renidification @ Worthless Word for the Day

clerisy @ Dictionary.com (often ... well, once, maybe ... wondered about that one)
From YLE:

Februarius in Finnia gelidior
: Nuntii Latini

16.03.2007, klo 09.06

Fuerit iam sane in eo, ut clima orbis terrarum paulatim calefiat, at certe mensis Februarius in Finnia compluribus gradibus Celsianis gelidior fuit quam fieri solet.

Id ita se habere vel inde apparet, quod in paroechia Salla, quae in Lapponia sita est, temperatura quodam die Februario usque ad quadraginta fere gradus infra zerum descendit. Mensis autem Ianuarius apud nos mirum quantum mitis fuit, quo factum est, ut temperatura totius hiemis media in Finnia mensuram consuetam non excederet.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
From the Times:

You probably know who Julius Caesar was, and why he might have been wise to take a vacation in the middle of March.

You've sat through "Gladiator" and a few other Charlton Heston-starring historical epics, and you may have even attended a few toga parties with a white bed sheet draped around your body.

But can you name the writer who wrote about an elaborate banquet in imperial Rome? Can you identify the meaning of Latin phrases is 30 seconds or less? Do you know the difference between your di indigetes and your di novensides?

More than 150 New Jersey high school students had to try answering all those questions, and some even more obscure, during the Certamen MMVII tournament held at Princeton University yesterday.

Working in teams of four, students from across the state, including from local towns such as Princeton, Hopewell, and South Brunswick, were quizzed on their knowledge of Latin grammar and Roman history, society and mythology.

All the participants are part of the Junior Classical League, a national organization dedicated to encourage appreciation and interest in ancient Greek and Roman language, literature, and culture. The winners of Certamen will go to the statewide convention slate May 5, trying to earn a chance to compete at the national convention at the University of Tennessee in late July.

"My students get excited about this, they have a good track record," said Cherry Hill High School West teacher J.D. Munday in between rounds.

Munday was one of the teachers serving as moderator in the Jeopardy-style contest that pitted two schools against each other for 20 questions. Each question was worth 10 points each, with a possible bonus of another 10 points.

"They're pretty hard," Hopewell Valley Central High School competitor Colleen Kent said of the questions. "There's some obscure ones."

Kent said that league meetings leading up to the Certamen tournament helped her practice, along with preparation on her own. "Reading works like 'The Aeneid' and 'The Odyssey' is great preparation for the mythology questions," she said.

For Kent, who says she may very well major in classics in college, participation in the Junior Classical League is great preparation for the future. She says a better understanding of Latin has helped her vocabulary to expand, as the language of the ancient Romans has numerous direct or indirect derivations into modern English.

Additionally, Romance languages such as Italian, Spanish, and French are direct outgrowths of the Vulgar Latin, a late Latin vernacular.

"I think it's going to be a great foundation if I have to take a language in college," she said.

Not bad for a dead language.

... at Greencastle-Antrim ... from the Record-Herald:

Latin is not dead - in fact, at Greencastle-Antrim High School, an attentive teacher and her overachieving students have expanded the once-struggling course.

When Judy Maxwell, now 63, of Waynesboro was invited to teach Latin 26 years ago, she had only eight students in Latin II and 26 in Latin I.

Today, just months from retirement, Maxwell has nearly 250 students in some level of her Latin courses.

“Latin really isn't dead. If you speak any language, it's embedded into it,” Maxwell said.

Although a challenge, students have discovered Latin improves their English. It also carries into several careers, such as medicine, science and law.

When Elizabeth Cowan told her parents she intended to take the course as a G-AHS freshman, she said, “the entire family tried to talk me out of it.” Now a senior, Cowan is completing her graduation requirements and simultaneously interning for Maxwell.

“This worked out higher than any expectations,” Maxwell said. “Some people are born teachers, and this one is a born teacher.”

A born teacher

As the saying goes, it takes one to know one. According to her students, Maxwell is a born teacher.

Cowan recalls family and friends telling her to steer clear of Latin because it was so difficult. But Maxwell's ability to break down a complex topic to its basic concepts has made the language a popular elective at G-AHS.

Even after 26 years, Maxwell still ponders how she ended up teaching in Greencastle.

She started her career at a school in New Jersey while her husband, attorney LeRoy “Tucker” worked in Philadelphia. Maxwell then worked part-time in Waynesboro. The mother of three boys, she was at home with her children when the Latin and German teacher at G-AHS quit.

“(The school) kept calling me, but I was not ready. I had children,” she said.

After three calls, her husband left a note on the table asking Maxwell to go in and consider it. Maxwell said that was the hook - once you get a teacher in a classroom, they rarely back out.

“I remember to this day accepting the job and thinking, ‘How did I get here?'” she said.

Today, she teaches a Latin course every period of every day for the entire school year. Rows of photos depicting those who completed Latin IV are proudly propped up along the back wall.

Maxwell's retirement announcement came as a surprise to many of her students. She said she hoped to teach “forever,” or at least until one of her students returned to replace her.

She's close - Cowan may still be a high school student, but her internship has her studying directly under the pro.

Truly a student teacher

Cowan is getting an interesting initiation to her teaching career. She is one of the only high schoolers to intern at the school where she's a student.

She said she always intended to pursue teaching in college. But it wasn't until Cowan started to help other Latin students that she realized her calling.

“I picked up on it so easily,” she said. “Mrs. Maxwell would send students to me and they said, ‘You ought to teach it because you understand it so well.'”

Charles Rice administers the high school internship program at G-AHS and has placed about 100 students in jobs this year. Positions include education, construction, manufacturing, retail, police and fire services, health care, communications and government agencies.

To take on student teaching at G-AHS, Cowan and Maxwell had to clear a few additional hurdles. Several confidentiality forms had to be signed because Cowan often was working with student grades while she also was a student.

Maxwell said Cowan's professionalism had underclassmen second-guessing her status.

“Younger ninth- and 10th-graders who don't know the seniors think she's my replacement,” Maxwell said.

“I feel it went well. All the students did a really good job of showing respect,” Cowan added.

A new appreciation

For the first time, Cowan realized just how much happens behind the scenes for teachers. Work extends beyond the typical day and often is taken home, she noted.

Cowan even had the opportunity to teach four days of classes for Maxwell when Maxwell flew out-of-state for the birth of her granddaughter.

“At first I was OK with it. But she handed me the lesson plans and it got a bit daunting when I realized it was entirely in my hands for four days,” Cowan said.

A certified teacher was in the room, but Cowan did the work.

“I realized whenever (Maxwell) left, she was up all hours of the night grading tests and was here until 3:30 p.m. every day making sure she had stuff ready for the next day,” Cowan said. “I can't imagine trying to do that with a husband and family ... it all started to sink in.”

Maxwell enjoys watching Cowan experience those challenges at an early age.

“She's lived with this for a year,” she said. “It was fun for me to see her frustration.”

As part of the internship, Cowan must keep a log of her duties, complete monthly reports, discuss what she's learning and develop a picture portfolio each term with information from the internship.

Cowan said her positive experience also has turned other students on to the internship program. Many juniors have approached her for details.

Latin lives on

Whether people know it or not, Latin is a daily influence in everyday life. About 67 percent of the English language is comprised of Latin words and hundreds of new words have been added.

For example, Maxwell said the word computer is taken from two Latin words meaning “to think with.”

“Latin is good for reasoning and logic,” she said. “It helps memorization skills and is excellent in helping to improve vocabulary and grammar.”

Learning the structure of Latin and its relationship to English helps students write and speak the English language better. Maxwell said any student can learn Latin, it's just a matter of how to teach it. She uses different methods to meet a variety of abilities and basically individualize her teaching.

As Maxwell prepares to retire and spend time “being a mother and a grandmother,” she hopes she left a lasting impression on students.

“I hope they remember me as an ethical person who cared about each individual student's success,” she said. Before each graduation, Maxwell said she asks students to write her after making their first friend and passing their first college exam.

“Last year, everyone did,” she said.

Cowan plans to do so from Gettysburg College, where she will major in Latin and secondary education.

“This is what I wanted to do and I wanted to get into the classroom to see it and feel it for myself,” Cowan said.

“She's so good at it. I can hear myself in her,” Maxwell said with a laugh.
From the Buffalo News:

The first auction of artwork from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery today at Sotheby's shattered expections, with 23 objects of ancient Chinese art bringing in $16.1 million in just two hours. The gallery originally estimated it would earn $15 million for the entire list of 207 objects to be auctioned through June.

The $16.1 million figure represents the net income to the gallery after Sotheby's buyers' premiums were subtracted from the morning's final result of $18,358,000.

The most sought-after piece this morning, an archaic bronze wine vessel, was sold for $7.2 million -- $4.2 million more than estimated before the sale. The buyer was the three-year-old Compton Verney Museum in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. The museum is a private institution with a highly prized collection of Chinese bronzes.

Other items that sold for far above their estimated value were the massive limestone chimera, at $4.85 million, and a statue of a pensive maitreya for $1.18 million. Both were sold to an anonymous phone bidder.

"You'll see the same interest with the Indian art, Southeast Asian art, and the great Hellenistic Diana," said James Godfrey, an art consultant and former Sotheby's Director of Chinese art, referring to the Albright piece Artemis and the Stag, which goes on sale June 7. "This transcends any of the sales we've seen in the last few years."

A last-minute lawsuit aimed at stopping the sale was thrown out of court last week, clearing the way for the first group of items -- 33 pieces of Chinese art to be sold today as part of Sotheby's biannual Asian art week. The auction is timed to coincide with New York's International Asian Art Fair, which begins Friday.

Albright-Knox Director Louis Grachos said the gallery was sending a handful of staff to follow the auction.

Although Hollywood versions of art auctions give the impression of a kind of civilized showdown -- a roomful of haughty baronesses waving their paddles in the air as the dapper auctioneer belts out prices -- in real-life auctions much of the bidding happens by phone and in a subdued atmosphere.

The auctioneer begins the bidding at or below the reserve price, which is the minimum amount the auction house will accept for a given item. That price is known only to the seller and the auctioneer, so as not to discourage interest or devalue an item. When the auctioneer is satisfied that there will be no more bids on an item that has met the reserve price, he or she brings down the gavel to seal the deal.

The price at the end of bidding is known as the hammer price, to which Sotheby's adds a premium of 20 percent for the first $500,000 and 12 percent for the remaining amount in excess of $500,000.

According to Sotheby's Lauren Gioia, at least half the bids for a typical auction come in by phone. Private collectors will often prefer to remain anonymous while representatives from major museums will usually make their purchases known.

Gioia, who is handling much of the publicity for the Albright-Knox sales, is the daughter of Albright-Knox board member Sally Gioia.

The rest of the gallery's deaccession list will go up over the next three months, with Indian and Southeast Asian art to be auctioned Friday; African, Oceanic, pre-Columbian and American Indian art on May 17-18; old master paintings and European art on May 22; and antiquities on June 7. Expected to be the most sought-after item, the classic sculpture Artemis and the Stag, will be on the block June 7.

Critics of the sale have cited a fear that many of the objects from the Albright-Knox collection will wind up in the homes of private collectors or dwell for long periods of time in the hands of dealers who hoard items as they accrue in value.

Robert Buck, Albright-Knox director from 1973-1983, characterized the sale as a possible blow to the public. "When this stuff goes off the public view, it's not necessarily ever going to be seen by anyone," he said. "It is definitely a public loss, and I think beyond the institution, much of it portends to be a loss for public access."

Hicham Aboutaam, a dealer of ancient art and co-owner of the Phoenix Ancient Art gallery in Manhattan, will be attending this week's auctions with a great interest in material from the Albright-Knox's collection.

"As an art lover, I like to see art accessible to the public, and as a dealer, we tend to think the last destination of any object is a public museum," Aboutaam said. "There is a considerable interest in this collection."

Gallery director Grachos has long said that most items have been out of public view for the last 10 years -- one more reason to sell them to bolster the gallery's endowment for purchasing modern art. But Buck and others have said that many of the prized items had been permanently on display as recently as the late '90s.

"I think people are being blind-sided by the value of contemporary art," Buck said, adding that the today's museums have confused priorities bound to the ever-escalating price of modern art.

The money earned in the auctions will be added to the gallery's restricted endowment for the purchase of new works of art.

... and here are the results (just in as I'm running late).
Interesting that the New York Times had a lengthy feature in which the Aboutaams were prominent ... they had a press release the other day as well:

Phoenix Ancient Art, one of the world's leading dealers in rare and exquisite antiquities from Western civilizations, today announced that its latest exhibition, "Greek Gold: Masterpieces of Classical Jewelry," will be on display at its New York gallery from April 19 - May 15, 2007. The opening of the exhibit coincides with the reinstallation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Greek and Roman Court -- including their collection of ancient gold -- promising an exciting week of antiquity-related cultural events in New York. "It's becoming increasingly more difficult to find top quality ancient jewelry," said Ali Aboutaam, president of Phoenix Ancient Art. "The relative accessibility and strong allure of ancient gold to antiquities collectors of all levels have led to a scarcity of truly amazing pieces. This show is the culmination of 30 years of painstaking research and acquisition with an eye for only the best and most beautiful pieces." Co-president Hicham Aboutaam agrees: "The result is a collection to rival the holdings at any museum or modern jewelry house." One featured piece is a boldly designed, massive braided gold choker with embellishments of mythological animals and a large amethyst cabochon. Hailing from the Asiatic steppes, home to the Sarmatians, this perfectly preserved treasure has a strikingly geometric, contemporary feel that belies the fact that it is more than 2,000 years old. A number of the pieces on display showcase a level of craftsmanship lost to us today, even with technological aids at our disposal. An example includes a stunning pair of Hellenistic Greek gold earrings that depict miniature eagles clutching thunderbolts -- the divine emblem of Zeus, king of the gods -- are covered in incredibly fine gold beads, creating a textured appearance. The bodies of the eagles are completely covered in the individual gold beads, each nearly as fine as a grain of sand. While granulation is a technique that modern jewelers use, beads this fine are impossible to create today. "Greek Gold" will be on display at Phoenix's New York gallery, 47 East 66th Street, New York, NY 10021. The show will run from April 19th - May 15th, 2007.

ABOUT PHOENIX ANCIENT ART With galleries in New York City and Geneva, Switzerland, Phoenix Ancient Art (http://www.phoenixancientart.com) is one of the world's leading dealers in rare and exquisite antiquities from cultures that make up the essence of Western Civilization. Its works of art have been purchased by world-class museums around the world, as well as by private individuals. Formally incorporated in 1995, Phoenix Ancient Art is a second-generation family business that was founded by Sleiman Aboutaam in 1968 and continues today under the leadership of his sons, Hicham and Ali.

I think this is their second 'show' (as opposed to sale) ...
From IOL:

A team of Bosnia-Herzegovina's archaeologists have discovered for the first time the remnants of fabled Illyrian ships in a marshland in southern Herzegovina, the team's head said on Tuesday.

Snjezana Vasilj told local media in Mostar that the ships were discovered about eight metres under the water of Hutovo blato, a marshland near the southern town of Capljina.

The Illyrian ships, believed to be more than 2 200 years old, had been known to historians only through Greek and Roman myths and legends, but their existence had never been physically proven, said Vasilj.

The Hutovo blato marshland, she said, became their final destination after they sailed in from the Adriatic Sea which is connected with the marshland by the Neretva River.

The Desilo location where the ships were discovered, said Vasilj, would be searched further, since the experts there also discovered about 80 amphoras lids and more than 30 fragments of amphora, some even with the hallmark.

Remains of an ancient Roman villa and an entire Roman spear were found at the same location, as well as seven graves, believed to date from the Bronze or Iron Age.

Illyrians were the earliest inhabitants of the Western Balkans, including Bosnia, long before the Roman Empire took control over the region.
We have extended the deadlines for submission to April 15 for both
panels/workshops and individual presentations. We have also instituted
an online submission form, available from our website at the following
link: http://www.caas-cw.org/papercall.html.

> We invite individual and group proposals on all aspects of the classical
> world and the classical tradition, and on new strategies and resources
> for improved teaching. Especially welcome are presentations which aim at
> maximum audience participation, integrate the concerns of K-12 and
> college faculty, and --in recognition of our special centennial
> celebration--reflect on the past and future of classical studies in the
> CAAS region and beyond.
> For the centennial we are planning the following special sessions
> a plenary session on teaching about the classical world through film
> a plenary session celebrating theater and dramatic performance in the
> CAAS region
> a plenary session on representing our ancestors, featuring "interviews"
> with such classicists of the past century as Anna Julia Cooper, Basil L.
> Gildersleeve, Moses Hadas, Edith Hamilton, Gilbert Highet and Grace
> Harriet Macurdy
> a panel discussion on classics during the Kennedy era, with a special
> focus on the Center for Hellenic Studies in its early years
> a roundtable discussion on the study of classics in the region's urban
> secondary schools during the past century
> a roundtable discussion on developments in classical scholarship and
> pedagogy in our region since the founding of CAAS in 1907, from a
> variety of professional perspectives
> Please note that all who submit abstracts must be members of CAAS and
> all abstracts and proposals must be submitted electronically.
> Deadline for submission of panels and workshops is April 15, 2007;
> submission deadline for individual presentations is April 15, 2007.
Please consult "Writing an Abstract for Professional Presentation" on
our website
> http://www.caas-cw.org for more information
> Panel/workshop submissions (deadline April 15)
> Abstracts should clearly indicate the thread and original contribution
> made by the proposed presentation, and situate it in a larger scholarly
> context, both in the text of the abstract itself and in a brief
> bibliography. The file name of the abstract should be the title of the
> panel or workshop, and the length should not exceed 500 words
> Cover letters should include titles of all presentations and names of
> presenters,contact information for all presenters (including postal
> addresses, phone numbers and email addresses), and a biographical
> summary or brief cv for each presenter
> Individual submissions (deadline April 15)
> Abstracts should clearly indicate the thread and original contribution
> made by the proposed presentation and situate it in a larger scholarly
> context, both in the text of the abstract itself and in a brief
> bibliography. The file name of the abstract should be the title of the
> presentation, and the abstract should not indicate the name of the
> author or authors, since submissions will be refereed anonymously. The
> length of the abstract should not exceed 300 words.
> Cover letters should include the title of the presentation and the name
> of the author, contact information for the author (including postal
> address, phone number and email address) and a biographical summary or
> brief cv of the author
> For further information, please contact Judith P Hallett, Department of
> Classics, University of Maryland, College Park, CAAS program
> coordinator, jeph AT umd.edu and fax 301-314-9084
The 2007 Boston University Mediterranean Archaeological Field School
will take place at the site of Torre d'en Galmes on the island of
Menorca, Spain. The program is in its sixth year and consists of a
six-week excavation campaign combined with lectures, laboratory work
and study tours of the island's cultural and historical monuments, as
well as relevant ecological and natural sights. Lectures will set
Menorca within a larger Mediterranean context, focusing on the island
as a crossroads of civilization throughout its history.

Participants will excavate a structure built during the late Iron Age
period, around the third century B.C., and then reused during the Roman
occupation of the island. Therefore, the best documented period of the
site belongs to the Classical world. Although Menorca underwent
significant changes during the Roman period, the island's inhabitants
continued to use the settlements, which were occupied and later
abandoned until the 13th century. The field school will focus on the
use of domestic space throughout time, from the Late Iron Age through
the Roman period to medieval times. The adaptation and acculturation
processes are key to understanding this use of space.

There is still a space available for this field school. Please contact
Rochelle Keesler (ro30 AT bu.edu) at BU International Program for
information on how to apply today. Although the original deadline has
passed, there is still room for additional students. For full details
please visit the BU Study Abroad listing at




Applications are invited for the above post, tenable from 1 September 2007.  Candidates should have, or be about to complete, a PhD, and be capable of contributing both to language courses and to courses in Greek and Roman Civilization.  A record of research and publication commensurate with career stage is expected.  The successful candidate is likely to have special expertise in Greek and Latin literature and its cultural context, and a high level of competence in both languages; a particular interest in non-dramatic Greek poetry, especially epic, may be an advantage.

Salary Scales:  Lecturer                €50,499 - €81,861 p.a. (7 points)
                        Assistant Lecturer      €34,911 - €56,345 p.a. (12 points)

Further details of the post may be had from the University website:


For information about the Department of Ancient Classics, please see:


The closing date for applications is Wednesday 17 April 2007.

Informal enquiries relating to the post may be directed to the Head of Department, Dr Mark Humphries by email at Mark.Humphries AT nuim.ie

10.00 p.m. |HINT| Malaria and the Fall of Rome
What caused the fall of the Roman Empire? Was it the armies of
barbarians--or could it have been the microscopic bacterial armies of
an epidemic so virulent that it killed unborn babies in the womb and
caused locals in a Christian country to resort to black magic in an
attempt to protect themselves? The result of a trail that started
with an excavation at Lugnano in northern Italy may have provided the
solution. There was clearly an epidemic in the region at the time--
but of what? Join the search for answers with host and archaeologist
Julian Richards.

HINT - History International
ante diem xiii kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars (day 20)

Quinquatrus (day 2) -- second day of a five-day festival (although the name originally came from the fact that it came five days after the Ides, apparently) sacred to Mars but also somehow connected to Minerva; it was also apparently a 'school holiday', so no doubt we'll soon be reading about how the Romans invented Spring Break

43 B.C. -- Birth of Ovid (by one reckoning)

268 A.D. -- assassination of Gallienus
perforce @ Merriam-Webster (sort of)

calvous @ Wordsmith

vertiginate @ Worthless Word for the Day

empyrean @ Dictionary.com

The calvous Classicist must perforce vertiginate en route to the the empyrean heights of academe ...
From YLE:

Harrius Potter Latine redditus
: Nuntii Latini

16.03.2007, klo 09.05

Constat seriem librorum de Harrio Potter narrantium a scriptrice Anglica J.K. Rowling creatam esse.

Peter Needham, qui linguam Latinam in collegio Eton iam triginta annos docet, duo huius seriei volumina ex Anglico in Latinum convertit: quorum librorum prior, ?Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis?, anno bis millesimo tertio (2003) editus est, posterior autem, qui ?Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum? inscribitur, hoc anno ineunte in lucem venit.

Maija Ketoluoto-Nurminen
Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)


Y Nadeau scripsit:

scotica, re uera, est J. K. Rowling scriptrix. 
A review of Hesiod (!) by Richard Martin in the New York Sun:

An ancient poetry slam: Homer, immortal epicist, takes on Hesiod, famous for agricultural maxims and hymns — and loses. Or so says the "Certamen," a Greek fantasy from the age of the Roman Emperor Hadrian on which Friedrich Nietzsche, age 26, cut his philological teeth. The philosopher-to-be took its agonism to heart. Like King Ganyktor, umpire in the tale, he seems to have had a soft spot for the peaceful Hesiod, sympathizing later (in "The Genealogy of Morals") with the poetic dilemma of how an after-comer assimilates the beautiful horror of the "Iliad." Perhaps Nietzsche admired another soul out of synch.

Antiquity was clueless about exactly when Hesiod lived. (Modern scholars, only slightly less ignorant, place him and Homer somewhere between 800 and 600 before the common era). Lore called them second cousins, rivals, strangers centuries apart, Hesiod sometimes the earlier. Yet Homer (pace "Certamen") was the preferred maker of hexameters. Hesiod's name branded almost everything that was not heroic epic: moral advice, travelogues of Hades, poems on bird-signs, astronomy, and mythical metalworkers. If his choice of topics was less rousing, his style rougher, that was explained by provenance, the bare uplands around Mt. Helikon in Boeotia, far from Homer's cosmopolitan Ionia.

The extant poems — the "Theogony" and the "Works and Days" (Loeb Classical Library, 308 pages, $21.50) — are one-sixteenth the length of Homer's works, while a third, strikingly female-focused composition, the "Catalog of Women," survives mainly in scraps of papyrus, still emerging from Egypt. Hellenistic poets of the 3rd century BCE took Hesiod as an alternative stylistic model; later Latin authors mined him, imitating their Alexandrian idols. Nevertheless, in the canonical histories, Hesiod is always the alsoran. Only recent scholarly generations, informed by ethnopoetics, have understood the Hesiodic corpus as strangely different from Homeric poetry, yet more revealing of enduring Greek mentalities. For a wider audience, especially in this era of resurgent environmental verse, the day of the rural seer and sage may finally have arrived.

Glenn Most's splendid new bilingual volume is, therefore, timely. Technically not a new edition (he did not re-examine medieval manuscripts), it offers readers and scholars alike the most reliable prose translation and the richest supplementary materials available. (In a twin Loeb he translates the fragmentary works.) The generous introduction fairly summarizes current interpretations. We may no longer take at face value the self-presentation of Hesiod as resident of the hamlet of Ascra, "evil in winter, distressful in summer, not ever fine," but we still need to ask why this persona was thought good-to-sing-with over generations of oral poetic performances. He is "the first poet of the Western cultural tradition to supply us even with his name." But the name he gives himself is suspiciously generic: "He who sends forth the voice." If the poetry survived centuries before textualization, it meant something to the Greeks. What?

Here the classicist is pledged to resist modernity (game-point, Nietzsche). The allegedly historical Hesiod seemed to provide a recognizable voice, unlike the impersonal author of epics. And if he lived after Homer (as many scholars wish), that shows Progress toward the Discovery of that excellent invention, the Individual. According to Herodotus, however, in the 5th century BCE, Hesiod was, along with Homer, primarily a master of mass mythopoiesis. He was the first to give the Greeks a notion of the gods' origins, honors, occupations, and epithets, as well as their looks. Theogonie, Herodotus's term for divine births, recalls Hesiod's celebratory poem about the violent succession culminating in the eternal reign of Zeus, where the king-god ends up controlling the universe through a series of clever marriages, and the arts through his daughters, the Muses.

Hesiod once met the tricky Muses up the mountain, getting from them a staff and the gift of song to hymn all the gods. Perhaps becoming an apologist for Zeus's rule necessitated the backstory about humble origins, lest such verses drive off archaic audiences wisely wary of "divine" words. Advising his slacker brother Perses in the "Works and Days," the narrator employs practical rhetoric, from moral fables of Pandora and the Five Ages, to hygienic prescriptions ("do not urinate into rivers"), poetic to-do lists about farming, and fortune cookie one-liners ("few know that the 21st is the best of the month at daybreak — towards evening it is worse"). Hesiod's compelling cosmos thus unites the dawn of Chaos with the blazingly ordinary, still recognizably Greek, summer morn. His archaic virtuosity helps one face the day.
Interesting passing bit of ClassCon in this piece from the Hindu:

So what if you could read between the lines? Can you go beyond the printed words and decipher those inscriptions on stones and copper plates of yore. What looks like Mandarin to many, makes delightful reading for this octogenarian.

Parabrahma Sastry is one of the very few, if not the only, living epigraphists who can decipher the Brahmi script (Prakrit language), the archaeological DNA code to the hoary past of Telugus.

His unique scholastic pursuit fetched him the State Government's Ugadi Visishta Purasakaram this year, but he is not enthused. He revels in the joy of his biggest success - fixing the chronology of the Satavahana dynasty.

"I fully claim credit for it. A small token - trade licence - with an inscription of the picture and period of Roman king Tiberius on one side and of Satavahana ruler Haku Sri on the other clinched the issue. I could establish the period of Siri Satavahana, Satakarni-I, Simuka and the others thereon," he recalls flashing a grin.

Surprise journey

A post-graduate in Sanskrit and doctorate in history, Dr. Sastry's journey with history came as a surprise even to himself. Though he worked as a headmaster in Jangaon in Warangal district and an eight-year stint at Keshav Memorial High School in Hyderabad, he was chosen as an epigraphist in Archaeology Department. With his passion becoming his profession, he never looked back.

He deciphered many epigraphs, particularly those in Brahmi, Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada. Until the 12th century AD, Kannada and Telugu had a common script. Dr. Sastry says Telugu and Tamil had evolved from the inscriptions on crystal caskets in which the Buddha's relics were preserved at Bhattiprolu in Guntur district. But Telugu eventually developed into the current form from the Brahmi script.

Prolific output

The boulder with inscriptions of Vishnukundins period at Chaitanyapuri in Hyderabad was one of his discoveries. Dr. Sastry has authored over a dozen books and several research papers on history, epigraphy and literature. He laments the dwindling passion for preserving the proofs of history and suggests a study into ancient social history and lifestyle.

... what are these 'trade licenses'?
A piece by Peter Jones in something called The Oldie:

In a dialogue attacking divination and astrology, Cicero tells the following story: when Marcus Crassus was about to set out on the expedition to Parthia (which was to end in his and his army's destruction), a man on the quayside was selling figs from Caunus (south Turkey) and therefore shouting Cauneas ('cow-nay-arse')! Cicero comments that Crassus should have listened to the omen and realised he was shouting cave ne eas, 'beware lest you go!', 'don't go!'

Arf arf. But there is an important linguistic point to that side-splitter. It would make no sense unless (i) ne eas were run together into neas and (ii) av and au ('ow') sounded roughly similar. And indeed they do: they both sound like au. In other words - and there is much more evidence to this effect - Latin 'v' was not pronounced like English 'v'. It was, in fact, pronounced more like a semi-vowel, e.g. English 'w' as in 'wet'. Modern Latin texts print it as 'u'.

This simple fact produced outrage when I published my twenty-part QED: Learn Latin series in the Daily Telegraph some ten years ago. Many readers told me that no one knew how Latin was pronounced, but then proceeded to assert that Latin 'v' was pronounced as English 'v', not 'w', the main argument being that Julius Caesar could never have said anything as unmasculine as 'waynee, weedee, weekee'. But linguistics are, I fear, no respecter of Daily Telegraph readers.

The evidence for the pronunciation of the individual words in classical Latin is, in fact, impressive and wide-ranging. The rest of this piece will be devoted to giving some examples. Each is, I can promise, backed up by more evidence to the same effect (the standard book on the subject is W S Allen, Vox Latina, second edition, Cambridge, 1989).

The Greeks, whose culture (Horace tells us) 'took the Romans captive', often transcribed Latin names into Greek. Assuming we know how Greek was pronounced, we can expect that their transcription will tell us something about Latin. Thus Cicero was transcribed as Kikerwn, not Siserwn (the -wn being a Greek ending), i.e. Latin 'c' was pronounced hard. (The vogue for pronouncing Latin 'c' as in 'church' is the result of an effort by Pope Pius X in 1912 to impose a standard pronunciation. So - how we should pronounce the Latin of the Mass?) Greeks also transcribed Valerius as Oualrios, again suggesting that 'v' was pronounced as a semi-vowel.

Ancient grammarians are full of useful information. One says that 't' and 'd' should be distinguished by the position of the tongue: 't' with the tongue against the back of the teeth, but 'd' with the tongue against the ridge of the gum. Another describes 'b' and 'p' as a 'sound exploded from the lips', and hints that the difference is one of muscular tension. In both cases, they seem to be describing something like the sounds those letters represent for us. A grammarian tells us that 'r' was trilled or rolled in Latin, a pronunciation supported by the early satirist Lucilius who describes it as resembling the 'growling of a dog'. But enough of dog Latin.

The spelling of words, especially of illiterate inscriptions, can be suggestive. We find in pace 'in peace' written im pace, and in balneo 'in the bath' im balneo. Presumably Romans slurred 'n' to 'm' before a 'p' or 'b'. Even more surprising, we find ignes 'fires' written ingnes, and there is other evidence to suggest that 'gn' was pronounced 'ngn'. So magnus 'large' sounded roughly like English 'hangnail'. consul was often written cosul, and when Romans abbreviated it, they wrote cos., not con. or cons. So 'n' was probably not pronounced before 's'. No surprise, then, that Greek writes Hortensius as Hortsios; while we are told that aristocratic Romans like Cicero actually preferred to drop n before s and say e.g. foresia ('public matters') not forensia. Compare also Italian 'bride', sposa, from Latin sponsa ('spouse').

But they also preferred to keep 'h'. This letter, which Roman grammarians describe as a 'breath', seems to have been on the way out from quite early on (e.g. mi for mihi 'to me'), but then came to be misapplied: inscriptions produce e.g. hire for ire 'to go' alongside ic for hic 'this'. All very Cockney. Catullus writes a poem mocking Arrius who hyper-corrects, e.g. Ionios 'Ionian' into Hionios, and there was scholarly controversy whether e.g. 'sand' should be written harena or arena. The aristocrats had to get it right. Controversy over spelling and pronunciation is a very old game indeed.

Myriad problems remain, of course - from different accents to the articulation of a complete utterance. But the pronunciation of the individual sounds is pretty secure.

... some Greek letters will probably disappear from the above as it passes through the Internet ...
Hey ... the Bluffton News-Banner has a good piece on calendar stuff:

Each year about this time, I have most often tried to fit “The Ides of March” into this column. Don’t know why; the term has a fateful, ominous tone to it, no doubt since Shakespeare’s writing about the assassination of Julius Caesar made famous the term: “Beware the Ides of March.”

And each year I’ve been curious as to where the term came from and exactly what it means. So this year, thought I’d do something about the curiosity.

Turns out that the word “ides” has meaning only in the Roman calendar, a calendar that has an interesting evolution.

The original Roman calendar had only ten months, Maritus (or March) being the first. The ten months only accounted for 304 days, with the 61 days of winter not being a part of the “calendar year.” That’s one way to deal with winter: ignore it; it doesn’t exist.

Well, some smart-aleck named Numa Pompilius ruined that for us, creating January and February, which at that time were added to the end of the calendar year. At this point the days totaled up to 355 , which the astronomers soon noted wasn’t working. Hence, some months were reduced to as little as 23 days and an additional month was added every other year to try to get things right.

The Romans were trying to base their calendar on the moon. The “Ides” were always meant to fall on a full moon. No wonder it has ominous overtones. Ides fell on the 15th in just four months — March, May, July and October, the 13th during the other months. The day of a new moon was called a “Nones,” which fell on either the 7th or the 5th.

By the way, the Latin term for the first day of every month was “Kalends.” Interest on debt was due each Kalends. This word is, of course, the root for “calendar.” But I digress.

The Romans even had a little poem to keep track of their calendar’s rules:

In March, July, October, May

The Ides fall on the 15th day.

The Nones the seventh; all besides

Have two days less for Nones and Ides.

To make matters worse, the Romans didn’t refer to dates as we do. Their method was based on the Nones and Ides so that September 2 was called “a.d. IV Non. Sept.” which translates to “4 days before the Nones of September.”

Confused? So were they. They kept tweaking and changing it.

Reading just a little bit of history of the Roman calendar — its ongoing debate, adjustments and changes — reminds me of how we deal with this Daylight Savings Time issue.

The Romans, or someone, eventually got it figured out.

Maybe we will, too.

... looks like some editor took out a paragraph on the various intercalary type adjustments ...
Augustan Poetry: epic, elegy and metapoetics

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Durham University
Department of Classics & Ancient History/ Ritson Room
38 North Bailey

10.30: Ingo Gildenhard: Welcome and introduction

11.00: Peter Heslin: Hylas descending: Propertius 1.20 as allegory

12.00: Roy Gibson (Manchester): Aristocrats, equestrians, and the ethos of Roman love elegy

Lunch break

14.00: Anne Rogerson (Cambridge): Learning to be a man in Virgil's Aeneid

15.00: Andrew Zissos (University of California/ Irvine): Ovid’s Medea: tragic deviations

Coffee break

16.30: Ingo Gildenhard: Metapoetry and/in Ovid

17.30: Jennifer Ingleheart: Exegi monumentum: death, exile and poetic immortality in Ovid, Tristia 3.3

For further information, please contact Ingo Gildenhard at
ingo.gildenhard AT dur.ac.uk.

The 7th annual meeting of Postgraduate Cypriot Archaeology (POCA) will be held on the 19th- 20th October 2007 at the Main Auditorium of the University of Cyprus. The event will be organised for the first time in Cyprus, by the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Cyprus.

POCA 2007 will open on the 18th October 2007 at 7.30 p.m. with a plenary lecture by Dr Nicholas Stanley-Price.
An excursion is planned for the 21st October 2007, depending on adequate participation. 

This symposium offers an excellent opportunity to postgraduate students and new scholars, from various backgrounds and disciplines, who are currently carrying out research on Cypriot Archaeology, to present their work, exchange ideas and meet people who carry out research in the same field. Undergraduates are also warmly invited to attend.
There is no registration fee.

We welcome all papers regarding archaeological, anthropological, historical, sociological or other aspects of material culture of Cyprus and related subjects. There are no chronological limits.

