Criminalita from the Italian Press

I’ve got a major backlog of items from Italian sources, so I’ve decided to break them up a bit and treat all the ‘busts’ in a single post — besides being an organizational principle, it does highlight how the marketing of illicit antiquities continues to be a major problem in Italy, despite recent successes (some of these date back to May). Ecce:

We’ll begin with an item detailing the outcome of four major operations which resulted in the recovery of some stolen Byzantine frescoes stolen from Caserta in 1982, the return of some 250 items from Switzerland (apparently out of goodwill by a pair of dealers whose names aren’t given), a pile of items recovered from a villa, and some Egyptian-related items which some tombaroli had taken (value – some 3 million euros):

Not sure if this is the same as the ‘pile of items recovered from a villa’ mentioned above; a pair arrested at Salerno:

A man from Orta Nova was found in possession of 18 coins dating to the 3rd/4th centuries, as well as a pile of amphorae and other antiquities with a value of some 400 000 euros:

Brief/vague item on the recovery of a pile of fourth century items:

Brief/vague item on the recovery of some amphorae from some villas (not sure if this is the same as mentioned in the first piece):

700 items found in various tombaroli homes in Foggia after some information from Germany (not sure if this is connected to the Orta Nova thing above)

Discovery of a 50m long tunnel at Pompeii and the arrest of a tombarolo who was apparently using it are raising concerns about the security of antiquities there:

Arrests in Taranto arising from attempts to sell ancient/medieval coins and jewelry on the Internet:

An ongoing archaeological dig was hit by thieves in Montebello:

Police at Messina recovered five amphora taken from an unknown (nearby?) shipwreck:

A couple of metal detectorists were found working on the archaeological site of Torre Mordillo:

A seventy-year old at Torino was arrested with a pile of ancient coins:

… and another 70-year-old from Ivrea was similarly arrested with a pile of ancient coins:

… while a seventy-two-year-old from Frosinone was arrested with a couple of hundred Etruscan artifacts:

I guess they need to keep a closer eye on the pensioners in Italy … what’s sad, of course, is that the above only represents those who managed to get caught …

Socrates Had it Coming

… or at least that’s what Paul Cartledge asserts in his most recent tome (and I tend to agree with him), which is beginning to get some media attention (although the various news outlets seem unsure whether to consider this news or a review). Here’s a bit from the Independent:

In his new book, Ancient Greek Political Thought In Practice, published today, Professor Cartledge says that while politicians and historians have used the trial to suggest that democracy can sometimes descend into mob rule, this was not one such example. “Everyone knows the Greeks invented democracy, but it was not democracy as we know it, and we have misread history as a result,” he said. “The charges Socrates faced seem ridiculous to us but in ancient Athens they were genuinely felt to serve the communal good.”

In his book, Professor Cartledge questions traditional arguments that Socrates was purely the victim of political infighting. Historians influenced by ancient writers, including Plato, have claimed that Socrates’ open criticism of prominent Athenian politicians had made him many enemies, who then pinned the impiety and corruption charges on him to silence him. Other historian believe Socrates’ teachings stirred political rebellion, and he was made an example at his trial by those seeking to quash dissidents in Athenian society.

Professor Cartledge said Socrates questioned the authority of many of the accepted gods and claimed to be guided by his inner “daimonon”, a term which he may have intended to mean “intuition”, but which could also be interpreted as a dark, supernatural influence, which would have outraged conventional believers.

The charge of “impiety” was entirely acceptable in a democracy deeply reverential of their gods, Professor Cartledge said. Accusations were brought by amateur prosecutors before a jury of 501 ordinary citizens of “good standing” who acted on behalf of what they took to be the public interest. If the prosecution could prove that a defendant was responsible for jeopardising the public good, he was likely to be found guilty.

The author also believes that Socrates invited his own death. Under the Athenian system, in this kind of trial a defendant could suggest his own penalty. Instead of taking this opportunity seriously, Socrates first joked that he should be rewarded and eventually suggested a fine that was far too small.

Unsurprisingly, his jurors did not see the funny side and passed the death sentence. Instead of fleeing, Socrates accepted the verdict, claiming that “he owed it to the city under whose laws he had been raised to honour those laws to the letter”.

FWIW, I’ve always felt that the ‘traditional’ view of the trial of Socrates –which tended to see the religious side of things merely as a pretext, as mentioned above — has been one of the longest-lingering examples of modern scholars imposing modern values on the ancient world. There continues (I think) to be a view that the ancients — especially those rational Greeks, but even those brutish Romans — in general didn’t really take their religion seriously. Whenever they used it, it had to be for some other, cynical reason. Did Socrates take it seriously? Perhaps … perhaps not. But it seems to me that a large portion of the jury likely did and when he suggested an alternate form of punishment, he alienated a pile of others as well … I’ll have to keep my eye open for this one.

CONF: Archimedes 2010 International Conference

… seen on various lists

23 Centuries of Influence on
Mathematics, Science, and Engineering
Syracuse (Sicily) Italy
8-10 June 2010

(From official website, 23/06/09)

This World Conference will celebrate the extraordinary achievements and enduring influence of Archimedes, and it will take place in the ancient City of Syracuse where Archimedes lived and worked 2300 years ago.

