Triangular Temple from Cyprus

StonePages had this at the beginning of the month, but it doesn’t seem to have hit the ‘English press’ until recently. Italian archaeologists working on Cyprus have excavated a triangular-shaped (!) temple at Pyrgos-Mavroraki believed to date  to around 2,000 BC (which would make it the oldest temple on Cyprus; the jury’s still out on that one, apparently) . Maria Rosaria-Belgiorno  (Archaeological Mission of the Italian National Council for Research) told Cyprus Weekly:

“This is the first evidence of religion in Cyprus at the beginning of the second millennium BC.”

“The temple is the most ancient found in Cyprus and of a unique triangular shape. The finding sheds new light on the existence of religion on the island, since the oldest temple found in Cyprus before that was Kition and Enkomi, both dating to 1,000 BC …”

“We found no statues, although there is evidence that it is a monotheist temple. The most important thing is the altar and the blood channel running on two sides.”

“Among the finds we found stone horns which are more ancient than the consecration horns found in Kouklia, Enkomi, Kition, and Myrthou (Pighades) seven centuries later.”

Belgiorno has a website with assorted photos and diagrams worth looking at as well (the home page has some annoying music, so we’re linking directly to the page of interest).

Pompeii Tidbits

An item in Adnkronos about a theme parkish thing called Italia in Miniatura includes this little item at the end:

But there is still more to come and soon Italia in Miniatura will be expanding and the expansion of the theme park means double the surface area and the introduction of extraordinary interactive attractions, first among all the 1:1.33 scale reproduction of ancient Pompeii reproduced in its original aspect and where visitors can walk inside houses, on the streets and in the temples where staff will simulate daily life scenes. Then when the sun goes down there will be a reproduction of the Last Day in Pompeii, invaded by the river of magma and smoke of a Vesuvius which suddenly erupts again. The project also forecasts the realization of two new structures: a 17 meter tall Coliseum in 1:3 scale with respect to the original one in Rome and a Science Centre.

In other Pompeii news, ANSA reports on a conference going on, the gist of which is:

A series of debates over the two-day event will focus on the impact of Pompeii in a variety of fields.

The film talks will include one on the gap between reality and cinematic accounts of Pompeii, and one on representations of Pompeii in late 20th-century cinema.

Among the art topics are discussions on early landscape paintings of Pompeii, postcard precursors designed as mementoes for travellers, and Pompeii as an iconic representation in 19th and 20th-century art. Religion will be touched upon with discoveries of early Christian imagery in Pompeii and how Pompeii has figured in speeches by the current pope, Benedict XVI, and his predecessor John Paul II. A talk entitled ”The Revival of Pompeii” will look at renowned reconstructions of Pompeian buildings ordered by King Ludwig I of Bavaria, artist Pablo Picasso and industrialist and collector J. Paul Getty, all of whom fell in love with the destroyed city and sought to recreate part of it for themselves. There will also be discussions on how the city has appeared in European literature, its portrayal at the theatre and its role within the theories of Sigmund Freud.

Happy 2000th Vespasian

Rome is marking Vespasian’s 2000th birthday with a special exhibition and there’s a pile of news coverage too, of course … I like the conclusion to the Independent’s piece:

To mark Vespasian’s big day, Rome is breathing new life into the ancient city he did so much to change. Busts, bas-reliefs, weapons, coins and paintings are among the 110 archaeological treasures that will be exhibited from today until next January in the Colosseum, the Curia in the centre of the Forum and the Criptoportico, a building on the Palatine Hill that has never before been open to the public. There will also be a new guided route through the Forum, with explanatory panels shedding light on the buildings for which the emperor was responsible.

Filippo Coarelli, the curator of the extravaganza, commented: “The element of chance in Vespasian’s success cannot hide the profound manner in which that success resonates with the whole history of Rome: the mobility which was intrinsic to that society, which allowed it to access the energy of emerging classes.”

Despite these achievements, and despite the Colosseum, which was still under construction when Vespasian died in 79, it was his determination to tax Romans to the hilt for which they most remembered him, the image of the stingy, money-grubbing son of a tax-collector that stuck.

