A Three-Act Tragedy of Greek History

Folks might want to check out an interesting post over at the Toynbee Convector, where David Derrick has glossed a collection of essays (The Legacy of Greece) as a three act ‘tragedy’:


Roman Hospital from South Moravia?

The incipit of an item from Ceske Noviny:

Czech archaeologists are excavating the foundations of an ancient Roman lazaretto (hospital) in Pasohlavky, which is the largest facility of its kind from this period preserved north of the Danube River, archaeologist Balazs Komoroczy told CTK today.

The hospital was part of an extensive fortified complex that the 10th Roman legion built on Hradisko hill at the Amber Road in the 2nd century AD, under the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Hradisko was the northernmost outpost of the Roman Empire in Central Europe under Marcus Aurelius. The 10th legion was stationed there to take Germanic tribes in control.

Only foundation remains are preserved from the original hospital today because of the construction works 30 years ago when the huge Nove Mlyny dam was built at the site.

The 60-metre-long and 45-metre-wide hospital served for the treatment and relaxation of hundreds of Romans.

Archaeologists have known about its existence for years. However, they started excavating it only recently in connection with the planned construction of a thermal spa in Pasohlavky near Brno.

Not sure lazaretto is the right word — that usually refers to a quarantine station, no? Whatever the case, how does one identify an ancient building attached to a fort as a medical facility? As to the other finds in the area, this is all I could find: A Roman Camp in Musov (you’ll have to scroll down a bit)

New Voices in Classical Reception Studies – Issue 4, 2009

seen on the Classicists list a while ago …

We are pleased to announce that Issue 4 of the online journal NewVoices in Classical Reception Studies is now available at: http://www2.open.ac.uk/newvoices
Issue 4, 2009
Editor: Prof. Lorna Hardwick,
Associate Editors: Dr. Anastasia Bakogianni, Dr. Shelley Hales
Recent Theatrical and Musical Adaptations of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses
Hendrik Müller-Reineke, University of Göttingen
Saying ‘Shazam’: The Magic of Antiquity in Superhero Comics
Luke V. Pitcher, Durham University
Liminal’s Kosky’s Hughes’s Artaud’s Seneca’s Oedipus
Helen Slaney, Monash University
Identity, Dignity And Memory: Performing/ Re- Writing Antigone in Post-1976 Argentina
M. Florencia Nelli, Oxford University / U.N.L.P.-CONICET Argentina
Aristophanes and the Suburbs of the World: The Game of Wealth and Poverty
Martina Treu, IULM University
Koffi Kwahulé’s Bintou and Sophocles’ Antigone : The Silent Form of Adaptation
Chris Love, University of Michigan
The Queen Ancient And Modern: Aeschylus’ Clytemnestra
Sanna-Ilaria Kittelä, University of Helsinki
Submissionsfor the next edition, Issue 5 (2010), are welcome. Details of how to submit an article for consideration are available at http://www2.open.ac.uk/newvoices Closing date 31st October.


The News-Journal actually has a feature on chiasmus: When chiasmus is outlawed, only outlaws will use chiasmus!

What do the following expressions have in common? “Who sheds the blood of a man, by man shall his blood be shed.” “But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.” “Life imitates art more than art imitates life.” “Well, it’s not the men in your life that counts, it’s the life in your men.” “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

The answer is that they all are examples of an old rhetorical strategy called chiasmus. A chiasmus is an inversion of two balanced clauses in a sentence, in the form of A B B A. There are several types of chiasmus, but they all involve this kind of inversion. We encounter chiasmus in the works of great writers and speakers in their most memorable formulations.

Effective language is no accident, and its study is ancient. Our brains are sensitive to patterns of language, and we find patterned language especially memorable. The classical Greeks loved to talk and to argue, to speak and to listen, and being an effective citizen meant being able to persuade one’s neighbors of the rightness of one’s cause. (That was true of most Greeks, except for the Spartans, who were laconic, made their money out of iron, were fearless in battle but highly superstitious and timid in religion.) Greek linguistic virtuosity impressed the conquering Romans so much that elite Roman families employed Greek tutor slaves to teach rhetoric to their sons. The Greeks developed the art of rhetoric, the Romans applied this knowledge to their own language, and Latin influenced the literatures of Western Europe until the 18th century. It turns out many rhetorical devices identified by the Greeks are equally effective in English, and for that matter, in other languages as well.

One of the problems with studying rhetoric is the terms are all, well, so very Greek. Terms like “antimetabole” or “asyndeton” don’t exactly lend themselves to easy understanding or roll off the tongue. “Chiasmus” is an odd word, too, but it’s such a distinctive rhetorical device I find it easy to remember.