The Conference will bring together researchers and academicians from the broad ranges of Mathematics, Engineering, and Science. Historians of Science are also invited to participate.

The three-day meeting will take place in the ancient city of Syracuse (Ortygia) on the island of Sicily. A richly appealing social program will surround the Conference, including the opportunity to view an ancient Greek play in the city’s 2500-year-old Greek Theatre—where Archimedes himself enjoyed dramatic performances in the third century BC!

Seed funding for the Conference has been obtained from a division of the European Union. Additional funding is anticipated from international cultural and professional organizations.

The Conference is Organized by
# The City of Syracuse (Italy)
# The Western Greece Region (Greece)
# The Institute of Culture and Quality of Life (Greece)
# The University of Cassino (Italy)
# The University of Patras (Greece)
# The Hellenic Open University (Greece)
# The e-RDA Innovation Center (Greece)

And is under the patronage of
# IFToMM, The International Federation for the Promotion of Mechanism and Machine Science
# The Hellenic Mathematical Society (Greece)
# European Society for the History of Science

For further information:
(official website)


CONF: The Olympian Gods: Local Representations, Universal Principles

… seen on the Classicists list

The Olympian Gods: Local Representations, Universal Principles

Department of Classics & Ancient History, Durham University
5th – 7th July 2009

This interdisciplinary workshop investigates how the local characteristics with which the Greeks invested their gods related to the view that they operated as universal principles within the cosmic economy. Everyone is welcome, and there is no registration fee. Places are available at dinner in Hatfield College on Monday, 6th July (please e-mail barbara.graziosi AT

+ + + +

*6th July*

ROBIN OSBORNE, The style of the Gods

FRITZ GRAF, Divine Epithets


MARIANNE SCHIEBE, ‘Air is Ether’s sister and consort.’ Primeval metaphor & the anthropomorphic image of the divine.

SHAUL TOR, Parmenides and the Love of Double Headed

IVANA PETROVIC, Divine powers in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo: an allegorical interpretation

LIZ IRWIN, Anthropomorphic gods and deified emotions in Euripides’ /Hippolytus/

*7th July*

SARAH ILES JOHNSTON, Demeter in Hermione: Local Variations on a Panhellenic Theme

ANDREJ PETROVIC, Chaining Ares: Panhellenic narratives, local cults

JULIA KINDT, The Local and the Panhellenic Reconsidered: Representations of Zeus at Olympia

+ + + +

All sessions will take place at 38, North Bailey, Durham DH1 3EU (opposite Hatfield College). For further details please contact: barbara.graziosi AT or g.r.boys-stones AT

Boka Kotorska Shipwreck

AFP seems to be the only major news agency that picked this one up … via IAfrica:

A shipwreck believed to date back to Roman times was found at the bottom of Montenegro’s Boka Kotorska bay, officials said on Tuesday.

“We believe we have found the wreckage of a ship that could have been used to transport goods,” Montenegro’s regional Cultural Heritage Preservation Institute said in a statement.

Officials refused to reveal the location of the shipwreck until the area was fully secured.

The wreckage was found by the crew of the US explorer ship Hercules. Since May, the crew and the ship have been assisting Montenegrin archaeologists to map and discover underwater findings.

The Romans were present in the waters off what is now Montenegro from the year 9 AD till the 5th and 6th centuries AD, before Slavic people inhabited the area.

The incipit of a similar piece at adds a few details:

Underwater archaeological exploration performed on 25th May from the research vessel “Hercules” resulted in the latest discovery of the remains of ship which carried ceramic tiles used as roofing material – it is assumed that it dates from the Roman period.

The General Manager of the Regional Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Ruzica Ivanovic, says that, in case additional analysis confirm that this is the boat of the Roman period it will be the most significant archaeological discovery made on the bottom of the sea in Montenegro.

Within the research project of the Regional Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, the Regional Center for Training of Divers, the Center for Underwater Demining and the “RPM Nautical” Foundation from Florida, there were other important discoveries: the wreck of a German submarine sunk 90 years ago and one amphorae locality.

… it goes on with a plea from Ivanovic for more funding for cooperative projects like this one.

Finds from Pozzuoli

Most of the coverage of this one — both in Italian and English — is pretty much the same. The site is Rione Terra, which overlooks Pozzuoli. Here’s the coverage from AdnKronos:

Archaeologists have unearthed a number of ancient Roman treasures during excavation outside the southern Italian city of Naples. Twelve ancient statues, columns and fragments bearing inscriptions from what appear to be monuments from the Republican and Imperial periods of ancient Roman history have been uncovered.

A head of the Roman emperor Tiberius bearing a crown of laurel leaves, two other male heads and a fragment of a painting are among the objects from the late Republican period in the 3rd century BC discovered by a team of archeologists at the site in Rione Terra di Pozzuoli.

Two female heads were also uncovered. One may be the head of an Amazon warrior from the 2nd century AD, while the second is believed to be a Roman empress from the late Julio-Claudian dynasty.

The dig also unearthed part of a sculpture of a horse and an antefix, a giant mask depicting a Gorgon or mythological beast dating from the 2nd century AD.

Other finds include four busts, a statue of a robed woman, another of a woman wearing a toga, and a frieze portraying two human figures.

