Nuntii Latini Graecique

Time to revive this feature … first, Nuntii Latini

  • From YLE August 31:


De conventu republicanorum

Tampae, in urbe Floridae, conventus factionis republicanorum habitus est. Quo in consessu candidatus praesidentialis illarum partium officialiter nominatus est Mitt Romney, cuius competitores iam antea certamine inferiores discesserant. Demoscopiae monstrant eum apud populum iam tantundem fere gratia valere ac praesidentem hodiernum Barck Obama.

alia from August 31 (Neil Armstrong vita defunctus … Breivik vinculis condemnatus … Rerum in Columbia condicio … Zingari Parisiis eiciuntur … Novus campus petrolearius … Primae nives in Lapponia) …

  • From YLE September 7:

Ecclesiam catholicam duo saecula retro remansisse

Cardinalis Carolus Maria Martini, olim archiepiscopus Mediolanus, qui pridie Kalendas Septembres obiit, in colloquio ante tres septimanas facto et die Sabbati (1.9.) divulgato dixit ecclesiam catholicam duo saecula retro remansisse.

Ecclesiam hortatus est, ut errores confiteretur et mutationes, pontificibus et episcopis inclusis, susciperet. Culturam occidentalem esse inveteratam, ecclesias magnas et vacuas, ritus religiosos pomposos. Cardinalis Martini suasit etiam, ut ecclesia catholica erga homines divortium passos humanius ageret. Neque timebat res difficiles tractare, ut homosexualitatem et caelibatum sacerdotum atque remedia prophylactiva, quibus sida prohiberetur.

…. alia from September 7: Britannia marmora Parthenonis non reddit … Desmond Tutu: Bush et Blair ad iudices … Memoria proelii in Borodino facti …

… and Nuntii Graeci

Pompeii’s Last XXIV Hours

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned that Pliny the Elder happened to be tweeting the final hours of Pompeii — actually a very interesting project of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. In case you missed them, you can check them out at the project’s very nice page … each tweet has a link to a photo or quote or something and is definitely worth checking out:

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

  • 2012.09.18:  Irene J. F. de Jong, Space in Ancient Greek Literature. Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative, vol. 3. Mnemosyne supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, 339.
  • 2012.09.17:  Walter Ameling, Hannah M. Cotton, Werner Eck, Benjamin Isaac, Alla Kushnir-Stein, Corpus inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae. Volume II: Caesarea and the Middle Coast: 1121-2160.
  • 2012.09.16:  Laurent Pernot, La rhétorique des arts. Actes du colloque tenu au Collège de France sous la présidence de Marc Fumaroli, de l’Académie française.
  • 2012.09.15:  Martha A. Malamud, Prudentius. Origin of Sin: an English Translation of the Hamartigenia. Cornell studies in classical philology, 61.
  • 2012.09.14:  Mark Handley, Dying on Foreign Shores: Travel and Mobility in the Late-Antique West. JRA Supplementary Series 86.
  • 2012.09.13:  Christopher J. Fuhrmann, Policing the Roman Empire: Soldiers, Administration, and Public Order.
  • 2012.09.12:  Federica Bessone, La Tebaide di Stazio: epica e potere. Materiali e discussioni per l’analisi dei testi classici, 24.
  • 2012.09.11:  Mary C. English, Georgia L. Irby, A Little Latin Reader
  • 2012.09.10:  Maria Tziatzi-Papagianni, Theodori Metropolitae Cyzici Epistulae: accedunt epistulae mutuae Constantini Porphyrogeniti. Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae, 48.
  • 2012.09.09:  Kelly L. Wrenhaven, Reconstructing the Slave: the Image of the Slave in Ancient Greece.
  • 2012.09.08:  Eirini-Sophia Kiapidou, Ἡ Σύνοψη Ἱστοριῶν τοῦ Ιωάννη Σκυλίτζη καὶ οἱ πηγές της (811-1057): Συμβολή στὴ βυζαντινὴ ἱστοριογραφία κατά τὸν ΙΑ΄ αἰώνα. Μελέτες Βυζαντινής Γραμματείας, 9.
  • 2012.09.07:  Christine Walde, Die Rezeption der antiken Literatur: kulturhistorisches Werklexikon. Der Neue Pauly – Supplemente, Bd 7.
  • 2012.09.06:  Riccardo Scarcia, Fabio Stok, Devotionis munus. La cultura e l’opera di Adamo di Brema. Testi e studi di cultura classica 47.