Interested scholars are invited to submit an abstract (max. 150-200 words) and a short biographical note by the 1st of August 2007 to poca2007 AT ucy.ac.cy   Papers should be 20 minutes long, as they will be followed by discussion. Please note that we intend to publish the proceedings, if a sufficient number of papers is submitted. All submissions will be subject to editorial review, and therefore acceptance for presentation does not automatically guarantee inclusion in the final publication.

POCA 2007 committee kindly request that you inform any interested individuals within your research community regarding this event.

We look forward to seeing you in Nicosia!

For further information regarding participation or online registration please visit http://www.ucy.ac.cy/~poca2007 

If you have any enquiries please contact us at poca2007 AT ucy.ac.cy or
Skevi Christodoulou at skevi_13 AT yahoo.com  and
Anna Satraki at asatraki AT yahoo.gr  

Alternatively, you can write to us at:

POCA 2007 Organising Committee,
Archaeological Research Unit,
University of Cyprus,
P.O.Box 20537,
CY1678 Nicosia, Cyprus

... at the APA site, of course ...
8.00 p.m. |HINT| Lost Treasures Of The Ancient World:Greece
It is a sad fact that many Grecian achievements were destroyed by
those who subsequently conquered the land; however, those that
survive are a testimony to Greek skill and ideals. We take viewers on
an incredible journey to witness the breathtaking beauty of the
Acropolis and the Parthenon--now and as they once were--and the
majesty of the remains at Delphi, including the inspiring Temple of
Zeus. Featuring new location footage, stylish period reconstructions,
and groundbreaking 3D graphics and animation sequences, as well as
interpretation and analysis by the world's leading authorities,
including Dr. John Bennet of the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford and
Dr. Chris Pelling of University College, Oxford.

9.00 p.m. |HINT| Athens' Subway
Under Athens' bustling metropolis, an unique engineering project
transformed the city, building a new underground Metro system, while
uncovering secrets of its past, alleviating chronic traffic problems,
and preparing for the 2004 Olympics. But to dig stations and tunnels
in the heart of one of the world's oldest sites of continuous
habitation, engineers had to accommodate the largest archaeological
excavations conducted to date in Athens. Thousands of invaluable
artifacts were discovered, spanning more than 25 centuries. We talk
with leading project engineers and archaeologists to explore the
difficult balance between progress and preservation. Unique library
film records every stage by which gigantic Tunnel Boring Machines cut
under some of the most famous architecture of the ancient world.
Despite problems and delays, the Athens' Metro finally opened in
January 2000. Its dazzling modern stations at the center of the city
contain ancient artifacts found at the station sites.

9.00 p.m. |HISTU| Ancient Discoveries :Ancient Computer?

10.00 p.m. |HINT| Athens: Triumph and Tragedy
After the Persians' defeat in 479 B.C., Athens entered a Golden Age
when her democratic assembly ruled supreme. Pericles commissioned the
Parthenon, a majestic temple for the goddess Athena overlooking her
city, and embarked on a building spree. Visit Athens' marbled trove
and see how their colossal cost ultimately led to war with Sparta

11.00 p.m. |HINT| The First Olympics
In Ancient Greece, many city-states staged athletic games, but
history will always remember Olympia. Beginning in 776 BC, and for
every four years after, battlefields emptied and warriors flocked to
the famous arena, where the desire for victory and glory in the name
of Zeus left many broken bodies. We visit ruins of the temples and
the baths, where victorious athletes, glistening with olive oil and
sweat from the Olympic sun, wore their laurel wreaths with pride and

HINT - History International
HISTU - History Channel (US)
Let's see what's in the aggregators this week:

NS Gill offers us some variations on Herodotus' account of Thermopylae ... in response to what was being put in various press accounts, she also commented on the ancient Persians owning slaves ... more thoughts on 300 ... there was also a nice feature on St. Patrick ...

Adrian Murdoch is pondering the Antonine Wall thing (why torture yourself AM?) ... he also reviews the Corvus Corax group ...

At Campus Mawrtius (which I've missed for a while for some reason), Dennis was pondering Samuel Butler ... Eric is working through Horace's Odes 2 ...

Glaukopis was marking the Ides ...

Troels Myrup has some photos of the in-progress Acropolis Museum ...

Michael Gilleland tells us about the sexiness of grammar ... and licorice has a Greek etymology (!) ...

Irene Hahn has some interesting gladiatorial items ... comments on the Roman amphitheatre in Nero's time ...

JM had a very useful Ides of March post ...

Folks might be interested in an NPR interview with Ruth Downie, author of Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire

Ed Flinn continues to post his coin collection (Latin teachers take note!)...

Laura Gibbs has a brief roundup this week ...

Ginny Lindzey found her missing Latin Workshop notes ...

Magister Patricius is pondering Acme and Septimius ...

Ray Howell gets the Roman Scholars treatment ...

Mary Beard was finding parallels between Commodus and the Stasi ...

Eurylochus recounts some post-horse events ...

The US-as-Rome comparisons this week seem to be giving way to comparisons of the 300 to the US-Iran hostility (see N.S. Gill above) ... for example in the Tribune ... ABC pondered whether Bush was Leonidas or Xerxes ...

If you're not Thermopylaed out, Jona Lendering has a nice page on the 'metamorphosis' of the myth ... the History Channel has a nice short video on the battle (excerpted from the Decisive Battles series) ... Barry Strauss' article on Thermopylae (2004) for Military History Quarterly is also worth looking at ... [hat tip to RB on the Imperial Rome list for mentioning those this week]

There have been some updates at the Centuries of Darkness website ...

The first issue of Classics@ has been updated and revised ...

The New Jersey Classics Association's Spring 2007 newsletter is available ...

My feed just resumed (for reasons unknown) for Father Foster's audio at Father Coulter's site ... since I've missed at least three weeks, we'll just direct you to Father Coulter's site ...

If you're trying to keep up with all the Jesus Family Tomb stuff, Mark Goodacre's NT Gateway seems to be catching most of the important stuff ... also worth checking out is the debate going on in the SBL Forum ... it would be useful if some Classical epigraphy types could comment on Stephen Pfann's interpretation there of the so-called Mariamne inscription (it does look like a kai to me, but I have no auctoritas) ...

Other than that, we've posted issue 9.47 of our Explorator newsletter ... the weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings will follow later tonight ...
From Fortean Times 196 (May, 2005):

...As PC George Dixon (of Dock Green) almost said.

Many fortean moments in the Diaries of John Evelyn (1620-1706). Strange creatures proliferate: a four-legged cockerel with two arses, one located pectorally "by which he likewise voyded dung" (13 Aug 1641); cat with six ears, eight legs, two bodies from navel down, and a pair of tails (4 April 1644); "batts as big as catts, ratts of a strange size" (4 Oct 1650); giant stag antler and "monstrous bones of incredible length" (2 May 1664); an African creature with ox body, pikefish head, and peacock tail claimed by an Italian whom Evelyn met at scientist Robert Boyle's house (28 March 1689) - cf. Fort, Books, pp608-24; a merman's skin (13 Feb 1645)-cf. Fort, p620; two giant whales (3 June 1658 & 26 March 1669), the first's mouth "so wide divers men might have stood upright in it".

A 1636 ballad by Martin Parker describes a monster stranded in Cheshire, choicest verses being: "His pissle is in length foure yards/Big as a man i'th wast/His cods are like two hogsheads great/This seemeth past beleefe/But men of credit can relate/What I describe in briefe."

No shortage of human curiosities: a 23in (58cm) man's kneebone found in Sicily (26 Jan 1645); remote Italian rustics of giant stature with 1001b (45kg) throat tumours (May 1646); a hermaphrodite that "shew'd both sexes very perfectly, the penis only not perforated, went for a woman" (21 Aug 1667); a child of monstrous head without eyes or nose, voiding excrement from a lateral buttock hole (13 Sept 1660); an eight-year-old Dutch boy with `Deus Meus' on his right eye, `Elohim' on the left, with no adverse effect on his sight: some doctors called them fake, others natural (30 March 1701-see FT48:36); stigmata affected a servant girl, "very modest, no phanatic" (5 Aug 1670) - cf. Fort, pp1021-2.

Curiouser and curiouser: a physician exhibited "a tooth, with its roote, found in the testiclle of a woman whom he dissected" (22 April 1680); a man voided a 24ft (7m) worm with 400 mouths and stomachs (9 Aug 1682); a French woman was 24 years pregnant whilst a similarly gestating Englishwoman produced a child with petrified limbs (29 Aug 1678); a Roman lady pissed two hundredweight (102kg) of water every 24 hours despite drinking nothing (17 Feb 1662). Of his many reports of celestial phenomena and weird weather, I space-savingly mention only the huge hailstones shaped like crowns and Order of the Garter (25 June 1652) - cf. Fort, pp959, 967.

Miscellaneous finale: two separate monkey attacks on babies in Greenwich (11 Nov 1683); two sisters died on same day of same month of same illness, six years apart (14 Sept 1684) - cf. Fort, pp847-50, 859-60, 992; a plague of caterpillars devoured "all the winter fruit through the land, and even killed several trees" (24 May 1685); a shipwrecked man swam 22 leagues (122km) to land with a tinder-box strapped to his head "which was not so much as wett all that way" (16 Oct 1644).

"Everything in our experience is only part of something else that in turn is only a part of still something else" - Fort, p8.

Barry Baldwin
(reprinted with permission of the Author; blame any typically graphic transcription errors on dm)
An arrangement of the First Delphic Hymn played on a Hebrew 'Nevel' lyre:

Ancient Greek Melody

If you go to that page, you'll see other examples of this by the same musician (including one which was made in response to criticism of this one)
From the Oberlin Review:

Amphorae, hydriae, krateres. Whatever your preference, there were more than enough Ancient Greek vases to please at this year’s Martin lecture.

The lecture, given by Robin Osborne, professor of ancient history at Cambridge University, was titled, “The Politics of Pictorial Representation in Early Athenian Democracy.” It marked 80 years since the start of the Martin Lectures in 1927. The lectures, which were founded in memory of Oberlin Classics Professor Charles Beebe Martin, have come to include some of the biggest names in classical studies.

In a series of four well-attended lectures last week, Osborne explored the significance of imagery on painted vases.

In the first lecture, “Painted Pottery and its History,” Osborne dismissed the contemporary view that painted pottery was considered art by Athenians. He explained that pots were used more often for everyday use.

“My interest is in relating how iconographic choices on Athenian pottery changed over time,” said Osborne

The changing depictions of Athenian violence — from complex scenes of war to simpler, more symbolic scenes of solitary soldiers arming themselves and parting from their wives or mothers — were documented in Osborne’s second lecture, “The Politics of War.”

Osborne suggested that the scenes of conflict were due to a lack of familiarity with the actualities of war. “By the time they are actually engaged in annual campaigns against the Persians, and fighting and losing men on a large scale, all we get in the way of fighting scenes are those rather symbolic simple-Greek-soldier-fighting-simple-Persian scenes,” Osborne said.

“Once you know that your number is regularly coming up and you know what it is really like to go off to warfare, do you really want to see those scenes on your pots?”

In the third lecture, “Athletes and the Politics of Desire,” Osborne again made note of a substantial difference between types of imagery on pots, specifically addressing the change from ornate depictions of athletes being honored by older men to simple depictions, where honor was bestowed more symbolically by the goddess Nike.

Osborne suggested that the changing depictions had far-reaching effects on their ancient observers, even affecting the way Athenians thought. “We might think that aesthetic preferences play off not just onto what gets represented but perhaps also onto how people view the activities of life, rather than the activities of life reflecting back onto how things get represented,” he said.

In his fourth and final lecture, “Pots and Politics,” Osborne discussed the evolution of the courting scenes on vases, which became less explicit and more symbolic as time progressed.

At this lecture’s conclusion, Osborne summed up the series by arguing that changing views of individuality at the advent of democracy provided a good context to understand the altering imagery.

“Whatever the changing choices [and] scenes depicted on Athenian pottery;it doesn’t simply reflect changing patterns of Athenian behavior in the areas of life depicted,” said Osborne. “What I want to suggest is that we can see the aesthetic change;as a product of a social change from the fascination with the individual to exploration of the typical.”
Interesting item from the Chronicle:

Scholars differ on much about the life of St. Patrick, but they tend to agree that his mission of walking the Emerald Isle to spread the gospel of Christ fits squarely into the 5th century A.D.

But now comes a challenge from a Patrick sleuth at UC Berkeley, Daniel Melia, a professor of rhetoric and Celtic studies and incidentally a former "Jeopardy" champion who won a quarter of a million dollars and a silver Corvette he still drives.

Melia has studied linguistic details of Patrick's writings and is prepared to argue that the Christian priest who evangelized most of what is now Ireland lived from the late 4th to early 5th centuries -- 50 years earlier than the dates generally agreed upon by Patrick scholars.

The argument poses no threat to Patrick's sainthood, which is based on myths layered on by later generations.

And there's no risk to the secular feast day of March 17, which historians maintain is the date Patrick passed on after his rugged life of proselytizing among Britain's pagan Celts. That date, Melia says, is legendary as well and may have been set long ago to mark a spring folk festival.

Green beer will continue to flow no matter what the scholars say now or probably ever will say.

Melia is excited about the redating because he feels it argues for a more accurate picture of the historical Patrick. He sees Patrick's mission as taking place within a provincial Roman society yet to face the tribal invasions that forced Rome to abandon Britain in the first decade of the 5th century.

"It has implications for the development of Christianity in Ireland, which takes longer than if Patrick comes in the 5th century," Melia said.

What's more, the earlier Patrick would have been a contemporary of two other early church fathers, St. Augustine and St. Jerome.

Melia builds on the work of former proponents of the early Patrick. His contribution to early-Patrick theory is to establish that Patrick was a sophisticated person functioning in an intellectual world.

Such language as Patrick employs to defend himself in the power struggles of the day would have been less likely to appear after later barbarian inroads tore civil society apart, Melia argues.

"He would have been through Roman elementary school and high school education with an expert in grammar," he said.

Melia argues that Patrick would have been educated prior to his abduction by Irish raiders at age 16 and his six years of enslavement tending a chieftain's flocks.

Patrick's enslavement led to his spiritual transformation, his career as a missionary defending the Trinity and his growing legend in later centuries as a white-bearded pastoral figure with a curved staff, shamrocks and miracles to battle evil druid magicians in the struggle for souls.

But now rustic was he?

Melia says Patrick may betray a touch of rhetorical modesty in his replies to the clerical authorities who presumably -- the charges haven't survived -- questioned his status as a self-appointed bishop and his practice of financing his own missionary work.

"In his confession he says he does not have these fine rhetorical skills," Melia said. "It's like Perry Mason saying, 'Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking ...' "

Patrick defended himself as someone who consorts with nobles but maintained it was all for Christ.

"There's a lot self-justification," Melia said. "He may have been guilty as charged in the technical sense."

Melia will deliver an illustrated hourlong lecture today at 5:30 p.m. on "The Real St. Patrick" in Room 242 of Dwinelle Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

His big show is scheduled in July when he presents his findings to the XIIIth International Congress of Celtic Studies in Bonn, Germany.

Melia recalls debating Patrick's dates earlier with a noted Patrick scholar from Wales. He says the scholar left the discussion on this note: "This is going to take more than a couple of beers to straighten out."

Melia doesn't plan to celebrate Saturday, St. Patrick's Day, in the traditional sense.

"We're having some friends over for dinner," he said. "I think we're going to have a couple of drinks, than go across the street to a Mediterranean restaurant."
From the Times:

The guilty rich have a habit of associating themselves with things that hint at cultured restraint, hoping that it will ameliorate their headlong pursuit of crass lucre. Maybe they want to cultivate an image of moral uprightness and control over baser desires.

The Victorian magnates built houses that looked like gothic churches; in the 1960s the hippy entrepreneurs of Notting Hill schlepped out to India and got Buddhism; and in the 1990s the Bollinger bourgeoisie hid all their conspicuous consumption in the invisible cupboards of their minimalist houses.

Nowadays the middle classes flaunt their passes to the moral high ground in the form of a Toyota Prius, a wind turbine on the roof and a recycled bag full of organic produce from the farmers’ market.

In the early 1760s England had a new king, George III, and had just finished the Seven Years’ War with France in America. The time was ripe for a rebranding. The newly rich, raking it in from the growing empire and slavery, were keen to adopt a style that would at once lend them an air of respectable age and restrained good taste. What better than the style of a civilisation that was also a democracy and a maritime superpower, Ancient Greece?

In 1762 James “Athenian” Stuart, the subject of a new exhibition at the V&A, published his long-awaited book Antiquities of Athens. The size of a paving slab, it was the most enduring legacy of a polymath who came from humble beginnings to become an architect and interior designer whose services were fought over by the wealthiest hostesses. The book was the first accurate record of the architecture of Ancient Greece and was a principal source book for his profession well into the 19th century.

Throughout his life Stuart had a keen sense of the Zeitgeist and he aimed the book at wealthy gentleman, offering it as a key to appearing cultured. They were insecure with their new wealth and sought ownership of a style that lent an ordered gravitas and Protestant moderation to their economic status. There was a reaction against the organic exuberance of Rococo. Chinoiserie was regarded as terribly nouveau riche. Classical influences were nothing new, but the official line was that Rome, with architects such as Vitruvius, was best. Greece was regarded as primitive when compared to the later refinement of the Romans.

Stuart helped to establish the idea of Greece as the pure source of civilisation. In a flyer put out to drum up interest in his book he said: “Artists who seek perfection must return to the fountainhead of their arts.”

Stuart was born in poverty in London in 1713. His father died when he was young, and it fell to Stuart to support his family, which he did by training in the fashionable art of fan painting. But he wanted to be more than a craftsman and copyist. An important part of a gentleman’s education was a trip to Italy. In 1740 he left London, not to return for 14 years.

First he walked to Rome, surviving as an itinerant fan painter and portraitist. Having learnt Latin, Italian and a good deal about art and antiquities, and being good company, he began to make a living as a guide and connoisseur.

His growing interest in archaeology resulted in a scholarly account of the excavation of an obelisk in Rome. This led to him setting off for Greece, together with Nicholas Revett, to study and measure the architecture there. At that time Greece was as remote to the English as the Moon is to us. Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, it was difficult to access.

Antiquities of Athens perhaps reflects the contemporary appeal of Stuart not just as a scholar but as an explorer, bon viveur and man of taste. It is as much adventure travelogue as architectural study. Illustrations show Stuart and Revett in Turkish dress, adopted to blend in with the locals as they were suspected of being treasure hunters and were stalked by government spies.

This suspicion was understandable as they spent a lot of their time digging out the accumulated earth and rubbish that obscured many ancient monuments.

Stuart seems to have deliberately delayed the publication of his book — it was 14 years after the initial proposal — so that he could garner commissions to decorate houses in the Greek Revival style before the book made his knowledge widely available. He became a sought-after interior designer, specialising in adapting the antique for the practicalities of the Georgian aristocracy. This sometimes results in kitsch worthy of Philippe Starck, such as the classical-urn-shaped plate warmer.

Stuart is not as celebrated as his contemporary and rival Robert Adam, and he also gained a reputation for drunkenness and laziness. Nevertheless, he was an important influence on the look of his age and designed some of London’s great Georgian interiors, of which the most famous surviving example is Spencer House, near Green Park.

Ironically one of Stuart’s other masterpieces, Montagu House, was incinerated by another ruling class that sought to legitimise its power behind a neo-classical façade, the Nazis.
Here's the incipit of a very lengthy piece in the NY Times:

THE statue, Apollo the Lizard Slayer, was stunning. The five-foot-tall bronze, created by the Greek artist Praxiteles as many as 2,350 years ago, depicts the nude god poised to ambush a lizard.

Ali Aboutaam, above, and his brother, Hicham, bottom, are prominent antiquities dealers who say they are being more rigorous in tracing the history of the pieces that they sell from their high-end galleries in Manhattan and Geneva.

And the Cleveland Museum of Art wanted it. During a visit to Geneva in 2003, Michael Bennett, the museum’s curator of Greek and Roman art, noticed a statue beneath a black cloth while browsing at Phoenix Ancient Art, an exclusive antiquities gallery. After Hicham and Ali Aboutaam, the dapper Lebanese brothers who owned the gallery, pulled off the cloth to reveal the Apollo Sauroktonos, as it is also known, it did not take long for the museum to buy it.

It did so despite the Aboutaams’ disclosure that the statue’s ownership history was dubious at best.

Although it is thought to be the very statue described by Pliny the Elder in the first century, other details have been lost to time, along with one arm. The statue was part of a private estate in the former East Germany, the Aboutaams said, before it was discovered in pieces in 1990. The family who reclaimed the estate after German reunification sold the work to an undisclosed Dutchman in 1994. That person sold the statue to another collector, who sold it to the Aboutaams in 2001 with the understanding that he would remain anonymous.

The museum’s own experts spent a year investigating the provenance. Physical evidence proved that the sculpture had been out of the ground for at least a century, so its sale did not violate international laws and treaties aimed at halting illicit trade in art and antiquities.

Nevertheless, last month, the Apollo’s murky past returned to haunt the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Aboutaams, who are among the world’s most powerful dealers of antiquities. The Louvre in Paris withdrew a request to borrow the statue from the Cleveland museum for an exhibition after the Greek government threatened a boycott. The Greek pressure on the Louvre drew applause from many in the art world, particularly academics who have long criticized antiquities trading as fraught with corruption.

Hicham Aboutaam, 39, called the Louvre’s decision unfortunate: “The Apollo was proven to have been in circulation more than 100 years ago. The Greeks are not saying that the Apollo shouldn’t be here or that it was stolen. It is just their way of scoring a P.R. coup.”

The Louvre’s sudden case of cold feet was hardly surprising. Some of the world’s most prestigious museums have been sullied by accusations of acquiring artwork that was believed to have once been looted or stolen. The J. Paul Getty Museum of Art in Los Angeles agreed to return to Italy nearly two dozen artworks whose provenance was in dispute, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York returned to Italy the Euphronios krater, a 2,500-year-old vessel for mixing water and wine that the Italian government said had been looted by tomb raiders.

As the provenance of antiquities and artworks is questioned, so is the provenance of dealers themselves.

The new wariness of collectors, both public and private, to buy or exhibit works that do not have the most rigorously documented history jeopardizes the business of even the most established dealers. So the Aboutaams are remaking themselves and their business. In a trade that has been full of grave robbers and forgers adding patina to new objects, they are busy digging up documentation for everything they sell in an effort to polish their reputation.

... the rest ...
From New Scientist:

ROMANS didn't just send people to gruesome deaths in their gladiatorial amphitheatres, they could hear every last scream, too. The acoustics of Greek and Roman amphitheatres, it seems, improved with every new design.

The open-air theatres of ancient Greece around 1500 BC were simple rectangular or trapezoidal arenas surrounded by wood or stone seating on the same level. By 500 BC, the semicircular amphitheatre began to take shape, with concentric rows of marble seats often raised on a low slope. Later, the Romans raised the stage, walled it at the back and made the seats very highly tiered.

But were these changes merely to pack in bigger crowds? To find out, Jian Kang and Kalliopi Chourmouziadou at the University of Sheffield, UK, studied how the theatres' acoustics changed through the ages (Applied Acoustics, DOI: 10.1016/j.apacoust.2006.12.009). They analysed six Greek and Roman designs using software that simulates how sound level, clarity and reverberation behave in 3D spaces.

They found that the acoustics improved as the theatres got more enclosed, had steeper seats and higher stages, and were built from harder materials. "These measures allowed for multiple sound reflections between the seats and the stage," says Kang. "This higher reverberation made it much more like an indoor space."
This program now includes a non-thesis M.A. degree option for teachers only; additional coursework, including a methods course, substitutes for the thesis.


All participants in the Institute must also be admitted to the University of
Georgia, either as Degree or Non-Degree students.

Please consult the Graduate School for application information and forms, or
you may apply electronically through their website, at

For admission to the Summer Institute, complete the on-line application at
the Department's website, at www.classics.uga.edu; or print off the forms
and mail them to Summer Institute, Department of Classics, Park Hall,
University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6203.

Contact information: Summer Institute, Department of Classics, Park Hall,
University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6203; tel. (706) 542-9264; e-mail
gradinq AT uga.edu.
11-12th May, University of Edinburgh

The School of History and Classics at the University of Edinburgh announces
a Charles Gordon Mackay public lecture followed by a day colloquium on the
theme of Constantinople in Late Antiquity.



‘Rome and Constantinople compared’. Dr Bryan Ward-Perkins, Trinity College,
5.15 pm, Hugh Robson Lecture Theatre, George Square
To be followed by a reception (venue to be confirmed)



Conference Room, David Hume Tower, George Square

9.15-9.30 Welcome and introduction

9.30-10.30 ‘There but not there: Constantinople in the Itinerarium
Burdigalense.’ Benet Salway, University College London.

10.30-11.30 ‘Themistius and Constantinople.’ Peter Heather, Worcester
College, Oxford.

11.30-12: Coffee

12-1: ‘Eastern pagans on Constantinople.’ Gavin Kelly, Edinburgh.

1-2: Lunch (a buffet lunch will be provided)

2-3: ‘Between hippodrome and church: ritual communication in Constantinople
under the Theodosian dynasty.’ Peter van Nuffelen, Exeter.

3-4 '‘Looking at aqueducts, reading prayers': understanding the
architectural decoration of early Byzantine aqueduct bridges.’ Jim Crow,

4-4.30: Tea

4.30-5: Final discussion

The colloquium is organised by Dr Lucy Grig (lucy.grig AT ed.ac.uk) and Dr
Gavin Kelly (gavin.kelly AT ed.ac.uk), from whom further information can be
obtained. For those wishing to attend there will be a fee of £12 (£8 for
students) to cover refreshments and administration, payable on the day.
Space will be limited so please confirm your intention to attend (by email
or post) with Lucy Grig as soon as possible.

We regret that we are unable to arrange accommodation in Edinburgh, but Lucy
Grig can supply a list of accommodation options upon request.
The Department of Classics at Grand Valley State University invites
applications for a full-time Visiting (non-tenure-track) appointment for the
2007-08 academic year, with possibility for renewal, at the rank of Visiting
Assistant Professor. Candidates should have the Ph.D. in Classics by August
2007. The teaching load is four courses per semester, including Latin
language, Greek & Roman civilization, and Classical literature in
translation. Undergraduate-level teaching experience is required. Grand
Valley State University is an affirmative action and equal opportunity

Interested candidates are asked to contact Professor Diane Rayor, Chair, by
email immediately (rayord AT gvsu.edu) and submit a letter of application and
curriculum vitae as soon as possible, followed by letters of reference and
transcript, to Department of Classics, Grand Valley State University,
Allendale, Michigan 49401-9403. Preference will be given to candidates
available for interviews at CAMWS in Cincinnati on April 12 & 13.
Applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. For further
information: www.gvsu.edu/classics, (616) 331-3600, or rayord AT gvsu.edu.

The Center for Ancient Studies at New York
University is hosting two conferences this
spring. Both events are free of charge and open
to the public, and seating is by general
admission. The evening sessions will include a
wine reception. For more information about the
two events, please see details below and visit
the Center for Ancient Studies Web site:
http://ancientstudies.fas.nyu.edu or contact the
College Dean's Office at 212.998.8100; cyberdean AT nyu.edu.

The first event is the Ranieri Colloquium,
"Herodotus Now: The Personal and the Political,"
on March 29 & 30, held in conjunction with NYU's
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and
Human Development and supported by the Hellenic
Parliament and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.
The colloquium will take place on the first floor
of Silver Center for Arts and Science, 100 Washington Square East.

The second is the annual Rose-Marie Lewent
Conference, "Finding a Place in an International
World: How Ancient Peoples Viewed Themselves and
Their Neighbors," on April 17 & 18. The symposium
will inaugurate NYU's Ancient Near Eastern and
Egyptian Studies Graduate Program and it is
cosponsored by the NYU Humanities Council, the
Office of The Dean for Humanities, the Ancient
Near Eastern and Egyptian Studies Program, and
the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic
Studies. It will take place in the Irving H.
Jurow Lecture Hall, Silver Center for Arts and
Science, Room 101A, 100 Washington Square East.

**The program for the HERODOTUS colloquium on March 29 & 30 is as follows**

* Thursday, March 29, 2007
Hemmerdinger Hall, 102 Silver Center

6:00 p.m. Welcome
Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts and Science &
Angelo J. Ranieri Director of Ancient Studies, NYU

6:15 p.m. Keynote Talk: "Taking Herodotus Personally"
Hellenic Parliament Global Distinguished Professor in the
Theory and History of Democracy, NYU, &
Professor of Greek History, Cambridge University

Introduced by:
MICHAEL FLOWER (Princeton University)

7:15 p.m. Reception

* Friday, March 30, 2007
Irving H. Jurow Lecture Hall, 101A Silver Center

9:00 a.m. Panel Discussion: "Representing Herodotus"

TOM HOLLAND (Scholar and author of Persian Fire)
ROBERT STRASSLER (Scholar and editor of the forthcoming Landmark Herodotus)
ROBIN WATERFIELD (Scholar and translator of Herodotus, Plato, Xenophon)

10:15 a.m. General Discussion

10:30 a.m. Session One
Chair: JAMES ROMM (Bard College)

"Bringing Autochthony up to Date: Herodotus, Thucydides, and Now"

"Herodotus and Samos"
ELIZABETH IRWIN (Columbia University),

DEBORAH BOEDEKER (Brown University)

11:45 a.m. General Discussion

12:00 noon Lunch Break

1:15 p.m. Session Two
Chair: CAROLYN DEWALD (Bard College)

"Who Are Herodotus' Persians?"
ROSARIA MUNSON (Swarthmore College)

"Herodotus on Empire and Imperialists"
TOM HARRISON (University of Liverpool)

DAVID KONSTAN (Brown University)

2:45 p.m. General Discussion

3:00 p.m. Session Three

" 'Counterfeit Oracles' and 'Legal Tender': The
Politics of Oracular Interpretation in Herodotus"
LESLIE KURKE (University of California, Berkeley)

"The Importance of Being Logios"
NINO LURAGHI (Harvard University)

KURT RAAFLAUB (Brown University)

4:15 p.m. General Discussion

4:30 p.m. Conclusion

**The program for symposium on the ANCIENT NEAR

* Tuesday, April 17, 2007

5:00 p.m. Introduction
Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts and
Science & Angelo J. Ranieri Director of Ancient Studies, NYU

5:15 p.m. Keynote Addresses

"Ex Oriente Lux? Do Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Have a Place in America's Colleges and Universities?"
Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages, Harvard University

"The Allure of Sumer: Amorites and Assyriologists
at the Margins of Civilization"
Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, NYU

7:00 p.m. Reception

* Wednesday, April 18, 2007

9:00 a.m. Opening Remarks

9:15 a.m. "When and How Did Greeks Meet Up with the Near East?"
Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

10:00 a.m. "Smiting the Vile Foreigner: An Ancient Egyptian Ritual"
Clinical Associate Professor of Egyptology, NYU

10:45 a.m. Coffee Break

11:00 a.m. " 'All that the Disk Encircles': The
Changing Horizons of Egyptian Gods--Local, National, Foreign, and Universal
Associate Research Scholar of Middle Eastern Studies, NYU

11:45 a.m. "The Enemy Within: Defining the Foreign Other in Egypt"
Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Ancient
Egyptian Art, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

12:30 p.m. Lunch Break

2:00 p.m. "Israel's Ancient Enemies: The Ephemeral and the Eternal"
Skirball Professor Emeritus of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, NYU

2:45 p.m. Coffee Break

3:00 p.m. "God(s) in Translation: Between the Political and the Intellectual"
Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, NYU

3:45 p.m. "Mapping the Ancient World: Artifacts
and Texts from the Indus to the Near East"
Associate Professor of Anthropology, NYU

4:30 p.m. Conclusion
Michael Collier, Georgia Machemer (trans.), Euripides: Medea.

Enrico Medda, Marina Serena Mirto, Marina Pia Pattoni, Komoidotragoidia: intersezioni del tragico e del comico nel teatro del V secolo a.C.

Tobias Reinhardt, Michael Winterbottom, Quintilian Institutio Oratoria Book 2. Introduction, Text, Commentary.
Ahhh ... Live Science gets closer to what I was looking for (cf the thing from Payvand below) ... written by Ephraim Lytle, assistant professor of Hellenistic history at the UofT (this was originally in the Toronto Star, but I never found it online):

History is altered all the time. What matters is how and why. Thus I see no reason to quibble over the absence in 300 of breastplates or modest thigh-length tunics. I can see the graphic necessity of sculpted stomachs and three hundred Spartan-sized packages bulging in spandex thongs. On the other hand, the ways in which 300 selectively idealizes Spartan society are problematic, even disturbing.

We know little of King Leonidas, so creating a fictitious backstory for him is understandable. Spartan children were, indeed, taken from their mothers and given a martial education called the agoge. They were indeed toughened by beatings and dispatched into the countryside, forced to walk shoeless in winter and sleep uncovered on the ground. But future kings were exempt.

And had Leonidas undergone the agoge, he would have come of age not by slaying a wolf, but by murdering unarmed helots in a rite known as the Crypteia. These helots were the Greeks indigenous to Lakonia and Messenia, reduced to slavery by the tiny fraction of the population enjoying Spartan "freedom." By living off estates worked by helots, the Spartans could afford to be professional soldiers, although really they had no choice: securing a brutal apartheid state is a full-time job, to which end the Ephors were required to ritually declare war on the helots.

Elected annually, the five Ephors were Sparta's highest officials, their powers checking those of the dual kings. There is no evidence they opposed Leonidas' campaign, despite 300's subplot of Leonidas pursuing an illegal war to serve a higher good. For adolescents ready to graduate from the graphic novel to Ayn Rand, or vice-versa, the historical Leonidas would never suffice. They require a superman. And in the interests of portentous contrasts between good and evil, 300's Ephors are not only lecherous and corrupt, but also geriatric lepers.

Ephialtes, who betrays the Greeks, is likewise changed from a local Malian of sound body into a Spartan outcast, a grotesquely disfigured troll who by Spartan custom should have been left exposed as an infant to die. Leonidas points out that his hunched back means Ephialtes cannot lift his shield high enough to fight in the phalanx. This is a transparent defence of Spartan eugenics, and laughably convenient given that infanticide could as easily have been precipitated by an ill-omened birthmark.

300's Persians are ahistorical monsters and freaks. Xerxes is eight feet tall, clad chiefly in body piercings and garishly made up, but not disfigured. No need – it is strongly implied Xerxes is homosexual which, in the moral universe of 300, qualifies him for special freakhood. This is ironic given that pederasty was an obligatory part of a Spartan's education. This was a frequent target of Athenian comedy, wherein the verb "to Spartanize" meant "to bugger." In 300, Greek pederasty is, naturally, Athenian.

This touches on 300's most noteworthy abuse of history: the Persians are turned into monsters, but the non-Spartan Greeks are simply all too human. According to Herodotus, Leonidas led an army of perhaps 7,000 Greeks. These Greeks took turns rotating to the front of the phalanx stationed at Thermoplyae where, fighting in disciplined hoplite fashion, they held the narrow pass for two days. All told, some 4,000 Greeks perished there. In 300 the fighting is not in the hoplite fashion, and the Spartans do all of it, except for a brief interlude in which Leonidas allows a handful of untrained Greeks to taste the action, and they make a hash of it. When it becomes apparent they are surrounded, this contingent flees. In Herodotus' time there were various accounts of what transpired, but we know 700 hoplites from Thespiae remained, fighting beside the Spartans, they, too, dying to the last man.

No mention is made in 300 of the fact that at the same time a vastly outnumbered fleet led by Athenians was holding off the Persians in the straits adjacent to Thermopylae, or that Athenians would soon save all of Greece by destroying the Persian fleet at Salamis. This would wreck 300's vision, in which Greek ideals are selectively embodied in their only worthy champions, the Spartans.

This moral universe would have appeared as bizarre to ancient Greeks as it does to modern historians. Most Greeks would have traded their homes in Athens for hovels in Sparta about as willingly as I would trade my apartment in Toronto for a condo in Pyongyang.
Brief item from ANA:

Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Thursday gave members of Parliament's standing committee on cultural and educational affairs a guided tour of the under-construction Acropolis Museum site.

Voulgarakis stressed that the project is progressing as planned, with a completion date due this summer.

In a related development, MPs expressed concern over a warning issued by scientists a decade ago regarding the structural integrity of Acropolis Hill itself, which hosts the remnants of the Parthenon and other Classical-era structures. The deputies were assured that any problems will be dealt with by geologists.

