Bulgarian Bust Followup: It Ain’t Aphrodite

One of the things we posted t’other day detailed the bust of a smuggling ring in Bulgaria who/which had in its possession a two-metre sculpture of Aphrodite. Today Novinite suggests there are questions about that identification:

The 2-meter antique statue, which was found buried in the back yard of a Bulgarian village house belonging to illegal treasure hunters, is not of Aphrodite, as the police, who seized it, initially believed.

Petar Banov, archeology expert from the Regional History Museum in the northern city of Pleven told the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, that the statue is a Roman tomb sculpture of an ordinary woman.

Banov pointed out the find has no signs and symbols around her legs and/or arms, designating the female figure as a goddess, adding it was made during the flourishing of the ancient Roman city of Ulpia Oescus on the Danube, close to the village of Gigen in the Pleven District.

Banov, however, explained the archeological value of the discovery is still very high because it is of great quality and craftsmanship and it would give historians precious information.

According to the expert, it would be very hard to make a monetary appraisal of the statute because Bulgaria does not have an official antiques market and auctions.

… here’s a photo … I really don’t see how anyone could have called that an Aphrodite other than to further sensationalize the story:

Novinite photo

via: Bulgarian Expert: Seized Statue Is Not Aphrodite

Ozzy’s Classical DNA

Ozzy Osbourne in 2010.

Image via Wikipedia

This is typical … of the myriad versions of this story — about Ozzy Osbourne’s DNA revealing links to Neanderthals and assorted others, the one I happened to actually read (and post on Facebook) missed out on a Classical connection. Of course the Daily Mail had the part I missed, inter alia:

The researchers discovered that the star shares some DNA with the ancient Romans who were killed in Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD

Osbourne said: ‘That means I’m also probably related to some of the survivors, which makes a lot of sense.

‘If any of the Roman Osbournes drank nearly as much as I used to, they wouldn’t have even felt the lava. They could have just walked it off.’

We won’t comment on the lava reference … it is Ozzy after all.

More Decapitated Roman Remains

… but this time, from Scotland, and without any of the usual attendant sensationalism. Indeed … the decapitation is mentioned only in passing. From the Scotsman:

IT IS a major public sector building project which has been delayed, causing headaches for bosses and the public.

But it is decapitated skeletons and 2000-year-old forts rather than red tape and swelling costs that have caused the hold-up for the new health centre in Musselburgh.

Progress on the site has been delayed by at least six months after significant Roman remains were discovered.

Now architects have revealed the extent of their discoveries, which include human remains, the bones of horses and weapons and culinary tools.

Archeologists there said the “unique” finds, among the most impressive ever discovered in Scotland from that period, will help build a picture not only of Roman activity in Musselburgh from 140AD, but improve the wider understanding of life at that time.

As well as the skeletons, some of which have been superbly preserved, there are impressive sections of rampart, thought to be part of a defensive wall for a fortlet.

Site director for CFA Archaeology, which is working on the site, Magnus Kirby said that some of the findings predated the Roman era, with items such as flints possibly dating back up to 5000 years.

“The number of Roman skeletons we have found doesn’t point to this being a cemetery,” he said. “But it is still fascinating. The Roman remains have been very well preserved.

“Of the older human remains that predate that, in some cases there has been nothing but a set of teeth.”

It was known before the excavation began that Romans had existed in that area but the number of discoveries since work began three months ago has surprised archaeologists.

LIVE AND LET LIVE
It is thought the Votadini tribe inhabited the Lothians during the late Iron Age period, around the time of the birth of Christ. They built hill fort defences which are still visible on Arthur’s Seat, at Dunsapie Hill and above Samson’s Ribs.

Historians believe they also occupied Traprain Law in East Lothian.

The Roman occupation of the Lothians soon after the turn of the millennium is said to have left both physical landmarks and governance legacies.

As well as forts, artefacts found across the Lothians point to an active trading set-up with locals and experts believe the Roman’s stay in the Lothians helped convert Scotland to Christianity, and establish the early roots of our legal system.
“The quality of the structures such as the rampart are fantastic,” Mr Kirby added.

“You do treat the human remains differently, because of what they are, but it is the structures you find that tell you more about life at that point.”

Although the finds are interesting, the Roman revelations have actually proved a significant inconvenience for NHS Lothian, which wants to crack on with the Musselburgh Primary Care Centre.

The £20 million facility, which was first mooted 15 years ago, is now due to open in the spring of 2012.

via: Skeletons halt work on clinic | Scotsman

For an example of the more ‘traditional’ reporting of decapitated Roman remains, see, e.g. here or here or here (etc.) …

Bits of the ‘Lava Treasure’ Recovered by French Police

From Reuters:

French police said on Wednesday they had seized a significant portion of an ancient Roman treasure that was discovered more than two decades ago by Corsican divers who became rich by secretly selling it off.

The seizure is the latest chapter in the exploits of a then young Corsican and two friends who spotted gold in shallow waters 25 years ago while diving for sea urchins off the coast of the Mediterranean island.

