Also Seen: ‘Anthill': ‘The Iliad’—With Ants?

An excerpt from a piece in the WSJ:

Renowned biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson, who has studied ants for more than 60 years and has won two Pulitzer Prizes, is publishing his first novel, “Anthill,” an epic tale of men and insects that centers on the fate of an ant colony in rural Alabama.

Mr. Wilson, 80 years old, says he aimed to draw “a parallel between the epics of the ants and the epics of competing human societies.”

The parallels are plentiful: in “Anthill,” Mr. Wilson describes how ants build elaborate cities, grow and store food to prevent famine, form social hierarchies with worker and soldier castes, keep their young in nurseries and deposit their dead in cemeteries.

Literary bloggers and reviewers have likened Mr. Wilson’s narrative treatment of warring ant colonies to the “Iliad.” Mr. Wilson describes a miniature version of the Trojan War as battles between rival tribes of ants escalate, an ant city gets invaded and plundered and a once-thriving ant civilization collapses.

via ‘Anthill': ‘The Iliad’—With Ants? |

Classical ‘You Are There’ Podcasts

Some folks may know that Robert Culp passed on last week … a brief notice in Birmingham News mentioned, inter alia:

Culp’s career began in the 50s, when he appeared in “You Are There: The Death of Socrates.” His career spanned five decades, including both television and film.

… now I couldn’t find any of the television version, but I did find some nice podcasts of the radio version (which I think was called ‘CBS News Is There’). Here are the ones I’ve come across (I’ve only listened to the Socrates one at this point):

… the You Are There podcast site doesn’t seem to have been updated since summer of 2008; the above  (for the most part) seem to have appeared on more than one occasion; if a link doesn’t work, it might be relocated (?) …

The Temple of Theseus Needs Restoring

Actually, it seems to be a folly from the 18th century:

More than £1 million of restoration work will be needed to return a historic monument to its former glory after decades of vandalism has taken its toll.

The Temple of Theseus has been virtually concealed within woodland inside the grounds of Hagley Hall, near Stourbridge.

The building pays homage to an ancient Greek temple built in 449 B.C. in the country’s capital Athens.

Generations of visitors were able to marvel at the brick and stone-built temple during visits to 350-acre Hagley Park.

But after the A456 Birmingham Road was built, the temple became separated from the main Hagley Hall, leaving it at the mercy of vandals.

The site has been closed to the public for a number of years in a bid to halt the vandal attacks.

Huge gaping holes in the building’s ceiling, where plaster has broken away, reveal exposed roof beams.Unsightly graffiti has been daubed around walls inside the building which has now had mesh-metal fencing put around it.

The Grade-I listed building was built around the 1750s close to the time when the 63ft Wychbury Obelisk was constructed.

Lord Cobham, Christopher Charles Lyttelton, who owns Hagley Hall and Park, says his family has worked closely with English Heritage who may provide some of the funding for the works on the temple.

“It is a shame it has got into this state,” he said. “We were unable to keep it secure and I believe it became a bit of a hangout for people.

“I’m sure it will cost at least a million pounds to get it back to something like it was.”

The estate is waiting to hear if an application for more than £1 million worth of funding for works on Hagley Hall itself has been successful.

The original hall roof was destroyed in 1925.

via Restoring temple to cost £1m | Express & Star.

There’s a bit more info on this and associated follies in the Hagley Hall Wikipedia page

Some Twitterfeed Hashtags

A few days ago I was asking readers if they’d approve of a four-column format for rogueclassicism, and that seems to have been almost unanimously declined. So today we introduce one of the reasons I think I need another column: my twitterfeed hashtags. Folks who follow me on twitter know I post a pile of stuff there (especially reviews of books, dramas, movies) with Classical content which I simply don’t have time to always get to in rogueclassicism. Accordingly, I figured out how I might combine rss and twitter hashtags (techie talk, sorry) and include them at rogueclassicism. If you scroll down to the bottom of the ‘middle column’ (second column from the right) you will see that I’ve added two of these: one for ancient drama reviews and one for sword and sandal flick reviews (this is where Clash of the Titans stuff will be showing up if it seems interesting, like some comments by Eugene Borza; I’m hoping to track down a bit more from him). Clicking on the strange-looking link will take you to the relevant post at Twitter, which you’ll have to click again.  I have a few more hashtags to add, but will wait to see how these work out. Enjoy!