Meanwhile, a study has been commissioned to ensure that the artifacts currently on display at the old museum atop the Acropolis will be safely transferred to the new museum, which lies across from the southern side of the Acropolis.
Alas ... the last one; delayed once at BP's end and once at mine:

Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.
(Julius Caesar, Gallic War 3.18.2)

pron = FAY-reh lih-BEHN-tehr HOH-mih-nays ihd kwohd WOH-loont KRAY-doont.

People often freely trust what they want.

Comment: In the process of telling us about other people, is Julius
Caesar telling us about himself? I think so. I also think that most
people do that. When we have made some judgment about others, we are
usually also talking about ourselves. The principle is simple--one
that I have made use of very often over the 4 years of these daily
Latin proverbs. It's the principle that says that we cannot see in
others something that we don't know personally. We cannot see in
others something that doesn't already exist in ourselves. And, it
most often manifests in our negative views of others.

Was JC being negative in this comment about people? I don't know, but
in our own culture, trusting what you want is often criticized. How
dare we have an opinion of our own, especially about something

That is what I have tried to cultivate in these daily proverbs: the
invitation to see life, read the words of others, hear the thoughts,
music and message of those around us, and to reflect on them in our
own lives, to make sense of things as our path unfolds.

Is trusting what one wants good or bad? It is, of course, both. It
is a bad thing when trusting what one wants flies in the face of the
truth that you know. For example, when you continue in a job or a
relationship that is hurting you and hindering your life, and pretend
that things are "okay", then choosing to trust what you want is
destructive. IN fact, this is not really trust. It is denial, often
called "belief".

It is a good thing when trusting what you want means that you trust
who you are, that you trust the path that unfolds in your life, day by
day. It is a good thing to trust what you want when you look in the
mirror and are willing to accept what you see--the literal mirror, and
the mirror that other people present to us.

My deepest thanks to all who have been interested in this little
project, and who, from time to time, have carried on the dialogue
through email with me. With this last Latin Proverb of the Day, my
best wishes for all and your beloveds.

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

From UPI comes another tale of clumsy archaeologists:

Archaeologists exploring Cyprus, said to be home to Venus, the goddess of love, have stumbled upon the world's oldest known perfume factory.

A display of the prehistoric scents and 60 objects from the Cyprus discovery can be seen at Rome's Capitoline Museums, ANSA reported. The distilling equipment is believed to be 4,000 years old.

"We were astonished at how big the place was ... Perfumes must have been produced on an industrial scale. No wonder the island got its reputation for possessing the skills of Aphrodite," said National Research Council archaeologist Maria Rosa Belgiorno, using the Greek name for Venus, ANSA reported.

Perfumes are displayed in alabaster vials found in 2003 and are made of olive oil, pine, coriander, laurel, bergamot, parsley and bitter almonds, ANSA said.

The scents are named after the Greek goddesses Aphrodite, Hera, Athena and Artemis.

By the way ... why do newspapers make past discoveries sound like they were just made yesterday?
From news.bg comes an article that has clearly lost something in translation (I hope that's the explanation):

Bronze peak of a spear, 35 ages old was founded on Sunday at the foothills of the Thracian sacred complex of Perperikon.

The find is 12-13 cm long and it dates from the time of the Trojan War, reported the head of the excavations, Nikolai Ovcharov.

The spear's peak was found by a local citizen, while he was cultivated his land.

The ancient object is an unique one. The archaeologist believes peaks like these used to be placed only on spears that were throwen on enemy troops.

It is quite possible that this peak was a possession of a soldier, participated in the Trojan War.

Omir describes in 'Iliada' that every warrior had two spears, each 2 m long.

The weapon's peak will be devoted to the Historical Museum of Kurdjali town.
From Discovery.com:

Either the ancient Greeks loved grape juice, or they were making wine nearly 6,500 years ago, according to a new study that describes what could be the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes.

If the charred 2,460 grape seeds and 300 empty grape skins were used to make wine, as the researchers suspect, the remains might have belonged to the second oldest known grape wine in the world, edged out only by a residue-covered Iranian wine jug dating to the sixth millennium B.C.

Since the Greeks influenced the Romans, who in turn influenced virtually all of Europe, it is possible that a drink made in a humble, post-framed house in eastern Macedonia influenced much of the world’s wine.

"For the Neolithic or the Bronze Age, we have no evidence for markets and a market economy," lead author Tania Valamoti told Discovery News.

"Production was on a household or communal basis," added Valamoti, who is a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at Greece’s Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Valamoti and her team excavated four homes at a Neolithic site called Dikili Tash. After discovering the grape remains in one residence, they conducted charring experiments on fresh grapes, raisins and wine pressings to see what would best match the ancient seeds and skins. They determined the archaeological remains "morphologically resemble wine pressings and could not have originated from charred grapes or raisins."

Analysis of the grape remains determined they either were harvested from wild plants or originated from a very early cultivar.

Findings are published in the current journal Antiquities.

The scientists also found two-handled clay cups and jars, which they say suggest a use for decanting and consuming liquids. Charred figs were also found near the grape remnants. The presence of figs likely was not a coincidence, according to the researchers, who mentioned that juice from wild grapes often has a bitter taste.

"Figs could have been added to the grape juice prior to fermentation and the sugars contained in them would have entered the juice," explained Valamoti. "Or, they could have been added to the fermented product after completion of the fermentation process. Honey could be dealt with in the same way."

The world’s oldest wine, a 9,000-year old rice wine from China, also contained honey and fruits.

The ancient Greek grapes might change wine history, as experts previously theorized grape wine-making could have first spread throughout the Middle East.

Patrick McGovern, a senior research scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the world’s leading ancient wine experts, has pointed out that "the wild grape never grew in ancient Egypt," yet evidence for wine there dates back to at least 2,700 B.C. Red wine residue was even found in King Tut’s tomb.

He and his colleagues believe wine-making became established in Egypt due to "early Bronze Age trade between Egypt and Palestine, encompassing modern Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and Jordan."

But since the Phoenicians and the Greeks largely controlled Egyptian trade during much of the Pharaonic period, because many such individuals had settled into the Delta, it is now possible that Greeks brought wine into Egypt and into numerous other places, through Greece’s extensive trade routes.

Valamoti and her colleagues hope further studies can be conducted on the Dikili Tash pottery, to determine whether tartaric acid, a component of grapes and wine, was present in the cups.
A while back I wondered what the Iranian reaction would be to the portrayal of the Persians in 300 ... no doubt everyone has seen the somewhat strange 'official' reaction that's been blanketing the news lately, but an opeddish thing from Payvand seems a bit more thoughtful:

For many Iranians the cinematic movie '300' may come as a shocking revelation. But to those of us who came up through America's school system, the 'Battle of Thermopylae,' which is what the movie '300' is based on, is as familiar as George Washington's fabled "cherry tree" incident.

The Battle of Thermopylae was of course written by the classical Greek author, Herodotus, who lived in the Persian city of Halicarnassus. His book, 'The Histories' became part of Western folklore only recently. It wasn't until about 1850 that America embraced Herodotus as the leading authority on Persian history.

Before 1850, however, the West had a very favorable impression of the Persian Empire. That's because the West's main source for Persian history was the Bible and the 'Cyropaedia,' written by another Greek author named Xenophon.

But the Cyropaedia glorified the monarchy of Cyrus The Great, and in the wake of two bloody revolutions fought by America and France to liberate themselves from their own monarchies, a major campaign began, around the mid 19th century, to promote democracy throughout the rest of Europe, and Herodotus was the perfect propaganda tool.

Herodotus was a democratic groupie and was quickly ushered in as the "Father Of History." Around 1850, his 'Battle Of Thermopylae' came to symbolize the West's struggle for democracy against the powerful forces of Persia's monarchy.

The story is easy to buy into: 300 brave Spartans saved Western democracy from 2.7 million evil Persians. But aside from the fanciful numbers which need decimal-point adjustments, this whimsical tale has far graver consequences than a mere bias account of history.

The 'Battle Of Thermopylae' has been the single most powerful wedge, which has divided East and West for over 2 millennia. In a time when East and West should be reconciling their differences, along comes the movie '300' to drive that wedge even deeper.

What is most disturbing about this movie is not that it lacks historical accuracy. It is not that Xerxes, the Grandson of Cyrus The Great and loving husband of Esther, is shown as an oversized drag queen. Its not even the outdated racist cliché of casting the Persians as Africans and the Spartans as white, blue-eyed Chippendale dancers, when in reality the roles may well have been reversed.

What is so distressing about this movie is the realization of the tremendous power Hollywood wields in determining a people's identity. It is the same nightmare Native Americans endured during the whole 'cowboy-movie' genre.

But for those who are quick to dismiss '300' as a fleeting fantasy flick aimed at the insignificant, 17 to 24 year-old male video-gamer, think again. First there was Alexander, now '300,' next could well be the 'Battle Of Marathon,' another one of Herodotus's glowing accounts of ancient Persia.

Herodotus is accepted blindly by virtually all Western demographics. Even the New York Times is not immune. Here is how it described the Persians in its April 20, 2004 issue on the Battle Of Marathon:

"the defeat of a ruthless state (Persia) that had enslaved much of the known world from the Balkans to the Himalayas."

"the ancient Greeks defeated the Asian invaders (Persia) and saved Europe in what scholars call one of the first great victories of freedom over tyranny"
- William J. Broad, (NY Times)

What stretches the limits of hypocrisy is that there isn't a single shred of archeological evidence that the Persians ever owned slaves. Yet we know that slavery was an integral cornerstone of Greek society. Aristotle's manifesto even sanctions it. Persia, which was once a haven for runaway slaves from Egypt, Greece, and later Rome, is today branded as a slave-hungry empire by cultures which were built on slavery!

What makes Herodotus's propaganda so difficult to refute is that its peppered with facts. But in reality, its a desperate diatribe. Perhaps his biggest ploy is his attempt to equate democracy with freedom. These two words are used virtually interchangeably throughout his book. And the West has swallowed it hook-line-and-sinker.

But America's founding fathers new better. They were not swayed by Herodotus. They implemented many safeguards to protect freedom from the pitfalls that mired Athenian democracy. Even Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others which have been tried."

Democracy may well be the best form of government. But what makes America great is not so much democracy as it is its Bill Of Rights. And this is exactly what made Persia Great. Democracy can often lead to tyranny by the majority as was the case in democratic Athens, where women, slaves and foreigners did not have the right to vote.

In monarchic Persia, however, women enjoyed a level of gender equality unmatched even to this day, and slavery was not practiced. The fact is, Persia's monarchy was more free than Athens' democracy, all because of Persia's Bill Of Rights.

No one exemplifies Persia's freedom better than Herodotus himself. He describes Athens as the bastion of freedom, yet he chose to live in Persia. Xenophon, on the other hand, who actually lived in Athens, reminisces enviably about the monarchy of Cyrus The Great?

Herodotus claims Persia had enslaved most of the known world, yet we know Herodotus was not a slave. He traveled freely throughout the empire, openly criticizing it.

Why did Herodotus not live in Greece? Because Persia - the empire he is so quick to demonize - afforded him the very freedom to publish his scathing report of it. People want to live where their god-given rights are protected, regardless of whether its democratic or monarchic.

These god-given rights were first drafted into law by the founder of the Persian empire, Cyrus The Great. In fact, ancient Persia may well have served as the blue print for America's Bill Of Rights. Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the architects of America's Constitution, were great admirers and owned several copies of Xenophon's Cyropaedia.

Today, no other country resembles ancient Persia as closely as does the United States. If any country should sympathize with, rather than celebrate, Persia's quagmire in Greece it is the United States. Few events in history mirror America's war on terror as closely as Persia's war on Greece.

The Greeks had been carrying out terrorist attacks on Persian holdings for years. They had attacked Persian cities, set fire to Persian temples, disrupted key trade routes, and pirated merchant ships crossing the Bosphorus. They incited rebellions inside Persian provinces, but perhaps most abhorrent to the Persians was the ease by which the Greeks broke their treaties and betrayed Persia's trust.

Rather than resort to violence, however, Persia tried to keep the Greeks in check by financially supporting Greek politicians who were "pro-Persian," much the same way America fights its proxy wars. But what finally triggered Persia's wrath was an act rarely mentioned in the West, though well documented, even by Herodotus (7:11).

Persia's 9/11:

In 498 BCE, Athens carried out a terrorist attack on Sardis, a major Persian city, which made 9/11 seem like child's play. Aristagoras, an Athenian, set fire to the "outlying parts" of Sardis trapping most of its population "in a ring of fire." (Herodotus 5:101)

More innocent civilians died at the hands of Aristagoras than Osama bin Laden could ever hope to kill. And just as most of the world supported America's retaliation against Al Qaeda, so did it rally in support of Persia's attack on Athens.

The Spartans were not even targets of Persia's attack, until they violated a universal protocol by killing a Persian messenger who Herodotus claims was asking for Sparta's submission but in reality was probably sent by Persia's king, Xerxes to convey the same message George Bush sent to the entire world after 9/11: "you're either with us, or against us."

The Spartans were Greek Jihadists who lived only to die. They were by all accounts ruthless savages who murdered Greek slaves known as "Helots" just for sport, cultivated a culture of thievery and rape, and practiced infanticide, as the movie '300' rightly points out in its opening scenes. Sparta was not even democratic. It was an oligarchy at best. Despite knowing all this, the West continues to hail the Spartans as the saviors of Western democracy.

Yes, the Spartans died fighting a foreign invader. But so do countless Iraqi insurgents, yet few of us would consider them good guys. Those who do are then not much different from Westerners who cheer for the Spartans. Rooting for the Spartans merely because they were underdogs, is like rooting for Osama bin Laden today.

History is no longer written by the victors, it is written by filmmakers. When will the children of Persia rise up and fight back using the same weapon Hollywood has used for years to denigrate the legacy of their ancestors? When will we abandon our defensive posture and begin to write our own history again?

Perhaps the movie '300' was a necessary wake up call. But Persia bashing will never disappear on its own. It is the main villain in the Western saga. The only way it will change is through the power of film.

Alex Jovy's epic movie about Cyrus The Great could have done wonders for the Iranian image. Instead it sits idle for lack of money. My documentary film about Cyrus The Great (www.spentaproductions.com) has languished for the mere want of $400,000.

Iranians are the most affluent minority group in America. If we set our minds to it, we can achieve anything. This Nowruz, I hope all Iranians will resolve to finally unite in an effort to redeem the reputation of our ancestors.

... while I think the author is confused about what 'slavery' means in the context of tyranny in Greek eyes, I still find it interesting how little is said about the portrayal of Xerxes (and other Persians -- did the "Immortals" have those Roman-cavalry-style masks?). How can someone see the movie and not comment on it? ("oversized drag queen" hardly expresses it).
The Guardian has a list of things you can learn about the ancient world from the movies:

In the late 1950s, Hollywood was convinced ancient Greeks spoke a sort of Shakespearean English that would even have seemed out of place in Stratford in 1930. Richard Burton, in the title role in Alexander the Great (1956), declaims as if he were doing Hamlet. The odd American accent has always crept in (notably Richard Egan playing King Leonidas in The 300 Spartans in 1962), but an Irish accent is now more or less de rigueur, as in Oliver Stone's remarkable Alexander (2004), in which a group of young Irishmen evidently modelled on U2 manage to take over the entire known world.

Goddess of love, invariably played by Ursula Andress or a blonde, voluptuous lookalike.

A heel, but a heroic one, especially when played by Brad Pitt (in Troy, also made in 2004, a big year in Greek cinematic history).

Alexander's tutor and a bit of a fascist, encouraging the boy to try to wipe out inferior races and take over the world. (A brief Google search is inconclusive on whether this is a legitimate reading of his Nicomachean Ethics.)

Put it on. There's a spear, sword or arrow heading your way any minute.

Every film about ancient Greece oozes with it. Though apart from the torrents of the stuff that flow through Greek cities when a rival army comes to rape and pillage (which is about every second Thursday), the streets are remarkably clean.

See Hephaestion.

Trojan soothsayer who has had a very bad press. OK, she was a nutcase, but her predictions about the fall of Troy were spot on.


Hollywood scriptwriters have not shied away from this central philosophical issue. To what degree did the Greeks, obsessed as they were with oracles, omens and the whims of the gods, see themselves as free? This is what the Ray Harryhausen films Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981) are largely about. "Zeus cannot drive men to do what they do not wish to do," a priestess tells King Pelias in the former as he is about to slay the daughters of the king he has just deposed. "I never arrange precise details," a befuddled Zeus admits later. He occasionally summons up a tempest or a tsunami to destroy cities, but dodge his arbitrary displays of temper (evidently born of boredom amid the serenity of Olympus) and you're more or less on your own.

Man who speaks very loudly about Athenian freedom. Largely irrelevant as philippics are distinctly uncinematic.

Wretch who betrays King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans by showing the Persians a back route into the pass at Thermopylae. Common-or-garden guy out for sex and money in The 300 Spartans. Hideously deformed Spartan outcast in the new remake, unenterprisingly called 300, based on the Frank Miller graphic novel.

There is a theory that the spate of films about ancient Greece in the 1950s and early 60s was inspired by the cold war, with the eastern bloc seen as threatening the time-honoured freedoms of the west. That is the obvious subtext of The 300 Spartans ("The whole of Asia is descending upon us"; "Value freedom before life - the Spartan code"; "Only by being united will we avoid slavery", etc), and it is intriguing that there should now be a new version just as we are obsessing about the so-called "clash of civilisations". But there is another theory that Hollywood's obsession with blockbusters and Greco-Roman-biblical spectacle in the 50s and 60s was simply a response to the threat posed by TV. Please don't ask me which theory is correct.

Numerous, argumentative, demanding, interventionist and irritating. Sit around on Mount Olympus causing trouble, and treat mortals as playthings. Hardly surprising they lost out to monotheism a few centuries later.

Beware Greeks bearing ... especially large wooden horses.

Young men, especially the unruly, heroic ones, wear their hair long and shaggy; gnarled, middle-aged ones, tousled; old ones (usually poets, philosophers or interpreters of oracles), short and white.

Bloody important to the Greeks. "Come back in victory with your shield, or dead on it," as the Spartan women charmingly told their husbands as they prepared for battle.

Tricky subject. Is Alexander a hero or a psychopath? Ditto Achilles. In truth, they're both bonkers - forever trying to take over the world or lay waste to Thebes and Troy. Alexander had a mother complex - both the Richard Burton and Oliver Stone films offer Freudian interpretations of his bizarre behaviour - and Brad Pitt's Achilles is constantly twitching his eyes as if he's several arrows short of the full quiver. The Trojan Hector is a true hero - a good family man forced to fight for his brother and his city. And best of all is Hercules, who in the delightful Disney cartoon film (1997) puts love before his place as a god in Olympus (a classic creation myth). "It's not the size of your strength that counts," Zeus wisely tells his now-mortal son, "but the strength of your heart."

Alexander's ultra-close male friend, muse and probably lover. Oliver Stone attributed the failure of his movie to the fact that Alexander's bisexuality did not go down well in Peoria.

Helen of Troy (née Sparta)
The face that launched a thousand ships - and then sank quite a few of them. Trouble, basically.

Alive at the time of the battle of Thermopylae in 480BC, and wrote a brilliant script for The 300 Spartans. It spent the next 2,500 years in development.

Homer's tale of the Trojan war. Its climax is the death of Hector at the hands of Achilles, not the strategem of the Trojan horse and the fall of Troy. This led to Homer being dropped as a scriptwriter by Warner Bros for Helen of Troy (1955) - which, with its lavish sets, beautiful but statuesque leads Rossana Podesta and Jack Sernas, and direction by Robert Wise (who later directed The Sound of Music), should really have been a musical. Okla-Homer.

Jason and the Argonauts
The better of Ray Harryhausen's two Greek myth movies - the later Clash of the Titans feels like a retread - though, even here, the gods constantly dropping in from Mount Olympus to lend a hand in the quest for the Golden Fleece becomes a little wearing.

Power-crazed, middle-aged, one-eyed, fond of drink and inclined to take several wives (except for the Spartan king Leonidas, who is brave, faithful, lion-hearted and has at least two eyes).

Everyone speaks some form of English, so fortunately Greeks, Macedonians, Persians and all those further east subjugated by Alexander have no need of interpreters. See also Accents.

Important accessory for white-haired poets.

Mother complex
See Alexander, though with Angelina Jolie as your mother (in Stone's version), who wouldn't have Oedipal urges?

Can't quite remember who he was or in which film he appears - my head is swimming with all these Greeks - but I'm sure he pops up somewhere and am really short of Ns.

Huge in ancient Greece - in the films, boys are forever practising their gymnastics and javelin-throwing to win gold for Sparta, Athens or one of the smaller states. They were held once every four years, with soldiers given leave from fighting to compete. The athletes performed naked, which was great for TV ratings. The games did not cost 10bn drachmas to stage, nor lead to increases in council tax. Ancient Britons never used to win anything, so no change there.

A bit like producers, in that they always have to be consulted. Some, unseen, deliver their predictions in perfect rhyming couplets. Only in 300 do we see an oracle in operation - a writhing woman whispering into the ear of an emissary. These days, apparently, they email.

Largely absent from movies thus far. We eagerly await Oliver Stone's take on The Symposium.

Trojan prince whose inability to keep his tunic on when he meets Helen (then of Sparta) sparks a bloody war, alters the course of world history, causes the death of his brother Hector, and inspires The Iliad. Should have been Asbo'd. A hero in the 1955 version; bit of a twerp in the 2004 film Troy, where Achilles is the centre of the action.

Not a guy to get on the wrong side of. Zeus's hitman in Clash of the Titans, when he destroys Argos. (It seems they'd sold him a dodgy DVD player.)

Every king has one, but apart from Queen Gorgo in 300 (she gets to stab a corrupt councillor) and Alexander's snake-mad, power-crazed mum Queen Olympias, they're just part of the furniture.

An even more attractive subject than Greece for Hollywood, because the goodies and baddies are easier to identify. There's too much psychological complexity and moral confusion in Greek myth and history for Hollywood producers to take on board (see their treatments of Achilles and Paris, and the question of whether Alexander is a hero or villain). Give them a Christian, a lion and a sex-crazed Roman emperor any day.

Notable by their absence in films about Sparta, even though they were the bedrock of Spartan society. Presumably acknowledgment of Sparta's large slave population would sit oddly with a portrayal of a heroic society that valued freedom.

No, not all the stagey English actors who have made big bucks playing Greeks (Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Cedric Hardwicke), but the 700 brave men who stood (and died) beside the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. Presumably, a film called The 700 Thespians just wouldn't have had the same appeal.

Occasionally visible under the dangerously short skirts male warriors wear.

Greek god of soundtracks. Produced one for Stone's Alexander that sounded remarkably like his earlier effort for Chariots of Fire - about British Olympians, of course.

The cornerstone of Greek life. How the Greeks managed to invent drama, philosophy, mathematics and medicine I can't imagine, because they seem to have spent their whole time laying siege to cities, conquering the known world, pursuing Persians, raping, pillaging, drinking and arguing with each other in Irish accents.

Largely absent. The odd olive grove is tended, and there's some half-hearted fishing, but otherwise it's all fighting, sex and Dionysian debauchery.

Available, scantily clad and with enormous ... earrings. Don't have much to do except swoon, dance, run from approaching armies, and be raped and pillaged. More active in 300, where they do a bit of killing themselves.

A crazy Persian monarch: eye-rolling and beard-tugging in The 300 Spartans; ultra-camp and covered in gold paint in 300. Big army, but absolutely no brain. Nevertheless, a major figure in world history and extremely useful in these A-Zs.

Not yet invented, unfortunately. The Greeks used triremes.

Top god. Takes himself extremely seriously. Has a nice wife called Hera, who somehow puts up with his numerous infidelities and the fact they've been living together for what seems like an eternity. Generally played by Laurence Olivier, though now it would probably have to be Anthony Hopkins.
Various versions of this one kicking around ... from the Prescott Herald:

The baby mummy had a European mom, and likely came from a wealthy family. But where he lived and why he died — and at such a young age — remain a mystery. The mummy, exhibited for the first time Thursday at the Saint Louis Science Center, has been the year-long focus of an international team of investigators. The museum said it may be the most extensive research project ever undertaken on a child mummy.

It sat in a museum warehouse until Al Wiman joined the Science Center as vice president two years ago and suggested that modern medical technology could unlock its secrets.

"I saw the possibility of a scientific paper," said Wiman, who spent 30 years as a medical and science reporter for St. Louis television stations.

A small snippet of the mummy‘s wrapping tested for carbon dating suggested the child had lived between 30 B.C. and 130 A.D., in Egypt‘s Roman period around the time of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.

Scans detected a hole in the child‘s skull. The brain, like jelly, would have drained through the hole and out through a nostril as part of the mummification process, Washington University dentist and anthropologist Charles Hildebolt said. The scans also identified small incisions on the left side of the body through which the child‘s internal organs were removed and placed in jars.

Corpses prepared for mummification were soaked in a salt and baking soda solution for 40 days, then kept in oils for 30 days.

The challenge was boring into the mummy, which had petrified, to get three samples of degraded muscle, tissue and bone. She succeeded by inserting a thick needle into the chest and shoulder. After that, she extracted DNA using routine methods. Tests showed the boy‘s mother was European. She plans more tests to determine his father‘s ancestry.

Science Center staff were concerned that a mummy exhibit would disrespect the dead. But Egyptologist Ikram said the hope was instead that it would honor the child‘s life.
8.00 p.m. |HINT| Saint Patrick: The Man, the Myth
Shot in England, Ireland, and Wales, the biography travels to the
5th century to explore Patrick's transformation from privileged
aristocrat to tormented slave to missionary hero. Follow his
enslavement by the Celts, escape to Wales, and attempts to change
pagan behavior.

HINT - History International
... for the lack of updates yesterday; allergies (which made me sleep in) combined with report cards conspired (we do our report cards via the web; two people in our school board (apparently) are unable to access them from home computers ... I'm one of them; the tech guy ... go figure).

idus martias

festival of Mars continues (day 15)

festival of Jupiter

festival/rites in honour of Anna Perenna (Happy New Year!)

44 B.C. -- murder of Gaius Julius Caesar

ca. 1st century A.D. -- martyrdom of Longinus (the soldier who is said to have pierced Jesus' side with a spear) in Cappadocia
From YLE:

De numero Sinensium
: Nuntii Latini

09.03.2007, klo 16.17

Sinenses anno vergente plus miliardum trecenti miliones numerabantur.

Ex eis quadraginta quattuor centesimae in urbibus vivebant. Politica unius infantis aequilibrium sexuum perturbavit, nam plures quam dimidium Sinensium (51,5%) sunt viri.

Magistratus censent post quindecim annos numerum virorum caelibum triginta milionibus maiorem quam feminarum apud Sinenses futurum esse.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
abstain @ Merriam-Webster

taciturn @ Dictionary.com
A little news report from Germany (with English), which doesn't actually talk much about the signature but does give an idea of the Macedonian position in Egypt:

Cleopatra VII Greek Queen of Egypt -- Ancient Signature found
This interesting item appeared in my mailbox yesterday:

Dear Mr. Meadows,

Despite numerous protests and appeals from the worldwide scientific community – including the one you so kindly supported last June by signing the letter to UNESCO – over the last year, the pseudoarchaeological diggings at and under the Visoko hills in search for alleged prehistoric pyramids continue as false archaeology takes even stronger roots in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Following the pseudoarchaeological success of Mr. Osmanagic, another such pseudoscientific theory has recently reemerged after more than two decades – that of one Salinas Price, a Mexican hotel owner, who claims that the Homeric Troy is situated near the small Bosnian-Herzegovinian town of Gabela in the Neretva river valley. Just like Visoko, the Gabela area is an important archaeological region rich with protected national monuments (see the Commission to Protect National Monuments entry for Gabela at this link, in English: http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba/main.php?id_struct=50&lang=4&action=view&id=1318 ). Mr. Price and his coordinators in Herzegovina recently made some statements indicating that another Visoko-like project could soon be under way in Gabela.

The Bosnian-Herzegovinian scientists and experts are making a final affort of warning the international community about these pseudoarchaeological threats to our real historical heritage, by writing a new letter to Mr. Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the High Representative of the international community in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This letter is even more important since Mr. Schwarz-Schilling himself gave support to the Visoko project last year.

The text of this letter will be published tomorrow in the Sarajevo-based daily newspaper Oslobodjenje and the Croatian weekly magazine Feral Tribune. I am forwarding the English translation of this letter to you, to inform you about it and to kindly ask you to forward this information to a relevant institution in your country or to an institution you consider fit in this case. The letter also has a petitionary charachter, as it will be forwarded to relevant European institutions, UNESCO, etc. We receive and expect more signatures from Bosnian-Herzegovinian experts every day.


Thank you for your help,

Kind regards,


Sarajevo, March 14, 2007

Dear Mr. Schwarz-Schilling,

For more than a year now, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian and the international scientific community has been following the development of pseudoarchaeological trend and project of search for the alleged prehistoric pyramids near Visoko in Bosnia-Herzegovina in utter appalment. Particularly worrying are the support given to this project by a part of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian political establishment and the politicized rhetoric applied to present the alleged discovery of Visoko pyramids as fundamental state interest to the public. Therefore, your last year's visit to the location of the alleged discovery and support to its alleged researcher, Mr. Semir Osmanagic, given in the capacity of the High Commissioner and the most important representative of international community in Bosnia-Herzegovina, is unacceptable and shocking.

The local and international experts in archaeology, history and geology have, over the course of the past year, individually or jointly, expressed their criticism over this project and warned of the dangers posed by such pseudoarchaeological trend and amateurish excavations to the real cultural and historical heritage. They particularly stressed the inappropriateness of support to such pseudoscientific project in a society that has recently emerged from a horrible war and has great difficulties in restoring its high education facilities, museums, libraries and other cultural, scientific and research institutions.

In May last year, some twenty Bosnian-Herzegovinian archaeologists, historians and museologists, following many individual outcries in local media, directed a joint open letter of protest to the federal authorities which gave green light to this project without adequate scientific supervision. A group of Bosnian-Herzegovinian geologists made a report clearly overturning, on scientific basis, the hypothesis of the alleged pyramids near Visoko. Ignoring all these reports and warnings, the then member of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian joint presidency, Mr. Sulejman Tihic, asked for support to this project from the UNESCO representatives. Following that, in June last year, some thirty international experts sent a letter to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, expressing their concern over the development of pseudoarchaeology in Bosnia-Herzegovina and seeking for the prompt expert judgement of that project. Meantime, similar criticism and concerns came from the European Association of Archaeologists as well as from the American archaeological community. Their scientifically based arguments were not accepted by any of the authorized institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A number of these experts and representatives of the highest international archaeological bodies, headed by Mr. Anthony Harding, the president of the European Association of Archaeologists, and Mr. Hermann Parzinger, the president of Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, have recently appealed to the Bosnian-Herzegovinian authorities with request that this project is critically evaluated, but that appeal received no reply. Despite all these warnings, numerous leading Bosnian-Herzegovinian politicians, including religious leaders, are increasingly supportive of this highly problematic project. In August last year, you too visited the Visoko hill of Pljesevica – renamed into the Pyramid of the Moon – and gave your support to Mr. Semir Osmanagic, the American businessman of Bosnian origin, who presents himself as independent explorer of ancient mysteries. On that occasion, you have called Mr. Osmanagic – who claims that Bosnia is the cradle of human civilization – a visionary, while Bosnian-Herzegovinian media carried your another statement:

„I do not believe that this was created by nature and the sceptic scientists who claim so should come here, make an experiment and prove it. I congratulate you on your work so far, on opening the possibility for present generations to see ancient past and I hope that your vision will, with each day, be closer to the truth. I wish you a lot of success in the future work and do not hesitate to, in case of need, ask for my help."

By this act, you have completely turned against the principles of institution that you represent and paved the way for further open support to this pseudoproject by the local politicians, introducing further influence of pseudoscience in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Europe. The negative effects of such support are already visible. A great part of the population is convinced that the pyramids are actually discovered despite the lack of any evidence to support this conviction even after substantial diggings on the site. The reality is, however, far off from your assertion that present generations will be able to see the ancient past of Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the contrary, in the wider Visoko region, where Mr. Semir Osmanagic and his people conduct their amateur diggings (often using bulldozers), endangered are some of the archaeological layers that are of utmost importance to research and understanding of the human continuity in this area from neolithic period (Okoliste), the very beginnings of Bosnia as an organized societal unit in the early medieval period (Biskupici, Mostre, Visoki) to development of the late medieval Bosnian Kingdom (medieval royal town of Visoki on top of the hill renamed into the Pyramid of the Sun).

In that sense, the amateur diggings and destruction of archaeological stratification is not the only problem and hazard. From the very beginning, the project showed tendency to concealment of certain discovered artefacts that did not fit the hypotheses of Mr. Semir Osmanagic, namely remains of human bones, various tools and ceramic shards, as reported by various media during the summer of 2006. All of these finds are consistent with the existing knowledge about the Visoko valley archaeology and particularly with the warnings by the local and international experts that Mr. Osmanagic's dilettantish and questionable diggings are endangering and destroying real and valuable archaeological locations and finds, most probably dating to the medieval period. His team never published any official reports about these finds nor it has informed the public on where they were sent for analyses, nor on these alleged analyses results.

Apart from concealing the unwanted evidence, lacking any other supporting arguments for their hypotheses, Mr. Osmanagic and his followers are falsifying   the interpretations of the known historical monuments and traditions in order to create an illusion of an ancient mystery that needs to be solved. In such attempts, the famous Bosnian-Herzegovinian medieval tombstones stecci are interpreted by Mr. Osmanagic as „megaliths that have rolled down from the pyramid" or remains of „ancient energy temples" while early romanesque reliefs of crosses inscribed in circles – a motif well know throughout the medieval Europe! – become „diagrams of mysterious ancient mechanisms", etc.

Any criticism over such pseudoscientific approach in Bosnia-Herzegovina is stamped as a unpatriotic act while critics are stigmatized as traitors in public, since the pyramid project has since its beginning been identified with a „national interest". You have contributed to this conviction in the public as well, by giving your support to Semir Osmanagic, who does not shy away from claiming that the entire future and prosperity of Bosnia-Herzegovina depend on the success of his project.

In that sense, the plans to expand the project to the wider Bosnia-Herzegovina areas in 2007 are particularly alarming. This „Foundation" has visible aspirations to spread their activities to the wider Bosnia-Herzegovina region, as well as the neighboring Croatia. Further claims in the European context can be expected, since the final proclaimed goal of this „alternative" undertaking is nothing less than overturning the entire world science and all of its achievements, with setting up a new system of „knowledge and values", based on the esotericism and sectarianism of the „New Age" type. The pseudoarchaeological search for alleged pyramids in Visoko and the support given to this project have already opened the door wide for other similar pseudoscientific tendencies in Bosnia-Herzegovina, namely the recently proclaimed renewal of the search for Homer's Troy in the Neretva river valley, according to the claims made by the Mexican businessman Salinas Price, which were, otherwise, disproved by the Bosnian-Herzegovinian archaeologists some twenty years ago.

Mr. Schwarz-Schilling, these are not visions for a better future nor of ancient past, that is multiple vandalism – destruction of the existing cultural and historical heritage as well as an attempt to overturn the civilizational achievements and systems of values, not only in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also in Europe. You, as a representative of such Europe, have a duty of helping the Bosnian-Herzegovinian scientific community and layman public to ward off the pseudoarchaeological specter of antiintellectalism in Visoko. Of you, we demand:

1. That the High Representative, in his engagement in the context of research and protection of cultural heritage of Bosnia-Herzegovina, applies the same criteria relevant in his country, the European Union and entire civilized world, and keeps in mind the relevant facts instead of giving support to adventuristic and pseudoscientific projects;

2. That the High Representative, for purposes of adequate protection of the remainig endangered monuments in the Visoko region, ensures that Mr. Osmanagic's Foundation fullfills its duty towards the state Institute to Protect Cultural Monuments by delivering all inventory books, field diaries and the complete report with photo and drawn documentation of diggings done on Visocica hill in 2005 and 2006, and on Pljesevica hill in 2006, so that the expert evaluation of that documentation is enabled. Only by doing so, a judgement can be reached on apropriateness of the conducted diggings, potential falsification of the finds eliminated and possibility of prolonging the further digging permits considered;

3. That the High Representative recognizes the opinion and arguments by the experts of the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla who have on several occasions publicly opposed the abuse of geology for purposes of misleading the Bosnian-Herzegovinian public. They have clearly stated these arguments in their Report on the geological research at the Visocica hill near Visoko, accepted by the scientific and educational Council of the Faculty on April 17, 2006. The research was done at the request by the Archaeological Park: Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation itself;

4. That the High Representative urges with adequate authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the European Union and Germany as presiding the European Union, that Bosnia-Herzegovina signes the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Valletta 1992), as well as for providing conditions to open archaeology studies in Sarajevo. That kind of study is the only guarantee that appropriate expert body will be educated, capable to apply modern scientific methods in research and protection of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian cultural heritage.

