Also Seen – Greek Milton? Milton’s Greek?

The Seattle p-i has a reviewish sort of thing of an exhibition at Princeton of images various authors, including this one of Milton:

via Seattle p-i

William Marshall’s 1645 Engraving Of John Milton.

This portrait, produced for John Milton’s first published book of verse, includes the writer’s opinion of his likeness in the caption. Written in ancient Greek–which the artist could not understand–Milton invited the reader to “laugh at the artist’s botched attempt” at portraiture.

via Famous Authors Drawn, Not Quartered.

Around the blogosphere:

Abstract – Arethusa – Plagiarism or Imitation?: The Case of Abronius Silo in Seneca the Elder’s Suasoriae 2.19–20

Scott McGill

Plagiarism or Imitation?: The Case of Abronius Silo in Seneca the Elder’s Suasoriae 2.19–20

Arethusa – Volume 43, Number 1, Winter 2010, pp. 113-131

The Johns Hopkins University Press


Disagreements over whether an author imitated or plagiarized a predecessor are a part of Latin literary history, with Virgil’s ancient reception providing striking examples. This article argues that Seneca the Elder’s Suasoriae 2.19–20 sets forth another case where a Roman author’s perceived textual borrowing was labeled both imitation and plagiarism. The author is Abronius Silo, who adapts a sententia from the declaimer Porcius Latro. In addition, I explore ways of conceptualizing the imitation and plagiarism that appear in Seneca’s passage, situate the discussion in the context of Seneca’s work and intellectual milieu, and link his ideas and critical practices to those found in Latin literary culture more broadly.

via Project MUSE – Arethusa – Plagiarism or Imitation?: The Case of Abronius Silo in Seneca the Elder’s Suasoriae 2.19–20.

Abstract – Arethusa – The Scent of a Woman

Shane Butler

The Scent of a Woman

Arethusa – Volume 43, Number 1, Winter 2010, pp. 87-112

The Johns Hopkins University Press


At Aeneid 1.691-94, Venus sets Ascanius down to sleep on a bed of aromatic marjoram; Servius seizes the opportunity to recount the origins of perfume. Revealing that the note is no antiquarian coincidence, this article argues that the Vergilian passage and others in Greek and Latin poetry echo, to important effect, the remarkable tradition of one of antiquity’s most famous fragrances. Along the way, an investigation of botanical and medical sources clarifies our picture of how perfume was used, explaining the vicious humor of a passage in Lucretius and suggesting a new solution to a famous interpretive crux regarding Catullus 13.

via Project MUSE – Arethusa – The Scent of a Woman.

Abstract – Arethusa – Making History Mythical: The Golden Age of Peisistratus

Claudia Zatta

Making History Mythical: The Golden Age of Peisistratus

Arethusa – Volume 43, Number 1, Winter 2010, pp. 21-62

The Johns Hopkins University Press


This paper examines the association in Aristotle (Ath. Pol. 16.7) of the mythical Golden Age with the tyranny of Peisistratus and, by means of an array of both iconographic and textual evidence, suggests that Peisistratus made use of Golden Age imagery during his regime. This paper also discusses the tyrant’s attempts to relieve the twin problems of overpopulation in the city and lack of cultivation of the countryside, and addresses the overall policy of coordination between astu and chōra.

via Project MUSE – Arethusa – Making History Mythical: The Golden Age of Peisistratus.

Abstract – Arethusa – Helen’s “Judgment of Paris” and Greek Marriage Ritual in Sappho 16

Eric Dodson-Robinson

Helen’s “Judgment of Paris” and Greek Marriage Ritual in Sappho 16

Arethusa – Volume 43, Number 1, Winter 2010, pp. 1-20

The Johns Hopkins University Press


The evaluation and judgment of what is most beautiful (κάλλιστον) in Sappho 16 is what John Foley calls a “traditional reference” to the judgment of Paris. By making Helen rather than Paris the judge of what is κάλλιστον, the poem focalizes erotic agency from her perspective. Helen’s “judgment of Paris” and her erotic agency should be read in light of the poem’s references to archaic Greek marriage. While André Lardinois (2001, 2003) makes a case that Sappho 16 is a wedding song, my reading focuses on unexplored aspects of the poem’s relation to the marriage ritual.

via Project MUSE – Arethusa – Helen’s “Judgment of Paris” and Greek Marriage Ritual in Sappho 16.

