ante diem xii kalendas januarias

Saturnalia continues (day 5)

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

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

253 A.D. -- martyrdom of Themistocles
Folks should be aware that over the next couple of weeks we'll be 'on the road' (not at the APA, alas) and my Internet access will be sporadic/non-existent, so updates will reflect that ... look for us to return in full measure in early January! Happy Saturnalia, Merry Festivus, Merry Christmas!
From the Liverpool Daily Post:

The Roman diet was by far the healthiest for modern man

JUST a whiff of the smell-o-rama machine pumping realistic period pongs into York’s Jorvik Centre confirmed any nagging doubts that I wasn’t designed for the cut and thrust of Viking times.

In fact, quite a few centuries would have to elapse before I really would feel happy to set my dainty foot on a land yet to get to grips with a satisfactory sewage and sanitary system.

Period drama-makers have been all too happy to remind us of these less hygienically challenged times, when the unadulterated foul nature of this land was green, but far from pleasant.

It was something of a shock, therefore, to learn that people in medieval times were healthier than modern Britons, as they did not suffer from cholesterol-related diseases.

It’s important that I share this with you, as some readers might be eyeing up a few rounds of Irish coffee this Christmas, which provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.

Whatever the short-comings of living somewhere between the Roman occupation and the Victorian drainage programme, pelted with pox, plague and contents of chamber pots, the population’s diet avoided foods which caused heart disease.

Excessive levels of cholesterol didn’t exist in Roman through to Medieval times. This is a current malaise caused by excessive consumption of refined foods coupled with a lack of exercise.

The daily diet of Roman Britons some two millennia ago was fruit, fish, whole grains, vegetables and olive oil, further lubricated by red wine. It came to about 120g of fat, 80g of protein and 600g of carbohydrates.

Mind you, even the Romans had their sceptics. Seneca complained: “You won’t be surprised that diseases are innumerable – count the cooks.”

No wonder we’re reminded of him whenever we take a seneca pod. Fast forward two thousand years and the British diet is higher in fat, lower in fruit and vegetables and higher in refined sugar.

Together, they have contributed to the obesity-related disease and cholesterol. We’re settled into that customary British condition where the wine is a farce and the food a tragedy.

If healthy eating starts with children at home, the Romans were much luckier than us. They did not have to contend with children tempted into sin with Pot Noodles.

Our youngsters’ general attitude to vegetables reflects Ogden Nash’s pocket poem that “parsley is gharsley”.

Most of us mothers got the sprouts on back in October for Christmas Day, a vegetable that is particularly useful to get even with our offspring. PJ O’Rourke noted: “If you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something brussels sprouts never do.”

How true. What the Medieval diet needs is some proper marketing. Forget the F Plan and try the Plantagenet Plan.

This Medieval food research was carried out for Lloyds Pharmacy by Dr Roger Henderson, who surmised that it was by far the healthiest for the average man.

It was low in saturated fats and transfats, high in vegetables and a moderate intake of weak alcohol.

In tandem with a with a very active work routine, this meant their risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity linked diseases was far below that of 2007.

The down side of living in pre-antibiotic Plantagenet Britain was that you were even likely to pick up more infections than in the average NHS ward (leaving aside the current problems of hospital food).

Childbirth-related deaths and infant mortality were also very high, which taken together meant that the average medieval lifespan was about half what we have now.

“The Roman diet was healthy provided you were wealthy enough to afford the fresh fruit, vegetables and fish so common in the Mediterranean diet,” points out Dr Henderson.

“It was probably higher in fat overall than the medieval diet, but far healthier than today.”

Unbelievably, daily exercise has decreased by at least an average of 96% since Roman and medieval times, according to Dr Henderson.

It has dropped from eight hours a day to less than 20 minutes in our almost totally sedentary lives.

Still, no point in worrying about it all this until after Christmas, when I’ve roasted my way merrily through everything from turkey to chestnuts.

In spite of our shelves groaning with diet books (some of which I have opened), I can’t help but agree with Fran Lebowitz: “Large raw carrots (and any other uncooked vegetable) are acceptable as food only to those who live in hutches, eagerly awaiting Easter.”

Merry Christmas everybody.
Folks may have noticed that the current issue of Archaeology Magazine has a feature on the top ten discoveries of 2007 ... nothing within our purview cracked the top ten, alas. The online version, though, includes items they argued about and there are a couple of items we recognize: the thing about Alexander's Tyrian seigework and the discovery of the Imperial standards.
Panel on the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia: Call for papers

2008 is the 100th birthday of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia: the first set of papyrus fragments - the part now known as "The London Fragment" - of this important text, obviously a major historical work composed in the first half of the 4th century BC, was published in that year, in volume 5 of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Since that time several new fragments have been published, the most recent in 1976. The result is a substantial, but nevertheless tantalizingly incomplete, remainder of a second "continuator of Thucydides" besides Xenophon.

To recognize this occasion, and also honour the memory of Iain Bruce, the scholar who produced the first historical commentary on the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia, a long-time member of the Classics Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who died a few months ago, we would like to have a session of papers devoted to the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia at the May 2008 CAC meeting in Montréal. Abstracts are invited on any aspect of scholarship relating to this work. They should be clearly marked at the top with the notice, "Hellenica Oxyrhynchia panel".

George Pesely Catherine Rubincam

Department of History Department of Historical Studies

Austin Peay University University of Toronto

PeselyG AT catherine.rubincam AT

Abstracts should be sent by e-mail to Dr Vayos Liapis: vayos.liapis AT
14 January Prof. Roger Ling (University of Manchester)
Theseus at the Gates of the Labyrinth: Interpreting a Pompeian Painting

28 January Stacey McGowen (University of Oxford)
And the Arch Marches On: Changing Iconographies on Stone Arches in the
Northwest Roman Provinces

11 February Dr. Katharina Lorenz (University of Nottingham)
Image in Distress: The Meleager Sarcophagus in Paris and the Problem of
Visual Narrative

25 February Dr Jan Stubbe Æstergaard (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen)
Ancient Sculptural Polychromy: Research Status and Ways Forward

10 March Dr. Jas Elsner (University of Oxford)
Three Late Roman Boxes

28 April Prof. Michel Meyer (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
The Coherence of Roman Art: From Religion to Painting, Sculpture, and

12 May Dr. Jessica Hughes (University of Cambridge)
Anatomical Votives in Italy

All seminars held at 5.30pm in Seminar Room 1 [tbc], Courtauld Institute of
Art, Somerset House, Strand, London. For further info contact
A.Claridge AT or peter.stewart AT

The next Roman Archaeology Conference, sponsored by the Roman Society of London, will be held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on April 3-5, 2009.

As is the custom, the RAC does not invite submission of individual papers but rather the proposal of thematic sessions accompanied by suggestions of the names of 5 or 6 speakers per session. These proposals should be sent to jra AT which will forward them to all the committee members, who are Tony Wilmott (Roman Society ex officio), Susan Alcock, Peter Attema, Stephen Dyson, Bruce Hitchner, John Humphrey, Simon Keay, David Mattingly and Nicola Terrenato. A member of the committee will then help develop the programme with the session organizer.

The Web site for the conference will be . Information about registration and accommodations, as well as session themes, will be posted by the spring of 2008. We warmly invite speakers and attendees and would be grateful if you would alert your own friends and colleagues to this upcoming conference to help ensure its success.
... December listings now available at the APA site ...

18th-19th September 2008 at the Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, University of London

The 2008 Olympics in Beijing, poised between the return of the Games to Athens in 2004, and the future return to London in 2012, present a striking opportunity to reassess the role of the classical tradition in the modern, post-classical Olympic Games. Certain versions of a so-called Hellenic ideal have regularly been a feature of public discourse about the Olympics, and have occasioned much of the inventing of traditions that has surrounded the Games since their revival in the nineteenth century. Classical references were very visible in the 2004 Games, and the Athens celebrations were also accompanied by a number of books that together helped to redefine the understanding of the ancient games and their commemoration in poetry and pottery. The classical figures are considerably more muted in the publicity for the Beijing Games, so that it is legitimate to question how much and under what conditions the classical tradition has further relevance for contemporary Olympics, or contemporary Olympics for the classical tradition.

This interdisciplinary conference invites submissions that consider the versions of ancient Greece legible, or suppressed, in the iconography, histories, literature, and ceremonies, both official and unofficial, of the revived Olympic Games. Papers will centrally address some classical aspect of the modern Olympic Games, but may be substantially focussed on topics including, although not limited to

the poetics of athletics Olympic ideals in statuary, painting, ceramics and iconography
epic figures and the Olympics
the Games as theatrical performance
international games and globalisation
nationalism at the Olympics sport and war
race/ethnicity at the Olympics
gender and the Olympics
the Paralympics and classical ideals
the ethics of sportsmanship
Perspectives from a variety of relevant disciplines, including classical reception studies, history ancient and modern, literary criticism, cultural studies, history of art, theatre studies, anthropology, media studies, political science, philosophy, sports science, and the history of medicine, are all welcome.

We are pleased to announce that Professor David Gilman Romano, of the University of Pennsylvania, will be our keynote speaker.

A leading academic publisher has expressed interest in publishing a selection of the proceedings.

The conference is supported by Goldsmiths, University of London and the University of Reading.

Please send a 300 word abstract, suitable for a 20-minute paper, to Michael Simpson (m.simpson At, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London or to Barbara Goff (b.e.goff At, Department of Classics, University of Reading. The deadline for the receipt of abstracts is 31st March 2008.
7.00 p.m. |DCIVC| First Olympian
Examine the remains of an ancient athlete called Ikkos; forensics detail the competitor's tip-top conditioning, diet and best sports; witness training and events from early Olympics when athletes weren't worried about doping but simply staying alive.

8.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Lost Temple To The Gods
In 20 B.C., the lost city of Heracleion was famous for its beaches, palatial villas, sexually charged rites and miracle cures; its crowning jewel, the Temple of Hercules, lay at the gateway to Egypt's Nile River and ruled by Cleopatra.

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)
ante diem xiii kalendas januarias

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

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

entheomania @ Worthless Word for the Day

excursive @ Wordsmith

audition @ Merriam-Webster
From the Independent:

Asterix and Obelix, had they existed, might have paid for their mead and other magic potions with gold-silver-copper coins stamped with elaborate images of men and horses.

The largest treasure trove of pre-Roman, Gaulish money ever to be found has been discovered in central Brittany.

The 545 coins – each worth thousands of euros to collectors but priceless to historians and archaeologists – could overturn much of the received wisdom about the complexity, and wealth, of pre-Roman Celtic society in France. Why was such enormous wealth, a king's ransom at the time, buried in the grounds of a large Gaulish farm 40 miles south of Saint-Brieuc in the first century BC? Why was the hoard never recovered?

"Treasure on this scale would only have been used for transactions between aristocratic families," said Yves Menez, an archaeologist specialising in iron-age Brittany. It has always been assumed that the Celtic nobility lived in fortified towns, not in the wild and dangerous countryside. "The reality must have been more complex," Mr Menez said. Like all Gaulish coins, the 58 "stateres" and 487 quarter "stateres" found near to the village of Laniscat are copies of early Greek money.

Gauls served as mercenaries in the armies of Alexander the Great. The money that they brought home served as the model for home-minted coins. Some of the new treasure trove, rescued from the site of a proposed dual-carriageway, have the familiar Celtic monetary pattern of a horse on one side and a man's head on the reverse. Other coins have hitherto unknown designs, such as horses with human heads.

There are also images of riders and wild boars.

Smaller caches of Gaulish coins have turned up in the past but rarely of such quality and never in such numbers.

Most transactions for goods in Gaulish times were conducted through barter.

Coins were for the super-rich. "This is an exceptional discovery," said Mr Menez. "It represents a colossal fortune for the period. Each of these coins was like a 500 euro note today."

The hoard of coins was discovered by the French government agency, the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP), which has the right to explore any potentially significant site before a road or new building covers it forever. The coins are believed to have been minted in around 75 to 5BC. They were probably buried just before, or during, the first Roman invasions of what is now northern and western France.

A dig led by INRAP archaeologist Eddie Roy discovered the coins scattered over 200 square metres of a site soon to be occupied by a new by-pass.

It is believed that they were all buried together but disturbed over the centuries by agricultural ploughing. "We found a single coin about 30cms down and then we started a systematic search," Mr Roy said.

"We found 50 more in a single day and then, with the help of metal detectors, we located all the others."

The dig unearthed the remains of a large manor house or farm, which is thought to have belonged to the "Osisme" people – a Celtic tribe living in the far west of the Breton peninsula. The coins were probably buried in the farm's boundary embankment. Why? To hide the wealth from the Romans? Possibly. The farm was occupied for several centuries after the treasure was buried but the coins were never recovered: one small part of Gaul which resisted the Roman invasion.
We had a brief item on this before ... this adds some interesting details. From the International Herald Tribune:

In Greek, the word nostos means homecoming; the plural is nostoi. Hence the title of an exhibition that Italy has organized to trumpet the return of dozens of ancient artifacts that until recently adorned showcases in American museums and private galleries.

"Nostoi: Recovered Masterpieces" does not pull its punches in explaining how those objects made their way abroad: They were looted from Italian archaeological sites.

Excavated "from the bowels of the earth," "deprived of their identity" and "reduced to mere objects of beauty, without a soul," these pieces "conclude their odyssey here today," Francesco Rutelli, Italy's culture minister, told reporters at a press briefing on Monday at the Quirinale, or presidential palace, where the show is to open on Friday.

He called the exhibition, which is free to the public, "a Christmas present."

The sprawling effort by Italy to negotiate the return of the antiquities is reflected in the exhibition placards: "Attic black-figure amphora with Heracles fighting Geryon, circa 540 BC, formerly J. Paul Getty Museum."

"Marble statue of Vibia Sabina, second century AD, formerly Museum of Fine Arts, Boston."

"Proto-Corinthian oinochoe" — a wine jug — "with snake, 700-675 BC, formerly Princeton University Art Museum."

"Apulian red-figure dinos" — a mixing bowl for wine and water — "with the myth of Busyrides, circa 340-320 BC, formerly Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York."

And so on. All told, 69 objects have been included in the exhibition. For Italian cultural officials and negotiators, the show is a declaration of victory in their long and often contentious negotiations for the return of such artifacts.

Along with the pieces from the four American museums (most, nearly 40, from the Getty's antiquities villa in Pacific Palisades, California), are 5 of 8 pieces that were returned this year from the Royal Athena Galleries in New York. The Greek government lent a statue from the sixth century BC of a kore, or maiden, to thank Italy for its help in pressing its own separate claims to items it says were looted.

Some objects in the show are the result of other recoveries, like the fragment from the first century BC of an ivory head that was seized in 2003 from the collection of a London dealer.

While the show clearly celebrates the success of the Italians' strategy — a mix of legal threats and moral suasion bolstered by a news media campaign — officials insisted that it was not meant to be triumphal in tone.

At the news conference Rutelli pointed out that Italy had made its own acts of restitution, returning hundreds of objects to their countries of origin, most prominently Pakistan and Iran. If Italy has reason to be proud, he said, it is for the role it played in "bringing about radical changes in the trade of looted antiquities."

Statements from the four American museums in the introduction to the exhibition similarly suggested no public ill will.

"An exhibition such as this serves to remind us all that we share a common heritage, and a reverence for artistic achievement that cannot but unite, rather than divide, us in the future," wrote Phillippe de Montebello, the Met's director.

While the Getty Villa will "greatly miss" the "carefully tended" objects returning to Italy, wrote that museum's director, Michael Brand, the Getty can celebrate the long-term loans offered by Italy as part of their accord.

"This exhibition stands as a significant milestone in the complex international debate over cultural patrimony," Brand said. One placard in the show was bereft of its object: the 2,500 year-old Euphronios krater. This showpiece, a vessel for mixing water and wine, is being returned by the Met but will not join the other artifacts until Jan. 15. (The exhibition runs through March 2.)

It is arguably the most emblematic piece in the exhibition, given that the Met led the way for the other American museums in brokering an accord, and the Italians had intermittently sought its return for more than three decades.

The museum relinquished the item, along with 20 other artifacts, after Italian negotiators presented evidence that they said confirmed its illicit provenance.

Such evidence of wrongdoing also spurred the other pacts. Adding to the pressure was the Rome trial of the antiquities dealer who sold the Met the piece, Robert Hecht, and of Marion True, the former curator of antiquities at the Getty. Both are charged with conspiracy to traffic in looted artifacts but deny the charges.

Rutelli said on Monday that the show could expand as investigations continued into the practices of other European, Asian and American institutions that he declined to name.

But rather than a sign of capitulation by the American museums, Italian officials said, the handovers reflect a sea change in attitudes in the museum world.

"It would be a little sad if in the end all of this was just the result of the prosecutors' threats and that American museums had only reacted because of legal questions," said Stefano De Caro, the culture ministry's director general of archaeology.

If that were so, he said, years' worth of discussions "would have been for nothing."


