Cloaca Maxima in Danger of Collapse?

Kind of surprised this item from the Telegraph didn’t get more attention:

The Cloaca Maxima (The Giant Sewer), which burrows beneath the Roman Forum and the site of an ancient livestock market before emptying into the Tiber River, predates the Roman Empire.

The mile-long tunnel is believed to have been constructed in the fifth century before Christ under the orders of Tarquin the Proud, the last king of Rome before it became a republic.

The impressive structure was subsequently mentioned by Livy.

But decades of inadequate maintenance mean that it is clogged with debris and silt, raising fears of blockages and collapses.

An ambitious operation to clean and maintain the ancient drain got under way on Wednesday and is expected to take two years.

“We will free the drain of detritus and sediment that is impeding the flow of water,” Elisabetta Bianchi, a cultural heritage official, told La Repubblica newspaper.

“We still need to get funding so we will proceed bit by bit, but the hope is to complete the work within two years.” Cracks and fissures in the tunnel were studied and mapped last year, after Rome was hit by severe autumn flooding.

At one point the Tiber was so swollen that the point at which the Cloaca Maxima meets the river was almost concealed by raging flood waters.

The flooding had shown up the “inadequacies” of the centuries-old drain, said Maria Grazia Filetici, an architect with Rome’s cultural heritage authority.

“What was conceived as a great project to make Rome safer (from flooding) by King Tarquin has instead become a danger for modern-day Rome,” she said.

Engineers will have to shift huge quantities of rubbish clogging up the tunnel, including plastic bags, tangled electric cables and other detritus, said officials.

The Cloaca Maxima was originally dug as a canal by the early inhabitants of Rome, but was subsequently covered over to become a subterranean sewer.

It was maintained throughout the Roman Empire and into the medieval era and was ultimately incorporated into the city’s modern sewerage system.

… and tip o’ the pileus to Walter Muzzy for noting that the photo accompanying the piece doesn’t seem to be the Cloaca Maxima (, unless there’s another outlet down the road a bit).

CJ Online Review: Ker, A Seneca Reader

posted with permission:

A Seneca Reader: Selections from Prose and Tragedy. By James Ker. Mundelein, Illinois: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 2011. Pp. lvi + 166. Paper, $19.00. ISBN 978-0-86516-758-2.

Reviewed by Christopher Trinacty, Oberlin College (ctrinact AT

This articulate and helpful book offers four Senecan “scenarios” for students to get a taste of Seneca’s Latin style, philosophical thought, and poetic power. The benefit of offering snippets of the Consolatio ad Helviam, de Clementia, Medea, and Epistulae Morales is that one appreciates the generic gymnastics that Seneca was capable of, and one gets a view of the various personae he assumed as a writer. The selections offer moments in which Seneca (or characters) advise others on how to overcome adversity and, generally, live according to Stoic ideals. Ker is an amiable guide to the intricacies of Seneca’s Latin and the commentary elucidates quite well the questions intermediate Latin students will have about these texts. Most importantly, Ker answers the question of why one should choose to read Seneca at all, especially in a second/third year Latin course (when we most desire the students to stick around for more Latin!): namely, that his innovative works show that his finger was firmly on the pulse of the exciting literary, philosophical, and cultural developments of the 1st c. CE, and this collection offers us the opportunity to “eavesdrop” (p. lii) on this important thinker and creative author.

The work begins with an ample introduction covering not only what one would expect (Seneca’s life and death, a section on his family entitled “Meet the Senecas”), but also effective summaries of the various genres Seneca explored, and concrete examples of some of the peculiarities of Seneca’s style such as anaphoric repetition, “three favorite syntactic constructions,” and “three words to watch.” The introduction also includes an up-to-date bibliography and strong sections on Seneca’s reception, Stoicism, and the pattern of “misfortune, grief, and the power of the mind” that the excerpts explore. In addition, each scenario has a short introduction with additional germane information about Seneca in exile (introducing the Consolatio ad Helviam), Seneca and Nero (de Clementia), his tragic style (Medea), and significant features of his epistolography (Epistulae Morales).

