Classical iPhone Apps

Froma Zeitlin posted this to the Classicists list:

To those of you who are IPhone users, there are two new wonderful applications now available, very easy to use, courtesy of Harry Schmidt, grad student (and whiz) at Princeton University:

1. Lexiphanes is a Greek dictionary for your iPhone. It contains editions of the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon and Autenrieth’s Homeric Lexicon (both now in the public domain, oldies but goodies).

Lexiphanes is really fast, with a slick and modern iPhone interface. It shows you the short definition of a word so you don’t need to visit the whole entry. You can bookmark a word and come back to it later.

Lexiphanes can even convert Greek numerals to and from regular (Arabic) notation.

The short definitions feature was automatically generated from the text of the dictionaries. It’s not perfect. We need your help! You can make changes and they’ll be sent to us automatically.

Please read Lexidium’s Instructions sheet carefully to learn how to input Greek characters. You can either turn on the Greek keyboard (new in OS 3.0) or you can use “beta code” input. Both work just fine.

2, Lexidium is a Latin dictionary for your iPhone. It’s based on a public domain version of the Lewis and Short dictionary.

It has the following features:

1 (NEW). Lexidium can interface with Perseus and parse inflected words for you. An Internet connection is required for this feature.
2. Lexidium is really fast. It makes lookups a breeze.
3. Lexidium displays a short definition of every word so you don’t necessarily need to look at the full entry.
4. You can bookmark entries and return to them later.
5. Lexidium includes a Roman numeral converter. Enter a number in either Roman or regular (Arabic) numerals and Lexidium will automatically convert it into the other format for you.

Each costs a piddling $1.99.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand Hype

The hype has begun for the Starz’ Spartacus series (it’s coming out in January; I hope some Canadian station picks it up) … outside of a press release outlining all sorts of events, there’s now an official website with at least one wallpaper, which folks might be interested in (not of Lucy Lawless, alas) … doesn’t seem to be any videos in the screening room yet, but the opening flash thing on the website seems interesting enough (and shows a nice interpetation of the awning shading the audience) …

[clearspring_widget title=”Crash on Starz” wid=”4a660012b416d086″ pid=”4a68784ebfb5272c” width=”200″ height=”276″ domain=””]

Plato on Transfer Talks?

T’other day we had Plato on music remixing … now the Liverpool Daily Post tells us he knew about transfer talks too (for those of you in North America who don’t follow soccer across the pond, we’d call them ‘trade negotiations’):

THE philosopher Plato – as opposed to some other Plato you might know – told a tale about a group of prisoners in a cave who were chained up so that they could only ever see a blank wall.

On that wall they observed shadows of what was going on behind them, and in essence those shadows became their reality.

Now his opinions on the transfer system in the ancient Greek football league are unknown, but still the allegory about the cave wall and the prisoners holds up in the modern game.

You’ve probably gathered already that the fans are the prisoners, while the action at the mouth of the cave – that which they can never directly observe – is what goes on in reality between football clubs, players and their agents. The cave wall is the press releases and the interviews emanating from those sources, and from which the supporters try to piece together what’s really going on.

… it goes on to gloss it a bit further. I only bring it up because I’m thinking I might have to start monitoring references to ‘the Cave’ and sharing them here. Plato’s cave seems to have become an all-purpose metaphor of late. E.g., from the Maui News:

After languishing for weeks in the long, weird penumbra of Michael Jackson’s exit, boomers seemed relieved to back be in the news again, if only in retrospect. Like Plato, we watched our shadows cross the collective cave wall.

There we were: marching for civil rights in Washington; screaming for The Beatles at Shea Stadium; trekking through the mud of Vietnam; watching astronauts bounce gingerly across the moon.

… and a puzzling conclusion to a fashion column in the New York Times:

Véronique Nichanian of Hermès also showed some lovely, civilized clothes: slim linen trousers in pond shades of green and brown, as well as lush leathers and fine casual knits. But the setting for this low-key luxury was a vast, airless ancient room made more stifling by a packed earthen floor laid for the show — and probably at some expense. To the audience fanning itself madly in the gloom, it was not quite the joy of Plato’s cave.

… and from an editorial in the Kansas City Star on the Sotomayor confirmation hearings:

But we suffer from a collective amnesia as best described by Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in “The Republic.” Briefly, we are chained to the wall and we think the shadows are reality. When we are unchained and face the light of reality, it is too painful. If we would just take time for our eyes to adjust, we would see the truth, not just the shadows of truth.

Roman Shipwrecks of Ventotene

This has finally hit the newswires, it appears … excerpts from the Reuters coverage:

A team of archaeologists using sonar technology to scan the seabed have discovered a “graveyard” of five pristine ancient Roman shipwrecks off the small Italian island of Ventotene.

The trading vessels, dating from the first century BC to the fifth century AD, lie more than 100 meters underwater and are amongst the deepest wrecks discovered in the Mediterranean in recent years, the researchers said on Thursday.


The vessels were transporting wine from Italy, prized fish sauce from Spain and north Africa, and a mysterious cargo of metal ingots from Italy, possibly to be used in the construction of statues or weaponry.


Due to their depth, the ships have lain untouched for hundreds of years but Gambin said the increasing popularity of deep water diving posed a threat to the Mediterranean’s archaeological treasures.

“There is a race against time,” he said. “In the next 10 years, there will be an explosion in mixed-gas diving and these sites will be accessible to ordinary treasure hunters.”

A few days ago, the primary researcher on this one (Dr. T. Gambin) posted to Ostia-l a link to the project’s webpage, which includes a very nice photogallery of finds. This sonar image of the set should give a sense of how major this find is (those are individual amphorae):

Aurora Trust Photo
Aurora Trust Photo

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem x kalendas sextilias

ante diem x kalendas sextilias

  • Neptunalia — an obscure festival (obscure in the sense that we really don’t know what went on) in honour of Neptune
  • ludi Victoriae Caesaris (day 4)
  • 64 A.D. — the Great Fire of Rome (day 6)
  • 79 A.D. — martyrdom of Apollinaris
  • 303 A.D. — martyrdom of Phocas the Gardener