During his elaborate funeral, the procession was led by a popular clown called Favor who mimicked the dead emperor. “How much did this funeral cost?” he demanded of the organisers at one point, according to Suetonius. “A hundred thousand sestertii,” came the reply. To which the Emperor’s caricature retorted: “Give me a hundred and chuck my body in the Tiber!”

from the LA Times

from the LA Times

ANSA gives some more details about the exhibition itself:

The exhibition aims to explain some of the extraordinary architectural innovations introduced under Vespasian. There are also a host of recent archaeological finds, architectural artefacts and busts of the Flavian emperors. Although centred in the Colosseum itself, the exhibition will extend to two other locations. The first of these is the Curia building where the Senate met, which has been reopened to the public for this occasion. The second is the Cryptoporticus of Nero on the Palatine Hill.

En route, visitors are guided to a series of Flavian monuments, including the Arch of Titus, the Flavian Palace, the Temple of Vespasian and the Temple of Peace. The Flavian exhibition runs until January 10, 2010.

Breviaria Latina

Assorted Latin excerpts and tidbits …

The Seattle PI had a nice feature on the resurgence of Latin … including this incipit:

The old men in togas. The mindless verbal recitation. The archaic prose. No wonder Latin gets such a bad rap.

Latin and ancient Greek once were considered part of a basic education, but in the 1960s and ’70s Latin saw a sharp decline in participants; once a mainstay of academia, many students balked at Latin study once it was no longer required.

Now, what was old is new again. Spurred by academic pressures, students are returning to Latin studies, hoping to increase their standardized test scores and their chances of being accepted to top colleges.

Teachers like Brian Tibbets, the 2008 Farrand Baker Illinois Latin Teacher of the Year, say this ancient language has modern applicability.

He said he understands the notion that studying Latin is highbrow — “a stigma that’s carried over from when you were forced to take Latin and Greek as a part of a ‘classical’ education.”

In the past decade, studies have shown Latin to have practical academic benefits. High school students who study Latin attain higher verbal SAT scores than students who study more commonly taught languages such as Spanish, French and German, according to the National Committee for Latin and Greek.

In 2002, the mean verbal SAT score for Latin students was 666. French, German and Spanish students, meanwhile, achieved a mean score of 637, 622 and 581, respectively. This benefit, says Tibbets, can often entice students to pursue the language.

“I took the language because I thought it would help me in English, (and) I also knew it would increase my SAT scores,” said Ali VanCleef, a consul with the Illinois Junior Classic League.

When VanCleef signed up for Latin, she said, other students warned her that the classes would be challenging and perhaps too difficult for her. But now, she said, “I actually love the language.”

A youth choir is singing in Latin in Detroit:

The classical sounds of the Latin language are to echo inside a Detroit cathedral today as children from across the region gather for a special mass featuring area Catholic youth choirs. Advertisement It’s a sign of the growing interest in the Latin language among Catholics who are yearning for tradition. About 100 children from parishes in Michigan and London, Ontario, are to practice and then perform during the mass with Archbishop Allen Vigneron at Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the seat of the Archdiocese of Detroit. After the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, greater emphasis was placed on using English in masses so singing in Latin increasingly fell out of favor, said local Catholics. “When I was young, we only sang in Latin,” recalled Cindy Stempin, music director at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Livonia. “Latin was the universal language of the church,” she added. “They are going back to their roots.”

Latin’s on the rise in upstate New York:

“Surgite!”

At the sound of the word, the 21 students in Todd Hutson’s eighth-grade class at Gowana Middle School leap to their feet. They turn and face the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance. In Latin.

The language may be dead, but its pulse still beats. From the titles we give our doctors to a lawyer seeking a writ of habeas corpus, Latin is everywhere.

And surgo, which means to stand up or rise, is the root word for surge, which describes what has happened to interest in the tongue in recent years. Statewide, the number of students studying it leaped from 12,140 in 2003-04 to 15,299 last year.

The largest local group of Latin learners is at Shenendehowa, where district officials say 420 are studying the tongue this year.

“It really helps with English,” said Marcelino Christie, 13, one of Hutson’s students. “Now I am using words I didn’t even know.”

Some of his family members are doctors, he said, and he has learned the names pediatrician, optometrist and others come from Latin.

“It’s really cool how many of our words come from Latin,” said his classmate, Megan Kluball, 14.

