d.m. Daniel Geagan

From the ASCSA site (no … I do not understand why McMaster University has nothing mentioning this):

With great sadness, the School reports that Daniel Joseph Geagan passed away at St. Joseph’s Villa, Dundas, Ontario, Canada on Friday, February 6, 2009, in his 72nd year. He is survived by his wife, Helen Augusta von Raits Geagan and daughter, Augusta Helsby. Geagan’s life was devoted to education and work within his community. He was Professor Emeritus of History, McMaster University.

Geagan received his A.B. from Boston College and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, and taught at Dartmouth College after serving in the military for two years. He joined the Department of History at McMaster University in 1973 and until 2001 he taught Ancient History, especially ancient Greece, with an emphasis on social and institutional history.

He was a Member of the School and the David M. Robinson Fellow in 1962-1963. His future wife, Helen Augusta von Raits, was also a Member that year. In 1963-64, he was an Associate Member and the Edward Capps Fellow. Geagan returned to the School in 1969-1970 as a Senior Research Fellow, holding a A.C.L.S. Fellowship. He was assigned to publish all Greek and Roman dedications from the Athenian Agora Excavations and the Latin inscriptions from the University of Chicago Excavations at Isthmia.

Geagan was the author of “The Athenian Constitution after Sulla”, Hesperia Supplement 12, published in 1967, and his publications include seven articles in Hesperia. His book, Inscriptions: The Dedicatory Monuments (Agora XVIII), will be published posthumously.

On a personal note … one of my teaching assignments during my Ph.D. pursuit at McMaster was to teach Dr. Geagan’s (very popular) second year Roman History course. I probably didn’t do it the justice it deserved … he will be missed.

Podcast du jour: In Our Time on the Destruction of Carthage

My driving-to-work-and-back listening yesterday was a very interesting edition of In Our Time featuring Mary Beard, Jo Crawley-Quinn and Ellen O’Gorman. The topic of the conversation was the destruction of Carthage, but it went much beyond that and gave a very good overview of Rome’s dealings with Carthage in general, and there was much mention of the contrast/comparison between the opulence of Rome and similar conditions in Carthage. Definitely worth a listen … I’m not sure how much longer it will be available:

Hopscotch Origins

Every now and then, this story about the purported Roman origins of hopscotch pops up … most recently in the East London Advertiser:

The game involving hopping between squares on a chalk grid dates back to Roman times.

It was used originally for military training when foot soldiers ran in full armour and field packs along hopscotch grids 100ft long to improve their footwork.

Roman children imitated the soldiers, drawing their own smaller grids on the ground.

It appears in too many websites to mention, but always seems to be tied to the UK somehow. I think I’ve managed to find a possible indirect origin for the tale … in the 1870 edition of the Journal of the British Archaeological Association we read:

Text not available
The Journal of the British Archaeological Association By British Archaeological Association

Later, in the same proceedings:

Text not available
The Journal of the British Archaeological Association By British Archaeological Association

I invite folks to click on those links to read the full thing … as often, I don’t think there really is any evidence for Roman hopscotch (I seem to remember once discussing this with someone online … specifically, that there is a ‘hopscotch court’ somewhere in Rome on some Roman monument (and I seem to recall that Augustus’ horologium is also involved) … does anyone recall such things?)

Acropolis Museum Opening in June

Mark June 20 in your pda … that’s the date officially announced t’other day about the official opening date of the new Acropolis Museum …

Classical Osculation

Well now that we’re past that Lupercalia unpleasantness, we can concentrate on other aspects of this Valentine’s Day (or Valentines Day, if you prefer) … seems that amicus noster Don Lateiner was amongst a pile of folks from various disciplines holding press conferences/having interviews about the origins of kissing. Most of the coverage seems to focus on the ‘scientific side’, but we’ll privilege Classics as we begin with the National Geographic excerpts:

In fact, most kissing in that period was to express deference and not romance, Donald Lateiner, a humanities-classics professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, said today during a press conference in Chicago.

Men kissed men on the cheek as a social greeting, while subjects of a king “abased” themselves by kissing the ground in front of him.

And people who wanted to curry favor with someone of higher status would “kiss up” the person’s hands, shoulders, and head—in that order.