The area is located on a hill and archaeologists believe it contained public buildings and houses overlooking the sea. Only part of the site has so far been excavated.

The archaeologists are working under the supervision of the Italian culture ministry’s archaeological department for Naples and Pompeii.

… it would appear that the “Tiberius” mentioned up there should actually be Titus. Here’s a photo of the head:

from Cultural News

from Cultural News

This is possibly a photo of the ‘empress’ mentioned:

from Cultural News

from Cultural News

A photo of the ‘Gorgon’ (I think) accompanies Rossella Lorenzi’s report for Discovery News. There may be a video report there as well, but I can’t seem to find it.

Mystery Burials at Dorset

This one is a week or so old, but its interest remains. Assorted news organizations have covered the discovery of a mass burial of possibly 1st-century date during road construction in Dorset. The burial itself is puzzling, however, as the 40-odd skeletons seem to belong to folks who were decapitated, and the skulls were buried in a different location than the trunks. David Score, head of Oxford Archaeology told various news organizations (this is the version from the Guardian‘s coverage), inter alia:

There are lots of different types of burial where skeletons may be aligned along a compass axis or in a crouched position, but to find something like this is just incredible. We’re still working on carefully recording and recovering all of the skeletons, which will be taken back to our offices in Oxford for detailed analysis, and trying to piece together the extraordinary story behind these remains … It’s very early days, but so far, after a visit to the site by our head of burial services, the skulls appear to be predominantly those of young men. At the moment we don’t fully understand how or why the remains have come to be deposited in the pit but it seems highly likely that some kind of catastrophic event such as war, disease or execution has occurred.

With Reuters, Dr. Score went a bit further in his speculations:

Were they fighting amongst themselves? Were they executed by the Romans? Did they die in a battle with the Romans? The exciting scenario for us possibly is that there were skirmishes with the invading Romans and that’s how they ended up chopped up in a pit.

The Reuters coverage also adds some details:

The grave site is close to Maiden Castle — Europe’s largest Iron Age hill fort where local tribes are said to have staged a last stand against the Roman legions after the invasion.

Some historians believe the Romans sacked the site, butchering its population including women and children, before burning it to the ground.

Score said they had counted 45 skulls so far in the 6-meter wide pit, together with a tangle of torsos, arms and legs, More could be found in the coming weeks.

Most of the skulls were those of young men, supporting the theory they could have been killed in battle or executed en masse.

Well it seems to me that the ‘epidemic’ theory is right out, unless it was some mass outbreak of some unknown disease which caused peoples’ heads to fall off. Killed in battle seems a bit odd as well — you don’t get a lot of decapitations in battles outside of Hollywood. Perhaps a post-battle execution is possible, but if these were young, capable warrior types, wouldn’t one expect such folks to be sent back to Rome to fight in the arena? Maybe … maybe not. Similarly, execution by beheading wasn’t generally how Romans treated foreigners (the quick and easy death was preserved for Roman citizens), although perhaps a need to move quickly occasioned these events. Of course, there is an assumption being made here that the Romans would be responsible … that’s due primarily to the proximity of the burials to Maiden Castle, which Sir Mortimer Wheeler had connected long ago to the Roman invasion in 43 B.C., which, in this part of England, was led by the future emperor Vespasian. To judge from English Heritage, the current tendency is to downplay the Roman side of Wheeler’s theories and perhaps the same should be done in this case.

UPDATE (09/21/09): Turns out the burials are Saxon


LOsservatore Romano

L'Osservatore Romano

It seems appropriate on this date of the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul to comment on all the news that broke over the weekend in regards to St. Paul (and St Peter as well, indirectly). First, on Saturday, L’Osservatore Romano broke the news of the discovery of the oldest iconic images of St. Paul, found in the catacomb of St. Thecla, dating to the late fourth century. The article gives the impression that the identity of the Saint wasn’t really clear until laser restoration of the fresco had taken place, and the online version of the article includes the photo you see to the left (there’s another photo at the site which shows the laser restoration in progress).

The story was picked up by piles of news services, as might be imagined, and we get some more details than the original Italian report. Firstly, the Telegraph appears to have the best version of the ‘official’ photo of the fresco:

via the Telegraph

via the Telegraph

The Telegraph also seems to be one of the few sources who interviewed includes some comments from Barbara Mazzei, who directed the work in the catacomb. Inter alia, she told the Telegraph:

We had been working in the Catacomb for some time and it is full of frescoes. However the pictures are all covered with limestone which was covering up much of the artwork and so to remove it and clean it up we had to use fine lasers. The result was exceptional because from underneath all the dirt and grime we saw for the first time in 1600 years the face of Saint Paul in a very good condition. It was easy to see that it was Saint Paul because the style matched the iconography that we know existed at around the 4th Century – that is the thin face and the dark beard. It is a sensational discovery and is of tremendous significance. This is then first time that a single image of Saint Paul in such good condition has been found and it is the oldest one known of. Traditionally in Christian images of St Paul he is always alongside St Peter but in this icon he was on his own and what is also significant is the fact that St Paul’s Basilica is just a few minutes walk away. It is my opinion that the fresco we have discovered was based on the fact that St Paul’s Basilica was close by, there was a shrine to him there at that site since the 3rd Century. This fresco is from the early part of the 4th Century while before the earliest were from the later part and examples have been found in the Catacombs of Domitilla.

