Also Seen: Classical Legal Opinion?

The incipit of a legal opinion my siders dragged back from the Leagle:

“Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres . . . .”1 As the tribes of the three parts of ancient Gaul presented unique problems for Julius Caesar, an owner and a tenant, among the three parcels comprising the subject real property of this case, present us with a matter of first impression in Maryland law.

Homerathon @ UT Arlington

From the Shorthorn:

The University Classics Club is hosting Homerathon, an all-day recital of Homer’s The Odyssey.

The recitation will begin at 7 a.m. Tuesday on the University Center mall and end at 10:30 p.m. Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, was written in 59 segments, and each individual speaker will be allotted 15 minutes to recite their portion of the story.

The Odyssey is the tale of Greek war-hero Odysseus’ journey home from the Trojan War. It is one of two of Homer’s works and is one of the oldest stories ever to have been recorded.

Among its initial conception, philosophy associate professor Charles Chiasson said the story often was recited by ancient Greek poets in public-forum competitions.

The tradition of oral recitation of poems dates back to the oral epoch, a time in classical history before stories and poems were recorded.

Chiasson said the reason The Odyssey was chosen to be recited instead of The Iliad, Homer’s other epic, is because of its popularity and level of interest amongst readers.

The public is invited, and there are still spots available to those who wish to participate in the recital.

On the Value of Latin

From a Penn State press release sort of thing:

Yale University’s famous motto is Lux et Veritas, Latin for “light and truth” while Princeton’s crest reads Dei Sub Numine Viget (“Under God’s power she flourishes”). The University of Pennsylvania based its cautionary motto — Sine Moribus Vanae or “Letters without morals are useless” — on a line in one of the Roman poet Horace’s odes. But in 1898, when someone pointed out that the line could also be translated as “Loose women without morals”, the University rushed to revise the wording.

Although Latin — an Indo-European language at its height during the Roman Empire — is nobody’s native tongue these days, it certainly remains a topic of conversation. The usual point of debate? Whether learning Latin is valuable for modern-day students.

“I don’t think people know what they mean when they dismiss Latin as a dead language,” said Paul Harvey, associate professor of classics at Penn State. “Of course it is not spoken in many places, save for the Vatican and a few classics departments. But whether a language is currently spoken is irrelevant to the continuing value of learning it and to the value of literature written in that language.”

Even if you never read Virgil or Cicero in the original, explains Harvey, “Latin is the root language from which variations developed into today’s modern Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and a few less-spoken European tongues. On a practical level, it is far easier for those with a firm foundation in Latin to learn a modern Romance language.”

Whether you’ve studied Latin or not, most people already use it constantly, Harvey adds. The ancient Latin/Roman alphabet is the most widely used writing system in the world, and is the alphabet of English and almost all other European languages. Up to 60 percent of modern English words derive from Latin, directly or indirectly.

Latin is our foundational language, explains Harvey, and that awareness may be a factor in the current revival of interest in Latin in our schools. One indicator is the number of students taking the AP Latin exam has doubled in the last decade. “From what I’ve seen and read,” Harvey said, “the revival in schools—including inner city schools—has less to do with a renewed interest in the classical past than a realization that the more Latin students learn, the higher their SAT verbal and analytical scores.” In fact, students of Latin had notably higher mean SAT Verbal scores than students of Spanish, French or German.

“Furthermore,” Harvey notes, “there is a continuing appreciation that studying Greek and Latin — the classical languages of Western civilization — demonstrably enhances the ability to write cogently in English.” The reason for this is “rather straightforward,” believes Harvey: “The successful study of a highly inflected language forces students to understand better the grammar and syntax of their own native language and that, in turn, encourages clarity of expression and analytical thought.”

In today’s era of online chat acronyms and text-messaging abbreviations, the ability to write well in English may be an increasingly rare and valuable career asset. Future attorneys, doctors and scientists would be well advised to study Latin to get a jump on the professional jargon, says Harvey. “And students wishing to study practically any aspect of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance literature, art, music, and history are at a serious disadvantage if they do not know Latin well.”

With such clear advantages to students, why don’t more schools encourage the study of Latin? The language may have suffered from an image problem in years past, concedes Harvey. The association of Latin with the wealthy and privileged “is a modern hangover from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries when only the educated elite studied Greek and Latin,” he notes. “The classical language curriculum pretty much dissolved after World War II.”

Contrary to its image, Harvey adds, not all works in the classical canon are somber tomes. “Most folks don’t realize that Greek and Latin literature includes an extraordinary range of works in different genres, including risqué and very funny love poetry.”

Of course, risqué and funny may not be everyone’s taste either. But as the Romans said, “De gustibus non est disputandum.” One must not argue over matters of taste.