CJ Online Review: Roisman and Worthington, A Companion to Ancient Macedonia

posted with permission:

A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. Edited by Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Chichester and Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Pp. xxvi + 668; 16 pp. of plates. Hardcover, £120.00/$199.95. ISBN 978-1-4051-7936-2.

Reviewed by Lee L. Brice, Western Illinois University

That we have a Companion devoted to Ancient Macedonia is hardly surprising. Alexander the Great remains a cottage industry, but the field of Macedonian studies is currently thriving on its own. Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington, the editors of this Companion, set out to demonstrate this vitality by including a wide range of topics all written for readers who are new to the field, whether as students or general readers. They have succeeded in assembling a large helping of the current state of the field and have drawn on an international array of authors. However, the omission of any discussion of archaeology is even more surprising than the failure to include a single chapter by a Greek or other Balkan scholar. As a result of these gaps, readers who want more comprehensive coverage of the field should supplement this volume with several other surveys and Companions.

Because of space constraints I will briefly summarize each chapter and discuss the merits of the whole. Edward Anson opens the volume with an introductory chapter that places the field as a whole and the Companion’s chapters in a context. P. J. Rhodes opens the section on evidence by covering the literary and epigraphic evidence, such as it is, for pre-Roman Macedonia. Karsten Dahmen provides a well-organized discussion of the numismatic evidence arranged by tribes, cities, kings, and province. He closes with a case study examination of Roman coinage in the province. Two chapters on evidence may highlight how few the sources are for the region, but to omit archaeology is inexplicable and leaves the volume deeply flawed.

Physical environment and ethnicity are the focus of the following part. Carol Thomas considers the physical environment and early population movements in a chapter that is clear, but needs a better map. Johannes Engels addresses the topic of ethnicity relating to Greeks and Macedonians. Sulochana Asirvatham continues the ethnicity theme, in part, by addressing Greek, Roman, Persian, and Egyptian perspectives on Macedonians. Engel’s observation, “ancient identities and concepts of ethnicity are historically and socially complex and fluid constructions,” (82) is worth remembering when reading the chapters focused on ethnicity.

The editors divided the historical narrative into convenient, useful chapters: early Temenid kings down to Alexander I (Slawomir Sprawski), Alexander I to Perdiccas III (Joseph Roisman), Philip II (Sabine Müller), Alexander III (Ian Worthington and Dawn Gilley), 323–221 BCE (W. Lindsay Adams), Macedonia and Rome to 146 (Arthur Eckstein), and provincial Macedonia to 3rd century CE (John Vanderspoel). The chapters are clear and provide good coverage. The only jarring aspect is that Carolyn Snively’s chapter on Late Antique Macedonia is separated from the rest of the history by more than ten chapters. Late Antiquity should be included. Segregating this chapter was an unfortunate choice.

Several of Macedonia’s ancient neighbors receive attention. Bill Greenwalt takes on Illyria and Epirus, Denver Graninger covers Thessaly, Zosia Archibald handles Thrace, and Marek Jan Olbrycht cleans up with Persia. Each of these chapters provides readers with a good introduction to the periphery in relation to the Macedonian center. Such a center–periphery view is useful (and necessary in the context of this Companion), but such an approach is entirely in contrast to the viewpoint of most of our literary sources.