On the apostle’s iconography, see this useful page … as for it being the “oldest”, I’m somewhat hesitant — I’m pretty sure there’s a solo image of Paul in the Catacomb of Priscilla which may or may not be older. I can’t find any enlightenment on the web for that one.

The other big news in regards to St Paul was that tests had been done on bones found in his in the Basilica of St. Paul. The sarcophagus believed to contain his remains was discovered at the end of 2006 and for quite a while, it seems, Vatican archaeologists were unsure whether there were any bones in it at all. Whatever the case, according to ever-increasing media coverage, Pope Benedict announced yesterday (Sunday) that C14 tests had been done on the bones found in the sarcophagus and indicated a date from the first/second centuries. The quote from the pontiff which is appearing all over:

This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains on the Apostle Paul.

Other details of note (via the Reuters report):

Pope Benedict gave details of the discovery, saying a tiny hole had been drilled in the sarcophaguus to permit inspection of the interior, revealing “traces of a precious linen cloth, purple in color, laminated with pure gold, and a blue colored textile with filaments of linen.”

“It also revealed the presence of grains of red incense and traces of protein and limestone. There were also tiny fragments of bone, which, when subjected to Carbon 14 tests by experts, turned out to belong to someone who lived in the first or second century,” said the pope.

… hmmm. Not sure about you, but purple linen with gold suggests the burial of a rather wealthy Roman, which may or may not accord with the traditional image of St Paul, who would have been under house arrest for a couple of years before being beheaded. I’m sure I’m not the only person thinking it would be interesting to properly open the sarcophagus and see if the remains inside indicate decapitation, and it appears that a Dutch archaeologist is in the same category. According to a piece at Monsters and Critics, inter alia:

Responding to the claim by Pope Benedict XVI that the bones of St Paul have been found in Rome, a Dutch expert, Rengert Elburg, said Monday this can never be proven.

Elburg, an expert on archaeological study of old bones and organic remains for the government of the German state of Saxony, told the German Press Agency dpa in an interview, ‘It’s impossible to establish that it’s him.’

Even a genetic analysis of the bones in a sarcophagus marked as Paul’s would reveal nothing, because there were no proven descendants whose DNA could be compared.

‘But the bones could tell you the sex and age of death of the person,’ he said. A face could be reconstructed if a skull were in the grave. ‘But we don’t know how Paul looked, so that doesn’t help identify the body,’ he said.

Elburg said scientists were likely to check for links to the historical account of the beheading of St Paul, the author of copious letters and first interpreter of Christianity.

‘Traces of beheading can be identified with absolute certainty,’ he said.

The cut was usually found between the third and fourth vertebrae.

Elburg counselled maximum precision in opening the sarcophagus, saying, ‘It will be comparable to opening the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh.’ Fabric in a coffin could fall apart at a touch.

He said dry, outside air would not damage fabric or the bones. The presence of any clothing was likely to depend on whether the sarcophagus had been hermetically sealed for 20 centuries.

… and we might actually get to that point; an excerpt from the coverage in the Times:

Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, the archpriest of St Paul’s, said that he had known for more than a year that the tests had shown that the bones were those of a man of the 1st century, but had been sworn to secrecy because it had been “up to the Holy Father to make this public”. He said this was why the Vatican press office had denied last week that the bones had been identified. “Only the Pope can make such an important and solemn announcement,” he said.

The cardinal said he was now waiting for permission from the Pope to open the tomb, which would be a “long and delicate operation” in order to avoid any “structural damage” to the sarcophagus. Andrea Tornielli, the papal biographer, said that Pope Benedict’s announcement recalled Pope Paul VI’s declaration 41 years ago that the bones of St Peter had been identified.

Of course, we’ll keep you updated in regards to any developments or additional details of note.

On the fresco:

On the bones:

d.m. Bob Mitchell

From Wicked Local Newton:

Former students remember Bob Mitchell as much for his stories and mystery that surrounded him as for the language they learned from him.

“He was one of the most brilliant people I have ever met, and also by far the most enigmatic,” said Arielle Weisman, who graduated from North in 2003 and took classes with Mitchell for four years. Weisman is teaching English in Spain and responded to questions via e-mail. “I mentioned before that he was enigmatic. I say this because unlike other teachers, who you could well imagine went home to their families at night, ate dinner and went to bed, what Mr. Mitchell did in his free time was beyond us. He spoke/read over 20 languages and had the most bizarre stories from every corner of the globe.”

The Newton North High School Latin teacher died May 27 after battling melanoma. He was 60.

Weisman said Mitchell would often share his globetrotting adventures with his students, but details about his more recent personal life were hard to get. Until last week, Weisman said she didn’t know Mitchell had cancer.

“I’m thankful to have been able to talk to him one last time to make sure he knew that he was, still is and forever will be my favorite,” she said.

Mitchell started teaching at North in 1990. Principal Jennifer Price said Mitchell left the school on March 23, two months before his death.