Stieg Hedlund scripsit:

As to these claims from Rutelli, “Excavated ‘from the bowels of the earth,’ ‘deprived of their identity’ and ‘reduced to mere objects of beauty, without a soul,’” my family and I toured Italy extensively for about a month last year, and I’d unhesitatingly lay these same criticism at Italy’s door. They have innumerable magnificent artifacts, but the museums are out of date and insufficient, poorly organized, don’t give useful information about the items, etc. In particular the National Museum of Naples (which I’d also complain has no parking whatever), and the Capitoline Museum were experiences of simultaneous wonder and disgust for my family. The Italians, and clearly the Popes were the first and best looters of Roman artifacts.
Brief item from Metro:

The grave of a woman dating back 1,800 years has been uncovered and it proves she was literally well heeled.

The woman was wearing luxury cork slippers which are believed to have resembled moccasins or Dr Scholl sandals.

The wearer lived in a Roman village near Stonehenge, in Wiltshire.

The slippers, thought to have been imported from Spain or Portugal, are the best preserved footwear found from the period.

A girl of about eight in the limestone coffin was wearing calf skin shoes that were ankle high.

... a photo of the 'slipper' accompanies the original article (I think it's being held upside down):


Dr Max Nelson scripsit:

Shoes may have been corked to make them more comfortable but Alexis (fr. 103 Kassel-Austin in Athen., Deipn. 13.568b) says that corked shoes were used by prostitutes to make themselves look taller. Padded shoes to increase height are also mentioned in Xen., Cyr. 8.1.41.
Newsweek has an OpEd piece which purports to explain why the Lupercal announcement came when it did:

For Italians, the collapse of a 16th-century wall on Rome's Palatine Hill was symbolic. Blaming the 2005 cave-in on budget cuts by the center-right Berlusconi government, many felt that the nation's inability to protect its heritage signaled that the country too was crumbling. That era may be over now, but the practice of exploiting Rome's cultural heritage for political gain is not.

Just this week Rome's mayor, Walter Veltroni, and Italy's vice premier and culture minister Francesco Rutelli gave journalists a sneak preview of the latest in a string of newly unveiled ancient discoveries on the Palatine Hill: four frescoed rooms in the 1st-century B.C. palace belonging to Augustus, who later became Rome's first emperor. The rooms have been restored to perfection and will go on view to the public next March.

Last month Veltroni and Rutelli unveiled another gem on the Palatine Hill: the "Lupercale," the ancient grotto where, legend has it, a she-wolf nursed Rome's founder, Romulus, and his twin brother, Remus. The showing of the Lupercale delighted Italians with the suggestion that the legend might be true. But while the romantics were studying the mythology, the cynics were asking questions about just why the finds were being shown off at that time. The grotto, after all, was discovered last January, during the restoration of Augustus's palace and the iconic collapsed wall. Back then Irene Iacopi, the archeologist in charge of the Palatine Hill, said she discovered the cavern, which is covered with frescoes, niches and seashells, after inserting a 52-foot probe into the ground. So why did it take almost a year for the authorities to make a public announcement about the find?

The answer, it would seem, lies in politics and power. Just days before the showcasing of the Lupercale, Silvio Berlusconi had disclosed his plans to form a new political party that would compete with Rutelli and Veltroni. The news about the grotto, however, effectively eclipsed Berlusconi's news, leading the former prime minister to describe the timing as "suspect."

The palace frescoes were shown at an equally fortuitous moment. Hardly a secret—the $17.6 million restoration has been underway for more than two decades—the media preview was held at a time when support for Romano Prodi's ruling center-left coalition had dropped to less than 35 percent in the polls. The announcement also came amid Italian fears that a now-suspended truck drivers' strike against the government would drag on, exacerbating shortages of gasoline and groceries and disrupting the Christmas shopping season. The new showing not only provided some feel-good news for Italians, it allowed the political leaders to show off the center-left government's track record in preserving antiquities. (Since the coalition took office last year, it has more than doubled the budget for the nation's culture ministry.) Veltroni, twice-elected Rome's mayor, is likely to be the center-left's candidate in the next election for prime minister. His popularity is a direct result of the investment of resources in cultural preservation in the city. "The beni culturali [cultural heritage]," says Dr. Federigo Argentieri, a political science professor at John Cabot University, "seems an ideal facade behind which to disguise the poverty of Italy's current politics."

Italy's antiquities have always been fair game on the political stage. Italian governments collapse so frequently that it's hard to keep up with who started what project and who deserves to reap the benefits. In 2005, for example, Getty Museum curator Marion True went on trial in Rome for conspiracy and receiving stolen artworks for the Los Angeles institution. The trial, which began during Berlusconi's term and is still ongoing, has directly led to the return of more than 100 artifacts from other American museums that purchased items of questionable provenance, including 40 from the Getty. Many of the returned treasures will be showcased in a new museum exhibit at the Quirinale in Rome—to be opened next week by Veltroni and Rutelli. Eventually, they say, they hope to open a whole museum dedicated to these recovered objects.

There is still plenty left to fight over. Only a quarter of the estimated 500 buildings on the Palatine Hill have been excavated. And ongoing work to build Rome's third subway line through the city's historical center has unearthed thousands of ancient artifacts, which will be showcased in the subway stations. The project, which has been embraced by the center-left, began under the previous administration, which was out of power before it had time to capitalize on the buried treasures. But given the rate at which Italian governments fall, it's anyone's guess which politician will claim the credit when the subway finally opens.

Sounds bogus to me ... if it were 'just politics', the announcement of the opening of Augustus' house would have been sufficient, no? And with better 'historico-political' overtones ... we're still waiting for the beni culturali to admit it ain't the Lupercal ...
ICS Ancient History Seminar

Spring Term 2008

Public finance in the ancient world

Thursdays, 4.30 pm, in Senate House, North Wing, room 336

10 January P.J. Rhodes (Durham) Athenian public finance

17 January Peter Fawcett (London) Taxation in classical Athens

24 January Makis Aperghis (Athens) Monetarization and modernism: public finance in the Seleucid Empire

31 January Christopher Tuplin (Liverpool) The King’s Cut: searching for Achaemenid taxation at Persepolis and elsewhere

7 February Karen Radner (UCL) Tax versus tribute: fund-raising in the Assyrian Empire

14 February Hans van Wees (UCL) ‘Everyone must contribute’: public finance and state-formation in Archaic Greece

21 February Dominic Rathbone (KCL) From treasure to treasury in Republican Rome
NB: this lecture will start at 4.45 pm

28 February No lecture

6 March Mireille Corbier (CNRS, Paris) [Public finance in Imperial Rome – title to be confirmed]

13 March Errietta Bissa (Lampeter) ‘Hunting prosodous’: states, statesmen and public revenue in Greek and Roman thought
From JPost:

A woman walking on the beach with her sister near Caesarea stumbled upon the 2,000 year-old bones of a Roman soldier, police said Tuesday.

Julia Shvekky, 53, of Kibbutz Barkai was walking along the beach with her sister, Janet Daws, who is visiting from London late Monday afternoon looking for sea shells and mosaic pieces when they came across the ancient remains.

"We were walking on the beach looking for interesting bits and pieces and we said to ourselves wouldn't it be nice if we found something really interesting," Shvekky said Tuesday.

Minutes later, the two women found the bones in the ground on the beachfront. Shvekky thought that the bones looked strange, but was uncertain they were human remains. "I mean, who finds human bones on a walk on the beach," she said.

The two sisters decided to play detective.

Picking up three of the bones, Shvekky brought the remains back to her kibbutz and consulted an anatomy book, she said.

The bones looked remarkably similar to those of human remains so the two women brought them to a kibbutz nurse, who confirmed that they were indeed adult human bones.

The dazzled kibbutz member then phoned police, who had the sisters come in to the station together with the bones they had discovered.

On Monday evening, the two women accompanied Hadera police officers back to the area of the beach where they had found the bones, and the site, on a cliff about two kilometers up from the beach, was subsequently cordoned off as police collected the rest of the remains.

The human remains were then sent to the morgue for pathological testing, police said.

The bones - apparently those of a Roman soldier - had been exposed from a nearby Roman cemetery and were likely washed down to the beach-front during the recent winter rains, according to police.

The Israel Antiquities Authority was not involved in the testing, which was carried out by police, a spokeswoman for the state-run archeological body said.

Founded by King Herod in the first century BCE on the site of a Phoenician and Greek trade post known as Straton's Tower, the ancient Roman port city of Caesarea was named for Herod's Roman patron, Augustus Caesar.

Archaeological excavations in the 1950s and 1960s uncovered remains from many periods, including a complex of Crusader fortifications and a Roman theater.

Shvekky said that the find was the highlight of her sister's month-long trip to Israel. "We love beach-combing anyway," she said. "But this really made her holiday."
The Open University Classical Receptions in Late Twentieth-Century Drama and Poetry in English Research Project is delighted to launch its new Ejournal, Practitioners' Voices in Classical Reception Studies (PVCRS) ISSN 1756-5049

PVCRS is very much a companion publication to our ejournal New Voices in Classical Reception Studies and our Eseminar Archive. All add to the range of resources that are made freely available on the Open University Reception of Classical Texts Research Project website. New Voices provides a refereed platform for newer researchers to publish their work. The Eseminar Archive makes available the records of the annual seminar that discusses all aspects of classical reception. Practitioners' Voices is a response to the growing awareness that Classical Reception research has to recognise the full range of processes that shape the impact of classical material in new contexts. Its aim is to provide a Forum in which theatre directors, designers, dramaturgs, actors, poets, translators, and all involved in the creative practices that are so crucial to classical receptions can discuss the relationship between their work and the classical texts, themes and contexts on which they draw.

The contributions to the first issue of Practitioners Voices (listed below) can be accessed at

o Case Study 1: An investigation into ways of addressing and embodying questions of character in Foursight Theatre's 2004 production of Agamemnon
Dorinda Hulton
o Case Study 2: Staging the Cambridge Greek Play 2001 - Electra
Jane Montgomery Griffiths
o Reconstructing a Fragmentary Tragedy 1: Euripides' Trojan Trilogy
David Stuttard
o Reconstructing a Fragmentary Tragedy 2: Sophocles Tereus
David Fitzpatrick

We hope that the Forum provided by Practitioners' Voices will also lead to further dialogue between creative practitioners, critics and academics (who are, after all, also practitioners).

We are extremely grateful not only to the contributors but also to the members of the International Advisory Board for New Voices and Practitioners' Voices for their role in developing these new ventures. Suggestions for further areas and contributors to Practitioners' Voices will be very welcome and should be sent to the editor Lorna Hardwick (L.P.Hardwick AT
... for no update yesterday; allergies again.
ante diem xv kalendas januarias

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

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

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

Dozens of antiquities returned to Italy under hard-won accords with US museums, notably the Getty, were unveiled here Monday in what Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli called a new "season of cooperation."

"After the season of trafficking and dispute, now we have entered the season of cooperation," Rutelli told a news conference in the sumptuous Quirinale Palace, the official presidential residence where the public will be able to view the 68 recovered works from Friday.

A beaming Rutelli hailed an "epochal change" in the world of antiquities trafficking, noting that even private collectors had begun returning works.

Five of the antiquities in the show, "Capolavori Ritrovati" (Recovered Masterpieces), are from the private Royal Athena Galleries in New York.

The lion's share, 42, are from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, including three that were recovered earlier, after a heated dispute lasting nearly two years.

The agreement between Rome and the Getty, similar to ones reached with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, also calls for cultural collaboration to include long-running loans of significant artworks and joint exhibitions and projects.

In an apparent bid to universalise the issue of trafficking in antiquities, organisers selected a work returned from the MFA, a second-century marble statue of the Roman empress Vibia Sabina, as the leading object, both in the show and in the publicity for it.

The Boston museum handed over another 11 works exhibited in the show, which will run until March 2.

The Getty, one of the world's wealthiest museums, also returned a sixth-century BC marble Kore from the Greek island of Paros to Greece, which lent the work to Italy for the show, where it has pride of place at the entrance to the opulent three halls of the Quirinale's Alessandro VII Gallery.

The exhibit's tagline "Nostoi" refers to a lost epic of ancient Greek literature relating the return home of the Greek heroes after the end of the Trojan War.

Six items come from the Met, and one from the University Museum of Art in Princeton, New Jersey.

In an agreement announced in August, the Getty agreed to return the objects to Italy, at the museum's expense. A fifth-century BC Cult Statue of a Goddess, usually referred to as the Aphrodite, however, will not come home until 2010.

The two sides also agreed to postpone discussion of the fate of another hotly disputed work, the Statue of a Victorious Youth, pending the outcome of legal proceedings that are under way in Pesaro, Italy.

Dating from the 4th century BC, the work often referred to as the Getty Bronze is considered one of the greatest bronze statues to survive from ancient Greece and was acquired by the Getty for nearly four million dollars in 1977.

The statue was found underwater by Italian fishermen, but Italy says it was illegally exported.

The Getty, set up by US oil billionaire and collector J. Paul Getty and one of the world's richest art museums, insists it never knowingly bought illegally uncovered artifacts.

It acquired many of the disputed works through an Italian dealer, Giacomo Medici, who was based in Geneva. Medici, described by Italian prosecutors as the "kingpin" in the international trade in looted Italian antiquities, is currently appealing a conviction and 10-year prison term.

Meanwhile Marion True, former Getty curator who dealt with Medici, is on trial in Rome.
From ANA:

The ground floor of the New Acropolis Museum will be open to the public for two hours daily beginning on Friday and running through the Easter holiday, it was announced on Monday.

On Friday, December 21, the Museum will open its doors to children and adults, who will be able to view an exhibition with children's items from antiquity and funds unearthed during digging from beneath the Museum.

Prime minister Costas Karamanlis, who leaves later in the day for a three-day state visit to Moscow, visited the New Acropolis Museum on Monday morning,

"The New Acropolis Museum, above all, reminds us of the duty to reunify the Parthenon Marbles, this lofty monument of the World Cultural Heritage, and in a resounding manner," Karamanlis said during a tour of the new museum, as a massive operation to transfer the antiquities from the outdated museum on the Acropolis Hill to the new venue was nearing its completion.

"The construction and operation of the New Acropolis Museum vitiates the the final argument of those who refuse the fulfillment of this just demand," Karamanlis stressed, in a reference to the British Museum.

"The conditions are now ripe. The demand for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to the place where the belong, the demand that (the late statesman) Constantine Karamanlis put forward as a national goal and which the late Melina Mercouri, as minister of culture, rendered as her life's goal and contributed decisively to making it a universal demand, can become action in our generation," Karamanlis said.

Karamanlis, accompanied by culture minister Michalis Liapis, was given a tour of the new Museum by New Acropolis Museum Organisation president and archaeologist Prof. Dimitris Pantermalis and Acropolis curator Alexandros Mantis.

The 5th century B.C. friezes, or Parthenon Marbles, were removed from the Parthenon by the British diplomat Lord Elgin with the permission of the local Ottoman occupation authorities in the early 19th century. Elgin removed the priceless statues and other parts of the Parthenon temple and later sold them to the British Museum in 1816, where they have been housed since.
6.00 p.m. |HINT| The Roman Emperors
When the power of Rome was concentrated into the hands of supreme rulers, the empire began to corrode as the emperors led lives of increasing depravity. We'll visit their mansions to get an inside look at the splendor--and squalor--in which they lived, and insight into their sometimes inexplicable acts.

8.00 p.m. |HINT|Roman Murder Mystery
During an excavation of Flixton quarry in Suffolk, England, archaeologists unearthed something unexpected--a shallow grave with four human skeletons lying haphazardly at the bottom. We join archaeologist Martin Brown as he tries to uncover who these people were, when they lived and why they seem to have suffered untimely deaths.

10.00 p.m. |HINT|Engineering An Empire: The Persians
The Persian Empire was one of the most mysterious civilizations in the ancient world. Persia became an empire under the Cyrus the Great, who created a policy of religious and cultural tolerance that became the hallmark of Persian rule. Engineering feats include an innovative system of water management; a cross-continent paved roadway stretching 1500 miles; a canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea; and the creation of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum of Maussollos. The rivalry between Persia and Athens led to a 30-year war known as the Persian Wars, the outcome of which helped create the world we live in today. Peter Weller hosts.

HINT = History International
ante diem xvi kalendas januarias

Saturnalia (day 1) -- major, popular festival in honour of Saturn with banquets, the wearing of soft caps (pilei), and general good cheer. Shops and schools were closed, gambling was legally permitted, gifts were exchanged and masters might even wait on their servants. Obviously this festival is often seen as a precursor to our modern-day Christmas celebrations ...

246 B.C.E. -- the Torah is translated into Greek (obviously not in one day)
tortiloquy @ Worthless Word for the Day

anthropomorphize @ Wordsmith
From the Times:

More than 60 years ago Sir Mortimer Wheeler proved that Roman pottery had made it all the way from Italy to India: the characteristic bright red of Samian ware, bearing the stamp of the Vibieni of Arezzo, showed up in his trenches at the ancient port of Arikamedu, on the southeastern coast near Pondicherry. Numerous other finds across India have since strengthened the connection, including many wine jars or amphorae.

A new study now suggests that many of these came from Mesopotamia, not the Mediterranean, and that the triangular trade between India, the Persian Gulf and the ports of Roman Egypt on the Red Sea was much more complex than hitherto thought.

