Classical Barbie

Speaking of Cleopatra (see next post), I was just yakking on Facebook about the existence of a Cleopatra Barbie, news of which my spiders brought me from a blog called comigirl … turns out these things are genuine collectibles. She doesn’t appear to available at Amazon yet (click the comigirl link to see this Cleo), but there are a number which might be of interest, including a Barbie of Liz Taylor as Cleopatra:

… and a Medusa Barbie (if you’ve got 500.00+ dollars):

… and an Aphrodite Barbie (cheap at almost 300 bucks:

… and Athena Barbie (cheapest of them all … less than 200 bucks:

… not sure if Princess of Ancient Greece Barbie counts (she’s really cheap):

… no Artemis Barbie? No Amazon Barbie? No Gladiatrix Barbie?

ADDENDUM (an hour or so later): See, this is why folks have to be all over social media … turns out one of my Twitter followers (Liz Gloyn) is a Ph.D. candidate who works — in her ‘spare time’ —  on the ‘reception’ side of these Classical Barbies and has even written a paper on the subject, which you can access from her page at Academia.edu:

Yet Another Cleo Biography

Theda-bara-cleopatra detail
Image via Wikipedia

From an interview in the New York Times:

Gail Collins: Your new biography of Cleopatra is coming out this fall, right? I’m reading it, and I’m pretty sure that from now on, whenever I hear elected officials complain about the treachery of their opponents, I’m just going to say: “Ha! You should try being queen of Egypt in 40 B.C.”

Stacy Schiff: Red and blue states were nothing to a woman who not only played to two radically different constituencies but also knew she could be removed by Rome, deposed by her subjects, undermined by her advisers — or stabbed, poisoned and dismembered by her own family. On the other hand, Cleopatra had one great advantage. She lived at a time when female sovereigns were not anomalies. And when women enjoyed rights they would not again enjoy for another 2,000 years. You could call them early feminists, if I may use a dirty word.

via Of Mama Grizzly Born? – Opinionator Blog – NYTimes.com.

I think it might be time we declared a moratorium on books about Cleopatra … a quick glance through Amazon shows from the past couple of years:

  • Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend by Joann Fletcher
  • Antony and Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff (the above-mentioned one presumable)
  • Cleopatra: A Biography by Duane Roller
  • Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World by Diana Preston (I’ve got a review of this on one of my laptops … I should post it)
  • Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley

… then again, this one coming out in a few weeks makes one go hmmmm when one sees the authors:

  • Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt by Zahi A. Hawass and Franck Goddio

(i.e. not someone from the Dominican Republic)

Pausulae Discovered?

From Adnkronos:

Aerial photos taken on Monday from a police surveillance plane have revealed what is believed to be a large ancient Roman settlement near the eastern Italian city of Macerata.

Archaeologists say the site could be part of the mysterious city of Pausulae. The city is described by 1st century AD historian Pliny The Elder, and is believed to date from the late 2nd century BC.

Archaeologists from the surrounding Marche region identified from the photos a sprawling 20 hectare site criss-crossed by roads, with dwellings and buildings containing quadrangles and columns.

Thick walls enclose the settlement which is located in a river valley.

Earlier this year in nearby Cittareale in the neighbouring region of Lazio, an international team of archaeologists claimed to have unearthed the 2000-year-old birthplace of the early Roman emperor, Vespasian.

via: Italy: Ancient Roman settlement ‘discovered’

What Pliny says (3.13.11 via Lacus Curtius):

Cupra oppidum, Castellum Firmanorum et super id colonia Asculum, Piceni nobilissima intus, Novana. in ora Cluana, Potentia, Numana a Siculis condita, ab iisdem colonia Ancona, adposita promunturio Cunero in ipso flectentis se orae cubito, a Gargano CLXXXIII. intus Auximates, Beregrani, Cingulani, Cuprenses cognomine Montani, Falerienses, Pausulani, Planinenses, Ricinenses, Septempedani, Tolentinates, Traienses, Urbesalvia Pollentini.

Just for orientation purposes, the Auximates presumably inhabited Auximum, which is the modern Osimo … modern Macerata is in the right general area …

Other coverage:

Statue of Liberty … from Perge?

One of the reasons for the paucity of posts over the past while was that I was in a very low/expensive bandwidth situation which didn’t give me the luxury of checking stories which landed in my mailbox. This excerpt from some sort of travel site is a prime example:

This in itself would be reason enough to visit Perge, and the many other ancient discoveries in Turkey but the added intrigue of Perge’s “Statue of Liberty” makes a trip there irresistible. Carved into a tall column, the three-dimensional figure bears an uncanny resemblance to New York’s own, including a crown and a torch held high and, as same as the American “lady,” a sword instead of a tablet of law. And, the similarities make sense because it turns out that Frederic Bartholdi’s inspiration for American Statue of Liberty was none other than the Roman deity, Libertas, the goddess of freedom. Could it be that Perge’s figure, with her distinctive pose and characteristics, became the model all the “Lady Liberties” down through the ages?

via: Are The Origins Of America’s Statue Of Liberty To Be Found In Turkey? Recent Discovery of Figure on Ancient Column in Perge Leads to Speculation

The vagueness of the date of the ‘discovery’ is what I wanted to check and I really can’t go much better than “recent”. The ‘official’ Turkish tourism site includes similarly undated info:

The roots of the famous ‘Statue of Liberty’ emerged from the ancient site Perge in Antalya. A statue that was realised on one of the columns turned out to be very similar to the ‘Statue of Liberty’.The roots of the ‘Statue of Liberty’ go back to an ancient statue that was excavated in the ancient site Perge. It was found out that a statue on one of the columns decorating the ancient site is very similar to the ‘Statue of Liberty’. This column which was discovered after the excavations have started, has gained a lot of interest.The statue holding a torch in his hand and with its nine bars resemble the ‘Statue of Liberty’ incredibly. During a visit to Perge by the Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay, got a promise for lifting the columns. When the columns have been lifted, the figure of the ‘Statue of Liberty’ came out clearly.

… and a photo:

Judging from other finds mentioned on the page, the find was made in the past year, so it seems unlikely that the Perge depiction of Libertas was the direct influence for the thing in New York’s harbour. Other than that, the Wikipedia article on the various influences that came together in the modern sculpture are interesting (especially the detail that it was originally designed to be sporting a pileus, which was shot down as ‘abolitionist’).

Did Pertinax Sleep at Lullingstone Roman Villa?

Marble bust of emperor Pertinax, 193AD. Vatica...
Image via Wikipedia

An uncharacteristically-not-sensational item from the Daily Mail:

Historians are becoming increasingly convinced that a villa uncovered 20 miles from London was once home to Britain’s Roman Governor.

Since Lullingstone Roman Villa was first uncovered in the 1930s experts believed it was once the home of a leading Roman or wealthy Briton, but archaeologists were unsure of the owner’s identity.

Now experts have re-examined treasures found at the site, near Orpington in Kent, and say it was almost certainly the home of Publius Helvius Pertinax.

He was governor of Britain between AD185 and 186 and went on to become Roman Emperor in AD193.

A high-quality intaglio, or seal, found just outside the villa during excavation is now believed to have been the Governor’s personal seal.

This finely-engraved victory gem was found next to some discarded coins.

The governor is known to have fled the villa at the end of the second century amid a mutiny by his soldiers. The men then looted it for gold and silver.

Roman experts believe the looters prised the seal from a gold signet ring and then left it behind as worthless. There are signs the seal has been gouged with a knife.

Historians also say two portrait busts left behind were of the governor and, almost certainly, his father.

The one of Pertinax was left decapitated in an act of spite, probably carried out by an enraged soldier.

Joanne Gray, English Heritage curator of Lullingstone, said: ‘We have always known that the site must have belonged to someone of high status because of its size, the quality of its mosaic floor and the archaeological finds.

‘The image on the seal is one of victory. It is an image often used by Romans as a sign of imperial power.’

She said the research had been carried out by archaeologists Martin Henig, who lectures in Roman art and culture at Oxford University, and German archaeologist Richard de Kind.

Mrs Gray said: ‘The research that has been done points quite strongly to Lullingstone being the home of Britain’s governor. Everything seems to fit.’

Visitors to the villa, near the village of Eynsford, can still view the basement and foundation walls of the villa.

We should note that Martin Henig published an article about the above-mentioned seal associated with Pertinax:

… available for an incredible exhorbitant price from Ingenta Connect (as often) …

Templum Pacis to Come to Light! (and more!?)

This is potentially very exciting and I’m surprised it hasn’t been picked up by more English press coverage … the conclusion to a  Rossella Lorenzi piece at Discovery News:

The centerpiece of the Forum of Peace was indeed the temple. Built in 71-75 A.D by Vespasian, the Temple of Peace celebrated the brutal pacification of the Jews and the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Tons of gold, silver trumpets and gold candelabra were plundered from the Jerusalem temple and paraded through Rome’ streets in triumph.

The moment was captured in a frieze carved into the Arch of Vespasian’s son, Titus, which clearly shows the menorah, the seven-branched temple candelabra that was the symbol of ancient Judaism, being exposed through the streets.

Between 75 A.D. and the early 5th century, the treasure, which helped finance the building of the Colosseum, was put on public display right in the Temple of Peace.

Although it is unlikely that fragments from the treasure are unearthed, the archaeologists hope to bring to light other precious remains from the Forum of Peace.

A space for culture and meditation adorned with a gallery of sculptures which had previously occupied Nero’s Golden Palace, the area featured a beautiful garden and large library, with a section entirely dedicated to medicine.

“We have recently found some of the foundation on which Nero’s sculptures stood. They bear the signatures of the artist who carved them,” said Rea.

“We might find some items related to the library, such as the bronze or ivory statuettes which portrayed the authors of the books and marked the various sections of the library. We also hope to recover some other fragments of the Forma Urbis map,” Rea added.

Ancient Roman Map Puzzle May Get New Pieces | Discovery News

The first bit of the piece focusses on the mentioned possibility of finding more fragments of the Forma Urbis (which was attached to the temple).

Other coverage:

d.m. Bernard Knox

From the New York Times:

Bernard M. W. Knox, an authority on the works of Sophocles, a prolific scholar and the founding director of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, died July 22 at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 95.

The cause was a heart attack, said his son, MacGregor.

An American born and raised in Britain, Bernard Knox led a life as richly textured as the classics he interpreted for modern readers. After studying classics at Cambridge, he fought with the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. While serving in the United States Army during World War II, he parachuted into France to work with the resistance and went on to join the partisans in Italy.

Returning to the United States with a Bronze Star and the Croix de Guerre, he resumed his study of the classics at Yale, where he earned a doctorate in 1948 and taught, becoming a full professor in 1959. In 1961, he was asked to lead the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, a Harvard affiliate, whose directorship he held until 1985.

His first book, which established his reputation, was “Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles’ Tragic Hero and His Time.” Originally published in 1957 by Yale University Press, it remains in print in a new 1998 edition, as do several of his other books.

Notable among those is a landmark anthology he edited with college students as well as general readers in mind, “The Norton Book of Classical Literature” (1993).

He also wrote introductions for Robert Fagles’s new translations of Homer’s “Iliad” (1991) and “Odyssey” (2002) and Virgil’s “Aeneid” (2006).

Professor Knox was admired for the clear and powerful prose he brought to his essays, many of them published in general-interest magazines like The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and The New York Review of Books.

They remain required reading in college courses on Greek and Roman literature and were collected in “The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy” (1964), “Word and Action: Essays on the Ancient Theater” (1980), “Essays Ancient and Modern” (1989), “The Oldest Dead White European Males and Other Reflections on the Classics” (1993) and “Backing Into the Future: The Classical Tradition and Its Renewal” (1994).

Bernard MacGregor Walker Knox was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on Nov. 24, 1914. He studied classics at St. John’s College, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1936. Spurred by the rise of Mussolini and Hitler, he had committed himself to the political left well before that.

He spent vacations in Paris, staying in cheap hotels, becoming fluent in French and befriending fellow students marching against fascism for the Popular Front. When civil war broke out in Spain, he joined a machine-gun unit of the French Battalion of the 11th International Brigade, fighting on the northwest sector of the Madrid front. He described his experiences in “Premature Anti-Fascist,” a lecture delivered in 1998 at New York University.

In 1939, he married Betty Baur, an American he had met in Cambridge, and began teaching Latin at a private school in Greenwich, Conn. His wife died in 2006. In addition to his son, MacGregor, of London, he is survived by a sister, Elizabeth L. Campbell of Chapel Hill, N.C., and two grandchildren.

Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army, where he trained as an aircraft armorer and, after attending officer training school, returned to Britain in 1943 as an air defense officer at a B-17 bomber base.

He found the duty boring and approached the Office of Strategic Services, which took note of his fluent French and assigned him to an operations unit, despite his history with the international brigades in Spain.

After training as a parachutist, he fought with a special force organized by the O.S.S., the British and the Free French to coordinate elements of the French Resistance with advancing Allied troops after the Normandy invasion. He also instructed members of the French Maquis in the use of explosives.

The O.S.S. later sent him into northern Italy for an equally dangerous mission with the Italian underground, and it was there that he rekindled his passion for the classics. Holed up in an abandoned villa, he discovered a bound copy of Virgil and opened it to a section of the first Georgic that begins, “Here right and wrong are reversed; so many wars in the world, so many faces of evil.”

Professor Knox recalled, in “Essays Ancient and Modern,” “These lines, written some 30 years before the birth of Christ, expressed, more directly and passionately than any modern statement I knew of, the reality of the world I was living in: the shell-pocked, mine-infested fields, the shattered cities and the starving population of that Italy Virgil so loved, the misery of the whole world at war.”

He continued, “As we ran and crawled through the rubble I thought to myself: ‘If I ever get out of this, I’m going back to the classics and study them seriously.’ ”

Professor Knox’s many honorary degrees and distinctions included the George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism in 1977, given for a review-essay in The New York Review of Books on Andrei Serban’s production of “Agamemnon” at Lincoln Center; the Charles Frankel Prize of the National Endowment of the Humanities, in 1990; and the Jefferson Medal of the Philosophical Society of America in 2004.

The Frankel Prize, awarded for contributing to the public’s understanding of the humanities, cited his books on Greek culture written for a general audience. In 1992, the National Council on the Humanities chose Professor Knox to deliver its yearly Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.

In his later years, he found himself defending classical learning against the champions of multiculturalism.

“There is a sort of general feeling among radicals that the whole of the Western tradition — and the Greeks are the heart of that tradition — is something that has to be repudiated,” he told The Washington Post in 1992. “I feel appalled. God knows what the world would be like if we were all brought up on the stuff they’d like us to read.”

via: Bernard Knox, 95, Classics Scholar, Dies | New York Times

Classical Ink II

None of you classically-inked types have taken up my request for submissions of your bodyart yet, so we’ll post one that showed up in another blog (tip o’ the pileus to Francesca Tronchin via Twitter for this one):

via archaeopop

That one is from Archaeopop, which is always worth a look …

As long as we’re talking ink, I should mention a couple of examples of ‘bad latin’ in tattoos which I caught my eye on my recent sojourn to Calgary (which has considerably less ink than Hamilton, Ontario … and more teeth too). T’other night, e.g., we were taking in the Calgary Stampeders’ annihilation of the Edmonton Eskimos while seated beside someone who — among other bits of bodyart — had “Ago celer” on his forearm. I suppose he wants to say “I drive fast”, and technically this isn’t incorrect, per se, but it really means “I drive as a fast man” … “celeriter” would have been a better word choice (I was tempted to suggest he add that on, but it would have ruined the symmetry of the text). Of course, it might mean “I do it as a fast man”, which might have connotations one wouldn’t want permanently inscribed on their forearm.

The other bit of ink that caught my eye was on a nipple-pierced fellow ‘taker of the waters’ at the hotsprings pool in Banff, Alberta. This guy was sporting the phrase ‘memento moris’ (it might have been ‘mortis’ … it was a really elaborate font … when he drove past us later with his arm hanging out the window, I still couldn’t make it out) … now did that guy think he was having “memento mori” tattooed? Or did he really intend to have the genitive of either ‘death’ or ‘custom’? And while there probably is some disagreement among folks whether “mori” is just the infinitive (and possibly accusative) or whether it is an abbreviation of something like ‘te moriturum’, I really can’t make sense of this particular tattoo … does ‘memento’ ever take the genitive?

Classical Role Models?

An account of the opening of a new high school in Fontana, California includes the following excerpt:

“This will have a positive impact across the district,” said Fontana Unified

Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks. “It will relieve overcrowding at Fontana High and benefit students instructionally.”

The mostly indoor campus is organized under a Greek theme.

Teachers will be known as philosophers, the library is named Socrates Gallery and the social area is Zeus’ Lounge.

“Our goal is to emphasize learning at the highest level,” Uribe said.

To make sure students do well, the learning culture will focus on both enrichment and intervention.

via Socrates? He’s here – San Bernardino County Sun.

I guess the Socrates thing works, but considering Zeus’ amorous proclivities, is the naming of the social lounge intended to be ‘inspirational’ or just an admission of what goes on there?

Sharing Ancient Wisdoms Project

King's College London
Image via Wikipedia

… looks interesting … here’s an excerpt from the project’s webpage:

With the support of a team at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, and the Cente for e-Research at King’s, Charlotte Roueché will be working with experts on such collections in Greek (Denis Searby, of Uppsala) and in Arabic (Stephan Prochazka and Elvira Wakelnig, of Vienna). The aim is to publish several collections online, using technology to express and display their relationships – with the ancient texts on which they drew, with later texts which drew on them, and also with one another, since collections were frequently translated.

via Sharing Ancient Wisdoms :King’s College London.