The opening scenario revolves around Seneca’s exile in Corsica, consisting of his Consolatio ad Helviam, as well as two supplementary passages that expand on Seneca’s view of exile. The commentary works hard throughout to explain grammatical and syntactical oddities, with cross-references to Bennett’s New Latin Grammar for particularly sticky moments. Ker has anticipated many of the problems students will have and goes the extra mile to explain features such as figurative language (e.g. the running metaphor in the Consolatio that Seneca’s work is a form of quasi-medical care), prose rhythm and Seneca’s penchant for clausulae, as well as historical details. The second scenario includes sections from the opening book of de Clementia, a humorous moment of the Apocolocyntosis, and everyone’s favorite sketch of anger from de Ira, in which Ker gets to gloss passages such as aperire iugulum (“to have his throat opened”) and membra diffindere (“to have his limbs divided”). The use of supplementary passages to shed further light on the primary text under consideration is one of my favorite aspects of this collection, and will grant students a more comprehensive knowledge of Seneca’s arsenal of works. The only scenario lacking supplementary passages is the Medea, although Ker does discuss a similar “passion-restraint” scene of the Phaedra in his introduction to this section. The Medea requires an appendix on meter as well as a map pointing out sites mentioned in the play; both are handled with aplomb. The final scenario consists of medley of passages from the Epistulae Morales that ruminate on the questions of friendship, travel, and living according to one’s philosophical ideals. A final follow-up to these letters is a fragment from Seneca’s de Amicitia on how to keep an absent friend in mind. The selection as a whole displays the breadth of Seneca’s writings, and the commentary offers sure aid to the student approaching the material for the first time.

The primary objection I can see to using this volume as opposed to other Seneca commentaries aimed at this level of student is that there are very few “complete” works included here (only one letter is unedited). From a pedagogical standpoint, this may be problematic for those teachers/students who want to be able to hang their hat on having translated a whole play or a whole dialogue, whereas this collection provides a more kaleidoscopic view of Seneca’s output. For Senecan tragedy, there are editions of the Medea and Phaedra aimed at students of this level, while Williams’ commentary on de Otio and de Brevitate Vitae, and Usher’s collection of letters and selections from the Dialogi gives more complete examples of Seneca’s prose genius.[[1]] However, if one wants a challenging and rewarding compilation of Seneca’s prose and poetry for intermediate Latin students, this volume should head your list.


[[1]] H. M. Hine, Seneca: Medea (Aris & Phillips, 2000); G. and S. Lawall and G. Kunkel, The Phaedra of Seneca (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2nd ed., 2007); G. D. Williams, Seneca: De Otio, De Brevitate Vitae (Cambridge University Press, 2003); M. D. Usher, A Student’s Seneca: Ten Letters and Selections from the De Providentia and De Vita Beata (University of Oklahoma Press, 2006).

CONF: Living Latin Workshop in NYC.

CONF: Living Latin Workshop in NYC

Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, McMahon Hall 109
February 16-17, 2013

The NY Classical Club and the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study are pleased to collaborate on a two-day workshop on Spoken Latin for teachers and students of Latin in the New York City area. This conference will include presentations and workshops by expert Latin speakers from around the country designed to introduce participants to the world of oral Latin. Participants will not only immerse themselves in the Latin language by participating in guided spoken Latin activities, they will also hear lectures in English on ways to incorporate spoken Latin into their own classroom and learn about more opportunities to improve as a Latin speaker in the U.S. and abroad.

Cost: $100

Professional Development Credit: The New York Classical Club will offer certification for 16 HOURS of professional development credit for high school teachers who participate in Living Latin in New York City. For more information on professional development credit, please contact Prof. McGowan mamcgowan AT

Registration: To register for Living Latin in New York City, please download the registration form here ( and return to pedicone AT Space is limited. Registrations will be processed on a first come, first served basis.

Payment: Payment must be made in advance by credit card, Paypal or personal check.To pay by credit card or Paypal account, please click on the Paypal button on this link ( Checks should be made out to the Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study and sent to:

LLiNYC Registration
The Paideia Institute
16 Stockton St.
Princeton, NJ 08544

CONF: Julius Caesar in History and in the Classroom

Julius Caesar in History and in the Classroom

January 26, 2013, 11am-6pm

The NY Classical Club is pleased to announce a conference on Julius Caesar, including a review of the new Advanced Placement curriculum, to be held on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 11am-6pm, at New York University, Jurow Hall, Silver Center. The program includes the following speakers:
Cynthia Damon, The University of Pennsylvania
"’Everlasting Ties’: Caesar, Gaul, and Rome"

Luca Grillo, Amherst College
"Caesarian Questions"

James Hunt, Fayetteville-Manlius High School, Syracuse, NY
"Caesar and the new AP Exam in Latin"