“Roman amphorae, together with Roman coinage, are the most important artefacts for documenting exchange between the Roman Empire and India,” Dr Roberta Tomber says in Antiquity. “Since many Roman amphorae are well-dated and well-provenanced, they represent an untapped resource for the understanding of Indian Ocean contact.”

More than 10,000 Roman coins are known from southern India alone, and although there are growing numbers of amphorae reported, identification is more problematic, Tomber says. Her survey has confirmed the presence of such wine jars from 31 sites, but at about half these sites it was also discovered that amphora sherds thought to be Roman were actually Mesopotamian in origin.

In ten cases there were only Mesopotamian sherds present. These were in the form of “torpedo jars”, tall cylindrical peg-footed amphorae, common in Mesopotamia and the Gulf but not hitherto noted in India. Fragments of the rims and bodies could be mistaken for Roman wares made in Syria and Anatolia, as indeed they have been, and their dates span the Roman period from around the time of Christ onwards, although they also continue into early Islamic times in the seventh century.

Torpedo jars are lined with bitumen to keep their liquid contents from evaporating, and may have been the dequre of Sasanian texts: if so, this suggests a wine-drinking clientele in contemporary India. They are found mainly between Karachi and Bombay in areas under Sasanian influence, and inland towards Delhi, and seem to have been imported into India throughout their period of manufacture in Mesopotamia.

Some got as far as Sri Lanka and the east coast near Chennai (Madras), and others were found at ports on the coasts of Yemen and Somalia. Roman amphorae are found in a similar pattern, though rarely on the same sites: it would be interesting to know if they travelled in the same ships, Tomber notes.

The port of Qana, on the coast of Yemen and an important point in the frankincense trade, may have been an entrepôt for both Roman and Mesopotamian goods arriving from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf respectively. It has not yielded the full range of Late Roman amphorae found in India, however, and other places may have played an equal role. The overall distribution of Roman amphorae and torpedo jars suggests three seaborne routes to India, Dr Tomber proposes. One ran direct from the Gulf, one direct from ports such as Berenike on the Red Sea coast of Egypt, and one via Qana.

Western India was influenced by wave upon wave of invaders, from the Greeks to the Parthians, Scythians, Kushanas and Sasanians, and was at a nexus of trade routes. The recognition of Mesopotamian jars for finds formerly thought to be Roman has made the picture both clearer and more complicated.
Conference announcement: The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, July 3-4 2008

Links now available at: - look under 'News' on the right-hand side of the page

OR: - with further links listed there

Dates: 3-4 July 2008 (Thurs.-Fri.)

Venue: University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane. Queensland. 4072. Australia.

Organizers (please contact one of the organizers if you have any questions which are not addressed here or on the above web links):

Tom Stevenson (t.stevenson AT
Janette McWilliam (j.mcwilliam AT
Sonia Puttock (s.puttock AT
John Whitehorne (j.whitehorne AT

Length of Papers: 30 minutes + 10 minutes for questions (40 minutes total)

Offers of Papers / Abstracts: We would like to receive offers of papers as soon as possible. Please submit abstracts (max. 100 words) to Tom Stevenson (t.stevenson AT by 1 May 2008.

Audio-Visual Requirements:

For those who are offering papers, please submit a detailed list of your audio-visual requirements to Tom Stevenson (t.stevenson AT by 1 May 2008. The registration form may be used for this purpose.

Travel and Accommodation:

We are asking delegates to organize their own travel and accommodation for the duration of the conference, though we would like to help in any way possible. Please see the accompanying files for information on travel and accommodation, and please don’t hesitate to contact one of the organizers for assistance.

Conference Fee, Lunches, Welcome Reception, and Conference Dinner:

Please see the conference registration form for costs and payment details. The conference fee will cover your conference packs, room hire, morning and afternoon teas, and the welcome reception. Lunch can be purchased from a number of places on the UQ Campus, especially Darwin’s Cafe on the ground floor of the Biological Sciences Library off Chancellor’s Place, Wordsmith’s Cafe in Staff House Road next to the UQ Bookshop, and the UQ Staff Club in Staff House Road.

A welcome reception will be held in the evening of Wednesday 2 July at the R.D. Milns Antiquities Museum, which is located on Floor 3 of the Michie Building (= Building no. 9 on your maps).

The conference dinner (Thurs. 3 July) will be held at AMPHORA Restaurant, 36 Hawken Drive, St. Lucia. QLD. 4067. Ph.: +61-7-3870 0788. For information about AMPHORA and some reviews, see OR

Aims of the Conference

i) to produce the first comprehensive treatment of the Zeus in over fifty years
ii) to extend the analysis beyond matters related to style and the framework provided by the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
iii) to contemplate the Zeus as a product of religious thought before artistic endeavour
iv) to combine the talents of art historians, archaeologists, historians and literary scholars
v) to employ perspectives from Classical and Hellenistic Greece, Imperial Rome, and the Byzantine, Renaissance and Modern Periods
vi) to contemplate the place of the Zeus in the cultural imagination of the ancients; to what degree was it an outstanding example of Greek culture? who judged it to be so? how did it compare to other examples of cultural output in the ancient world?

Suggested Topics (by no means exhaustive or prescriptive)

1. The importance of Zeus, Olympia, the Olympic Games. Elis and Pisa, the temple of Zeus.

2. The commission of the statue, the expectation, the resources. Why choose Pheidias? Other contenders.

3. Planning, construction and appearance. Why a seated statue? Construction techniques, Pheidias’ team (?), Pheidias’ workshop.

4. Pheidias’ style. Influence of the Zeus on later statues, the tradition of seated statues of Zeus and others, including Roman emperors.

5. Reactions to the statue in antiquity: Greek and Roman writers. A religious symbol, a cultural symbol, an incarnation? Religious thought.

6. Care and maintenance of the statue in antiquity. The use of water and olive oil on chryselephantine statues. The ‘shiners’ (Phaidryntai), temple guards, priests. Deterioration, repairs. Ivory and wood, sources, unique features.

7. Later history in antiquity. The question of transportation to Constantinople. Was this feasible? Likely? How would it have been done? Dismantling the Zeus. The transportation of large statues in stone is one thing, but the transportation of a chryselephantine giant?

8. The Zeus in Constantinople. The collection of ‘Lausos’, destruction by fire. Byzantine aims in populating the New Rome with statues. Political and religious considerations. Location, display conditions. Was the Zeus transported?

9. Renaissance and modern interest in the Zeus. Paintings, reconstructions, monuments (e.g. the Lincoln Memorial).

10. The Zeus of Olympia and Cultural Imagination, Ancient and Modern. Mental frameworks, ways of conceptualizing gods and powers. Religion and art.
A Cinematic Vision of Greek Tragedy:

The Euripidean “Trilogy” of Michael Cacoyannis

Organized by Anastasia Bakogianni (University of London) and Charles C. Chiasson (University of Texas at Arlington)

The purpose of this panel is to renew discussion and appreciation of the films based upon Euripidean dramas by the Greek director Michael Cacoyannis—Electra (1961), The Trojan Women (1971), and Iphigenia (1976). These films, arguably the most compelling representations of Greek tragedy in the history of cinema, received critical acclaim at the time of their release, but there has been relatively little critical analysis of the films by scholars familiar with Euripides and the Greek tragic tradition generally; the best of such criticism (including M. McDonald, Euripides in Cinema [1983] and K. MacKinnon, Tragedy into Film [1986]) raises as many questions as it answers. Moreover, new perspectives are now offered by scholars of Reception Studies, who help us see with heightened clarity how modern adaptations of classical works cast light upon both the receiving society and the ancient sources themselves (L. Hardwick, Reception Studies [2003]). Cacoyannis’ films are products of their times, and of the director’s own harsh political experience. Nonetheless, his films remain topical because of the universality of such Euripidean themes as the abuse of political power and the price paid by innocent victims of war fought for questionable objectives—themes that are sadly relevant to recent American military involvement in Iraq.

These remarkably rich works invite both internal criticism (of the films as independent artistic expressions) and external criticism that explores various relationships: a) among the films themselves, as the director’s technique for adapting Euripides to the cinematic medium developed over time; b) between the films and the Euripidean tragedies that inspired them; and c) between the films and events of modern Greek and world history that influenced them. More specific topics of interest that papers for this panel might address include: aesthetic issues such as Cacoyannis’ treatment of the chorus (a notorious difficulty in modern renditions of Greek tragedy), and his use of music and dance with roots in modern Greek culture; political issues such as how modern Greek history and society inform Cacoyannis’ representation of both rulers and the lower classes; and the fascinating question raised by MacKinnon, whether Cacoyannis’ films are as faithful to the distinctive spirit of Euripidean tragedy as the director himself believes.

Abstracts must be received by the APA office by February 1, 2008. Please send two copies of Form D and four copies of an abstract (following the one-page format prescribed in this Newsletter for individual abstracts) to: American Philological Association, University of Pennsylvania, 292 Logan Hall, 249 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia PA 191094-6304. Anonymous abstracts will be reviewed by the panel organizers.


The 2008 Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of Canada will take place in Montreal, Quebec, from May 12 to May 14. For more information please visit:

Among the good things potential participants will find there are a call for papers, registration forms, information on accommodation, tourist information on Montreal etc."
8.00 p.m. |HISTC| LOST WORLDS | Athens
A team of field investigators uncovers the clues that will recreate vanished or hidden worlds. They use the latest research, expert analysis and cutting edge graphic technology to take us back. In the 5th century BC, one man leads his city to greatness and paves the way for western civilization. The city is Athens and Pericles is not a King or prince, but an elected man. He will mastermind the most costly and ambitious construction campaign undertaken in the western world – creating a model city of temples, houses, market places, civic buildings and a highly innovative sanitation system.

8.00 p.m. |NG| The Real Mary Magdalene
Who was Mary? Was she a saint or sinner? For fifteen hundred years Christians regarded the woman who had been so close to Jesus as a reformed prostitute. Now, evidence suggests that this may have been part of a devious smear campaign by the early churchto remove women from the clergy. Join NGC as we examine ancient text, explores long-lost customs and cuts through centuries of political spin to reveal the real Mary Magdalene.

9.00 p.m. |NG|The Missing Years of Jesus

10.00 p.m. |NG|Jesus' Tomb
It is one of the Bible's greatest mysteries. What happened to Jesus' body after it was taken down from the cross? The debate has raged for centuries about what happened between Jesus' death and the moment his tomb was found empty two days later. Did those who love him bury Jesus with honor in a grand ceremony, or was he buried in shame, hastily and unceremoniously, at the hands of those who executed him?

HISTC = History Television (Canada)
NG = National Geographic
Hernan Astudillo sent this one in (thanks) ... from El Pais:

La prospección geofísica realizada en el subsuelo de la catedral de Tarragona ha permitido localizar un templo de ocho columnas frontales igual al dedicado a Cesar Augusto en la antigua Tarraco, por lo que los arqueólogos dan prácticamente por seguro que se trata del construido en honor del emperador romano en el siglo I después de Cristo.

En una rueda de prensa, el arqueólogo del Instituto Catalán de Arqueología Clásica (ICAC) Josep Maria Macias ha revelado que se trata de un templo de 25 por 40 metros, cuyos vestigios se encuentran a un metro y medio de profundidad, bajo la actual nave central de la catedral. Estos restos corresponderían al templo de Augusto, tal y como afirman los arqueólogos, aunque no lo suscriben al cien por cien hasta que no realicen un estudio más profundo de los restos encontrados, y han subrayado que los resultados expuestos hoy tienen un carácter "preliminar". En este sentido, los responsables de las prospecciones han pedido "prudencia" y, para corroborar la principal hipótesis de los expertos, podrían realizarse algunas intervenciones arqueológicas selectivas a finales de 2008 o principios de 2009.

Además, el equipo de científicos del ICAC y de la Facultad de Geología de la Universidad de Barcelona, en colaboración con la Universidad de Palermo y el Museo Bíblico Tarraconense, todavía analiza los resultados de las prospecciones, que se realizaron el pasado mes de septiembre con tecnología "punta y poco agresiva". Estas técnicas, de inducción electromagnética, han permitido la obtención de "centenares de miles de datos de toda la extensión del subsuelo y hasta diez metros de profundidad", de modo que se dispone de "una imagen tridimensional" de las entrañas de la catedral.

La imagen tridimensional muestra un templo con una estructura de ocho columnas frontales, situado en el centro de una plaza porticada y que se levanta sobre un podium, los cimientos del templo, que todavía se conservan bajo el pavimento de la catedral. Esta estructura permite a los arqueólogos mostrarse "optimistas", por lo que el director del Museo Bíblico Tarraconense, Amadeu Muñoz, ha señalado que los datos recogidos dejan "poco espacio a otras interpretaciones" que no pasen por la existencia del templo de Augusto en los cimientos de la catedral de Tarragona. En la misma línea, la directora del ICAC, Isabel Rodá, ha reconocido que "la lógica dice que éste es el templo de Augusto".

La prueba de las monedas

El principal argumento para creer que los restos pertenecen a ese lugar de culto es que los vestigios se corresponden con unas monedas que se acuñaron en el año 15 después de Cristo con la imagen de Augusto, en una cara, y la de un templo con ocho columnas frontales dedicado al emperador romano después de su muerte, en la otra.

No obstante, Macias ha apuntado que "no sabemos si la imagen acuñada en las monedas se corresponde con el templo real", si bien ha asegurado que, de no tratarse del templo de Augusto, "tendríamos un problema, porque no sabríamos ante qué construcción estamos". Ya en los Anales de Tácito queda documentada la existencia de un templo de culto dedicado al emperador Augusto en la antigua Tarraco, e incluso parece probado que una embajada tarraconense viajó a Roma en el siglo I d.C y obtuvo el permiso de Tiberio, sucesor de Augusto, para la construcción del recinto.

Durante años se ha creído que el recinto de culto se ubicaba en el Fórum de la Colonia, en la Part Baixa, donde se desarrollaba la vida económica y social de la ciudad, pero las excavaciones realizadas en la zona no han arrojado luz sobre tal hipótesis y sólo han podido documentar la existencia de un templo republicano.

Mata Kimasitayo sent this one in (thanks!) ... from le Monde:

Toutatis - ou Teutatès - est un dieu discret. On en trouve une première et brève mention au milieu du Ier siècle de notre ère chez le poète latin Lucain puis... dans les aventures d'Astérix. Entre les deux, rien, ou pas grand-chose.

La principale divinité du panthéon gaulois vient de sortir de ce long silence : l'archéologue Bernard Clémençon a découvert cinq fragments de céramique où figure l'inscription "TOTATUS", le "u" étant la graphie du "e" celte. Sur l'un de ces fragments, d'environ 8 cm de longueur, l'inscription est parfaitement lisible, émouvante par son tracé malhabile.

"J'ai eu un moment de stupeur", raconte ce spécialiste de la religion des Arvernes à l'époque romaine. "Jusqu'à présent, aucune inscription du nom de Teutatès n'avait été recensée en France, affirme-t-il. On en trouve une quinzaine d'exemplaires en Europe : l'une est à Rome, une deuxième en Autriche et toutes les autres en Angleterre."

Ces cinq premières graphies de France, datées de la charnière entre le IIe et le IIIe siècle, proviennent du sanctuaire de Beauclair, dans les Combrailles, à la limite du Puy-de-Dôme et de la Creuse. Le site se trouve sur la via Agrippa, qui reliait Lyon à Saintes.


Ce n'est pourtant pas là qu'a eu lieu la découverte. Mais dans les caves du musée Bargoin, à Clermont-Ferrand : "Deux tessons y dormaient dans une caisse déposée en 1961 par quelqu'un qui avait fouillé le sanctuaire dans les années 1950." Les trois autres ont été découverts dans un petit dépôt archéologique des Combrailles. Il aura fallu plus d'un quart de siècle pour lire et comprendre l'importance des inscriptions.

"Cette découverte confirme que la religion celte a continué de vivre dans la Gaule romanisée, note Bernard Clémençon. Les religions polythéistes ont un grand pouvoir d'intégration : les dieux des autres ne sont pas considérés comme de faux dieux. Et la religion n'est pas seulement l'expression d'une foi personnelle, mais une forme d'exercice de la citoyenneté."

Bernard Clémençon est sur une autre piste remontant vers Teutatès. En 1882, le scientifique clermontois Ambroise Tardieu avait découvert, toujours à Beauclair, un magnifique vase dont il avait fait un dessin. On y voit une inscription où l'on devine le nom du dieu gaulois. Le dessin est resté, mais le "vase Tardieu" a disparu.
The incipit of a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald:

The river started turning purple 10 years ago, but the people in the small Greek town of Oinofyta who were losing loved ones to cancer never thought of blaming the water.

Factories have been dumping waste in the Asopos River for decades, and nearby tourist beaches were declared unfit for swimming, but there were no official warnings to the people of the town, in an industrial zone about 60kilometres north of Athens.

It took until this year for official tests to show drinking water was contaminated with high levels of a carcinogen, chromium 6. The revelation spread shock and anger in Oinofyta, and beyond, even to US advocate Erin Brockovich - the single mother whose crusade against chromium 6 contamination of groundwater in Hinkley, California, was portrayed by Julia Roberts in the hit film Erin Brockovich.