Looting at Elefsina

Brief/vague item from eKathimerini:

Ancient artifacts have been stolen from the Elefsina archaeological site west of Athens, the Culture Ministry said on Friday.

The theft took place on the night of April 15, according to the ministry. No further details were given on the orders of the police.

The site is one of Greece’s most significant archaeological areas, housing the remains of the Temple of Demeter, where the Elefsinian Mysteries were held, and museum that displays objects from as far back as the 5th century.

via Artifacts stolen from ancient Elefsina site | Kathimerini.

Roman Ship From Ostia

Tip o’ the pileus to Francesca Tronchin for finding this one … from ANSA:

An ancient ship has emerged from the ground at the Imperial Roman port of Ostia in a find Culture Minister Giancarlo Galan said “gives you goose bumps”.

An 11-metre section of one of the ship’s sides has so far been discovered, archaeologists said.

They and Galan said the discovery would make experts think anew about the exact location of the port where the Roman empire’s biggest fleet was stationed and through which goods travelled to and from the imperial capital.

“This great result tells us a lot of things about the ancient coastline and what was happening about 2,000 years ago,” said Galan, who rushed down to the site after the find was made public.

Archaeologists said they were expecting to find something in the area, where a major road bridge is being rebuilt, and had launched a programme of so-called ‘preventive archaeology’.

Site director Paola Germoni stressed that this type of work “enables us to combine the demands of conservation of ancient artefacts with the needs of the general public”.

She said the discovery “would plausibly move back the ancient coast line some four kilometres from where it is now”.

Silt and river movements have pushed back the area of the once-bustling port, which is now a major archeological site called Ostia Antica, the best-preserved ancient Roman town outside Pompeii.

Although it attracts far fewer visitors than Pompeii, many enthusiasts say it offers a similar thrill and feel of ancient life.

Anna Maria Moretti, archaeological superintendent for Rome and Ostia Antica, said “the find is a novelty because at that depth, about four metres below the topsoil, we have never found a ship, only layers (of buildings) and one single structure”.

“At the moment we only have a sizeable chunk of one side (of the ship), neither the poop or stern”.

She also said there were “remains of ropes and cables” in the ship.

“Restoring the vessel will be an extremely delicate operation,” Moretti went on. “We’re keeping it constantly covered in water so that the wood doesn’t dry out.

“The wreck must be treated with highly sophisticated preservation techniques,” Moretti said.

Several Roman ships were found during the construction of the nearby Fiumicino Airport in the 1950s and are now housed in a museum at Ostia Antica.

Ancient Roman Ostia, at the since-moved mouth of the River Tiber, was built into a massive complex under the Emperor Claudius and given the name Portus, meaning port.

It was expanded under successive emperors such as Trajan and Hadrian and served as a base for many of the empire’s greatest expeditions.

Ostia was also the depot channelling the vast wealth, grain and other supplies needed to feed the appetites of the imperial city.

UPDATE (a few minutes later): tip o’ the pileus to Martin Conde, who alerted us to the Corriere coverage which includes some nice photos and a video (probably short-lived): Ostia Antica, scoperta una nave romana Galan: «Ritrovamento da brivido» | Corriere della Sera

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem iii kalendas maias

ante diem iii kalendas maias

ludi Florales … a.k.a. Floralia (day 3) — a festival originally ordered in response to an interpretation of the Sybilline books in 238 B.C., it fell into desuetude only to be revived in 173 B.C.; it was a general festival of drinking and other merriment in honour of Flora, who presided over (of course) flowers and their blossoms

ca 65 A.D. — martyrdom of Torpes of Pisa

259 A.D. — martyrdom of Agapius at Citra (along with quite a few others)

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem iii kalendas maias

ante diem iii kalendas maias

  • ludi Florales … a.k.a. Floralia (day 3) — a festival originally ordered in response to an interpretation of the Sybilline books in 238 B.C., it fell into desuetude only to be revived in 173 B.C.; it was a general festival of drinking and other merriment in honour of Flora, who presided over (of course) flowers and their blossoms
  • ca 65 A.D. — martyrdom of Torpes of Pisa
  • 259 A.D. — martyrdom of Agapius at Citra (along with quite a few others)

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem v kalendas maias

Edward Gibbon, by Henry Walton (died 1813). Se...