Readers in search of chapters on institutions, society, and culture find them in the penultimate section. Topics included here are kingship and politics (Carol King), elite society (Noriko Sawada), women (Elizabeth Carney), religion (Paul Christesen and Sarah Murray), army (Nicholas Sekunda), economy (Paul Millett), art to 221 BCE (Craig Hardiman), and art to 337 CE (Rachel Kousser). These authors necessarily deal with elite Macedonians primarily and, given the space limits, must be selective in the evidence and historiography they include. As with so many of the other chapters, readers will find in these useful introductions to the material.

The final section of the Companion carries the title “After Rome” and includes only two chapters. As noted previously, Snively’s informative chapter on Late Antique Macedonia to 586 CE belongs with the rest of the historical narrative since to do otherwise conveys to the intended audience the impression that this history is somehow different or exceptional. The concluding chapter, by Loring Danforth, is an extended discussion of how ancient Macedonia is embroiled in modern Balkan politics. This chapter on a modern topic is out of place in a Companion otherwise focused on ancient Macedonia.

In addition to the chapters, there are twenty-eight color plates, four line drawings, ten maps, a bibliography, and index. Eleven of the plates are coins. These images are all well produced and they provide a taste of what is available for readers who dig into the topics. The maps are all together at the beginning of the volume, but the details and even the scales (when available) vary widely rendering them less effective as a group than they might have been.

Given the intended audience, the Companion is successful, as far as it goes. The volume was designed to introduce ancient Macedonia to students and other readers unfamiliar with the field. Except for the last chapter, the selected authors succeed in meeting that goal. They are clear and provide students with the information they need to explore aspects of the field. They also include numerous footnotes and bibliography so readers who wish to explore these topics in more depth can do so on their own. Teachers seeking material for writing introductory lectures will find some of it here, although those working on heavily debated topics, like Macedonian kingship, will need to supplement with works cited in footnotes and bibliography. Although it is expensive currently, the material will be available electronically and the paperback edition will be more affordable if it follows the trend of other Blackwell Companions.

There are some editorial choices that detract from the Companion’s overall success. Editors must naturally compromise in selecting authors and topics, but it is remarkable in a volume on ancient Macedonia that there are no Greek or other Balkan scholars from regional institutions represented among the authors. One expects that regional scholars have much to provide both in terms of content and point of view that would enrich the Companion. Archibald’s chapter has the distinction of being the only one to draw heavily on Greek-language work. This editorial choice in authors may be connected with the volume’s preoccupation with ethnicity. It is perhaps illuminating that a quarter of the introduction addresses ethnicity in one way or another while three of the internal chapters focus heavily on ethnicity. The emphasis placed on this topic gives the mistaken impression that it receives more attention from scholars than do other issues.

The focus on ethnicity is even more surprising when one finds the complete exclusion of an extended discussion of archaeology. Although Roisman and Worthington conclude (xiv), “we have covered as much as humanly can be within one set of covers and that the book,” such a over-statement seems intended to be tongue-in-cheek given the absence of archaeology. That omission is inexplicable given the importance of archaeological evidence. Some of the authors draw on prior archaeological work, but without an overarching examination it is difficult for the intended audience to appreciate the role of archaeology and archaeological evidence in our evolving understanding of the region. Every such volume involves many editorial choices, but in this case this omission resulted in numerous missed opportunities. This Companion is a useful volume, but should be supplemented with selected chapters from other sources such as the archaeological and regional perspectives in Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon.

In Explorator 15.20-21

It was a double issue this week, due to sketchy internet last weekend … as always, most of these have already appeared in these pages but many haven’t. I do hope to give some of them fuller treatement and there are additional links if you want to explore some items a bit further:

================================================================
ANCIENT GREECE AND ROME (AND CLASSICS)
================================================================
Remains of an ancient ‘pub’ near Stracathro Fort:

http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/ale-caesar-romans-and-caledonian-trib\
es-went-to-pub-together-1-2514282

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/344711

…  coverage with a different spin:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-19392180

Interesting ‘cold case’ from Vindolanda (not sure if we’ve mentioned this
before or not):

