Protecting a Greek Shipwreck

Very interesting item buried in my email from last week:

The second century Greek trading vessel lies on the sea bed off the coast of Cavtat.

Little remains of the wooden ship but its cargo of earthenware amphora – ceramic vases – still remain stacked row upon row.

The vases, which originally contained olive oil and wine, are still tightly packed into the cargo hold as they were centuries ago.

Its cargo – one of the best preserved from an ancient wreck – has great historical significance and has an estimated value of £5m on the black market.

Croatian authorities are so concerned about looters plundering the valuable artefacts they have now protected the site – with a metal cage.

The heavy-duty cage features a large hinged door, which is kept locked with occasional access granted for divers under strict supervision.

Underwater photographer Neil Hope, of Torpoint in Cornwall, was among those given permission to dive the wreck.

He said: ”I’m an experienced diver and I’ve dived wrecks all over the world, but this was the most unique experience.

”I was taken down there by the man who discovered it. As soon as we were finished they closed the door and locked it up again.

”Obviously when you are inside you can’t touch any of the cargo as it is very valuable, so they don’t just let anyone inside the cage.

”You need excellent buoyancy skills so you’re not damaging these valuable things.”

He was working on an assignment for the British Sub-Aqua Club’s (BS-AC) DIVE magazine.

via Underwater ‘safe’ protects £5m shipwreck treasures | Telegraph.

Hmmm … very interesting. I can’t find that we’ve mentioned this shipwreck find before and it’s very interesting that we don’t seem to hear of any archaeologists in this report. FWIW, another shipwreck find in this general area seems to be under a cloak of secrecy: that Boka Kotorska wreck off Montenegro.

UPDATE: (a couple of weeks later) … an item from ABC suggests this really isn’t a ‘protection’ project, but the focus is actually dive-tourism (not a bad thing, but a different sort of impression than the original provides):

Poptropica’s Mythology Island

I’m not sure what Poptropica is, but it seems to be some sort of online role-playing environment aimed at the younger set (and seems to be something folks have to pay to access) . They’re currently hyping something called ‘Mythology Island’ via Youtube:

… if you actually go to Youtube, there will be more videos in the sidebar. I couldn’t find out much more info at the Poptropica site itself, alas, so I don’t know if this is even available to the general public yet.

The Oracle at Rantidi!

I always like when really ‘obscure’ stuff shows up in the news … here’s the incipit of an item in the Pacific Northwest Inlander:

There’s a rock off the southwestern tip of Cyprus that juts out of the sea. You can get there on the B6, a windy coastal road hewn out of rock in the age of dynamite and tourism.

Before the B6, though, at the dawn of myth — back when the gods of the Greek pantheon had just barely started sleeping together and stabbing each other in the back — the goddess whom Greeks would call Aphrodite was birthed out of the sea at that rock.

It’s the scene you see in Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” (another of Aphrodite’s many names): the Paltrow-esque beauty, nude, rising from a clamshell.

Just a few kilometers north — back across the road, past Aphrodite Hills (a mega-resort named “Best Spa in Europe” in 2008) and up the rocky, asp-infested tumble of Rantidi Forest — sits the oracular sanctuary of Aphrodite’s young lover, Adonis.

Ancient accounts of the Oracle at Rantidi put its importance on a par with the Oracle at Delphi — the oracle that predicted the destruction of Lydia and sent Socrates on his quest for knowledge.

Rantidi was a big deal to the ancients, but it was lost to the modern world until 1910, when it was discovered and partially excavated, then lost again.

The next person to find it was EWU’s Georgia Bonnie Bazemore.

via The Oracle at Cheney.

The item goes on to talk about the talk, which focussed more on efforts by EWU to establish a campus in Cyprus. Whatever the case, the oracle at Rantidi is probably unknown to a lot of the learned readers of this blog, so I decided to see what I could find on the Interwebs and I was plenty surprised to find a link to a pdf from the New York Times of February 12, 1911 reporting on “The God’s Clubhouse Has Been Found in Cyprus” (if that link doesn’t work, try starting from here), which tells of the various shrines which had been found there at the beginning of the previous century. Other than that, though, I wasn’t too surprised to find that most of what’s on the web (that seems reliable) about Rantidi comes from the efforts of the aforementioned Professor Bazemore at the Rantidi Forest page of the Ancient Cyprus Web, which links to other pages documenting EWU’s efforts there.