As stated at the beginning of this letter, archaeologists, historians and geologists of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Europe and America have already on several occasions warned of the danger and damage that false archaeology in Bosnia-Herzegovina causes to the cultural history of our country, Europe and the world. Our warnings so far have not been considered in any aspect, not by the OHR, nor by the local political structures directly responsible for such matters. This is our last warning attempt and this time it is not directed only to the local, but also to the European and international public. In case that this letter once again receives no appropriate reaction, you will, together with the local politicians, bear the responsibility for all consequences that further unchallenged spreading of the false science will leave on our and the world heritage, as well as on the interpersonal relations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Europe and the rest of the world.

Please note that this letter will be published in the Bosnian-Herzegovinian and international media, with possibility of gaining a petitionary character.

With respect,

in the name of historians, geologists and archaeologists of Bosnia-Herzegovina:

Dr. Dubravko Lovrenovic, professor of history at the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo

Dr. Sc. Sejfudin Vrabac, full-time professor of geology at the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla; Leader of the team for geological research of the Visocica Hill near Visoko

Dr. Sc. Hazim Hrvatovic, associate professor, the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla

Dr. Sc. Senaid Salihovic, associate professor, the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla

Dr. Sc. Amir Barakovic, associate professor, the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla

Dr. Sc. Zijad Ferhatbegovic, senior lecturer, the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla

Dr. Sc. Zehra Salkic, senior lecturer, the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla

Mr. Sc. Izudin Djulovic, senior assistant, the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla

Mr. Sc. Elvir Babajic, senior assistant, the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Civil Engineering at the University of Tuzla

Dr. Ljiljana Sevo, professor of art history at universities of Sarajevo and Banja Luka

Dr. Blagoje Govedarica, professor of prehistoric archaeology at the Heidelberg University ; Scientific advisor at the Centre for Balkan Studies of the Bosnia-Herzegovna Academy of Sciences and Arts in Sarajevo

... in Chicago, according to the Courier News:

Today is the Ides of March, the day in 44 B.C. when a group of Roman senators assassinated the emperor, Julius Caesar.

Like Brutus, late last month four students from Elgin High School killed while wearing togas, albeit in the comedic sense, presenting a skit at the Illinois Junior Classical League North 44th Annual Convention in Tinley Park.

The spoof of ancient times had Dylan Bloomquist as a two-timing Romeo murdered by the ladies in his life, played by Emma Marston and Sarah Schmerber, with narrator Erin Dunne joining in the mayhem.

The skit was part of a weekend of "appreciation for the (Latin) language and culture with some fun and goofiness thrown in, too," said teacher Matt Sparapani of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.

The convention, with more than 300 students in attendance, also offered proof that although Latin is a dead language, there's plenty of scholastic interest in studying it.

At St. Ignatius, Sparapani said about a third of the 1,360 students there take the subject. In Naperville there are 350 Latin students between the two public high schools. At Barrington, there are 150 high school students taking the language and another 150 in the middle schools.

Numbers have been on the rise for more than a decade, Sparapani said, spurred by pop culture and films such as Gladiator , Troy , the recent battle flick 300 , the HBO series Rome , and even the Harry Potter books, where the spells are cast in Latin.

"There's an attraction to mythology, and Latin is the key that unlocks that door," said Sparapani. "It's also a solid foundation into the English language."

As such, there is evidence to support that Latin students tend to do well on ACT and SAT tests, said Elgin High School's veteran Latin teacher Lanetta Warrenburg, as "there's a fundamental connection between Latin and thinking skills. Then again "Latin students love to learn," said Warrenburg.

At Elgin High School, 25 students are studying Latin, including Chase Riddle, past president of the IJCL. Warrenburg implied there might be more takers but for budget cuts and scheduling conflicts that lead to quite a few dropping out of the program.

From Elgin Academy, 13 students came to the convention with instructor Lyle Roebuck, among them freshman Madeline Stone.

"I study Latin because I love words. It's cool to be here at the convention around other people taking the same language," she said.

"I'm fascinated by the history," said classmate Josh Leong.

That history includes the poetry of Catullus and Ovid, subversives who ruffled the feathers of the ruling class, Roebuck said. That some of these poems offer practical advice for picking up girls only adds to their appeal to teenage boys, Roebuck said.

Still, there's a geek factor to a Greco-Roman gathering, and the convention did include a certamen (a classics-themed quiz game); a coloring contest; elections; and testing.

There also was a crafts competition where winners included an intricate tile mosaic of birds; a wooden crossbow; and a Roman greeting card which offered the hope that "the entrails of your pig, ram and bull indicate good fortune."

Keeping it quid pro quo, though (or at least a bit Belushi), there also was a costume contest and a G-rated Roman banquet, for which Elgin Academy's Sara Kokkelenberg wore a toga with an anachronistic Lion King flair to it.

The theme for the weekend was Carpe diem, quam mimimum credulum postero (Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in tomorrow). Yet, anyone who has worn a sheet to a party can tell you, more fitting would be the Latin class pun Semper ubi sub ubi (Always wear underwear).

From EADT24:

THE final piece in the archaeological jigsaw that is Colchester's Roman Circus has been found by excavators, the EADT can reveal.

The location of the 12 gates that released the competitors into frenetic and often violent chariot races was discovered near the sergeants' mess building in the former Colchester Garrison at Abbey Field.

These would have operated in the same way as greyhound traps, unleashing the charioteers on to the quarter-mile long opening stretch of the track.

With four horses at the head of each chariot, on full races there would have been 48 steeds pounding around the circuit, which is the only one ever to be found in the UK.

Foundations of the circus were first located in late 2004 when archaeologists were conducting digs at Abbey Field, prior to the construction of new housing.

News of the discovery was reported by media organisations around the world and thousands of visitors flocked to see the remains.

Since then, archaeologists have painstakingly discovered the stands, the central barrier and even one of the two turning posts round which the charioteers would career at the far end of the circus.

Now, with the discovery of the gates, a small piece of every constituent part of the circus has been located.

Developer Taylor Woodrow has supported the work of volunteers from Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT), while their recent dig to find the gates was funded partly by the Essex Heritage Trust and also the Corporate Friends of the Friends of CAT.

Yesterday Philip Crummy, director of the trust, said that debris had even been found of the box which would have been above the gates, from where a magistrate would have dropped a handkerchief to herald the beginning of the seven-lap race.

A second magistrate would then have opened the traps with a lever and the chariots would thunder out to begin the spectacular competition.

“We know the box had a nice roof and painted walls, because when the circus was demolished - probably in the late Roman period - they left bits of them on the ground,” Mr Crummy said.

“This find is an important step forward for us. We are highly delighted. Although we have only excavated small parts of the site, we have now got all the elements of the circus.”

There's a good (illustrated) excerpt from William Smith's Dictionary at Lacus Curtius ... scroll down to the section on carceres for an explanation of how these 'gates' might have worked ...
From NPR (the audio -- from Morning Edition -- will be available later this a.m.):

On March 15, 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was murdered by a posse of Roman senators. Today, on the anniversary of the historic murder, we imagine the sort of after-party the killers might have thrown.

What If…

This is a "What if…" story.

What if 2050 years ago — or 2051, depending on how you count — on March the 15th, the Ides of March, the senators who killed Julius Caesar decided to throw a little party... just to celebrate the elimination of a potential dictator?

One could imagine a gaggle of Roman senators down at their local watering hole ordering mugs of beer, or more likely, wine.

Think of it as an Apres Slaying Party.

Now imagine them a little tipsy, singing what Roman senators no doubt were singing 2,000 years ago: that old drinking ditty, "99 Bottles of Beer (or Wine) on the Wall."

But remember, they were singing before the numbers we use — 26, 44, 58 — were invented. Our numbers are of Arabic derivation. Romans, we think, used numerals — like VII, IX, XVIII.

So instead of "99 Bottles of Wine on the Wall," it would be:

XCIX Bottles of Wine on the Wall, XCIX Bottles of Wine,

And if one of those bottles should happen to fall,

That leaves XCVIII bottles of wine on the wall...

What Did They Really Say?

An exercise like this does make you wonder: When Romans made numerical references in colloquial Latin, what did they actually say?

They couldn't have used numerals — after all, we don't say, "two, two." We say, "twenty-two."

If you were a Roman senator with a 16-year-old son, would you have said, "Hey, come and meet my kid. He's one-six"?

I don't think so. So what did the Romans say?

Nobody we talked to seemed to know.

What about Zero?

What happened when the Romans finished the last bottle of wine and came to the final line of the song?

"Zero" wasn't used as a number when Caesar was around. It became a symbol for "none" or "nothing" a little later.

Ancient mathematicians had a problem using a number for something that was not numerous. And that's why we don't end our song. It just goes… nowhere.

What If We Still Talked Roman?

And finally, since this is a "What if" story: What if Roman numerals had worked their way into our language?

NPR's Mike Pesca helped me think of some of the things we'd be saying:

"My daughter? She can't talk right now. She's getting ready for her Sweet XVI party…"

"Me? I'm in my L's, but like they say, L is the new XL."

"Oh, that Lionel Richie when he was with the Commodores? Who will ever forget his "I..II..III Times a Lady…"

"Unless you prefer the rapper L Cent singing In Da Club, where it is XVIII to party and XXI to drink."

And can you imagine your Social Security number in Roman numerals?

That would never happen.
Earth and Sky's 'Skywatching' feature begins thusly:

The ancient eye test for those wishing to join the Roman army was administered using stars in the handle of our modern-day Big Dipper. If you passed, you got a job as an archer. If you failed, you had to serve in another capacity … perhaps as a cook. It’s said that sultans of the past also tested their soldiers’ eyesight in this way.

You can take this ancient eye test, too. Go outside around 9 p.m. You should see the Big Dipper just off the northeast horizon. The middle star in the “tail” of the question mark, is Mizar. If you look for a couple seconds longer, you may see a little starry point right next to Mizar. This star is called Alcor. If you had lived in the time of the early Romans, and you had seen Alcor, you would have been eligible to be an archer in the Roman army. If not, you would have to have served as cook or in another capacity for the Caesar.

... the belief is prolific over around the web, where it the 'eye test' is generally ascribed to some combination of Greek, Roman, and or Arabic culture/recruiting office. Can't seem to track down an ancient source, though ...
From UPI:

An Italian art restorer reversed inadvertent damage done 40 years ago on the 2,000-year-old frescoes from the Jewish fortress of Masada.

Maurizio Tagliapietra undid the harm done to the first-century frescoes -- comparable to Pompeii's for richness and variety -- from conservation materials applied in the 1960s, ANSA said.

"Back then the techniques were supposedly cutting-edge but, over time, they turned out to be disastrous," said Zeev Margalit of the Israeli conservation organization INNPA. "Paradoxically, the frescoes suffered more damage in the last 40 years than they did in the previous 2,000 years."

Calling the restorer's work "heroic," Margalit said Tagliapietra's team worked for two years to reverse the damaging effects of the 1960 materials.

Tagliapietra said it was one of his toughest challenges.

"It was the culmination of my career as a restorer," he said.

The frescoes are at a Jerusalem museum where they will be part of a major collection on Israel's cultural heritage.

Masada is symbolic to Jews worldwide because in 73 A.D., some 1,000 Jewish rebels took their own lives rather than yield to a huge army led by the Emperor Titus.
pridie idus martias

Festival of Mars (day 14)

Equirria -- the second of two days of horse racing (the first was on February 27) dedicated to Mars; the reasons are obscure, but probably have something to do with preparing horses for the upcoming campaigning season

222 A.D. -- Severus Alexander is given the title Augustus
volatile @ Merriam-Webster
From YLE:

De iuribus humanis zingarorum
: Nuntii Latini

09.03.2007, klo 16.15

Ordo UNICEF rettulit iura humana puerorum zingarorum in Europa orientali meridionali late violari.

In universum aestimanti circiter milio ex liberis zingarorum cura salutis caret neque omnes in scholam admittuntur.

Multi zingari in regionibus illegalibus vivunt ideoque documenta personalia, nisi multis cum difficultatibus, accipere non possunt.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
This one's a bit different ... Pandora interviews assorted divinities (seems to be an eBay ad):

Live Ancient Greek God Interview
The math teacher in me has to mention Pi Day somehow, and conveniently there's some passing ClassCon in this Scotsman piece:

TO A CERTAIN type of person, the number 3.14 holds a fascination that can only be equalled by reciting scripts from old episodes of Monty Python or watching repeats of Xena: Warrior Princess. They are the first three digits of pi (p), the key to calculating the circumference and area of every circle. Simply put, it represents the ratio between the diameter and the circumference of any circle, and is one of the most significant numbers in maths. It is also (when it is written in the US fashion) today's date: 3/14.

And that's why maths students at Harvard University are today holding a p recitation contest to see who can list the notoriously long number to the most decimal places. They'll also be holding a pe-eating contest and the naughtier members of the faculty are even threatening to wash those down with some pña colada. Meanwhile, in an attempt to trick their pupils into thinking that maths is fun, teachers all over the world will be bringing pizza p to school and arranging p-themed activities throughout the day. These may or not include the singing of the following beautiful ditty (to the tune of Jingle Bells) written by a teacher and his class in Minnesota especially for the occasion:
Click to learn more...

Pi day songs
All day long.
Oh, what fun it is,
To sing a jolly pi day song
in a fun math class
like this. (Repeat )

Circles in the snow,
Around and round we go.
How far did we have to run?
Diameter times pi! (Refrain)

I imagine that at this point many of my readers are gagging, if not snorting derisively. Especially since, if you're anything like me, you probably only really know of p as the number that caused you hours of trouble and worry at school when you were instructed to use it to work out the circumference of various circles.

Even now the symbols 2pr send a chill down my spine and until recently I'd never thought to question the importance of all that time spent measuring radii and typing 3.142 into my calculator. The best that I'd have been able to come up with would have been some vague conspiracy theory about keeping Casio and the manufacturers of compasses and protractors in business (and keeping schoolboys like me quiet and unhappy).

I dropped maths as soon as I possibly could, and the vital importance of being able to work with p was lost to me. I hadn't given it any thought for many years. And that's a terrible shame because, as I now know, p really is quite special.

The practical applications of p are, in fact, legion. The number has all kinds of relevances outside the world of square-ruled exercise books and smudged equations, above and beyond the fairly obvious usefulness of being able to accurately work out the circumference of circles in the tunnelling and construction industries. Pi is used in just about every manufacturing process you can think of, from loo rolls to fighter jets. Everywhere there's a circle that needs to be measured, in fact, and that's an awful lot of places, if you think about the number of screws there are in the world (not to mention lenses, tubes and wheels). It's also vital in telecommunications. Radio, TV, telephone and radar signals can all be described as sine waves and p is fundamental in calculating their size and frequency, as it is in calculating the size of the waves in the sea. The magic number is also used in an unutterably complex way to stimulate unknown factors and loading conditions in engineering, wind gusts on a plane, and even random variables in computer-game manufacture.

In short, p is one of the foundation stones of our way of living and we'd be in a lot of trouble without it. It's not overstating things too much to say that the history of our civilisation can be traced in the history of p. Arguably the first technological society, the Babylonians had calculated p using the value of 25/8. It was this level of accuracy that enabled them to produce some of the first serious construction marvels - and to build all those towers that so annoyed the writers of the Old Testament.

Meanwhile, in spite of its claims to be the infallible word of an omnipotent God, the references to p in the Old Testament are distinctly underwhelming. Verses in Kings and II Corinthians about the construction of Solomon's Temple give p a value of "3". Proof at least that the concept had broad currency by the first millennium BC, but nothing like as impressive as the earlier Ancient Egyptian figure of 3.160, written down by a scribe called Ahmes in 1650BC, and which no doubt helped the people of the pharaohs build all those magnificent temples.

The single biggest leap in the evolution of p came, as with so many things, thanks to the ancient Greeks. In the 3rd century BC Archimedes of Syracuse work-ed out the first known theoretical calculation of the number. His idea was that by drawing a polygon outside a circle and then a smaller one inside and calculating the perimeters of both, he'd be able to approximate the circumference of the circle somewhere in between the two figures and thus work his way back to p. This gives a pretty rudimentary value if you draw a four-sided polygon outside and inside the circle, but very accurate when you draw, as Archimedes did, two 96-sided polygons. He worked out the value of p as lying somewhere between 223/71 and 22/7. The average of these two values is roughly 3.1419.

Now, don't worry if you don't completely understand Archimedes's calculations. If I'm being honest, I don't either - which just goes to show how impressive his achievement was. And, just as it took almost two millennia for modern civilisation to catch up with that attained by the ancient Greeks and Romans, it also took almost 2,000 years for Europeans to come up with a better calculation of p. In other words, you aren't alone if you have trouble following the man in the toga. The Indians and Chinese had both produced more accurate approximations by the 15th century AD, but the first modern (ahem) pioneer of Western civilisation was Ludolph van Ceulen, who managed to work the number out to within 35 decimal places. So proud was he of this achievement that he supposedly had them inscribed on his tombstone.

Calculations became steadily more accurate as the Renaissance gave way to the Enlightenment and, in 1706, a Welshman called William Jones also became the first known person to use the actual symbol "p" when discussing the magic number. He did so in a text with the snappy title Synopsis Palmariorium Mathesios. Unfortunately, he didn't record for posterity the reason he opted for this symbol. The best explanation is that it was a little tribute to Archimedes, being the first letter of the Greek word, perimetron, from peri (around) and metrein (to measure). Nobody really knows, but all the same, the symbol stuck, and calculating it accurately became something of a Holy Grail for eggheads around the world as technology advanced during the Age of Steam.

Rather tragically, one William Shanks devoted the 20 years of his life leading up to 1873 to calculating p to 707 decimal places, only to have a DF Ferguson come along in 1944 and prove that his predecessor had made a mistake. Shanks had got the figure at the 528th decimal place wrong, which meant that all his subsequent figures were also incorrect. Ferguson, of course, had a considerable advantage over the Victorian in that he had a mechanical calculating machine, and the development of computers has been tied up with calculations of p ever since. One of the best ways of testing the power of a new machine is still to see how accurately it can work out p - and they now come up with some huge figures. Just over a year ago Professor Kanada at Tokyo University announced the calculation of p to 1.2411 trillion places. If that number were written down from left to right in the same size typeface as this newsprint, it would be long enough to wrap round the Earth.

The other thing that mathematicians came to realise about p as they calculated it more and more accurately is that it's an irrational number. That's to say, you can't get to the end of it if you try and write it down. There will always be more and more numbers to the right of the decimal point - and it can't be described as a fraction, either. The numerical configuration of p is infinite and so, in a particularly mindbending way, as big as the universe.

All of which goes to prove, I hope, why nerds and mathematicians get so excited about the 14th day of the third month, and why they have adopted it as their own special day of celebration, just as romantics have Valentine's Day, batter-lovers have Pancake Day, and Mums have Mother's Day (don't forget, by the way, it's this Sunday). It's easy to mock those pasty students drinking piña colada, reciting huge numbers to each other and dancing to Don Maclean's American Pie, but when you think about it, they're closer than any of us to understanding one of the secrets of the cosmos. If that isn't cause for celebration, I don't know what is.

1 THERE'S some controversy over the exact time celebrations of p day should begin. Some state that 1:59pm is the best time, but those who prefer the 24-hour clock say you should go for 1:59 in the morning as 1:59pm is represented on a 24-hour clock as 15:59.

2 On Kate Bush's double album Aerial, there is a song called p. In it Bush recites the number to its 137th decimal place, inexplicably omitting the 37th and 100th places.

3.1415... The European record for recounting p belongs to Daniel Tammet, who recited the number to its 22,514th digit on 14 March 2004.

4 As well as being p day, 14 March was also the birthday of Albert Einstein.

5 Lars Erickson, a mathematician and composer, has written an entire symphony based on p.

6 Even though computers have worked out a value of p to billions of decimal places, it's very rare that such accuracy is needed. For instance, working out the circumference of the Earth's equator from its radius using only ten decimal places of p produces an error of less than 0.2 millimetres. Not bad, out of 40,075.02 km.

7 Here's p to 50 decimal places: 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510

8 In The Simpsons' episode "Marge in Chains", Apu boasts that he can recite p to 40,000 decimal places. When asked what the 40,000th number is, he answers "one", which is quite correct. Rumour has it that the script writers approached the mathematician David H Bailey in order to get it right.
I've been avoiding posting every review of 300 that's hit the ewaves, but this piece (not really a review) from the LA Times is interesting in a zeitgeist sort of way:

To the U.S. Marines serving at Camp Pendleton, there is much to learn from the Spartans, those heroic warriors of ancient Greece whom one might have called "the few, the proud" centuries before the Marine Corps adopted the motto.

In the hit new film "300," Marines see parallels between the current war in Iraq and the film's story, which tells of hopelessly outnumbered Spartans fighting heroically to the death against mighty Persian invaders at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.

There was periodic cheering Monday night at the Regal multiplex in downtown Oceanside, a few blocks from the main gate of Camp Pendleton, where young Marines attended showings of "300" on three screens. Some Marines nodded in recognition at lines in the movie that were familiar from their training — such as when King Leonidas instructs his son that the more troops sweat in training, the less they will bleed in combat.

"When the Spartan officer says that Spartans are all about protecting the guy to the left and right rather than being worried about themselves, that struck a chord," said Pfc. James Lyons, 20. "That's what they tell us all the time."

The R-rated film set box office records over the weekend, pulling in more than $70 million.

Meanwhile, the film has sparked outrage in modern Iran, which denounced the blockbuster's depiction of the ancient battle as "hostile behavior which is the result of cultural and psychological warfare." According to Reuters, poor-quality pirated DVDs are already circulating in Iran and a broad spectrum of government leaders and bloggers have denounced the movie as portraying the Persians as decadent, sexually flamboyant and evil in contrast to the noble Greeks. Some elected officials in Iran are urging other Muslim countries not to show "this anti-Iranian Hollywood movie."

It probably comes as no surprise that Marines would like the film.

"I barked and cheered my way through '300' with two fellow Marine infantry officers who have shed blood and tears in the back alleys of Iraq," said Ilario G. Pantano, whose book "Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy" details his experiences in Iraq and his criminal case on charges of murdering two Iraqis. He was exonerated and is now a sheriff's deputy in New Hanover County, N.C.

At a time when mounting U.S. and Iraqi casualties in Iraq have alarmed the American public, the movie seems to celebrate war, militarism and battlefield carnage.

The clash between the Spartans and Persians at Thermopylae was classic war: force on force, enemies looked in each other's eyes, no hidden improvised explosive devices, one nation versus another.

To scholars, the Spartans are an extreme example of a society trained for war and soldiers who were expected to go into battle without questioning authority.

Kathryn Morgan, who teaches classics at UCLA, said there is much to learn from the Battle of Thermopylae.

"The Spartans were the marvel of the ancient world," she said. "For a long time, it was thought that you couldn't conquer Spartan soldiers in battle. This was a society that was totally devoted to creating fantastical warriors."

At the Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans were hopelessly outnumbered, but they fight to the end, refusing to surrender.

"They fight even when they could have escaped," she noted. "They are making a statement of what it is to be a Spartan. It's a hugely tear-jerking thing." Furthermore, she said, history remembers these men as virtuous defenders of freedom and civilization. "That's the way the Greeks saw it. It made a huge impression at the time. These dead warriors were considered heroes ever after."

Vincent Farenga, who teaches classics at USC, said via e-mail that he believes the movie "300" strikes a chord with young people because they are "very curious about the ancient world.

"As [the film] 'Gladiator' proved, film can burn right through the impediments of verbal histories and archaeological studies — but only if it has a 'look' and 'feel' that strikes young people as 'right on.' "

Bill Stutzman, an upper-school humanities teacher at Foundations Academy, a nondenominational Protestant K-12 school in Boise, Idaho, that stresses teaching of the classics, said one of his students showed a trailer for the film in class and described what it would be like living in Sparta as a woman.

"What we are seeing is that kids, from the youngest age on up, love these stories," he said.

There is, of course, precedent for Americans showing a cultural cross-current in their movie preferences during wartime. In 1967, with the Vietnam War protests raging, "The Dirty Dozen" was hugely popular.

The film "300" and the Frank Miller graphic novel on which it is based celebrate a warrior cult that prizes physical fitness, discipline and bravery. The numbers are small, but the hearts are stout. The cult is part of the society it protects but yet is separate, even alienated, from it.

"Currently, the U.S. Marine Corps embodies the Spartan code, as shown in the Fallouja battles," e-mailed Bing West, former assistant secretary of Defense and author of two books about Marines in Iraq.

How frequently did "300" remind the young Marines in the movie audience of the Marine Corps?

"Every second," said Pfc. Zach Marino, 23. The Spartans and the battle at Thermopylae are an official part of Marine Corps mythology and self-image.

"Gates of Fire," Steven Pressfield's novelistic treatment of Thermopylae, has been on the commandant's reading list for enlisted ranks. Officers are asked to read Thucydides' accounts of the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens.

Of course, all current cultural concerns aside, there is also another possible explanation for the success of "300."

As West noted, Aristotle thought courage was the most important virtue of all because it makes possible all other virtues. There is a modern box-office equivalent.

"A good war movie is a good movie," said Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University.
Cato contra mundum.

pron = KAH-toh KOHN-trah MOON-doom.

Cato against the world!

Comment: This is the epitome of the bulldog, or of the champion of the underdog, or champion for justice, or the bullheaded ego-maniac!

And it could be each one. Cato, suffice it to say (a Roman aristocrat, farmer, military man and statesman during the 3rd and 2nd century BCE) was a man who was not afraid to stand against the crowd, or the world, on principles important to him and which he felt important to the survival and victory of Rome.

As a statesman, he is said to have ended every speech, regardless of its topic, with the words: ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendum (and what's more, It is my opinion that Carthage must be destroyed!).
He was insistent that Rome's enemy already in two wars had to be utterly destroyed in yet another war if Rome was to thrive.

When does taking a stand make it possible for people to thrive?
When does taking a stand make havoc and destruction on others?
When does taking a stand simply become grand-standing in service of one's ego?

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
After the initial uproar -- which, I think, cast serious doubt on all the claims made by certain documentary makers -- we get a very interesting tidbit which probably won't get much attention ... from AP (via Yahoo ... hat tip to JMM for also sending this in):

A scholar looking into the factual basis of a popular but widely criticized documentary that claims to have located the tomb of Jesus said Tuesday that a crucial piece of evidence filmmakers used to support their claim is a mistake.

Stephen Pfann, a textual scholar and paleographer at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said he has released a paper claiming the makers of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" were mistaken when they identified an ancient ossuary from the cave as belonging to the New Testament's Mary Magdalene.

The film's director, Simcha Jacobovici, responded that other researchers agreed with the documentary's conclusions.

Produced by Oscar-winning director James Cameron, the documentary has drawn intense media coverage for its claims challenging accepted Christian dogma.

Despite widespread ridicule from scholars, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" drew more than 4 million viewers when it aired on the Discovery Channel on March 4. A companion book, "The Jesus Family Tomb," has rocketed to sixth place on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list.

The film and book suggest that a first-century ossuary found in a south Jerusalem cave in 1980 contained the remains of Jesus, contradicting the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven. Ossuaries are stone boxes used at the time to store the bones of the dead.

The filmmakers also suggest that Mary Magdalene was buried in the tomb, that she and Jesus were married, and that an ossuary labeled "Judah son of Jesus" belonged to their son.

The scholars who analyzed the Greek inscription on one of the ossuaries after its discovery read it as "Mariamene e Mara," meaning "Mary the teacher" or "Mary the master."

Before the movie was screened, Jacobovici said that particular inscription provided crucial support for his claim. The name Mariamene is rare, and in some early Christian texts it is believed to refer to Mary Magdalene.

But having analyzed the inscription, Pfann published a detailed article on his university's Web site asserting that it doesn't read "Mariamene" at all.

The inscription, Pfann said, is made up of two names inscribed by two different hands: the first, "Mariame," was inscribed in a formal Greek script, and later, when the bones of another woman were added to the box, another scribe using a different cursive script added the words "kai Mara," meaning "and Mara." Mara is a different form of the name Martha.

According to Pfann's reading, the ossuary did not house the bones of "Mary the teacher," but rather of two women, "Mary and Martha."

"In view of the above, there is no longer any reason to be tempted to link this ossuary ... to Mary Magdalene or any other person in biblical, non-biblical or church tradition," Pfann wrote.

In the interest of telling a good story, Pfann said, the documentary engaged in some "fudging" of the facts.

"James Cameron is a great guru of science fiction, and he's taking it to a new level with Simcha Jacobovici. You take a little bit of science, spin a good yarn out of it and you get another 'Terminator' or 'Life of Brian,'" said Pfann, who briefly appeared as an ossuary expert in the documentary.

In Israel on Tuesday for a screening of the film, the Toronto-based Jacobovici welcomed Pfann's criticism, saying "every inscription should be re-examined."

But Jacobovici said scholars who researched the ossuary in the past agreed with the film's reading. "Anyone who looks at it can see that the script was written by the same hand," he added.

Jacobovici has faced criticism much tougher than Pfann's academic critique. The film has been termed "archaeo-porn," and Jacobovici has been accused of "pimping the Bible."

Jacobovici attributes most of the criticism to scholars' discomfort with journalists "casting light into their ossuary monopoly."

"What we're doing is democratizing this knowledge, and this is driving some people crazy," he said.

For Pfann's corrected reading (which includes a transcription of the inscription) ... see here ... for the view that it is one hand, see James Tabor's post here ... [for the record, I think someone has to establish textually that Mariamene was a name early Christians called the Magdalene ... I don't think that has been established yet]
Brief item from JTA:

Israeli archaeologists uncovered the remains of a Second Temple-era Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. A network of ancient streets, homes and ritual mikvah baths were found recently in
the capital's Arab district of Shuafat when municipal workers laid tracks for a light railway, Ma'ariv reported Tuesday.

The Antiquities Authority estimated that the finds, which currently spread over an area of some 100 acres, date to a period after the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. Evidence suggests the neighborhood was affluent and religiously observant.

"In the digs, many stone tools and caches of coins were discovered, including a rare gold coin with the image of the Emperor Trajan," Antiquities Authority official Rahel Bar-Natan said.
A number of folks have sent this one from NPR in for Explorator (thanks!) ... looks interesting:

An exhibit in Rome aims to explain the role of Eros, the most powerful and most elusive of the ancient gods. The show at the Colosseum seeks to illustrate the huge gap between contemporary attitudes to erotic love and how the subject was treated in antiquity.

The god of love (Eros for the Greeks, Cupid for the Romans) was chosen as the subject of this exhibit "because Eros is universal," says Rome's archaeological superintendent, Angelo Bottini. "There's nothing more understandable than the concept of love.

"But we also want to illustrate antiquity to a society that knows less and less about the ancients," he says.

The works on show in the 2,000-year-old amphitheater come from various museums in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

They include a sculpture of a crouching Aphrodite — Eros' mother — discovered at Hadrian's Villa near Rome. And a marble statue of a naked, winged Eros stringing his bow — it's an ancient Roman copy of the great fourth century B.C. Greek sculptor Lysippus.

There are banquet scenes painted on red-and-black terra cotta vases, frescoes from Pompeii, and bas-reliefs on the sarcophagus of a child.

Exhibit organizers say that although the Greek god of love is one of the best-known divinities, his mythological narrative is less detailed than that of the other gods.

Greek tragedy and comedy are filled with tales of Eros' boundless power. The ancient poets, from Sappho to Anacreon, describe him as an invincible force that brings happiness but can also destroy it.

Throughout the exhibit, panels explain that for the Greeks, the power of Eros was such that he could dominate nature, mankind and even the gods.

"Now Eros shakes my soul, a wind on the mountain overwhelming the oaks." — Sappho

Nobody can resist Eros, not even Zeus, the father of the gods. Under Eros' spell, Zeus transforms himself into various figures in order to couple with the woman, or man, who has aroused his desire.

The exhibit contains a marble group of the young shepherd Ganymede and Zeus disguised as an eagle, and a sculpture of Leda who tries to escape Zeus, but is unwittingly won over by the god who has transformed himself into a swan.

It also features numerous erotic images of homosexual love. Bottini says it's an opportunity to illustrate the liberty and spontaneity with which the Greeks lived their sexuality.

"In antiquity, erotic practices that had nothing to do with procreation — male and female homosexuality — were completely accepted by society," the archaeological superintendent says.

But there's one aspect of erotic love in antiquity that contemporary society is unable to embrace.

"In the case of men, the homosexual experience was a one-sided relationship between an adult and an adolescent boy," Bottini says. "It was seen as a teacher-pupil relationship. We call it pedophilia and it's unacceptable for us."

But, organizers say, even the legendary sexual freedom of the Greeks was subject to certain important restrictions: It affected only adult free-born males, and it had to avoid demonstrations of wild behavior. And there was an established order based on the submission of woman to man, youth to adult, slave to master.

The exhibit shows how the figure of Eros evolved over the centuries. From mysterious force of nature, his power gradually waned as the god of love turned into the putto — the pudgy baby adored by artists of the Italian Renaissance.

Some good photos of items in the exhibit accompany the original article ....
Brief item from the Buffalo News:

A motion to halt the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's scheduled auction of 207 antiquities was defeated by a nearly 3-to-1 ratio, officials announced this evening.

The 1,224-428 vote, held at a members-only meeting Monday in Kleinhans Music Hall, rejected appeals by members who argued the loss of prized antiquities was unjustified and that the decision-making process failed to include the public.

About 25 percent of the 6,200 members voted, many by proxy, boosting the vote total far beyond the 600 in attendance. The gathering was mandated by gallery bylaws after 5 percent of the membership signed petitions requesting one.

... should've had J.P. Losman on side ... See this item in the New York Times to get an idea of what they will be auctioning away ...
"Receptions of Homer"

A one-day conference in the reception of the Homeric epics from
antiquity to modern times will be held at Gustave Tuck Lecture
Theatre, UCL Wilkins Building organized by the Department of Greek
and Latin, UCL on Friday 27 April 2007

The purpose of this conference is to explore aspects of the reception
of the Homeric text from past to present and the relationship between
different fields in the presentation of Homer to either ancient or
modern audiences. The conference will also examine the creative
influence of Homer in many areas of art, culture and education

Papers will last for 20 minutes, allowing 10 minutes for discussion.
If you wish to attend the conference please register your interest in
doing so ASAP by contacting Dr Antony Makrinos (address below) for a
booking form.

A full programme of the conference is also attached, and further
details will be posted on the website which can be accessed via

Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions
or comments and feel free to circulate the information to any of your
colleagues or research students who might also be interested.


Dr. Antony Makrinos
Post Doctoral Research Fellow in Greek
Department of Greek and Latin,
University College London,
Gower St,
Tel.: +44 20 7679 7493
E-mail: a.makrinos AT ucl.ac.uk


09:45-10:00 a.m. Welcome: Prof. CHRIS CAREY (UCL)

Session 1: Ancient Reception of Homer

10:00-10:30 a.m. Dr. BARBARA GRAZIOSI (Durham): "The ancient
reception of Homer: some issues of method"

10:30-11:00 a.m. Dr. SARAH HITCH (Reading): "The Voyage of
Homer. Reinterpretations of heroic journeys in Apollonius Rhodius and
the Orphic Argonautica"

11:00-11:30 a.m. Prof. PHILIP HARDIE (Cambridge): "Unruly and
ruly words in Homer and Latin epic"

11:30-11:45 a.m. COFFEE

Session 2: Homeric receptions from antiquity to the modern world

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Prof. CHRIS CAREY (UCL): "Bacchylides' Homer"

12:15-12:45 p.m. Dr. GIUSEPPE LENTINI (Siena-Arezzo):
"Alcaeus' Homer: the scope and meaning of Homeric reception in
Alcaeus' poetry"

12:45-1:15 p.m. JUSTINE McCONNELL (RHUL): "Two mid-Twentieth Century
Black Odysseys"

1:15-2:15 p.m. LUNCH BREAK

Session 3: Visual and Popular Culture

2:15-2:45 p.m. Dr. PANTELIS MICHELAKIS (Bristol): Homer in early cinema

2:45-3:15 p.m. Dr. NICK LOWE (RHUL): "Dictys' children: a short long
history of Iliad novelisations"

(UCL): Canonising Homer in the Eighteenth Century: John Flaxman's
illustrations of Homer"

4:00-4:15 p.m. TEA

Session 4: Homer in English Literature and Opera

4:15-4:45 p.m. Dr. KASIA BODDY (UCL): "The Human Stain: Philip
Roth's Novel as Funeral Game"

4:45-5:15 p.m. Prof. LORNA HARDWICK (Open University): "Degrees of
Intimacy: Michael Longley's poetic relationship with Homer"

5:15-5:45 p.m. CHARLES McDOUGALL (RHL): "Finding an Epic Dramaturgy:
Homer's Odyssey in 21st Century Opera"

A Celebration of the Life and Work of Peter Brunt
Oxford, 23-24 March 2007
Supported by Oriel and Brasenose Colleges and the Faculty of Classics


All the lectures will take place in the Harris Lecture Theatre, Oriel College

Final Programme:

Friday, 23 March, 2007, 1.30 p.m. – 6.00 p.m. First Session

1.30 – 2.30 p.m.
Welcome: Dr. Teresa Morgan (Oriel College)
Professor William Harris (Columbia University): “When and How Did Italy Come to be Called Italy?”