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/9898645.Roman_fort_murder_mystery/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2194706/CSI-Roman-Empire-murder-B\
ritish-child-1-800-years-ago-gets-investigated-year-old-slave-came-Med-killed-ha\
nds-tied-up.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/news/murder-body-found-at-\
hadrians-wall-was-from-overseas-8084214.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/08/28/roman-remains-hadrians-wall_n_1835717\
.html

A Roman bath and other structures from an excavation near Cockermouth:

http://www.timesandstar.co.uk/news/other/papcastle-dig-uncovers-more-roman-remai\
ns-1.993139?referrerPath=1242444

Very interesting Etruscan ‘pyramids’ from Orvieto:

http://www.wmur.com/news/nh-news/NH-professor-students-make-discovery-in-Italy/-\
/9857858/16500044/-/l7lins/-/index.html

A 6th century B.C. incense thing in the shape of a bull’s head from near
Sozopol:

http://sofiaglobe.com/2012/08/31/archaeology-incense-vessel-in-shape-of-bulls-he\
ad-found-on-island-off-bulgarias-sozopol/

Apollonia’s ancient necropolis appears to have been found as well:

http://sofiaglobe.com/2012/09/03/archaeology-oldest-necropolis-of-ancient-apollo\
nia-found-in-bulgarias-sozopol/

They’ve excavated a stadium at Aydin:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/historic-stadium-found-in-aydin.aspx?pageID=238\
&nid=29283&NewsCatID=375

Some headless statuary from Aphrodisias:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/headless-statues-unearthed-in-aphrodisias-excav\
ations.aspx?pageID=238&nID=29194&NewsCatID=375

Roman bones found during renovations at the Ankara Opera House:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/bones-in-opera-house-from-roman-period.aspx?pag\
eID=238&nid=29021&NewsCatID=375

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/bones-skull-revealed-in-opera-stage-renovation.\
aspx?pageID=238&nid=28924&NewsCatID=375

Plans to dig at the Roman sites of Adana:

http://www.turizmtatilseyahat.com/en/archeological-excavations-begin-adana-4857.\
htm

Theater masks from Ilisu:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/theater-masks-found-in-ilisu-excavations.aspx?p\
ageID=238&nID=28638&NewsCatID=375

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2012/archaeologists-discover\
-ancient-theater-masks-in-turkey

Arguing over the site of the battle of Alesia:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19167600

Feature on the Roman Gask project:

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/09/2012/surveying-romes-forgott\
en-frontier

Nice feature on the use of GPR (etc.) to map the site of Interamna Lirenas:

http://phys.org/news/2012-09-images-lost-roman-town.html
http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/09/2012/roman-provicial-town-re\
vealed-street-by-street

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/buried-italian-town-interamna-lir\
enas-is-mapped-by-researchers-8105249.html

Feature on the dig at the Roman fort at Ayn Gharandal:

http://asorblog.org/?p=2992&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-roman-f\
ort-amidst-the-dunes-the-ayn-gharandal-archaeological-project

Nice video feature on colorizing Roman statues:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/0/19442872

The Pope wants to set up a Latin academy:

http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/breathing-life-into-a-dead-langua\
ge/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/9511929/L\
atin-rebirth-in-schools.html

Philip Freeman on attack ads in Pompeii:

http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/the-attack-ad-pompeii-style/?r\
ef=opinion

Can’t remember if we’ve mentioned this poem about Nero and Poppaea:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2194564/Mystery-ancient-Greek-poe\
m-Egyptian-rubbish-dump-praises-cruel-Emperor-Nero-200-years-death.html

Plans to dig more at the Roman forum at Plovdiv:

http://sofiaglobe.com/2012/08/27/archaeology-plovdiv-wants-to-expand-roman-forum\
-dig-after-several-finds/

A Great Lives BBC thing on Juvenal:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01m5jtk