The three friends enriched themselves by selling the coins and medallions on the black market and later claimed that they had inherited them when the source of their newfound wealth was discovered by the local authorities.

Police did not say on Wednesday from whom they had recovered the latest portion of the treasure, which likely came from an ancient shipwreck. Specialists consider the find to be one of the most important related to ancient coins, dating from the 3rd century AD.

“This submerged treasure, identified as a maritime cultural asset, belongs to the state,” France’s national police said in a statement, after a long investigation into national and international black markets for antiquities.

One of the original three Corsican friends, Felix Biancamaria, told French daily Liberation in 2005 how the discovery of what he quickly suspected were Roman coins brought him and his fellow divers untold wealth and thrills until the party soured when local police caught wind of their exploits.

Rather than turn the treasure over to authorities as state property, the divers claimed they had inherited it and began selling it to dealers. However the flood of rare Roman coins on the market eventually raised questions among collectors.

“People thought we were part of a gang of armed robbers,” Biancamaria said, describing how the three friends would dive all day for treasure and spend their evenings quaffing champagne in nightclubs.

The three men were among eight people tried in 1994 in connection with the case. They were handed prison sentences of between six and 18 months and made to pay fines.

One of the divers, Marc Cotoni, was killed in a shooting in 2004, according to French media.

Five other people were arrested last week in Paris in connection with the case, a judicial source said.

The recently seized coins, together with a prized golden plate, are estimated to have a value of between 1 million and 2 million euros ($1.38 million to $2.76 million), police said.

An investigation is still underway to track down other items from the treasure that remain missing.

Other coverage:

 

Callimachus Nike Monument ‘Restored’

From the ANA:

The Nike Monument erected in honour of the ancient military commander Callimachus after the Battle of Marathon, its various surviving shards reassembled for the first time to resemble the form they would have had in antiquity, was unveiled in the new Acropolis Museum on Tuesday by Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos.

In statements at the unveiling, Geroulanos emphasised the importance of the monument 2,500 years after the historic battle, an event broadly regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of European culture.

In 490 B.C. when the Battle of Marathon took place Callimachus was then a ‘polemarch’ or supreme military commander of Athens. With the 10 Athenian generals evenly divided over whether to do battle or surrender to the Persian invasion force, it was he that cast the deciding vote that sent the Athenians into battle and on to their final victory over the Persian Empire.

“Everything now rests of you,” Geroulanos said, quoting directly from the description given by the ancient historian Herodotus of a hypothetical conversation between Callimachus and Miltiades – the general that led the battle and earned Greeks their victory – just before the polemarch cast his vote.

“Today we are not unveiling the monument of just another general but a monument to a democratic process that changed the course of history,” the minister stressed.

Callimachus took part in the battle himself, leading the right wing of the Greek army, but was killed during the fighting. His statue was erected atop of the Athens Acropolis.

According to Prof. Dimitris Pantermalis, the curator of the new Acropolis Museum, the monument has been reconstructed in a modern fashion, using only the original shards in their correct positions, so that a visitor might be able to see the authentic version.

The remnants of the 4.68-metre monument have been affixed to a metal column that holds the various parts in place and is built so that additional fragments might be attached if they are found. It is on display in the museum’s Archaic Monuments’ section.

A short distance from the original there also stands a copy showing archaeologists’ best estimate of what the monument might have looked like when it was whole.

The unveiling of the Nike monument was among a series of events scheduled by the culture and tourism ministry to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary since the Battle of Marathon, which will culminate in the holding of the 28th Classic Athens Marathon on Sunday, in which more than 20,000 athletes from all over the world will take part.

Somewhat strangely, the Xinhua coverage seems to have the best photo:

From Xinhua

Spears and Lohan as Iphigenia?

This is kind of interesting, and I might have to track this book down … from an interview in Newsweek with Tom Payne about his book Fame, inter alia:

You bring up the theme of sacrifice—for example, you link Britney Spears’s meltdown with the ritual killing of Iphigenia, who, legend has it, was sacrificed so that Greek ships could sail to Troy, and who became famous because of it. Do we tear down or sacrifice celebrities to satisfy a very primal human need?

One of the most harrowing things I’ve found is the idea that when we make a sacrifice, or when the ancients made sacrifices, it was very important to them that the offering was seen to be willing. And I think it’s very helpful for us, when we think about celebrities, that while they may be going through a horrible time, they also seem to have chosen that life.

and later:

Although you do talk about how there’s a gender difference in the fame game. Lindsay Lohan—she’s basically living this Rolling Stones–type life, but yet we think of Mick Jagger as a rock god, and we think of her as someone on the verge of a meltdown.

Yeah. I’d like to come to a different conclusion, but there does seem to be something very ancient about that as well. It does seem, when you go back to tragedies, when you look at Iphigenia, or you look at other sacrifices, it does seem to be that there’s something particular about the sacrifice of a young woman.

d.m. Yannis Sakellarakis

From Athens News:

Professor Yannis Sakellarakis was born in Athens in 1936. He studied at the University of Athens and read for a PhD at Heidelberg University.

