Kathleen Coleman on Fatal Ambitions

In case you’re at Cambridge a few hours from now:

Professor Kathleen Coleman, Professor of Latin at Harvard University and renowned author on Latin literature and history will give Newnham’s biennial Jane Harrison Memorial Lecture on Friday, 23 April 2010.

She’ll argue that pushy parents and a competitive society driving youngsters to extremes to succeed is far from a modern phenomenon.

Entitled “Fatal ambitions: the hazards of educating the gifted and talented in Ancient Rome”, Professor Coleman will discuss how literary, musical, and athletic contests with special categories for children were imported from Greece to Rome. She’ll reveal how less wealthy classes embraced these competitions, with an eager eye on the advantages to be gained from success, but that even then, some educators worried that the children were being pushed too hard and in some cases, to the grave.

Professor Coleman received her graduate education at Oxford University and joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1998 after a teaching career in Africa and Ireland. She has published extensively in the areas of Latin literature and history. She has also been active in the media, contributing to programmes on the BBC, National Public Radio, the Discovery Channel, Grenada Television, and the History Channel. Professor Coleman was appointed special consultant to Hollywood’s Dreamworks studio when it produced the cinema blockbuster ‘Gladiator’, but she asked for her name to be removed from the film’s credits because she felt her advice wasn’t reflected in it when it was released.

In her lecture she’ll suggest that while precocious children and ambitious parents are a universal phenomenon in advanced societies, culturally specific circumstances were also factors in ancient Rome. With children regarded as mini-adults, and literacy seen as the key to social advancement; Professor Coleman argues that the ability to perform at virtuoso level was one of the hallmarks of Roman culture and that the accompanying pressure to do so blighted the lives of the gifted and talented children of Ancient Rome.

The Newnham Jane Harrison Memorial has been hosted by Newnham since 1928. It was created to honour the memory of Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928) who studied and lectured in Classics at Newnham. She was renowned for her public lectures on Greek art and for her unconventional and outspoken views. As a pioneering female scholar, Harrison was at the centre of a revolution in the study of Greek culture and religion, undermining the conventional view of Greek culture as essentially intellectual and “rational”; while at the same time deploying French anthropological theory in the attempt to understand Greek religion. She wrote on a wide variety of subjects, from Russian language and literature to women’s suffrage and herself.

The Jane Harrison Memorial Lecture: “Fatal Ambitions: The Hazards of Educating the Gifted and Talented in Ancient Rome” will be given in LG17, the Law Faculty, Sidgwick site on Friday 23 April at 5.30pm. All are welcome and no booking is required.

via Pushy parents in a competitive society: how ancient Roman teens had it tough too | Physorg.

PreRoman Tomb from Foligno

Most of the interesting stuff is in the first couple sentences of this one … a sixth-century female burial along with an iron fibula and amber necklace …

Una tomba a tumulo di eta’ preromana e’ stata rinvenuta a Foligno nel corso dei lavori di realizzazione della Variante Nord della citta’; all’interno della tomba e’ stata individuata una sepoltura femminile risalente al VI secolo avanti Cristo. Ritrovato anche il corredo, composto da fibule in ferro, una collana d’ambra, vasellame in impasto…


David Davies on Archaeological Traces of LitTrad

Interesting incipit from the UDallas University paper:

On Thursday, at 7:30 p.m. in the Art History Auditorium, the Rome office gave the third installment of the Rome Walking Tour in Irving, a series of lectures designed to both prepare future Romers for their semester abroad and enhance the Rome experience for past Romers, as well as for people who have never yet gone to Rome. Dr. David Davies of the English and classics departments spoke on “Archaeological Traces of Literary Traditions I: Facts of Fiction.”

Davies began his lecture by holding up a dollar bill and explaining that the eagle on the back is the bird of Zeus, accented with the olive branch and the brace of arrows. That this image appears on the bill is representative of the government’s use of art to speak to the nation. As such, the eagle represents an independent power capable of both peace and war. Also on the back of the dollar bill is the Latin phrase, “Annuit coeptus” – “he has nodded at our beginnings,” a line from the Aeneid describing the foundation of the Roman people.