Hans Friedrich-Mueller, Union College
"Caesar and the State Religion"

Kurt Raaflaub, Brown University
"Caesar the General and Statesman: A Literary Self-Portrait of a Perfect Roman"

All are welcome, high school teachers and students working with the new AP curriculum are especially encouraged to attend. Registration is required and includes lunch and a reception: $10 students; $25 members; $40 non-members. Please pre-register by Tuesday, January 22, 2013, online here:

Or register by check made payable to NY Classical Club via snail-mail to: Dr. Matthew McGowan, Department of Classics, Fordham University, Bronx, NY 10458. For more information, contact Prof. McGowan: mamcgowan AT

CJ Online Review: Ingleheart, Two Thousand Years of Solitude

posted with permission:

Two Thousand Years of Solitude: Exile after Ovid. Edited by Jennifer Ingleheart. Classical Presences Series. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp xvi + 353. Hardcover, £70.00/$125.00. ISBN 978-0-19-960384-8

Reviewed by Jo-Marie Claassen, University of Stellenbosch

My initial assumption that the title of this book derives from the title of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez was disabused by the epigraph on the first page of Ingleheart’s Introduction to this volume of essays discussing exiled authors who each in some way reflected Ovid’s exilic works in their own. The epigraph, a quotation from Hayden Carruth’s 1992 “Ovid, Old Buddy, I would discourse with you a while” is clearly the source: “You speak to me of two thousand years of solitude.” That sentence adequately epitomises the volume as a whole.

Scholars from various fields (French and Italian literature, and, in English, Milton and Shakespearean studies) as well as Classicists, all participants at a 2009 conference held at St John’s College, Durham, contributed the 17 chapters that comprise the two parts of this fascinating volume. Ingleheart’s Introduction gives a good overview of the aims of the work, as well as providing a basic theoretical framework for consideration of the related phenomena of exile and exilic literature.

The twelve chapters of Part I, “Ovidian Exile and the Poets,” feature, in roughly chronological order, poets whose reactions to various forms of displacement overtly (and sometimes more covertly) refer to our prototypical exiled poet and/or his works.

Space precludes inclusion of the apt titles chosen by each expert to characterize the chapter each presents. Readers must be content with the name of each exiled poet, followed by a word or phrase highlighting his particular debt to Ovid, with (in brackets) the name of the author of the chapter. These are, in order: Dante, mostly echoes (Efrem Zambon); Petrarch, vocabulary, tropes (L. B. T. Houghton); Du Bellay, linguistic alienation (Stephen Hinds); Milton, topographical inversion (Mandy Green); Thomas Churchyard, translation of the Tristia as reflection of Elizabethan exile (Liz Oakley-Brown); Thomas Underdowne’s 1569 “anonymous” translation of the Ibis as reception (Jennifer Ingleheart); Marvell, “generic variety in a single poem … read in the frame of Ovidian exile poetry” (p. 136, Philip Hardie); the Polish Chevalier de Boufflers in Senegal, writing to his beloved (Barbara Witucki); Victor Hugo, “trumping” Ovid at every literary turn (Fiona Cox); Pushkin, geographical proximity to Tomis leading to imitation of Ovid’s exilic tropes (Duncan Kennedy); exiled poets from the 1970s to 2000 and beyond: Heaney, Brodsky, Walcott, Reed, Carson, Purcell and, finally, Bob Dylan, all “using a set of three key themes” of “dislocation, politics and lament” (p. 207, Stephen Harrison). Dylan’s thirty-second “studio album” pays homage to Ovid via Green’s translations, so Harrison. Finally, Jennifer J. Dellner discusses “formation of a unique poetics of transformation qua exile” (p. 223), in particular as marking linguistic displacement, with the Irish poets Eavan Boland and Derek Mahon,.

Part II, “Ovidian Exile in Modern Prose,” comprises five chapters that review various novelists’ interpretation of Ovid’s exile in their works, starting, however, with Helen Lovatt’s discussion of Thibault’s well-known The Mystery of Ovid’s Exile as a form of sleuthing. This serves as introduction to Lovatt’s further analysis of two “detective novels” that feature Ovid, respectively by David Wishart and Benita Kane Jaro. Next follows analysis by Charilaos N. Michalopoulos of Jane Alison’s The Love Artist, a work that deals less with Ovid’s life at Tomis than (in various flash-backs) with his carefree life before the blow of banishment was struck. Apparently Ransmayr’s Last World pervasively influences Alison’s presentation of Tomis as a place “where anything can happen” (p. 267).