The Penn Museum has made an arrangement regarding some Troy jewellery
being exchanged for some objects associated with Midas:

http://phys.org/news/2012-09-penn-museum-turkey-troy-gold.html
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20120906_Penn_museum_lends_possibly_plun\
dered_items_to_Turkey.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/penn-museum-makes-deal-wit\
h-turkey-for-troy-gold-in-exchange-for-exhibit-of-midas-artifacts/2012/09/04/b36\
e94de-f6fe-11e1-a93b-7185e3f88849_story.html

http://phys.org/news/2012-09-penn-museum-turkey-troy-gold.html
http://artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=57532#.UEx8Lq757Ak

The Colosseum is apparently okay, despite the chunks falling off of it:

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/09/07/Colosseum-said-okay-despite-fa\
lling-chunks/UPI-50201347033840/

…  but they’re going to put in a safety ‘buffer zone’:

http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/2001556/safety-buffer-zone-around-romes-colosse\
um.html

  … and repairs will begin in December:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/officials-set-colosseum-repair-da\
te/story-e6frf7k6-1226439996728

Feature on plans to unroll/conserve a lead curse tablet:

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/news/2012/september/1/roman_scroll.aspx

Evidence of the Cimmerians:

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/08/2012/archaeology-conan-the-b\
arbarians-namesake-tribe-found-in-anatolian-dig

Latest on plans for hockey in the Pula amphitheatre:

http://austrianindependent.com/news/Sports/2012-09-05/12098/Austrian_ice-hockey_\
stars_become_gladiators_

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/behold-roman-amphitheatre-begins-tr\
ansforming-hockey-rink-141229032–nhl.html

Folks were marking Caligula’s bimillennial birthday:

http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.ca/2012/09/this-week-marked-caligulas-2000th.html

Hollywood is cooling to using Roman numerals:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/08/23/roman_numerals_in_movie_titles_ex\
pendables_2_signals_that_they_re_gone_once_and_for_all_.html

A followup feature on that tattooed siberian ‘princess’:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2198222/Fashion-beauty-secrets-Siberian-\
princess-died-2-500-years-ago-revealed.html

A Roman wedding of sorts is being held at Nicopolis ad Istrum:

http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n286422

OpEd on the future of ancient Greek:

http://blogs.dickinson.edu/dcc/2012/08/31/the-future-of-ancient-greek/

In case you’re wondering how far Ryan Hall runs while listening to the
Odyssey:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/08/28/ryan_hall_at_t_commercial_how_far\
_does_the_marathoner_run_while_listening_to_the_odyssey_.html

More on the Thermae Romae movie:

http://filmsandbooks.com/2012/09/05/thermae-romae-hilarity-from-rome-to-japan/
http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/sns-201209030515reedbusivarietynve11\
17948177-20120903,0,5686135.story

Winter/Spring 2012 APA newsletter:

http://apaclassics.org/index.php/apa_blog/apa_blog_entry/winter-spring_2012_news\
letter/

… and the latest issue of Amphora:

http://apaclassics.org/index.php/apa_blog/apa_blog_entry/latest_issue_of_amphora\
_available/

Review of A. Everitt, *Rise of Rome*:

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20120908/FEATURES06/309080038/Book-review\
-Rise-Rome-

More on that Roman shipwreck in Antibes:

http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=57485
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/sep/04/roman-shipwreck-discovered-antibes\
-france?newsfeed=true

http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/ancient-roman-shipwreck-found-in-futur\
e-parking-lot-site

Check out the complete issue here

CJ Online Review: Gillespie, English Translation and Classical Reception

posted with permission:

English Translation and Classical Reception: Towards a New Literary History. By Stuart Gillespie. Classical Receptions. Chichester and Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Pp. x + 208. Hardcover, £70.00/$110.95. ISBN 978-1-4051-9901-8.

Reviewed by Angeline C. Chiu, University of Vermont

In October of 1816, after an evening spent reading the Iliad with a friend, John Keats wrote one of English literature’s most famous sonnets, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. Within it he describes the powerful emotional epiphany of experiencing that immortal Greek epic, but Keats also explicitly refers to Homer mediated through George Chapman’s monumental English translation of 1616: “Yet did I never breathe its pure serene / Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold” (ll. 7-8). Embedded in the heart of the sonnet is not only the acknowledgment of the existence of classical translation, but also the praise of its literary effect and influence. It is an influence that has been all too frequently been forgotten or ignored in the study of both Classics and English; the result is a grave lapse in scholarship that Stuart Gillespie is determined first to highlight and then to rectify in his new book.