Clash of the Accents

Wow … I’ve been wading through tons of reviews of ‘Clash of the Titans’ and they are generally negative.  I’m probably only going to link to ones with something interesting to say, like this excerpt from one in the Atlantic:

In fact, the movie’s accents also deserve their own paragraph, because they are hilarious. The French-born director either couldn’t hear the different accents of his cast, or didn’t care. This gave them creative license to each decide on their own “foreign” accent in which to deliver their lines. There are Ancient Greeks speaking Greek with an English accent, Ancient Greeks speaking Greek with French, German and Russian accents, even two ersatz Arabs who are supposed to be the comic relief.

via Clunk of the Titans – Culture – The Atlantic.

Christian Sarcophagi from Near Tbilisi

Ancient graves were found in the Urbnisi village of the Kareli region during the construction of a highway. About 20 sarcophaguses were discovered dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries.

Road department representatives invited a group of archaeologists from the Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University to the area to examine the findings. The relevant activities are being implemented by the group chaired by Vakhtang Licheli.

According Licheli, 20 Christian sarcophaguses were found.

“Investigation of this area alone is not enough because many graves have been destroyed in the Urbnisi village and all of them require further study. So this requires funding,” Licheli said.

Several months ago, an ancient stamp was found in the yard of an Avlevi village resident which, according to scientists, dates back to the early Hellenistic era.

via Sarcophaguses found in Georgia | Trend News.

I can’t find what Urbnisi was called in ancient times, but it was apparently an important Iberian city in both Greek and Roman times

Amanda Wrigley on Radio Propaganda

This looks interesting:

Classical scholar Dr. Amanda Wrigley will talk about politics and propaganda on public radio Thursday, April 15, as a visiting lecturer at Western Michigan University.

The free, public talk, “Politics, Propaganda and the Public Imagination: Ancient Greece on BBC Radio, 1920s-1950s,” will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 3025 of WMU’s Brown Hall.

Wrigley earned a doctoral degree from Open University. Her research focuses on the public engagement with ancient Greek drama as an educational subject, cultural element and entertainment source. Her published work concentrates primarily on its use in 20th-century Britain.

Wrigley is currently visiting the United States as a Mellon-Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellow in Classics at Northwestern University. In this position, she helps organize and run the yearlong Sawyer Seminar series “Out of Europe: Reception and Revision of Greek Theatre in the United States.” Her latest electronic resource, “Classicizing Chicago,” is currently in development and will include more than 50 illustrated essays on Chicago’s history of cultural engagement with Greek and Roman antiquity. She is preparing to curate a two-month exhibit on this topic at the Northwestern University Library.

From 2001 to 2009, Wrigley worked at the University of Oxford. As a researcher for its Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, she developed, designed and compiled a database of nearly 10,000 productions of Greek and Roman drama performed internationally on stage, film and radio, from the Renaissance to the present.

Wrigley’s lecture is part of the WMU Department of English’s Scholarly Speaker Series. Her visit is co-sponsored by the Haenicke Institute for Global Education, the journal Comparative Drama, and the WMU Department of Foreign Languages.

via Classicist to speak on radio propaganda | WMU News .

… more details about the venue etc. in the original article

Alexander the Great Monument To?

I’m sorry, but this already sounds tacky … the obligatory incipit:

The planned monument of Alexander the Great in the centre of Skopje will be accompanied by music, as well as light, sound and water effects, mayor of the Skopje municipality Centar, Vladimir Todorovic, announced recently.