Used as an anti-corrosive in the production of stainless steel, paint, ink, plastics and dyes, chromium 6 is on the European Union's list of restricted substances and listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. It poses health risks if inhaled or orally ingested or comes into contact with skin.

Since 1989, the proportion of deaths in the town caused by cancer has risen to 32per cent from 6per cent previously, Oinofyta's priest, Father Yannis says.

"When I heard it was so dangerous that you're not even supposed to come into contact with it I was terrified," says Dina Fouki, a 35-year-old mother of two who has lost her father and in-laws to cancer in the past five years. She and her neighbours will no longer brush their teeth with tap-water. "I have lost loved ones and will lose more. Something must be done," she says.

It is a sorry demise for the Asopos River, which was the scene of one of the great battles of ancient history.

In 479BC a Greek army led by the Spartan king Pausanias crushed the forces of the Persian emperor Xerxes at the Battle of Plataea, saving the Greeks from the hegemony of the east.

Ironically it was the fouling of a nearby spring by the Persians that played a crucial role in the battle.

In Greek mythology the Asopos River was also a god who revolted against Zeus and wanted to fight him. Zeus struck him with his thunderbolt and confined him to bed. Today a putrid stench rises from the river, the waters of which run from red to purple and black and ripple with bubbling sludge.

Despite the obvious pollution, locals say officials have not warned them of the risks in the 30 years since the factories were established.

"When we lost our relatives we started getting suspicious," Fouki says. "But we didn't know. How could we?"

Yannis and biochemical engineer Thanasis Panteloglou forced authorities to take action. After years of campaigning, tests by the state laboratory showed the water supply, contaminated by the Asopos, has high levels of the chemical, also known as hexavalent chromium.

... the rest.
From Bryn Mawr Now:

The epic poetry of ancient Rome has taken Annette Baertschi to Hell and back — and she loved every minute of it.

Baertschi, the most recent addition to Bryn Mawr's Department of Greek, Latin and Classical Studies, is at work on (Re)interpreting the Underworld: Necyia Scenes in Neronian and Flavian Epic, a manuscript that examines necyiae, or encounters with the underworld, in classical epics.

"In ancient epic poetry, there is a tradition in which the hero has a kind of ultimate challenge and has to get in touch with the world of the dead by either conjuring up the ghosts of the deceased (necromancy) or going down to the underworld beyond (catabasis) in order to obtain some information that he cannot get otherwise" Baertschi says.

Such episodes are at least as old as Homer, Baertschi notes: in fact, Odysseus' encounter with the underworld is one of the most important and best-known books of the Odyssey.

"Even more famous is the catabasis episode in Vergil’s Aeneid, which is generally agreed to be one of the high points, if not the high point, of the epic. If you talk to people who aren't classicists but have read the Aeneid, they will certainly remember that scene," she says. "It's so gripping, Vergil's description of how Aeneas goes down to the underworld, what he sees there and the people he meets. In the end he meets his father, who shows him the souls of the men who will make Rome great and build its everlasting glory."

According to Baertschi, all Roman epicists after Vergil incorporated such a scene into their works; it's an enormously important tradition in classical literature.

"Necyiae are an important occasion for the poet to impart some knowledge or 'deeper truth' on his readers as well as to convey other messages essential for the understanding of his work and his view of history and of the world in general. Moreover, since the realm of the dead unites in itself the past, the present and the future, an encounter with the underworld enables the author to include perspectives on time periods later than that represented in his epic and even on his own times."

As a Ph.D. candidate at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Baertschi was surprised and, she admits, delighted to learn that there was no comprehensive study of the necyia in the classical tradition that followed Vergil — surprised because it is so important and delighted because that made it an excellent dissertation topic.

"It is fascinating to look at the intertextual negotiations between later poets and their Virgilian and Homeric antecedents," she says. "They may give it a political reading, as a commentary on contemporary events. They also use these scenes to position themselves as poets within the epic tradition."

The trip to the world of the dead is an apt metaphor, perhaps, for the study of the classical world as Baertschi sees it: a demanding and enlightening journey to the past that helps one understand the present and the future. That past is long gone and difficult to recover, but its perceptible traces in the present provide both an entrée and a basis of comparison.

"To immerse oneself in the study of classical texts is to engage a culture that is related to the present, but very different, and it gives us a valuable perspective on our own times," she declares. "Understanding a classical concept can help you achieve the distance necessary to see a modern concept in a new way."

As she revises the dissertation for publication as a monograph, Baertschi is also editing a volume of essays on the history of classical scholarship in the 19th century and planning a new study on messenger figures in Seneca's tragedies and how they were interpreted in later centuries.

The edited volume is based on two lecture series that she organized at the Humboldt.

"In my study of the messenger scenes in Senecan drama I will investigate how Seneca adopts — following the practice of Greek tragedy — narrative strategies of epic in his messenger speeches in order to enhance their dramatic impact and emotional intensity."

She loves her research, but she says it will never be enough to fill her academic life. She is eager to spread the word, to share her enthusiasm for classical literature with her students.

"I want to show my students what is challenging, interesting and beautiful about classical texts," she says.

"Watching students move through the curriculum and become excited about Latin is immensely gratifying. That's what motivated me to come to Bryn Mawr. Good teaching is appreciated here. I love the focus on individual students.

"The fact that Bryn Mawr has a highly regarded graduate program in classics made the College even more appealing," Baertschi says. "This semester, I particularly enjoyed teaching a graduate seminar on Lucan this term, for I find his epic poem on the civil war between Caesar and Pompey simply fascinating and additionally had the pleasure of teaching an exceptionally good-humored and articulate group.

"In the next term I will be teaching, in addition to elementary Latin, an undergraduate course on the Aeneid and one on ancient heroes and heroines. Both will give me a chance to read some more epic poetry and get my students excited about it," Baertschi notes.

Baertschi, who earned the equivalent of a master's degree at the University of Zurich, has studied at the University of Oxford and was introduced to the American liberal-arts system when she spent some time doing research at Columbia University. A research collaboration with a Shakespeare scholar at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich sparked an interest in reception studies that is reflected in her Seneca project.

"I was very attracted to the liberal-arts approach," she says, "not only because of the small class sizes and emphasis on teaching, but because a small academic community that aims at a very broad and general liberal-arts education for its students tends to be open-minded about cross-departmental collaboration and exchange. That's so fruitful, and it's very interesting."
From the Times of India:

Ever imagined the Romans taking a circuitous sea route around Africa to reach the Persian Gulf and further touch the western Indian shores of Bharuch in Gujarat for trade with Pune over 2,000 years back?

Archaeologists from the Deccan College here have come across a plethora of evidence at the Junnar excavation site, 94 km from city, that establishes Pune’s trade links across the oceans, with the ancient Roman Empire.

The evidence suggests that Satavahanas, the earliest rulers of Maharashtra (230 Before Christ Era), who reigned from Junnar, were engaged in a flourishing import-export trade not just with the Romans but also with the Greeks and the Persians.

The port of Kalyan on the Konkan coast offered the link for the Romans touching the Indian shores at Bharuch, to reach Junnar via the western ghat pass of Naneghat.

Junnar, along with Paithan in Marathwada region, and Amaravati in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, was an important seat of power for the Satavahanas, whose reign of over four centuries covered parts of western, southern and central India.

"The early rulers of the state had developed a fondness for wine brought into India by traders from these foreign countries," said Vasant Shinde, professor of archaeology, who is heading the research initiative at Junnar, while speaking to TOI on Thursday. "Similarly, luxury goods and glassware were being imported," he added. Junnar was also a vital place for large-scale exports of spices, ivory and silk, he said.

The trade link was mainly through the sea route as the Romans would take a circuitous route to travel around Africa and reach the Persian Gulf coast between Iran and Arabian Peninsula in south-west Asia. Further, they would reach the coast of Makran that stretches along south Balochistan, Iran and Pakistan, and would head for Bharuch (also spelt as Bhroach), which was then among the biggest ocean-going ports on the Arabian sea coast in India, explained Shinde.

From Bharuch, the Roman traders would spread out to smaller ports like Kalyan in Konkan coast, Nala Sopara in Thane and Chaul in Raigad district. "Kalyan was a major loading and offloading centre from where the traders would proceed by road to Junnar via Naneghat," he added.

The link extended beyond Junnar, to Paithan and the ancient town of Ter in Osmanabad, which was the biggest market place established by the Satavahanas. "Ter was an important distribution point for domestic trade, linked with places in south, east and north India," said Shinde.

Archaeological remains like clayware, utensils, farm and industrial implements, ornaments and shells, among other things, found at the site - provide sufficient evidence of influence of not just the Romans but also other dynasties like the Mauryans from northern India and the Kshatrapas from neighbouring Gujarat, over the Junnar region.

The excavations started towards the end of 2005 with a view to collect data on the human habitation, economy and social structure under the Satavahana rule.

Junnar has one of the largest concentration of Buddhist caves (around 200) commissioned by the Satavahana rulers. Similarly, the caves at Naneghat, 20 km from Junnar, provide sufficient quantum of ancient inscriptions.

The impending 45-day-long excavation (beginning December 20) would focus on the religious and social aspects of human habitation under the Satavahanas at Junnar, he said.
From the Times:

The Times caused a sensation almost 80 years ago when it revealed the discovery of an extraordinary street grid of a Roman town in Norfolk. It published dramatic aerial photographs that were taken from an RAF aircraft and which showed the pattern left in parched barley fields during the exceptionally dry summer of 1928.

Today The Times can reveal that the site of Venta Icenorum, which dates primarily from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD – and which may have been home to Boadicea, the ancient British queen – is far more significant than anyone had realised.

The latest scientific technology shows that the town, which today lies at Caistor St Edmund, south of Norwich, is one of “stunning international archaeological importance”, archaeologists say.

By using a high-resolution geophysical survey and a caesium vapour magnetometer, which measures the changes caused by human activity in the magnetic field of the Earth, they can see beneath the soil without having to excavate.

For the first time, the complete plan of the buried town can be seen with an astonishing level of detail.

Across a site that is equivalent in size to more than 40 football pitches, a semicircular theatre, at least two temples, a large forum, baths and even features as intricate as the iron collars connecting wooden pipes in the town’s water supply system can be seen.

Although the upper levels of the site have been eroded by ploughing, it has escaped serious harm.

When excavations begin next year, archaeologists expect to find mosaics and wall paintings within what they are describing as a unique time capsule. Fragments of tesserae – the pieces that are used in mosaics – have already been found in the ploughed soil.

The reason that important discoveries are so likely is that, whereas most Roman towns eventually became a modern town or city, this site was not destroyed by medieval and later buildings. It was ultimately superseded by medieval Norwich and simply reverted to green fields.

Will Bowden, a lecturer in Roman archaeology at the University of Nottingham who is leading the project, said: “This is quite unlike other Roman towns that have the same long occupation sequence and which now lie buried beneath the modern towns of Britain and Europe.”

He added: “The results of the survey have far exceeded our expectations. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the survey has advanced our knowledge of Caistor to the same extent that the first aerial photograph did 80 years ago. The Times was the first paper to break the story of the initial discovery of the site in 1929 . . . The new research has demonstrated that Caistor is a site of international importance.”

With the aerial photographs it was possible to see the size of the town but it was difficult to know what was in it, he added.

Before the Romans invaded Iron Age Britain in AD43, Norfolk was the territory of the Iceni people. Boadicea, the leader of the tribe, led an unsuccessful revolt against the Roman occupation in about AD60. After her defeat, the Romans inhabited the area for more than 300 years.

The local capital became Venta Icenorum, a large, bustling market town that is mentioned in Roman sources. The Latin name of Venta Icenorum is translated as market place of the Iceni.

Although the heartland of the Iceni is thought to have been farther to the South West, a coin found at the site is contemporary with Boadicea and Dr Bowden said that this could well have been her home.

“It would make a compelling reason for the Roman administration to stick a new town directly on top of Boadicea’s home village. The Romans saw towns as ideological statements,” he said. “Now the burning questions are, was Caistor built on the site of an Iceni stronghold as retribution after Boadicea’s rebellion, or was it built to favour a faction of the Iceni who had not taken part in the revolt?”

In 1929 The Times’s coverage created such excitement that an excavation fund was set up and paid for by public subscription.

“The problem was they weren’t terribly good excavations,” Dr Bowden said. “They were never published, which is the cardinal sin in archaeology. If you dig something up and don’t tell people about it, there’s not much point in doing it. Someone put together an excavation report from various notes.

“After 1935, no excavations were ever carried out, partly because of reasons of funding.”

He joked that another reason for the delayed dig was that the Romans had never been popular in Norfolk. “The Romans are seen as the oppressors of Boadicea, a local heroine. In Norfolk, ‘AD61 is yesterday’. There is a degree of that.”

The British Academy and the University of Nottingham were among the sponsors of the latest survey. Funding is now being sought for an excavation. The area is so extensive that an excavation could take five years to complete and cost up to £1 million.

Dr Bowden said: “It would obviously be nice if a culturally minded and wealthy individual read The Times and thought, ‘That sounds like a good thing to spend my spare millions on’.”
I've always wondered about this ... an excerpt from the Forward:

That much I knew. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the surprise of finding out what the origins of “hora” are, or how much history comes with them.

I won’t keep you in suspense: “Hora” comes from ancient Greek khoros, which also gives us such words as “chorus” and “choir.” Traditional circle dances deriving their names from khoros can be found all over the Balkans and southeastern Europe. They include the Turkish and Romanian hora, the Bulgarian horo, the Montenegrin and Macedonian ora, and the Russian khorovod, and they are all very old and highly similar in the way they are danced.

True, our own modern associations with the ancient Greek chorus have nothing to do with horas. They come from the performances that we have seen of Greek tragedy, in which the chorus consists of several actors who comment on the dramatic events taking place. On the ancient Greek stage their lines were commonly sung rather than declaimed, which is why a chorus, or choir in modern European languages, is an ensemble of singers.

But dramatic tragedy and its chorus were late features of ancient Greek culture. A khoros was originally a dance, generally performed in honor of the gods at religious celebrations. The great plays of such tragedians as Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were an outgrowth of the much simpler Attic drama, itself a development of the khoros kyklikos, the annual circle dance performed in Athens at the festival of the god Dionysus. In the beginning, Attic drama had only one actor who spoke or sang, which he did at moments when the dancing stopped. It was only gradually that the entire khoros assumed this role.

Moreover, Greek tragedy was specific to Athens. Everywhere else in ancient Greece, each village had its own religious celebrations with circle dances, and these khoroi eventually lent their name to similar dances in adjacent areas. When Christianity replaced paganism, they were transferred to Christian holidays. In Romania, well into the 20th century, it was customary for horas to be danced in town squares, outside the local church, on Easter Sunday, as well as at weddings and other celebrations. In modern times, special horas, with their melodies and words, were composed and danced for specific occasions, like the famous “Hora Unirii,” “the Hora of the Union,” which became a Romanian patriotic song after it was written to celebrate the union of Wallachia and Moldavia that formed modern Romania in 1859.

The first “Jewish” hora — that is, the first hora introduced into Palestine — was also composed and choreographed (that’s another word deriving from khoros!). The choreographer was the Romanian Jewish dancer Baruch Agadati, who got together in 1924 with a composer and writer of lyrics and created a hora for a show put on by the Ohel Theater Company, which toured with it in the pioneering settlements of the Valley of Jezreel. “Hora Agadati,’ as it became known, was an instant hit.
Interesting -- only because I was just saying on the Classics list that no one reads sig files -- excerpt from a piece in the Chicago Tribune:

I've been feeling the pressure to get one of my own lately as more of the e-mail I receive comes carrying these nuggets.

A colleague, for example, has taken to signing his e-mails, personal and professional, like this:

"Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast. In the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish." -- Ovid (43 BC-17 AD)

It's a perfect signature quote -- edifying, thought-provoking and unknown except to ancient-Greek scholars and anyone who owns the fishing poster on which my colleague discovered it.

"It means don't be afraid to try," he says, "and you might be surprised by how many people respond to that in different ways. They see it and say, 'I love your quote from Ovid.' It's an icebreaker."

... I can't recall anything like that from Ovid; it sounds Ars Amatoriaish (lots of 'fishing' imagery there), but I can't seem to locate it ...
... quite a bit of catching up to do ...

From BMCR:

Cesare Questa, La metrica di Plauto e di Terenzio.

Mireille Corbier, Donner a voir, donner a lire: memoire et communication dans la Rome ancienne.

Panos Valavanis, Vasileios Petrakos, Angelos Delivorrias, Great Moments in Greek Archaeology. Translated by David Hardy.

Lee Fratantuono, Madness Unchained. A Reading of Virgil's Aeneid.

Jas Elsner, Roman Eyes. Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text.

K. Feld, Barbarische Buerger: Die Isaurier und das Roemische Reich.

Micol Perfigli, Indigitamenta: divinita funzionali e funzionalita divina nella religione romana. Anthropoi 2.

Ramelli on Afonasin on Ilaria Ramelli, Corpus Hermeticum.

Tatiana Gammacurta, Papyrologica Scaenica.

R.O.A.M. Lyne, Collected Papers on Latin Poetry.