2.30-3.30 p.m.
Dr Jonathan Prag (Merton College, Oxford): “Non-Italian Manpower: auxilia externa under the Republic”

3.30-4.00 p.m. Tea

4.00 – 5.00 p.m.
Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (British School at Rome): “Flavian Herculaneum and the Problem of Italian Manpower”

5.00-6.00 p.m.
Professor Christopher Smith (University of St Andrews): “Brunt and the Roman plebs”

6.15-7.15 p.m. Reception provided by the Faculty of Classics at the Stelios Ioannou School for Research in Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles

7.30 p.m. Dinner (Oriel College, only for those who have pre-booked)

Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 9.30 a.m. – 1.00 p.m Second Session
9.30 - 10.30 a.m.

Professor Malcolm Schofield (St John’s College, Cambridge): “De Officiis on the fourth virtue”
10.30 -11.00 a.m. Coffee

11.00 a.m.- 12.00 noon.
Dr Ingo Gildenhard (University of Durham): “The politics of Cicero’s perfecta philosophia”

12.00 noon – 1.00 p.m.
Dr. Miriam Griffin (Somerville College, Oxford): “Stoicism and Roman Political Life:  why Brunt matters”

2.00 -5.30 p.m. Third Session

2.00 – 3.00 p.m.
Professor Tim Parkin (University of Manchester): “Augustus’ marriage legislation and Italian Manpower”

3.00 – 4.00 p.m.
Dr Valentina Arena (University College London): “Roman liberty after Brunt”

4.00 – 4.30 p.m. Tea

4.30 – 5.30 p.m.
Dr. Roger Tomlin (Wolfson College, Oxford): “Made in Paris: the acclamation of Julian the Apostate”

The lectures are open to all and there is no registration fee. Those who wish to reserve accommodation or to book dinner on Friday evening (cost: approximately £25.00 per head, spouses/partners also welcome) must email teresa.morgan AT classics.ox.ac.uk, who will forward instructions for booking. For the  provision of tea and coffee, it would be appreciated if those who intend to come to the lectures only and have not booked accommodation or dinner could notify by email either Teresa Morgan or alan.bowman AT classics.ox.ac.uk

University of Durham, 6th and 7th July 2007

The three sessions of this international and interdisciplinary conference
will explore different aspects of the impact of religious traditions on the
physical and social organization of the city between the Roman period and
Late Antiquity. Geographically, the focus will be on Rome and the western
and eastern provinces, in order to identify both common trends and
differences in direction. Through this approach we aim to identify the
interaction between local and colonial religious practices and, in addition,
to discuss how citizens responded to the introduction or imposition of new
religious forms.
Each session will include 4 to 6 papers delivered in English, French, or
Italian. The whole project is intended to establish a strong basis for
further interdisciplinary collaboration and to find new directions to
develop the analysis and understanding of urban trajectories in a wider
geographical and historical context. The discussion of conclusions in the
final round-table session will therefore be led by scholars from
non-classical disciplines.

Conference Programme

8.00-10.00 p.m. Registration and welcome, St. John’s College

Sessions to be held in St. John’s College, South Bailey, Durham

9.45 Introduction (Ted Kaizer, Anna Leone, Edmund Thomas, Rob Witcher,
University of Durham)

10.00-1.00 Session 1: Religious Architecture in Urban Contexts
This session aims to assess the influence of religious traditions on
architectural design, construction, and decoration and on its
transformation. This will help to discuss and compare the permanence or
transformation of local tradition in different parts of the Roman world and
to analyse ritual spaces in relation to their urban environment.

10.00 John Stamper (University of Notre Dame, Indiana), "Temples of Jupiter
and the shaping of urban space: Rome, Cosa and Pompeii"
10.30 Pier Luigi Tucci (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa), "Living under the
same sky, sharing the same land: gods and citizens in Rome's cityscape"

11.00 Tea and coffee break

11.30 Louise Revell (University of Southampton), "Defining urban space?
Temples and towns in Roman Britain"
12.00 Christiane Delplace (Ausonius Institute, Pessac), "Architecture
réligieuse à Palmyre dans son contexte urbain"
12.30 Nicholas Purcell (St. John’s College, Oxford), Chairman’s review

General Discussion

1.00-2.00 Lunch, St. John’s College

2.00-5.30 Session 1: Ritual and Perception of Sacred Urban Space
Adopting a broad, interdisciplinary perspective, this session will consider
how specific rites or liturgical acts structured urban space and vice versa.
With regard to provincial areas in particular, it is also hoped to raise the
questions of whether and how colonial powers acted to control existing
religious practice and authority.

2.00 Michael Sommer (University of Liverpool), "Creating civic space through
religious innovation? The case of the post-Seleucid Beka‘a valley"
2.30 Clifford Ando (University of Chicago), "Diana on the Aventine -
imperial revivals of Latin cults"

3.00 Tea and coffe break

3.30 Mario Torelli (University of Perugia), "Il ruolo ideologico e
funzionale dell’arx negli insediamenti etruschi, latini e italici"
4.00 Penny Goodman (University of Leeds), "Temple architecture and the
urban-rural divide in Britain and Gaul: two worlds or one?"
4.30 Allan Doig (University of Oxford), Title to be announced
5.00 Michael J. Crosbie (architect, author, and editor of Faith & Form
magazine, the Interfaith Journal on Religion, Art and Architecture),
Chairman’s review

General discussion

6.30-7.30 Drinks reception

7.30 Conference dinner, St. John’s College

9.30-1.00 Session 3 : Impact of new religious traditions on civic space
The third and final session will discuss the impact made on urban areas by
the introduction of new cults or by the conversion from one religion to
another, whether on the part of individuals or communities, and whether
voluntarily or forcibly. In particular, the session aims to discuss whether
spaces were reconfigured to accommodate or annihilate religious experience
and the ways in which sacred space worked to elicit religious understanding
and belief.

9.30 Claire Sotinel (François-Rabelais University Tours), "Over the walls of
Aquileia: religious perception of the city in periods of crisis"
10.00 Ann Yasin (University of Southern California), "The new euergetism:
churches as commemorative landscapes"
10.30 Isabella Baldini Lippolis (University of Bologna), "Religion and
changing landscape: the case of Athens"

11.00 Tea and coffee break

11.30 Wendy Pullan (Clare College, Cambridge), "Jerusalem and the
reorientation of urban order in late antiquity"
12.00 Lucrezia Spera (University of Rome Tor Vergata), "Topography of the
Christian and pagan buildings in the Campus Martius"
12.30 Neil Christie (University of Leicester), Chairman’s review

General Discussion

1.00-2.00 Lunch, St. John’s College

2.00-4.00 Round-Table discussion (Chair: Ash Amin, University of Durham)
This final session will operate from an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural
perspective to draw together conclusions from the three sessions.

The conference is generously supported by the British Academy, the Faculty
of Arts and Humanities University of Durham, and the Institute of Advanced
Study of the University of Durham (www.dur.ac.uk/ias/).

For further information, please contact one of the conference organizers:
Ted Kaizer (ted.kaizer AT durham.ac.uk)
Anna Leone (anna.leone AT durham.ac.uk)
Edmund Thomas (e.v.thomas AT durham.ac.uk)
Rob Witcher (r.e.witcher AT durham.ac.uk)

Conference fee: £20 waged, £10 unwaged or student. This includes conference
documentation and drinks reception (Friday evening). Lunches and dinners are
available for booking at additional cost.

A limited number of rooms are available at St. John’s College at £27 per
night. Please apply as soon as possible to contacting directly Mrs. Gwen
Hall (g.m.hall AT durham.ac.uk) or the conference organisers, as above. Further
bed-and-breakfast accommodation may be available through the university. To
book, or for more information, please telephone 0800 289970 (from within the
UK) or email event AT durham.ac.uk. Alternatively, local bed-and-breakfast
accommodation may be booked through Durham Tourist Office at
http://www.durhamtourism.co.uk/accomm.html or by telephone 0044 (0)191 384
3720 or fax 0044 (0)191 386 3015.
ante diem iii idus martias

Festival of Mars (day 13)

222 A.D. dies imperii of Severus Alexander
Laetus sorte tua vives sapienter.

pron = LAI-toos SOHR-tay TOO-ah WEE-ways sah-pee-EHN-tehr.

May you who are happy by your lot in life, live wisely.

Comment: This little saying holds together two realities very nicely:
the person who knows his/her lot in life and is happy with it (whatever that lot is), and the injunction, in the context of such a life, to live wisely.

The whole thing calls for and identifies a basic balance of things.
It acknowledges that there can be a happiness that works with one's lot in life (as opposed to a happiness that DEPENDS on one's lot in life).
It also acknowledges that even one who is happy in life still has an obligation to live wisely--with insight, reflectivity and listening deeply to the path that one is traveling.

Finally, this little saying begs questions. Am I happy? Am I happy by means of my lot in life? However I answer those questions, am I today intent to live in wisdom by whatever means I perceive wisdom?

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
futile @ Merriam-Webster

triskaidekaphobia @ Wordsmith

genethlialology @ Worthless Word for the Day

cogitate @ Dictionary.com
From YLE:

Artificia a nazistis ablata quaeruntur
: Nuntii Latini

09.03.2007, klo 16.15

Inter secundum bellum mundanum nazistae a Iudaeis Europae circiter sescenta milia artificiorum abstulerunt, ex quibus circiter centum milia possessoribus nondum restituta sunt.

Illa etiam in Finnia indagari coepta sunt. Accuratius investigantur quadringenta fere opera, quae in collectionibus viginti septem museorum conservantur.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
From Russia IC:

St. Petersburg Company Nikola Film starts a project about Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890), a great adventurer and a self-taught archeologist, claimed by scientific world as the first "black digger".

The project has been titled The Gold of Schliemann. World Collection of Antiquities.

Eight films will feature the story of Schliemann. Each of them will be shot in the countries where the archeologist used to travel: Russia, Greece, China, England, France, Czechia, Germany and Norway. The digging of Troy will be reconstructed in Crimea and Greece.

Heinrich Schliemann will be played by Leonid Yarmolnik.

The shooting starts this week in St. Petersburg. The release of the film is expected by the end of 2007.
Today we offer you a four parter ... here's the first part:

At the request of VR, I'll start including the urls for these for those of you who want to use these elsewhere

Pompeii: A City Rediscovered (part 1)

Here are the remaining installments:

Pompeii: A City Rediscovered (part 2)
Pompeii: A City Rediscovered (part 3)
Pompeii: A City Rediscovered (part 4)

Do folks prefer installments presented this way, or would you like them all embedded at rc at once (to skip all the Youtube ads), or would you prefer 'one per day' embedded? Or does it matter?
From the Independent Catholic News:

The teaching of classics in schools is supposed to be in terminal decline, but a conference at Stonyhurst College has proved that it is still alive and kicking.

Around 100 GCSE and A level pupils from 13 schools across the north of England visited the college to hear a range of lectures on classical subjects ­ and the organisers had to turn another 50 away.

Judith Parkinson, who organised the conference, said: "There has been much media reporting on the imminent demise of Classics in schools but the response to this conference proves that there is still a great deal of interest.

"We had some lively presentations and all the pupils enjoyed the day."

The keynote speaker was Dr Peter Jones, a former university senior lecturer in Classics and regular ambassador for the subject on the Today programme and as a columnist in The Spectator. He welcomed the pupils and then gave an entertaining presentation on 'Greek epic'.

Other speakers were Tom Lloyd, a PhD student, who spoke on the contemporary relevance of Thucydides and Herodotus, Professor Donald Hill, Emeritus Professor at Newcastle University who spoke on Ovid, Professor Stephen Harrison, Professor of Classical Languages and Literature at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, who spoke on 'History, politics and the Aeneid', and Dr Scott Scullion of Worcester College, Oxford, who spoke on 'Fate and the gods in tragic drama'.

The pupils also heard from Elizabeth Belcher, the Classics Outreach Officer at Oxford University, who outlined university life and the
career prospects for classicists.

"We were really pleased with the success of the day," said Judith. "As far as I am aware there is no other comparable event in the north and it is fairly unusual nationally."

[for the record, the original headline was "Pupils flock to conference on classics"]

Each summer the Summer Classics Institute at the University of Georgia offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate Latin and Classics courses and, in odd-numbered years, Intensive Beginning Greek. The Institute curriculum is supplemented by workshops and guest lectures by visiting Master Teachers and other scholars. The program is designed especially for Latin teachers who wish to continue their education or earn a Master's degree in Latin on a summers-only basis; the M.A. is now available to teachers with a non-thesis option. The 15 faculty members of the department share in a tradition of cooperation with high school teachers and programs which has culminated in an exciting and challenging curriculum.

Here are this summer's offerings:

* INTENSIVE BEGINNING GREEK 1 AND 2 (GREK 2050 & 2060) : Dr. Charles Platter and Dr. T. Keith Dix

* AP OVID (LATN 4220\6220) : Dr. Brett Rogers

* TEXTS FROM THE END OF THE REPUBLIC (LATN 4400/6400) : Dr. T. Keith Dix


* CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY (CLAS 1020, an undergraduate course with special materials for teachers) : Dr. Charles Platter

Classes begin June 18th and end on August 1st; most courses are offered in four-week short sessions. The Department of Classics houses both the Alexander Room, a quiet, comfortable reading room and reference library with approximately 3,200 volumes, and a state-of-the-art computer lab for its students, and is adjacent to the University's three-million volume library.

Scholarship assistance is available and Latin teachers pay only the low in-state Georgia tuition.

For complete information about the Institute and our courses, please consult our web site at http://www.classics.uga.edu/summer_institute/
or email gradinq AT uga.edu.

Application deadline: April 1.
University of St Andrews

School of Classics

Lecturer in Classics

Salary: £33,101 - £40,711 per annum

This post is available from 1st September 2007, or as soon as possible thereafter. You will be expected to conduct research in any field of Classics and to contribute to teaching in Ancient History and/or Classical Studies. The School is particularly interested in attracting applications from those with expertise in Greek, Roman or Late Antique History, in Latin literature, in Historiography or in Classical Archaeology.

You should have a good Honours degree, and should have completed, or be near to completing, a PhD in a relevant field. Applications from early career researchers and established academics are equally welcome.

Please quote ref: SK168/07 Closing Date: 29 March 2007

Application forms and further particulars are available from Human Resources, University of St Andrews, College Gate, North Street, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AJ, (tel: 01334 462571, by fax 01334 462570 or by e-mail Jobline AT st-andrews.ac.uk. The advertisement and further particulars can be viewed at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/hr/recruitment/vacancies.

The University is committed to equality of opportunity.
ante diem iv idus martias

Festival of Mars (day 12)

Magna est veritas et praevalebit.

pron = MAHG-nah ehst WHER-ih-tahs eht prai-WHAH-lay-biht.

Great is truth and it will prevail.

Comment: I am not by nature a skeptical person, but at these words, my "inner skeptic arises". Truth. What is truth? We don't have time or space to explore this, but I will tell you what I think truth is NOT. Truth is NEVER one thing. Truth is best viewed (remember, this is my view) as polar opposites, and they must be taken together.

Exempli gratia (Latin for, "for example"):

All human beings are created equal.

It's a lovely idea. Unfortunately, the child born into poverty simply won't have the same beginning opportunities to make of his/her life what a child born into affluence will.

Today, I was at my son's soccer game. Another family was there with their toddler. They had taught this 13 month old to stand and kick a smaller soccer ball. I told the father: you are not only helping your son learn to kick a soccer ball, but you are insuring that he will be a strong reader. What do you mean, he asked? We now know that working on fine motor skills with a toddler means that he/she will be an early and strong reader. The same part of the brain that controls fine motor skills is where the child facilitates reading.

Families caught in poverty often don't have time to teach their toddlers fine motor skills because they are so busy working 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet. The child who spends the day in a crib or otherwise unattended by adults and siblings is the child, statistically, who sits in third grade unable to read.

All human beings are created equal. Human beings come into the world unequal in circumstances. Truth? It embodies both statements.

Truth is bi-polar. There is always an opposite statement that goes with the one we think "true".

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
tridecennial @ Wordsmith

trepidation @ Dictionary.com
From YLE:

Pecus volatile intus tenendum
: Nuntii Latini

09.03.2007, klo 16.13

Propter vernam migrationem avium pecus volatile a Kalendis Martiis usque ad Kalendas Iunias in Finnia intus tenendum est, ne morbus aviarius vagetur.

Etiam expositiones pecoris volatilis vetitae sunt. Nam inter migrationem vernam aves etiam ex eis terris in Finniam venire solent, in quibus hieme morbus aviarius occurrit.

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

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: Georgius Bush visitat Americam Latinam
Okay intro to the Twelve Olympians:

From BMCR:

Gordon P. Kelly, A History of Exile in the Roman Republic.

Neil Morpeth, Thucydides' War: Accounting for the Faces of Battle. Spudasmata, Band 112.

Pierre Hadot, The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature. Originally published as Le Voile d'Isis: Essai sur l'histoire de l'ide/e de Nature (Paris: Gallimard, 2004). Translation by Michael Chase.

D. Paniagua Aguilar, Flavio Vegecio Renato: Compendio de tecnica militar.

John Fotopoulos (ed.), The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context: Studies in Honor of David E. Aune. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 122.

From Scholia:

Stefan Kipf, Altsprachlicher Unterricht in der Bundesrepublic Deutschland: historisches Entwicklung, didaktische Konzepte und methodische Grundfragen von der Nachkriegzeit bis zum Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts
From a press release:

The Ides of March (15th) was a bad day for Julius Caesar. The Roman general who rose to the pinnacle of power in 44 BC discovered that being "King of the Hill" was a risky business. Indeed, the fear of kingship guided a dagger into his heart on that portentous day.

On the 2050th anniversary of his murder by a protégé, Brutus, and other supposed friends, Latin and Classics teachers across the country will use ancient coins to teach a realistic history lesson. Of course there are no photos of Julius Caesar or his assassins, but lifelike portraits do exist on ancient coins. One silver coin with the inscription EID MAR (Eidibus Martiis = Ides of March in Latin), actually commemorates the murder of Caesar as being a patriotic act.

Zee Ann Poerio, an elementary school teacher at St. Louise de Marillac school in Pittsburgh, frequently uses genuine ancient coins to capture the imagination and inspire the interest of her students. The thrill of holding an authentic contemporary coin brings history lessons alive. Poerio, who recently was awarded a $2,500 technology grant from Best Buy, Inc. for her innovative use of ancient coins in the classroom, sees them not only as a tangible link to the past, but as the perfect tool for cross curricular connections between History, Literature, Art, etc. "I've been telling my students to Beware the Ides of March for several days. They don't know that I am plotting a hands on history lesson with ancient coins!"

At Irondequoit High School in upper NY state, teacher Susie Scoppa explained that "Using the image of the EID MAR coin is my teaser for reading an account of Caesar's death from a text on the Ides of March." When shown an image of the coin to her Latin students on a classroom monitor, one student remarked "You mean they really made a coin celebrating killing Caesar? NO way!"

Teacher Jo Green at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas will also take advantage of coins in the classroom on March 15th. She is one of hundreds of teachers across the nation who use educational materials generated by the volunteer collector organization Ancient Coins for Education (http://www.ancientcoinsforeducation.org). In addition to assistance with lesson plans, this non-profit group provides genuine coins and other program enhancements to participating schools.

The phrase "Beware the Ides of March" actually comes from Shakespeare, but it has become synonymous with the avoidance of treachery and a warning to opponents of liberty. Ancient coin collectors in the United States can empathize with Caesar to some degree as the 600-year-old hobby is facing its own perils in the form of anti-collector legislation and controls. The non-profit Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (http://accg.us), a collector advocacy group formed to safeguard collector rights, is a strong supporter of ACE educational programs and independent scholarship.
From the LA Times comes a bit more detail on upcoming authentication of provenance efforts:

While reaffirming that it still intends to transfer ownership of one of its most prized artifacts, a statue of the goddess Aphrodite, to Italy, the J. Paul Getty Museum says it will convene a panel of scholars in two months to plan scientific detective work needed to settle unanswered questions concerning the piece, which the Italian government claims as a looted antiquity.

Since last fall, the Getty has been at an impasse in its negotiations with Italian cultural officials over the fate of 52 works in its collection that Italy believes were looted.

Lacking input from the Italians, the Getty has decided to go ahead on its own with a study of the Aphrodite it proposed last October as a prelude to returning the piece.

"We would not be saying we were prepared to transfer title if we did not think that is the right thing to do, but scholars here think we would be remiss" in not trying to answer questions about the statue in the meantime, Ron Hartwig, a spokesman for the J. Paul Getty Trust, said Thursday.

The museum paid a Swiss owner $18 million for the marble and limestone statue in 1988, but questions rose immediately as to whether it might have been looted.

At the May 9 "workshop," experts will review past analysis of residue from the statue that's kept in test tubes, museum director Michael Brand said, while mapping out further scientific tests that need to be done. Italian authorities say the Aphrodite was looted from Sicily, and the Getty agrees there are enough "troubling" questions about its origin to transfer ownership, Brand said.

Hartwig said there's little reason to believe that "something ... extraordinary" will come out of the study to change the museum's mind.

Talks between the Getty and Italian cultural ministers fell apart in November when Italy demanded the return of another of the museum's treasures — a bronze statue of a young athlete that the Getty contends is not a questionable acquisition. The Getty had proposed returning 26 objects besides the Aphrodite while continuing to negotiate over 20 others. Hartwig said the offer stands, but "we have had no input back" from Italy.

The Getty says it will subject its study to peer review, then publish it on its website.

The scholars listed as workshop participants are Clemente Marconi of New York University and Malcolm Bell III of the University of Virginia, both experts in the art and archeology of ancient Sicily when it was colonized by the Greeks; Pamela I. Chester, an expert on archeological pollen analysis from New Zealand; Rosario Alaimo, a geochemist with expertise in limestone from the University of Palermo in Italy; and John Twilley, a New York-based art conservation scientist.

Hartwig said cultural authorities based in Rome and Sicily have been invited to send representatives to the workshop but that the Getty hasn't gotten an R.S.V.P.
I'm gradually getting more organized with this, having settled on Google Reader for this aspect of my surfing ... here's what the ClassiCarnies (and others) have to offer us this week:

N.S. Gill writes about the Spartan agoge ... has some comments on 300 ... and some notes about Thermopylae ... her focus wasn't entirely Greek, however, with a roundup of articles on the Fall of Rome ...

Adrian Murdoch has a nice consular diptych ...

Laura Gibbs continues to post useful Latin instruction materials ...

Ed Flinn's amazing collection of coins continues to provide eye candy for us all ...

Irene Hahn talks about naumachia(e) ... and the gladiators' purported salute ...

Magister Patricius and students are pondering Catullus 11 ...

JM has some comments on the Dream of Scipio ...

Gordon Lyn Watley has some preliminary thoughts on the Greek of various oracles ...

Atheneion is pondering Tibullus ...

Mary Beard was Entertaining Boris Johnson ...

Michael Gilleland was (Elvis Costello-like) watching the lexicographers ... finding some home sweet home antecedents ... and giving some interesting views on Vespasian ...

I'd also like to draw folks' attention to Martin G. Conde's Flickr photoset, which has some excellent recent photos of the Imperial Fora, including recent digs/finds on the Palatine (and other items)

New blog on the block: Tom Elliott and Gabriel Bodard (and others) have set up the Current Epigraphy blog ...

Issue 9.46 of our Explorator newsletter has been posted ... the weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings will follow later today ...
From Fortean Times 214 (October, 2006):

"Maybe 'Transmediumization' is long and important-looking enough to give me the appearance of really saying something" - Fort (Books, p1014) on the supernatural.

Strabo (Geography, bk16 ch2 para39) ascribes necromantic origins (FT197:53) to the Persians; Clement of Alexandria (Protrepticus, ch2) to Babylonians and Etruscans; Theodoret (Cure of Pagan Maladies, ch10) to Egyptians. Numerous OT thunderings betray its attraction for Israelites. The awkward Witch of Endor tale (1 Sam. 28.7-19) was Christianly denied or credited to the crone's ventriloquist skills - "If witches there be, there must of course be some humorous witches" (Fort, p983). In late Rome, necromancy was pervasive enough to be denounced by a host of church fathers and legislated against by all Christian emperors from Constantine on, the which did not prevent its mediaeval (Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, bkl ch5O para3) and Renaissance (Benevenuto Cellini, Memoirs, ch13) recrudescence.

Orpheus evoked his dead wife Eurydice at Aornos in Thesprotia ('Birdless') near the Acheron river entrance to Hades "where there used to be a death-oracle" (Pausanias, Guide to Greece, bk9 ch30 para6). The literary 'locus classicus' is Homer, Odyssey, bkll, sub-titled 'Necyomanteia'. Necromancy is ubiquitous in Roman poetry: amatory (Tibullus), comic (Horace), epic (Virgil, Lucan), pastoral (Virgil), religious (Ovid); cf. Lucian's prose satire (Lover of Lies, ch14) and the non-literary Papyrus Londiniensis 121 para285.

Herodotus (Histories, bk5 ch92) has a ripping yarn about Corinthian tyrant Periander conjuring up his wife Melissa's ghost to help locate a lost valuable. She complied, after prevaricating to punish him for f**king her when dead, characterising this copulation as "putting your loaves into a cold oven."

Pausanias (bk3 ch17 para8) describes the homonymous Spartan king's efforts to appease the ghost of a girl he meant to rape but accidentally killed at Phigalia (Plutarch, Cimon, ch6 para6, locates it at Heraclea) where regular priests conducted such rites near the deep, dark snake-haunted spot where the river Neda disappears underground - his Penguin editor Peter Levi (vol2 p61 n150) says modern Greeks still avoid the place. His killer Callondas evoked the Greek warrior-poet Archilochus (Plutarch, On Delays of Divine Vengeance, ch17). The grammarian Apion (Pliny, Natural History, bk30ch6 paral8) consulted Homer's shade on the epicist's origins, a handy scholarly trick more recently emulated by Exeter professor Jackson Knight who checked Virgil's text with that poet in seances.

Cicero (Tusculan Disputations, bkl ch16 para37) attributes necromancy to his friend Appius and (Against Uatinius, ch6 paral4) to a Pythagorean enemy, Vatinius, who enticed ghosts with children's entrails. How many jurors swallowed this? A Christian, Gregory Nazienus, Against Julian 1, ch97, did. Citing Cicero's contemporary Varro, Augustine (City of God, bk7 ch35) attests to Pythagoras's infernal conjurings.

Tacitus (Annals, bk2 ch28) reports the aristocrat Libo's "treasonable" overtures to Junius the necromancer. Suetonius (Nero, ch34 para4) says that matricidal emperor suborned two Magi to bring back his mother to forgive him, an effort ridiculed by Pliny (bk30 ch5 paral4) - Nero should have kept Mum.

When emperor Caracalla (Dio Cassius, Roman History, bk77 ch15 para4) summoned his late father and assassinated predecessor Commodus, his brother Geta (they had a Cain-Abel relationship) turned up uninvited. The family shades refused to speak, while Commodus uttered threats, not consolations - Caracalla "treated with gross indignities" those confidants who blabbed about the seance.

Apropos FTs cognate topic of incubation, a certain Elysius of Terina applied to a death oracle for the cause of his son's suspicious death (Cicero, TD bkl ch 45 para 115; Plutarch, Consolation to Apollonius, ch14). Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, bk18 ch3 para4) provides a grand finale. Lusting after the respectably married Paulina, Roman knight Mundus bribed the priests of Anubis to tell her that God would appear and make love to her if she incubated in the Temple of Isis. The credulous lady duly went, and was carnally enjoyed by the divinely disguised Mundus. When Tiberius heard, he crucified the priests and razed the temple, albeit Mundus got off with exile, the emperor granting a French-style leniency towards this "crime of passion".

"I suspect the spiritualists are reversedly right - that there is a ghost world - but that it is our existence - that, when spirits die, they become human beings" - Fort, p898.

Barry Baldwin
(reprinted with permission of the Author; blame any typically graphic transcription errors on dm ... note that I did put some asterisks in up there lest the oversensitive firewalls at various schools block rc)
From the BBC ... 58 minutes worth of docudrama (more drama than docu at times):

alas ... From the Los Angeles Times:

Theodore F. Brunner, a retired UC Irvine classics professor who helped establish the world's largest computerized database of the Greek language, revolutionizing the way scholars research ancient texts, has died. He was 72.

Brunner died Wednesday of lung cancer at his home in Laguna Beach, his wife and research partner, Luci Berkowitz, said Saturday.

A man who had spent his life immersed in Greek and Latin letters took an unusual career detour after retiring in 1998: He became a reserve officer for the Laguna Beach Police Department, patrolling the streets and enforcing the letter of the law.

In 1966 Brunner arrived at UC Irvine, which was then just a year old, to start the classics department and become its first chairman. Six years later, then-graduate student Marianne McDonald, the daughter of Zenith TV and radio pioneer Eugene F. McDonald, gave the university $1 million to create a computerized database of Greek literature.

The goal of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, launched in 1972 with Brunner as its founding director, was to collect all of the Greek texts that have survived since antiquity and digitize them. They included the first recorded manuscripts of the epic poet Homer in the 8th century BC; the comedies and tragedies of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus; the histories of Thucydides; and the epistles of early Christian theologians — everything written in Greek through the 6th century.

"It was an extraordinary project at the time," Maria Pantelia, the current chairwoman of the UC Irvine classics department and director of the project, told The Times. "No one had done anything like that…. Now, Google is digitizing everything."

Brunner was responsible for all phases of the project's development. He convened panels to identify authoritative source material, sought out the latest computer hardware and software technology, and raised funds from public and private donors to pay for it all.

He also got a lot of help from David W. Packard, son of the co-founder of computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard, who studied classics with Brunner at Stanford University in the early 1960s. Packard developed a computer system called IBYCUS — the name of an ancient Greek poet as well as Packard's pet cat — that could process the data.

By 1985, a database of 60 million words written by more than 3,000 authors had been created and stored on CD-ROM. This allowed scholars from all over the world to examine ancient texts without having to travel to the far-flung universities, libraries and museums that owned each manuscript, much less to Irvine.

"There had been attempts to gather Greek literature in such a form for centuries, but they always failed," said Berkowitz, who collaborated with Brunner on the Greek project, books, translations and other research while also teaching the classics at UC Irvine. "It was just too monumental a task. The computer became the catalyst for all this."

The digital library has grown to include nearly all Greek texts through the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, encompassing 3,700 authors, 12,000 works and about 95 million words. Since 2001, it has been available online at http://www.tlg.uci.edu/ .

Brunner began studying Greek and Latin in his native Germany. He was born July 3, 1934, in Nuremberg. He and his family reached the Netherlands just after World War II and moved to the United States in 1953. They settled in Milwaukee, where his father found work as a lithographer.

Brunner enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1953 and was based in Yokosuka, Japan, until 1956. He returned home, enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and received his bachelor's degree in the classics in 1960.

He received his master's and doctoral degrees from Stanford and wrote his 1965 dissertation on the Roman poet Ovid ("Quite far removed from what he did later on with TLG," Berkowitz noted).

Brunner taught at Ohio State University before being recruited by the fledgling university at Irvine.

A ham radio enthusiast, Brunner got involved with Laguna Beach police by assisting the agency with its emergency response efforts, said his wife, who also volunteers with the department.

After retiring from the university, he enrolled in the Orange County Sheriff's Academy in 2001 and graduated at age 67, by far the oldest member of his class.

He served as a reserve officer for the Laguna Beach Police Department until September 2005, when he was diagnosed with cancer.

In addition to his wife, Brunner is survived by two daughters from a previous marriage that ended in divorce, Christine Brunner of Laguna Beach and Catherine Drever of Dana Point; three grandchildren; and his brother, Peter Brunner of Ashland, Ore.

Although Brunner wanted "no funeral, no viewing, no memorial service, no fuss and no flowers," his wife said, UC Irvine plans to honor him this fall at a 35th-anniversary celebration of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae.
Excerpt from an essay by Bishop Crepaldi:

The critique of religion as myth of the Greeks and Israel

To consider religion as something irrational, according to Benedict XVI, is entirely inconsistent with our whole Western and Christian history. In fact, both Greek thought and the Jewish religion, as well as Christianity, of course, rejected the vision of religion as myth and conceived religion as knowledge and God as Logos.[8]

Let us take a brief look at Greek thought. If we examine the Greek religions of "the mysteries" and even the Olympic religion, we find the characteristic features of the pre-rational myth: mysterious and unfathomable forces, arcane, obscure, underground impulses, the arbitrariness of the gods where the same human action can be either good or bad depending on the deity, man's struggle to placate divine wrath and exorcize these unforeseeable forces.

Nevertheless, Ionian Physics search for the "Arché," which is the nomos that transforms a chaos into a cosmos, the Pythagoreans say that everything is measure and for Anaxagoras a distinct and highly noble pure Mind rules all things. In Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates asks Euthyphro what holiness is and when an action can be said to be holy. Euthyphro answers that holiness is that which is dear to the gods. However, Socrates notes that different things are dear to different gods and then asks the crucial question: "The holy is holy because it is dear to the gods or is dear to the gods because it is holy?"

In the first case, the gods are arbitrary, in the second case they are connected with truth and good. As we can see, the issue raised by Benedict XVI in Regensburg, using a quotation from Manuel II Paleologus, emperor of Constantinople -- "not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature"[9] -- has deep and ancient roots. Socrates' question raises the issue of whether the gods are capricious and arbitrary like acrobats and jugglers or whether they follow the good and the truth.

Euthyphro does not answer, but the path had been opened by Socrates and will be ratified by Plato: "The gods are not magicians who transform themselves, neither do they deceive mankind in any way" ("The Republic," II, 376 c). Therefore Greek philosophy detaches itself from myth and definitely turns to God as Logos. For Aristotle, the supersensible Substance is Intelligence that eternally grasps itself. The world has an order that is transparent to reason and reason can know it because the gods are rational and act according to truth, as Plato's Demiurge, who does not mould and shape things at random, but drawing inspiration from the truth of eternal forms.

If we look at the Jewish religion, we find the same path.[10] The "God of the Fathers" Israel looks to is not a local or a political god, he is not Baal nor Moloch. He is "he who is," he who existed before all powers and will continue to exist even after them. The God of Abraham is not fixed in one place but is everywhere. He is not linked to any specificity, he does not depend from a people, he does not even depend from the Temple, he does not need sacrifices. He is the Spirit of which the world is a reflection, he is the Spirit that is capable of creating matter.[11] Just as Greek philosophy surpasses itself and goes beyond its own religion of myth, the faith of Israel saves him from belonging to a people.

For all these reasons, Benedict XVI said at Regensburg that there is a profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God.

Christianity was the ultimate synthesis of all this: For the Gospel of St. John, Jesus is the Logos, he is the spirit of God that created all things. Christianity does not borrow from the many religions of the time, the religions of the myth, but presents us with God-truth reconnecting directly with Greek thought and developing the experience of Israel. It relates "to that divine presence which can be perceived by the rational analysis of reality … In Christianity, rationality became religion."[12]

... the whole thing.
University Teacher in Greek & Roman History
Department of Classics
School of Humanities
University of Nottingham
The Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University invites applications for a senior position in Classical Archaeology, mainly of the Land of Israel.