Image via Wikipedia

ante diem v kalendas maias

  • ludi Florales … a.k.a. Floralia (day 1) — a festival originally ordered in response to an interpretation of the Sybilline books in 238 B.C., it fell into desuetude only to be revived in 173 B.C.; it was a general festival of drinking and other merriment in honour of Flora, who presided over (of course) flowers and their blossoms (Chloris is also mentioned … I’m still trying to figure that one out).
  • 4977 B.C. — birth of the universe, according to the calculations of Johannes Kepler
  • 1737 — Birth of Edward Gibbon (he wrote some sort of book apparently)

An Ovatio for Keely Lake

From the Hot Springs Star:

HSHS graduate Dr. Keely Lake, who currently teaches at Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, Wisc., has been recognized with a meritorious service award, an Ovatio, by the Classical Association of the Middle, West, and South CAMWS.CAMWS includes 32 states and three Canadian provinces.The award is given for outstanding service to the organization and to the profession of teaching Latin, Greek, and the world of classical antiquity. The Ovatio, a humorous, but flattering tribute delivered in Latin, was presented at the association’s annual meeting in Grand Rapids last Friday. The Ovatio is the highest honor that CAMWS bestows upon its members and is commemorated by an illuminated, hand-lettered scroll.She is the daughter of James and Dorothy Lake of Hot Springs.

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem vii kalendas maias

ante diem vii kalendas maias

Paul Maier Puts Down the Chalk

From the Kalamazoo Gazette … another classicist-novelist I was unaware of:

A group of admirers sat in the back of Paul Maier’s classroom Thursday, soaking up the Western Michigan University professor of ancient history’s lesson on the last part of the Roman empire and marveling at his knowledge of the ancient world.

They weren’t his students, the small band in the back of the room, but they also weren’t about to miss the moment.

As the university’s longest-serving faculty member — with more than 50 years teaching and, by Maier’s quick estimate, 20,000 students — Thursday was his last lecture at WMU.

At 80 years old, the internationally known scholar, whose 25 books have sold more than 4 million copies, said it’s time to put down his chalk.

“Sorry to have run over, team. But it’s my last” lecture, Maier said to his pupils and friends who applauded him as class ended a few minutes late.

They didn’t seem to mind that his talk went a bit long during a class period in which he never stopped moving and told story after story about the likes of Marcus Aurelius, Constantine and others as though they were associates once.

“He knows his subject. He’s passionate about it and he wants his kids to be passionate about it,” said Gail Heim. She’s a neighbor of Maier, who with her husband, Jim, and others, wanted to be there for the professor’s final time teaching at WMU.

The highly regarded expert on early Christianity, who first came to WMU 53 years ago as a campus chaplain, is set to retire with the close of the spring semester, which ends next week.

“I have reached my goal and that was to be the first faculty member out of 850 to have taught here a half century,” Maier, eyes twinkling, said gleefully after class Thursday. “It’s a nice round number.”

Maier jokes that he and WMU’s first president, Dwight Waldo, founded the university. That is a joke, as the university was founded in 1903, years before Maier was even born. But truth is, he has known every WMU president except for Waldo, he said Thursday.

An ordained minister, Maier started at the university as the Lutheran campus pastor in 1958, toward the end of the tenure of Paul Sangren, WMU’s second president. But Maier didn’t join the university’s history faculty until 1960.

“I wouldn’t change what I did for anything if I had it to do over again,” he said Thursday, reflecting on his career.

But nowadays Maier said his eyesight has grown poor, he wants to make room for younger scholars and he’s looking forward to spending part of the year in a warmer climate than Michigan can offer during winter months.

Maier said teaching and preaching are his life’s passions and instructing students all these years has been “too much fun.” That is, aside from reading their papers and grading their exams — which he describes as a distasteful task of “playing God when it comes grades.”

Brandon Stark, a philosophy major at WMU who wants to teach at the college level and will study history in graduate school, considers Maier a role model. He’s taken every class he could from the veteran professor.

Thursday’s class on ancient Rome that Maier taught Stark already had taken last year, but he sat in on it again this semester for more information and to learn from Maier’s teaching techniques.

“It’s kind of a bummer that he ended this year,” said Stark, who said he owns just about all of Maier’s books — both fiction and nonfiction. “I don’t know what I’m going to do next year.”

Stark said every class period, Maier is clearly excited about teaching, charismatic and just doesn’t seem like the stereotypical 80-year-old to this 22-year-old college senior.

“He’s full of energy. … He’s so sharp. Seems like he knows any important date and unimportant date. … I guess that comes with age and a lot of studying,” Stark said.

“The other thing that always amazes me is he gets out his notebook and sees where we ended the class and then he’ll just get up there and walk around and talk for the whole class. He’s got it all up there,” Stark said.

Though he’s retiring from the university, Maier has no plans to let all that knowledge “up there” go into retirement. Currently, he has speaking engagements across the country just about every weekend, and that won’t stop.

