Popculch: Classical Cricket

For the past few days there have been posts on Facebook about some major Australia-England cricket series going on … turns out, there are some ads with a Classical bent for same … the first seems inspired by a certain Russell Crowe film:

… another features Australian cricketer Shane Warne as a Roman emperor, but it doesn’t seem to be online yet … if it shows up, I’ll post it.



Post-Hellenistic Shipwreck Near Nea Styra

I can’t find that we’ve mentioned this one before at rogueclassicism … from ANA/MPA:

Excavation works on a sunken vessel dated to the post Hellenistic era off the resort town of Nea Styra, in the southern Evoikos Gulf separating the mainland and large Evia (Euboea) island, were concluded for 2010.

The ancient vessel was loaded with amphorae, considered extremely interesting, as the cargo, along with wooden remnants. The latter’s presence indicates that the vessel also transported high-value products, possibly sculptures in whole or in parts.

Amphorae Brindisi and vases filled with foods and wines, bronze and iron nails and small parts of copper statues of natural size, along with two legs of a day-bed, were collected and lifted from the vessel.

The wreck was located in 2007 at a depth of 40 to 45 metres. Thirty-six divers, researchers, archaeologists, photographers, architects and other experts took part in the underwater excavation.

The research was organised by the Maritime Antiquities Ephorate and the Institute of Maritime Archaeological Research.

Excavation works will continue and in 2011.

Numina in the News

The incipit of one of those science articles with plenty of Latin  words … this time, though, there’s also a reference to ‘Etruscan’ divinities:

Mildew infections not only cause unsightly vegetable patches, they can also result in extensive crop failure. Interestingly, the processes involved in infections with this garden pest are similar to those involved in fertilisation. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and the University of Zurich have identified two proteins in the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana that are necessary for both fertilisation and infection with powdery mildew. This explains why mildew-resistant plants, in which these genes are mutated, are infertile. (Science, Vol 330, p 968-971)

Pollen tubes and hyphae, the filamentous structures of which fungi are formed, not only look very similar, they also require similar proteins. The two proteins in question, which have just been discovered, are named after the Etruscan fertility goddesses Feronia and Nortia. The scientists discovered that these proteins are both beneficial and harmful to plants. They link the capacity for seed formation with the absence of resistance to mildew infection. […]

Feronia was a divinity associated with fertility; Nortia with time (she was the one who was associated with the ritual ‘driving of the nail’ in the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter). Is it just me or do others think ‘Robigo/us’ might have been a better name for at least one of these proteins? Volutina might be another one ..

Father Foster’s Back!

Reginald Foster gives a lesson on the ablative...
Image via Wikipedia

Another one that was making the rounds this week. From Fox6:

Father Reginald Foster is trying to resuscitate something most people consider dead; the old language of Latin.

Years ago, Foster spurned the family business for a higher calling. He joined the priesthood. Foster soon learned he excelled at one of the tools of the trade. He spoke Latin like a Roman emperor. That talent was noticed and needed at the Vatican where Latin remains the official language.

For the next 40 years, every official document that came from the Vatican was either written by Foster’s hand or approved with his eyes. That includes the funeral mass of Pope John Paul II, the mass heralding the ascention of Pope Benedict, even the document certifying Jerome Listecki as Milwaukee’s Archbishop.

Foster is an affectionate but strict teacher. He says Latin demands discipline and dedication. He makes all of his students sign a tough contract.

“I tell the students, you can take off your shoes or clothes or bring beer or wine in class, I don’t care if you make one stupid mistake, you’re out!” said Foster.

Foster wants Latin to survive. Yet, he laments the long, slow death of the language. That begs the question: If Latin is dead, which is to say it’s not really spoken anywhere anymore, then why is it still important?

Foster says, “Relevant! Because it’s about three quarters of our western civilization, for one. All of our thoughts, ideas, prayers and all this other stuff has come through Latin!”

Anyone interested in taking Fr. Foster’s class should mail a short note of interest to Reginald Foster at 3553 S. 41st St. in Milwaukee. He’ll send you a contract and you can take the class for free in Milwaukee.

… the original post has a nice television news segment on Foster as well. Definitely worth a look; I’m sure Father Foster would cringe at the voiceover’s use of ‘begging the question’   … also nice to see a Latinist using a document camera (sorry … I can’t embed it).

Vatican relies on Milwaukee man for his expertise in Latin | Fox

Seating Arrangements: Ancient and Modern

One of the things that was being passed around the past week (during which occurred American Thanksgiving, of course) was this humourous item on Thanksgiving seating arrangements, as interpreted by College Humor:

via College Humor

… which was very interesting from a Classics point of view when one thinks about Roman triclinium seating arrangements. Here’s Pedar Foss’ diagram of same (via uSydney) … AGE, GENDER, AND STATUS DIVISIONS AT MEALTIME IN THE ROMAN HOUSE: a synopsis of the literary evidence is definitely worth a look if you’ve never visited:

Now, given that lectus imus #1 is the place of  the host, that would correspond, presumably, with ‘dad’ above, putting grandpa in the locus consularis, which makes sense. Beside grandpa comes grandma, then the tipsy mom, who is pretty much the furthest away from the host (no comment). Beside dad is the creepy uncle, who is presumably only there because he is dad’s brother. The locus summus is presumably reserved for the various kids, legitimate and otherwise … not much has changed!