He was an instructor at the universities of Athens, Heidelberg, and Hamburg. He gave lectures and presented papers in symposiums and conferences around the world, including Oslo and Petra, Tokyo, New York, Oxford, London, Princeton, and Harvard. He has published widely in Greek and foreign scientific magazines, including Archeology in 1967.

He was director of the Archaeological Museum of Iraklion, Crete, and the second director of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Also, he was a member of the Archaeological Society at Athens, the Deutsches Archäogisches Institut, and the Society of Antiquaries of London.

He excavated at Archanes, the Idaean Cave, and Kithira, and in recent years has been systematically excavating, along with his wife, Dr Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis, the archaeological site of Zominthos.

He has received awards from the Academy of Athens, the Technological Education Institute of Crete, and the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation. Also, he was honoured with the Gold Medal of the University of Crete and the Gold Cross of the Order of Honour of the Greek Republic.

Athens News also had a link to a nice little video at YouTube with Dr Sakellarakis showing us the Zominthos site:

A Major Bulgarian Bust

From the Sofia News Agency … it would be nice to have photos of some of this stuff:

Bulgarian police have shattered a crime group trafficking archaeological finds, including breath-taking items such as 2-meter marble statue of Aphrodite.

The organized crime group carried out illegal archaeological digs at the ancient Roman city of Ulpia Oescus on the Danube, close to the village of Gigen, Pleven District.

The five busted men had been watched by the police for five months.

In addition to the marvelous statue of the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, the police seized from the treasure hunters about 200 various Ancient Roman coins, small metal statuettes, parts of Roman horse ammunition, and stone images of gods Asklepius and Hygiea.

The statue of Aphrodite was found buried in the yard of a house in the village of Gigen, where the treasure hunters hid it.

The police believe the statue was probably dug out in 2006 or 2007 and had been hidden as the dealers awaited the right clients.

The special operation was carried out by the unit for fighting trafficking of cultural heritage items.

Ulpia Oescus was an ancient town in Moesia, northwest of the modern Bulgarian city of Pleven, near the village of Gigen. It is a Daco-Moesian toponym. According to Ptolemy, it was a Triballian town, of the Ancient Thracian tribe Triballi, but it later became Roman. It was one of the most important Roman towns on the lower Danube.

This is where Emperor Constantine I the Great built the largest river bridge in ancient times, Constantine’s Bridge on the Danube, which was 2.5 km long, 6 meters wide, and existed in 328 AD – ca. 355 AD.

(The “next” bridge (today’s Ruse-Giurgiu Bridge) on the Lower Danube, in the Bulgarian-Romanian section of the river was built only in 1954, about 1 600 years later, at the initiative of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.)

Thus, Ulpia Oescus was linked by a bridge over Danube with the ancient city of Sucidava (modern day Corabia – Romania) by Constantin the Great.

Unlike Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria near Archar on the Danube, another major Roman stronghold utterly destroyed by Bulgarian treasure hunters, Ulpia Oescus near Gigen is believed to be one of the top archaeology spots in Bulgaria that is relatively well-protected from treasure hunters’ raids.

JOB: Greek Art @ BU (TT)

Seen on various lists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!)

Boston University’s Department of History of Art and Architecture
invites applications and nominations for a tenure-track position as
assistant professor of Greek art and architecture to begin September
1, 2011 (pending final budgetary approval). Ph.D. required; teaching
experience and publications preferred. The successful candidate will
teach four courses per academic year, usually two lecture courses and
two seminars, and conduct research in her/his area of specialization.
Applicants should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and the
names of three references no later than December 1, 2010, to
Professor Fred S. Kleiner, Chair, Department of History of Art and
Architecture, Boston University, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 302,
Boston, MA 02215, fsk AT bu.edu. Supporting materials, unless requested
by the search committee, will not be returned. Boston University is an
Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

d.m. Honor Frost

From the Telegraph:

During a career that began in the 1950s, she led many excavations in the Mediterranean and was noted for her skills as an illustrator and her work on the technicalities of ancient boat-building and nautical equipment, particularly the use of stone anchors and their typology.

Among her most important projects was an expedition, sponsored by Unesco, which she led to survey the Pharos (lighthouse) site in the Port of Alexandria in 1968. She dived the site and confirmed the existence of ruins representing part of the Pharos as well as the remains of submerged buildings representing the lost palace of Alexander and the Ptolemies, and published a preliminary report with drawings which revealed the site’s importance.

For the next two decades, however, the site remained more or less forgotten, because of a lack of specialised archaeologists and the fact that the area was in a military zone. It was only in the 1990s that work there resumed.

In 1971 the Sicilian authorities and the British School at Rome appointed Honor Frost to direct the excavation of a Punic warship in Marsala harbour off the coast of Sicily. It is believed to have been one of the Liburnian “longships”, an oared vessel with 17 sweeps per side, used by ancient Carthage in the Battle of the Aegates Islands (241BC), the last battle of the First Punic War between Carthage and the Roman Republic.

