Garrolous Nestor?

The incipit of a book reviewish thing (Thomas Sowell … nothing really Classical) which is kind of interesting:

Years ago I encountered a wonderful book entitled “The Classics Reclassified.” It was a brilliant piece of satire by Richard Armour, an esteemed English professor, based on several of the classic books used for decades as high school reading material. One of these was The Iliad, which featured, on occasion, the wise old man, Nestor. “Nestor,” Armour said, “knew everything except when to keep his mouth shut.” It has now become obvious that Barack Obama has this same problem.

Actually, to be fair to Nestor , in Homer’s Iliad he was an elder statesman, how may have been as much as 110 years old. He was considered the source of much wisdom although many people probably considered him long winded. But then, what do you expect in epic poetry?

Still, even if Nestor wasn’t quite110 years old it is certain that he had garnered his share of life’s experiences and wasn’t just talking to hear his own voice. He was one of the Argonauts, participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar and became king of Pylos. He still led his warriors in the Trojan War, although no longer able to fight. His advice is generally good, and when it isn’t, it is often the result of divine intervention. Was Nestor an intellectual? Perhaps, because of his age, reputed wisdom and the reliance others placed in him. However, I don’t think Thomas Sowell would have called him one.

More:

via People who talk too much… | Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy.

Citanda: Was Seneca Worth an Oscar Award?

Interesting item in News Blaze:

The first step in providing a proper analysis of the dramatic view Lucius Anneus Seneca held, in regards to his tragedy works, is to investigate his language and precise use of high and pregnant words. This is definitely the first and probably the most important, sign of a big fracture between the philosophical and the dramatic works.

If the main purpose of philosophy is to be useful for the inner perfection, the philosopher will have to care about the res, not about an elaborate and rich vocabulary: non delectent verba nostra sed prosint (Epistulae ad Lucilium, 75, 5). This would be justified only if -according to an expressive effectiveness, which means its use in sententiae or poetical quotes- it accomplished a psychagogic intent: they will help to plant a moral rule or a precept in the reader’s mind.

But the reading of Seneca’s philosophical works sheds a bright light on a contradictory aspect: even Seneca’s philosophical prose is almost the emblem of a laboured style, dense and complex, characterized by a precise use of coinciding epigrams and expressions.

Seneca refuses the compact classical architecture that characterizes Cicero’s periodization. Its hypotactical disposition orders the inner logical hierarchy, and creates an eminently paratactical style. The intent is to reproduce the sermon, spoken language, and destroy the structure of the thought in a series of sharp and sententious periods. The link is mainly given by antithesis and repetitions (producing that effect of sand without lime, that was underlined by Caligula).

This contrast with Cicero’s harmonic speech represents a revolution and has its origin in the Asianic rethorics and the preaching of the cynical philosophers: it’s typical development among a game of parallelisms, oppositions, repetitions, in a quick series of short, nervous, sentences -the minutissimae sententiae blamed by Quintilianus-, with a sort of pointillist technique, has the effect of analyzing an idea from all the points of view available, offering a pregnant and coincided formulation, until it is crystallized in the epigrammatic expression.

More …

via Was Seneca Worth an Oscar Award? | News Blaze.

Caligulan Censorship? Not quite …

Whenever some library hosts a thing about censorship and the like, invariably something from ancient times comes up … here’s the latest example of same, such as it is:

AD 35: Roman Emperor Caligula opposed the reading of The Odyssey by Homer, written more than 300 years before. He thought the epic poem was dangerous because it expressed the Greek ideas of freedom.

via Vernon Morning Star – A history of censorship.

Even if we ignore the apparent problem with the date of Homer, we should point out that this is a bit of an exaggeration of what Suetonius (Gaius, 34 via the Latin Library)  says about the matter, to wit:

Cogitavit etiam de Homeri carminibus abolendis, cur enim sibi non licere dicens, quod Platoni licuisset, qui eum e civitate quam constituebat eiecerit?

Sounds like Caligulan humour rather than anything approaching censorship and, of course, there ain’t a thing about “ideals of Greek freedom” (a phrase I’ve never heard associated with the Odyssey.

Spartacus the Communist

I knew that Spartacus was highly regarded in Marxist circles, but I didn’t know this sort of thing occurred with the Kirk Douglas film came out (in medias res from an article on a showing of the film):

As a leader, Spartacus has been admired by revolutionaries seeking to overcome the power of an over-class. Karl Marx admired Spartacus as did Che Guevara, the revolutionary who played a key role with Fidel Castro in overthrowing the Cuban dictator, Batista. Spartacus was hailed by the German Communist movement during World War I and by the Austrian anti-Fascists during the 1970s.