Anargyros Anastassiou, Dieter Irmer, Testimonien zum Corpus Hippocraticum. Teil I: Nachleben der hippokratischen Schriften bis zum 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. Unter Einschluss des Caelius Aurelianus sowie der Kompilatoren Oreibasios, Aeetios aus Amida, Alexandros aus Tralleis und Paulos aus Aigina.

Britt Dahlman, Saint Daniel of Sketis: A Group of Hagiographic Texts Edited with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary. Studia Byzantina Upsaliensis 10.

Amy Richlin (ed.), Marcus Aurelius in Love, by Marcus Aurelius and Marcus Cornelius Fronto.

Stanley Lombardo (trans.), Virgil, Aeneid. Introduction by W. R. Johnson.

Catherine Bell (ed.), Teaching Ritual.

Peter van Alfen (ed.), Agoranomia: Studies in Money and Exchange Presented to John H. Kroll.

From the NY Sun:

Nicholas Ostler, Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin

Len Krisak, The Odes of Horace in Latin and English

From the NY Times:

Nicholas Ostler, Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin and Harry Mount, Carpe Diem

Marie Philips, Gods Behaving Badly (rumoured to be optioned as a TV miniseries ... stay tuned on that score)

From the TLS:

Mary Beard, The Roman Triumph

From the Guardian:

Nicholas Ostler, Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin

From PopMatters,

Sarah Pomeroy, The Murder of Regilla
Women of Troy (London)

Trojan Women 2.0 (Cal State)

Oedipus Tyrannus (BYU)

Conversations in Tusculum (coming soon)

Antigone (Yale)

Antigone (Washington)

Prometheus Bound (UWisconsin)

Protagonist (Classic inspirations, obviously)
... staff Christmas parties and school trips have conspired to augment my sleeping problems and I've slept in a couple of days in a row now ... I'll do some catching up tonight ...
pridie idus decembres

Rites in honour of Consus on the Aventine Hill; this possibly relates to a restoration of a temple of Consus by Augustus.

404 B.C. -- death of Darius II 'Nothus' (according to one reckoning)

250 A.D. -- martyrdom of Dionysia

287 A.D. -- martyrdom of Crescentius
surdaster @ Worthless Word for the Day
Seen in the Ticker:

Despite the deception, however, New York is hard to let go of. On one hand, it may be just another trick of the contemptuous city; similar to the songs of the sirens in Homer's ancient epic The Iliad, the city attracts us.

... I guess those would be the sirens Achilles mounted to his chariot as he dragged Hector around Troy ... flashing lights too ...
From a press release:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver will preside at the special unveiling of a life-sized bronze statue of Minerva to take place during the inauguration of a Hall of Fame inside the California Museum for History Women and the Arts. The statue has been donated by Collie Christensen (CEO of Equus Eleven) and his wife Kira Christensen. Minerva a classical symbol of wisdom features prominently on the Great Seal of the State of California. Since 2004 the California Museum for History Women and the Arts has recognized the distinguished women of California with the annual Minerva Award. The statue valued at $950,000 will be on prominent view at the newly built Minerva exhibit at the museum.

Maria Shriver said speaking in May that Minerva represents the 'ultimate multi-tasker'. Known as Minerva to the ancient Romans and Athena to the Greeks the goddess' deeds were legendary as was her kindness to humanity. When challenged to provide the greatest benefit to earth the goddess is said to have produced the olive tree. Source of oil and emblem of peace olive trees were first planted in California by the Franciscan missionaries.

According to mythology Minerva was the Olympian protector of democracy dedicating herself to law justice and good counsel. She was considered a prudent warrior forcefully protecting the popular assemblies from outside enemies. She encouraged the creativity of men and women in innumerable ways fostering agriculture inventing musical instruments and taking personal delight in the useful and ornamental arts.

The Minerva statue is an exact duplicate in bronze of one of the greatest treasures of the Archaeological Museum in Florence Italy. The nearly life-sized statue represents the Roman goddess in a pose of dignified self-assured conversation. She extends her right arm and hand as if to expound a point. Her other hand is wrapped inside her cloak resting easily on her hip. Her classical attire consists of a cloak known as a himation which covers her left shoulder and is drawn tightly around her body. Its broad form contrasts with the many vertical folds of the robe or chiton which reaches her feet. As a warrior Minerva wears a breastplate with a Gorgon's head and a Corinthian helmet crested with a serpent a symbol of eternity.

The renowned Marinelli Foundry in Florence using plaster molds taken directly from the museum original in the 1930's cast the bronze. Such molds are no longer made today. The antique prototype was discovered in the Arezzo in 1541 and brought to Florence ten years later by Cosmo I Grand Duke of Tuscany. The 'Minerva of Arezzo' is among the most celebrated sculptures of the Etrusco-Roman school generally dated to the second century strongly influenced by Greek classical art.

... even more interesting in light of the LA County seal brouhaha (see below); I guess the stay-at-home Pomona can't compete with the out-in-the-workforce Minerva ...
Various versions of this trickling in ... from AFP via Yahoo:

The Greek myth that ancient Spartans threw their stunted and sickly newborns off a cliff was not corroborated by archaeological digs in the area, researchers said Monday.

After more than five years of analysis of human remains culled from the pit, also called an apothetes, researchers found only the remains of adolescents and adults between the ages of 18 and 35, Athens Faculty of Medicine Anthropologist Theodoros Pitsios said.

"There were still bones in the area, but none from newborns, according to the samples we took from the bottom of the pit" of the foothills of Mount Taygete near present-day Sparta.

"It is probably a myth, the ancient sources of this so-called practice were rare, late and imprecise," he added.

Meant to attest to the militaristic character of the ancient Spartan people, moralistic historian Plutarch in particular spread the legend during first century AD.

According to Pitsios, the bones studied to date came from the fifth and sixth centuries BC and come from 46 men, confirming the assertion from ancient sources that the Spartans threw prisoners, traitors or criminals into the pit.

The discoveries shine light on an episode during the second war between Sparta and Messene, a fortified city state independent of Sparta, when Spartans defeated the Messenian hero Aristomenes and his 50 warriors, who were all thrown into the pit, he added.

I think we're doing an apples and oranges thing here, no? I've never heard of abandoned children being put in a "pit" (and I don't think the 'thrown off a cliff' is attested either) ... they were simply abandoned on the mountain where, presumably, they'd be taken away by wild animals or -- a recurring motif in ancient stories -- they'd be picked up by some passing stranger.
Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian:

Latin, it was reported last week, is making a comeback in inner-city schools in London: 20 primaries are trying Latin lessons, under the aegis of Project Iris, run by teacher Lorna Robinson. Something similar is happening in Oxfordshire, where the language is also being introduced to selected primary schools.

Robinson has spoken of its benefits in helping children get to grips with English, but one of the refreshing things about the move to teach Latin in perfectly ordinary primaries in Hackney is that there is no nonsense here about it being the preserve of the posh.

Alas, the impression that the language is for toffs and Fotherington-Thomases has probably been reinforced by its most vocal contemporary champions: Boris Johnson may be many things, but he is not what we classicists would call one of the profanum vulgus; or to put it another way, he is not a man of the people.

In 1968, students protesting in Paris actually cared enough - bizarre as it may now seem - to rail against the compulsory study of Latin; and one of the first moves by the Bolsheviks in revolutionary Russia was to banish the language from schools. Latin has long been regarded as the preserve of the few, a position to which it gradually declined after a staggeringly successful stint as the universal language of first the Roman empire and then the church.

It had a robust development through the middle ages, a retention of power through the start of the early modern period, and then a swift downward canter, as the language ceased to be the essential carrier of European thought and became the bastion - and the mark - of the wealthy, educated classes.

Until quite recently it retained a useful side function (which it can still claim to an extent) of being a vehicle for excluding the masses from certain areas of privileged knowledge. Legal and medical terminology was obscured in Latin, as was stuff that was too sexually explicit to be revealed to morally susceptible members of the working classes and, naturally, of the weaker sex. (An unintended consequence was that Latin has been associated with titillation; in 1881 an edition of an 18th-century work of pornography called Academie des Dames was put out, in deliberately easy Latin, with a crib provided.)

The association of Latin, then, with upper-class males is a mere trick of history. Just as Project Iris is doing in Hackney, it's time to reclaim Latin for the proletariat (a good Latin word, after all). Why? Partly, as Project Iris hints, it's an excellent way of improving language and general learning skills. And partly because it is difficult - and why shouldn't children be challenged? Latin is a tricky beast, but if it's taught well children can have a lot of fun with it.

One might ask, why not learn something useful, like Spanish or Mandarin or French? Well, do that too, but your efforts will be made easier by a knowledge of Latin: because it's a "dead" language - as people are so fond of saying - learning it presents the advantage of sidestepping all that business of ordering a beer or reserving a hotel room. Instead you delve right down to the bones of the language, understanding it at a deep, structural level that is both immensely rewarding for its own sake and very useful when that understanding is applied to any other language.

Mostly, though, Latin is worthwhile because it creates the opportunity for an encounter with the intellectual world of the ancient Romans, through the fantastically rich corpus of literature that remains to us. This encounter with Rome is important because so much of what we do and think - from the way our laws are organised to the nature of our education system, to how we look at our rights and duties as citizens - has its roots in Rome. Encountering Rome through its literature is one of the most exciting journeys the life of the mind can offer. To engage with these strange creatures of 2,000 years ago - so like, so unlike us - is to embark on a relationship that is often deeply unsettling, but never anything less than enriching.

One of the major advantages of Latin -- which I've never seen mentioned before, but is possibly alluded to above -- is that it allows you to see rather clearly the ambiguous nature of much of English and gives you the confidence to point it out when necessary (case in point: at a presentation about our provincial government's new literacy across the curriculum plan, we had to put the phrase 'knowledge of students' in a specific place on some concept map ... I had to ask the presenter whether they were referring to the knowledge belonging to the the students or *my* knowledge of the students).
From ANA:

The transfer of the first of five caryatids from the old Acropolis museum to the New Acropolis Museum in Makrygianni began on Saturday at 11:00 in the morning, using the three-crane relay system set up to carry the priceless antiquities down the hill via the Theatre of Dionysus.

The caryatid - a sculpted female form that serves as an architectural support for entablature in the place of a pillar - will be placed on the first level of the new museum in an internal "porch" that visitors will see when they first climb up the grand stair at the entrance. There were originally six caryatids on the Athens Acropolis that supported the porch of the Erechtheion Temple, where they have now been replaced by replicas. The best preserved of the six statues was taken by Lord Elgin in the 18th century and is now held at the British Museum, while the remaining five originals have been on display at the Acropolis Museum.
From the Sun Chronicle:

Spending more than a year reading a book word by word tested the patience of Joel Relihan, a Wheaton College classics professor. The end result was the first American English translation of a certain Latin classic in about 40 years.

Relihan translated Apuleius' "The Golden Ass (Or, A Book of Changes)," a 300-page book available from Hackett Publishing ( He says his daily routine involved "sitting at a table, surrounded by books, with a computer in front of you, and typing it in."

And while he never considered quitting along the way, "there are times when (Apuleius) would drive me crazy."

"He's a rhetorical author, and the story is written to excite a certain amount of wonder in the audience," Relihan says. "But that doesn't mean he thinks all of the details through."

Set in the second century A.D., the story follows a young man whose fascination with witchcraft results in his transformation into a donkey, Relihan explains. The donkey spends a year trying to get the antidote to the spell.

Although unfamiliar to most readers, the story is considered one of the "big name Latin classics," Relihan says.

"I was kind of surprised to find out that many of my colleagues know nothing about 'The Golden Ass,'" he says. "In classical circles, everybody knows it."

Apuleius' story was "lost for a long time" before "one good manuscript" was found during the 1400s, copied and imitated, Relihan says. He embarked on his translation of the work after having done some translation for Hackett Publishing in 2000.

"Hackett is eager to have a complete catalog of philosophical and classical texts. They liked my work," Relihan says. "I've found that I have a skill, I have a knack, for translation. I think I do it well."

Relihan, 52, now in his 15th year at Wheaton, says his routine would start at breakfast. "I'd sit down to work with a cup of coffee and I'd start to look at the first sentence. I'd try to come up with a good translation."

Each work day would include a lunch break and finish by 5 p.m. He would work four or five hours a day, five or six days a week.

"I kept a log for a while: how much did I get done that day," Relihan wsays. "Two pages a day was a very good day."

Relihan had planned to take a sabbatical in the spring of 2006 to do the translation. However, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which postponed those plans until after his surgery.

Relihan says Wheaton officials were very supportive. "Most people don't get a semester off for an operation and recovery, and then go back on sabbatical," he says. "I consider myself really fortunate."

His Latin roots date back to the fall of 1969, when he started high school in his hometown of Elgin, Ill. "In reality, I've never stopped. I've never left school, and I've never not read Latin," Relihan said.
From Philadelphia Weekly ... this guy has a podcast:

Sine Qua Nonsense

I haven’t read Harry Mount’s acclaimed new book Carpe Diem: Put a Little Latin in Your Life, nor do I intend to. Latin is to blame for some of our dumbest English grammar rules.

Mount’s been enjoying a bit of celebrity of late, with his op-ed about why the presidential candidates should learn Latin sitting atop The New York Times’ most-emailed list last week.

My ire has nothing to do with being forced to recite Aeneid passages while my high school Latin teacher played the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack because he thought it made it sound more dramatic. (I only wish that were a joke.) Rather, it’s because, as Mount says, we have ancient Rome to blame for the rule against splitting infinitives.

Latin infinitives are one word, so someone decided you shouldn’t split up English infinitives (e.g., “to boldly go” becomes “to go boldly”). Which is dumb.

There’s a good reason Latin is dead. Grammarians who insist on antiquated, pointless rules: You’re next.

While we have to agree that Latin grammar ain't English grammar, I think it needs to be pointed out that not all Latin infinitives are one word, Harry Mount notwithstanding (think future active and passive; perfect passive).


John Rundin scripsit:

I always blamed the rule about split infinitives on the Germans. In German, it is not permitted to
put ANYTHING between a "zu" and an infinitive: (e.g., "zu machen"). It's possible that the Germans
got this rule from the Romans. But Germans really seem to like it and never violate it--even in the most colloquial
speech--so I suspect the rule arose in German itself and was not imposed from above by Latin-influenced
prescriptive grammarians. The implication is that the rule in English is a futile and bizarrely antiquarian attempt
to preserve German rules, not Latin ones.
ante diem iv idus decembres

The tribunes of the plebs would enter their office on this day during the Roman Republic.

ca 300 A.D. -- martyrdom of Carpophorus
perspicacity @

imprecate @ Merriam-Webster
Seen in passing in a Salt Lake Tribune piece on the upcoming Nobel Prizes:

The prize for medicine or physiology bears a Latin inscription quoting Virgil's Aeneid, "Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes," which translates literally to: "Inventions enhance life which is beautified through art."


John McMahon scripsit:

The "quote" is from Aen. 663:

"inuentas aut qui uitam excoluere per artis"

" ... or who have ennobled life through arts discovered."

describing those in the Elysian Fields.

Lombardo has:

" ... those who enriched life with inventions."

But there's no Latinist at the SLT apparently:

"The prize for medicine or physiology bears a Latin inscription quoting Virgil's Aeneid, 'Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes,' which translates literally to: 'Inventions enhance life which is beautified through art.'"

"Translates literally," my ass.

Inventas goes with artes ... and is not the subject, of course.

Iuvat has to be impersonal: "it delights, helps"; excoluisse depends on it and has vitam as its object.

I'd suggest something like (literally / clunkily):

"It is of benefit to have ennobled life through skills having been found."

Bad ... but at least close to the original.

Dexter Hoyos scripsit:

So the Salt Lake Tribune thinks that

<< The prize for medicine or physiology bears a Latin inscription quoting Virgil's Aeneid, “Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes,” which translates literally to: “Inventions enhance life which is beautified through art.” >>

Gloom. Is this how things go in Utah? I thought the aphorism should mean

It is a joy to enhance life through developed [or, in my environment, ‘researched’] skills.

I suppose one could render ‘artes’ as “art(s)”, but the first rule in Hoyos’ senior Language Translation catechism is: Never use the English derivative of a Latin word unless (i) it’s a technical term like consul or prefect, or else (ii) your back is to the wall and civilisation trembles on the edge and you have only five minutes left. [And (iii) you do realise that 70 per cent of the time it’s going to be wrong anyway.]

The Tribune obviously prefers the long-sanctioned process of (a) grab each word in turn as it comes, (b) give it the closest-sounding English match, (c) then try to fiddle around with the result until you get something that at least is grammatical.

From the BBC:

A rare collection of Roman bronzes have been unearthed at the bottom of a well in the City of London.

Wine buckets, a cauldron, dishes and handled shallow bowls were among the items found during a nine-month dig near Throgmorton Avenue this year.

Archaeologists have hailed the find as the most significant in 30 years of excavations in the Upper Walbrook valley area.

The artefacts will go on display at the Museum of London on Friday.

Experts say the bronzes, found in a wood-lined well, are exceptionally well preserved and offer a rare glimpse into the last days of Londinium, the Roman name for London.

Symbolic closure

They say the bronzes may mark the symbolic closure of the well or could have been left by departing Roman Londoners anticipating a return to the city.