The monument of Alexander the Great – the thorny figure in the side of Greek-Macedonian relations, will be created and installed in the centre of Skopje by the end of next year as part of the grandiose Skopje 2014 project, which envisions the construction and renovation of dozens of monuments and buildings in the capital’s downtown area, with the aim of enhancing its appeal and administrative functionality.

The Alexander the Great statue, together with the statues of eight lions, costs 4.5 million euro and the fountain – 3 million euro, Todorovic explained, cited by the Utrinski Vesnik newspaper. The publication commented that if the salaries of the commission members who selected the monument’s maker and her fees are included, its cost would reach 10 million euro. [...]

via Balkan Travellers – Alexander the Great to Sing in the Centre of Macedonia’s Capital.

I wonder how long it will be before someone dyes the water of the fountain red and/or puts dishdetergent in it (the latter might be a Canadian thing)

The Lost Booker: Fire From Heaven Nominated!

Interesting backstory, but here’s the important paragraph:

In the end, though, we chose Mary Renault’s Fire From Heaven, the first volume of her trilogy about Alexander the Great, because it is exciting and vivid and takes you into an alien world; and Nina Bawden’s Birds on the Trees, a story about a middle-class family in crisis, which is so good, and so true, it reminds one why the words “Hampstead novel” used not to be a term of abuse. Who wins the Lost Booker is now in your hands. I’ve no idea which will triumph. All these books are truly fantastic. But if I had to pick one, it would be Troubles. It’s funny, sad, and beautifully written; it’s prescient, wise, original and unexpectedly eccentric. Vote JG, I say. Or, even better, just read him.

Click here to vote for your favourite Lost Booker. The winner will be announced in May.


The Daily Aztec – SPOTLIGHT: Olympic historian digs up ancient arena

Not a Classicist or Classical Archaeologist per se, but an important find at Alexandria Troas … here’s the incipit:

He stood there, unnerved by the thickets and nasty spiders surrounding him. The temperature was more than 100 degrees, but he didn’t care; he had finally found the sphendone. Last summer San Diego State exercise and nutritional sciences professor Robert Mechikoff made this remarkable find.

“It was one of those ‘A-ha!’ moments, and I started yelling and screaming,” he said. “I thought, ‘this is amazing.’”

On the second to last day of fieldwork in Alexandria Troas, Turkey, Mechikoff discovered a sphendone on the stadium he and his colleagues were excavating. The stadium was previously considered to be of Roman origin; however, the finding of the sphendone proved otherwise. A sphendone is a large, curved wall used to separate areas in ancient athletic venues. It is regarded as a unique attribute, only found in Greek structures.

Mechikoff’s discovery confirmed the venue was unquestionably Greek, which was a new and intriguing thought that rocked the historical and archaeological worlds. Mechikoff and his peers were the first people to excavate the site at Alexandria Troas, but with an extensive background in sports antiquity and Olympic history, it’s hardly the first of his impressive accomplishments.

via Olympic historian digs up ancient arena |The Daily Aztec.

A related feature:

Ben Hur Miniseries!

Lost in the mountain of email and on this weekend, apparently… this one’s going to be on CBC but I’m sure it’s on stations around the world … the incipit:

BEN HUR is a gut-wrenching, action-packed drama about the struggle between the Roman Empire and its rebellious conquest Judaea, and two best friends caught in a terrible moment in history. This brand new, Canadian co-produced, two-part miniseries premieres on CBC Television on Easter Sunday, April 4 at 8 p.m. and concludes on Sunday, April 11 at 8 p.m.

Joseph Morgan (Alexander, Master and Commander) stars as Judah Ben Hur and Stephen Campbell Moore (Amazing Grace, The History Boys) is Octavius Messala, life-long friends on the opposite sides of a war for Judaea’s national identity that tests their characters to the maximum.