I begin with a caveat: This book is not a literary history per se, and Gillespie specifically notes this. The title is Towards a New Literary History, and that is the core of the book: the passionate presentation of—in fact, defense of—translation as a vital part of English literary history. He then bolsters this with the robust advocacy of a new assessment of that history and of what effects it has had and still has on the study of Classics and English both separately and together. In an academic world that too often both overspecializes and overcompartmentalizes, Gillespie’s cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach is a breath of fresh air. When he asks, “How does English literature look after classical translation is accorded its due in the record?” (181), he is actually prefacing his grand argument that such translation is central to the English literary canon.

The book is not organized as a seamless comprehensive history, though Chapter 1, “Making the Classics Belong: A Historical Introduction,” gives useful general context and presents with broad historical brushstrokes the phenomenon of translation between Classics and English. The rest of the book follows as a collection of what might be best called case studies of items plucked from various points in English literary history and here organized chronologically from the English Renaissance to the twentieth century. The chapters’ case studies range far and wide from widely recognized literary achievements such as Chapter 5, “Transformative Translation: Dryden’s Horatian Ode,” to writings forgotten today as in the case of Chapter 9, “Receiving Wordsworth, Receiving Juvenal: Wordsworth’s Suppressed Eighth Satire.” Out of the chapters, Chapter 2, “Creative Translation,” and Chapter 7, “Classical Translation and the Formation of the English Literary Canon,” together form perhaps the clearest distillation of Gillespie’s overall argument of the vitality of classical translation in English. The examination of canon formation is particularly noteworthy as it reminds us how very many canonical English writers were also subtle, gifted translators and vice versa, including luminaries like Marlowe, Jonson, Dryden, Pope, Shelley, Browning, Pound, and Housman. On the other hand, the chapter that might break the most ground is Chapter 8, “Evidence for an Alternative History: Manuscript Translations of the Long Eighteenth Century,” with its intriguing presentation of classical translations undertaken by enthusiasts who never intended their work for publication and public consumption. This much broadens the discussion of the widespread appeal of classics and translation in the 1700s, as well as sheds a fascinating light on the many forms of literary circulation of the day.

Overall as a collection, the book can seem occasionally desultory and impressionistic. This is doubtless a function of the disparate foci of the individual case studies, but I occasionally found myself wondering about the historical and literary gaps that exist, for instance, between Chapter 4’s Shakespeare and Chapter 5’s Dryden. If the chapters were screenshots taken from a film, one wonders about the film as a whole, regardless of—and perhaps even because of—how interesting the individual screenshots are in themselves. This effect may, however, be part of the point of the book as a whole. It means to be provocative in the best sense of the word; beyond presenting information, it piques the interest and stirs the desire to learn more. Gillespie’s undeniable command of the material on display also hints intriguingly at what has not been included.

Taken together, the various case studies of the book express an energetic engagement with the rich inheritance of classical literature and its complex role in and through English translation. In this vein, the most enlightening aspect that Gillespie highlights may not be translation as a means to introduce classics to readers who do not command Greek and Latin or the conduit through which English writers explored classical literary forms and genres to make such things their own. Instead, it may be about translation’s invigorating effect that motivated English writers not only to incorporate and interpret the classics, but also to innovate and create works of their own that have added to the rich texture of Anglophone literature. One need only think, for instance, of Shakespeare, whose engagement with Plutarch, Plautus, and Ovid in and out of translation proved so fruitful. Gillespie is absolutely right when he insists that the disciplines of Classics and English have much to learn from each other and that it could (and should) be a most productive collaboration.