Coins discovered in the well date its construction to AD330 and its closure to about AD380, a time when significant parts of the city had been deserted.

Most of the items are made of copper alloy but some, a flagon and a dish, are made of lead alloy.

Archaeologists say that while they appear to be household items it is possible the hoard may have been used for religious purposes.

Jenny Hall, curator of Roman London at Museum of London said: "These finds are amazing.

"In size and scale they are simply unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever been found from London before, or anywhere else in Britain.'
In my groggy fog yesterday, I came across this item in the New York Times and bookmarked it ... it's by one Ron Hutt and is a "spoof" on Red Figure painting ... look at it closely:

Definitely has poster potential ...
The Comic Wire has an exclusive preview of the soon-to-be-published Marvel comic version of the Iliad ...
The politically correct types still hold sway, it seems ... here's an excerpt from an OpEd piece in the Daily Breeze:

You might recall how the American Civil Liberties Union, with nothing better to do, asked the supervisors to remove the cross, which you probably never noticed in the little slot just beside the left elbow of Pomona.

Actually, the Roman harvest goddess was surrounded left and right with six compartments holding six important civic symbols placed there by God.

No, sorry. They were put there under the direction of the late, great Supervisor Kenneth Hahn who - after begetting a political son and daughter - is about as close to God as you can get in the 2nd District.

Those instantly recognizable and meaningful icons include a triangle and caliper symbolizing the great engineering feats involved in water theft, a galleon probably belonging to Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a fish to celebrate the fishing industry that has more or less vanished from San Pedro, a cow (see a lot of those, do you?), the oil derricks that are no longer on Signal Hill and the big enchilada itself - a symbol so potent that Christian activists felt compelled to run it all the way up to the highest (packed) court in the land.

This symbol of redemption hung in teeny-tiny glory over a rendering of the Hollywood Bowl. Only I believe that it had more to do with the actual cross visible from the Hollywood Bowl than anything religious.

Anyway, three years ago the ACLU asked the supervisors to remove it. And they did, with the ever-predictable Mike Antonovich swearing that we'd all see this cross "… restored to the seal in our lifetimes."

They then took this opportunity to replace some of the daffy old symbols with some daffy new ones. Ejected forever is the goddess Pomona, probably because she represents a pagan deity pirated by the ancient Romans from the ancient Greeks and because parking at the County Fair is always abysmal.

In her place is an American Indian woman in flowing Greek robe holding forth like a Halloween hostess with a basket of acorns. Or possibly bite-size Almond Joys. Oh, and she has a halo, maybe to indicate how she was likely dispatched to heaven by the holy Europeans.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Bowl's spot is now occupied by Mission San Gabriel to symbolize the wholly non-Christian origins of a vast metropolis that began (and don't even think Spanish Catholics had anything to do with this) El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula. Or The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels. And, no, it never was the City of Angels.

The Bowl is still there, but moved to the upper right corner. Only now the offending cross, which was noticed only by the ACLU's crack Harvard-educated Nitpicker Department, is gone and all is right with the county.

... well, perhaps with Pomona gone we'll read less accounts of her spurious associations with Hallowe'en ...
From the NY Sun:

Fordham University, until now better known for turning out judges and prosecutors than for its art holdings, is opening a new museum of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art, with a display of more than 200 objects donated by a Fordham alumnus.

The gift — from William Walsh, the founder of Sequoia Associates, an investment firm in Menlo Park, Calif., that specializes in leveraged buyouts — means that Fordham now has the largest collection of ancient art of any New York-area university. The museum opens tomorrow. It occupies 4,000 square feet in the William D. Walsh Family Library, for which Mr. Walsh donated $10 million in 1997.

Mr. Walsh said in an interview that he studied Greek and Latin as an undergraduate at Fordham. When he decided it was time to donate his collection, "I thought: 'What better than to give it back to Fordham, where they still have a classics program, and let students benefit by looking at the real things?'"

The new museum's collection has "an impressive chronological span" — from the 10th century B.C.E. through the third century C.E. — and encompasses a variety of materials and media, the curator, Jennifer Udell, said. It includes black- and red-figure Greek vases, Etruscan pottery, and what Ms. Udell called "a nice selection of Roman sculpture," including a bronze head of the emperor Caracalla, which has been exhibited and published often since it came on the market in 1967.

Ms. Udell, who was hired to catalog and install the collection, spent more than six years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she worked on the reinstallation of the Greek and Roman Galleries. Although her first priority, since starting the job in June, has been to design the installation and create labels, the university will ultimately publish a catalog of the collection, which will include all the available provenance information.

In recent years, the Italian and Greek governments have been on a campaign to repatriate antiquities they believe were exported illegally. Last year, the Met signed an accord with Italy to return 21 artifacts, including a Greek vase known as the Euphronios krater, in exchange for long-term loans of similar objects. But the Met's director, Philippe de Montebello, has publicly expressed his ambivalence about being forced to surrender the objects, arguing that, while the Met makes these materials available for people from all over the world to see and appreciate in the context of a universal culture, host countries tend to hoard antiquities, storing them and not making them publicly available.

When Ms. Udell, who is 44, was asked by The New York Sun about the possibility of restitution claims, her tone was rather different from that of her old boss. If the government of a host country came forward with a claim to an object, she said, "[M]y attitude — which I learned at the Met — is, if it's a legitimate claim, we're happy to work with the government and repatriate it."

She added: "It's all part of the process. You put [the collection] out there and make it accessible and make it transparent, and if it goes back, it goes back."

Not that she would be pleased to see anything go. "If the carabinieri called me and said, 'We want the volute krater by the Virginia Exhibition Painter back,' it would suck," she said, referring to one of the collection's prized objects. "But you've got to be open about this, especially about objects that were collected [before the standards were agreed upon]. I wouldn't be happy about it, but I would be a lot happier doing the right thing, [which is] the legal thing."

Mr. Walsh said that he always bought through the major auction houses, so he felt confident about the provenance of his pieces.

Ms. Udell said that Fordham does not currently have a faculty member in the art history department specializing in antiquities; a professor who specialized in late antiquity left for Cornell recently, and the university is in the process of hiring her replacement.

Ms. Udell is also responsible for the rest of Fordham's art holdings, which include several Benjamin West paintings, drawings by the American artist John Trumbull, and a Rembrandt etching — "somewhere," she said, adding that she has been so busy installing the Greek and Roman art that she hasn't actually seen it yet.
... for the lack of updates for the past few days. My wireless connection decided to slow down to less than a crawl and once I had solved that problem, I had to contend with a major allergy attack which had me in a fog for most of yesterday ... we'll be in catch up mode for today I suspect ...
ante diem viii idus decembres

346 A.D. -- a bit out of our period, but today is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra (yes, 'the' Saint Nick) ...
decracinate @

serotine @ Wordsmith

Locofoco @ Merriam-Webster (sort of)
A very nice report from Al Jazeera on the problem of looting in Bulgaria ... I'm sure the patterns seen in this video are similar to those of other antiquities-rich countries:

Interesting item from The Age:

THEY came, they saw … and they used superglue.

Archaeologists in Germany say they have found a 2000-year-old glue that Roman warriors used to repair helmets, shields and other accessories of battle.

"Caesar's Superglue" — as it has been dubbed by the co-workers of the Rhine State Museum in Bonn — was found on a helmet at a site near Xanthen on the Rhine River where Romans settled before Christ.

"We found that the parade cavalry helmet had been repaired with an adhesive that was still doing its job," said restorer Frank Willer.

He said that since the find researchers had been going over collections of weapons and armour from the battle of the Teutoburger Wood in Germany, where tribal leader Varus defeated four of the seven legions of Rome in one of the decisive clashes of the Roman world.

There are traces of DIY repairs on them.

"This is rightly called some kind of superglue because air, water and time have not diminished its bonding properties," Mr Willer said.

His team discovered the adhesive accidentally when they examined the repair to the helmet.

Silver on the helmet separated from iron under heat — and the threads of the glue were discovered.

The remains have already been under the microscope: the Romans made their adhesive from a mixture of bitumen, cattle fat and bark pitch.

Researchers believe the Romans added soot, sand and quartz to the mixture for various jobs and to improve "stickability".

"We haven't mixed a batch ourselves but we can thoroughly recommend it lasts, 2000 years later," Mr Willer said.

There are folks studying ancient adhesives, by the way ... (here's a news version of that abstract)
Various versions of this one are beginning to trickle in ... here's the one from Reuters:

Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a wall beyond Jerusalem's old boundaries, showing the city built by biblical King David may have been much larger than previously thought, they said on Wednesday.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said it believed the 5-metre (16 ft) high wall was part of a two-storey structure demolished in 70 AD when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the second Jewish temple built by King Herod.

"According to our findings, ancient Jerusalem ... was much larger than previously thought," Doron Ben-Ami of the authority told a news conference near the excavation site.

Ben-Ami believes the structure may have been a section of a palace belonging to Queen Helena of Mesopotamia, who converted to Judaism in the first century AD, and left behind her kingdom in modern-day Iraq to settle in Jerusalem.

The wall was found beneath a parking lot about 300 meters south of the area known as the Temple Mount to Jews and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims.

Ben-Ami said narrow openings discovered at the bottom of the wall may have been used by inhabitants to flee the building as the Romans smashed it to pieces during the sacking of Jerusalem.

"We know that the structure was not destroyed by fire but it was destroyed purposely by dismantling its walls, which were made of stones," Ben-Ami explained.

The excavations yielded artifacts dating back to the early Islamic, Byzantine, and Hellenistic eras, as well as the first and second Temple periods.

The Temple Mount was the site of the ancient second Jewish temple, the only remnant of which is the Western Wall, the holiest shrine for Jews.
From ANSA:

Italian villagers are suing three successive Italian culture ministers in their latest bid to get an ancient Etruscan chariot back from a top US museum.

The town council in Monteleone di Spoleto voted unanimously on Wednesday to sue incumbent Francesco Rutelli and his predecessors Rocco Buttiglione and Giuliano Urbani for not doing enough to get the artefact back from the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The decision was taken at a special session in which the village's 670 residents were present.

''The artefact is part of our town's perpetual and inalienable heritage,'' said the suit filed with the main law courts in Spoleto.

The villagers have been trying for years to secure the return of the chariot, the most complete and beautiful of the 300 or so found in Italy over the past 200 years.

Monteleone-born lawyer Tito Mazzetta, who practises in Atlanta, has written sheaves of letters for Mayor Nando Durastanti - enlisting the support of a New Jersey mayor and two congressmen.

But the Met has rejected all pleas for the chariot, which was unveiled in April as one of the star attractions of the museum's renovated Greek and Roman galleries.

On the same day, the aggrieved Umbrians demonstrated outside the culture ministry in Rome, watched by reporters from around the world and television crews including CNN.

An Italian journalist, Mario La Ferla, tried to help the Monteleonesi with his recent book La Biga Rapita (The Stolen Chariot), chronicling the chariot's voyage from Umbria's Valnerina valley to New York. The chariot, which is 2,600 years old, was unearthed in 1902 by a local farmer, who reportedly swapped it for two cows.

It ended up in Florence the following year, where it was sold to the Met, dismantled, and smuggled out of the country, allegedly with the help of the financier JP Morgan.

Monteleone's inhabitants say the chariot is rightfully theirs. They claim the farmer had no idea of its value, while its purchasers undoubtedly did.

Furthermore, they say the Met cannot prove its ownership and that the chariot was taken from Italy illegally, as government authorities did not approve its export.

But the Met says it has owned the chariot for 100 years, pointing out that any deadline for a legal claim of this kind would have lapsed long ago.

''It would be like asking France to give back the Mona Lisa,'' one museum spokesperson said.

The villagers retorted: ''displaying an Etruscan chariot among New York's skyscrapers is the equivalent of us exhibiting artefacts from American Indian tribes in Monteleone''.

The Met has led the way among US museums in agreeing to return looted antiquities to Italy, signing a landmark deal with the government last year.

Italy still has a few more requests pending with the museum - but the chariot is not yet one of these.

Looks like this is going to be the saga of the non sequiturs ...
6.00 p.m. |HINT|Hidden Tomb of Antiochus
According to ancient Greek inscriptions, the tomb of King Antiochus I, ruler of Commagene, lies buried atop the 7,000-foot high Mt. Nemrud. In the 19th century, German excavators claimed the burial grounds were of Greek and Persian ancestry. But in the 1950s, American archaeologist Theresa Goell began to unravel the secrets of the funeral sanctuary. Today, both archaeologists and tourists are amazed and puzzled by the colossal burial place. But the human remains and tomb's riches are still hidden.

10.00 p.m. |HISTU| Ancient Discoveries - Machines of the Gods
Gods and religion played an extremely important role in antiquity. The problem with so many religions being worshipped by the Greeks and Romans was how would the priests of these temples pay for their upkeep? Great scholars such as Philon, Ctesibius and Heron were patronized by the temples to create "magic". In return, they created intriguing and mind blowing objects. It was a heavy mix of religion and science. One of the most famous illusions was found in Alexandria at the temple of Serapis, where an iron chariot was suspended in mid air. It appeared to be the work of the gods.

HINT = History International

HISTU = History Channel (US)
nonas decembres

Rites in honour of Faunus: essentially a rural ritual involving an offering of wine and a kid on a turf altar to mark the end of the year's toil and ensure the continued protection of the sheep.

302 A.D. -- martyrdom of Gratus and companions

... on a related note, I am told that the Executed Today blog will be featuring some 'Classical' executions over the next couple of days ... I don't think I have these ones ...
vilipensive @ Worthless Word for the Day

interpellate @ Wordsmith

... and not Classical, but definitely interesting, is the origin of the word 'toady' at Merriam-Webster

The Miserable World of Prometheus
by Mark Weinstein
The incipit of this piece from the Signal brings the story nicely into our purview:

Chanukah, the Festival of Dedication and the Feast of Lights, recalls historical events that nearly destroyed Judaism in the second century B.C.E. The land of Israel was ruled at the time by the Syrian-Greek heirs of the great empire of Alexander the Great.

The Seleucid dynasty that controlled Palestine and Syria was headed by Antiochus Epiphanes, an ardent Hellenizer who was anxious to spread Greek culture throughout the Middle East and Asia.

When the Hellenizers, backed by a contingent of soldiers, sought to introduce the Hellenistic culture and religion in the small town of Modin near Jerusalem, an aged priest named Mattathias and his five sons proclaimed a full-fledged revolt against the Seleucid rulers and called for the citizens to rise up and expel the polluters of the Temple and Jerusalem.

Under the inspired leadership of his son, Judah Maccabee (“the Hammer”), the Jews rallied their citizens army in 167 B.C.E. Gradually, they overcame the professional and well-armed forces of Antiochus and on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev 165 B.C.E., they finally expelled them from Jerusalem.

The scene they found on the Temple mount was appallingly depressing: The sacred altar had been polluted with swine’s blood and pagan practices had been introduced into Judaism’s holiest site. Accordingly, the liberators set about cleansing the Temple and preparing it for renewed use as a Jewish temple. Finally, after completing the process, an eight-day festival of rededication was proclaimed. Hence, the name “Chanukah,” which means “dedication” or “consecration.”

Legend has it that the victors found a small cruse of undefiled oil sufficient for one day’s use in the lamp of the Temple.

A miracle occurred and the lamp burned for eight days, giving the priests sufficient time to prepare fresh, consecrated oil. Consequently, we light the menorah for eight days of Chanukah and sometimes refer to the holiday as Hag Ha-Urim, the Festival of Lights.

The Wikipedia article on Antiochus seems very different from that in the Jewish Encyclopedia ...
We first heard about this in the Italian press on the weekend (see below) ... now it's popping up in various English versions. This one is AP via Yahoo:

An ancient Roman wood and ivory throne has been unearthed at a dig in Herculaneum, Italian archaeologists said on Tuesday, hailing it as the most significant piece of wooden furniture ever discovered there.

The throne was found during an excavation in the Villa of the Papyri, the private house formerly belonging to Julius Caesar's father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, built on the slope of Mount Vesuvius.

The name of the villa derives from the impressive library containing thousands of scrolls of papyrus discovered buried under meters (yards) of volcanic ash after the Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79.

Restoration of the throne is still ongoing with restorers painstakingly trying to piece back together parts of the ceremonial chair.

While other wooden objects have been dug out in nearby Pompeii, experts have never before found such a significant ceremonial piece of furniture. Previously such pieces have only been observed in paintings or made of marble.

"The find of ancient wooden furniture is not an absolute novelty in Herculaneum or Pompeii. Organic materials in fact were preserved in these cities because of the peculiar way in which they were submerged by the Vesuvius volcanic mud," said the head of the dig, Maria Paola Guidobaldi.

"But we have never found furniture of such a significant structure and decoration," Guidobaldi said.

Little is known about how the throne would have been used but the elaborate decorations discovered on the chair celebrate the mysterious cult figure of Attis.

The most precious relief shows Attis, a life-death-rebirth deity, collecting a pine cone next to a sacred pine tree. Other ornaments show leaves and flowers suggesting the theme of the throne is that of spring and fertility.

The cult of Attis is documented to have been strong in Herculaneum the first century AD.

