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.