Like Weisman, 2003 North graduate Lincoln Brody, who is also teaching English in Spain, found out about Mitchell’s cancer shortly before his death. Brody sent Mitchell a letter thanking him for everything he taught him, but it may not have arrived before his death.

“His teaching style was rigorous, intense, often frantic and always with total passion and a sense of humor,” Brody wrote in an e-mail.

In his letter to Mitchell, Brody thanked his former teacher for instilling a passion for learning in him.

“Just as important for me was the constant exposure to your unbridled enthusiasm for learning and knowledge as was the actual material we learned. This attitude, this spirit, is something that I treasure to this day, and for which I largely have you to thank,” he wrote. “So thank you for everything you’ve shared with me, from your daily quips to your bottomless digressions, to the impeccably detailed story you told our AP study group, on the night before the exam, of how you got struck by lightning one muggy summer afternoon while dancing like Fred Astaire on a construction site.”

Nathan Guttman, a 2003 North grad who now lives in Los Angeles, remembered how Mitchell’s story about being struck by lightning made him feel better before his Latin Advanced Placement exam his junior year.

“Everybody was exhausted from work and nervous for the exam. Mr. Mitchell stopped our translating about 20 minutes before the end of class and proceeded to tell a captivating, uproarious story about how he was once struck by lightning while doing a Gene Kelly dance on top of a Big Dig concrete pylon,” Guttman wrote in an e-mail. “The class listened in rapt attention as Mr. Mitchell described time slowing down and the world turning slightly green as the debris around him lifted into the air from the shock of the lightning strike.

“Mr. Mitchell realized it was he who had been struck by lightning when the umbrella he was holding — ‘Of course I had an umbrella. How else would you do “Singing in the Rain”?’ — shot out of his hand and landed 20 feet away.”

When students asked what he did, Guttman said Mitchell told the class he picked up his umbrella.

Along with his stories, students said Mitchell’s class could be tough. He assigned numerous lines of translation every night and expected them to be completed.

“To be honest, there were always a few students in Mr. Mitchell’s classes who didn’t particularly love Latin or the workload, but simply loved Mr. Mitchell too much to ever drop the class,” said Guttman.

Like his students, Mitchell’s colleagues sensed his passion for learning.

“We suffered a huge loss, but he’d want the celebration to go on and to honor achievement. He believed so much in the teaching and learning of foreign language,” said Nancy Marrinucci, head of the foreign language department at North. “He used to say it was part of a liberal arts education, and it allowed students to more fully participate in the world.”

One former student, Marrinucci said, compiled a collection of “Mitchellisms.”

CONF: Bones, Behaviour and Belief

Seen on Aegeanet quite a while ago:

The Swedish Institute at Athens is organizing a conference entitled
“Bones, behaviour and belief. The osteological evidence as a source for
Greek ritual practice”. The event will take place in Athens, on the
10th-12th of September 2009.

The purpose of the conference is to highlight the role and contribution of
the osteological evidence for our understanding of Greek sacrificial
ritual, especially from a methodological perspective. It also aims at a
discussion of the relation of the bone material to other source categories
– texts, inscriptions, images and archaeological remains other than bones.
Of central interest are issues approachable from osteological evidence
only and instances where the bone material presents a picture different
from that derived from the written or pictorial sources. A group of
prominent osteologists working on evidence from sanctuaries and cult
places will present papers addressing questions of ritual practices. To
stimulate an increased integration of osteology in the study of Greek cult
in the future and to highlight the relation of various categories of
sources to each other, a panel of leading scholars working on Greek
religion mainly thought the use of non-osteological material will
participate in the discussions as well as in the concluding table ronde.

Confirmed speakers include Gerhard Forstenpointner (Wien), Gunnel Ekroth
(Stockholm), Valasia Isaakidou (Sheffield), Paul Halstead (Sheffield),
Maria Vretemark (Museum of Västergötland), Armelle Gardeisen (Latte),
Michel MacKinnon (Winnipeg), Dimitra Mylona (Rethymnon), François Poplin
(Paris), Ola Magnell (Lund), Martine Leguilloux (Var), Hélène Siard
(Paris), Sabine Sten (Gotland), Emmanulle Vila (Lyon).

Invited discussants: Robin Hägg (Göteborg), Stella Georgoudi (Paris),
Scott Scullion (Oxford), Francis Prost (Paris), Véronique Mehl (Rennes).

The conference will be held at the Italian School, Athens and all
interested listeners are welcome to attend.

For further information, please contact gunnel.ekroth AT or
jenny.wallensten AT

d.m. Douglas Little

From the Otago Daily Times:

Dr Douglas Little, an influential classics teacher who retired from the University of Otago classics department as an associate professor in 1987, has died in Dunedin after a long illness.

He was in his mid-70s.

Dr Little, who at one stage was the department’s only New Zealand-born staff member, had earlier graduated from Otago University with an MA(Hons) in Latin and German and an honours degree in Greek, before gaining a PhD in classics at the University of Texas, in Austin.

Having earlier served as an assistant lecturer, he returned to the Otago classics staff as a senior lecturer in 1975, after completing his doctorate.