So, it was particularly shocking in 1960 when the film “Spartacus” was released with Dalton Trumbo as the screenwriter. Trumbo was one of the Hollywood Ten who had refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 as they attempted to uncover Communist influence in Hollywood. As a result, Trumbo was blacklisted from working in Hollywood and spent 11 months in prison.

Out of concern that “Spartacus” was a sign that Hollywood seemed to be falling under the influence of “Soviet indoctrinated artists,” the American Legion attacked Trumbo and Kirk Douglas, the film’s star and executive producer.

The American Legion issued letters to 17,000 veteran posts around the country, advising them not to see the film because of its suspected Communist influence. Furthermore, because of the bloody battle scenes, the skimpy slave and gladiator costumes, and the sexual suggestiveness set in pagan times, the film ran into difficulty with the Motion Picture Association of America, which insisted upon numerous cuts and changes to the film in order to accommodate its censorship guidelines.

via NAU Film Series: ‘Spartacus’: A controversial film set in ancient Rome | Arizona Daily Sun.

26th Fox Classics Lecture at Monmouth

Timothy J. Moore, professor of classics at the University of Texas, will deliver Monmouth College’s 26th annual Bernice L. Fox Classics Lecture on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wells Theater.

Titled “Musical Comedy: Roman and American,” the lecture is free and open to the public.

Moore will propose that for all their differences, the musical comedies of ancient Rome and contemporary America are remarkably similar in many ways. The comedies of the Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence, like the musical comedies of contemporary America, mixed spoken dialogue with songs.

“We can therefore learn much about Roman comedy, the American musical and the nature of musical theater by comparing how the two genres approach various aspects of the form,” he said.

“The Roman plays, like their modern descendents, use music to distinguish characters, mark the progress of love affairs, and reinforce emotional and humorous moments. At the same time, differences in the musical structures and tone of the two genres reflect changing notions of how music and drama should work together.”

more …

via Musical comedy the topic of MC’s 26th Fox Classics Lecture – Monmouth, IL | Daily Review Atlas.

CONF: Justice in the Greek and Roman World

Seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin (please send any responses to the folks mentioned in the quoted text, not to rogueclassicism!):

JUSTICE IN THE ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN WORLD
The University of Western Ontario, Mar 5th-7th, 2010
This conference seeks to bring together scholars from around North America to present papers on aspects of law or justice in Greek or Roman antiquity. More specifically, the conference will address some of the following concerns: how a demand for justice was articulated and implemented in ancient civilizations; the nature of human or divine justice in Greek or Roman myth and literature; the function of law in ancient society; the rules, procedures, and institutions of Greek or Roman law; ancient philosophers on law or justice; and the influence of social norms and political and cultural traditions on law. The speakers draw together such diverse topics as philosophy, drama, the ancient city, and visual culture under the larger heading of law and justice.
To register: www.uwo.ca/classics/justice_conference
Queries: Kelly Olson at kolson2 AT uwo.ca

PROGRAMME:
FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 2010:

Session 1. Justice in Greek Poetry I: 1:00 -3:00 PM
A. Dr. Judith Fletcher (Wilfrid Laurier University): Avian Justice: Arbitration and Judgment in Aristophanes’ Birds
B. Dr. Victoria Wohl (Univ. of Toronto): The Justice of Lamentation in Euripides’ Hecuba
C. Dr. Christopher G. Brown (Univ. of Western Ontario): Paying the Penalty: Justice in This World and the Next
(coffee break- 3:00- 3:30 PM)
Session 2. Aristotle: 3:30- 5:00 PM
A. Dr. David Mirhady (Simon Fraser University): Justice the True and the Beneficial
B. Dr. Chi Carmody (Univ. of Western Ontario): Justice Then and Now: A Modern Reading of Aristotle’s Corrective/Distributive Distinction

SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 2010:
Session 1: Justice in Greek Poetry II: 9:00 – 11:30 AM
A. Dr. Roger Fisher (York University) Antigone Rests Her Case (Ant. 904-20)
B. Dr. Rebecca Kennedy (Denison University, OH): A Culture of Justice: The Courts in Athenian Tragedy and the Visual Arts
C. Dr. Cynthia Patterson (Emory University): The Justice of Athena: Aeschylus’ Eumenides and the Athenian Courts
(coffee break, 10:30-11:00 AM)
(lunch, 11:30-12:30 PM)
Session 2: Law in Ancient Rome I: 12:30-3:00 PM
A. Dr. Thomas A. J. McGinn (Vanderbilt University): Was Justice Delayed Justice Denied For the Romans?
B. Dr. Andrew Riggsby (Univ. of Texas at Austin): Cicero’s Ambivalence Towards the Criminal Courts
C. Eloise LeMay ((Univ. of Western Ontario): The Republican interrex and its application of imperium
D. Dr. James T. Chlup (Univ. of Manitoba): Just War in Onasander’s Strategikos
(3:00 -3:30 PM coffee break)
Session 3. Law in Ancient Greece I: 3:30 -5:00 PM
A. Dr. Michael Gagarin (Univ. of Texas at Austin): Law and Justice in Classical Athens
B. Dr. Sarah Bolmarcich (Trinity University, Texas): Justice in Greek International Relations
C. Dr. Robert Wallace (Northwestern University): Justice and Community in Democratic Athens

SUNDAY, MARCH 7, 2010
Session 1: Law in Ancient Greece II: 9:00 AM- 12:00 PM
A. Dr. Alex Gottesman (Temple University): Competing Visions of Justice and Community in [Lysias] 6 and Andokides 1
B. Dr. N. Popov-Reynolds (Florida Gulf Coast University): A History of Violence: Discussions of Violence Within the Army in Athenian Lawsuits
C. Carrie L. Galsworthy (Miami University): The Magicians’ Contributions to a Just World
(coffee break, 10:30-11:00 AM)
(lunch, 12:00 – 1:00 PM)
Session 2: Law in Ancient Rome II: 1:00- 3:00 PM
A. Kathryn Balsley (Stanford University): Performances of Justice in Imperial Latin Literature
B. Dr. Leanne Bablitz (Univ. of British Columbia): Babatha’s Legal Experience
C. Dr. Michael P. Fronda (McGill University): Q. and M. Minucius Rufus in Genoa: Arbitration and the Performance of Roman Power
(coffee break, 3:00-3:30)

Recent Finds from Knossos

As my one son works on a high school paper about Knossos, it’s interesting that they still find things there:

Geophysical studies at Kefala Hill in the Knossos archaeological site on Crete island, have revealed findings of the most ancient farm houses in Greece, and perhaps in all of Europe, dating back between 7,000- 6,400 BC.

The important finds were presented on Wednesday in Athens by the head of the British School in Athens and university professor Catherine Morgan at the school’s open annual meeting held at the Archaeological Society building.

The British school, in cooperation with Dutch scientists, have been conducting studies in the Knossos area since May 2009 for the charting and imaging of the archaeological and geological deposits with the use of state-of-the-art radars.

Moreover, Morgan presented an annual review of the British School on the research progress on Keros island in the Cyclades complex, and especially at the Daskalio early Bronze Age settlement, at Kavos on the Ionian island of Corfu, in Thessaly region and on the islands of Kythera and Antikythera.

via Important archaeological finds at Knossos | ANA.

Roman Soldier’s Hoard?

Not quite sure of the ‘military’ claim here:

A hoard of 208 coins found in a Suffolk field could have belonged to a retired Roman soldier. The collection of silver denarii coins was discovered in an undisclosed area of north Suffolk last spring, an inquest heard. Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean determined the find to be treasure because of the age and silver composition of the coins. Judith Plouviez, archaeological officer for the Conservation Team at Suffolk County Council, told the coroner that the coins covered a period between the 1st Century BC and the 1st Century AD of the Roman Empire. She also explained that the collection of coins spanned across a number of Roman emperors, including Nero, Vespasian, Domitianus and Claudius. Speaking after the inquest, Ms Plouviez said: “There have been a number of finds in the area due to the amount of people living and working here during that time. “Due to the wealth of coins found in such a small patch, the owner must have been someone who was relatively well-to-do. “It is very possible that the coins belonged to a retired soldier, as the Roman army was paid in silver coins. “This is why so many coins can be found scattered around.” A further inquest at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court also revealed a gold Roman finger-ring to be treasure. The ring was also found in a north Suffolk field. All of the treasure will now be put forward to the Treasure Valuation Committee, organised independently by the British Museum, where the value of each lot will be established.

via Coins found in field could have belonged to Roman soldier | Advertiser 24.

