A Scholarly Slap on the Wrist?

Excerpts from an interesting piece at the New York Times’ Paper Cuts Blog:

There’s a scene in David Malouf’s “Ransom” — a novel based mainly on Homer’s “Iliad” — in which King Priam of Troy is slaughtered by Neoptolemus, the son of the Greek hero Achilles. That episode, which is not described in the “Iliad,” ultimately derives from a lost archaic Greek epic, the “Iliou Persis,” or “Sack of Troy.” But the best-known surviving version of the death of Priam appears in the second book of Virgil’s “Aeneid,” and Latinists took me to task for not mentioning it in my review of “Ransom” published in the Book Review last month.

In recompense, here are two translations of the passage in Virgil to compare, the first by Sarah Ruden. In The New York Review of Books, Garry Wills said her 2008 “Aeneid” “has soared over the bar” set high by Robert Fagles in 2006. His translation follows hers. (Neoptolemus is here called Pyrrhus; the narrator is Aeneas, at the court of Queen Dido of Carthage.)


Some other notes:

— The fantastic vase painting of the killing of Priam is from an Attic black-figure amphora of the late sixth century B.C., now in the Louvre. Like many ancient illustrations of the Trojan War, it depicts the conquest of Troy as a savage and merciless slaughter of innocents; here Neoptolemus bludgeons Priam with the body of a Trojan child.

— Virgil’s references to the rule of Asia and a headless trunk on the shore would have been immediately understood by Romans of the early Augustan age as a reference to Pompey the Great, the Roman conqueror of the East treacherously assassinated and beheaded on the shores of Egypt.

— The title of Malouf’s novel, “Ransom,” is a translation of the Greek term for the Iliadic episode in which Priam ransoms the body of his son Hector from Achilles. It’s just one of the many ways in which Malouf shows his thorough engagement with the “Iliad.”

— No matter how skillful these translations, Virgil’s Latin suffers far more in translation than does Homeric Greek. It’s worth learning Latin just to read the “Aeneid.”

via Virgil Strikes Back – Paper Cuts Blog – NYTimes.com.

The Priestess of Boscoreale Returns

The skinny: a Roman second style painting of a priestess which was stolen from the villa of Asellius at Pompeii (some time prior to 1997) turned up at Christie’s in New York. Here’s the incipit:

Tornerà a Pompei l’affresco con la sacerdotessa, recuperato a New York, presso la casa d’aste Christie’s, dai Carabinieri del Reparto Operativo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale affiancati dagli agenti dell’Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), l’autorità doganale USA, a cui erano stati forniti tutti gli elementi comprovanti la illecita provenienza dall’Italia e la legittima appartenenza all’eredità culturale italiana. Il quadretto è un affresco, eseguito in secondo stile pompeiano, databile al I secolo d.C., raffigurante una “ministra sacrificante”, delle dimensioni dicm80 x 60.

Era stato trafugato in data sconosciuta dai depositi degli scavi di Pompei e solo nel 1997 era stata fatta comunicazione della sua sparizione. Il reperto, ritrovato in ottimostato di conservazione, era stato acquistato nel 1957 dall’allora Soprintendenza di Napoli e Pompei e assieme ad altri dipinti proveniva dallo scavo della villa detta di Asellius. L’edificio, che si trovava sotterrato nel fondo agricolo di Giuseppe De Martino, venne indagato tra il 1903 e il 1904 dall’avvocato Vincenzo De Prisco, che nel proprio terreno, nel 1895, aveva riportato alla luce la villa detta della “Pisanella” e scoperto il tesoro di argenterie, oggi al Louvre. La villa, a pianta quadrata, viene detta di Asellius da un sigillo di bronzo con soprasegnato quel nome e ritenuto appartenente al proprietario dell’edificio o al suo procuratore.

L’affresco con sovradipinto la figura di una sacerdotessa, noto anche come l’affresco della “Ministra”, propone, come riporta Matteo della Corte in “Notizie Scavi” del 1921 « una sacerdotessa in camice giallo dalle maniche verdi, incedente di fronte, e recante nella destra una patera con oggetti indistinti, e con la sinistra, stesa lungo il lato corrispondente del corpo, un praefericulum (si tratta di un vaso da cui gli auguri versavano liquido durante le cerimonie)».

via Ritrovata la sacerdotessa di Boscoreale | In Somma.

(there’s a tiny photo accompanying the original article, but it’s too small to be useful)

Citanda: Another Hercules Comic

In medias res:

At the end of Hercules: The Thracian Wars, our hero and his band of adventurers (or mercenaries, if you’re feeling uncharitable) were off to Egypt to seek more fortune. That’s where this mini-series begins, on a slow boat to the Delta. Moore uses Iolaus the charioteer as his narrator, which is a fine choice. Iolaus is the most sympathetic of the band, and he’s the most “like us.” AutolyIn cus is a sneaky bastard, Meleager is a lovestruck whiner, and Atalanta is haughty. Hercules, as a demi-god, isn’t a good choice either – he’s not given to introspection, so his narration wouldn’t be terribly interesting. These people are interesting to read about, and Iolaus is a good person to narrate their adventures. They are beset immediately by pirates, leading to them arriving in Egypt in somewhat worse shape than they thought they would. They rescue one of the pharoah’s wives from bandits, which gets them an audience with the pharoah and a job as bodyguards for his wife. The pharoah, however, is embroiled in a civil war with his half-brother, and he wants Hercules and his group to spy on those in Memphis who might be working for the other side. And so we’re off!

via Hey, look! It’s a comic starring Hercules!| Comic Book Resources.

With Vulcan Presiding

Interesting story:

The Roman god of the forge presided over plenty of “I Do’s” on Valentine’s Day.

Seven weddings were held before the 50-ton Vulcan statue in suburban Birmingham on Sunday.

Spokeswoman Audra Bean says the couples wed as part of Vulcan Park’s “I Do With A View” event.

This is the first time the park has offered couples weddings packages.

For $300 the couples got an officiated ceremony with professional photos and a champagne toast with cake among other wedding staples.

They also got one impressive witness. The Vulcan statue has been perched atop Red Mountain since 1939.

… of course, given the status of Vulcan’s marriage to Venus, I’m not sure he’d be the best ‘overseer’ …

via 7 couples wed in front of Vulcan statue – WRCB Channel 3 Chattanooga News, Weather |.

see also: Vulcan Park and Museum