[n.b. the ODT promised a proper obituary 'to follow', but it doesn't seem to have made it to the web ~ dm]

CFP: Cross-cultural Influence in the Roman World

Seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin:

Call for Papers
Cross-cultural Influence in the Roman World, McMaster University
3 October 2009
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Emma Dench, Harvard University
Abstracts for papers on cross-cultural influence in the Roman world are sought for the Classics Graduate Conference at McMaster University on Saturday, 3 October 2009. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words, to be submitted to the address provided below. We encourage papers exploring both the acclimatization of foreign peoples to Roman culture and the impact of those indigenous cultures on the Romans themselves. A wide range of subjects are acceptable, including, but not limited to, material culture, religion, linguistics, dress, warfare, and political practices.
Papers delivered at the conference should be 15-20 minutes in length.
Submit abstracts electronically to Patricia White at whitepl At

Deadline for abstracts: 15 July 2009

Announcement of acceptances of abstracts: 15 August 2009

Siren Song

In case you missed it, Paris Hilton’s latest ‘scent’ has a potentially Classical bent. Here’s a photo (via People):

from People Magazine

from People Magazine

Sez the heiress:

Siren is all about being sexy in a playful way. I feel irresistible as a mermaid,What girl doesn’t want to have fun being a fantasy creature that men can’t resist?

What many folks might not realize is that the Sirens of the area of our purview (i.e. the ones which tried to lure Odysseus et al) were half-bird/half-woman … not the ‘mermaid’ of popular culture (not sure when they ‘mermaid’ portrayal began):

from Wikimedia Commons

from Wikimedia Commons

The Wikipedia article on sirens is useful …

d.m. Richard T. Scanlan

From the News-Gazette:

Friends and colleagues remembered Richard Thomas Scanlan as an enthusiastic and outstanding teacher who brought the world of Latin and classical mythology to life for a generation of University of Illinois students.

Mr. Scanlan, 81, of Champaign, died at 1:14 a.m. Sunday at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete at Morgan Memorial Home, 1304 Regency Drive West, Savoy.

“He was a legendary teacher,” said David Sansone, head of the Classics Department at the UI. “For years and years, undergraduates at the UI felt they had to take his course.

“The UI experience wasn’t complete without taking Scanlan’s course. There were students who enjoyed the class so much that they convinced their sons, daughters and even grandchildren to take his course.”

According to Sansone, Mr. Scanlan had to teach his class at Foellinger because it was the only venue large enough to handle 1,200 students at a time.

“Even at 1,200 students, each year we would get requests from students wanting to get in his class even though the class was closed,” Sansone said.

As a professor of the classics, Mr. Scanlan was known for disappearing from the lecture platform in the middle of class, only to return a few minutes later dressed as a toga-clad priest of Apollo, the Greek god of prophecy.

“He had Apollo predicting UI football or basketball games, depending upon the season,” recalled Professor Emeritus James Dengate.

After the students enthusiastically chanted the “I-L-L, I-N-I” cheer, Mr. Scanlan would appear deep in thought and then turn to the class.

“Now I can see it clearly,” he said. “Minnesota 14 … Illinois 31.”

At other times, Mr. Scanlan would emerge as Jason of the Golden Fleece, the shrewd Odysseus or even the mighty Hercules. His character would then be interviewed for the students by a teaching assistant.

In 1979, he convinced 12 female UI students to come to his Roman civilization class dressed in white to perform the dance of the vestal virgins.

Mr. Scanlan’s enthusiasm for the Illini was rewarded in 1981 when he was crowned as “King Dad” during the UI’s Dads Day celebration.

News-Gazette staff writer Paul Wood, who took several of Mr. Scanlan’s classes, described him as “a great guy.”

“He was very entertaining, and I learned a lot, too,” Wood said. “He taught a civilization class that was the most popular course on campus at the time. More people know more about the classics from him than from anybody else.”

University of Illinois spokeswoman Robin Kaler recalled sneaking in on Mr. Scanlan’s classes from time to time.

“I was registered for a different class, but sometimes I would skip my class to go to his class instead,” Kaler said. “He truly was that good.”

For many years, Mr. Scanlan was in charge of the Illinois State Latin Contest.

“He wrote a comic strip featuring a superhero called Superlegatus who acted and thought in Latin,” Wood said. “He was widely known for making learning fun.”

When Superlegatus wasn’t leaping over mountains in a single bound, the Latin-speaking hero kept himself busy saving his girlfriend from monsters.

Wood said Mr. Scanlan also pioneered the use of computers as a tool for teaching the Latin language.

Mr. Scanlan was also dedicated to his church, serving as a permanent deacon at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Champaign.

“He was very well-beloved by the people of the parish,” said St. Matthew pastor Monsignor Mark J. Merdian. “He applied the same demeanor and attitude in his preaching that was so popular as a teacher. Most of all, he was very kind and caring to everybody.”

Merdian described Mr. Scanlan as a great listener.

“When he preached, he had a way of telling great historical stories from the Bible and helping people to connect those lessons to their everyday life. Nobody was better than him in bringing the letters of St. Paul to life.”

In 2005, he received the Pere Marquette Award for outstanding service to his parish.

At St. Matthew, he taught adult education classes on the Old and New Testaments, the Passion narratives, the life and work of St. Paul and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He was involved in Cursillo for more than 20 years, frequently visited hospitals and served as a former president of the parish council.