Classical Morse?

Inspector Morse (TV series)
Image via Wikipedia

Here’s something I didn’t know … there’s a Classicist behind Inspector Morse … from the incipit of a feature at FT.com:

Crime writer Colin Dexter has become inextricably linked with the city of Oxford, where his bestselling Inspector Morse novels are set. So it is interesting to discover that he went to university at Cambridge. More than that, he didn’t get round even to visiting Oxford until the late 1950s, when he went to meet the later-to-be-disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell.

Back then, Dexter was a classics teacher in Corby, Northamptonshire, while Maxwell was the boss of Pergamon Press, a specialist academic publisher. “We met up to discuss my writing a few textbooks for him, which I duly did,” says Dexter, who recently turned 80. “Even if he did turn out to be a crookster, he was always very kind to me.” […]

… and here’s an interesting bit from the middle:

“I’ve written 19 books in all and I haven’t touched a typewriter, let alone a computer key, in all that time. I wrote them all out in longhand on ruled paper using a blue Biro. Then I got them typed up by a dear old lady down the road. She was very good even if some of the pages were smeared with red nail varnish.”

I still remember marvelling at seeing a copy of Mommsen’s ‘thesis’ (can’t remember where) … handwritten and only 30 or so pages …

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Where Gladiators Went to … Retire?

Gladiators shown on the late Roman Gladiator M...
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t think there is any new discovery lurking behind this one, but it’s interesting to bring it up as a reminder that not all gladiators died in the arena:

An ancient site in the southwestern province of Muğla is believed to be the land where gladiators lived after they retired.

Excavations carried out in Muğla’s Yatağan district uncovered the city of Stratoniceia, where the largest gymnasium in Anatolia and a graveyard for gladiators are located. The excavation is expected to shed light on gladiator fights from about 1,800 years ago.

“We believe that gladiators retired and lived in Stratoniceia. As much as it is a city of marble, Stratoniceia is also a city of gladiators,” excavation head Bilal Söğüt, a professor at the department of archeology at Denizli’s Pamukkale University, told the Anatolia news agency.

Söğüt said it has many aspects that distinguish it from other ancient sites, including the gymnasium and the fact that the city was one of gladiators.

A necropolis including tombs of gladiators was uncovered in the northern part of the city. “The gravestones found there are on display at the Muğla Museum. Among them are very famous gladiators, including Droseros, who was killed by Akhilleus, as well as Vitalius, Eumelus, Amaraios, Khrysopteros and Khrysos. Droseros had 17 victories, losing to Akhilleus in the end,” Söğüt explained.

Nowhere else in Anatolia is home to this many gladiator gravestones, he said. More gladiator gravestones are expected to be uncovered during the ongoing excavation. “We hope to discover more gladiator names in the coming years. We will have a clearer picture of the area in the future. We will discover more items here,” Söğüt said.

Muğla Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Kamil Özer said they will carry out a campaign in 2011 to promote the seven gravestones on display at the Muğla Museum. “We first plan to restore the museum building. We aim to promote the building’s gladiator hall, especially at international fairs. [Muğla’s] culture tourism is lucky to have the gravestones of these seven gladiators exhibited at the Muğla Museum,” he said. The gravestones are accompanied by images from the hit movie “Gladiator” on display at the museum.

Ancient site of retired gladiators discovered in Muğla’s Yatağan | Today’s Zaman

If you want to get an idea of what’s at the Mugla Museum, damiandude has a nice flickrset

Another Trio Completed: Covering Books

One of the things I constantly wrestle with as a blogger is whether to post things as soon as they come out and risk having a better version/more detailed version come out later — as often happens — or hold onto things and let them sit in my 2blog file, where they often get forgotten. In this case, something just hit my email box that reminded me of the others. So, to begin our little excursus, way back in September, Kristina Killgrove was first to alert me (and several others followed) to the cover of Amanda Claridge’s Rome: An Archaeological Guide:

… apparently they’ve dealt with that leaking roof thing at the Pantheon. Then our longtime Classics list friend Yong-Ling Ow mentioned on Facebook the cover of Miriam Greenblatt’s Julius Caesar and the Roman Republic:

via Amazon.com

… which appears to be sporting the image of a ‘different’ Julius Caesar. Today’s offering is not as dramatic as the previous two, but displays one of my personal bugbears.  Natalie Haynes’ The Ancient Guide to Modern Life actually looks interesting from an initial review, but the cover looks like this:

via Amazon.com

… which does that thing of using Greek letters as if they were English … rotating omegas for ‘c’ and ‘u’ … sigmas for ‘e’ … something theta-like for ‘o’ … still, not as bad as a local hall called the “Olympia” which rendered its name in Greek letters and used a Psi for the ‘y’.