The ship had been uncovered by a dredger in 1969, and for several years Honor Frost and an international team of marine archaeologists worked on the site, publishing regular reports, before eventually restoring the wreck for display at the local museum.

She concluded that the warship had sunk stern-first after being rammed by the Romans. The crew had apparently abandoned ship, taking their weapons with them, but left evidence of their diet, including deer, goat, horse, ox, pig and sheep as well as olives, nuts and fruit. There were also traces of cannabis, which the crew may have chewed as a stimulant before going into battle. The team also found a human skeleton, possibly of a Carthaginian sailor trapped by ballast. The ship’s “nationality” was painted on the sides with letters by its Punic builders.

An only child, Honor Frost was born on October 28 1917 in Nicosia, Cyprus. After the death of both her parents she became the ward of a London solicitor, Wilfred Evill.

She studied at the Central School of Art, London, and the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, then worked as a designer for the Ballet Rambert, and later as director of publications at the Tate Gallery.

Honor Frost was, as she put it, “baptised” into the delights of underwater exploration in a garden well in Wimbledon. She had been invited to try a diving suit attached to a hand pump which had been used in the Second World War for shallow water work and, as she descended, found herself entranced by the beauty of her surroundings: “air bubbles, like quicksilver, adhered to undercut surfaces. The floor was a cushion of dead leaves in every stage of decomposition.” Underwater, she found, “the mind loses its habits of anxiety, while powers of contemplation increase”.

She soon became convinced that “time spent on the surface was time wasted”, and, in the late 1940s, began training at Cannes with the Club Alpin Sous-Marin.

It was with the club, under the guidance of the archaeologist Frederic Dumas, that she dived her first wreck, a large Roman ship lying at the foot of a rock called the Balise de la Chretienne off the south coast of France at Antheor. “Around 15 metres I could just make out the wreck, or rather a tumble of amphorae extending as far as the eye could see,” she recalled. The wreck was inhabited by a colony of octopuses, “graceful, playful and as sensuous as cats when tickled”.

In 1957 she reported for work for the last of six seasons of an excavation, led by the British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, of tombs near Jericho. Though she did not enjoy working on dry land, Honor Frost was struck by the contrast between the gung-ho excavation of the Roman ship and the discipline and careful record-keeping of land-based archaeology, particularly the way in which the “context” of the tombs was studied in as much detail as their contents.

The experience convinced her of the importance not only of recording shipwrecks of particular historical interest photographically, but also of representing them in meticulously detailed plans and finding out as much as possible about the surrounding sediments.

After the Jericho dig was over, Honor Frost moved to Lebanon, where she explored the ancient harbours at Tyre and Sidon and along the Syrian coast. She developed an interest in stone anchors after spotting several built into the walls of the bronze age temple at Byblos, and then discovering similar anchors off the nearby coast.

Among other achievements, Honor Frost was the first to recognise, in 1959, that a wrecked ship off the coast of Turkey at Gelidonya, which contained a rich cargo of copper and tin ingots together with personal possessions of the crew, dated from the late Bronze Age and was early Phoenician. At the time of the discovery, scholars believed the Myceneans had dominated Mediterranean trade in the Bronze Age and that the Phoenicians were not present on the seas until the Iron Age.

From her guardian, Honor Frost inherited a valuable collection of art and antiques and a Georgian house in London, where she entertained an eclectic circle of friends, including Erica Brausen, director of the Hanover Gallery during its heyday, and the fashion designer Thea Porter. Her fascination with the Mediterranean eventually led her to acquire a house in Malta as a second home.

Among other works she wrote Under the Mediterranean (1963), about her early experiences as an archaeologist. She was also a frequent contributor to the Mariner’s Mirror, the journal of the Society for Nautical Research.

Honor Frost was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1969. In 1997 the French government awarded her a medal for pioneering submarine archaeology in Egypt, and in 2005 the British Sub-Aqua Club presented her with the Colin McLeod award for furthering international co-operation in diving.

Two hip replacements in later life did little to slow her down. Shortly before she died, on September 12, she was planning another season at Sidon and a trip to India to see what she believed to be the largest stone anchor in the world.

Honor Frost was married but separated.

via: Honor Frost | Telegraph

Elsewhere:

Honor Frost | Guardian

Lady Baba Teaches the Imperfect

Via Francesca Tronchin … this originally was presented at the LJCL meeting apparently:

… if I were starting Latin now, I’d probably buy into this … I’m a bit old school, though, and still can hear Dr Yardley’s Cleesesque bam, bas, bat, bamus, batis, bant whenever I’m messing with the imperfect …

Update (milliseconds later) … came across the ‘live’ performance:

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem vi kalendas novembres

Constantine at the battle of the Milvian Bridg...