Yahoo has a very nice slideshow of the excavation of the 'throne' (I think 'panelled chair' would have fewer political overtones) ... I'm still trying to figure out this scene, though (it's the fifth scene in the show, assuming everything else stays the same):

What the heck is are those 'suction cups' hanging from the 'ceiling'? They also appear on something called the 'tree of Attis', which we will, no doubt, be seeing as a precursor to the Christmas Tree soon ... [and yes, I do know the 'throne' scene is a scene from the Attis story; not sure if it's the 'collecting the pine cone' scene described above, though]
pridie nonas decembres

ca. 235 -- martyrdom of Barbara
profuse @

locupletative @ Worthless Word for the Day
adscititious @
Various versions of this one kicking around ... this one is AP via Yahoo:

Police seized hundreds of ancient coins — some dating back 2,300 years — allegedly stashed away by a 70-year-old barber in northern Greece, authorities said Monday.

Police said the bronze coins — believed to have been illegally excavated in the area — were mainly from the Roman and Hellenistic periods. Several bore the likeness of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian warrior king, and his father, King Philip.

The man was arrested Sunday near the town of Veroia, 300 miles north of Athens. He was charged with antiquity smuggling.

Police said they unexpectedly discovered the stash of 2,308 coins while searching the man's home after two robbery suspects told authorities he bought their stolen mobile phones and other items.

Under law, all antiquities found in Greece are state property.
As folks might expect, my Explorator sources deluged me with copies of the Harry Mount article in the New York Times (see below) ... among them was something I missed ... the article is also available in Latin:

Primum, duces nostros linguam Latinam non iam studere triste non videtur.

Sed reipublicae artem - quae principes iuvenes educationem praeparationem pro curriculo considerare excitat — cum rhetorica exigua, moribus infirmis, grammatica inepta et rationis historicae metu congruissse fors non est; aeterna de quibus Romani nos multum docere possunt. Romani ipsi dicunt,

Roma urbs aeterna; Latina lingua aeterna.*

Nemo principes candidati praefecti Latinae languae periti sunt. Hillaria Clintona scientiae politicae Wellesleiae studuit; Barackus Obamus Columbiae. Rudius Giulianus linguam per quattuor annos theologiae ad Episcopi Loughlin Memorem Scholam Altam Brooklyni attigit, quando se pontificem futurum esse consideravit. Sed tum quod studuit? Scientiae politicae.

Quam res post Patres Fundantes mutaverunt! Ex VII libris in Thomae Jeffersoni bibliotecha in Monticello, soli XXIV domi manent. Posteri alteros vendiderunt, Bibliotecha Concilii emptos. Lectissimus liber, iam in pluteo vitreo in Jeffersoni bibliotecha, Aeneis a Virgilio est.

Jeffersonus, novem annos natus, linguas Latinam et Graecam ad scholam in Virginia pontifice Caledonio administratam docere coepit. Liber grammaticus Graecus iuxta eum ad Conlegium Williami Mariaeque Williamiburgi semper erat. Tacitus Homerusque carissimi erant.

Jeffersonus optimam scholae altae educationem lingua in Latina, Graeca et Gallica, cum grammaticis thematibus lectionibusque, libris translatis in linguam Anglicam, et recordatione locorum famosorum esse consideravit.

Quando Jeffersonus Virginiae Universitatem (ad regulam Romanam aedificatam) in MDCCCXIX aperuit, solis magistris aeternis peritis ut historiam Graecam Romanamque doceant usus est.

Praefecti linguam Latinam plus quam CL annos didicerunt. XXXI ex XL praefecti post Jeffersonum linguam Latinam didicerunt, quorum multi ad regulam altam.

Jacobus Polkus ad Boreae Carolinae Universitatem in MDCCCXVIII in mathematica aeternisque triumphavit. Jacobus Garfieldus linguas Graecam Latinamque ex MDCCCLVI ad MDCCCLVII ad (iam appellatum) Hiram Conlegium, Ohio. Eduardus Rooseveltus aeterna Harvardi didicit.

JFK non ad unam, sed ad tres scholas praeparantes, linguam Latinam didicit. Nixonus lingua Latina peritissimus erat, secundus ad Whittioris Scholam Whittiori in California in MCMXXX. Georgius Bushus Senior linguam Latinam ad Academiam Philliporum Andoveri didicit, et in fraternitate erat - Auctoritas, Unitas, Veritas.

Williamus Clintonus, qui linguae Latinae per quattuor annos ad Fontium Caldorum Scholam Aquam in Arkansa studuit, De Bello Gallico ab Iulio Caesare amavit.

Patrem sequens, Georgius W Bushus linguam Latinam ad Academiam Philliporum didicit (dicta: Non sibi et Finis Origine Pendet).

Sed Praefectus Bush per eruditionis Americanae altae ultimos annos forte didicit. Post Andoverum in MCMLXIV reliquit, linguae Latinae studia in America conlapsa sunt. In MCMV, LVI per centum scholarum altarum Americanarum discipulos American linguam Latinam didicerunt. In MCMLXXVII, soli VI discipuli linguae Latini Nationis inquisitionem perfecerunt.

Lingua Latina nuper renata est. In MMV, CXXXIVDCCCLXXIII linguae Latini Nationis inquisitionem perfecerunt.

Cur bonum est? Non omnes Romani virtutis exemplares erant — Caligulae lingua Latinae bona erat.Non omnes CXXXIVDCCCLXXIII pueri Jeffersoni erunt.

Sed praeterita, quae ad huius temporis aspectum ampliorem opulentioremque ducunt, adspicere poterunt. Si linguam Latinam scis, tabulatum Romanum sub orbis terrarum Occidentis cutem vides. Si linguam Latinam parvam scis, litterarum Occidentium D annos (et mille annos orationis Latinae poeticaeque) aperis.

Cur non linguam Latinam in lingua Anglica legas? Quod in Virgilii Aeneido Latino, qui in translatione praeclara Roberti Fagli (MMVI) non est?

Etiam si translatio praeclara est, similis soni linguae Latinae locutae sonare nunquam potest. Audire poeticam Latinam leve celeriterque locutam audire linguam mellitam volubilemque, opulentum, stillatum, fabulantem, purum, fervidum progenitorem linguae Italianae.

Etiam, translationes ex lingua Latina in Anglicam, et vice versa, modi mirabiles mentis docendae sunt. Translationem ex lingua Latina breve accurataque in Anglicam expandentem vagamque similem concertinae aperiendae esse reor; maximam cogitationem et interpretationem in translationem infundere licet.

Concertina aperienda vim ingenii amplificat. Claudienda, ex lingua Latina in Anglicam translatio, orationem acuit.

Quod lingua Latina mortua est, non mutans similis linguarum vivarum, spatium magnum in translatione non est.

Sic te falsum, non ambiguum, esse veri simile est, si quod verbum separatum significat aut quomodo regula grammatica curritur non accurate intelleges. Rigor ille vos optime docet quomodo Scyllam Charybdemque orationis Anglicae belle navigas.

Cum historia Romana et lingua Latina parva, plura passim vides: non solum in litteris linguaque, sed in architecturae foederatae stirpibus aeternis, per Europam Occidentem et tum per Americam Christi in itinere, et administrationis senatoriae formula Americana. Tabula infinita est.

Scriptor Alanus Hollinghurstus historiae conversiones scientes, qui orbem terrarum similem lineae cubiculorum aspicere possunt, describit: Graecia Romae cedit... Roma Imperio Byzantino Renato Imperio Britannico Americae.... Linguam Latinam parvam scire invitatio ad cubiculum maximum in aedificio, cum prospectu praeter aevorum sequentium lineam, est.

Invitationem aetatibus in omnibus habere potes. Alfredus Maximus, in novem cento anni Angliae rex, triginta annos natus, qui linguam Latinam gravem esse ut princeps humanus sit scivit, linguam didicit. Novum saeculum discipulorum — praefectorumque — simile Alfredi cognoscere spero: *”Roma urbs aeterna; Latina lingua aeterna.”

Henricus Mons Carpe Diem — Linguam Latinam Parvam Tua in Vita Pone scripsit.
The Third Sophistic: New Approaches to Rhetoric in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity. Organized by Paul
Kimball, Bilkent University.

It is a well-known paradox of Greco-Roman culture that well after the
adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the state under
Constantine the art of rhetoric successfully maintained its privileged
place in the articulation of political, pedagogical, religious,
philosophical, and literary power. Late antiquity witnessed a
remarkable surge in rhetorical output in both Greek (Libanius,
Himerius, Themistius, Julian, Procopius of Gaza, Choricius) and Latin
(the Panegyrici Latini, Symmachus, Ausonius, Marius Victorinus).
Moreover, under the new establishment the rapprochement between
traditional "pagan" rhetoric and Judaeo-Christian modes of expression
already evident in Christian apologetic writings of the second and
third centuries gained momentum, culminating in the fourth and
fifth-century "Golden Age" of Christian rhetoric as represented by the
works of Eusebius of Caesarea, the Cappadocian Fathers, and John
Chrysostom (in Greek), and Lactantius, Ambrose, and Augustine (in
Latin). Before the end of the sixth century the corpus of Hermogenes
would achieve canonical status, and in 426 CE Augustine's De Doctrina
Christiana fused once and for all Cicero's rhetorical theory with the
Christian project of evangelism and exegesis.

In light of the wealth of available source material and its parallels
to the much more extensively studied Second Sophistic, European
scholarship over the past two decades has increasingly come to
identify this period as the "Third Sophistic." While this formulation
stresses synchronic linkages at the expense of diachronic
perspectives, it is nonetheless worthwhile to examine this phase in
the cultural history of the late empire as a unity. The Society for
Late Antiquity thus invites proposals featuring innovative approaches
to the study of rhetoric in late antiquity for a panel to be at the
annual meeting of the American Philological Association to be held in
Philadelphia, 8-11 January 2009. These might address such issues as
the relationship of rhetoric to poetry, philosophy, and
historiography; performance and self-presentation; reception and
audience; rhetoric, law, and political authority; rhetoric and
homiletics; ekphrasis and the rhetorical construction of space. These
are only suggestions and proposals which investigate other lines of
research are welcome.

Abstracts of papers (ca. 500 words) requiring a maximum of 20 minutes
to deliver should be sent via email attachment no later than February
1, 2008 to Paul Kimball (, or by surface mail
(Dr. Paul Kimball, Program in Cultures, Civilizations & Ideas, Bilkent
University, 06800 Bilkent, Ankara, TURKEY). Please follow the
instructions for the format of individual abstracts in the APA Program
Guide (see link below). APA membership is required of all presenters
and must be verified before proposals are accepted. All submissions
will be judged anonymously by two referees. Note that no subventions
for travel or accommodation are available from either the Society for
Late Antiquity or the APA.

For a PDF copy of the APA Annual Meeting program guide:

For general information on the APA Annual Meeting

For information regarding membership:


Friday 14th December 2007

9.30–10.15: Registration
10.30–10.50: Dr. Han Baltussen, Welcome and Introduction.
10.55–11.50: Prof. David Scourfield, ‘The Genre(s) of Consolation’


12.10–1.00: Dr. Han Baltussen, ‘A Grief Observed: Cicero on Remembering Tullia’

LUNCH [not provided]

2.15– 3.00: Bart Van Wassenhove, ‘Shameful Grief. Emotional Rhetoric in Senecan
3.05– 4.00: Dr George Boys-Stones, ‘Night of the living Dead: Encouragement to


4.25–5.15: Dr. Véronique Boudon-Millot: Galen’s peri alupias (paper in
absentia)(English summary presented by HB).

Saturday 15th December 2007

10.00–11.00: Dr. Han Baltussen, ‘Plutarch’s Consolation to his Wife’
Respondent: Prof. Michael Trapp


11.20–12.20: Dr. Josef Lössl: ‘Continuity and Change in Augustine’

LUNCH [not provided]

2.00–2.50: Dr. Peter Adamson, ‘Al-Kindi’s On Dispelling Sorrow and its Use
by Miskawayh’
3.00–4.00: Panel Discussion. Concluding remarks
ante diem iii nonas decembres

Possible date for rites in honour of the bona dea: essentially private rituals for Roman women only held in the house of a consul or praetor and attended by the Vestal Virgins and assorted upper class types. The actual date does not appear to have been 'fixed' and, of course, this ritual was 'crashed' by P. Clodius (dressed as a woman) in 62 B.C. with all sorts of nasty spinoffs, not least of which was the Julius Caesar's divorce from his wife Pompeia.

313 A.D. -- death of the retired emperor Diocletian
soporific @

vilipend @ Wordsmith

escapade @ Merriam-Webster
From the New York Times:

AT first glance, it doesn’t seem tragic that our leaders don’t study Latin anymore. But it is no coincidence that the professionalization of politics — which encourages budding politicians to think of education as mere career preparation — has occurred during an age of weak rhetoric, shifting moral values, clumsy grammar and a terror of historical references and eternal values that the Romans could teach us a thing or two about. As they themselves might have said, “Roma urbs aeterna; Latina lingua aeterna.”*

None of the leading presidential candidates majored in Latin. Hillary Clinton studied political science at Wellesley, as did Barack Obama at Columbia. Rudy Giuliani had a minor brush with the language during four years of theology at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn when he toyed with becoming a priest. But then he went on to major in guess what? Political science.

How things have changed since the founding fathers.

Of the 7,000 books originally in Thomas Jefferson’s library, only a couple of dozen are still at Monticello. The rest were sold off by his descendants, and eventually bought back by the Library of Congress. The best-thumbed of those remaining — on a glassed-in shelf in Jefferson’s study — is a copy of Virgil’s “Aeneid.”

Jefferson started learning Latin and Greek at age 9 at a school in Virginia run by a Scottish clergyman. When he was at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, a Greek grammar book was always by his side. Tacitus and Homer were his favorites.

High school, Jefferson thought, should center on Latin, Greek and French, with grammar and reading exercises, translations into English and the memorizing of famous passages. In 1819, when Jefferson opened the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (built according to classical rules of architecture), he employed only classically trained professors to teach Greek and Roman history.

This pattern of Latin learning continued for more than 150 years. Of the 40 presidents since Jefferson, 31 have studied Latin, many at a high level. James Polk graduated from the University of North Carolina, in 1818, with top honors in math and classics. James Garfield taught Greek and Latin from 1856 to 1857 at what is now Hiram College in Ohio. Teddy Roosevelt studied classics at Harvard.

John F. Kennedy had Latin instruction at not one, but three prep schools. Richard Nixon showed a great aptitude for the language, coming second in the subject at Whittier High School in California in 1930. And George H. W. Bush, a Latin student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., was a member of the fraternity Auctoritas, Unitas, Veritas (Authority, Unity, Truth).

A particular favorite for Bill Clinton during his four years of Latin at Hot Springs High School in Arkansas was Caesar’s “Gallic War.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, George W. Bush studied Latin at Phillips Academy (the school’s mottoes: “Non Sibi” or not for self, and “Finis Origine Pendet,” the end depends on the beginning).

But then President Bush was lucky enough to catch the tail end of the American classical tradition. Soon after he left Andover in 1964, the study of Latin in America collapsed. In 1905, 56 percent of American high school students studied Latin. By 1977, a mere 6,000 students took the National Latin Exam.

Recently there have been signs of a revival. The number taking the National Latin Exam in 2005, for instance, shot up to 134,873.

Why is this a good thing? Not all Romans were models of virtue — Caligula’s Latin was pretty good. And not all 134,873 of those Latin students are going to turn into Jeffersons.

But what they gain is a glimpse into the past that provides a fuller, richer view of the present. Know Latin and you discern the Roman layer that lies beneath the skin of the Western world. And you open up 500 years of Western literature (plus an additional thousand years of Latin prose and poetry).

Why not just study all this in English? What do you get from reading the “Aeneid” in the original that you wouldn’t get from Robert Fagles’s fine translation, which came out just last year?

Well, no translation, however fine, can ever sound the way Latin was written to sound. To hear Latin poetry spoken smoothly and quickly is to hear a mellifluous, rat-a-tat-tat language, the rich, distilled, romantic, pure, heady blueprint of its close descendant, Italian.

But also, learning to translate Latin into English and vice versa is a tremendous way to train the mind. I think of translating concise, precise Latin into more expansive, discursive English as like opening up a concertina; you are allowed to inject all sorts of original thought and interpretation.

As much as opening the concertina enlarges your imagination, squeezing it shut — translating English into Latin — sharpens your prose. Because Latin is a dead language, not in a constant state of flux as living languages are, there’s no wriggle room in translating. If you haven’t understood exactly what a particular word means or how a grammatical rule works, you are likely to be, not off, but just plain wrong. There’s nothing like this challenge to teach you how to navigate the reefs and whirlpools of English prose.

With a little Roman history and Latin under your belt, you end up seeing more everywhere, not only in literature and language, but in the classical roots of Federal architecture; the spread of Christianity throughout Western Europe and, in turn, America; and in the American system of senatorial government. The novelist Alan Hollinghurst describes people who know history’s turning points as being able to look at the world as a sequence of rooms: Greece gives way to Rome, Rome to the Byzantine Empire, to the Renaissance, to the British Empire, to America.