The first example I gave is from the book of Genesis and was composed in Hebrew. The Psalms in particular often show patterns of repetition and inversion. The second example is Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew, which was written in Greek. The third example is Shakespeare, next comes Oscar Wilde, then the indomitable Mae West, and finally, a chiasmus all Americans should know, from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, actually written by speechwriter Theodore Sorenson, who used chiasmus frequently in Kennedy’s speeches.

Winston Churchill employed chiasmus effectively as he rallied Britain against the fascist threat in Europe during the Second World War. After the battle of Alamein in North Africa, he addressed his people, saying: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Frederick Douglass proudly declared, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” Mardy Grothe gives sound advice saying, “Don’t let a kiss fool you, or a fool kiss you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson sagely noted that, “Speech is better than silence; silence is better than speech,” which is both a chiasmus and a paradox.

And, perhaps, a good way to end today’s column.

Classical folks look at chiasmus in a bit more painful detail (which might be why there was some confusion a while ago with results from AP exams). Fellow-long-time-blogger Michael Gilleland blogged on chiasmus in general a year or so ago, with some examples from English and Greek (mostly Plato):

… he went on to display some more (Greek) examples of the sort which don’t usually come up in English class:

On the Latin side, check out Laura Gibb’s massive collection of examples at her Latin via Proverbs page:

CFP: Girls in Antiquity

seen on the Classicists list …

"Girls in Antiquity"

Interdisciplinary Conference at the DAI Berlin
8th – 10th October 2010

This conference is about girls, from early Neolithic times to Late Antiquity, within the geographical limits of Europe, Egypt, and the Ancient Near East.

The following range of topics will be adressed:

Definition. "Girls" are female children and teenagers, who have not yet received the status of an adult woman. In contemporary German society this status is legally achieved by the age of 18, socially by economic independence (with a proper job) or by biological reproduction (own children). But which were the specific cultural rites de passages for the transition of female children to adulthood in antiquity? Was it the wedding as a rule, as is suggested by literary sources both from Greece and Rome? For prehistoric societies, however, an institution like marriage can only to be postulated.

Birth-/Family planning. "Lost girls" are a phenomenon peculiar to contemporary society, most notably in Asian countries: female fetuses are aborted because of their sex, female newborns are killed or so badly cared for, that they do not survive. Was there anything comparable in ancient cultures? And if so, what kind of sources can account for such a practice? What do we know at all about mortality of female children and the handling of the deceased?

Development of gender identity. Were children introduced to social roles early on according to their biological sex? Classical Athenian art for example represents children shortly after crawling age in a gender specific way. Are there any cultures that classified children as asexual creatures at an early age? And if so, until what age was is customary to do so?

Material culture and social practice. What kind of clothing, hairdo, jewelry, or make-up was characteristic for girls in specific cultures? What kinds of objects did they handle and which social practices did they perform? In which social spaces were they supposed to stay? What can we deduce from the evidence with regard to the scopes of girls in different cultures or to their own thoughts, wishes and beliefs?

Discourse. Which discourses about girls can be conceived on the basis of literary and archaeological sources? In our society infant girls are much more sexualized than boys of the same age (e.g. by clothing, which emphasizes female attraction or on the contrary explicitly veils it, such as the scarf). Does this already apply to antiquity and how can we prove it? A further modern phenomenon is the devaluation of girls’ culture to that of boys, resulting from general gender hierarchy. (A girl playing football may be something special in the positive sense – but a boy dreaming of pink dresses, is probably embarrasing for his parents.) How was this issue perceived in ancient cultures?

Research and media. At first sight, girls seem to be the big invisibles in research, twice marginalized because of their sex and their age, their status of »not yet«. Is that true? And what about the presence and depiction of (pre)historic girls in popular media, such as schoolbooks or movies?

We are looking for papers from ancient historians, philologists and archaeologists, and explicitly also from young scholars. Contributions from other disciplines such as social or educational sciences or ethnology are very welcome, provided they contribute to a better understanding of concepts of girlhood in antiquity.

Papers presentations are limited to 30 minutes followed by a discussion of 15 minutes.
Conference languages are German and English.
Proposals with working title, an abstract of maximum 250 words as well as address and a short academic CV should be sent via email by 31th October 2009 to the organizers:

Dr. Susanne Moraw
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
Podbielskiallee 69-71
14195 Berlin
smo AT dainst.de

Anna Kieburg, M.A.
Institut für Kunstgeschichte und Archäologie der Universität Bonn
Am Hofgarten 21
53113 Bonn
a.kieburg AT web.de

The conference will be organized by »FemArc. Network of women in archaeology« (www.femarc.de) and is taking place 8th – 10th October 2010 at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Berlin.

Subject to our funding expenses for travel and accommodation might be refundable.
Further information concerning the program will be provided by the end of 2009.
Publication of the conference is planned in the series »Frauen – Forschung – Archäologie«