The next three chapters are concerned with the novels of Ransmayr (again), Malouf and Horia, who have widely diverging takes on Ovid’s life at Tomis: Chapters 15, by Andreas N. Michalopoulos on The Last World, and 16, by Ioannis Ziogas on Malouf’s An Imaginary Life, each gives a brief summary of the work and then discusses salient issues. In the final chapter Sebastian Matzner compares Malouf’s Imaginary Life with Horia’s 1961 God Was Born in Exile (translated from his Dieu est né en exil, 1960) showing how each author rewrites Roman peripherals into new, essentially post-colonial centralities. The title of his chapter neatly points Matzner’s assertion that these works allow Rome to be usurped by its furthest outpost as the center whence the “(dis)location of exile” (p. 321) may be viewed: “Tomis writes back …”

A five-page, double-columned Index facilitates reference. A generous bibliography of twenty-five pages lists all works cited, offering a useful overview of both the latest publications and standard works on Ovid’s exile, as well as critical books and articles devoted to the two-thousand-year panoply of other “exiled” authors and the works of each as discussed. My only quibble regards the dating of the works by these “exiles,” both as listed here and as cited in footnotes, clearly an editorial decision. To read “Milton 1998:4” (p. 87), “Milton 1970:1.3” (p. 88), “Bouffleurs 1998” (p. 157 n. 12), or “[Victor] Hugo 1985a” (p. 173) is jarring to the cognoscenti and confusing to tyros. Harvard-style citation of modern editions of authors from earlier eras should more happily include the name of the editor before the date of such an edition; hence “Milton (Hughes et al. 1970) 1.3” or “Milton (Flannagan 1998) 4.”

However, if ever the concept of each reader’s (re)creating a literary work by the act of reading (and writing about) it needed validation, this useful compendium of readerly and scholarly opinions offers that validation. The Ovidian exile(s) that emerge(s) from these pages are as many and as varied as the sum of the authors discussed and the scholars discussing them, serving to enrich the target reader’s own conception of the first, multi-faceted, star-crossed poet of exile.

Hellenistic Statue from Izmir

From Hurriyet:

A 2,500-year-old statue of a woman from the late Hellenistic period has been unearthed during the excavations at the Metropolis ancient city in İzmir’s Torbalı district.

According to a written statement made by the Sabancı Foundation, new artifacts are being unearthed during the excavation of the ancient city, which has been ongoing for 22 years as part of a collaboration between the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Trakya University, the Metropolis Association, the Torbalı Municipality and sponsored by the Sabancı Foundation.

The head of the excavations, Trakya University Archaeology Department Associate Professor Serdar Aynek, said the headless, dressed, female statue was found buried in the city wall and that the statue reflected the richness and magnificence of the late Hellenistic period in its 2-meter length.

Aybek said that many statues found around the city walls during the excavations had been sent to the İzmir Museum.

Sabancı Foundation General Director Zerrin Koyunsağan said the statue might be a woman who managed the ancient city. “I think that thousands of years ago women had significant roles in society and city management. At the Sabancı Foundation, we are carrying out projects on the issue of social gender in Turkey. This is why this female managerial statue that connects with the work of our society is meaningful for us,” she said.

As often, the photo accompanying the original article isn’t very helpful. It seems to be part of a series which is seen in this Turkish language newspaper:

Yet another Turkish source includes this photo, which seems to be the piece in question:

CJ Online Review: Terrenato and Haggis, State Formation

posted with permission:

State Formation in Italy and Greece: Questioning the Neoevolutionist Paradigm. Edited by Nicola Terrenato and Donald C. Haggis. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2011. Distributed in the United States by David Brown Book Company. Pp. x + 280. Paper, £35.00/$70.00. ISBN 978-1-84217-967-3.

Reviewed by Panagiota A. Pantou, State University of New York at Buffalo

Most of the papers in this volume edited by Nicola Terrenato and Donald C. Haggis were originally delivered at the conference “Current Issues in State Formation in the Mediterranean and Beyond” held in 2003 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A few contributions were solicited to provide fuller treatment of the subject of state formation in Italy and Greece. In the editors’ own words, the book “… aims at bringing to the forefront current work in the Aegean and Italy, comparing and contrasting approaches to the problem of state formation in each region” (preface). The book belongs to the category of scholarship which for the past two decades has challenged traditional developmental paradigms for the emergence of complexity and state societies through the application of new theoretical frameworks as well as new approaches to archaeological data. The contributors to this volume approach the issue of state formation from several different perspectives and consider different sets of data (survey data, architecture, trade, ritual, botanical data, texts).