Image via Wikipedia

ante diem vi kalendas novembres

  • 97 A.D. – The emperor Nerva adopts the future emperor Trajan
  • 312 A.D – Battle of the Milvian Bridge; Constantine I has a vision and defeats Maxentius to become sole emperor

 

[n.b. oddly, in all my years of doing This Day in Ancient History in one form or another (at least 10), I have never had anything for October 28! I haven't had a chance to double check these items for sources]


Agrigento Youth at the Getty

Getty Villa ( Los Angeles ). Sign.
Image via Wikipedia

From a Getty mailing that just landed in my box:

The Agrigento Youth, one of the masterpieces of the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Agrigento in southwestern Sicily, goes on view today at the Getty Villa in a gallery devoted to images of athletes and athletic competition (Gallery 211). On loan to the Getty Museum through April 19, 2011, the figure is a rare example of an early classical marble statue called a kouros, or idealized nude young man.

To the ancient Greeks, sculptures such as these represented the finest civic ideals an aristocrat could attain upon reaching manhood. They were made to serve as costly dedicatory objects which could function as dedications to gods, representations of gods, or to honor the memory of a fallen mortal as part of his funerary ritual.

One of the best preserved examples of the kouros type in Sicily, pieces of this sculpture were excavated from two cisterns close to cult precincts devoted to Demeter and Persephone on the slope of the ancient acropolis of Akragas (modern Agrigento) in the late 1800’s.

The figure was carved by an unknown artist around 480 B.C., just at the artistic turning point between the archaic and classical periods. The style has been termed by scholars the Severe Style due to the solemn facial features and erect stance favored at this time. Under life size at 1.02 meters (40 inches) in height, The Agrigento Youth is comparable to the highest quality contemporary Athenian kouroi, with whom it shares many traits, such as the sensitively rendered modeling of the anatomy, the erect stance with one leg forward, and the serene and straightforward gaze. Unlike the majority of those statues, this figure’s right arm is raised as if holding out an object. The stone from which it was carved is a white marble imported from Greece, which indicates that The Agrigento Youth was an expensive and noteworthy dedication.

The sculpture is also distinguished by certain features which call attention to its Sicilian origins. The structure of the head is long and the face is oval, with prominent cheekbones, heavy-lidded eyes and a prominent lower lip. Sharply patterned hair is a feature common to all kouroi, but in Sicily the treatment is even more pronounced, with delineated strands of finely carved locks forming into a cap and rolled into a thick coil of hair banded by a simple diadem. Residues of the red pigment indicating the hair’s original color are clearly visible.

Before its installation at the Villa, the Museum’s conservation team collaborated with conservators from the Museo Archeologico Regionale to construct a custom seismic isolation base and pedestal for The Agrigento Youth. When the sculpture returns to Sicily, it will be accompanied by its new pedestal and earthquake-resistant mount for display in its home museum.

This is the latest in a series of cooperative efforts between the Getty and the Sicilian Ministry of Culture and Sicilian Identity arising from a 2010 agreement that calls for a number of collaborative projects, including object conservation, seismic protection of collections, exhibitions, scholarly research, and conferences.

“We are delighted to showcase The Agrigento Youth at the Getty Villa, and are pleased to continue working with our colleagues in Sicily in this latest chapter of our ongoing partnership,” says David Bomford, acting director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “This loan, and its conservation component, meets the spirit of our agreement to work in partnership with our Sicilian colleagues to preserve and share Italy’s rich cultural heritage.”

The Agrigento Youth is the second major loan to arise from the 2010 agreement. The Gela Krater, a monumental red-figure volute-krater (wine mixing vessel) attributed to the Niobid Painter, was on view at the Villa since June before it was returned this month, also with a new, custom-designed seismic isolator base and pedestal.

“We are pleased to have these objects on view at the Getty Villa where they can serve as fine examples of Sicily’s cultural offerings, helping to create broader awareness for our collections and heritage,” explains Dr. Giuseppe Castellana, the director of the Parco Archeologico e Paesaggistico della Valle dei Templi. “It is also wonderful that both objects will return to us with new bases that make them more secure.”

In addition, the Getty recently partnered with the Centro Regionale per la Progettazione, il Restauro e per le Scienze Applicate ai Beni Culturali to organize a conference on the seismic mitigation of museum collections this month in Palermo. The conference included a workshop for museum technicians and conservators on seismic mount-making, and other topics related to caring for collections in earthquake-prone areas.

Still to come on loan are objects from the archaeological site of Morgantina in central Sicily. The Getty is also working with Sicilian colleagues on two upcoming Getty Villa exhibitions, one investigating Sicily during the Classical and Hellenistic periods, and another on Selinunte, an important Greek colonial settlement in northwest Sicily.

In addition to the Sicilian region, the Getty Museum has also established cultural partnerships with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples.

