Exclusus Slamadoor?

Excerpt from Gillian Clark’s column in the Huffington Post:

 [...] When I started college, I figured I had enough cynicism to make it on my own. I was told that Patrick Henry jumped through a window down to a waiting horse after presenting his liberty vs. death ultimatum. And no, that is not pepper on those street-vendor pretzels. I figured I was ready.

Professor O’leary led a relaxed seminar where we compared Paris to Odysseus and Penelope to Helen. Entertaining and approachable, he had the class over to his apartment for cocktails at the semester’s end.

“Bring your paper by,” he said, squeezing my hand. “Let’s talk about it.” I was ready to be his protégé and spent all night with Virgil and Homer. I clutched the carefully typed paper running over to his place fueled only by black coffee and one hour of sleep. I’d been standing at his door for almost fifteen minutes when my gentle knocking transitioned to persistent pounding. When he finally snatched the door open, Professor O’leary was red faced, barefoot, drenched in his own perspiration, wearing a sweatshirt inside out and his belt was undone. He nodded at me impatiently as I told him all that I had discovered about Dido and Helen. He grabbed the exposition from my hands and slammed the door. [...]

… the prof could be in Comp Lit or Classics, I suppose … (and no, I could not resist the horrible pun in the title)

Greece Offers Giant Horse

Credit/blame for this one goes to Adrian Murdoch, who was tweeting such things t’other day:

In what many are hailing as a breakthrough solution to Greece’s crippling debt crisis, Greece today offered to repay loans from the European Union nations by giving them a gigantic horse.

Finance ministers from sixteen EU nations awoke in Brussels this morning to find that a huge wooden horse had been wheeled into the city center overnight.

The horse, measuring several stories in height, drew mixed responses from the finance ministers, many of whom said they would have preferred a cash repayment of the EU’s bailout.

But German Chancellor Andrea Merkel said she “welcomed the beautiful wooden horse,” adding, “What harm could it possibly do?”

Greece Offers to Repay Loans with Giant Horse | Borowitz Report.

Sunday Funnies

Over the past while I’ve accumulated a few doorworthy comics … some will embed and some won’t, so I’ll just provide links … enjoy:

Via Elizabeth H on Twitter and Dan Diffendale … SMBC on the ‘Paradox of the Court':

Via Liz Gloyn on Twitter … Plato gets a rejection letter (blogpost, not a comic):

Posted to the Classics list … note the name of the prof:

xkcd reinterprets Archimedes Reinterpreted (thanks again to DD):

Dinosaur Comics does Greek mythology (ditto):

Pearls Before Swine considers the chorus (this was on the Classics list at some point):

Cross Cultural Match of the Century!

… or so it seemed when I read this headline a bit too quickly:

Alexander on undercard as Latimore faces Spinks

… could the wily translator match up to the inquisitive Egyptian beastie? The followup tells the tale:

Spinks edges Latimore for IBF belt!

… and in case you were wondering, Alexander enneagrammatically KOed Jesus in the ninth round …

Breviaria 04/04/09

Assorted items which have caught my eye of late:

The headline says it all:

Some sort of 3d modelling project for the Acropolis was recently undertaken:

We linked to several of Suzan Mazur’s posts relating to Robert Hecht and Marion True a few years ago … her (excellent) articles are apparently now part of some Harvard Law syllabus:

The latest issue of the American Journal of Archaeology is out, with a number of online articles of interest available:

Short item on the Classical Studies Club at the College of New Jersey:

Feature on an historical reenactment group based in Rome called SPQR:

Bulgarian coverage of the recent returns by of a couple of thousand of purloined items from Bulgaria (includes a small slide show of various items):

The Classics folks at Warwick are venturing into the world of podcasting … here’s the first (I’ll hopefully get a chance to listen to it and review it in the near future):

The latest installment of Dear Socrates at Philosophy Now (I still don’t understand how there can be a viable philosophy magazine and there’s no Classics magazine on the newsstands):

Charlotte Higgins was talking about odd Classical etymologies:

The BBC had a feature on Albania trying to cash in on Butrint (and other sites):

Andrew Chugg is involved in a project to reconstruct Cleitarchus’ History of Alexander … the promo book site has a pile of interesting things (including videos and the like not necessarily connected to Cleitarchus) … worth a look:

If you haven’t downloaded the full Gnomon Bibliographical Databank yet:

Discovery News’ Jennifer Viegas recently interviewed Rachel Havrelock about the historical Jesus:

Latest from the Spoof:

