This week's claims about the ancient world in the popular press:

First we have a review in the Jerusalem Post of a book by Martin Goodman which suggests:

The Judean King Agrippa I averted a dangerous succession crisis in Rome by ensuring the selection of Claudius as emperor.

JH Sibal respondit:

Yes, I saw this too since Herod's Tomb has most probably been found. And I wondered about it.

Josephus does and does not say that Agrippa (Herod the Great) had a role in the Jan 41AD elevation of the king. He says in Ant. Iud. XIX. he was directing or advising the actions of Claudius and in Bellum Iudiacum II, 204–233 he says he wasn't. (Check Greek word, I don't have a text).

This was probably self-aggrandizement to show that a client king, and one from the backwater mess of Judah in particular, had this power. Josephus knew both Rome and Alexandria quite well and his ethnic group occupied a mixed status, to say the least, in the minds of the great world at this time.

And its probably self-aggrandizement for the Jerusalem Post to quote Jewish Antiquities and not, the Jewish Wars. The Jerusalem Post in general and its journalists in particular are very keen to show the power and importance of Israel in the world and what better source than the elevation of a Roman emperor in a country that uses shekels and ancient topographical terms?

Another one (from the Free Lance Star) about Cleopatra's purported bathing habits, and more:

Ancient Egyptian seductress Cleopatra was rumored to bathe in crushed strawberries and milk.

Cleo also features in a piece from the Star Tribune on honey (as do other ancients):

Cleopatra used to bathe in a mixture of honey and milk to keep her skin feeling soft and looking young. Roman emperor Nero's wife, Poppea, was also a devotee of honey and milk, although she preferred to mix the ingredients together into a paste for a facial mask. Renowned Greek physician Hippocrates used honey to cure skin infections, infected wounds and ulcers on the lips, while Queen Anne of England would blend honey and oil together to form a hair serum that helped keep her locks thick, shiny and lustrous.

Another one citing Hippocrates, from Brandweek:

These sites, sprinkled around the U.S., have such promising names as the Total Health Institute (Wheaton, Ill.), the Optimum Health Institute (San Diego, Calif.) or the Hippocrates Institute (West Palm Beach, Fla.), named for the ancient Greek physician who allegedly said "Let food be our medicine."

The strawberry was the symbol of Venus, the ancient Roman goddess of love. And according to legend, the fruit is such a powerful aphrodisiac that two people who share a single strawberry were thought to fall in love.

An item from the Age cites Horace and sounds familiar, but I can't locate it:

Roman poet Horace wrote of "garlic, more harmful than hemlock", that could drive one's lover to refuse a kiss and retreat to the far side of the bed.

John McMahon rescripsit:

It's Epode 3,

l. 3:

cicutis alium nocentius

ll. 21-22:

manum puella savio opponat tuo,
extrema et in sponda cubet

I've published some work that touches on garlic and this poem, and you can
get some general idea of that from these web pages:


From which:

"In literature, too, such popular concepts can be found. For example,
Horace, the famous Roman poet of the First Century BC, wrote a poem devoted
entirely to the effects of garlic on his innards. In his Epode 3, a
half-serious denunciation of both the plant and the wealthy patron who
served it to him, the poet at one point complains about the burning
sensations caused by the garlic in his salad, referring to its popular
association with serpents (ll. 5-7):

'What poison is this that rages in my insides?
Did viper's blood mixed with these greens trick me?'

Here garlic is actually called a poison and is identified with serpents
themselves; its juice is the equivalent of their blood. This literary
representation, then, stands as good evidence for underlying folk traditions
about the belief in garlic's power to act against serpents. Oh, and just in
case you were wondering, after numerous laments about the virulence of
garlic's internal effects on him, the poet seeks revenge on his prankster
patron (ll. 20-22):

'I hope your girlfriend there puts her hand up to your puckered lips,
And lies far away - over on the other side of the couch.'"


From which:

"Finally, Latin Literature also affords a particularly striking example of
how the imagery of garlic was artistically combined with other cultural
elements to function thematically in a literary text. Horace's third Epode
is a half-serious denunciation of the agonizing results of eating garlic
(cf. E. Gowers, The Loaded Table, Oxford: 1993, 280-310). In it the
interplay of magic and sexuality functions as a humorous subtext and draws
upon popular associations of garlic with venomous feminine enchantment and
rampant male sexuality."


From the Gazette comes one which I know is in Ovid (Metamorphoses 10.728 ff):

The ancient Greeks and Romans used mint for medicinal purposes, and even had their own mythology around it, involving a nymph named Minthe who was the lover of Hades. When his wife, Persephone, found out, she transformed Minthe into a plant. But when that plant was stepped on, it released a lovely scent.

From an obituary in the JHU Gazette:

Whether consciously or not, he followed the dictum of Marcus Aurelius: 'Whoever does not know the world, will never be able to find himself in it. Whoever does not know why he was made, will never know either himself or the world.'

The Times sports a collection of quotations about heroes, of which two leap off the screen:

-- Thucydides "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."


-- Saint Augustine "Heroism is latent in every human soul -- however humble or unknown, they (the veterans) have renounced what are accounted pleasures and cheerfully undertaken all the self-denials -- privations, toils, dangers, sufferings, sicknesses, mutilations, life-long hurts and losses, death itself -- for some great good, dimly seen but dearly held."

... and semirelated to our pursuits is an AP piece on presidential report cards noting, inter alia:

John Kennedy scored a 55 in eighth-grade Latin.

... probably said something like Civis Romanioris sum ...

I've also been wondering about one from the Turkish Press which we mentioned (in full) a while ago:

It is believed that the spring where handsome Narcissus turned into a flower according to the Greek mythology, took place in Mordogan village in Karaburun town of the Aegean city of Izmir.

... Pausanias puts Narcissus' pool in the territory of the Thespians; where does the Mordogan claim come from?