Following is the formal call for applications, and candidates may also see it in the Department's internet site using the following link:




The Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities

The Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures


Invites applications for a senior position in the field of Classical Archaeology to begin in the academic year 2007/8 


·        A Ph. D. from a recognized academic institution (granted within the last seven years).
·        At least one year of post-doctoral studies at a recognized academic institution.
·        Specialization in the field of Classical Archaeology in general and Classical Archaeology of the Land of Israel in particular, mainly the Persian and Hellenistic periods.
·        Proven ability in directing archaeological projects, conducting independent research, and their scientific publication.
   Proven ability in material culture research, including numismatics.

This is an established post which, at the end of a trial period, will lead to a tenured position.

The process of appointment will be conducted in accordance with the appointment procedure current at the university, subject to the ratification of the authorized academic institutions and at their discretion.

The academic rank will be fixed according to the qualifications of the candidate.

The language of instruction is Hebrew

The chosen candidate will be required to live in the Tel Aviv area. 

Applicants should provide:

·        Curriculum Vitae
·        List of publications
·        A selection of publications


Addressed to: Prof. Shlomo Biderman, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities
Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978

Recommendations from three scholars of senior academic status are also requested and should be sent directly to Prof. Biderman.

Candidates are required to submit their applications by March 27, 2007 

The university is not obliged to accept any proposal
From the Sofia Echo:

Police seized 326 ancient coins, jewelry, metal and ceramic ancient artifacts during a search of various properties of a 52-year-old citizen in the town of Radomir on March 8 2007.

Officers also found two illegal hunting rifles, two gas pistols modified to firearms, cartridges of different calibre and other weapons.

The artifacts were to be smuggled and sold abroad, an Interior Ministry press release said.

Artifacts must have been discovered in the region of Radomir, famous for its numerous Thracian and Roman mounds and settlements.

The artifacts were sent to National Museum of History for analysis. The smuggler was arrested.

A small photo accompanies the original article ...
From the Wiltshire Times:

ENGLISH Heritage today announced the startling discovery of a Roman settlement around the base of Silbury Hill, part of the Avebury World Heritage Site in Wiltshire.

The 5,000-year old Hill is the largest man-made prehistoric monument in Europe, and its original purpose and use over the millennia since still mystifies archaeologists.

Today's revelation proves that a Roman community were living in the shadow of the Neolithic Hill, some 3,000 years after it was initially built.

The new data shows a village-sized settlement, equivalent in area to around 24 football pitches.

It straddled the Roman road from London to Bath, shadowed today by the A4, and lies where the main road crossed the Winterbourne River, an obvious stop-over point for travellers.

The research reveals that it was laid out in a typically Roman ladder settlement design, with buildings and small streets lying perpendicular to a central North-South thoroughfare.

The discovery was made using an array of highly sensitive caesium magnetometers, developed by the English Heritage Geophysical Team.

Using these sensors, the team can pick up localised anomalies in the earth's magnetic field caused by the influence of human activities, particularly the use of fire on naturally occurring iron oxides in the soil.

The magnetometers can sense soil disturbances up to 1.5 metres below the modern surface level and identify magnetic anomalies due to the most subtle features, such as an individual prehistoric timber post-setting.

Dr Neil Linford, English Heritage Geophysicist, said: "We are really excited by this discovery because we had no idea that a Roman village of such a size lay this close to Silbury Hill.

"Up until now, we have only been aware of some isolated Roman finds across the site, including what might be two wells, and the small Roman settlement on Waden Hill, 300 metres to the East of Silbury."

Dr Bob Bewley English Heritage Regional Director for the South West added: "To have found such a substantial and organised settlement is amazing. Without further investigation it is difficult to say, but it could be that what we have here is something like a roadside-village, where Roman travellers would have changed horses and stayed overnight on the way to Bath, but also a place of pilgrimage focused on the Hill."

... interesting; I've never heard the phrase 'ladder settlement' before ...
My little experiment last night suggests I can possibly post a 'Video of the Day' for quite a while ... so today we'll start out with some silliness ... here's the hype:

Is it possible that Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt were invented during Renaissance? Can it be that Jesus Christ was born in 1053 AD and ... all » crucified in 1086 AD?

Folks who are familiar with the 'New Chronology' theories of Anatoly Fomenko will immediately recognize this stuff ...
POLYBIUS 1957-2007

A conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of [the first volume] of F.W. Walbank’s commentary

Rendall Lecture Theatre (and Walbank Lecture Room), University of Liverpool:18-22 July 2007  

Speakers include: Hans Beck (McGill), Craige Champion (Syracuse), J.K. Davies (Liverpool), Boris Dreyer (Göttingen), Art Eckstein (Maryland), Andrew Erskine (Edinburgh), Erich Gruen (Berkeley), John Henderson (Cambridge), John Marincola (Florida State), Brian McGing (Trinity Dublin), Andrew Meadows (American Numismatic Society), Graham Oliver (Liverpool), Michael Sommer (Liverpool), Jo Crawley Quinn (Oxford), John Thornton (Rome), Jonathan Williams (British Museum). 

Updates on the list of speakers and papers, and further information on registration and accommodation will be published shortly, but for further information please contact the Conference Administrator, Dr Gina Muskett (g.m.muskett AT liv.ac.uk) or the two organisers, Bruce Gibson (Tom Harrison (t.harrison AT liv.ac.uk) and Tom Harrison (t.harrison AT liv.ac.uk).

Ancient and Modern Imperialisms

Friday & Saturday, 16 and 17 March 2007

Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, North Block, Room 336, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU 
Friday, 16 March 2007
Introduction, 1.45 p.m.
Phiroze Vasunia
University of Reading
Session I, 2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.
Chair, Tom Harrison
‘Julius Caesar and America’s imperial presidency’
Maria Wyke
UCL, University of London
‘From Colonus to Colony: Oedipus and Antigone in Postcolonial Drama’
Barbara Goff
University of Reading
‘Imperial poets read Horace: Pushkin-Mickiewicz-Kipling’
Jerzy Axer
University of Warsaw
Coffee & Tea: 3.30 p.m. – 3.45 p.m.
Session II, 3.45 p.m. to 5.15 p.m.
Chair, Barbara Goff
‘Comparing Empires—Challenging Historiographies’
Peter Bang
University of Copenhagen
‘Classical authority and the British Caribbean in the nineteenth century’
Margaret Williamson
Dartmouth College
‘The reproduction of imperial forms of power and authority in South Asia’
David Ludden
University of Pennsylvania/New York University
Saturday, 17 March 2007
Session III, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Chair, Margaret Williamson
‘The model of the Roman province in the administration of Sicily under Spanish rule’
Giovanni Salmeri
University of Pisa
‘Signs of empire: obelisks at/from Alexandria’
Grant Parker
Stanford University
Coffee & Tea: 11 a.m. to 11.15 a.m.
Session IV, 11.15 a.m. to 12.45 p.m.
Chair, Phiroze Vasunia
‘The Model Empire: Inventing Ancient Carthage and the Phoenicians in the Age of Maritime Imperialism, 1600-1800’
Caroline Winterer
Stanford University
‘Ancient and modern colonies in the late 18th-century: a debate on American independence and its contexts’
Giovanna Ceserani
Stanford University
‘Republics, Empires and Revolutionary American Historical Consciousness’
Eran Shalev
Haifa University
Lunch for speakers: 1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.
Session V, 2.30 to 3.30 p.m.
Chair, Grant Parker
‘Contextualising social change: Romanisation or Globalization?’
Richard Hingley
University of Durham
‘Roman imperialism and modern thinking’
Philip Freeman
University of Liverpool
Coffee & Tea: 3.30 to 3.45 p.m.
Session VI, 3.45 to 5.15 p.m.
Chair, Caroline Winterer
‘Education as a means of integrating peripheral populations into the imperial system’
Aksin Somel
Sabanci University
‘Sultan as imperator: the Ottoman rulers in the eyes of their non-Muslim subjects’
Dariusz Kołodziejczyk
University of Warsaw
‘Keeping the Dynasty, Changing the Empire: The Neo-Ottoman Empire of the Tanzimat’
Hakan Erdem
Sabanci University
Session VII, 5.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.
Chair, Philip Freeman
‘Decline, fall or what? When and how empires cease to be empires’
Adam Ziolkowski
University of Warsaw
‘Closing Remarks’
Thomas Harrison
University of Liverpool

Sponsored by the University of Liverpool, the University of Reading, and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies
Convenors: Philip Freeman (Liverpool), Barbara Goff (Reading), Thomas Harrison (Liverpool), Phiroze Vasunia (Reading), and Margaret Williamson (Dartmouth)
For more information, please contact Phiroze Vasunia at p.vasunia AT reading.ac.uk.
Lectureship in Classics

The successful candidate will be required to teach Greek History and Greek Literature in the Greek and Roman Civilisation degree courses, and Greek and Latin in the language degree programmes. An interest in teaching Ancient Greek at the annual international Summer School (July-August: for details see http://www.ucc.ie/acad/classics/ and click on Summer School) would be an advantage. (In the event of taking on Summer School teaching, provision for research will be made by a block of time free from teaching in one of the two normal teaching periods). An ability to teach Modern Greek would be advantageous.

Candidates should have a first degree in Greek and Latin and should have recently obtained or be about to obtain a PhD in some area of Greek studies. Prior experience of teaching Greek to beginners is highly desirable. Prior experience of lecturing in some area of Greek Civilisation would be an asset. Departmental information is available on http://www.ucc.ie/acad/classics/. For informal consultation, please contact Professor Keith Sidwell at k.sidwell AT ucc.ie or 00 353 21 4902511.

Salary placement will be made at a point on this scale depending on qualifications and experience.

Closing date:   Friday 16th March 2007
7.30 p.m. |HINT| Retracing the Tracks of Hannibal.
In the 3rd century BC, the Punic Wars fought between Carthage and
Rome left the ancient world in turmoil. Following the path of the
fearless Carthaginian General Hannibal Barca, who lead his advancing
army across the Alps--with elephants!--to sack Italy, we visit the
majestic ruins from the period of the Roman Republic, and gaze upon
the amazing temple of Capitoline Jupiter as it looked when it was
completed--thanks to amazing virtual reconstruction.

5.00 p.m. |HISTU| Last Stand of the 300
After Custer, Thermopylae is the most famous last stand in history.
In a narrow pass in Northern Greece, seven thousand Greek soldiers
await an onslaught of epic proportions. They will soon face the
largest fighting force ever assembled--the war machine of the mighty
Persian Empire, estimated at over a million men. The Greeks are led
by three hundred of the most ferocious warriors of the ancient world--
the Spartans. Their leader is the fearless King Leonidas, who after
this battle would be catapulted into legend. When it is over, every
Spartan in the pass will have sacrificed his life for freedom.
Creating a fresh visual style and using new technologies we will
dramatically recreate the significant events that lead to Thermopylae
and the clash of arms.

10.00 p.m. |HISTU| Caligula: Reign of Madness
Caligula ruled the Roman Empire fewer than four years, and was only
28 when assassinated by officers of his guard in 41 AD. His reign was
a legendary frenzy of lunacy, murder, and lust. Between executions,
he staged spectacular orgies, made love to his sister, and declared
himself a living god. Join us for a look at this devoted son,
murderer, pervert, and loving father whose anguished life was far
more bizarre than the myth that surrounds him.

HINT = History International
HISTU = History Channel (US)
This is potentially useful: an excerpt from the BBC series "How Art Made the World" that demonstrates how Polykleitos posed his famous Doryphoros statue

ante diem vii idus martias

Festival of Mars (day 9) which included another procession of the Salian priests around the city

320 A.D. -- martyrdom of Candidus and the other "Forty Armenian Martyrs"
succinct @ Merriam-Webster

sine qua non @ Wordsmith

coterminous @ Dictionary.com
From YLE:

Henri Troyat diem obiit
: Nuntii Latini

09.03.2007, klo 16.12

Henri Troyat, scriptor origine Russus, qui anno millesimo nongentesimo septimo decimo cum parentibus ex Russia in occidentem fugit et in Francia mansit, nonaginta quinque annos natus diem obiit supremum.

Plus quam centum opera Francogallice scripsit, in quibus plerumque res pristinae patriae tractavit, quam ob rem "Tolstoi Francorum" appellabatur.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
Vitia erunt donec homines.
(Tacitus, Histories 4.74)

pron = WIH-tee-ah AY-roont DOH-neck HOH-mih-nays.

Vices will exist as long as human beings do.

Comment: In the longer context of this line from Tacitus, he acknowledges that this otherwise grim assessment is relative. It is relative to the possibility of "better things". And that implies something else standing in the background and driving the whole
conversation: someone, something has decided that some things are "wrong" and other things are "better".

Very often, those things begin to feel, after several generations, like they are fixed in stone. But, if we take time to look at "vices"
they are often very relative and not so fixed in stone. More often than not, one generation's vice is really one of its fears under cover. The next generation doesn't know that, and takes the prohibition on as a taboo. The taboo drives the vice underground and it becomes, now the secret sin.

If only the generations could talk to each other about their fears.
Buddhist wisdom asserts that fear is at the core of all suffering.
Christian wisdom asserts that perfect compassion will cast fear out.

Compassion begins at home. We cannot extend compassion to others that we have not first extended to ourselves.

A good place to start is with our "favorite" vice.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
Greg Kindall sent this one in (beat my 'bots! ... thanks) ... from National Geographic:

Julius Caesar's bloody assassination on March 15, 44 B.C., forever marked March 15, or the Ides of March, as a day of infamy. It has fascinated scholars and writers ever since.

For ancient Romans living before that event, however, an ides was merely one of several common calendar terms (see sidebar) used to mark monthly lunar events. The ides simply marked the appearance of the full moon.

But the Ides of March assumed a whole new identity after the events of 44 B.C. The phrase came to represent a specific day of abrupt change that set off a ripple of repercussions throughout Roman society and beyond.

Josiah Osgood, an assistant professor of classics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said: "You can read in Cicero's letters from the months after the Ides of March. … He even says, 'The Ides changed everything.'"

By the time of Caesar, Rome had a long-established republican government headed by two consuls with joint powers. Praetors were one step below consuls in the power chain and handled judicial matters. A body of citizens forming the Senate proposed legislation, which general people's assemblies then approved by vote. A special temporary office, that of dictator, was established for use only during times of extreme civil unrest.

The Romans had no love for kings. According to legend, they expelled their last one in 509 B.C. While Caesar had made pointed and public displays of turning down offers of kingship, he showed no reluctance to accept the office of "dictator for life" in February 44 B.C. According to Osgood, this action may have sealed his fate in the minds of his enemies. "We can see [now] that that was enough to get him killed," Osgood said.

Caesar had pushed the envelope for some time before his death. "Caesar was the first living Roman ever to appear on the coinage," Osgood said. Normally, the honor was reserved for deities. He notes that some historians suspect that Caesar might have been attempting to establish a cult in his honor in a move towards deification.

It is unclear if Caesar was aware of the plot to kill him on March 15 in 44 B.C. But Caesar was not oblivious to the mounting danger of a backlash, noted Charles McNelis, an assistant professor of classics and Osgood's colleague at Georgetown University.

The plot's conspirators, who termed themselves "the liberators," had to move quickly. "Caesar had plans to leave Rome on March 18th for a military campaign in Parthia, the region around modern-day Iraq. So the conspirators did not have much time," McNelis said. Whether or not Caesar was a true tyrant is debated still to this day. It is safe to say, however, that in the mind of Marcus Brutus, who helped mastermind the attack, the threat Caesar posed to the republican system was clear.

Brutus's involvement in the murder is made tragic given his close affiliations with Caesar. His mother, Servilia, was one of Caesar's lovers. And although Brutus had fought against Caesar during Rome's recent civil war, he was spared from death and later promoted by Caesar to the office of praetor.

"Caesar had always … tried to cultivate talent that he saw in younger people," Osgood said. "And Brutus was no exception."

Brutus, however, was torn in his allegiance to Caesar, Osgood noted. Brutus's family had a tradition of rejecting authoritarian powers. Ancestor Junius Brutus was credited with throwing out the last king of Rome, Tarquin Superbus, in 509 B.C. Ahala, An ancestor of Marcus Brutus's mother, had killed another tyrant, Spurius Maelius. This lineage, coupled with a strong interest in the Greek idea of tyranicide, disposed Brutus to have little patience with perceived power grabbers.

The final blow came when his uncle Cato, a father figure to Brutus, killed himself after losing in a battle against Caesar in 46 B.C. Brutus may have felt shame over accepting Caesar's clemency and obligation to do Cato honor by continuing his quest to "save" the republic from Caesar, Osgood speculated.

It is this moral dilemma that has caused debate over whether or not Brutus should be branded a villain. Plutarch's Life of Brutus, Osgood noted, is quite sympathetic in comparison to surviving documents naming other enemies of Caesar and his successors.

Shakespeare later used Plutarch's Brutus as one of the bases for his play Julius Caesar, where Brutus is portrayed as a tragic hero and Caesar as an unequivocal tyrant. The poet Dante, however, took a different stance: Brutus, in killing the man who spared him, was doomed to the lowest levels of hell. "He's perceived not as a liberator but [as] somebody who threatened the stability of the political system," McNelis said.

Scholars disagree on just who was the on the side of "good." McNelis believes neither side is entirely in the clear. "We need to realize that we're dealing with very brutal and ruthless men on both sides."

In the end, the legacy of power Caesar established lived on through his heir Octavian, who later became Rome's first emperor, also known as Imperator Caesar Augustus. The Ides of March remained a pithy reminder to future rulers, according to McNelis. "Octavian seems to have been aware of the problems of presenting himself as Caesar had. … The Ides became a lesson in political self-presentation," he said.

Nice to see NG consulted About.com's N.S. Gill for a sidebar to the article on the Roman calendar
From the Western Mail:

A HARDY band of Welshmen in red, who took on the might of the Italians 2,000 years ago, could prove inspirational for tomorrow's Welsh Six Nations warriors.

A leading historian has documented the exploits of the ancient Silures tribe, who fought a long campaign against the Romans two millennia ago.

Dr Ray Howell from the University of Wales, Newport, even says our penchant for wearing red may spring from the tribe's favourite battle colour.

Dr Howell, a reader at the university's School of Education, has published an examination of the South-East Wales tribe, who came close to thwarting the Roman domination of southern Britain.

He said, "What emerges is not only a warrior society, but also a sophisticated people who traded widely and made good use of horses and horse-drawn vehicles.

"They had war chariots with equestrian equipment decorated with red enamel. For the Silures the colour of war was emphatically red.

"I'm sure it would be impossible to prove, but it could be that the reason Wales is associated with red now, and why Welsh players will be wearing red when they take to the field in Italy, is to do with the culture of the Silures.

"Certainly one of the things which has struck me is how much they used red in pretty much anything to do with battle."

He believes the Silures tribe were more advanced than most people give them credit for, having waged a ferocious guerrilla campaign against the Romans which lasted far longer than even the famous Boudica-led revolt.

The Iron-Age tribe managed to defeat a whole Roman legion during their bloody campaign.

And even though their attacks from hill forts were eventually subdued after a quarter of a century, Dr Howell believes some of the culture of the tribe, which is likely to have spoken an extremely early form of Welsh, lived on after the Romans left Britain for good.

In his new book, Searching for the Silures, he shows how the tribe was able to rout the Romans for 25 years before the all-conquering legions were able to build their fortress at Isca, now Caerleon.

Dr Howell contends that the Welsh tribe was the cause of possibly the greatest headache for Rome as it tried to impose its ways on ancient Britain.

He said, "You can make a case for saying the Silures caused as much trouble for the Romans as any other British tribe, and that includes the Boudican revolt, which nearly forced the Romans out of Britain.

"The Silures took a lot longer to defeat - there was a 25-year guerrilla war including the defeat of a legion."

He believes the tribe was so successful because it was highly advanced.

"One of the things I hope comes across strongly in the book is that they were very sophisticated. They weren't savages.

"If you look at the hill forts and groups they were in, they were very well structured.

"They were using wheeled vehicles a lot - basically chariots, and we've found loads of horse trappings.

"If they were using wheeled vehicles to that extent there must have been roads or tracks of some sort."

He believes there is still plenty more for archaeologists to discover about the civilisation, with just five of some 40 hill forts in Gwent having been explored.

He also believes that, although military defeat did eventually come for the Silures, their culture lived on.

He said, "Despite a long period of Roman occupancy, a lot of their traditions went right through to the early medieval period. People weren't speaking Latin, they were speaking what we now know as new British, which evolved into old Welsh.

"There's also art and a body of evidence that makes it seem as if the Silures tradition was pretty durable."
From Bloomberg:

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is forming a scholarly group to study the origin of a disputed ancient statue known as ``Aphrodite'' that the Italian Ministry of Culture has claimed.

The Getty, the world's richest art institution, said in November that it was willing to transfer ownership of the ``Cult Statue of a Goddess'' to Italy after the sculpture is examined for as long as a year. The museum said today in a statement that it invited a group of scientists, archaeologists and art historians to a workshop on May 9 to begin a study of the statue's origin.

The group will analyze ``small amounts of pollen and soil that were removed from the statue during its cleaning at the time of acquisition, as well as additional stone analysis to supplement the research,'' the museum said.

The 7-foot-tall Greek statue was made about 425-400 B.C. in southern Italy or Sicily. The limestone and marble sculpture, with traces of pigment, depicts the Greek goddess of love in flowing robes with her right arm extended. The Getty bought the statue in 1988 for an undisclosed price, museum spokeswoman Julie Jaskol said.

Last November, the Getty offered to transfer 26 other disputed objects in its collection to Italy, though it refused to include another ancient work, the ``Statue of a Victorious Youth.'' The museum says the ownership of that work, known as the Getty Bronze, is not in doubt and had been confirmed by Italian courts.

The Italian government has refused to continue negotiations over any of the works unless they include the Getty Bronze. Talks between the Getty and the Ministry of Culture have stalled on this point since late last year.

Workshop Participants

Participants in the May 9 workshop will include art historians Clemente Marconi of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and Malcolm Bell III of the University of Virginia; geochemist Rosario Alaimo of the University of Palermo; archaeologist Pamela I. Chester of New Zealand, and art- conservation scientist John Twilley of New York.

The Getty said its director, Michael Brand, has invited representatives of Italy's Ministry of Culture and the Sicilian Regional Ministry of Culture and Environmental Heritage to participate in the workshop.
... this one includes some comments from Victor Davis Hanson ... from the Philly Inquirer:

Based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, 300 is a gorgeous, ultraviolent take on the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC. In that savage battle, Sparta's King Leonidas and 300 soldiers (buttressed by 700 volunteers) sacrifice themselves to hold off hundreds of thousands in Persia's invading army for three days - in the process killing 20,000 of the enemy.

Much like Robert Rodriguez's 2005 adaptation of Miller's black-and-white masterpiece, Sin City, the full-color 300 has been translated by director Zack Snyder into a visual feast. Less a movie than a trippy blitz on the senses, 300 is an Xtreme movie, an extravaganza of colors, bodies, weapons and blood (and blood, and blood), propelled by a turbocharged guitar score.

But even if 300 is a formal triumph, its unabashed celebration of Sparta's violent, war-obsessed culture raises questions about its message in America's time of war: Is it an endorsement or a critique?

Miller's Leonidas is a king whose passion to defend Greece against Persia leads him to break international treaties and defy his own Council of Elders (bloggers have pointed to this as a caricaturish version of President Bush's defiance of the international community) in the rush to war.

The king is convinced that war is the only way to defend Sparta - a haven of freedom and rational thinking - against submission to the Persians, whom he describes as barbaric and superstitious and who are depicted as dark-skinned, ugly and deformed. By comparison the Spartans, flawless examples of white male beauty, have perfect abs and comely faces, and even get to fight topless.

The story develops through a series of episodes, each in a different color scheme and boasting different uses of light. A love scene, for instance, evokes the hyper-real texture of human skin in a Lucian Freud oil.

Each builds toward a visual crescendo. "The film is the opera of the battle, more than anything," said Snyder.

The fighting starts 45 minutes into the film and never ceases, as wave after wave of (progressively uglier) Persians walk into Sparta's trap, a narrow mountain gorge, for the rest of the 117 minutes.

What is most disturbing about the violence here is how awfully pretty it is - so pretty that it hides the ugly truth about war.

Some may object to how 300 presents war as some grand Wagnerian spectacle, divorced from moral judgment. But Snyder said it's more complicated than that.

"I'm telling a mythological take on the battle from inside Spartan culture," he said. "And from that point of view... their war is noble."

And Snyder insists certain scenes are so outrageous that they alert viewers that the movie may not share Spartan values. "At one point, you see Leonidas casually eating an apple while his men finish off the wounded," he said. "That's absurd! Such an obvious clue" that our morals clash with theirs.

Victor Davis Hanson, a military historian and classics scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said it's not so easy to judge 300 from a contemporary perspective. He said Miller's story simply adopts the partisan point of view that Greek writer Herodotus and other home-team historians had about the Spartans, who were lauded as champions of Western freedom.

"From their point of view, they are fighting to uphold freedom from subservience to Persia, who had no concept of individual liberty," Hanson said.

Hanson, who wrote the introductory essay to the book 300: The Art of the Film, said 300 was intended to present an "impressionistic," yet accurate, sense of Spartan attitudes. "The film may be controversial in today's multicultural world," he said, but it "simply was not intended to make a political statement."

But is authorial intent the last word in how a story or movie communicates a message? After all, the war issue is very much alive, even though Miller, who has begged off numerous interview requests due to a busy schedule, wrote 300 in 1998, years before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the Iraq invasion.

To complicate matters, consider that in an interview on National Public Radio in January, Miller echoed much of what Leonidas says in the movie about the clash between West and East: "It seems to me quite obvious that our country and the entire Western world is up against an existential foe that knows exactly what it wants."

Miller said he had no problem judging American culture to be superior to Islamic extremism. "Let's finally talk about the enemy," he said. "Nobody seems to be talking about who we're up against, and the sixth-century barbarism they actually represent. These people saw people's heads off... . They do not behave by any cultural norms that are sensible to us."

Do his views on extremism make any difference in how the movie should be received? As some literary theorists argue, a text (or movie) such as 300 gains its significance through the ongoing conversations we have about it, and not the author's intent. How else could Shakespeare's Hamlet - or Tom Sawyer - still have such power and meaning if it did not speak as well to our time as to its own?

Snyder echoes the point - in so many words:

"As long as the movie can make people conscious and... open up debate, that's the most I can ask for."

Elsewhere, in the Star:

Greek critics have blasted "300," a Hollywood recreation of the 480 BC Battle of Thermopylae, where King Leonidas of Sparta held back a massive Persian military invasion, leading to its eventual defeat.

The movie – an adaptation of artist Frank Miller's graphic novel – opens in Greece on Friday and will show at 70 screens in greater Athens.

The popular Athinorama magazine described the film as a ``bloodlust videogame."

Daily Ta Nea newspaper gave Zack Snyder's "300" zero out of 10, with critic Dimitris Danikas claiming the film even carried a message about the U.S. war on terror.

"By ancient Persia, they refer to modern Iran – whose soldiers are portrayed as bloodthirsty, underdeveloped zombies," he wrote. ``They are stroking racist instincts in Europe and America."

Robby Eksiel at the daily Ethnos said moviegoers would be dazzled by the "digital action" but irritated by the "pompous interpretations and one-dimensional characters."

Greece's critics were similarly scathing about other recent movies depicting ancient battles, including Wolfgang Petersen's ``Troy" and Oliver Stone's "Alexander" in 2004.

It's a pattern that disappointed Panayiotis Timoyiannakis, the lone voice of support among Greek critics for "300"

"This is not a university lecture, it's a movie," he wrote in the daily Eleftheros Typos. "It's an adaptation of a comic to the big screen, and that's only how it should be judged . . . When seen this way, it gets high marks."

So I guess we're seeing the marketing ploy which Mel Gibson cashed in on so well with ... ensure that the press gets the opinion of a group potentially offended by the movie and hit the wire services with it. I'm sure we'll shortly we seeing some comments about the 'bizarre' depiction of Xerxes and the Persians.

FWIW, I went to Indigo yesterday (a Canadian equivalent to Borders, but with a Starbucks inside) and intended on purchasing the graphic novel version ... I was rather disappointed at how visually dull it was compared to others in the genre. The commercials for the movie look much more interesting.
An excerpt from a piece on the 'stepping' of mast for the USS Carl Vinson:

As Carter explained, the ceremonial placing of coins at the base of a ship’s mast is a practice that goes back to at least the ancient Romans. It was thought to bring good luck to a ship and her crew, and the Navy adopted the ceremony as part of its traditional shipbuilding practice.

A semi-similar source talks about the stepping of the mast of the USS San Antonio thusly:

The ancient custom of “stepping the mast,” by placing coins under the step or bottom of a ship’s mast during construction, dates from antiquity. One belief from Greek Mythology is that should the ship be wrecked during passage, the coins would ensure payment of the crew’s wages for their return home. Since at least the construction of USS Constitution, this tradition has been passed on as a symbol of good luck for U.S. Navy ships.

And, wonder of wonders, for once there seems to be online confirmation of the practice at least hailing back to the Romans:

N. Carlson, "Mast-Step Coins Among the Romans" IJNA 2007

Interesting stuff ... personally, I'd suspect mast step coins have to do with providing those lost at sea with some possible way to pay the 'gate' to the underworld ...
This one from CNN is kind of interesting:

In Rome, breaking the chains of love requires a hacksaw -- literally.

Sweethearts in the Italian capital have adopted a new ritual as a symbol of undying love: hanging a padlock on a lamppost on the city's most ancient bridge and throwing the key into the Tiber.

The craze has drawn hundreds of couples in the few months since it started -- causing city officials to wonder whether the ancient Roman bridge is suited for such an overwhelming display of passions.

"The rite has reached a dimension that will be difficult to cope with. We must guarantee the bridge's decency while preserving this beautiful practice," said Marco Perina, a city official.

Some couples write their names or a message on the lock. They throw the key into the river over their shoulders to avoid seeing where it falls.

It's quite a change of scenery for a bridge that has seen more war than love since it was built in the second century B.C. Ponte Milvio served as the battlefield between rival emperors Constantine and Maxentius in 312; it was the backdrop of the Italians' struggle for independence in the 1800s.

Today the pedestrian bridge is close to the Olympic stadium -- a soccer battleground -- north of the city's historical center.

The idea of the love locks is not new in Italy. But Ponte Milvio owes its new reputation mainly due to two novels depicting the love of Roman teenagers. The books have sold a combined 2.5 million copies and were both made into movies.

The padlock ritual has spilled into a music video and inspired a prize -- "The Golden Padlock" -- awarded to the best love message on Valentine's Day. In the process, it has started drawing tourists to an area that is usually off the beaten track.

Such huge attention also caused some undesired consequences. Hundreds of locks were stolen last week -- although they were found the following day and are to be put back in a ceremony expected to draw the city's mayor.

A check ordered by city officials showed the locks posed no threat to the stability of the lamppost. But officials are looking for an alternative site amid fears the bridge may be damaged. One possibility is to put up a "lovers' lamppost" in a square near the bridge.

"We want to keep this tradition alive. It's becoming like tossing a coin in the Trevi fountain," said Perina.

Personally, I'd prefer to visit the Milvian Bridge than that ugly fountain ...
From BCMR:

Franz Buecher, Verargumentierte Geschichte. Exempla Romana im politischen Diskurs der spaeten roemischen Republik. Hermes Einzelschriften 96.

Anna Marguerite McCann, John Peter Oleson, Deep-Water Shipwrecks off Skerki Bank. The 1997 Survey. Journal of Roman Archaeology Suppl. Series, 58.

Holt N. Parker (trans.), Censorinus. The Birthday Book.

From Scholia:

C. J. Rowe, Plato

From RBL:

Mark Harding, Early Christian Life and Thought in Social Context: A Reader, Review of Biblical Literature

Michael Patella, Lord of the Cosmos: Mithras, Paul, and the Gospel of Mark, Review of Biblical Literature

Marty E. Stevens, Temples, Tithes and Taxes: The Temple and the Economic Life of Ancient Israel, Review of Biblical Literature


Thursdays throughout the year at 4.30 pm
Senate House North Block Room 336
Summer term – Organizers: Christy Constantakopoulou and Riet van Bremen
Contacts: c.constantakopoulou AT bbk.ac.uk, r.vanbremen AT ucl.ac.uk


3 May Nicholas Purcell (St John’s, Oxford)
Hatzfeld revisited: The Roman Aegean.

10 May Barbara Kowalzig (Royal Holloway)
One or many seas: Religious places and economic spaces in the Aegean.

17 May Annelies Cazemier LMH, Oxford)
Business beyond Delos: Roman merchants and the cults of the Hellenistic Aegean.

24 May Angelos Chaniotis (All Souls, Oxford)
A mountain in the sea: History and environment in ancient Crete.

7 June Patrice Brun (Bordeaux)
On the shore or inland? The localization of the towns in the Cyclades area through history : the case of Kythnos and Milos.

14 June Christy Constantakopoulou (Birkbeck)
Aegean histories and Aegean networks.
University of South Africa, Pretoria
Date: October 25 - 27, 2007
Madness and Mental Composure
William V. Harris, Professor of History, Columbia University

Contributions are invited on topics related to the theme, which seeks to
explore ancient views and literary themes on sanity and its relationship
to madness, delusion, and other forms of mental instability. While the
colloquium focuses on classical literature, we encourage proposals from
related fields and of an interdisciplinary nature.

Papers are limited to 45 minutes. Please submit abstracts of appr. 200
words via e-mail attachment to bosmapr AT unisa.ac.za by 15 July 2007. The
body of your email should include your name, institution, department, e-
mail address, and the title of your paper. If necessary, submissions may
also be sent via post to the following address:

Department of Classics and Modern European Languages
University of South Africa
PO Box 392
0003 UNISA
Republic of South Africa.

Further enquiries relating to the colloquium should be directed to Philip
Bosman at the e-mail and postal addresses given above.
In recent years the Lycus River Valley in southwest Turkey has been receiving some long awaited archaeological attention. The Archaeology Department of Pamukkale University (near Hierapolis) has been conducting varying levels of fieldwork at Laodicea since 2000. The director is seeking volunteers for the 2008 season (June 22 - July 21).

For a more information in a full color brochure and contact information regarding requesting an application, please visit:  http://cognitivearchaeology.spaces.live.com

We're on March Break now, so I'll be working on my sleep deficit whenever possible ... what that means is that rc will be updated, but it will be updated a few hours later ...
Contumeliam si dices, audies.
(Plautus, Pseudolus 1173)

Pron = kohn-too-MAY-lee-ahm see DEE-kays OW-dee-ays.

If you say insulting things, that's exactly what you will hear.

Comment: This is a perfect example of what "new age" thinkers have called "the law of attraction". Set aside for a moment that you may easily dismiss "new age" thinkers. While they may deserve some of the derision they receive, they also have identified some key issues that clearly describe human experience.

The Law of Attraction is one of them. In short: you get what you serve up. In ancient times, this was called Karma in the East. Jesus said that what you cast upon the water will come back to you multiple times. Even the golden rule is an expression of this law of
attraction: do to others what you want done to you. Put in another
way: what you do to others will be done to you.

Try this: walk down the hallway of the place you work, and purposely smile at every person you encounter, and just notice the response.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
ante diem viii idus martias

Festival of Mars continues (day 8)

305 A.D. -- martyrdom of Philemon and companions

1757 - death of Thomas Blackwell (Classical scholar)
ipso facto @ Wordsmith

batrachian @ Worthless Word for the Day
From YLE:

Corea Septentrionalis Finnis notam
: Nuntii Latini

02.03.2007, klo 14.48

Nota diplomatica in ministerium a rebus exteris Finniae missa, Corea Septentrionalis de casu exquirit, in quo telonarii et vigiles Finni contra duos legatos Coreanos vim adhibuerint.

Illa nota ad rixam pertinet, quae in tramine Moscua-Helsinki inter illos legatos et magistratus Finnos orta est.

Legati in compartimento traminis clausi recusaverunt, quominus telonariis documenta sarcinasque monstrarent, neque inspectores in compartimentum intrare permiserunt.

Feminam teloniariam male mulcaverunt neque induci poterant, ut ex compartimento exirent, antequam vigiles gasum lacrimiferum adhibuerunt. Deinde ad stationem biocolytarum urbis Kouvola portati sunt.