The stellar international cast also includes Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters, Everwood) as Esther, Hugh Bonneville (Notting Hill, Mansfield Park) as Pontius Pilate,

Ray Winstone (Beowulf, The Departed) as Quintus Arrius, James Faulkner (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Good Shepherd) as Marcellus Agrippa, Alex Kingston (ER, Law & Order: SUV) as Ruth, Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) as Tirzah, Lucia Jimenez (Butterflies and Lightning) as Athene, Ben Cross (Star Trek, Chariots of Fire) as Emperor Tiberius and Kris Holden-Reid (The Tudors, Waking Up Wally: The Walter Gretzky Story) as Gaius.

BEN HUR is a universal, timeless story of a man wrongfully condemned, who becomes an outsider fighting for his identity and survival, gaining revenge and finding his true self again. While the story mirrors the famous 1959 eleven-time Academy Award-winning jewel, starring Charlton Heston, this BEN HUR offers a new dimension, recreating the classical world and its gritty spectacle and psychodrama. Filmed in Morocco this time, instead of a back lot, the production takes viewers to 1st century Jerusalem, a seething, restless melting pot at the end of the Silk Road and the edge of the Roman Empire.

via BEN HUR For The 21st Century New Miniseries Premieres on CBC | Channel Canada.

Citanda: Latomus Revue 68.4

D. ENGELS, Déterminisme historique et perceptions de déchéance sous la république tardive et le principat: p. 859-894.

E. ZAINA, Catulo: la escritura que sale del cuerpo: p. 895-909.

R. J. STARR, Weaving Delays: Dido and Penelope in Vergil, Aeneid IV, 50-53: p. 910-914.

C. PELLEGRINO, La storia di Galatea e Polifemo tra Virgilio e Properzio: p. 915-922.

M. DOMINICY, Notes critiques sur l’élégie IV, 2 de Properce: p. 923-932.

N. HOLZBERG, Ovid, Amores 3, 7: A Poem between Two Genres: p. 933-940.

Th. GÄRTNER, Fortgeschrittener Sittenverfall. Zwei Beispiele für lucanische Sallustrezeption: p. 941-943.

G. FLAMERIE de LACHAPELLE, La clementia chez Sénèque, dans la Consolation à Polybe et dans le De Clementia: permanence et évolution: p. 944-956.

Cr. DOGNINI, Le comunità cristiane e l’impero romano secondo la Prima Lettera di Pietro: p. 957-971.

P. VIPARD, À propos de la dédicace de la basilique du sanctuaire du pagus Catuslouius par P. Magnius Belliger à Bois-l’Abbé (Eu, Seine-Maritime, France): p. 972-980.

A. BAUDOU, Le vol du Palladium, Servius et les événements du IVe siècle après J.-C.: p. 981-996.

M. COLOMBO, La carriera militare di Valentiniano I. Studio letterario e documentario di prosopografia tardoantica: p. 997-1013.

D. PANIAGUA, Solino como fuente exegética en los Commenta Bernensia de Lucano: p. 1014-1026.

R. G. BABCOCK, Heriger or Notger? The Authorship of the Gesta Episcoporum Leodiensium, the Vita Remacli, and the Vita Landoaldi: p. 1027-1049.

C. WOLFF, À propos des conquisitores (Note de lecture. 434): p. 1050-1052.

B. BALDWIN, After the Fox (Hor., Ep. I, 7, 29) (Note de lecture. 435): p. 1052-1053.

Y. BURNAND, Pupus (Note de lecture. 436): p. 1054-1055.

CONF: UK Ancient Historians Meeting

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

The UK Ancient Historians’ Annual Meeting (the ‘Norman Baynes’ meeting) will be held on May 15/16th in Stevenage, Herts*.

The ‘Baynes meeting’ is the one opportunity in the year for all UK ancient historians, whatever their specialism, and whether in post or retired, to meet for both formal and informal discussion. Early-career ancient historians have particularly appreciated the opportunities to get to know other members of the profession and to exchange ideas, and are particularly encouraged to attend.

The event is open both to those with university posts and to others at post-doctoral level. As well as an opportunity to hear and discuss two papers, the meeting provides an excellent opportunity to learn about research projects, forthcoming publications and publishing initiatives, and to discuss other developments and concerns in teaching and research.