In Hutson’s class, students get their vocabulary words and use gestures to connect each word to its meaning. They pretend to bite an apple for cibus, meaning to eat, and fake flipping burgers for coquo, meaning to cook.

Although probably not strictly Latin, Taunton High’s Latin club marks the Ides in a fun way:

Blaring horns and beating drums echoed in the hallways of Taunton High School Friday, as a crowd of toga-clad students re-enacted Julius Caesar’s funeral procession with their annual Ides of March event.

“Caesar mortuus est” students yelled, as they carried the motionless body of junior Paul Lantieri, who portrayed the slain Roman leader, through the school on a stretcher.

The Ides of March commemorates the day when Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C.

Assuming the role of historian, junior Andrew Morehouse hushed the raucous crowd — which consisted of participants and onlookers — as he opened his scroll and read aloud an account of events that led to Caesar’s untimely death.

Dressed all in black, Danielle Waldron, Rachel Stetkis, and Alex Simpson made an appearance as ominous characters Lacheses, Atrophos, and Clotho — the three fates.

Christopher Scully, Latin Club advisor, said the Taunton High Latin Club has carried on the Ides of March tradition for close to five decades. Nearly 70 students were involved this year, Scully said, making it the largest procession the school has ever had.

Retired Taunton High Latin teacher Paul Ponte helped make the event extra special by donning a toga and joining the crowd as “Pontifex Maximus,” a high religious leader.

“I love it,” said Ponte, who has returned for the Ides of March procession every year since he retired.

According to Scully, the annual Ides of March presentation serves two purposes.

“It gives the school a chance to think a little bit about the ancient world,” said Scully, who gave teachers background material to share with their students prior to viewing the presentation.

“It’s also a chance to have a little fun too,” he added. “To mix things up, and add to the festive atmosphere of foreign languages week.”

Last, but not least, an item mentioned on the Latinteach list, but I may be bringing it up too late … NPR’s Car Talk program of March 14 included a little Latin quiz at the beginning; it doesn’t seem to be available from iTunes any more but is available from the Car Talk website (for a small fee, apparently).

Junior Classical League Coverage

I always find it interesting that newspapers even cover this at all … some excerpts from assorted reports …

From the Nevada coverage:

Not only is Latin not dead, it’s making a comeback, said Sherry Jankowski, Meadows Latin teacher and league state chairwoman. Some teachers believe that as the basis for western European languages and culture, the classics can help students understand their own language and history better, she said. Students who take Latin also often score higher on the verbal section of the SAT, she said. “There’s a lot of order and structure to the language and, therefore, it helps the kids see the order and structure behind their own languages, even though they would have never learned their first language in that way,” Jankowski said.

The coverage from Tampa seems a bit late:

Whoever said Latin was dead should have attended the Region 7 Latin Forum with 13 Brandon High School Junior Classical League members and their sponsor, Latin teacher Bill Seaman, Jan. 31 at Robinson High School.

Indiana coverage was a bit more timely:

Thirty-two members of the Crown Point High School Latin Club traveled to Indiana University the weekend of March 13 and 14 to compete at the Indiana Junior Classical League State Convention.

The team brought back an estimated 450 certificates for performances in individual competitions.

Classicists in the News

Assorted tidbits that have accumulated over the past while …

Timothy Howe is amongst a handful who were granted tenure at St. Olaf:

Peter Struck was talking about ‘Ancient Heroes and Superheroes’ in an appropriate venue:

Marie Bolchazy was making some reading suggestions:

Mary Boatwright was talking about grade inflation:

A review of Leslie Mitchell’s bio of Maurice Bowra:

Exhibition: Carvers and Collectors: The Lasting Allure …

Carvers and Collectors: The Lasting Allure of Ancient Gems
March 19-September 7, 2009

Getty Villa

Marcus Antonius by Gnaios

Marcus Antonius by Gnaios

The official webpage includes several nice photos (with descriptions) of assorted items from the exhibition and there’s a short little video demonstrating gem-carving techniques (I’ve always wondered about that). There are some audio commentaries which require you to have RealPlayer installed.

Reviews:

Getty Villa Showcases Intricately Carved Ancient Gems (Art Daily)