Overall, Gillespie challenges the conventional wisdom and status quo of studies in English literary history, and he makes his case with energy and flair. His ultimate achievement, though, is even more stimulating. If Gillespie’s true goal is to encourage his audience to pursue further studies of translation in the ancient and English literary canons, then he has succeeded. By the time they reach the end of the book, readers will not only be surprised and intrigued by the scope of the material presented but also spurred on by the sense of discovery, of a brave new world opening and waiting to be explored. Indeed, thanks to Gillespie’s efforts, we may even feel, as Keats did after reading Chapman’s Homer (ll. 11–14):

like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Careers for Classicists in Today’s World

You’ve probably seen this mentioned already, but it’s useful to keep getting the word out … the APA has updated its Careers for Classicists ‘brochure’, and it’s now available online:

… if you’re making a resume, you might want to alert prospective employers to this document as well in case they’re not aware of what skills a Classicist might bring to the table.

JOB: Greek Lit and Culture @ UNotre Dame

Seen on various lists:

Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics, University of Notre Dame

Applications are invited from specialists in early Greek literature and culture for a two-year
position as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Notre
Dame to begin in July 2013. We welcome especially applications from candidates whose teaching
and research interests include Homeric literature and the material culture of the Aegean in the late
Bronze Age. Applicants should be prepared to teach courses in Greek and Latin language and
literature, and to offer courses in classical literature and culture in translation.

Review of complete applications will begin November 15, 2012. Preliminary interviews will take
place at the Annual Meeting of the AIA/APA in Seattle (January 2013). Please send letters of
application and complete dossiers, including three letters of recommendation, to Professor
Elizabeth Mazurek, Chair, Department of Classics, 304 O’Shaughnessy Hall, University of Notre
Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.

The University of Notre Dame is an international Catholic research university and an equal
opportunity educator and employer with strong institutional and academic commitments to racial,
cultural, and gender diversity. Persons of color, women, members of under-represented groups,
and those attracted to a university with a Catholic identity are encouraged to apply. Information
about Notre Dame, including the University’s mission statement, is available at http://www.nd.edu.
Information about the Department of Classics can be found at http://classics.nd.edu.

CJ Online Review: Kurke, Aesopic Conversations

posted with permission:

Aesopic Conversations: Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue, and the Invention of Greek Prose. By Leslie Kurke. Martin Classical Lectures. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2010. Pp. xxiv + 495. Hardcover, $78.50/£55.00. ISBN 978-0-691-14457-3. Paper, $29.95/£24.95. ISBN 978-0-691-14458-0.

Reviewed by Page duBois, University of California at San Diego

This book is a monumental achievement, and a great pleasure to read as well. The author painstakingly shepherds the argument—forecasting what is to come, then proving what is to be proven, then recapitulating and moving forward,

generously leading the reader onward.

The first, diachronic, half of the book focuses on the figure of Aesop himself , and demonstrates with great care and convincing attention to detail that much of the Life of Aesop called Vita G, of uncertain late date, not only preserves very ancient traditions, but can be read backwards into moments of the classical period, to confirm or illuminate insights Kurke untangles from the welter of material concerning Aesop. She considers the story of his engagement with the Delphic oracle and the Delphians, and shows how an opposition between Apollo and Aesop serves to demystify the claims and privileges of the oracular site. She lays out the characteristics of a prephilosophical or even antiphilosophical, popular tradition of sophia that includes the Seven Sages, some preSocratics, and religious figures such as Epimenides. This enduring system features forms of competition, a typical life trajectory that moves from rhetorical and verbal skill deployed for political effects, often in a competitive context, to religious expertise and to journeys of theoria. Aesop emerges as a critical or parodic figure in relation to the high wisdom traditions, moving between sage and parodist, and this ambiguity persists even into the late biography of Vita G, which reveals many historical strata.

