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?