You can gain this advantage at any age. Alfred the Great, the ninth-century king of England, who knew how crucial it was to learn Latin to become a civilized leader, took it up in his 30s. Here’s hoping that a new generation of students — and presidents — will likewise recognize that *“if Rome is the eternal city, Latin is the eternal language.”
Assorted odds and ends that probably deserve more attention than I'm giving:

First, catching up with Father Foster:

Andrew's Head
Universalis Puerorum Dies

... semi-related ... if you want the Latin text of the papal encyclical Spe Salvi, it's online ...

Robin Helweg-Larsen has started a new blog: Jews and Romans ...

I think we've had this sort of thing before ... a modern performance of the First Delphic Hymn to Apollo:

Other than that, I've posted issue 10.32 of our Explorator newsletter and the weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings ... with report cards over, hopefully I can get caught up on cleaning up my scans of Barry Baldwin's stuff and can resume them next week ....
Marion True has had some of the pressure lifted off of her ... from the LA Times:

A Greek criminal court on Tuesday dismissed charges against former J. Paul Getty Museum antiquities curator Marion True for her role in the purchase of an illegally excavated golden funerary wreath.

In an Athens hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes, a three-judge panel agreed with True's attorney that the statute of limitations had expired for the alleged crime. True was not at the proceedings.

The decision ends the most serious troubles facing True in Greece, which, along with Italy, has accused the former curator of knowingly purchasing looted antiquities, a charge she has denied.

Pending is an investigation of several artifacts of minor value found in True's Greek vacation home during a raid in April 2006. In Rome, True remains on trial for allegedly trafficking in antiquities looted from Italy.

Over the past year, the Getty has returned the funerary wreath and three other items to Greece and agreed to send 40 more ancient objects back to Italy, conceding it was the right thing to do.

"Whereas the decision today was based on the statute of limitations, at no stage of these proceedings was any proof of a crime presented by Greek prosecutors," said Harry Stang, True's American attorney.

True's Greek attorney, a law professor in Athens, could not be reached after the hearing because he was teaching.

The Getty purchased the wreath in 1993 on True's recommendation, despite concerns she raised months earlier that the transaction would be "too dangerous." As with all acquisitions, the purchase was approved by the museum director, Getty president and board of trustees before being acquired.

As first reported in The Times in 2005, True learned of the wreath in March 1992 when a fax arrived from Munich, Germany, at her Getty office, according to internal Getty records and interviews with Greek investigators.

The note -- handwritten in slightly awkward English -- offered an ancient golden crown of finely wrought leaves and branches. It weighed nearly a pound and was crafted about 400 BC. The asking price was $1.6 million.

The person offering the wreath gave his name as "Dr. Preis." True had never heard of him before, she later said.

'Bizarre' meeting

Two months later, records show, Preis arranged to meet True in a bank vault in Zurich, Switzerland, to show her the wreath. He arrived with a Serbian associate named Kovacevic. What transpired in the bank vault that day isn't clear, but True was disturbed by the experience, records show.

A middleman in the deal, antiquities dealer Christoph Leon, wrote to the curator apologizing for the "disaster" and "misbehaviour" of the two men with whom she had met. In a letter obtained by The Times, True replied that the experience was "certainly bizarre."

"Some comedy," True wrote to Leon. "Mr. Kovacevic and whoever was impersonating Dr. Preis have done tremendous damage to a great object. I hope you will find a possible buyer for it, but I am afraid that in our case it is something that is too dangerous for us to be involved with."

Four months later, the Getty purchased the wreath from Leon for $1.15 million.

In her proposal to the board, True said all surviving samples of such wreaths "come from tombs" and said that the Getty's was "probably from Macedonia." The dealer signed a warranty, saying the wreath came "from a private Swiss collection."

The Getty wired its payment to an account in the name of Leon and the two Greeks.

Before the acquisition, the Getty had sent inquiries to Greek and Italian authorities about the funerary wreath. Both governments raised concerns that the object -- the most important of its kind and previously unknown to scholars -- must have come from an illegal excavation. Neither, however, could provide evidence of such an excavation.

Looted wreath

A subsequent investigation by Greek and German authorities found that the wreath had most likely been looted from northern Greece, where ancient Macedonians crafted such objects for royal burials.

Investigators learned that in the months before the bank vault meeting, Kovacevic and the two Greeks carried the wreath around Europe in a cardboard box, offering it for sale. They described the objects as the "golden wreath of Philippos," a reference to the father of Alexander the Great, who was Macedonian.

As for Dr. Preis, German authorities confirmed True's suspicion: The Swiss collector was a flimsy facade. "For this person, there is not even one single clue that exists," German investigators concluded.

Greek cultural authorities asked the Getty several times to return the wreath, beginning in 1996. The Getty dismissed the demands with requests for more evidence and waited months before replying to renewed requests.

Then in November 2005, Greek cultural authorities grew tired of waiting. They forwarded the case to a criminal prosecutor, who shared evidence with Italian authorities also investigating True.

In April 2006, Greek investigators raided True's vacation home on the Greek island of Paros and found several unregistered antiquities, some of which were built into the home. Though the objects had little significance, Greek authorities promised to press charges.

The same Greek vacation house had led to True's sudden resignation from the Getty when The Times reported that she had accepted a loan from one of the Getty's major antiquities dealers to purchase it. True repaid that loan by taking another loan from True's close friends and two of the museum's biggest donors of antiquities, Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman.

After months of investigation, Greek authorities accused True of receiving stolen property in her purchase of the wreath. Soon after, the Getty agreed to return the wreath to Greece. True complained bitterly in a letter to Getty officials that returning contested objects while she was facing charges could be interpreted as "tacit acceptance of my guilt."

The Greek prosecutor also accused Leon, Kovacevic and the two Greeks of smuggling the stolen wreath and selling it to True. In pretrial hearings, many of the charges against True's co-defendants have been dismissed because the allotted time to try the case has expired.

True's attorney has argued that California law should apply to his client's alleged crime, because she is American and was in California when the wreath was purchased. By ruling in True's favor Tuesday, the Greek court agreed that California's five-year statute of limitations for receiving stolen property had expired.

A brief item from the Canadian Press (via Yahoo):

Syrian archeologists have discovered an ancient glass jar containing an infant's ashes at one of the Mideast's most famous sites from Classical antiquity.

The discovery of the 2nd century A.D. jar amid the ruins of Palmyra was the first of its kind, shedding light on previously unknown funeral practices common at the time.

Archeological official Khalil Hariri says archeologists unearthed the jar from a newly discovered cemetery within Palmyra.

Hariri says the ashes inside the container, which measured 24 centimetres in height and 18 centimetres in diameter, revealed that the infant had been cremated.

He says the mission discovered pottery, furniture and lamps in the cemetery, as well as glass vials in which mourners put their tears.

Palmyra, located some 240 kilometres northeast of Syria's capital Damascus, was the centre of an Arab client state to the Roman empire and thrived on the caravan trades across the desert to Mesopotamia and Persia.

... actually, I think it was fairly common across the Empire at the time for infants to be cremated and buried in jars ... see, e.g.,C. J. Going, Miranda Green, Corinne Duhig, Alison Taylor, A Roman Child Burial with Animal Figurines and Pottery, from Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire (Brittania 1997),
First, from Cultural News, comes word of the discovery of a wooden throne at Herculaneum:

Il reperto, è stato rinvenuto dieci giorni fa a un centinaio di metri dalla Villa dei Papiri, in prossimità del tunnel che mette in comunicazione gli scavi degli anni ’30 e gli altri in prossimità della Villa. Il manufatto era inglobato in un blocco di cinerite dell’eruzione vesuviana del 79 d.C. e a prima vista si presentava ridotto a pezzi, almeno nelle parti che si riuscivano a intravedere. Secondo le indiscrezioni, si tratta di un solium, un trono, utilizzato sia nell’antica Grecia che in epoca romana da re e imperatori. Le misure del soglio non dovrebbero differire molto da quelle di una moderna sedia dotata di braccioli e spalliera. Per impreziosirlo, poi, i maestri artigiani usarono guarnizioni in avorio. Non è escluso che nascoste dalla cenere ci siano anche applique in argento e oro. L’intero blocco è stato portato in restauro e adesso se ne attende la pulitura e la ricostruzione. Alcuni elementi saranno presentati martedì 4 dicembre, a Roma, nella ex Chiesa di Santa Marta, dal Soprintendente archeologo Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, dalla direttrice degli scavi di Ercolano, Maria Paola Guidobaldi e dall’archeologo Ernesto De Carolis, tra i maggiori esperti dei mobili rinvenuti nelle dimore ercolanesi. Sugli elementi di avorio, secondo le indiscrezioni dovrebbero essere segnate frasi e vocaboli che saranno tradotte e interpretate dagli esperti di epigrafia non appena completato il restauro del soglio.

Ponente Notizie tells of five Iron Age burials in Liguria:

Ancora un’eccezionale ritrovamento archeologico. Nei lavori di scavo per l’arginamento del Centa, all’altezza della deviazione dell’Aurelia, sono state trovate cinque tombe appartenenti all’'età del ferro', risalenti a quasi tremila anni or sono.
Il sovrintendente archeologico della Liguria, Bruno Massabò, ha provveduto a rilevare gli importanti ritrovamenti, in cui è stato recuperato un 'rasoio semilunato', preziosa testimonianza di uno dei primi strumenti in metallo (VII secolo a.C.).
"Si tratta delle tracce di un villaggio dell’età del ferro che senz’altro è coevo di altri reperti sepolti dalle vicende geologiche del terreno in quella zona. Il ritrovamento è avvenuto con gli scavi per il posizionamento di strutture d’argine a sei metri sotto il piano di campagna, prossimo alla strada che lungo il fiume collega il Ponte Rosso ed i recenti scavi di San Clemente con il campo sportivo di Lusignano. Con una campagna di scavi mirata c’è un’alta probabilità di acquisire altri reperti che ci possono fornire informazioni preziose sulla gente ingauna, ovvero i nostri antenati in età preromana".
La notizia è stata comunicata al sindaco, Antonella Tabbò. Ha detto Tabbò: "Il nostro patrimonio archeologico si arricchisce di altre testimonianza che potrebbero venire congiunte con quelle del neolitico, scoperte nelle grotte del Pennavaire dall’Anfossi. Albenga dispone di un potenziale che si stanno sempre più arricchendo. Sarà la fortuna della città nel prossimo futuro".
L’abbassamento delle sepolture è avvenuto sia per il deposito del materiale lapideo trasportato nei secoli dal fiume, sia per fenomeni di subsidenza. Le tombe potranno essere 'spettacolarizzate' in esposizioni museali con riproduzioni in plastici.
Il 'rasoio' recuperato ha una lama a forma di mezzaluna che in qualche modo ricorda la forma del coltello, usato ancora recentemente, che in dialetto è ancora conosciuto come 'pue(r)ìn'. In qualche modo potrebbe essere messo in connessione con oggetti similari appartenenti alla civiltà etrusca che ebbe influenza nel Ponente.
Ci vorrà ora un periodo di 'erudizione' durante il quale Massabò e i tecnici approfondiranno lo studio delle tombe, degli scheletri e degli attrezzi. Ne sapremo un po’ di più su come eravamo ai tempi in cui Albingaunum era alleata agli avversari di Roma. Naturalmente saranno necessari fondi per aprire una campagna di scavi. Aggiunge Massabò: "Negli ultimi dieci anni Albenga è divenuta una vera e propria 'work in progress' per quanto riguarda la lettura del nostro passato. Questi ritrovamenti potranno trovare adeguato sfruttamento spettacolare, con una forte ricaduta di tipo commerciale grazie al turismo".
In effetti, dieci anni fa fu rinvenuto, in una tomba al Pontelungo, il 'Piatto blu', definito 'il piatto in vetro antico più bello del mondo', che dovrebbe essere esposto a palazzo Oddo per Pasqua.

Assorted versions of this one ... this one is from MSNBC:

Roman pottery and a coin from the Iron Age have been found on the site of the aquatics center planned for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Digs on the Olympic Park site have discovered evidence of Iron Age settlement, including 4th-century pottery and a Roman coin from the time of Emperor Constantine II.

The Museum of London has been working with the London 2012 staff, who are preparing the 500-acre (200-hectare) Olympic Park site in the capital’s East End for venue construction to begin next year.
Story continues below ↓advertisement

“We are taking this opportunity to tell the fascinating story of the lower Lea Valley before it is given a new lease of life for the games and future generations,” Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive David Higgins said Wednesday.

During the Iron Age, the area was surrounded by lakes, rivers and marshes, and archaeologists have found parts of cooking pots used by settlers.

The pottery and Roman coin, dated between A.D. 330-335, was found buried behind a wooden river wall. One side of the coin features a picture of two soldiers and two standards, and the other has inscriptions representing Constantine II, Caesar and Illissimus.
There's really nothing Classical in this piece from the Indy Star, other than the name of the program, but it brings together Classics, computing, and football, which is pretty much 75% of what I do, so:

Zeus is a computer program that takes a football decision -- for instance, punt or go for it on fourth down -- and simulates the game to completion as many as 1 million times, using years of data from NFL games and the characteristics of the competing teams.

The results are expressed in the option's "Game Winning Chance," or GWC. If a running play has a 2 percent greater GWC than punting, it means if the situation occurred 100 times, choosing the run would produce two more victories than punting.
The worst single decisions generally cost a team 10 percent to 12 percent GWC.
Because Zeus accounts for differences in the strength between the teams, an identical situation and decision will have a higher GWC for the stronger team.
Zeus can also assess the GWC impact of a player, but its primary focus is on fourth down and other so-called "binary" decisions -- extra point or two-point conversion, penalty acceptance, onside kick or long kick.
Here are some examples of fourth-down calls from the Colts' victory over Atlanta on Thanksgiving night:
Situation: Atlanta faces fourth-and-1 at the Colts 43. Score tied 0-0, 11:28 left in first quarter.
Zeus said: 19.1 percent GWC to go for it; 18.0 percent GWC to punt.
Actual call: Went for it (3-yard run for a first down).
Situation: Atlanta faces fourth-and-1 at the Colts 31. Score tied 0-0, 9:06 left in the first quarter.
Zeus said: 21.3 percent GWC to go for it; 19.6 percent GWC to kick a field goal.
Actual call: Went for it (1-yard run for first down).
Situation: Atlanta faces fourth-and-7 at the Colts 16. Score tied 0-0, 7:03 left in first quarter.
Zeus said: 22.8 percent GWC to go for it; 22.8 percent GWC to kick a field goal.
Actual call: Field goal attempt was good.
Situation: Colts face fourth-and-4 at the Falcons 47. Colts trail 10-0, 1:53 left in first quarter.
Zeus said: 57.3 percent GWC to go for it; 55.4 percent GWC to punt.
Actual call: Punt.
Situation: Atlanta faces fourth-and-4 at the Colts 12. Atlanta leads 10-7, 11:38 left in second quarter.
Zeus said: 36.2 percent GWC to go for it; 34.5 percent GWC to kick field goal.
Actual call: Field goal attempt good.
Situation: Colts face fourth-and-1 at the Falcons 49. Colts trail 13-7, 9:29 left in second quarter.
Zeus said: 66.6 percent GWC to go for it; 62.5 percent GWC to punt.
Actual call: Punt, but running-into-the-kicker penalty allows Colts to keep the ball.

Why so aggressive?
The developers of Zeus are used to sneers at some of the computer's decisions. Bower explained:
"Zeus will recommend going for it on fourth-and-short more often than NFL decision makers.
"Indy's powerful offense is more likely to pick up a first down on fourth-and-short (or even fourth-and-medium) than the typical team. Indy's play-calling consistently misses this fact.
"Atlanta is a heavy underdog and scoring points three at a time is not going to be a big plus against Indy's strong offense. They must take maximal advantage every time they are close to the goal line."
What will Zeus have to say about Sunday's Colts-Jacksonville game? Check out for Zeus' decisions and commentary from Chuck Bower, one of the developers and an IU astrophysicist. He will be posting at halftime and after the game.
Antigone (Salem State College)

Women of Troy (London)
another (I think it`s the same production)

Agamemnon (York)

Medea (Lawrence)
A number of comics have made their way to my box this week ... first, Keely Lake (thanks) sends this one in:


Ivo Volt sent in a couple as well (thanks!):



... and another one from the same source, but which has some language which might be offensive ...

IV also sent in this one from Cyanide and Happiness:

Cyanide and Happiness

Last, but not least, I've been hanging on to this Piled Higher and Deeper comic because it brought back memories ... I suppose this still applies to staff meetings:

Piled Higher and Deeper
From BMCR:

Charles Bonnet, Dominique Valbelle, The Nubian Pharaohs: Black Kings of the Nile. Translated by Deke Dusinberre.

David Kennedy, Gerasa and the Decapolis: A "Virtual Island" in Northwest Jordan.

From the Telegraph:

Joanne Berry, The Complete Pompeii

From the American Chronicle:

The Periplus of Hanno (from 1991)

From the London Review of Books:

A.B. Bosworth and E.J. Baynham (eds.), Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction

From the LA Times:

Nicholas Ostler, Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin

From the New York Times:

Great Moments in Greek Archaeology