The second, synchronic half of the book concerns the role of an Aesopic element at the beginnings of Greek prose. Here we encounter the paradoxical deployment and disavowal of Aesopic techniques of fabulation and refutation, especially in Kurke’s brilliant and convincing argument for the Hippias Major as an atypical but canonical and revelatory Platonic dialogue. She then moves to Herodotus, and makes the claim, after carefully preparing for this dénouement, that the Histories are “a bouleutic fable writ large.” Throughout this section, she reminds the reader that both Plato and Herodotus have been familiarized, made inevitable as philosopher and historian, as writers of prose, and that we need to awaken to the strangeness of their writerly strategies.

Kurke’s theory and method draw on a complex synthesis. She relies on the work of the Marxist critic Fredric Jameson, especially The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (1981). Although Jameson has moved on to analyses of postmodernism and contemporary culture, this early text served as a manifesto for a politically engaged, historicizing analysis of formal and aesthetic questions. Following Julia Kristeva’s use of the term, he described the ideologeme, or “the smallest intelligible unit of the essentially antagonistic collective discourses of social classes,” and this notion serves Kurke well in her analysis of Aesop. Kurke also relies on Claude Lévi-Strauss’ use of the term “bricolage,” to characterize cultural production. And she follows the fascinating comparative work of Mary Helms, in Ulysses’ Sail, and Craft and the Kingly Ideal, to give shape to the archaic sage’s life trajectory. She also draws on Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogism, and his recognition of the political potency of the textualized low, obscene, unruly body: the book unflinchingly confronts, and relishes, Aesopic vomit, urine and other bodily emissions. In every section of the book, Kurke demonstrates an impressive command of the scholarship underpinning specific debates in which she engages. One of the compelling and convincing undercurrents throughout the book is an ongoing critique of the field of classics, especially of the narrowness and hermeticism of subdisciplines that can hinder the sort of sweeping and exemplary study this is. She also calls out classical scholars too focused on continuity, insufficiently aware of historicity and change, insensitive to conflict.

Kurke does “deconstruct,” but for her deconstruction means taking apart a text, or a tradition, to see what makes it tick, with no Derridean implications. There are moments when the author’s commitment to detail may frustrate, as when she rehearses a disagreement between M. L. West and Noel Robertson concerning the translation of a passage from the Works and Days where their differing interpretations have no effect on Kurke’s point concerning the prohibition on criticizing diversity in local sacrificial rites. It may be too that her arguments might have been better served with two books, one building on the other’s insights, since the second half especially leaves one wanting more. Furthermore, I continue to believe that the beast fable, rather than undermining hierarchy, reinforces aristocratic domination, reifying and naturalizing class difference. And here Hegel’s insight “im Sklaven fängt die Prosa an” recedes from view. I would have liked an epilogue to the whole.

Yet Kurke’s arguments make the reader want to re-read Plato and Herodotus from new perspectives; she gives these texts a three-dimensionality, a dynamism that only these exhaustively intricate close readings can unleash. Implicating dialectically both diachronic and synchronic, popular oral tradition and elite written text, this is a ground-breaking work about Aesop, about the fable, about Plato, about Herodotus, the inventions of philosophy and history, about popular culture and the class struggle, and should be read by everyone interested in Greek antiquity, even by philosophers.

The ambition of the book is arresting; its audacity and risk-taking are firmly supported by the great density and detail of its readings and argumentation. Although its aims may seem hubristic, in fact its consequences may be understated by the author. With its historical sweep, from the works of Homer and Hesiod to the Life of Aesop, its bringing to all this stretch of time a dynamism and sense of class struggle, and with its subtle claims for the necessity to read differently canonical texts, all the while considering genre hierarchy and its sociopolitical implications, this is a bold and admirable recasting of all of Greek cultural history.

μέγα βιβλίον, μέγα καλόν.

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem v idus septembres

ante diem v idus septembres

ludi Romani (day 5)

490 B.C. — battle of Marathon (by one reckoning)

3 A.D. — Gaius Caesar, adoptive son/grandson of the emperor Augustus, is wounded at Artagira

9 A.D. — Quintilius Varus loses three legions (and his life) in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (a.k.a. the clades Variana)

1st century — martyrdom of Felix and Constantia

1850 — birth of Jane Ellen Harrison (author of Themis)