CFP: Religion and Identity in the Ancient World

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the folks mentioned in the quoted text, not to rogueclassicism!):

Postgraduate workshop on Religion and Identity in the Ancient World, 22nd-

23rd April 2010 Durham University

This postgraduate workshop, hosted by Durham University’s Centre for the
Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East (CAMNE) on 22nd -
23rd April 2010 in Durham University’s Theology department, will explore
the extent to which religion influenced identity in the ancient world. The
aim is to stimulate interdisciplinary discussion of the issue: we
therefore invite contributions from theologians, classicists and
archaeologists, and indeed anyone else with an interest in religion and
identity in the ancient world.

The construction of an identity is influenced by many factors: linguistic,
cultural, geographical, political and historical, amongst others. In
today’s world, religion is a defining factor in the identities of
millions. Even in self-consciously secular societies, the remnants of
religious influence can still be seen in political and architectural
landscapes. From towering cathedrals and mosques to the horse and cart of
the Amish, there are many ways in which religion can influence identity.
The same diversity is also found throughout the ancient world.

Heads of state from the Egyptian Pharaoh to the Roman Emperor were not
merely political figures, but also occupied pivotal roles in state
religions, and were therefore fundamental in the religious identities of
their subjects. However, such figures existed alongside much more personal
and local beliefs which had an equally powerful influence on the religious
identities of individuals. The story of Israel on the other hand, while
equally varied, is of a nation whose ‘head of state’ is not an earthly
figure, but God himself. Differently again, early Christianity quickly cut
across social, ethnic and political boundaries by offering a new identity
through relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you would like to present a paper, please submit a short abstract of
ca. 150 words detailing your topic to p.j.alpass AT dur.ac.uk by Monday 8th
March. Contributors will be invited to include their papers in an
electronic volume of the workshop proceedings. There are some grants
available towards the cost of transport, and accommodation is provided for
those coming from UK institutions.

THE ORGANISERS
Peter Alpass, Ed Kaneen and Donald Murray

A Bust in Lebanon Nets a Sarcophagus

No photos, alas …

The Lebanese Antiquities Department received on Monday a rare sarcophagus and other antique items confiscated from the house of a sheikh in Baalbek.

The judicial police found the antiquities last Wednesday at the house of Sheikh Mohammad Jaafar Suleiman al-Mohajer, who was believed to have dug them out illegally and kept them secret hoping to sell them.

The items included a sarcophagus dating back to the Roman era in the second century AD and two carved stones, one showing the head of a lion and another showing the portrait of an emperor. The sarcophagus is believed to be of great importance because it might be that of a child from a royal family and it is to be soon displayed at the Lebanese National Museum.

However, according to an article published Tuesday by the Arabic-language newspaper An-Nahar, Mohajer claimed that he had previously contacted the department about the discovery but that the latter had failed to recover the items.

Mohajer said he found the antiques on a property he owned and had sent a letter to the Culture Ministry asking them to buy the items.

Nonetheless, the department insisted it was informed of the discovery before receiving Mohajer’s letters, security sources told An-Nahar. It had launched an investigation in the matter because the items were not reported within the legal deadline of 24 hours and they were dug illegally on the property of Hajj Haydar al-Mohajer.

Furthermore, the judicial police arrested on February 2 two men suspected of fraud, who confessed that Mohajer’s son, Ali Ammar, had tried to sell them antique jewelry items for $1.7 million.

The police raided Mohajer’s house last Wednesday and found the sarcophagus in his back yard along with two other antiques. But they did not go inside the house where antique jewelry might be hidden, noting that the sarcophagus was found empty while the dead were traditionally buried with all their jewelry.

via Antiquities Department receives rare sacrophagus | The Daily Star.

Restoring Jupiter

Interesting item:

IT IS almost 2,000 years old and was thought to have been lost forever, but now an ancient Roman bust is being preserved for future generations.

Conservationists have begun the painstaking process of restoring a marble carving of the Roman god Jupiter which has been rediscovered at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon.

The piece has been identified as part of the celebrated collection of the Earl of Arundel’s collection of antiquities from the classical world and is now being analysed by English Heritage at its archaeological store in Helmsley.

Susan Harrison, English Heritage Curator, said: “The condition of the bust is pretty good, but it does need cleaning and further research. Because it’s mentioned in 17th Century records, experts knew it existed, but they have searched for it in vain amongst the world’s collections of antiquities.

“But here it was all along, safe and sound and waiting to be rediscovered. We plan to do further work to determine the type of marble which will give us an indication of where in the Roman world it is originally from. It really is an impressive piece.”

According to Roman mythology, Jupiter was the most powerful of all the Gods and the Latin depiction of the Greek, God Zeus.

A short little video report accompanies the original article.

via Conservationists begin restoration of Roman bust of Jupiter | York Press.