In the Introduction, the editors provide a valuable review of scholarship on state formation as well as discuss the individual contributions. The rest of the book is organized in two parts focusing on the Aegean and Italy respectively. The contributions are divided equally for each region and are 14 in total.

In the Aegean region, the first paper by Daniel Pullen discusses the emergence of state-level complexity in central and southern Greece during the Early Bronze Age. By integrating regional studies and data derived from excavations Pullen discusses the development of centralization or lack thereof on a regional scale. Krysti Damilati and Giorgos Vavouranakis compare two Early Minoan non-state communities (the cemetery at Mochlos and the settlement at Myrtos) with Late Minoan I palatial contexts. By contrasting the ways in which each society used the material record (primarily symbolic architecture) the two scholars succeed in revealing similar strategies of social integration in both non-state and state contexts, thus questioning the traditional evolutionary paradigm of state-level organization. The next paper by Klaas Vansteenhuyse discusses aspects of regional integration, political centralization, and cultural domination in Neopalatial Crete arguing that the Knossian state in Late Minoan IA was predominantly based on its control over ideological resources. Rodney Fitzsimons’ paper focuses on the nature of monumental building techniques used at Mycenae in the early Mycenaean period and how they related to changes in the sociopolitical system that produced them. Turning to Classical Greece, Edward van der Vliet’s paper challenges the definition of the Greek polis as an early state organized upon centralized and hierarchical lines and turns to alternative approaches to understand its evolution such as heterarchy and regime building. Lastly, David Small focuses on social change by examining contexts of social interaction (the agora and its civic buildings, sanctuaries, and even households). Using as a case study the city of Priene, Small traces changes in these interactional contexts that allow him to illustrate several lines of evolution and change within community and the transition from corporate to exclusionary ideology.

Turning to Italy, D. I. Redhouse and Simon Stoddart combine regional studies and the application of the XTENT model (a method of generating settlement hierarchy) to illustrate the evolution and diversity of state formation in Etruria as well as the role of political agents in bordering zones between expanding territories. Next, by drawing upon the Kipp-Schortman model for state formation, ethnohistoric data, and archaeological evidence, J. Theodore Peña effectively demonstrates how exchange relations between the inhabitants of southern coastal Etruria and the Phoenician and Greek traders may have influenced sociopolitical developments in the region leading to the emergence of states. Carrie Murray’s contribution focuses on the creation of authoritative statuses in Etruria. By examining the development and transformation of ritual space, Murray illustrates the varied circumstances and actions of social agents that shaped the trajectory of each city. Christopher Smith takes a holistic approach to examining state formation in early Rome by combining recent theories of the state with a survey of the history and archaeology of Rome emphasizing human agency. Social agents also form a key element in Terrenato’s analysis which focuses on the role of clan leaders in the formation of the early Roman state. Rather than approaching the state as an authoritative and all-powerful entity, Terrenato explains how elite groups endorsed the transition to statehood and thus ultimately used the state to serve their own goals. Laura Motta’s contribution utilizes environmental data in examining social transformation in early Rome. The analysis of crop processing techniques allows her to distinguish coexisting traditional productive systems and a new state economy indicating the overlaying of different sources of power within the state. Lastly, Albert Ammerman undertakes a comparative study of the Forum in Rome, the Athenian Agora, and Piazza San Marco in Venice, exploring how in each case the relocation of the early civic center and the subsequent de-memorization of this event played a role in the formation of the city-states.

In sum, this volume contains a number of thought-provoking papers that will give scholars of state formation new tools to advance their own research. Regrettably, there is not much cross-cultural comparison and discussion and the volume lacks the feel of a dialogue between the individual contributions accentuated by the lack of a concluding chapter synthesizing the varied approaches to the problem of state formation in each region. Overall, the editorial work is meticulous with typos and other mistakes being rare and insignificant consisting mostly of punctuation errors. Some of the black and white photographs (9.2, 9.3, 9.4, 10.2), however, are not of publication quality. Despite these minor flaws, the papers in this volume make important contributions toward understanding state formation in Italy and Greece and there is no doubt that the volume will be heavily referenced by Aegean Prehistorians, Classical archaeologists, and anthropologists for many years to come.

Classical Words of the Day