JOB: Classical Reception at Oxford

Seen on the Classicists list:

Director Of The Archive Of Performances Of Greek And Roman Drama And University Lecturer

Reception of Greek and Latin Literature

Faculty Of Classics In Association With St Hilda’s College

(Non-Tutorial Fellow)

Grade 10a: Salary £42,351 – £56,917 p.a.

Applications are invited for the above permanent post, tenable from 1 January 2010.

The person appointed, as well as being responsible for organising and managing the activities and staff of the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, will also organise and undertake teaching and research in the field of the Reception of Greek and/or Latin Literature.

The further particulars are located on the faculty website under:

Applicants are asked to send eight copies of their application, including a covering letter, a curriculum vitae, a personal details form (available from the website), a statement of research interests and publications, as well as teaching and administrative experience, to Mrs Anne Smith, Classics Faculty Administrator, Ioannou School for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LU, for receipt no later than 12.00 noon on 3 July 2009.

Applications should not be by email. Applicants should ask referees to write directly to Mrs Smith without further prompting.

Candidates are also asked to identify in their covering letter two pieces of research, each of maximum 8000 words, which they would provide in support of their application if shortlisted. These two pieces of research should be ready for despatch, ideally in electronic form, on or soon after 7 July 2009.

Interviews are scheduled for 20 July 2009.

JOB: Assistant Director: Oxford Roman Economy Project

Seen on the Classicists list:

Faculty of Classics and Wolfson College, University of Oxford

The Oxford Roman Economy Project

Assistant Director

ACADEMIC-RELATED RESEARCH STAFF GRADE 07S 1-4: Salary £28,839.00 – £31,513.00

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates of postdoctoral status for a fixed-term post in Roman Economic History or Archaeology for three years with effect from 1 October 2009. This is separately funded from, but complementary to, the AHRC-funded project (The Economy of the Roman Empire: Integration, Growth and Decline c100 BC to AD 350, Principal Investigators Professor Alan Bowman and Professor Andrew Wilson, should have completed a doctorate in a relevant area of Roman Economic History or Archaeology by 1 October 2009 (‘relevant areas’ to be understood as including Italy and the provinces and any or all categories of literary, documentary and archaeological evidence). The salary will be in the range £28,839 – £31,513 per annum, according to experience. The successful candidate will be appointed to a Supernumerary Fellowship at Wolfson College.

Applications should be sent to Erica Clarke, Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LU (recruitment AT to reach her no later than 12 noon on Friday 3 July 2009. Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a covering letter explaining the applicant’s suitability for the post, the personal details form, and the names of three referees who must be asked to send their references directly to Erica Clarke by the closing date. The personal details form and the further particulars are available for download from It is expected that interviews will be held on 13 July.

The University is an Equal Opportunities Employer.

CONF: Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity

Seen on the Classicists list:

The Faculty of Theology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is pleased to
announce an international conference on ‘Episcopal Elections in Late
Antiquity’, 26-28 October 2009. The conference programme will include
fourteen keynote lectures and eleven short paper sessions. Registration,
travel and accommodation information is available on the conference website,
and further information can be requested from the conference secretary.

Scientific Committee
Pauline Allen (ACU Brisbane), Jean-Marie Auwers (Louvain-la-neuve),
Boudewijn Dehandschutter (Leuven), David Engels (Bruxelles), Hans Hauben
(Leuven), Mathijs Lamberigts (Leuven), Johan Leemans (Leuven), Hartmut
Leppin (Frankfurt), Peter Van Nuffelen (Exeter), Andrea Schmidt
(Louvain-la-neuve), Stefan Schorn (Leuven), Ewa Wipszycka (Warsaw)

Organising Committee
Boudewijn Dehandschutter (Leuven), Shawn Keough (Leuven), Johan Leemans
(Leuven), Carla Nicolaye (Leuven-Aachen), Peter Van Nuffelen (Exeter)

Secretary: shawn.keough AT

It is well known that episcopal elections in the later Roman Empire were
often a complicated and complicating event, as the controversy (and even
violence) attendant upon the elections and successions of many bishops
indicates. This conference will approach the phenomenon of episcopal
elections and succession from the broadest possible perspective, examining
the varied combination of factors, personalities, rules and habits that
played a role in the process that eventually resulted in one specific
candidate becoming the new bishop, and not another. The many diverse and
even conflicting aspects of this phenomenon will be addressed: the influence
of doctrinal conflicts, the relationship between Church and State,
patronage, local habits and regional differences, chronological
developments, ethnic identity. Also relevant is the development of images of
the ideal bishop, especially the manner in which such idealized
representations shaped the outcome of contested elections and affected the
character and exercise of episcopal authority in late antique society.