With this beginning, Davies explained that he wanted to make his audience aware of the many images from the Lit Trad I poems scattered around, specifically in Rome. “The audience of the poems was so captivated that they wanted artistic representations of them to remind them.” Davies said that he wanted to make some suggestions on how to understand these images. Therefore, the first part of his lecture he called “Art, or how to look at it.” First, he cited the example of Pasquino, one of the seven “talking” statues of Rome, a badly worn marble statue which, in the middle ages, Romans would scribble messages near to voice their dissatisfaction with the reigning powers. Davies explained that the guide books will alert the tourist of this story, but will fail to identify the statue as a representation of Menelaus defending the fallen Patroclus. “You have to know the stories from which the artists took their inspiration,” Davies said.

The rest: Davies gives lecture on archaeological traces of Lit Trad I – News.

Citanda: Mary Beard on Ostracism

The incipit of Mary Beard’s latest:

One of the smart ideas of the ancient Athenian democracy was the system of ostracism. If the people wanted to decide between the policies of two different politicians, and they were deadlocked — they had a vote and simply exiled one of them…

More: A Dons Life by Mary Beard – Times Online – A three-cornered election: the ancient Athenian solution.

Romans and Dacians Get Along Just Fine

Just a little fyi tidbit … something may have been lost in translation:

Tens of Romanians established in Italy came to Circo Massimo and in the streets of Rome in order to applaud and encourage the „Dacians” and the „Romans” of the Terra Dacica Aeterna Association in Cluj-Napoca (north-western Romania), who participated in the Natale di Roma history festival that was held over April 16-21.Likewise, many Romanians accompanied the „Dacians” and the „Romans” in Cluj-Napoca to the Trajan’s Column monument, which displays scenes from the wars between the Dacians and the Romans that occurred 19 centuries ago.One of the festival’s important moments was the parade, attended by almost 1,700 participants. They wore costumes identical to the ones worn 2,000 years ago, they marched in the streets of the ancient Rome area and presented their honours to the officials.

via Romanians living in Italy congratulate „Dacians” and „Romans” in Cluj | Financiarul.

Ptolemaic Coin Hoard

Lots of coverage of this one, but all of it very brief:

Archaeologists have uncovered bronze coins bearing the image of ancient Egyptian ruler King Ptolemy III in an oasis south of the capital, the culture ministry announced on Thursday.Also found by the Egyptian team were necklaces made of ostrich eggshell, it said.The 383 items dating back more than 2,250 years were found near Lake Qarun in Fayum oasis, around 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Cairo, the ministry said in a statement, adding that they were in excellent condition.The coins weighed 32 grams (1.12 ounces) each, with one face depicting the god Amun and the other the words “king” and “Ptolemy III” in Greek along with his effigy, the statement said.

Other objects from different periods were also found during the dig, in addition to parts of a whale skeleton around 42 million years old, it added.

The ministry said it was the first time Egyptian archaeologists had found necklaces made from ostrich eggshell at Fayum.

Of Greek origin, the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled from around 330 BC to 30 BC and was Egypt’s last before the country fell under Roman rule. Queen Cleopatra was the dynasty’s final sovereign.

via Egypt unearths coins more than 2,250 years old |Middle East Online.

… we’ll be updating this later with more coverage and any photos I manage to find.

Bulgarian Builder Brouhaha

Kind of surprising that a country so ‘archaeology conscious’ as Bulgaria could have this happen:

Specialists from the Yambol History Museum have prevented the destruction of a valuable archaeological site during road construction in Southeastern Bulgaria.On Monday, employees of the local “Mining Company” started to expand a road running past the Ancient Thrace town of Kabile without a permission from the Tundzha Municipality.

The company also failed to inform the regional history museum of the Yambol District.

As the road construction started, the digging machines destroyed tiles and pottery from the Ancient Thrace settlement within a 50-meter long and several meters wide area along the road in question.

The firm management said it was not aware that it was trying to expand the road through the Kabile Archeaological Reserve. A local resident, however, contacted the Yambol museum, whose director Iliya Iliev reacted immediately.The Yambol Museum is going to refer the case to Bulgaria’s National Institute for Culture Monuments.

The digging machines of the mining company came very close to destroying four graves of Thracian nobles. However, the digging was stopped in time, leaving the graves barely affected.In 341, BC the town of Kabile, a former Neolithic settlement, was founded anew by Philip II of Macedon. It was under the rule of Philip II, Alexander the Great and Lysimachus from 341 BC up to 280 BC, when it came under the control of the Thracian Odrysian kingdom from 280 BC, thus becoming one of the most important cities in Ancient Thrace.

via Bulgaria: Bulgarian Builders Almost Ruin Thrace Archaeology Site | Novinite.com .

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