For now, there’s a good photo from the Cleveland Museum of Art where the item was sojourning for a while …

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This Day in Ancient History: ante diem vi kalendas novembres

ante diem vi kalendas novembres

  • ludi Victoriae Sullanae (day 2) — games held in honour of Victoria commemorating Sulla’s defeat of the Samnites in 82 B.C.
  • 43 B.C. — Marcus Junius Brutus commits suicide in the wake of the defeat at Philippi (by one reckoning)
  • 113 A.D. — the emperor Trajan departs from Rome for his war against the Parthians
  • 251 A.D. — the future emperor Valerian is elected by the senate to the recently-revived office of censor
  • 1469 — birth of Erasmus

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem vii kalendas novembres

ante diem vii kalendas novembres

  • ludi Victoriae Sullanae (day 1) — games held in honour of Victoria commemorating Sulla’s defeat of the Samnites in 82 B.C.
  • 1656 B.C. — Noah enters the ark (this must be Bishop Ussher again)
  • 31 A.D. — suicide of Apicata, wife of the disgraced Praetorian Praefect Sejanus
  • ca 250 A.D. — martyrdom of Lucian and Marcian
  • 1852 — during a “violent storm” at Athens, one of the columns of the “Temple of Jupiter Olympus” was toppled (perhaps portrayed here?)

Also Seen: Defeat of Alesia

I think we get a bit of insight into Rupert Murdoch’s mindset when we read things like this:

Nicknamed after Julius Caesar’s victorious siege of Gallic forces in 52 B.C., Rupert Murdoch’s “Project Alesia” was supposed to be his attack against Google News, which he’s always seen as a content-thieving enterprise. [more]

FWIW, almost a year ago the Daily Inquisitr was commenting on the name of the project and warning about the Ides of March … meanwhile, back in September Vanity Fair proclaimed Mark Zuckerberg:

our new Caesar. He rules from the imperial capital of Palo Alto, California, the Rome of our nascent millennium.

Meanwhile the two guys in charge of Research in Motion have also been dubbed Caesars … clearly we need a new Suetonius. We’re clearly shaping up for another year of the four (or more) emperors …

Talking About Ancient Vampires

This sounds like it would have been very interesting to attend:

These days, when an event is billed as vampire related, one might expect the target audience to be mostly made up of adolescent girls.

Not so for the considerable crowd that turned out to the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s Rainey Auditorium on Thursday evening. The program, “Vampires, Demons and Mystical Creatures in the Ancient World,” was organized by Young Friends, a group of active volunteers that seeks to encourage Museum membership and participation among young professionals and students in the 21 through 45-year-old range — though Thursday’s crowd ranged from children to older adults.

The evening began with two speakers who presented on magic and monsters from ancient times. The first, associate professor of Classical Studies Peter Struck, spoke about the prevalence of magic in ancient Greece — and, indeed, throughout the ancient world.

“In Greece, everyone used magic, and believed it worked,” Struck said. The most prevalent method, he explained, was to “enlist the untimely dead” — young people who died early, violent deaths — to do one’s bidding by dropping spells into their graves.

Struck was followed by Jennifer Wegner, the associate curator of the Egyptian section and a regular of Young Friends programs, who spoke about the variety of ancient Egyptian deities and monsters.

“Animal life alone in Egypt is the stuff of nightmares,” Wegner said. But the deities that these creatures represented were “viewed as positive” in Egyptian culture.

Both speakers were very well received.

“I thought it was really interesting, both were really good speakers,” said Becky Kolacki, a student from Drexel who, though not a member of Young Friends, said that she would definitely consider going to future events.

“The Egyptology was really fascinating, and they did a great job picking speakers,” said Stephanie Met, who was there with her father, a Penn professor.

After their presentations, people were given the opportunity to tour the Museums’s “FANG! The Killing Tooth” exhibit on the biology of the canine and the history of vampire myth.

Young Friends hosts two to three major events a year, and members of the group receive discounts on Museum events.

“There’s all this great research going on and great speakers here,” said Emily Goldsleger, the assistant director of membership and annual giving at the Penn Museum and a coordinator of the Young Friends program. “We try and make it more lighthearted and accessible.”These days, when an event is billed as vampire related, one might expect the target audience to be mostly made up of adolescent girls.

Not so for the considerable crowd that turned out to the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s Rainey Auditorium on Thursday evening. The program, “Vampires, Demons and Mystical Creatures in the Ancient World,” was organized by Young Friends, a group of active volunteers that seeks to encourage Museum membership and participation among young professionals and students in the 21 through 45-year-old range — though Thursday’s crowd ranged from children to older adults.

The evening began with two speakers who presented on magic and monsters from ancient times. The first, associate professor of Classical Studies Peter Struck, spoke about the prevalence of magic in ancient Greece — and, indeed, throughout the ancient world.

“In Greece, everyone used magic, and believed it worked,” Struck said. The most prevalent method, he explained, was to “enlist the untimely dead” — young people who died early, violent deaths — to do one’s bidding by dropping spells into their graves.

Struck was followed by Jennifer Wegner, the associate curator of the Egyptian section and a regular of Young Friends programs, who spoke about the variety of ancient Egyptian deities and monsters.

“Animal life alone in Egypt is the stuff of nightmares,” Wegner said. But the deities that these creatures represented were “viewed as positive” in Egyptian culture.

Both speakers were very well received.

“I thought it was really interesting, both were really good speakers,” said Becky Kolacki, a student from Drexel who, though not a member of Young Friends, said that she would definitely consider going to future events.

“The Egyptology was really fascinating, and they did a great job picking speakers,” said Stephanie Met, who was there with her father, a Penn professor.