Denique legati, interveniente ministerio rerum exterarum Finniae, liberati iter proximo tramine perrexerunt.

Coreani Septentrionales, qui linguas peregrinas nesciebant, tabellas diplomaticas Stockholmiam portaturi erant.

Iter per Finniam faciebant, quia de navibus traiectoriis commodissimis inter Helsinkium et Stockholmiam commeantibus audiverant.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
From eGov monitor:

The Home Secretary, with the agreement of the Prime Minister, has today appointed Jonathan Evans, currently the Deputy Director General of the Security Service, to be Director General of the Service in succession to Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller. The appointment will take effect from 8 April 2007.


Jonathan Evans graduated from Bristol University, where he gained a degree in Classical Studies. On joining the Security Service in 1980 he worked on counter-espionage investigations, before moving in 1985 to protective security policy, advising departmental security officers on the protection of classified information. Jonathan then worked on implementing policy changes as part of Sir Anthony Duff's modernisation of the Service.

Since then, Jonathan's main focus has been counter terrorism, both international and domestic. Various postings in Irish-related counter terrorism during the late 1980s and 1990s were interspersed with a spell as head of the Security Service's secretariat, and also two years attached to the Home Office. During this secondment, Jonathan was closely involved in the development and implementation of VIP security policy.

From 1999 onwards, Jonathan has been directly involved in countering the threat from international terrorism. In 2001 he was appointed to the Security Service's Management Board as Director of international counter terrorism - ten days before the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. He became Deputy Director General to Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller in 2005 and will succeed her as Director General in April 2007.

Jonathan has a Certificate in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors and is 49 years old.
Okay ... this is the sort of thing that really sticks in my craw. It's not specifically about Classics, but I've seen the pattern often enough. From some National Geographic hype about an upcoming program on the Dead Sea Scrolls:

Experts featured in The Dead Sea Scrolls include Michael Baigent, author and commentator on ancient religions; Dr. Eric H. Cline, archaeologist, George Washington University (Washington, D.C.); Hanan Eshel, archaeologist, bar Ilan University (Israel); Robert Feather, metallurgist and religion scholar; Katharina Galor, archaeologist, Brown University (Rhode Island); Dr. Oren Gutfeld, archaeologist, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Jodi Magness, archaeologist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Yuval Peleg, archaeologist; Stephan Pfann, president, University of the Holy Land of Jerusalem; Adolpho Roitman, curator, The Shrine of the Book, The Israel Museum (Jerusalem); Pnina Shor, archaeologist, Israel antiquities authority; Emanuel Tov, editor-in-chief, Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project; and Dr. Bruce Zuckerman, director of the West Semitic Research Project and the Hebrew Bible, University of Southern California at Los Angeles.

Why oh why do hypemeisters always seem to give the 'author and commentator' top billing over a large list of academics with actual credentials in the subject?


Tony Keen scripsit:

Umm, in this case, I'm going to suggest alphabetical order ...


You're probably right ... but I'm too cynical!
From the Star:

It was a treasure-in-exile. Piece by piece, the cherished objects from Afghanistan were assembled in Switzerland in a rare agreement among Afghans after nearly 20 years of fighting against Soviet occupation and then each other.

Even the Taliban, who later were to destroy the gigantic Buddha statues at Bamiyan, joined in the race to save the country's national heritage – jewelry, documents, a foundation stone laid by Alexander the Great; and the simple implements of Afghan life – an ornamented copper waterpipe, a wooden pitchfork and hand-woven carpets.

Now international and Afghan authorities have declared Kabul safe for their return, and the collection of some 1,500 pieces is going home to Afghanistan's national museum, probably on March 15 aboard a German air force plane.

In 1998, when Afghans realized that most of its national heritage had been destroyed, they asked Switzerland to take what remained, Paul Bucherer, director of the Afghanistan Museum in the northwestern Swiss town of Bubendorf, told The Associated Press.

"It was a joint request from the Taliban and the Northern Alliance," two of the major fighting forces at the time, said Bucherer, an expert in Afghan history and culture who has often visited the country and had high-level contact with both sides.

But getting the treasure out of Afghanistan was extremely difficult.

A cargo flight that would have brought thousands of artifacts to Switzerland in 2000 had to be canceled because of problems in obtaining international legal authorization to export the objects, Bucherer said.

In fighting the following January, the collection was destroyed, he said.

But individuals had already started bringing items to the Swiss museum – Afghans on trips to Europe, Europeans who had collected artifacts while living in Afghanistan in more peaceful times.

The first objects were brought "by Taliban and other Afghans carried in their hand-luggage in 1999," Bucherer said.

Some had been illegally excavated, but "We didn't want to ask questions," he said. "Anyone who brought something was welcome.''

The showpiece is a foundation stone laid by Alexander the Great when starting to build the Greek city now known as Ai-Khanum, in northern Afghanistan, some 2,300 years ago.

There is also a gargoyle in the shape of a dog's head from Ai-Khanum. It had been stolen from Afghanistan's national museum and later given to the Swiss by a private individual.

The Swiss museum, which has received an estimated 50,000 visitors since opening in 2000, has already closed its doors for good.

Bucherer said it's the biggest repatriation of cultural heritage since the 1939 return of the most important works to Madrid's Prado museum from Geneva following the Spanish civil war.

Bucherer also heads Bibliotheca Afghanica, a private foundation which helped Swiss-based scientists to create a computer model of the destroyed Buddha statues.

The statues which the Taliban judged un-Islamic and dynamited in March 2001 despite international outcry, are on the ancient Silk Road linking Europe and Central Asia.

Kabul is considered safe enough for the objects to be handed back, said Laurent Levi-Strauss, who heads UNESCO's cultural property and museums section.

"Last summer, we received the request from the Afghan authorities. After consultation with the U.N. in Kabul, we decided that it would be possible to authorize the return," Levi-Strauss told the AP.

Bucherer agreed, saying: "It will help to strengthen the self-confidence of the Afghan people.''
From the Parthenon (I don't think we've ever had anything from that source before, oddly enough):

The classics department will host an all day marathon reading of Homer's epic poem "Iliad," today in the Marco's Room of Memorial Student Center.

The reading starts at 8 a.m. and will continue until the epic is completed. Anyone can come in and read a part or sign up to read a particular passage at a particular time. People do not have to stick around for the whole thing to enjoy it, Dr. E. Del Chrol, assistant professor of the classics Department, said.

"The Epic is structured in a lot of small portions that can be enjoyable," Del Chrol said.

People can bring food or buy from a bake sale by the Classics Association. It is the second semester the classics department has hosted an all day reading. Last semester the department read Homer's "Odyssey."

"We had a lot of fun doing it last semester," Marie Casne, classics major from Beckley, W.Va., said. "It's an interesting way to get students introduced to the works."

Del Chrol said the reading shows the entire epic can be enjoyed in a day. "It's a way for classics to get out in the community and anyone can enjoy a battle or a love scene."

Homer's "Iliad," written around 800 B.C.E., takes place in the 10th and final year of the Trojan War. The word Iliad in Latin means pertaining to Ilion. Ilion is the Greek name for the City Troy.

The epic is the story of the wrath of Achilles after he was dishonored by the Greeks. The story has even been partially re-told by Hollywood in the movie "Troy" starring Brad Pitt.
The importance of Greek drama for the evolution of European opera is well known but tends not to be distinguished from the influence of Greek mythology more generally. In keeping the focus of this conference on the influence of ancient drama in the first 200 years of opera’s development we hope to shed new light both on that development and on the reception of Greek drama. The speakers are drawn from the worlds of Classics, Modern Languages, and Music, and they include people involved in the performance of operatic works as well as some of the leading academics in this field. The provisional speakers and paper titles for this conference are as follows:
Dr Michael Burden (Director of Productions, New Chamber Opera), ‘Myth in Metastasio’s works’
Bruno Forment (composer and performer; PhD student at University of Ghent), ‘The gods out of the machine ... and their come-back’
Professor Wendy Heller (Department of Music, Princeton University), ‘Playing with fortune: the fate of Pyrrhus in seicento Venice’
Professor Robert Ketterer (Department of Classics, University of Iowa), ‘The influence of Agostino Piovene’s translations of Greek tragedy on his opera libretti in the first quarter of the 18th century’
Dr Suzana Ograjenšek (Research Fellow, Clare Hall, Cambridge), ‘Andromache in late 17th and early 18th century operas’
Professor Ellen Rosand (Department of Music, Yale University), ‘Classical themes in Monteverdi’
Professor Reinhard Strohm (Faculty of Music, Oxford University), ‘ “Addio Tebani!” Oedipus Tyrannus as opera seria (1729)’
Jennifer Thorp (Archivist, New College, Oxford), ‘Dance in Lully’s Alceste’
Dr Amy Wygant (School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Glasgow University), ‘The Ghost of Alcestis’
After the papers there will be a wine reception and then a short recital of arias from eighteenth-century tragic operas by Ensemble La Falsirena (Suzana Ograjenšek, soprano; Luke Green, harpsichord; Henrik Persson, baroque ‘cello). We currently expect the papers to run from 9.30 to 6.15, and the recital to be over by 8.00.

Enquiries about the conference are welcome at apgrd@classics.ox.ac.uk. form. We can provide advice on accommodation in the local area if required, but we regret that we cannot undertake to make bookings on behalf of conference delegates.
Student Bursaries
The Craven Committee and the Faculty of Music at the University of Oxford have each generously offered five bursaries to cover the registration fee for students from the Faculties of Classics and Music.
In addition, thanks to the generosity of the Classical Association and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, a further twenty bursaries are available to students from any university. Although the ten SPHS bursaries are earmarked for postgraduate students whose work falls under the area of Hellenic Studies, students from other departments whose work would benefit from attendance at the conference are encouraged to apply. Each of these bursaries will cover the registration fee and offer at least £20 towards travel expenses.
To be considered for a bursary please send the following items to 'Opera Conference: Busaries', APGRD, Classics Centre, 66 St Giles', Oxford OX1 3LU by Friday 11 May 2007:

(i) a letter of application, including details of your programme of study and, if applicable, an outline of your research;
(ii) a completed registration form for this conference;
(iii) an academic recommendation under separate cover;
(iv) if applicable, an estimate of your travel expenses.
The £20 registration fee includes lunch and all refreshments on the day. To register for this conference, please either

(i) go to www.apgrd.ox.ac.uk/events/confopera.htm, and follow the link to the electronic booking facility for registration and payment online (n.b. there is a surcharge of 50p for credit/debit card bookings)

or (ii) complete the registration form which is available at www.apgrd.ox.ac.uk/events/confopera.htm and send together with a cheque to ‘Opera Conference: Registrations’, APGRD, Classics Centre, 66 St Giles', Oxford OX1 3LU. Please contact the APGRD if you would like a paper version of the registration form.
Funding Bodies
We are very grateful to the British Academy, the Classical Association, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, and (within the University of Oxford) the Craven Committee and the Faculty of Music for their generous support of this conference.
Calvin College anticipates a tenure-track opening in Classics at the
Assistant Professor level (pending administrative approval) in
September, 2007. Area of specialization is open, although the
eventual appointee will have broad general interests and be able to
teach courses including Greek, Latin and classics in translation at
all undergraduate levels; most of the teaching load will be in Greek
and Latin language. Ph.D. preferred. Given the late date for this
search, we will probably be interviewing at CAMWS in Cincinnati.
Calvin College is owned and operated by the Christian Reformed Church
in North America and requires an active commitment to the Reformed
Protestant tradition from all faculty members. AA/EOE. Please send
letters of application, recommendations, and dossiers to Prof. Mark
F. Williams, Department of Classics, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
49546. Deadline: 1 April, 2007 for full consideration.
Temple University announces a possible position for a full-time Lecturer for 2007-2008 in the Department of Greek and Roman Classics . This position has the possibility of renewal, pending continued funding and satisfactory performance. The ideal candidates would be teachers who could bring their scholarship to the classroom with enthusiasm and skill; evidence of successful teaching  experience, especially in teaching first-year language courses, is essential. The department has particular needs in Latin language and culture. Candidates should send ONLY a  cover letter, by e-mail, with curriculum vitae  (as attachments) indicating ability and experience for teaching Greek, Latin and classical culture courses at all undergraduate levels; the position might involve some teaching in Temple's Intellectual Heritage program (courses.temple.edu/ih).  Candidates should only send dossiers if requested.   Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until 4/15. Address applications to  Robin Mitchell-Boyask, robin AT temple.edu

Department of Greek, Hebrew and Roman Classics, 321  Anderson Hall, 1114 W. Berks St., Temple University,  Philadelphia, PA, 19122. 

Temple  University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages applications from women and  minorities. 
9.00 p.m. |HISTU| Last Stand of the 300
After Custer, Thermopylae is the most famous last stand in history.
In a narrow pass in Northern Greece, seven thousand Greek soldiers
await an onslaught of epic proportions. They will soon face the
largest fighting force ever assembled--the war machine of the mighty
Persian Empire, estimated at over a million men. The Greeks are led
by three hundred of the most ferocious warriors of the ancient world--
the Spartans. Their leader is the fearless King Leonidas, who after
this battle would be catapulted into legend. When it is over, every
Spartan in the pass will have sacrificed his life for freedom.
Creating a fresh visual style and using new technologies we will
dramatically recreate the significant events that lead to Thermopylae
and the clash of arms.

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

HINT = History International
Apologies ... there's something wrong with my internet connection this a.m. ... it's operating at a less-than-snail's pace (so far it's taken 32 minutes to download 70 messages and it's nowhere near done) ... I'll try to get some content in later today ..
pridie nonas martias

Festival of Mars (day 6)

12 B.C. -- Augustus becomes pontifex maximus

ca. 251 A.D. -- martyrdom of Conon in Pamphylia
From YLE:

Navis oneraria a piratis occupata
: Nuntii Latini

02.03.2007, klo 14.47

Die Dominico (25.2.) piratae navem onerariam, a Nationibus Unitis conductam, apud oram Somaliae occupaverunt.

Illa navis auxilium cibarium in Somaliam portabat. Piratae nondum de pecunia redemptionis aut de aliis postulatis suis nuntiaverunt neque de sorte nautarum, qui duodecim numerabantur, quicquam compertum est.

Tuomo Pekkanen
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
pari passu @ Wordsmith

tonitruous @ Worthless Word for the Day

indefatigable @ Dictionary.com
From BMCR:

Maria Plaza, The Function of Humour in Roman Verse Satire: Laughing and Lying.

Jan Felix Gaertner, Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto 1
Octavian Bounegru, Trafiquants et navigateurs sur le Bas-Danube et dans le Pont Gauche a\ l'e/poque romaine. PHILIPPIKA. Marburger Altertumskundliche Abhandlungen 9.

Dieter Timpe, Roemisch-germanische Begegnung in der spaeten Republik und fruehen Kaiserzeit. Voraussetzungen-Konfrontationen-Wirkungen.
Gesammelte Studien
From the Herald:

From his damp former home under the UC Berkeley bleachers to his gloomy abode in the bowels of a gargantuan warehouse, it has been a long time since Kritios Boy was surrounded by anything resembling comfort.

And now Kritios Boy and dozens of other plaster replicas of classical Greek and Roman statues are preparing to move again, likely to yet another out-of-the-way dwelling.

The 4-foot-tall copy of an ancient Greek statue is one of several 100-year-old sculptures rescued from neglect by now-retired UC Berkeley professor Stephen Miller. During the past 35 years, the classics professor has overseen the careful restoration of the statues, all scale-model replicas of 2,000- to 3,000-year-old originals.

But, with Miller spending most of his time in Greece these days and the university's pending sale of the former typewriter factory, it's unclear where the statues will end up as the building's tenants are moved out during the next three years.

"I want very badly for these to be on campus," Miller said, surrounded by about three dozen statues in the basement of the Marchant warehouse, at a point on San Pablo Avenue where Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland meet. At least one city boundary runs through the building.

"I feel like I took the first step, but there is still so much more to do."

The plaster casts were donated to the university during the course of 70 years or so, first by prominent philanthropist Phoebe Apperson Hearst and more recently by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. But Hearst's statues languished for decades under the bleachers of Edwards Stadium, prompting angry letters from faculty members to administrators as early as the 1930s.

In 1973, a colleague recommended that Miller -- then a new professor -- take his students on a quest to find the nearly forgotten statues. Armed with flashlights and brooms, Miller and his students were stunned to find the casts covered with bird droppings and damaged by rain.

"I was outraged," said Miller, who was jolted into action. "I was too ignorant to know that junior faculty members don't write angry letters to the chancellor."

Rather than firing the feisty Miller, then-Chancellor Albert Bowker agreed to move the statues to a safer warehouse in Richmond. They were later moved to the Marchant building, tucked away behind a chain-link fence with other pieces from the university's Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

The warehouse is an immense maze of offices, fenced-off storage areas and workshops. The university's printing and book-binding operations are run out of the Marchant building, and the city of Berkeley rents space there to store records.

Other uses are not as clear-cut. On a recent weekday, a wooden frame with the cryptic words "Tie gourd here" written on the side was in a hallway.

In 2003, the university moved boxes of administrative records out of two rooms in the dark basement, so Miller could train students how to restore the statues. Navigating around an immense boiler-like contraption in one room, scores of students spent the next two years carefully replacing missing chunks of plaster and removing grime with cotton swabs and chemicals.

"This is really like bringing Greece and Rome right into our backyard," said doctoral student Nathan Arrington, who helped Miller restore the statues.

For Miller, the collection of decorative sculptures perfectly illustrates the progression of ancient Greek and Roman art from its simplistic beginnings to its anatomically correct conclusions. Practicing art students looking for help sketching death need only look at the "Dead Amazon" statue in the Marchant basement, Miller said.

"How do you show death?" he said, looking down at the restored statue of a female warrior. "The lips are slack, the eyes are half-closed. All these tricks of the trade. It's a wonderful teaching tool."

Both Miller and Arrington lamented the statues' out-of-the-way location -- it takes more than an hour to take buses from campus to the warehouse -- and uncertain future. With space more limited every year at the growing university, it's unclear where the statues will end up.

"I just think it's a great travesty that we have this collection and we can't easily access it," Arrington said. "If you moved it (to campus), the number of people who use it would triple or quadruple."

Perhaps working in the statues' favor is the fact that UC Berkeley's space-management director, Tom Ventresco, is a sculptor who volunteered to help restore the statues. But Ventresco said the university can't guarantee campus space to the collection, especially since most of the Hearst Museum's stored items will move to Richmond.

"(Miller) and I, over the years, have talked about moving the collection to campus," he said. "We haven't given up on that idea. (But) it's not clear whether they'll be divided up or what."

Miller said he has tried to encourage younger faculty members to succeed him as the statues' advocates, but few have the time to deal with the issue.

"There's very little I can do," he said. "It's really up to the next generation."
From USA Today:

Go tell the Spartans, passerby. That here, by Spartan law, we lie, read the ancient elegy on stone at Thermopylae, the ancient battle site where the Greeks, 300 Spartans and their allies, held off masses of invading Persians in 480 BC. Hollywood, our modern Mount Olympus that churns out fresh myths along with popcorn and soda pop, is taking on this historical battle that defined ancient Greece long ago.

Thermopylae was a narrow mountain pass, wide enough for one chariot, with cliffs on one side and the sea on the other, according to the historian Herodotus. There, a small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta met an invading army of hundreds of thousands of soldiers — perhaps 800,000, according to accounts from the time. After two days of the lightly-armored invaders being slaughtered by the spear-wielding and heavily armored Greeks, treachery enabled the forces of Persia's emperor, Xeres, to outflank the Greeks guarding the pass. Leonidas dismissed the bulk of his army, again according to legend, and his remaining force of 300 Spartans and allies fought a suicidal holding action against the invaders.

The battle ended up a costly victory for the Persians, sort of the Alamo of their invasion, giving the Greeks time, and inspiration, to regroup and defeat them later in the war. The example of the Spartans and their allies has lived on, inspiring military codes still alive today, as well as some of the best quotes in history, such as Leonidas' "Come take them," his reply to a Persian request to lay down his arms.

In 300, which opens Friday and is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, filmmakers add fantastical elements to the story of the fight, one whose drama would seem to call for little embellishment. USA TODAY asked Paul Cartledge, author of Thermopylae: The Battle that Changed the World, who has seen a preview of the movie, to give his take on how Hollywood stacks up against Herodotus, whose writings give the best account of the fight:

Q. When the movie Troy came out in 2003, a number of classicists said they were pleased to at least see their field getting some silver-screen time. Others worried they would have to spend class time "deprogramming" students who had seen the movie. How do you view the 300's release?

A: I too am very pleased, if only because it gives us a chance to show why what we classicists/ancient historians do still really matters today (and not only in terms of entertainment). Troy the movie was based on (distantly!) a work of Tfiction — or if you like, a national epic — actually two epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. But 300 is squarely based on a work of history, the Histories of Herodotus, which was indeed the first work of proper history ever written! So the evidence base of the two movies is quite different (not that we can be sure Herodotus got all his facts right, of course — he was only age 4 or so at the time of the Thermopylae defense, and he had his biases and hobbyhorses like any of us.)

Q. So how does the movie's version of the battle stack up to the historical record, in your view?

A: The historical record is (pretty much) Book 7 of Herodotus' Histories. What the movie leaves out is that Sparta didn't fight the Persians alone but as the head of a Greek alliance that included, most importantly, Athens. Sparta was the greatest Greek military power on land, Athens by sea. The resistance to the massive Persian invasion had to be an amphibious one, both by land and by sea, to counter the Persians' amphibious invasion. So the filmmakers missed out that Leonidas and his Spartans were attempting to hold the Thermopylae pass by land in conjunction with the allied Greek fleet led by Athens just up the coast.

However, there are two points about this Greek alliance: 1. It was tiny — only about 30 Greek cities out of 700 or so who might have joined in the resistance; 2. Far more Greeks fought on the Persian side than on the loyal Greek side!

What the movie adds in is a slew of fantasy fiction, including scary monsters. This is partly to take full advantage of the latest computer techno-wizardry (only one small scene was actually filmed out of doors — the rest in the studio against a blue screen with the background — mountains, sea, etc. — all digitally added on.)

What the movie gets dead right is the Spartans' heroic code (not least the gallows-humor one-liners) and the key role played by women in backing up, indeed reinforcing, the male martial code of heroic honor.

Q. Do you think the Greek world view, and particularly the Spartan ethos, comes across in the movie?

A: There was no single Greek world view, in the sense that there were about 1,000 separate Greek communities, all politically separate — though they had many customs, especially religious, in common, and some common ideological features (e.g., a passion for competition — survival of the fittest in every sense). By general consensus, the Spartans were different — strange, odd — compared to normal Greeks, especially in their single-minded devotion to war (or preparing for it), in the relative freedom and empowerment of their women, and in the men's willingness to die heroically for their country and its ideals.

Q. Can you say anything about your contact with the filmmakers? Can you say how much interest they had in recreating the time period?

A: The filmmakers seem to have read my extensive published work — for example, The Spartans (2004) — and made good use of it. But I was consulted formally only over the question of how to pronounce ancient Greek names — for example, should 'Leonidas' be LeonEYEdas, LeONNidas, or LeonEEdas?

I advised LeonEEdas, but they went for LeonEYEdas, so you can see how influential I was (not).

Q. Are there any other key points about the movie or the battle you think are worth making to our readers?

A: Nothing to add — except a caveat about black and white, 'West' (goodies) vs 'East' (baddies) polarization (taken directly from Miller's original cartoon series — he was the movie's principal consultant). It's never a good thing to do that, I think, and least of all now!

In his 2005 book, A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, the classicist Victor Davis Hanson writes about how a civil war in Greece, decades after the repulse of the Persians that started at Thermopylae, upended the Greeks' view of themselves as honorable and brave, a product of that fateful battle. In some ways, the battle set the Spartans up for failure later, setting a bar for fearlessness higher than mere mortals could sustain. But it is remarkable that a relatively small fight about 2,500 years ago could still have renown today.
From the IHT:

Police in Athens have arrested an elderly woman and her son for possessing dozens of antiquities they had allegedly illegally excavated on their property, authorities said Monday.

The suspects, aged 85 and 50, were found in possession of some 90 artifacts, police said.

The finds included more than 20 pottery vases, some 50 glass vials, clay figurines of a woman and animals, and two silver coins.

Police said the suspects were not believed to have planned to sell the collection on the illegal antiquities market.

Under Greek law, all antiquities found in the country are state property.
9.00 p.m. |HINT| Roman Roads: Paths to Empire
Built on the backs of conquered countries, the Romans engineered a
stone-paved highway system encompassing 50,000 miles and sprawling
across three continents. Ironically, their breathtaking feat may have
paved the road to their ruin as ancient and newly sprung enemies
marched straight to the heart of the empire.

11.00 p.m. |HINT| Catacombs of Rome
Tunneled into the bowels of ancient Rome is a dank labyrinth of
beautifully decorated burial chambers and vaults where religious
outcasts--pagans, Jews, and Christians--secretly preserved forbidden
rituals for fear of persecution. Delve beneath Rome's heights to
uncover the secrets of her catacombs and eternal residents.

HINT = History International
Labore vinces.
(Family motto)

pron = lah-BOH-reh WIN-kays

You will overcome by your hard work.

Comment: This is such a western, left-brain, macho idea. And if the thing to be overcome requires such methods, then this is the motto to have tattooed to your chest (or other appropriate body-part).

Having just "overcome" a bout with serious respiratory infection (no tests for proof, but doc says "near pneumonia") I can tell you what worked.

Taking the medicine. Staying in bed. Sleep. Resisting doing anything (you have no idea what a challenge this is for me).

So, how is this for a vicious cycle? It was very clear to me that if I wanted to get well as quickly as possible, I needed to get in the bed and stay there. It was real work for me not to work. Why?
Because I have breathed deeply of this proverb all of my life. I learned early that to prove my worth, I had to work hard and conquer.
How sad. Some things are best accomplished by doing nothing.

I overheard this conversation at the YMCA recently. One man was proclaiming to another: "I told him that I would NOT discuss religion or politics with him ever again." And then he continued:
"Why bother? There's no way to win!"

Is the only reason for discussing religion or politics or something else that matters to you solely for the purpose of "winning"? How often I have done that! And yet, what struck me as I heard this man was:
"what about discussing religion or politics in order to learn something?" No "winner" or "loser" required.

Some things that are really valuable really require very little work.
An ancient source of wisdom, the Tao Te Ching observed over 2000 years ago that all of life is made up of things that require effort
(yang) and things that require acceptance (yin). And the universe requires both.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive
ante diem iii nonas martias

Festival of Mars (day 5)

399 B.C. -- death of Socrates (according to one reckoning)

13 B.C. -- death of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (the triumvir) (according to one reckoning)

51 A.D. -- the future emperor Nero is coopted into all the priestly colleges

diablerie @ Merriam-Webster

de novo @ Wordsmith

firnification @ Worthless Word for the Day
From YLE:

Cleopatram non fuisse pulcherrimam
: Nuntii Latini

02.03.2007, klo 14.45

Cleopatra, regina Aegyptiorum, quam Iulius Caesar et Marcus Antonius amabant, symbolum pulchritudinis habetur.

Hodie autem de pulchritudine eius disceptari coeptum est, nam nummus, anno tricesimo tertio ante Christum natum cusus, ostendit reginam mento nasoque acuto et labris tenuibus.

Marcus Antonius, in altera parte eiusdem nummi delineatus, est strabonus, cervicibus crassis et naso adunco.

Sed criteria pulchritudinis cum temporibus mutantur, et imagines antiquorum regum vel reginarum potius potestatem quam veram similitudinem praeferre solebant.

Cleopatram fuisse feminam ingenio acerrimo nemo infitiatur.

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

For more news in Latin, here's the latest headline from Ephemeris: De Hafniae tumultu
Some levity from the Times:

Uncovered: the first marathon runner’s fitness programme. Remember Pheidippides? He was the Greek soldier who ran more than 20 miles to Athens to announce that the Persian army had been surprisingly defeated in the Battle of Marathon, thus giving birth to the marathon craze.

Now a significant new archaeological find reveals, for the first time, the diary of his preparations — bound to be of interest to runners in training for the Flora London Marathon and to anyone else whose imagination has been captured by this fabled test of human endurance.

Hekatombion 4 Fantastic — I’ve got a place. My confirmation tablet and official high-visibility running tunic came through from the organisers this morning. My race number: 00001. That’s got to be a good omen. Better get training, then.

Hekatombion 5 As everyone will tell you, the most important first step for any long-distance runner is making sure you have the right sandals. So this morning I visited Eucles the shoemaker, who got me up on the running machine and had a look at my stride pattern. By his reckoning I’m a high-arched pronator with a mildly exaggerated heel strike, which sounds awful, but apparently it’s normal enough.

Anyway, he recommended a pair of lightweight construction sandals in 100 per cent goatex, with a unique, gel-injected mid-sole and all-weather calf straps. Thirty-five drachmas! Zeus on a bike! But I bought them anyway, of course. It would have seemed foolish not to.

Went for a gentle, loosening jog in the hills. Didn’t feel too bad, considering. The new sandals help.

Hekatombion 9 I’m up to 35 minutes already. Would never have thought it possible. Some aches and pains, obviously, but I’m feeling really positive, and that’s the main thing. So much of distance running is in the mind.

Metageitnion 16 Obviously, if I’m going to go to all this effort, I might as well use it to benefit others. After much reflection, I’ve decided to run in support of Argos, a charity that offers deprived Athenian kids the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime catalogue shopping trip on the island of Ithaca. I’m now busy whipping up sponsorship from my friends. So far I’ve managed to raise three fish and a flask of olive oil. It’s going well.

Nevertheless, people have suggested that it might boost the fundraising aspect if I ran in some sort of novelty outfit. Someone has said it would be amusing if I climbed inside a specially adapted earthenware pot. Various others are urging me to carry a statue or drag a fishing net. Nikolos the carpenter is offering me three drachmas if I go as Postman Papadopoulos. And he says he’ll increase it to eight drachmas if I go as any one of the Tellytubboi — Tinky Winkos, Dipsos, La Los or Pos.

I see where they’re all coming from. At the same time, without wishing to be a party-pooper, I think that this time, what with it being the first, it would be sensible if I just concentrated on getting round. The fancy-dress stuff can wait for future marathons, assuming it catches on.

Metageitnion 24 Managed an hour last night, which is good, but the last 15 minutes or so were a real struggle and this morning my knees feel as if they’ve been chewed by next door’s dog. I also appear to have a blister that is only slightly smaller than the foot to which it is attached. So much for goatex. If I bump into that Eucles, he’ll be wearing these sandals, and not on his feet.

Boedromion 5 Having grown increasingly disappointed with my inability to push on beyond the 12-mile mark, I’ve signed up with Heracleides the personal fitness trainer. He’s 32 drachmas an hour, which I can’t really afford, but I don’t see any way around it. He spoke to me about the problem of hitting the wall. I said I didn’t think there were any walls between Marathon and Athens, it being mostly hills, and that, the way I saw it, I was much more in danger of hitting the tree, or, worse, hitting the encampment of Persian soldiers in hiding.

But Heracleides explained that hitting the wall was a figurative expression describing the overwhelming fatigue a runner can experience when, having exhausted the limited supplies of glycogen in the muscles, the body begins burning stored fat for energy. He said that the best way to circumvent this in a race situation was by taking on board intensively rehydrating sports drinks, such as Lucozados.

I hope someone will remember to organise drink stations on the day.

Boedromion 27 Out early this morning and going along nicely, two miles into a medium-paced 16-miler, when I trod on a snake and required life-saving medical treatment. These interruptions to the schedule are so frustrating. Mind you, I covered the two miles from the snake back to Androcles the apothecary in under 11 minutes — a personal best over that distance and very encouraging. Cost of serum, tetanus shot and five-day course of antibiotics, seven drachmas.

Pyanepsion 6 I’m constantly touched by the enthusiasm and encouragement of other people regarding my challenge. I’ll bump into people and they’ll always have something encouraging to say, such as “How’s the training going?” or “You must be completely out of your head”. I was walking through the town only today when Stavros the baker excitedly ushered me into his shop and proudly gestured to the counter. He’s only gone and baked me an energy bar.

Essentially, it’s oats and dried fruit, bound together with honey and bitumen — perfect for carbo-loading on the move. Unfortunately, it’s two feet thick and weighs 35lb. Still, it was a kind thought. And only five drachmas.

Pyanepsion 14 Now I’ve gone and done my ankle falling into a thyme bush. It’s going to be six treatments from Perspex the osteopath, at 44 drachmas per treatment. People say running is cheaper than the gym, but they’re plain wrong. I should never have cancelled my Esportos membership.

Maimakterion 3 Back on track and, fingers crossed, managing to stick with the programme. As Heracleides advises, I’m listening to the feedback from my body. I’m also adopting a strategy of positive visualisation while I run and remembering that, if it was easy it wouldn’t be an achievement to be proud of. And, if all else fails, I imagine the Persians are coming after me with big swords, which seems to do the trick.

But I have to confess, the biggest challenge is overcoming the boredom. I was at a particularly low ebb the other night, after a long workout, and, in despair, I said to Heracleides: “Will training for long-distance running ever be even the slightest bit interesting?” He shook his head sadly and said: “Only when someone invents the iPod.”

Maimakterion 19 Two days to go. Went to see my old friend Patros the teacher. Explained to him what I was doing and mentioned some of my anxieties about energy depletion. Asked him if, on the day, he would be prepared to meet me halfway along the route with a banana. He said he would be delighted to help.

As I was leaving, though, he said: “By the way, what’s a banana?” What, indeed. If the worst comes to the worst, I’m just going to have to go into someone’s garden and nick some oranges.

— Disclaimer: legend has it that, shortly after reaching Athens, Pheidippides collapsed from exhaustion and died. This newspaper accepts no liability for the health and safety of anyone adhering to the above programme.
Buffalo's Albright-Knox museum is getting rid of some things which are lingering in its warehouse (or wherever) ... according to a piece in the Buffalo News, that Artemis and the Stag sculpture (which everyone will immediately recognize) as well as a seated poet (ditto) will both be coming to auction. [the article itself really has nothing for us other than photos of the objects in question]
The Classical Association of Massachusetts is holding its spring meeting at Smith College, Northampton MA on March 31st. There will be a host of speakers on the teaching of Latin, including Prof. Amanda Loud from Dartmouth College on dyslexia and the teaching of Latin. We will also have an Oral Latin roundtable, where we will practice, share ideas, and discuss how to increase spoken Latin in our classes. A full agenda, details and the registration form will be going out in our newsletter this week, or they can be found on the web at massclass.org. Please download a form and send it in soon! Questions can be addressed to dheaton AT comcast.net
From BMCR:

Joseph Roisman, The Rhetoric of Conspiracy in Ancient Athens.

Donald C. Haggis, Kavousi I: The Archaeological Survey of the Kavousi Region. Prehistory Monographs 16.

Rene Hoven, Lexique de la prose latine de la Renaissance. Avec la collaboration de Laurent Grailet. Deuxieme edition revue et considerablement augmentee. English Translation by Coen Maes, revised by Karin Renard-Jadoul.

From Scholia:

A Futrell, The Roman Games: A Sourcebook.
Ancient Warfare magazine is looking for academics who are interested in
publishing their latest findings to a wider audience. Interested parties
are requested to submit proposals at: http://www.ancient-warfare.com.

Ancient Warfare is a new bi-monthly, full-color popular magazine that
will publish its first issue June 4th. Some 40 percent of each issue's
content is dedicated to a single theme from ancient military history,
while the rest is made up of regular features. The readership is highly
international and, if the response to the initial website launch is any
indication, circulation is expected to run in the thousands.

The editor may be contacted at:
Ancient Warfare
a/o J.L.Oorthuys
Burg.Hustinxstraat 298
6512 AC Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Editor AT ancient-warfare.com
4.00 p.m. |HISTU| Seven Wonders
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?

8.00 p.m. |HISTU| Vandals
We join the Vandals as they infiltrate the Roman borders in northern
Gaul, and sweep into Spain, burning and pillaging everything in their
path. This ragged, homeless tribe launches the largest ever sea-borne
movement of the barbarian peoples making their name synonymous with
lawless destruction, looting and terror. As their great leader,
Gaiseric, and his blood-thirsty son, Huneric ravage North Africa, and
eventually Rome, itself, we see them face the crushing military of
the Roman Empire, the devious trickery of Roman General Aetius, and
the devout beliefs of the Holy Roman Church.