More Roman Humour

Mary Beard continues to make the rounds talking about ancient humour, and it appears she was asked about who she believed was the funniest Roman. She decided it was Cicero (!) and you can read the Times coverage to find out why … I’m using this as an excuse to excerpt the chunk which shows other Romans’ histohumorical quips:

A funny thing happened on the way to the amphitheatre

— The elder Crassus was said to have laughed only once in his life. What caused Crassus to crack up? The sight of a donkey eating thistles and the well-known saying that came to mind: “Thistles are like lettuce to the lips of a donkey”

— In the middle of the Civil War the exasperated Pompey is reputed to have said of his reluctant ally Cicero: “I wish to goodness Cicero would go over to the enemy, then he would learn to fear us”

— A man leaving the Roman theatre was asked by another whether he had seen the play. “No, stupid,” he replied. “I was playing ball in the orchestra”

— Gaius Memmius, the tribune of 111BC, was said to have had taken a bite out of the arm of a man called Largus, as they were tussling over the affections of a woman.

— Crassus claimed that all over the town of Terracina the letters MMLLL were pasted up on the walls: “Mordacious Memmius Lacerates Largus’ Limb”

— A joke made to a one-eyed man, Gaius Sextius: “I shall dine with you my friend, for I see you’ve got a place for another one.” “This,” said Cicero, “is the unacceptable joke of a scurra [professional clown] both because it was unprovoked, and because it could be used against any one-eyed individual”

— Cicero was defending his client Milo on the charge of murdering the infamous Clodius in 52 BC and was under interrogation from the prosecution. The case was going to hinge on exact timing. When did Clodius die, they asked him. And here is the joke, the one that is, on its own, enough to justify the whole category of double entendres: Cicero replied with just one word, sero. The pun is on the two senses of sero: both “late” and “too late”. Clodius died late in the day, and he should have been got rid of years before.

In a related item, Charlotte Higgins ponders whether Cicero is actually worthy of our praise:

See also/cf. (from May of last year … a piece by Dr Beard for the Times):

Poseidon’s Back?

A few weeks ago we mentioned a post by Poseidon in the World Weekly News in which he claimed responsibility for what was going on in Australia. It seems that Poseidon has a regular column in that now-web-only publication, so if you want to catch up with the divinity-o-the-deep’s resurgence, here be his three columns (most recent first):

In the accompanying photo, Poseidon is depicted as a ‘merman’, FWIW …

Mary Beard and the Philogelos

Some good coverage of Mary Beard’s recent efforts on the Philogelos give us the opportunity to see what jokes the press is latching on to. The Post Chronicle — somewhat oddly, but conveniently — presents some of them as an image:

from the Post Chronicle

The Telegraph adds:

Another joke has its origins in 248AD when Rome held what was then billed as the “Millennium Games”.

A spectator meets and athlete who is in tears after losing in his event. “Never mind,” says the spectator “You can always try again the next Millennium Games.

Finally, an excerpt from the Guardian (from whom there is much derivative coverage) includes one of my personal favourites:

“Interestingly they are quite understandable to us, whereas reading Punch from the 19th century is completely baffling to me,” said Beard.

But she queried whether we are finding the same things funny as the Romans would have done. Telling a joke to one of her graduate classes, in which an absent-minded professor is asked by a friend to bring back two 15-year-old slave boys from his trip abroad, and replies “fine, and if I can’t find two 15-year-olds I will bring you one 30-year-old,” she found they “chortled no end”.

“They thought it was a sex joke, equivalent to someone being asked for two 30-year-old women, and being told okay, I’ll bring you one 60-year-old. But I suspect it’s a joke about numbers – are numbers real? If so two 15-year-olds should be like one 30-year-old – it’s about the strange unnaturalness of the number system.”

FWIW, I take it as being a sex joke as well. Oddly, though, the Guardian is also giving the impression that Dr. Beard ‘discovered’ the Philogelos:

Celebrated classics professor Mary Beard has brought to light a volume more than 1,600 years old, which she says shows the Romans not to be the “pompous, bridge-building toga wearers” they’re often seen as, but rather a race ready to laugh at themselves.

The Post Chronicle is also giving that impression:

A Cambridge academic has uncovered a book of jokes which casts the Romans in a new and far less serious light. The finding is based on what is now known as the world’s oldest surviving joke book, written in Greek and containing over 250 gags that date from the Third Century.

Of course, the long-known Philogelos was in the news in a slightly different context just a short while ago … and we reported on it diligently, of course. Mary Beard has also recently posted on the subject in her own blog