The cost (Dinner, bed and breakfast, lunch) will be £90. The cost for non-residents (i.e. only Saturday or only Sunday) will be £30.00. As last year there will be a £5 registration charge. No advance payment is required.

I would appreciate the earliest possible indications of interest (to ro225 AT; firm booking (to me) required by 9 a.m. on Friday May 7th.


Saturday 15 May

3.00 to 4.30 p.m. Defending Ancient History

The current budget squeeze on Universities is bringing both Classics and History departments under threat. This session will give a chance to compare the situation across UK Universities and to consider the best ways of defending the subject.

4.30 pm Tea

5.00-6.30 pm Dan Stewart (Leicester) ‘Sikyon, Pausanias and Historical Topography’

7.30 pm Dinner

Sunday 16 May

9.30-11.00 am Tom Stevenson (University of Queensland) ‘Imaginations of Ancient Rome in Nineteenth Century Historical Novels’

11.00 am Coffee

11.30 -12.30 Information exchange/business meeting

12.30 pm Lunch

The meeting will be held at theHoliday Inn Express Stevenage,DanestreteStevenage,Herts,SG1 1XB. This is less than half a mile from the railway station (on the East Coast mainline), and readily accessible from junction 7 of the A1(M). For directions see:

*Knebworth House, the home of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose Last Days of Pompeii will be discussed by Tom Stevenson, is just two miles from Stevenage and will be open for visiting on either Saturday or Sunday from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

A Cavo Sidero Update

A correspondent writes to ask if there have been any developments in the Cavo Sideo development thing which we mentioned most recently back in November of 2008, so I decided to poke around. The most recent ‘hard news’ on this seems to come from January 2010:

The Environment Ministry has indicated it is unlikely to approve a controversial plan to build a large holiday complex and golf course on the eastern tip of Crete even though a final decision could take some time.

In response to a question from Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MPs, Environment Minister Tina Birbili said the PASOK government is taking into account a decision last year by the Council of State, Greece highest administrative court, to halt the Cavo Sidero scheme. But she said a final decision would not be reached until the government has reviewed the present zoning plan for tourist resorts.

Protesters claim that the project – which would comprise five holiday villages, a string of luxury hotels and three golf courses – would damage the environment and be a heavy drain on water resources. British property developer Minoan Group (formerly Loyalward Limited) insists the 1.2-billion-euro project is environmentally sustainable.

via Cavo Sidero scheme on ice | .

Last month, an item in the Guardian seems somewhat ambiguous on whether the project is going ahead or not, although the government’s position seems to have changed … here’s the incipit:

A British property development company is planning five exclusive holiday villages, a string of “super luxury” hotels, three golf courses and a marina in one of the most remote and ecologically fragile areas of Greece.

The 7,000-bed development planned by Minoan Group on 10 square miles of the arid, windswept Sidero peninsula of north-eastern Crete would be one of the largest tourist developments in the Mediterranean. The £800m project is strongly backed by the Greek government, and the local monastery that owns the land.

But last night, international ecologists and archaeologists said the holiday development would do “immense and permanent damage to a part of Crete which is of European significance”.

Dr Oliver Rackham, professor of historical ecology and master of Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University, who has written a book on the making of the Cretan landscape, said: “The development is grotesquely unsuited to the environment of this part of Greece. This is one of the most arid places in Europe. The development is unsustainable because of the huge amounts of water that will be needed.

via UK firm plans vast resort on fragile coast | Guardian

The latter seems to be connected to numerous stock analysts’ reports of the earnings of Minoan (the company trying to get the development under way) and at least one blogger-analyst (John Levinson) seems to think Greece’s current financial situation might encourage the go-ahead for this one:

The book value of the Cavo Sidero Project was £33.8m and it’s development is a long running saga and proposals for its development including joint ventures are active. Whatever happens to the Greek Government and the financial challenges, Greece will need to encourage foreign investment, so the prospects for this project remain.

… and I suspect he’s right. But we appear to still be in wait-and-see mode on this one.