The Art of Kissing

Poems, novels, and all kinds of art helped Lateiner parse out the history of the kiss. (Read more about Valentine’s Day history.)

For instance, many Tuscan and Roman ladies’ mirror cases sported erotic scenes “from the world of myth, [or] sometimes from the world of daily life,” Lateiner said.

But on Athenian vases and Pompeian frescoes, romantic smooching is quite rare, he noted.

Instead “there’s a whole lot of sex.”

This may be because artists of the era preferred to depict full bodies, and a “Hollywood close-up” of people kissing would be too small a detail to feature.

Elsewhere … in the Chicago Tribune:

“There’s also political, power and social kissing all throughout antiquity … The Greeks seem to have kissed less than the Romans, not that I have the videotape or Kinsey Institute of Rome to reference … We see the escalation of osculation through the art we find.”

… and at Wired:

“Many kisses, particularly in the Roman novels, are slobbery … Every time that the past is excavated at Pompeii, there is good a chance there will be some additional data on sexual customs, if not kissing.”

… at Live Science:

“I have also found that there was an ‘escalation of osculation’ in the first century C.E. (A.D.) … There was also a kissing disease outbreak, what seems to be Mentagra [a pimply inflammation of the hair follicles, usually in the beard].”

cf. Ohio Wesleyan’s press release:

Latin in the Globe

Wow … what bills itself as “Canada’s National Newspaper” (we Westerners were always skeptical of such)  incipits a piece thusly:

Word play occurs in unexpected places. Diane Lane, while promoting her recent movie Nights in Rodanthe, branched into a brief discussion of “cide.” “To decide is a great word,” she said, “because it’s like fratricide, matricide, suicide. It means to kill one idea so another idea can live. You de-cide.”

That might seem an odd parallel, but Lane is right about the common origin. The Latin verb was decidere, combining the prefix de (off or down) and caedere (to cut or strike). In making a decision, a person figuratively slices through the alternatives, lopping off the unwanted ones. A split decision – in which some people decide that one person won, and others insist that another won – is particularly nasty, since there’s a splitting of a cutting.

It continues …

CONF: Comic Interations


Friday 17 – Saturday 18 July 2009
Department of Greek and Latin, UCL, and the Institute of Classical Studies

A conference sponsored by the British Academy, the Institute of Classical
Studies, and the Department of Greek and Latin.

Speakers: Eric Csapo, Chris Carey, Edith Hall, Stephen Halliwell, Nick Lowe,
Regine May, Lucia Prauscello, Richard Rawles, Martin Revermann, Ralph Rosen,
Alan Sommerstein, Michael Silk, Mario Telò, Emmanuela Bakola

One of the defining features of ancient comedy is its self-conscious
dialogue with other literary genres. Greek comedy constantly negotiates its
position among other genres and through its literary affiliations with them
absorbs and reflects popular ideas, ethical values, and socio-political
practices. Scholarly attention has so far been limited to comedy’s
indebtedness to single literary genres conceived as isolated tesserae of a
lost mosaic (tragedy, iambos, lyric, satyr drama) and to isolated influences
of comedy on other genres, especially tragedy.

The intention of the international conference ‘Comic Interactions: Comedy
across Genres and Genres in Comedy’ is to explore new perspectives in the
working of such influence in both directions. Papers will focus both on how
the generic microcosms were re-staged and showcased by comedy as it evolved
during the fifth and fourth centuries BC, and on how comedy was
conceptualized and received at the other end by these other genres during
antiquity. This will allow us to chart the perceived literary and social
changes in the concept of comedy as a ‘genre’ and at the same time to gauge
the extent to which comedy itself reflects and handles these changes.

Papers will engage with comedy’s dialogue with early iambic poetry, choral
lyric, epic, the fable tradition, tragedy; they will also explore its
reception in Roman satire and the novel.

The conference is open to the public. Location: Gordon House 106, 29 Gordon
Square, London WC1H 0PP.

For enquiries, please contact the organisers: Emmanuela Bakola
(e.bakola AT ucl.ac.uk), Lucia Prauscello (lp306 AT cam.ac.uk), Mario Telò
(mtelo AT humnet.ucla.edu).