All those interested in conference registration and other information are
encouraged to contact the conference secretary, Dr. Shawn Keough
shawn.keough AT

CONF:Political Communication and Public Opinion in the Ancient World

Seen on the Classicists list:

Hengstberger Symposium 2009

Political Communication and Public Opinion in the Ancient World

Dates: Friday, 10 July — Sunday, 12 July 2009

Venue: Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg, University of Heidelberg (

Numbers are restricted. There are only a few places left. If you would like to attend, please register by email to christina.kuhn AT


Friday, 10 July 2009

09.15: Welcome: Dr. Klaus-Georg HENGSTBERGER and Dr. Christina KUHN

09.30: Dr. Christina KUHN (Classics Department, University of Oxford): "Einfuehrung: Politische Kommunikation und Oeffentliche Meinung in der Antike"

Section I: Theories and Concepts
Chair: Prof. Dr. Tonio HOELSCHER (Department of Classical Archaeology, University of Heidelberg)

10.00: Prof. Dr. Kurt IMHOF (Department of Sociology, University of Zuerich): "Oeffentlichkeitssoziologische Konzepte fuer das Altertum?"

10.45: Coffee

11.15: Dr. Thomas PETERSEN (Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research): "Die moralische Komponente oeffentlicher Meinung — Was Historiker und Sozialwissenschaftler voneinander lernen koennen"

Section II: Classical and Hellenistic Greece
Chair: Prof. Dr. Angelos CHANIOTIS (Classics Department, University of Oxford)

12.00: PD Dr. Christian MANN (Department of Ancient History, University of Freiburg): "Imagekonstruktionen und oeffentliche Meinung im demokratischen Athen"

12.45: Lunch

14.15: Dr. Gunther MARTIN (Classics Department, University of Oxford):
"Demokratiekritik vor der athenischen Oeffentlichkeit?"

15.00: Prof. Dr. Eftychia STAVRIANOPOULOU (Department of Ancient History, University of Heidelberg): "Tou dikaiou tuchein, oder: Die Macht der Bitte"

15.45: Coffee

16.15: Peter KATO (Department of Ancient History, University of Heidelberg): "Heftige Winde ueber das stille Meer: Aeusserungsformen und Beeinflussung der oeffentlichen Meinung in den hellenistischen Staedten"

17.00: Dr. Ruth BIELFELDT (Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University): "Oeffentlichkeit als Offensichtlichkeit: Zur Kultur des Erscheinens in der hellenistischen Stadt"

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Section III: Republican and Imperial Rome
Chair: Dr. Christina KUHN (Classics Department, University of Oxford)

09.15: Dr. Nikolaus JACKOB (Department of Communication Studies, University of Mainz): "Cicero’s Perception of the Nature, Role and Power of Public Opinion in the Late Roman Republic"

10.00: Prof. Dr. Gert UEDING (Rhetoric Department, University of Tuebingen): "Das Konzept des Redners als Meinungsfuehrer in der roemischen Rhetorik"

10.45: Coffee

11.15: Prof. Dr. Robert MORSTEIN-MARX (Classics Department, University of California, Santa Barbara): "Political Communication, Public Opinion and the Power of the ‘Populus’ in the Late Roman Republic"

12.00: Christian BECHTOLD, M.A. (Department of Ancient History, University of Frankfurt): "Die Versetzung unter die Sterne in der politischen Kommunikation der roemischen Kaiserzeit"

12.45: Lunch

Chair: Prof. Dr. Christian WITSCHEL (Department of Ancient History, University of Heidelberg)

14.15: Prof. Dr. Clifford ANDO (Classics Department, University of Chicago): "Empire, State, and Communicative Action"

15.00: Prof. Dr. Aloys WINTERLING (History Department, Humboldt University Berlin): "Oeffentliche Geheimnisse: Die Doppelboedigkeit der Kommunikation zwischen Kaiser und Aristokratie im Rom des 1. und 2. Jahrhunderts"

15.45: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jan STENGER (Free University of Berlin): "Libanios und die oeffentliche Meinung in Antiochia"

16.30: Coffee

17.00: Public Lecture: Prof. Dr. Juergen WILKE (Department of Communication Studies, University of Mainz): "Die Kommunikationswissenschaft und die Antike"

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Section IV: Ancient Egypt, China and Israel
Chair: Prof. Dr. Andrea JOERDENS (Institute of Papyrology, University of Heidelberg)

09.15: Dr. Thomas ROESSING (Department of Communication Studies, University of Mainz): "Oeffentliche Meinung in der Philosophie des Alten China aus sozialwissenschaftlicher Sicht"

10.00: Prof. Dr. Joachim Friedrich QUACK (Department of Egyptology, University of Heidelberg): "Pharao und Hofstaat, Palast und Tempel. Entscheidungsfindung, Oeffentlichkeit und Entscheidungsveroeffentlichung im Alten Aegypten"

10.45: Coffee

11.15: PD Dr. Erich LAMP (Department of Communication Studies, University of Mainz): "Oeffentliche Meinung im Alten Testament"

12.00: Final Discussion

This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xvi kalendas quinctilias

  • 1716 — Alexander Pope’s translation of the Iliad is published
  • 1813 — birth of Otto Jahn (archaeologist and philologist)
  • 1937 — birth of Erich Segal (Classicist, known to Classicists for his work on ancient comedy; known to the rest of the world as the author of Love Story)

Happy Bloomsday

This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xvii kalendas quinctilias

  • Quando stercus delatus fas ("When the ‘trash’ is taken out") and the Temple of Vesta is closed to the public
  • 302 A.D. — martyrdom of Hesychius
  • 303 A.D. — martyrdom of Vitus (and companions)