After their presentations, people were given the opportunity to tour the Museums’s “FANG! The Killing Tooth” exhibit on the biology of the canine and the history of vampire myth. [more]

Felton seems to hang out her shingle for such things every Hallowe’en, so we might read some more from her soon. As folks prepare to regale their kiddies with assorted ghost stories, they might want to check out an interesting interview with Debbie Felton on ‘Spooky Rome’ at eternallycool … N.S. Gill has also put together a few pages of relevant ghost stories from ancient Greece and Rome …. Horror Masters’ page of ancient ghost stories is also interesting (although it really would have been nice if there were footnotes!). Of course, you’ll want to check out some of the purported sightings of ghosts that we have mentioned in these pages, here and here (the latter has links to earlier stories).

Also Seen: Getting a Classical Education in Italy

The Wall Street Journal had an item of interest … an article comparing US and Italian education systems penned by an ‘urban professional’ from the US working in Rome. Here’s the excerpt that caught my eye:

The pedagogy is old-fashioned, with lots of memorization: the despised “rote learning” that American educators have been warning against since before my own distant youth (but which news reports say is making a comeback there). Italian teachers make little effort to cultivate their pupils’ self-esteem or celebrate their precious snowflake-like individuality. Meetings with parents are about what their child does wrong, while whatever he’s learned is passed over in silence.

That can be frustrating for anyone who thrives on what Thomas Mann called “Vitamin P.” Yet no one who has let an excited second-grader drag him through the Musée D’Orsay in search of Impressionist masterpieces, or heard a third-grader give forth on Australopithecus and the Big Bang, or a fourth-grader recite a poem by Sappho, can doubt that Italian teachers are doing something right. With many other countries’ systems having all but abandoned classical languages, the prospect of my son taking five years of Latin and Greek in his teens gives me hope that he will reach adulthood with a sharp mind attuned to the resonances of the past.

via European Life: Getting a Classical Education in Italy – WSJ.com.

… trying to picture a fourth-grader at my school reciting Sappho … can’t do it.

Citanda: Brett Favre and Achilles

Mentioned this on facebook last week … forgot to post it here. Here’s the incipit:

Even though Homer’s Iliad was written approximately three thousand years ago, the character of Achilles is still alive and well. He is forty one years old, lives in Mississippi, and spends his autumns and winters in Minnesota. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre is the modern-day embodiment of the legendary warrior Achilles.

The first and most obvious trait that the two legends share is that both men are primadonnas whose narcissistic tendencies can become a major annoyance and nearly impossible to deal with. In the case of Favre, he did not want to attend the Vikings’ training camp, and so he simply refused to join the Vikings in 2009, saying he would remain retired from the New York Jets. Midway through camp, Favre had an unsurprising change of heart and decided to play again, for the Vikings. After this decision was made, reports swirled that part of the reason Favre was so unwilling to join the Vikings because he did not want to share a room with any of his teammates. This selfishness is a direct parallel of the character of Achilles.

In Book I of the Iliad, the Greek warriors take two Trojan women, Chryseis and Briseis, to be their concubines, and it turns out that the Greeks’ leader Agamemnon chose Chryseis to be his, but she is the daughter of a priest named Chrysus, who summons the help of the gods to get his daughter back. A plague hits the Greek camp, and Agamemnon gives Chryseis back, but insists on taking Briseis, the woman who Achilles had claimed as his own. This infuriates Achilles, who then stays in his tent and refuses to participate in the war. [more ...]

Aesop in the Florida Debates?

Aesop seems to be a theme today for some reason … here’s the end of an item from the Huffington Post commenting on the Florida senate elections debates:

Thankfully, a commercial break intervened, but immediately afterwards, moderator Antonio Mora, news anchor for host station WFOR-TV, returned to the theme. That’s when Aesop made his cameo appearance.

“In making your run as an Independent, you changed some of the positions you had held as a Republican in the past. In one of Aesop’s fables, he talked about the bats and the beasts and the birds, and how the beasts and the birds were in a fight, and the bat wouldn’t pick a side. In the end, the moral of the story was that he who is neither one thing or another has no friends. Who are you now?”

Crist replied, “I am the same guy I’ve always been…a fiscal conservative and a social moderate,” then pivoted to attack Rubio for wanting to “overturn Roe v. Wade” and “putting…privatization (of Social Security) on the table….I am running against an extreme right wing candidate who believes in taking away women’s rights, punishing seniors…and that’s just not right.”

This is interesting insofar as bats make an appearance in another fable of Aesop … in the Townsend translation (via N.S. Gill):

A BAT who fell upon the ground and was caught by a Weasel pleaded to be spared his life. The Weasel refused, saying that he was by nature the enemy of all birds. The Bat assured him that he was not a bird, but a mouse, and thus was set free. Shortly afterwards the Bat again fell to the ground and was caught by another Weasel, whom he likewise entreated not to eat him. The Weasel said that he had a special hostility to mice. The Bat assured him that he was not a mouse, but a bat, and thus a second time escaped.