8.00 p.m. |HISTC| Engineering an Empire: The Persians
The Persian Empire is one of the most mysterious major civilizations
in the ancient world. Persia became an empire under the Achaemenid
king, Cyrus the Great, who created a policy of religious and cultural
tolerance that became the hallmark of Persian rule.The empire that
Cyrus left behind expanded to India and Greece under the reign of
Darius I, who built the capital of Persepolis. Among the engineering
feats of the Persian Empire were an innovative system of water
management accomplished with simple tools; a cross-continent paved
roadway stretching 1500 miles that made travel safe and communication
possible; a canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea, a forerunner of
the modern Suez Canal; and the creation of one of the Seven Wonders
of the World, the Mausoleum of Maussollos. etc

HISTU = History Channel (US)
HISTC = History Television (Canada)
A rather overwhelming week trying to sort through all the Jesus tomb stuff ... here's what my aggregators gathered while I was otherwise distracted:

Mary Beard starts us off with a consideration of Zadie Smith's theories about Trajan's column ... she also went to see Maxentius' imperial regalia ...

N.S. Gill points us to some books about Thermopylae ... there were also some details about the battle itself ...

Laura Gibbs' roundup of educational materials continues to grow ...

Irene Hahn was pondering Commodus' Hercules obsession ... she also had some info on the flamen dialis ... her pal Bingley brought back some photos from Fishbourne ... on that note, there were also a couple of posts on mosaics here ... and here ...

Kristian Minck was pondering Reception in Roman Archaeology ...

Ed Flinn keeps the flow of numismatica coming ...

Nikolaos was looking at recent theories on the eruption of the Santorini volcano ...

... while Nicholas was pondering a youthful indiscretion ...

David Derrick was pondering the what-a-great-thing-is-man chorus from the Antigone ... there was also a post on Cimmerian Darkness ...

Michael Gilleland found a weather-related set of excerpta ... was pondering roadkill and vegetarians ... the teichomachia ... droopy drawers ... and a response ...

Derek Fincham has a very interesting post all about the 'Bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth' which Italy wants back from the Getty (inter alia) ....

A couple of updates from Eurylochus (I think I forgot one last week) ... seems the gang in the horse made it in the walls of Troy in the horse ... then they all went nuts with bloodlust ...

... I suspect I've missed some (apologies!)

I thought it might be useful for folks to see and/or marvel at all the bloglossalia about the tomb of Jesus thing, so here's the list:

* like me, Jim Davila is finding it difficult to keep on top of it all, but he does have some good thoughts here ... here (very useful) ... here (comments on the New York Times piece) ...

* N.S. Gill's About.com forum discussion

* Mark Goodacre has been going through all the various coverage fine-tooth-combed-like, so it's best just to point to the main page (scroll to the bottom, and work your way up) ...

* Michael Pahl had a good summary of the claims and raised a pile of questions therefrom ...

* Tony Chartrand Burke here ... and here ... and here ... (the latter two on claims of a connection to the Acts of Philip) ...

* Alun Salt has one of his Clioaudio features ....

* Tyler Williams found the lighter side of the whole thing ... earlier, he had a somewhat more skeptically-toned post ... there were also a couple of good roundup posts here ... and here ...

* Folks should also check out James Tabor's series of posts at his Jesus Dynasty blog ...

... also on the biblioside of things, Phil has another Patristics roundup ...

New blog: Stoa Poikile

Issue 9.45 of Explorator has been posted ... hopefully I won't poop out before getting my Ancient World on Television listings out as well ...
From BMCR:

Andrea Tschemplik, The Republic. The Comprehensive Student Edition.

Robert DeMaria, Jr., Robert D. Brown, Classical Literature and Its Reception. An Anthology.

Beth Cohen, The Colors of Clay: Special Techniques in Athenian Vases.

Juergen von Ungern-Sternberg, Roemische Studien: Geschichtsbewusstsein - Zeitalter der Gracchen - Krise der Republik. Beitraege zur Altertumskunde, Band 232.

Alessia Bonadeo, Iride: un arco tra mito e natura.

Thalia Papadopoulou, Heracles and Euripidean Tragedy.

Kostandinos S. Christakis, Cretan Bronze Age Pithoi: Traditions and Trends in the Production and Consumption of Storage Containers in Bronze Age Crete. Prehistory Monographs 18.

Wolfram Ax, Text und Stil. Studien zur antiken Literatur und deren Rezeption. Herausgegeben von Christian Schwarz.

William E. Mann (ed.), Augustine's Confessions: Critical Essays.

Ricardo Salles, The Stoics on Determinism and Compatibilism.

From Fortean Times 219 (March 2007):

"And naked to the hangman's noose/The morning clocks will ring/A neck God made for other use/Than strangling in a string" - AE Housman

Telemachus (Homer, Odyssey, bk22 vvs462) hangs the collaborationist slave-girls, to deny them "an honourable death."

There is little sign of hanging in classical Greece. It is not specified in Plato's lists of actual (Republic, para361C) or suggested (Laws, bks5-12) punishments.

Athenaeus (Learned Men at Dinner, bk4 para155e) describes a Thracian game of pretend self-suspensions during booze-ups, which sometimes ended fatally.

Aulus Gellius (Attic Nights, bk15 ch10), quoting Plutarch, describes the mania among Milesian girls for hanging themselves, curbed when the authorities decreed their bodies be buried naked along with the ropes - "a grave disgrace".

In Greek Tragedy, Jocasta and Phaedra hang themselves, tainted heroines both. Likewise, Amata in Virgil's Aeneid (bkl2 v603), "an unseemly death", one denied burial by Roman pontifical law. A lapidary text (Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, no7846) excludes such suicides from cemeteries. Legal eagle Ulpian (On the Edict, ch6l) observes: "It is not usual to mourn those who hang themselves".

Roman law codes (e.g. Digest, bk48 ch19 para 28 pref.) specify the Furca along with burning alive and decapitation as prime punishment for criminals, plebeians, and slaves. Isidore of Seville (Origines, bk5 ch27 para34) defines this as hanging or strangling the victim via their pronged head - forking hell!

For religious reasons, after Constantine the Great, this replaced crucifixion in late Rome and Byzantium, though traitors were sometimes strung up (Theophanes, Chronicle, ch184 pp4-6, Bonn ed.). Christian ideology (e.g. Augustine, City of God, bk1 chsl7-27) also reduced the suicide rate. A rare exception was the bankrupt scribe Melites who (1303) hanged himself (Pachymeres, Reigns of Michael and Andronicus, bk2 pps385-8, Bonn ed.).

Eusebius (Church History, bk5 ch16 paral2) asserts that Judas Iscariot and the heretics Montanus and Maximilla must have been divinely driven mad to hang themselves. Execution by the rope is little heard of in Rome, being (e.g.) unmentioned in the earliest law codes (The Twelve Tables), though Cicero (Against Verres, bk3 ch26 para66) mentions Sicilian victims "swinging from the trees". Garroting is more attested (e.g. Sallust, Catiline, ch55), albeit Tacitus (Annals, bkl4 ch48 paral) says it was obsolete by Nero's time.

"Go hang yourself" is a common expression in Plautus's comedies. "Choose your tree to hang from" was proverbial (Pliny, Natural History, Pref 29; Seneca, On Anger, bkl3 ch15 para2). Plebeians hanged themselves (Pliny, bk36 ch24 para1107) to avoid working on King Tarquinius Priscus's sewers - Les Battersby may come to mind. But in a case-by-case register of suicides over 1,000 years (Y Grise, Le Suicide dans la Rome Antique, Bude, Paris, 1982), only half a dozen involve hanging.

Finally, two cases for Falco. On 15 May 392, emperor Valentinian II was found hanging in his room: some contemporary sources cry murder, others say suicide. From Egypt (AD 173) comes this police report (Oxyrhynchus Papyri, voll nol para5l): "Today I was ordered to inspect the dead hanged body of Hierax and offer my conclusions. I inspected the body in the presence of his servant and found it hanged with a noose. This is my report."

"There are data of strange suicides that I shall pass over" - Fort, Books, p653.

Barry Baldwin
(reprinted with permission of the Author; blame any typically graphic transcription errors on dm)
The Age offers us this excerpt (I think it was actually originally in New Scientist):

The idea that animals can predict earthquakes has ancient origins. In 373BC, the Greek historian Thucydides recorded that rats, dogs, snakes and weasels deserted the city of Helice in droves a few days before a catastrophic earthquake.

It was the first in a long line of such anecdotes. There is also no shortage of theories about what might be going on.

... howzabout a theory about how Thucydides could write about an event which happened after he had died? Oh I know ... it was Thucydides' bones who were in that mysterious missing ossuary associated with Jesus' family by James Cameron and other pseudocritical thinkers, so Thucydides actually lived at the turn of the eras ... that works ... yeah ... ok ... now we can reveal how Thucydides wrote about Alexander in the Metz epitome, having learned Latin from, er, Scipio ... yeah ... that's it ...
From the Oregonian:

The fate of Portland Public Schools' only Latin program hinges on the number of full-time teaching positions Grant High School needs to cut next school year, to the alarm of students and parents.

Eleven PPS schools, including most high schools, are slated for relatively big staffing cuts under Superintendent Vicki Phillips' proposed budget because of a projected drop in enrollment.

This week, Principal Toni Hunter told educators and parents that the Northeast Portland school was poised to lose four full-time slots next school year.

Hunter did not return telephone messages Thursday, but a district spokeswoman said Latin is among the programs that could be cut.

"It certainly is under consideration, but a decision has not been made," said Katie Essick, a district spokeswoman.

Grant's program is the only one in the district and one of eight in the state, said Gene Evans, a spokesman with the state Department of Education.

"I would say that a lot of parents are concerned," said Sarah Krakauer, whose freshman son takes the class.

Parents say teacher Pam Brown has been with the program for about 30 years and will retire at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, student and parent supporters say Latin's demise would end a tradition that has set Grant apart from other high schools.

"None of the students are happy about this," said Grant senior Sarah Lazeroni, who studied Latin at the school for two years. "If Latin is canceled, there is going to be an uproar."

Students recently circulated petitions and donned stickers supporting Latin, Krakauer said.

Hunter told parents at a recent meeting that Latin might be spared for at least another year under another proposal that would have the school lose only two teaching positions, said Laurie Sykes, whose son takes Latin.
... we hope (you never know with Canadian newspapers) ... an excerpt from the biz oped pages of the Globe and Mail:

Some clarification here: Under a proclamation made by Emperor Commodus in 193 AD, it's actually illegal for a job to be lost anywhere on the continent of Europe. This came into effect after the Vomitorium Employees Guild revolted over job cuts and their sanitation worker comrades in Gaul walked out in sympathy.

From the Echo:

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have found Roman pottery during a dig in a Dorchester town centre car park.

The Cotswold Archaeology team has reached the layer that marks the end of the Romans in Durnovaria.

Project manager Laurie Coleman said: "We've found Roman pottery from the demolition layer about a metre and a half down.

"It's debris from buildings that were demolished or fell down after the end of the Roman period. That's what we would expect to find there."

He added: "We haven't found anything more recent and I'm not surprised by that. The area was cultivated for market gardens and anything that was there would have been lost."

The pit is one of three sites being excavated at the Charles Street car park as part of the preparations for a major redevelopment by Simons Developers.

Mr Coleman said the pits would be in areas not previously excavated.

He said: "Everything we find will be looked at and form part of a report. It will all help clarify what has gone on there in the past.

"The usual arrangement is that material will go to the local museum and that's what I'd expect here."

The archaeologists expect to finish the first pit today and will start work on the next one on Monday.

Mark Lewis of Simons Developments that is carrying out the redevelopment, said: "We are very aware that this site is a public car park and an important facility in Dorchester town centre.

"All of the work has been planned to cause the absolute minimum of inconvenience and to retain the highest number of working car parking spaces."

Work is also under way to carry out deep-drilling to take core samples to assess the land and its load-bearing qualities.
From AP via Yahoo (hat tip to JMM):

Archaeologists have discovered extensive remains of what is believed to be an ancient marketplace with shops and a religious center at the southern edge of Athens, the Culture Ministry said Friday. The finds, in the coastal neighborhood of Voula, date from the 4th or 5th century B.C.

"It is a very large complex," the ministry said. "It was a site of rich financial and religious activity, which was most probably a marketplace."

Marketplaces — or agoras — teemed with shops, open-air stalls and administrative buildings, and were the financial, political and social center of ancient Greek life.

Archaeologists believe the complex belonged to the municipality of Aexonides Halai, among the largest settlements surrounding ancient Athens.

The main building was a hollow square with a rock-cut reservoir in the center. The building had 12 rooms — probably shops — and a small temple with an open-air altar.

Finds included large quantities of pottery, coins and lead weights that would have been used in transactions by traders.

Last month, archaeologists discovered an ancient theater in the northwestern Athens suburb of Menidi.
Stars and Stylus: Astronomy and Literature in the Graeco-Roman World
Friday, 11th May 2007, 11.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.

Prof. Josèphe-Henriette Abry (Lyons): “Manilius and Aratus, Two Stoic Poets on Stars”

Prof. Matthew Dickie (St Andrews): “The Preface to Iulius Firmicus Maternus’ Mathesis”

Dr. Emma Gee (Sydney): “Neo-Latin Astronomical Poetry and its Classical Background”

Prof. Andrew Gregory (Philosophy of Science, UCL): Plato and the Stars (TBC)

Prof. Robert Hannah (Otago, New Zealand): Between Science and Literature: Star Calendars in the Greek and Roman Worlds

Dr. Matthew Robinson (Greek and Latin, UCL): Eratosthenes' Catasterismoi and Roman Poetry

The stellar world has long been an integral part of Greek and Roman thinking: from its earliest days as a means of measuring time and establishing agricultural and sea-faring cycles, the stars quickly became linked to wider issues of life, such as philosophy (how do the stars affect our lives?) and politics (how do I use the stars to legitimise my actions?). Consequently, our earliest Greek authors show a keen interest in incorporating stars into their highly stylised literary texts, and this interest is maintained throughout the entire Greek and Roman period.

This one-day conference brings together scholars from Europe, Australia and New Zealand to explore the many fascinating lines of interaction between stars and text in both the Greek and Roman worlds. As well as providing a focal point for (especially) UK Classicists to discuss the relationship between stars and text in the ancient world, the variety of speakers will allow opportunities for some unique interdisciplinary discussion.

Those interested in attending should let me know (by email) at least a week in advance. Conference fee (which includes buffet lunch) is £15 for waged delegates, £10 for unwaged/ students: all payable on the day.

Dr. Steven J. Green
Department of Classics
University of Leeds
s.j.green AT leeds.ac.uk
ante diem vi nonas martias

Festival of Mars (Day 2)

c. 55 A.D. (?) -- birth of Decimus Junius Juvenalis ... a.k.a. Juvenal

258 A.D. -- Martyrdom of Jovinus and Basileus at Rome
analogue @ Merriam-Webster (don't think I've ever seen it spelled that way before)

paraph @ Wordsmith

immanitous @ Worthless Word for the Day

conflagration @ Dictionary.com

The Classics Technology Center offers us some medicine words ...


David Parsons writes:

But to someone like me, educated in Ireland and England, analogue seems correct, and analog always suggests that the writer has been called away leaving the word unfinished! My Chambers just says (in US also analog).


Ditto to me in Canada (where we generally use catalogue, e.g.); it seemed doubly strange that M-W would use the -gue spelling ...
From YLE:

Relationes Indiae et Pakistaniae
: Nuntii Latini

23.02.2007, klo 10.35

Saltem duodeseptuaginta homines mortui sunt, cum bombae in sarcinis reconditae in tramine, quod ex India in Pakistaniam versus iter faciebat, exitialiter displosae sunt.

Illud facinus pro ictu terroristico habetur, quod eo spectet, ut conatus pacis inter Indiam et Pakistaniam faciendae ad irritum cadant.

Quae quamvis ita essent, tantum afuit, ut utrique alter alterum criminarentur, ut consultationes pacis biduo post continuare decernerent.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)
Never heard of this story about Valerian before ... from Press TV:

Iran plans to restore an ancient bridge which is believed to have been constructed by the captive Roman emperor Valerian in AD 260 in return for his release from the Sassanid custody.

The bridge, named the Shadravan Bridge, is located in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, and is the longest and biggest ancient bridge in Iran.

Director of Shushtar Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, Mohammad-Hossein Arastuzadeh, has said that the site still needed to be studied in terms of architectural considerations before any further actions.

The ancient bridge dates back to the Sassanid period (226 - 651 AD). History has it that Shapur I, the second Sassanid king, agreed to free Valerian and his soldiers - who had lost a war against the Persians - on the condition that they build what is today called the Shadravan bridge.

The bridge originally had a total of 44 arches of which only 37 remain now.

The Wikipedia article seems to hint at this 'alternate view' of the fate of Valerian (whom Lactantius tells us met a painful fate), but I can't say anything about the sources ... the de Imperibus Romanis article gives the view most of us (I suspect) learned ...
This sort of thing comes up every now and then ... an excerpt from the Houstonian:

But this story is not about toys, or boxes or books; it's about candles. Specifically, the candles that sit atop a birthday cake, which are traditionally blown out by the birthday boy or girl. It is believed that the custom of placing candles on a birthday cake was started by early Greeks who used to place candles on the cake that they offered to Artemis - the Goddess of Moon. Lit candles made their round shape cake glow - similar to the moon.

... I don't believe the ancient Greeks actually had candles (especially what we think of as a candle, with a wick). If someone can point me to evidence that they did, I'd be grateful ...
A piece by Colin Renfrew in the Art Newspaper:

The Sevso story gets murkier and murkier. For the archaeologist and, indeed, for the general public the scandal of clandestine and presumably illegal excavation is, above all, the loss of information. We learn about the human past when artefacts like the late Roman silver vessels of the Sevso Treasure are found from the context of their discovery. We need to know exactly how a find was made, in what context, and with what other materials. And above all we need to know where it was found—a workshop, a rich burial, a Roman villa?

This document to Guernroy Ltd reveals the antiquities trade at its most ugly and shameful. It suggests what many have long suspected: that the 14 splendid silver vessels which are currently in the possession of the Marquess of Northampton are only a part of a larger hoard, which was split up by dealers more concerned with gain than historical information following its discovery. The tragedy of Sevso is not only that the treasure was removed from its country of origin and the circumstances of its discovery lost, but that this important find may have been split up.

The second document, to the aptly-named Mr Risk in the Lebanon, would be comic if the Sevso story were not such a tragedy to archaeology. The trustees are revealed as paying $500,000 for “legal export licences” for those 14 silver vessels, licences which would document that they had been exported from the Lebanon. But export licences are usually issued prior to the export taking place! On what evidence would these “legal export licences” be issued? The public at large are entitled to ask those serving as trustees then what grounds they had for supposing that the 14 silver vessels had ever been in the Lebanon. The trail in this murky affair seems instead to lead back to Vienna. Members of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group heard last year in Westminster about the evidence which Hungarian archaeologists claim establishes the findspot as near Lake Balaton in Hungary. Hungary’s claim, which was dismissed by a New York court in 1993, raises many unanswered questions about the Sevso silver.

Is it not time that there was a public inquiry into the Sevso Affair? Lord Northampton in 1991 received an out-of-court settlement of an undisclosed sum, believe to be around £25m, from Peter Mimpriss, his former lawyer and his law firm Allen & Overy, for mishandling his affairs. The writ of summons alleged “fraud, deceit, negligence and fraudulent misrepresentation” among other claims. Presumably these troubling documents, now made public for the first time by The Art Newspaper, were already revealed in the papers submitted to the court at that time, but all the materials then submitted remain confidential under the terms of the settlement. The Early Day Motion set down by Tim Loughton, MP, calls for an expert and independent evaluation of all the evidence relating to the Sevso Treasure. I would go one step further and ask for the publication and public evaluation of that evidence. It is time now for some transparency in an effort to establish the treasure’s place of discovery.

Meanwhile, what of the “187 silvergilt spoons, 37 silvergilt drinking cups and five silver bowls” which the documents say were “guaranteed” by Halim Korban as “future purchases” by or on behalf of Lord Northampton? Are they part of the Sevso treasure? Lord Northampton says he did not buy them. So what did happen to them? These are matters of public concern within the UK because the 14 vessels which Lord Northampton holds are currently located in the UK. Indeed they formed the basis for that curious exhibition, held last year in Bond Street at Bonhams the auctioneers, to which the general public was not admitted, when they were seen for the first time by archaeologists in this country.

The Sevso Treasure is one of the important discoveries of the past 30 years and deserves to be exhibited in the national museum of its country of origin. These squalid documents go some way to explaining why that is not yet the case.
Interesting reviewish thing from Spiegel:

Not long after the birth of Christ, when the most debauched phase of Roman history began, the wife of Emperor Claudius -- Messalina, 34 years his junior -- made a name for herself by challenging the city's best known whore to a sex marathon. Who can keep going for longer, the licentious wife wanted to know. She won by holding out for "25 rounds."

Details on the wanton competition can be found in the "Book of Ancient Records," compiled by Allan and Cecilia Klynne and published in Germany by the C.H. Beck publishing house. How fat was the fattest snail? What was the price of the most expensive slave? Swedish archaeologists Cecilia and Allan Klynne provide the answers, free of "academic commentary and lengthy footnotes."

The scientists combed through hundreds of old texts in their search for superlatives. Here are some of the results: The tallest man in the ancient world measured 288 centimeters (9 foot 5 inches), while the shortest (60 centimeters -- 2 feet) was barely as tall as a bedside table. Another treat from the book: The naturalist Pliny reports the case of some conserved beans that were forgotten in the cellar and retained their taste for 220 years.

"Extreme accomplishments and bizarre phenomena have always fascinated mankind," the "Book of Ancient Records" states.

Even the Ancient Greeks kept records of top achievements in the areas of sports, nature and anatomy, according to the book. The most resilient runner covered 238 kilometers (176 miles) in a day. A soldier from Alexander's army drank 13.5 liters (3.6 gallons) of wine during a drinking competition -- and then fell over dead.

Ancient Greece may also have ranked virtues and vices. The greatest sycophants are said to have sat at the table of Dionysius I of Syracuse. To make the half-blind tyrant look good, they constantly reached clumsily across the table. When he drooled, they licked the saliva from his clothes.

During the early days of the Roman empire, the appetite for whatever was "faster, bigger, further" became the general attitude towards life. The empire went in for full-scale one-upmanship. So it purchased the heaviest amber stone (four kilograms, 8.8 lbs.) and allowed per capita water consumption in the city to climb as high as 1,100 liters (291 gallons). Actress Galeria Copiola still appeared on stage at age 104. But she had an unfair advantage over other aged thespians: She specialized in mime.

Since the senatorial nobility that roamed from one party to the next in those days constantly required new subject matter for small talk, scholars sat down and compiled lists of astonishing facts. The resulting literary rubric was known as "mirabilia" ("wondrous things").

The anthologies were a source of helpful tips to toga-wearing braggarts out to woo women at the buffet. They contained information on the "most beautiful bosom" and on the catapult whose reach was 720 meters (2,362 feet). Emperor Augustus purchased a bird that crowed "Ave Caesar!" ("Hail Caesar!") for the record sum of 20,000 sestertia (some €120,000).

When woven elegantly into conversation, such factoids always worked. So the mirabilia authors provided ever new catalogs of eccentric records. Pliny put together a list of the most painful diseases. Kidney stones are given first place by him, followed by stomach ulcers and migraines.

The Romans didn't even stop short of the obscene. The cleanest sodomist was a shepherd from southern Italy said to have made his favorite goat gargle rose water because of its halitosis. Architects also inclined towards excess in those days. They built an aqueduct 48 meters (158 feet) tall near Nimes in what is today southern France. The largest race track for horses had room for an audience of 250,000.

Nero's gold-plated villa on the Palatine Hill was considered the most expensive palace of all times. A hall of pillars 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) wide stretched in front of the main building. Pipes running across the ceilings of the dining rooms sprayed flower blossoms or perfume down onto the guests.

But Rome's gossip-hungry nobility had nothing but derision for the inhabitants of the empire's fringe regions. The Germans were considered the most primitive people in the world, while geographer Strabon (63 BC-23 AD) attributed the most eccentric personal hygiene habit -- storing urine in cisterns and bathing in it -- to the natives of Spain.

But its doubtful if these kinds of negative records always corresponded to reality. Stopwatches and official inspectors were unheard of at the time. The editors of the "Book of Ancient Records," Allan and Cecilia Klynne, have their doubts as to whether a certain Marcus Aponius really lived to be 140, just as they're skeptical about extremely handicapped people who were unable to walk despite having legs.

The reason they couldn't walk? Their feet pointed backward.

From AP via Yahoo:

A 2,200-year-old statue of the goddess Hera has been found built into the walls of a city under Mount Olympus, home of Greece's ancient gods, archaeologists said on Thursday. The headless marble statue was discovered last year during excavations in the ruins of ancient Dion, some 53 miles southwest of Thessaloniki.

Archaeologist Dimitris Pantermalis said the life-sized — by human dimensions — statue had been used by the early Christian inhabitants of Dion as filling for a defensive wall.

He said the 2nd century B.C. find appeared to have originally stood in a temple of Zeus, head of the ancient Greek gods — whose statue was found in the building's ruins in 2003 and after whom Dion was named.

"We have reached the conclusion that the statue of Hera stood next to that of Zeus in the temple," said Pantermalis, a Thessaloniki University professor who has headed excavations at Dion for more than three decades.

Hera was the long-suffering wife of Zeus, a notorious philanderer, according to ancient mythology.

"The statue represents a female form seated on a throne, and is made of thick-grained marble like the one of Zeus," Pantermalis said. "It shows exactly the same technique and size, which led us to link the two statues beyond doubt."

Pantermalis said that, if confirmed, it would be the first time two statues of different gods have been located from a single temple in Greece. He said it was also possible that a statue of Athena, goddess of wisdom, could have stood in the temple of Zeus, and expressed hopes it might be discovered during future excavations.

Dion was a major religious center of the ancient Macedonians. Alexander the Great offered sacrifices there before launching his victorious campaign against the Persian Empire in the 4th century B.C.

Excavations so far have revealed temples, theaters and a stadium, city walls, a hotel, baths and streets with an elaborate drainage system, as well as many statues.

The area was first inhabited during the Iron Age, and survived into early Christian times when it was the seat of a bishop.

Pantermalis will present the find on Friday, during a three-day archaeological conference that opened in Thessaloniki Thursday.

... not sure if the photo accompanying the original article is the statue in queston.
From the Daily Review Atlas:

Competing against seventh and eighth graders in the Eighth Annual Monmouth-Roseville Classics Bee didn't phase two area students.

Caroline Vellenga-Buban, a sixth grader of Mrs. Kucharz at Lincoln School in Monmouth took home first place, while Drew Perry, a student of Mrs. Cunningham at Immaculate Conception School took second. Carter Neal, an eighth grader of Mrs. Heaton at Monmouth-Roseville Junior High School took home third place. Thirty-one contestants from Roseville Elementary, Lincoln School, Monmouth-Roseville JHS and Immaculate Conception School participated in the event.

The event is sponsored by the Monmouth-Roseville High School Latin Club. Latin students from the high school assisted with writing questions, setting up the event, and reading questions to the students about ancient history, word roots, mythology, and culture. Monmouth-Roseville High School Latin teacher Brian Tibbets, Classics Professor Tom Sienkewicz, and Classics Professor Vicki Wine, both of Monmouth College, served as judges for the event.

The format of the Classics Bee follows that of a spelling or geography bee. Round 1 had a possibility of two multiple-choice answers, round two had a possibility of three answers, and round three had a possibility of four answers. Rounds four and five consisted of "free-response" questions that provided no multiple-choice answers. Once the three contestants remained, the event moved to a "Final Jeopardy" format. Each of the three contestants wrote down answers to ten questions. The judges then tallied those results and the winners were announced.

The winners each received a trophy, a book translated into Latin, and a $50 savings bond. The 1st place book prize this year was the newly released Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum, a Latin translation of the popular Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book. The savings bonds are sponsored by the Gamma Omicron Chapter of Eta Sigma Phi at Monmouth College, by the Ayers Family of Monmouth, and the Myers Family of Monmouth.
From Today's Zaman comes a piece which I wish had a bit more detail:

An antique olive oil factory was discovered in the Milas village of Çakıralan in southwestern Turkey.
Staff from Selçuk University initiated archeological digs after a search for coal uncovered tombs with adjacent chambers a short while ago, the Anatolia news agency reported. One of the archeologists working at the site, Tuncay Özdemir, said the first results of the digging had revealed an ancient olive oil factory.
Remarking that the factory is estimated to be at least 2,300 years old, Özdemir said: "To be honest, the discovery stunned us. It functions just like the factories of today. We assume that the olive oil was transferred to ships in amphorae, which then carried them to the markets." Commenting on the ancient tomb discovered during the initial stages of digging, Özdemir said, "Bronze, silver and high quality ceramic pieces' presence in that tomb are a sign that it must've belonged to a very rich person."
Sum quod eris.
(Tombstone inscription)

pron = soom kwod EH-ris.

I am what you will be.

Comment: After the last 24 hours with what would have become
full-blown pneumonia I could only laugh when I read this next little
"poverb". I've felt like the only thing left was to die!

Besides the stark reality that such a tombstone issues to a passerby,
it also acknowledges the never ending cycle of things. Thich Nhat
Hanh, Buddhist teacher and wise man whose work I have followed for
years, often recalls this cycle in the beautiful rose. He says, when
you look deeply into the rose, you see the sun and the rain and the
earthworm and the refuse from the kitchen which the earthworm turned
into compost that fed the rosebush that produced the rose. And, if
you keep looking, you will see that this beautiful rose will, itself,
turn brown and die and be placed on the compost heap itself. And the
cycle continues. This beautiful rose becomes compost that nourishes
the squash plant that produces the squash that ends up on my table
feeding me.

We are part of the cycle. I was part of a discussion recently in
which some authentically spiritual people were discussing the
slaughter of animals for our food. We ended up in the same cycle
discussion as Thich Nhat Hanh, only one member of the group added
humans to it. Some day, each of us will pass, and our bodies will add
nourishment to the soil, for the roots of the trees that take
nourishment and continue to sustain life on this planet with oxygen.
We don't talk this way, much, in our culture. We are too squeamish,
but there is something, to me, very solid and reassuring knowing that
all creatures, including me, participate in the cycle of

I have enjoyed the gifts of this life immensely in my life, and
pneumonia not withstanding, hope to for a long time. One day I will
be what others before me have become. I will give back to the cycle
of life.

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

This was originally the beginning of the New Year for the ancient Romans (and the consuls would probably enter office on this date prior to 153 B.C.)

Festival of Mars, which included a procession of the Salian priests around the city singing their mysterious Carmen Saliare

"birthday" of the temple of Juno Lucina

Matronalia -- a sort of 'unofficial' festival during which it was customary for hubbies to pray for the ongoing health of their spouses and give them presents; for their part, the wives apparently served the slaves (sort of like Saturnalia and Mother's Day rolled into one)

509 B.C. -- hot on the heels of the death of Lucius Junius Brutus on the battlefield (see yesterday), P. Valerius Poplicola delivers a funeral oration which Plutarch claimed 'began the tradition'

293 A.D. -- Co-emperor Maximian adopts Constantius, who is given the title Caesar (and it is possible that Diocletian similarly adopted and conferred a similar title upon Galerius)

2005 -- birth of our dog, named by the rogueclassicist Tyche, but misheard by the liberi as Tyke ...
From YLE:

Conventus in Proximo Oriente
: Nuntii Latini

23.02.2007, klo 10.34

Ehud Olmert, princeps minister Israelis, et Mahmoud Abbas, praesidens Palaestinensium, conventu Hierosolymis habito amplius duas horas de summis rebus collocuti sunt.

Sequestra pacis erat Condoleezza Rice, ministra a rebus exteris Civitatum Americae Unitarum.

Quae nuntiavit utramque partem se id acturam esse promisisse, ut Israeliani et Palaestinenses coniunctim et cum pace viverent.

Id quoque convenisse, ne civitas Palaestinensium vi et terrore posita conderetur.

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

epistemic @ Worthless Word for the Day

profligate @ Dictionary.com
The APA has an interesting fundraising effort ... from the official page:

The APA seeks to raise $4 million that will enable it to continue to transform the field of Classics and to serve students, teachers, and scholars in the 21st century. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has endorsed this Campaign for Classics with an extraordinary Challenge Grant of $650,000, requiring a four-to-one match to secure the entire amount.

The campaign will develop an endowment to support a new American Center for Classics Research and Teaching. The aim of the Center is to make high quality information about the Classical World available in accessible formats to the largest possible audience by using technology in new and exciting ways. We will accelerate the transformation of our field from the “gatekeeper” of knowledge to the “gateway” to insight, offering all the rich and rewarding world of Classics. Your support will enable the American Center to:

* Create sophisticated and accessible research tools for Classics teachers and scholars
* Develop the next generation of inspired, diverse teachers of Classics and Classical Languages
* Support wider public understanding and appreciation of Classical Civilization

... all the details. I wonder if making TAPA available online for all will be among the methods to make high quality info available to the largest possible audience.
From the Stanford Daily:

Classics Professor and Department Chair Richard Martin has thick curly hair, a graying beard and a calm presence — you get the sense that he has some perspective on the world around him, perhaps from his deep study of Homer, Aristophanes and the rest of Greek literature.

In a way, Martin’s first introduction to the Classics came when he learned Latin to serve Mass as an altar boy. But it was listening to his grandparents mix Irish and English in a thick brogue that truly kindled his interest in the puzzles of language and technology. Their speech gave him a glimpse of the mystery of a “slightly exotic culture” and presented language as culture’s gatekeeper.

Stories and language permeated Martin’s youth in other ways as well. Among Irish-American families, he said, “there is a great emphasis on oral tradition and tradition generally.” Additionally, in Martin’s hometown of Boston, people passed the muggy summer evenings talking on their porches. As he grew up, Martin continued to study Latin, but also spent much of his free time exploring the worlds painted in fantasy novels and folk-tales.

This interest in story and culture lead Martin to study Classics and Celtic languages in college. From there he worked as a police reporter for the Boston Globe, exploring murder, assault and fire scenes, until he made his way to graduate school.

When I asked Martin about why language interests him so much, he said, “language is so completely personal — everyone with his or her own idiolect.” He went on to explain how we remember the tones, voices and phrases of friends, enemies and loved ones. He told me that he is interested in “the personal use of language” rather than its abstract study.

“It’s hard for humanities professors to say I [study one thing specifically],” he said, “there is a great holism in the humanities — you get a piece of the human experience and the rest comes with it”.

Martin’s research focuses primarily on Homeric poetry and how it existed as a performance art in Ancient Greece, as opposed to the way that we conceptualize it — as written text. He does fieldwork in modern Crete, talking to people who still memorize the traditional oral epics and recording them singing these poems.

Martin’s research led him to find a number of similarities between ancient Greek epic poetry and modern rap. He told me how both genres center on heroes who display their strength, courage and skill through their masterful articulation of language. The heroes of rap and epic poetry are “not brutes,” but “but wonderfully articulate,” Martin said.

But in Martin’s eyes, research does not stand alone; it is complementary to teaching. Each time he presents ancient Greek culture to those who don’t know it, he is “forced to reintroduce himself to it.” He gave the wonderful example of how his researching the original semantics of the word “myth” for his Greek myth class led him to an extended research project that culminated in a book.

Teaching is especially important for the Classics, Martin explained, because “if you don’t teach the new generation, [Classics as a discipline] will die.”

I asked Martin what advice he would offer the student body. He suggested first and foremost that we “explore [our] own passions and not worry if [we’re] going to get a job.” He also offered a “secret of the ancients” — find “time to do nothing.”

Latest from the Sofia Echo:

The number of tourists who visit the Rhodope Mountains village of Gela increased significantly since the village was pronounced to be the birthplace of mythical musician Orpheus.

In March 2005 local authorities put a welcoming sign at the entrance of the village. The sign said Welcome To Orpheus’ Birthplace. Local authorities also started promoting the village in various tourism websites.

Gela was currently included in the project for Perelik tourism complex construction, Bulgarian news agency BTA said. Nearly 12 km of ski tracks, as well as ski-lifts will be constructed near the village.

The construction of an English village near Gela was also planned, BTA said.

According to ancient Greek myths Orpheus was Thracian king and magical musician.

He loved his wife Eurydice so much that gods allowed him to enter the underworld to bring her back from death. The only condition Orpheus had to fulfill was not to look at his wife until they reached earth. Orpheus failed and lost Eurydice forever.