Abstract – Arethusa – Roman Spectacle Entertainments and the Technology of Reality

Dean Hammer

Roman Spectacle Entertainments and the Technology of Reality

Arethusa – Volume 43, Number 1, Winter 2010, pp. 63-86

The Johns Hopkins University Press


Roman spectacle entertainment has attracted substantial scholarly interest because of renewed ways in which politics is seen as culturally enacted. Less attention has been paid to the technologies associated with these spectacles. When discussed, technologies emerge as a manufactured form of manipulation by a knowing elite over a gullible populace that heightened the anticipation of violence or magnified the charisma and prestige of the emperor. I suggest a more paradoxical result. These technologies, in their ability to extract that which is distinct and permanent from the environment, make both nature and humanity transitory, reproducible, and conformable to human desire. What I call technologies of reality produce a tension between the status-affirming function of spectacles and the status-collapsing effects of a new cultural politics as spectacles combined participation with consumption and hierarchic distinction with democratized desire.

via Project MUSE – Arethusa – Roman Spectacle Entertainments and the Technology of Reality.

Vespasian’s Birthplace Redux

The incipit of a recently-dated  piece from AdnKronos which seems to be being picked up by some other papers:

An international team of archaeologists claims to have unearthed the 2000-year-old birthplace of the Roman emperor, Vespasian, north of the Italian capital. Vespasian ruled the Roman empire in the first century A.D. and was behind the construction of the Colosseum, one of Italy’s most popular landmarks.

Archeologists believe they have located his birthplace in the Falacrinae valley near the hill town of Cittareale, 130 km northeast of Rome.

“Ancient Roman historian Suetonius says Vespasian was born in the Falacrinae valley area. Field surveys and information from locals have told us tell us this must be Vespasian’s birthplace,” one of the project’s directors, British archaeologist Helen Patterson told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Vespasian was the ninth Roman emperor, who reigned from 69-79 AD. He was believed to come from humble beginnings and founded the short-lived Flavian dynasty after the civil wars that followed Nero’s death in 68 AD.

During recent excavations, the archaeologists uncovered sumptuous marble floors and mosaics at the site of the 3,000-4,000 square metre Villa of Falacrinae, Patterson said.

The team of 30-60 archaeologists recovered pots, numerous coins, ceramic and metal artefacts from the site which is 820 metres above sea level, overlooking the surrounding Falacrinae valley.

The archeologists are hoping to recover more items in fresh excavations in July and August, Patterson said. [etc.]

Not positive about this, but I see nothing new here compared to reports (about which I expressed some skepticism) last summer …

via Italy: Birthplace of Roman emperor ‘found’ in Lazio – Adnkronos Culture And Media.

Our previous coverage:

The Roman Swiss Army Knife

The Fitzwilliam is certainly getting a lot of press attention, and each item revealed seems for interesting than the next. The Daily Mail, ferinstance, is highlighting the exhibition of a Roman precursor to the Swiss Army Knife:

The world’s first Swiss Army knife’ has been revealed – made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart.

An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade.

It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick.

Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails.

It is thought the spatula would have offered a means of poking cooking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles.

The 3in x 6in (8cm x 15cm) knife was excavated from the Mediterranean area more than 20 years ago and was obtained by the museum in 1991.

The unique item is among dozens of artefacts exhibited in a newly refurbished Greek and Roman antiquities gallery at the Fitzwilliam Museum, in Cambridge.

Experts believe it may have been carried by a wealthy traveller, who will have had the item custom made.

A spokesman said: ‘This was probably made between AD 200 and AD 300, when the Roman empire was a great imperial power.

‘The expansion of Rome – which, before 500 BC, had just been a small central Italian state – made some individuals, perhaps like our knife-owner, personally very wealthy.

‘This could have been directly from the fruits of conquests, or indirectly, from the ‘business opportunities’ the empire offered.

‘We know almost nothing about the person who owned this ingenious knife, but perhaps he was one of those who profited from the vast expansion of Rome – he would have been wealthy to have such a real luxury item.

‘Perhaps he was a traveller, who required a practical compound utensil like this on his journeys.’

The spokesman added: ‘While many less elaborate folding knives survive in bronze, this one’s complexity and the fact that it is made of silver suggest it is a luxury item.

‘Perhaps a useful gadget for a wealthy traveller.’

Modern Swiss Army knives originated in Ibach Schwyz, Switzerland, in 1897 and were created by Karl Elsener.

The knives which provide soldiers with a ‘battlefield toolkit’ have since become standard issue for many modern day fighting forces thanks to their toughness and quality.

Nationalist Elsener decided to design the knives after he realised the Swiss army were being issued with blades manufactured in neighbouring Germany.

Other popular artefacts include an intricately designed Greek make-up box which was custom made almost 3000 years ago for a women of ‘wealth and status’.

… there follows a bit that seems to be an orphan description of some items mentioned before. In any event, lest folks think this is the only item of this sort know, the Armillum website has some photos of other examples  (and there are, of course, some useful photos at the Daily Mail) …