Princeton’s ’10 Latin Salutatorian

Princeton University
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David Karp ’10 has been named this year’s valedictorian, and Marguerite Colson ’10 has been selected as Latin salutatorian, Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel announced at the faculty meeting on Monday.


A history major who has excelled at Latin during her time at the University, Colson is the highest-ranking senior in her department and is ranked 14th in her class overall with 22 A’s and A-pluses after seven terms. Upon learning about her selection as salutatorian, “I was totally shocked,” Colson said.

Colson’s family was thrilled to learn that she had received the honor, she said. “They were really excited, though some of them didn’t even know who the salutatorian was,” she noted, explaining that the confusion may have arisen because the title often refers to the student with the second-highest GPA in the class.

Colson attributed her success at the University to not putting excessive academic pressure on herself. “The idea of finding a balance — I can’t even pretend that I’ve spent every moment in a library,” she said. “I’ve had a ton of fun here; I have a great group of friends; I’m in an eating club. I guess these are all things that I feel like make me like the place as much as I do … If I went to a place that put a 100 percent emphasis on academics, I don’t think I would have thrived there.” Colson is a member of Ivy Club.

She was awarded the Quin Morton ’36 Writing Seminar Essay Prize and is a fellow at the Writing Center. For her senior thesis, Colson researched former secretary of state Edward Stettinius’s role in establishing the United Nations.

Classics professor Denis Feeney, who taught Colson in a course on Virgil’s “Aeneid,” described her as a valuable member of the class.

“I came to rely on her pointed and incisive interventions,” he said in a statement that Malkiel read at the faculty meeting. “She displayed a remarkable critical maturity; together with her highly impressive language skills, this marked her out as one of the very best Latin students it has been my pleasure to teach in 10 years at Princeton.”

Colson is also a Community House volunteer at the Princeton Nursery School and tutors English as a second language. After graduation she will work at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as a Princeton Project 55 fellow.

Karp and Colson will speak at Commencement on June 1.

via Karp ’10 named valedictorian – The Daily Princetonian.

-ad Rem

Dunciad Book II 1760 illustration, showing the...

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Scripsit Gary Dexter in the Telegraph:

The Iliad got its title because the ancient name for Troy was ‘Ilion’, and the suffix -ad tended to denote poems. So far, so straightforward. For 25 centuries this cornerstone of western culture remained largely untampered-with – and then along came Alexander Pope. With his Dunciad, a mock-heroic polemic against ‘Dulness’, he unleashed a literary frenzy. Imitators produced Thespiads, Scribleriads, Rosciads, and Dorriads. There were epic poems in praise or damnation of a particular activity, such as the Golfiad, Chessiad, Beeriad, or Ballooniad; of particular places, such as the Indiad, Hiberniad, Helvetiad, and with marvellous bathos, Sudburiad; or of particular persons, such as the Pittiad, Hamiltoniad, and (most ridiculously) the Sarah-ad, in reference to the Duchess of Marlborough. One of 1874 perhaps sums up the genre: it was the political satire The Siliad, by Grenville Murray.

via Title Deed: How the Book Got its Name | Telegraph.

Interesting bit, but a minor quibble on the 25 centuries thing … I believe (and correct me if I’m wrong, please) that this supposed ‘suffix -ad’ thing is sort of glossing over the fact that we’re dealing with the Latin genitive form of Ilias (which is what the poem is referred to in Greek), which would cut a few centuries off that 25 on its own and technically ‘Iliad’ wasn’t used as a ‘title’ per se (i.e. ‘the Iliad) until Renaissance times … so five or six centuries, tops, no? Outside of that, I’ve always wondered why ‘The Odyssey’ and not something like ‘Odysseid’ …

Unvirtuous Virtus in Virginia?

Image by themaxsons via Flickr

The incipit of a piece from the Pilot:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli apparently isn’t fond of wardrobe malfunctions, even when Virginia’s state seal is involved.

The seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus, or virtue, wearing a blue tunic draped over one shoulder, her left breast exposed. But on the new lapel pins Cuccinelli recently handed out to his staff, Virtus’ bosom is covered by an armored breastplate.

When the new design came up at a staff meeting, workers in attendance said Cuccinelli joked that it converts a risqué image into a PG one.

The joke might be on him, said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

“When you ask to be ridiculed, it usually happens. And it will happen here, nationally,” he said. “This is classical art, for goodness’ sake.”

via Cuccinelli opts for more modest state seal | |

… I seem to recall a similar ‘revesting’ of some divinity on some state or city seal or crest a while ago, but can’t seem to retrieve it from memory or search engine … personally, I find it rather more interesting that Virtus might be depicted as an Amazonish figure, trampling the tyrant ‘semper sicced’ — the Wikipedia page on the seal (which features some other Roman divinities on the reverse) is one of those ones which has a ‘not appropriate tone’ warning, but it’s an interesting description of all that’s going on in the seal. Whatever the case, the Pilot article has a picture of the  ‘more modest’ Virtus depiction.

UPDATE (a few days later): Cucinelli backed down on his proposal:

Ancient Drama ‘In an Hour’

Here’s an interesting tidbit:

The publishing house Smith & Kraus perhaps has the answer. It has recently launched a series titled “Playwrights in an Hour” that consists of 27 slim volumes dedicated to different dramatists. The series — a kind of Red Bull for theater buffs — covers Western writers from Shakespeare and Moliere to August Wilson and Theresa Rebeck.
Authored by a diverse group of academics and theater professionals, “Playwrights in an Hour” is intended to offer readers a “a brief, highly focused accounting of the playwright’s life and work,” writes the late UCLA drama professor Carl Mueller, who penned some of the volumes.
>Each book contains a 30- to 40-page essay covering the highlights of the playwright’s life and situating his or her works in a biographical context. The essay is followed by excerpts from notable plays in the writer’s body of work.  […]

via A new cheatsheet for theater buffs | Los Angeles Times.

Zipping over to S&K’s website, we note that the volumes for Euripides, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, and Sophocles are now available. Here’s the blurb, e.g., from the Aeschylus page:

A thirty-five-year-old Aeschylus enlisted in the Athenian army and fought in the battle of Marathon (490 BCE) and Salamis (480 BCE). These battles were not only the prelude to Athenian military hegemony in the region but also to Athenian cultural dominance. Aeschylus himself would be part of that cultural revolution. Writing the great masterpiece, Oresteia, he took up a theme that first dawned on him at Salamis: the deep wisdom of the eternal justice which rules the world, as Thucydides wrote.

Setting the playwright in context to his personal life, social, historical and political events, other writers of influence, and more, you will quickly gain a deep understanding of Aeschylus and the plays he wrote. Read Aeschylus in an Hour and experience his plays like never before. Know the playwright, love the play!

Potentially useful in a first- or second-year class?

Also Seen: Florida Marlins Classics (?)

FWIW … the Marlins are a baseball team, but I suspect the conversation mentioned below is not confined to athletic contexts:

And John Baker once played William Wallace in an Albequerque Isotopes’ remake of Braveheart (oh, you’ll find it worth watching), though that isn’t all: he also enjoyed Greek philosopher Plato‘s bookRepublic over the weekend in Denver, which prompted the following hilarious conversation reported by Clark Spencer:

“It reminds me of college, when people are like hammered and arguing…It’s amazing that this is written in the fourth century B.C., because it just sounds normal, like normal arguments. Is it better to be selfish and look out for yourself, and make sure all your stuff is taken care of? Or is it better to do right by your fellow human beings? And that’s what the first book is about.

“Plato, via Socrates, argues that it’s better to be just than unjust. And the other guy argues that it doesn’t matter. Unjust is stronger than the just, that just people are weaker.”

At this point in the conversation, Wes Helms walks past, gives Baker the look, and wants to know “what the heck” Baker is talking about.

Helms: “I don’t read books.”

Baker: “I’m reading Plato.”

Helms (assuming Baker meant “Play Doh”): “I played with that when I was a kid.”

via Wes Helms Cares Not For Your Ancient Greek Philosophy | NBC Miami.