Saving the Nimes Amphitheatre

Nice item in the Times about Thierry Algrin’s efforts to ensure that the Roman amphitheatre at Nimes continues to stand. Apparently the major problem now is water seeping into stones and mortar. Twenty million Euros have been allocated, but that is destined only to help the exterior. A local politician suggests the renovations might take 40 years. Contrarily, M. Algrin dixit:

“It shouldn’t take that long … I am confident that it will be completed this time because there is a real consensus now that something must be done. We can’t just walk away.”

On the reasons for the damage:

“This seems to be speeding up. The question is why is this happening now, when the building has been there for 2,000 years? The only explanation is that the houses in the amphitheatre from the 6th to the 18th centuries kept the water off.”

Roman Taxation in Judaea?

Some sort of conservative publication called Gather claims, inter alia:

In Jesus’ time, the Roman Empire taxed the Israelites at a rate of 65 percent of gross wages or gross agricultural production.Yes, you read that correctly.

The Romans got 65 percent. The Israelites kept 35 percent. This was designed to keep the laborers struggling to survive. The Romans wanted to ensure that the laborers had little time to express their discontent.

An attached comment suggests:

For those who are skeptical about the Roman tax rate, there is a footnote

Robert J. Miller Ph.D., lecture at Epworth By The Sea Methodist Retreat Center, St. Simons Island, GA, 10/07/2003. Fellow at http//

I’ll hold my tongue about footnoting claims made in lectures and also about the appropriateness of referring to ‘Israelites’ at this time … but can anyone come up with a combination of Roman taxes that would give a 65% taxation rate?


Something I’ve always wondered about, but never long enough to actually look up, is the origin of the word ‘Vatican’ … A piece in CathNews saves me a bit of trouble:

Sanctified by what is believed to be the site of Peter’s martyrdom and burial, this ground was numinous even in pagan days. First, it was a place where Etruscan prophets “vaticinated” (prophesied) which gave it the name “Vatican”. Then, it was sacred to the mother goddess Cybele, honoured by a corps of dancing eunuchs.

So it is the home of ‘vates’ … I won’t make the obvious comment about eunuchs …

Epigonion Redux

Science Daily is reporting on the ASTRA project’s reconstruction of an epigonion, apparently thinking this is something new. Faithful readers of rogueclassicism will recall this selfsame project’s selfsame news on this selfsame instrument back in September (from a report in the Register). Clearly the current report is designed for ‘publicity’ purposes:

The ASTRA project will be demonstrating the epigonion at this week’s
EGEE User Forum, 2-6 March 2009, Catania, Italy.  People will be able
to listen to the reconstructed instrument and play it using a MIDI
keyboard. The demonstration will also allow visitors to run real
reconstruction on the grid. A professional musician will play ancient
scores on the epigonion.

Back in September we noted that an mp3 was available of the reconstructed instrument’s sound, but tonight it seems to be consistently crashing firefox … ymmv.

Macedonian Digs

A brief report which seems to be making the rounds of the Indian press tells of four digs commencing in Macedonia/FYROM … of interest to us is Heraklea Lynkestis:

About 100 people already started excavating unearthed parts of the Heraklea Lynkestis site, which is located at about two kilometres from the town of Bitola in south-western Macedonia.

Founded in the fourth century BC by the ancient Greek ruler Philip II of Macedon – the father of Alexander the Great, and conquered by the Romans two centuries later, Heraklea Lynkestis stood on the Via Egnatia and became one of the key stations on this trading route.

Some of the remains that archaeologists have discovered at the site so far are impressive mosaics, Roman baths, town walls, a portico, ancient basilicas, an Episcopal church, a Jewish temple and a Roman amphitheatre which is often used for summer concerts and theatre shows.

CONF: Lucretius: Poetry, Philosophy, and Science


An international conference at the University of Manchester (6-7 July 2009)

The De rerum natura is at once one of the most brilliant and powerful poems
in the Latin language, a passionate attempt at dispelling humanity’s fear of
death and its enslavement by empty religio, and a detailed exposition of
Epicurean atomist physics. There is perhaps no other Latin poem which so
requires and rewards approaches which combine the critical perspectives of
literary analysis, philosophy and the history of science. This conference
aims to bring together a group of scholars from a wide range of relevant
disciplines to examine such issues as the ways in which its poetic form
affects the presentation of the philosophical and scientific content of the
poem, the relationship between physics and ethics in the poem, the tensions
in the poem between the philosophical position being urged and the affective
impact of some striking passages, its generic self-positioning with regard
to earlier Greek didactic poetry, its key role in the dissemination and
transformation of Epicureanism at Rome, and its place in the history of
ancient science.

The recent Cambridge Companion to Lucretius edited by Stuart Gillespie and
Philip Hardie represents a landmark in bringing together cross-disciplinary
approaches to the DRN. This conference aims to build on this important
combination of different scholarly methodologies, but also to focus
attention more directly on the poem itself and its multifaceted nature,
particularly with regard to the interaction between its poetic form and its
scientific and ethical content, and its focus on physics. This is also an
ideal opportunity to re-evaluate whether existing approaches (across a range
of disciplines) are sufficient for understanding as difficult and important
a text as the DRN, and which new questions it might be most productive to
ask about the poem.

Confirmed speakers include:
Monica Gale, ‘Lucretius and Hesiod’
James Hankinson
Brooke Holmes, ‘Lucretius and the Poetics of Cosmic Indifference’
Monte Johnson,‘Lucretius and the cause of spontaneity’
Duncan Kennedy, ‘Lucretius, Virgil and the Instauratio Magna: Knowledge as a
Project of Universal Empire’
David Konstan, ‘Lucretius and the Epicurean Attitude toward Grief’
Daryn Lehoux, ‘Soul in a World without Spirit: The Ethics of Sensation in an
Inanimate Universe’
Andrew Morrison, ‘Nil igitur mors est ad nos? Iphianassa, the Athenian
plague, and Epicurean views of death’

Those interested in the conference should email Andrew Morrison in the first
instance ( The full programme and a
booking form will appear shortly at the following webpage: