On Scones in Virgil

Interesting item mentioned in passing in the Record, inter alia:

Scones are to the British what bagels are to New Yorkers. Food historians say that scones actually originated in Scotland, first appearing in a 1513 Scottish poet’s translation of Virgil’s “The Aeneid.” In other words, these quick breads have been around a long time.

via: Bounty of baked goods in Pompton Lakes

Presumably this is Gavin Douglas‘ translation of the Eneados … I can’t seem to find the word ‘scone’ in either volume one or two at Googlebooks, but it uses those ‘long s’es (i.e. the one that looks like an f … fcone doesn’t work, just in case you were wondering).

UPDATE (the next day): Tip o’ the pileus to Neils Grotum and David Smart who tracked down the OED reference and from that found the appropriate section; as one might have reasonable guess, it’s the ‘table-eating’ bit from book seven (VII ii 9-28 according to the OED):

Eneas, and othir chiftanys gloryus,
And the fresch lusty springald Ascanius,
Vndre the branchis of a semly tre
Gan lenyng dovn, and rest thar bodeys fre,
And to thar dyner dyd thame all adres
On grene herbis and sonkis of soft gers:
The flowr sconnys war set in, by and by,
With othir mesis, sik as war reddy;
Syne bred trynschouris dyd thai fyl and charge
With wild scrabbis and other frutis large.
Betyd, as was the will of Jupiter,
For falt of fude constrenyt so thai war,
The other metis all consumyt and done,
The paryngis of thar bred to mowp vp sone,
And with thar handis brek, and chaftis gnaw,
The crustis, and the coffyngis all on raw;
Ne spar thai not at last, for lake of met,
Thar fatale four nukit trynschour forto eyt.
Och ! quod Ascanius, quhou is this befall ?
Behald, we eyt dur tabillis vp and all !

Here’s the page via Google Books

Scaffold Comes Off Athena Nike

From AFP:

Builders have completed another stage of restoration of the Acropolis in Athens with the removal of scaffolding from the temple of Athena Nike, the head of renovation efforts said Friday.

“The entrance to the Acropolis is free of all scaffolding, a sight not seen since the end of the 1970s,” Maria Ioannidou said, urging tourists to take advantage of it before more work begins on the Parthenon.

Overlooking the Propylaea, the small Ionic monument was the last site to be restored under a project which started in 2001 at a total cost of 42.6 million euros (54.7 million dollars).

Work on the temple, which required dismantling it, was delayed by damage to its marbles — inflicted over time and during 19th century restorations.

Separate restorations of the Propylaea and Parthenon were completed in December and May respectively.

But the Parthenon will again be covered in scaffolding and surrounded by cranes for work on its western part to transfer six metopes, or sculptured marble blocks, threatened by pollution, to the Acropolis museum.

The Greek government promised in May to continue the restoration, despite a crippling financial crisis, with the help of European funds.

Ioannidou estimates that archaeologists have at least a decade of work ahead of them.

The buildings on the Acropolis, the hill overlooking Athens, date from the fifth century BC, a golden era for Athenian democracy, under leader Pericles.

via: Greece’s Temple of Athena Nike restoration complete | AFP via Google

Cleopatra Claim du Jour

My spiders bring me back piles of things which are claimed about Cleo … I’ve decided I might as well share them in the hopes someone might be able to point to a source. We’ll start the series off with this one (inter alia, of course):

Just talking about lice makes most of us start scratching our heads, but don’t let lice get your child down. Lice doesn’t play favorites; even Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, had her own golden lice comb.

Source? (Or did Cleo shave her head an wear a wig?)

Royal Burials at Peperikon?

From Novinite:

Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov has discovered two tombs of Ancient Thracian rulers near the famous rock city and sanctuary of Perperikon.

The tombs are dated to 1100-1000 BC judging by the pottery and ceramics found in them, which are characteristic of the later Bronze Age and the early Iron Age.

One of the most interesting finds in the tombs is a bronze coin with the face of Emperor Alexander the Great, dated to the 4th century BC. Prof. Ovcharov believes this is a clear evidence that the tomb was venerated as a shrine by the Thracians in the Antiquity for a long time after its original creation.

The archaeological team stumbled across the two tombs as they were working on diverting a tourist path away from a spot of excavations at Perperikon, the holy city of the Thracians.

The tombs are situation in an east-west direction, with the buried notable facing the rising sun, a clear sign of a sun cult.

The excavations have revealed ritual hearths and others signs of sacrifices that were connected with the traditions of venerating the dead as godly creatures.

via: Top Bulgarian Archaeologist Stumbles Upon 2 Ancient Thrace Tombs

The coverage of this one includes a photo of the tomb … here’s the version from Novinite:

via novinite

See also the one from Standart:

from Standart

Now the report does mention the tomb was ‘stumbled’ upon, and clearly this doesn’t look like a conventional tomb (entrance?), but it’s certainly ‘different’, so how come no one seems to have been curious about this before? (perhaps it was buried?)

See also:

Thracian Ruler Buried in Perperikon 3000 Years Ago | Standart

In Case the Squirrels in Your Area are Hungry …

The subject line is pretty much all the commentary this one needs, although I’m still trying to figure out how the subject of the talk mentioned connects to the info given in the last line:

An attempt to track down the mythical city of Atlantis – the perennial debate – will be made during a talk on Saturday that should attract the believers and the sceptics alike.

Delivered by medical historian Charles Savona-Ventura, Malta: Echoes Of Plato’s Island Atlantis is a review of the story of the destroyed city state and attempts to narrow down its location, correlating the Classical Atlantis texts to the archaeological, biogeographical and geological features of the Maltese-pelagic archipelago during the Copper Age period.

In his paper, Prof. Savona-Ventura maintains that “all the evidence seems to support the fact that some historical reality lies behind Plato’s story”, which traced the catastrophic event that affected the Mediterranean world.

The possible locality for Atlantis has been hotly debated and Prof. Savona-Venture says the problem lies with interpreting Plato’s description about “an island situated in front of the straits which are… called the Pillars of Hercules”. Today, many assume that these refer to the Straits of Gibraltar but Classical writers confirm their presence in the Gulf of Sidra, off the Northern coast of Africa, placing Plato’s island right in the middle of the Mediterranean, straddling two seas.

In his talk, the author points out that the ideal candidates for the remnants of Atlantis are the Maltese and Pelagian islands. He presents his research to prove the point, including geological and biogeographical evidence that suggests the central Mediterranean region south of Sicily was once composed of a large landmass.

Prof. Savona-Ventura explains how this landmass was broken up and submerged by a series of massive volcanic eruptions and tectonic movements, probably in the late centuries of the third millennium BC, leaving only fragments in the form of the Maltese archipelago and the Pelagian islands.

“A strong case can be further made to culturally associate these islands with Plato’s Atlantikos,” he says. In fact, his talk highlights that many features of Malta’s megalithic culture have close parallels to the culture attributed by Plato to “the Atlantoi of Atlantikos”.

The talk is being organised to raise funds to purchase a defibrillator for the Special Rescue Group’s ambulance. It will be held at the Dolmen Hotel in Buġibba at 7.30 p.m.

Cupid Cameo from the City of David

Not sure why I can’t find this up at the IAA site yet, so the Ha’aretz coverage seems to be the best right now:

Israeli archeologists unveiled a 2,000 year old semi-precious cameo bearing the image of Cupid on Monday, which the Israel Antiquities Authorities (IAA) said was among several items located in the City of David archeological area in Jerusalem’s Old City in the last 12 months.

The cameo, which will be displayed at the 11th Annual City of David Archaeology Conference scheduled to take place later this week, is 1 cm in length and 0.7 cm in width, and was discovered in the Givati Parking Lot Excavation, a part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

The excavation, according to an IAA statement, has been conducted by the organization under the direction of Dr. Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets and funded by the Ir David Foundation.

Dr. Doron Ben Ami, of the IAA, said that the cameo was “made from two layers of semi-precious onyx stone. The upper layer, into which the image of cupid is engraved is a striking blue color which contrasts with the dark brown background color of the lower layer.”

“The brown layer is the side of the cameo which would have been inserted into the round metal setting of a piece of jewelry, apparently an earring,” Ben Ami said, adding that the “cupid’s left hand is resting on an upside-down torch which symbolizes the cessation of life.”

According to Dr. Ben Ami, the “discovery, together with other important finds that we uncovered from this unusual large Roman structure at the City of David, contribute significantly to our understanding of the nature of Jerusalem’s Roman Period.””

The IAA statement added that the inlaid stone was of the “Eros in mourning” type, one of a group of visual motifs linked with the imagery of mourning practices.

Ha’aretz includes an excellent photo:

IAA via Ha'aretz

If you want to see a pile of cameos — many involving Eros/Cupid in various activities (not mourning, as far as I can tell), check this page out (scroll to the bottom) …

More coverage:

Classical Coronation Street?

Interesting item brought back by my spiders from a piece in the National marking the 50th anniversary of Coronation Street … inter alia:

In that sense, it doesn’t matter that the soap is set in a version of northern England where life can be slightly grim and unglamorous. Because once you’ve got past the accents (not, in truth, that difficult), Coronation Street isn’t about living in a fictional part of Greater Manchester, just as EastEnders isn’t a commentary on London life. These places are just the settings for stories that are as old as the hills.

This was the thrust of a recent BBC documentary on the links between Greek tragedy and soaps. The similarities were revealing; the presenter Natalie Haynes spoke to a writer who had based EastEnders storylines on Aeschylus’s Oresteia. Apparently, Haynes wrote on her blog, the BBC Writers’ Academy trains future generations of soap writers by giving them Aristotle’s Poetics to encourage them to think about time and place.

It’s not over-intellectualising soaps to make these comparisons; infanticide, patricide, dysfunctional families, suffering women … they’re all tropes of Greek tragedy and soap opera.

It’s a theme Corrie’s Jonathan Harvey has been keen to discuss recently, too. “There’s something inherently theatrical in soaps and they are like Greek tragedies,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “They have archetypes that are created again and again through different generations, and they have a chorus in other characters commenting on what happens.” [...]

via: Fifty years of Coronation Street in two hours

If you’re very fast, you can listen to Natalie Haynes on the BBC on ‘OedipusEnders’ via Listen Again (but even if you don’t make it, the text summary is interesting) … I think Haynes’ blog post was this one from the Guardian

Bikini Girls Question

This one arose during my pondering the so-called ‘female gladiator lamp’ claim (see next post) and I asked on Twitter if anyone knew what this ‘bikini girl’ from Piazza Armerina was holding:

via wikipedia

… Max Sinclair and Liz Gloyn offered some suggestions with varying degrees of seriousness, but the most ‘reasonable’ (and one I’ve heard before) — that it’s some sort of umbrella really doesn’t fit in with the ‘program’ of the scene. Here’s the whole thing:

via wikipedia

… not sure why the photo is cut up … it’s practically stitchable. The scene is usually said to depict the ‘crowning of the victor’ but our bikini girl is standing between the person bestowing the crown and the one who apparently received it. Outside of the victrix, everyone else  is engaged in some sort of athletic activity and usually these women are taken to be exercising at the baths or something. But we do know of athletic events for women — we mentioned the Heraia a few days ago; sadly the Matthew Dillon article referenced therein doesn’t mention these particular female athletes. Kelly Olson’s article in Classical World from a few years ago (Roman Underwear Revisited, CW 96 (2003), 201-210 speculates that these ladies might be wearing the subligar, and that Martial describes a female athlete as subligata (208-209), so it seems reasonable that there might actually be a competition being depicted here. Indeed, I might be imagining things, but the victrix and the lady I’m wondering about seem to be engaged in a footrace in the register above … our lady seems to be complaining, perhaps, because in the upper register she appears to win, but she doesn’t get the palm frond and laurel. What does she get? Even if I am imagining the ‘narrative’ of this scene, I’d still like to know what the heck she’s holding … anyone know?

Some Interesting Auction Items

Catching up with email last night (we’re in the pre-back-to-school-throw-your-routine-out-of-whack phase), I came across a link to Timeline Auctions’ upcoming antiquities offerings. I don’t recall ever having mentioned them before, but they appear to be one of many smaller auction houses who also sell via Live Auctioneers, which we have somewhat hesitantly mentioned before (here too). As we’ve seen in the past with these sorts of auctons, provenance varies greatly, e.g., this nice little Lar:

… comes from an old private collection formed in the 1950′s” (see the full description for a larger version of the image; all photos in this post come from the auction house itself)

The most interesting item is this second-century ‘addorsed double bust’:

… again, see the official description for larger versions … what’s interesting, of course (outside of the lack of a provenance) is that this one is male on one side and female on the other.  The faces, though, are somewhat similar when viewed side-by-side so I’m wondering if this might not be a depiction of Tieresias, before and after, as it were …

Also catching my eye were a pair of “bronze steelyard weights” which were the property of “a deceased detectorist”:

… (official description … one of the things is ‘a mount’) … which reminded me that ‘boxer’ found in Israel a year or so ago. As with the boxer, these items are said to be ‘weights’ used with hanging scales. What I find interesting is that we’re never given the actuall mass/weight of these things. Are they some standard weight? Anyone know?

The final item of interest (to me) is a Roman oil lamp, from the “Hornbeam collection”, which purports to show a female gladiator:

… the larger photo is definitely worth looking at, as “she” is described as holding a “mace and a shield” and this raised a bunch of questions for me (as folks who follow me on twitter and/or facebook know). First, how would one distinguish between an Amazon and a gladiatrix? Terrence Lockyer suggested that if the helmet had a visor, that might be the basis of the identification by the auction house (or collector).  That said, it’s worth comparing this particular individual to an Amazonomachia scene on a sarcophagus, apparently at the Louvre:

via wikipedia

… in which we see what appears to be a ‘characteristic’ shield and the weapon the ‘lady of the lamp’ is holding (i.e. an ax) … but not a helmet. In another scene, also at the Louvre, however:


… we get another interpretation . Note the warrior on the left, with her clothing off her shoulder, the crested helmet, and the shield. For those who were chatting with me about this, I think the thing I thought might be a ‘tragedy mask’ (i.e. the shield) is a shield; that’s probably a gorgon on the lamp. Whatever the case, clearly this lamp is depicting an Amazon. Someone could say it’s a gladiatrix dressed like an Amazon, I suppose …

I find it curious, however, that at least one of these items (the ‘Tieresias’) is being offered in such a ‘quiet’ environment; even the lamp — especially if it did portray a gladiatrix — would be of interest to a more ‘major’ auction house, no? hmmmmm …