… with the concomitant moral: It is wise to turn circumstances to good account.

Not being all that interested in Florida politics, but wary of politicians in general, I’m not sure which ‘batty story’ would best apply …

CONF: Visions of Leadership in the Ancient World (RIA Colloquium)

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!):

The Royal Irish Academy Committee for Classical and Near Eastern Studies cordially invites you to a colloquium on “Visions of Leadership in the Ancient World”, which will be held on the 4th and 5th of November in the Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.

* Thursday 4 November, 18:00-20:00:

Prof. Amélie Kuhrt (University College London)
Achaemenid Images of Power (followed by reception)

* Friday 5 November, 9:30-17:00:

Dr. Ashley Clements (Trinity College Dublin)
Kings and Customs: Monarchical Rulers and the Rule of Nomos in Herodotus

Dr. Zuleika Rodgers and Dr. Martine Cuypers (Trinity College Dublin)
Theorizing Theocracy: Judaean Priesthood and Kingship

Dr. Alexander Thein (University College Dublin)
Leadership in Late Republican Rome

Dr. Michael Williams (NUI Maynooth)
A Tale of Two Bishops: Doctrine and Leadership in Late Antique Milan

For further information and registration please contact Martine Cuypers at cuypersm AT tcd.ie.

Citanda: Roman Republic Network

This was mentioned on the Classicists list a while ago … here’s a bit from the info page:

The purpose of this website is to exchange knowledge amongst scholars interested in the Roman Republic.

It aims to provide a forum for scholars working in all fields of historical, literary, linguistic or achaeological research involving the Roman Republic (c. 500-27 BC) and the nations surrounding it. A particular focus of the website are the processes of integration and identity formation that took place in this period in Italy and beyond.

The website intends to be the focal point for a network of scholars interested in these issues, and to facilitate contact between them. It will be used for sharing ongoing research, for example by publishing working papers on which you would like to receive feedback, and bibliographies, teaching resources, links, and other information that you think will be of interest to others.
If you would like to contribute, please contact Saskia Roselaar, saskia.roselaar AT manchester.ac.uk

… there’s a few working papers up at the site (among other things) but it seems to have stalled. Perhaps some of rogueclassicism’s readers have something to contribute?

CFP: ‘From the Cradle to the Grave’: Reciprocity & Exchange in Medicine and the Making of the Modern Arts

University of Exeter Logo
Image via Wikipedia

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!):

‘From the Cradle to the Grave’: Reciprocity & Exchange in Medicine and the
Making of the Modern Arts

Date: 14th April 2011, University of Exeter

Conference website:
http://centres.exeter.ac.uk/medhist/conferences/cradle/index.html

Keynote Speakers: Professor Brian Hurwitz (King’s College London) and
Deborah Kirklin MD (University College London & Editor of Medical Humanities)

‘From the Cradle to the Grave’ is an interdisciplinary event designed to
bring together postgraduate students and early career academics working
throughout the humanities, including the fields of English, Modern
Languages, Politics, Film, Classics, Medical History, Drama and Theology.
The conference will focus on the impact of health and medicine in the
‘making and unmaking’ of all modern arts, from the nineteenth century
onwards. Rather than simply examining finished texts, films, artworks or
pieces of theatre/film, the central goal of this conference is to examine
the processes by which medicine and the arts have influenced each other
across time and place and explore the ways in which both fields continue to
intersect.

We will be hosting an art and screen exhibition on the relationship between
hospital art and health using artistic pieces from Devon and Cornwall,
organised in conjunction with Arts and Health South West and Royal Devon and
Exeter Hospital. The conference will also incorporate a plenary discussion
on the nature of ‘Medical Humanities’ and publishing within the field, as
part of Deborah Kirklin’s keynote address.

We encourage papers examining contemporary and historical relationships
between medicine and the arts. Possible themes include but are not limited to:
• Representations of medicine in culture (e.g. music, visual cultures, film,
literature)
and the impact of culture on health/medicine
• Ethical implications of combining medicine and the arts
• Formulating and conceptualising the field of ‘Medical Humanities’
• Theoretical and empirical approaches to studying relationships between
medicine /
Medical History and the arts
• The politics, processes and limitations of exchange between medicine and
the arts
• Practice-based applications of reciprocity, such as promoting health
through the arts

We welcome papers in alternative formats, for example incorporating
performance pieces of music, dance, film or theatre. Writers, texts or
topics need not be canonical and we actively encourage papers discussing
writers, texts, visual media, theories and artefacts from around the world.

Abstracts (350 words for papers of twenty minutes duration) are invited by
21st December 2010. Please email abstracts and enquiries to conference
organisers Sam Goodman (sgg204 AT ex.ac.uk) or Victoria Bates (vlb204 AT ex.ac.uk).

The conference will be free of charge to attend, although we will encourage
delegates to give voluntary charitable donations to Paintings in Hospitals.
A limited number of travel bursaries of up to £50 are also available on
application. If you need a bursary, please express your interest to the
conference organisers when submitting your abstract.