Rethinking Bowra

A reviewish sort of thing of a biography of Maurice Bowra  in the New Statesman includes this tantalizing bit, inter alia:

He was a scholar of ancient Greek literature but, despite a string of books, produced nothing exceptional (one contemporary compared his prose to “a man writing luggage labels”) and failed to get an Oxford chair. He was allegedly a great wit, but does not have a single entry in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. He was almost certainly homosexual and, to his friends between the wars, proclaimed himself a leader of the Homintern. Yet he ducked out of public backing for homosexuals, most shamefully in 1947 when he refused to support André Gide, as open a honorary degree. Many thought him the model for characters in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time, but it probably wasn’t true in either case. Nor was it true that, on being greeted by Hitler with “Heil Hitler!” he responded: “Heil Bowra!” It was his friend (and possibly lover) Robert Boothby who shouted “Heil Boothby!” and he was responding, not to Hitler himself, but to a secretary. When the false version of the story circulated, Bowra implored Boothby not to spoil it. Which says, perhaps, all you need to know about the man.

… there’s more:

Roman Fort at Trimammium Plundered?

The Sofia Echo reports:

The unexplored Roman fortress of Trimammium near the village of Mechka in Rousse has been ravished by treasure-hunters, Dnevnik daily reported on February 12 2009, quoting local archaeologists who informed police.[…]

During his presentation in Rousse, Vurbanov revealed photos showing more than 30 shallow holes dotting the site, obviously dug with the help of a metal-detector and spade. Treasure-hunters have also “explored” another part of the site, yet to be researched by archaeologists, the newspaper said.

  • Roman fortress near Rousse ravished by treasure-hunters
  • Cena Latina at Princeton

    The incipit of an interesting piece in the Daily Princetonian:

    On Mondays, I try to attend the French table. On Wednesdays, I go to Arabic. And on Thursdays, I am always at the Cena Latina.

    Cena Latina is Princeton’s Latin language table, sponsored by the Classics Department, and to the best of my knowledge it is one of only two weekly Latin tables in the Ivy League (the other being at Harvard). This has a lot to do with Leah Whittington — classics grad student here and classics undergrad at Harvard — who organized both.

    Latin, like Lazarus, refuses to stay dead. Every Thursday at 6:15 the Rocky Private Dining Room, some five or six regulars and a few reinforcements resurrect the language and say, “Amabo te, mitte saltem” for “Please pass the salt.” No English is spoken. If you don’t know what the word is, say, “Quomodo dicitur…”

    This might seem a little necromantic to those who were told that Latin is safely defunct, but Latin shows a surprising will to life for a language with 30 endings to a regular adjective. Whenever the topic arises — and it does with surprising frequency — those to whom I mention the Latin table are always surprised that anybody speaks Latin, let alone that Princeton sponsors a table for it. Latin is supposed to be extinct. (Anybody who went through Wheelock’s textbook in high school may know the ditty, “Latin is a dead, dead language, as dead as it can be / it killed the ancient Romans and now it’s killing me.”)

    … there’s more:

    Another Bust in Greece

    Various news venues are reporting the arrest of a man near Thessaloniki (the actual town varies depending on the report) who was found with a pile of items … as described by the IHT:

    The confiscated antiquities included more than 1,500 silver and copper coins dating from the 4th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., Halkidiki anti-crime squad director Giorgos Tassiopoulos said. Police seized another 680 clay and bronze artifacts, including vases, lamps, statuettes and jewelry.

    … there was also a preColumbian statuette found amongst the items; not sure what to read into that …

    Best Conservative Movies

    Michael Poliakoff (classicist and an administrative bigwig at UColorado) comments on 300 as #5 on National Reviews list of the Best Conservative movies of the past 25 years:

    During the Bush years, Hollywood neglected the heroism of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan—but it did release this action film about martial honor, unflinching courage, and the oft-ignored truth that freedom isn’t free. Beneath a layer of egregious non-history—including goblin-like creatures that belong in a fantasy epic—is a stylized story about the ancient battle of Thermopylae and the Spartan defense of the West’s fledgling institutions. It contrasts a small band of Spartans, motivated by their convictions and a commitment to the law, with a Persian horde that is driven forward by whips. In the words recorded by the real-life Herodotus: “Law is their master, which they fear more than your men[, Xerxes,] fear you.”

    Alexander the Great’s Statue

    The Guardian reports on a row going on in Athens over plans to erect a statue of Alexander the Great … inter alia:

    Seventeen years after its acquisition by the Greek culture ministry, the rendition of the military commander has been gathering dust in a basement storeroom because of fierce controversy over where to put the sculpture. Nationalist-minded politicians, on both sides of the spectrum, believe the statue “rightfully” belongs to a prominent square in the heart of ancient Athens. There, they say, the Macedonian king would not only receive maximum viewing but the reverence he deserves from a people who see themselves as his rightful descendants.

    Had it not been for archaeologists, that might have happened. But the purveyors of Greece’s past – a powerful lobby in this antiquities-rich country – have strongly resisted the move, saying Alexander came to the capital “as a conqueror”. The row might have gone unnoticed had it not been for the recently reinvigorated intensity of the name dispute between Athens and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    … I wonder if that report a couple of weeks ago of plans to erect a statue of Al at Arbela is prompting a similar reaction there …

    Croesus Theft an Inside Job

    A few years ago a number of items from the so-called treasures of King Croesus were purloined from a museum in Turkey and replaced with fakes. Today we read that the former museum director and a handful of his colleagues have been found guilty of the theft.