“The Constantine Codex,” the third novel novel in his trilogy “Skeleton in God’s Closet,” comes out in a month. He’s frequently appeared on national television for his expertise and has a History Channel project in the works.

“I’ll continue to be lecturing around Kalamazoo, Michigan and the nation. … My speaking calendar for the fall and for most of 2012 is almost already filled in every weekend,” he said, with the exceptions of summer months, which are set aside for family time.

“I hate to be bored,” Maier confessed. “This may sound ridiculous, but I don’t recall a time in the last 40 years when I’ve had to say, ‘Gee, What am I going to do today?

“I’ve always got something cooking.”

There’s a video of his ‘last lecture’ at the Gazette’s page as well … wouldn’t play for me for reasons unknown (my ISP is being obstreperous of late)

Teaching Classical Languages

Seen on the Latin Teach list:

The Classical Association of the Middle West and South is pleased to announce the most recent issue of Teaching Classical Languages (  In this issue are three articles.  The first describes more than 20 field tested exercises to help beginning and intermediate students become more efficient readers of Latin.  The second introduces teachers to form-focused instruction, a pedagogy that integrates grammar instruction within a communicative context.  Finally, the issue concludes with an analysis of students’ strengths and weaknesses on the 2010 College Greek Exam.

In this issue of Teaching Classical Languages:
*       Rebecca Harrison, “Exercises for Developing Prediction Skills in Reading Latin Sentences”
*       Peter Anderson & Mark Beckwith, “Form-Focused Teaching for the Intermediate Latin Student”
*       Albert Watanabe, “The 2010 College Greek Exam”
To access the latest issue and read the abstracts, go to and click on “current issue.”

Teaching Classical Languages welcomes articles offering innovative practice and methods, advocating new theoretical approaches, or reporting on empirical research in teaching and learning Latin and Greek.  Please submit articles and queries to:

John Gruber-Miller, editor
Teaching Classical Languages
Cornell College
Mount Vernon, IA 52314
jgruber-miller AT

VotD: Les Dieux de l’Olympe

Tip o’ the pileus to the historyteachers lady for drawing our attention to this item put together by a class at  Sherbrooke College (I think … please correct me if I’m wrong) … it’s in French:

Everybody sing along:

On est les plus forts
On est immortels
Au sommet du monde
C’est nous qui dirigeons tout
Dirigeons tout

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xi kalendas maias

ante diem xi kalendas maias

  • Parilia (a.k.a. Palilia) — originally a festival in honour of Pales (who protected shepherds and their flock), it eventually evolved — in the city of Rome, at least — into a ‘birthday of Rome’ celebration
  • 753 B.C. — traditional date for the foundation of Rome
  • 43 B.C. — pro-Caesarian forces “under” Octavian defeat the forces of Marcus Antonius at Mutina
  • 47 A.D. — Claudius celebrates the ludi Saeculares (?)
  • 148 A.D. — Antoninus Pius celebrates the 900th anniversary of Rome
  • 248 A.D. — Philip Arabus celebrates the 1000th anniversary of Rome

Happy ‘Hug a Classicist Day’!!!

Roman Tomb in Illegal Italian Dump

An AFP story which seems to be making the rounds of far eastern newspapers only for some strange reason … this is from the Straits Times:

POLICE raiding an illegal dumping ground in southern Italy this week made a startling discovery – a richly-decorated and well-preserved ancient Roman tomb dating back to the second century.

The underground entrance to the tomb was found beneath a huge pile of truck tyres near Pozzuoli – a working-class port town just west of Naples in a region that has struggled with a waste disposal problem for years.

The tomb was near a 17th-century tower that was also part of the dumping ground, which has now been seized by police. The owner of the site has been charged with violating environmental and historical preservation laws.

Police said in a statement they alerted local archaeologists from a nearby ancient Greek site after finding a marble-lined tunnel leading to the tomb.

Video footage released by the police showed the stuccoed interior of the mausoleum filled with debris, as well as discarded car batteries at the dump.

The Naples region is rich in Greek and Roman archaeological remains including the ancient city of Pompeii – a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xiii kalendas maias

Vitellius on a coin.

Image via Wikipedia

ante diem xiii kalendas maias

  • ludi Cereri (day 8)– games in honour of the grain goddess Ceres, instituted by/before 202 B.C.
  • Cerealia — the actual date of the Cerealia is uncertain, but it ‘reenacted’ Ceres’ search for her daughter Proserpina, with apparently all participants and spectators dressed in white.
  • 69 A.D. — Vitellius is recognized as emperor by the senate in Rome

… we also note today is the commemoration of an (undated) Roman soldier saint Expeditus