Odyssey Adaptation

I mentioned this one on Twitter the other day, but we should probably give it fuller treatment … I suspect we’ll be following this one in the future … the incipit of an item at Total Film:

Even though he’s already got a ballooning list of projects attached to his reputable name, director Barry Sorrenfeld is apparently set to sign on to helm animated film Pig Scrolls.

Men In Black 3, Swift and The How-To Guide For Saving The World are all flicks currently squabbling for his attention.

But it seems that DreamWorks Animation are keen to recruit Sonnenfeld for Pig Scrolls, adapted from a novel by Paul Shipton. It’s a porcine version of the swords and sandals epics that are currently en vogue in Hollywood.

The ever-dependable Pajiba report that Sonnenfeld is developing Pig Scrolls as a possible directing project, with Clash Of The Titans and Kung Fu Panda name-checked as influences.

Shipton’s novel follows Gryllus, a member of Odysseus’ crew who is transformed into a pig by Circe (part of the original Greek myth). But as Odysseus escapes, Gryllus goes on to have his own adventure, which naturally involves giant monsters and gorgeous teen prophet Sybil.

via Film news Sonnenfeld to direct Pig Scrolls | TotalFilm.com.

According to the somewhat poorly-written Wikipedia article on the Pig Scrolls, Paul Shipton has an MA in Classics. For those teachers out there, here’s something a LIS grad student put together for folks wanting to use it in the classroom (.pdf).

Interesting Byzantine Burial from Kaukana (Sicily)

A bit out of the period of our purview, but very interesting:

UBC archaeologists have made several important new discoveries since unearthing in 2008 a tomb at Kaukana, an ancient Roman and Byzantine village on the south coast of Sicily.

Professor Roger Wilson, Head of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies at UBC, returned to the site in 2009 to direct his students in the successful excavation of a house in this settlement, where a substantial tomb was discovered unexpectedly inside one room. Normally burials are found at this period in the village cemetery on the outskirts, or else around the village church, so the location of the tomb is a puzzle. Inside they had found two skeletons – one of a woman aged about 25, and the other that of a young child.

DNA testing in 2009/10 has now confirmed that the woman and child belong to the same family, and the child has been identified, also through her DNA, as a little girl, about four years old: they were clearly mother and daughter. From the way in which her bones were arranged, it is clear the child was placed in the tomb sometime after the mother had been buried. But the discoveries have now got even more interesting. The mother is now known to have been approximately 30 weeks pregnant (some bones of her foetus survived), and periodic feasting occurred at her graveside: not only were dining plates, amphorae for wine and oil, and cooking pots found alongside the tomb, but also ovens where the food they ate was cooked. Preliminary analysis of carbonized seeds shows that one meal consisted of wheat, barley, millet, peas, eggs and lentils. There was even a bench provided for the diners, and a low table. One of the amphorae had brought wine all the way from Egypt, and a clay lamp of about 550 CE, imported from Tunisia, is thought to show the earliest depiction of a backgammon board ever found. It is known that this game (a descendant of earlier Roman games) was being played by Roman emperors in the fifth century CE. Clearly the woman, whose tomb had a hole in the lid to take libations of wine, was a much-loved person, given the attention paid to her burial and the evidence of ritual feasting in her honour. The team now also knows, from the discovery of an inscription in 2009, that she was definitely a Christian, since a tomb slab was inscribed ‘holy, holy, holy’, an allusion to part of the early Christian liturgy.

But why was she so honoured, and why here inside a home within the settlement, and not at the cemetery or church? One discovery of 2009 was that she possessed a tiny hole in her skull, a natural defect which she had had from birth, with the result that the lining of the brain, the meninges, would have protruded from it. The condition, known as meningocoele, would have given her constant headaches and a tendency to suffer from periodic seizures. Perhaps her miraculous powers of recovery on such occasions, apparently coming back from the ‘dead’, meant that she was seen by some as a holy woman, possibly one possessing special mystical powers. Perhaps she was rejected by her local church as being too scary, given her disabilities – one revered by some but feared by others. Or did she belong to a different, non-catholic Christian sect? The cause of her death is unknown, but it might have been due to complications which arose during her pregnancy. Even if questions surrounding this discovery abound, one thing is certain. The woman remained as remarkable in death as she was once in life.

Professor Wilson and his team, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, will return to Kaukana this summer in an attempt to solve some of the riddles and make other discoveries in the house where the tomb was found. Meanwhile lab work in the new facilities of UBC’s Laboratory of Archaeology at the Museum of Anthropology will continue to find out more about the woman and her condition. Late Roman and early Byzantine life in Italy holds a fascination not only for Italians but for historians, archaeologists and scientists worldwide.

“Archaeology is about the painstaking recording of objects and structures, yes,” said Wilson, “but above all it is about people. At Kaukana we have been fortunate to recover part of the particularly poignant life-story of one young woman, and of her little daughter, who lived and died some 1400 years ago”.

via University of British Columbia Faculty of Arts websiteNews .

John Hale Talk on the Delphic Oracle

In ancient times, the sacred oracle of Delphi was so influential that famous men from Alexander the Great and Roman emperors consulted the shrine in central Greece before making decisions. On April 16, a modern archaeologist will offer new insights into the mystery surrounding the oracle during a presentation at the Toledo Museum of Art.

John R. Hale, director of liberal studies at the University of Louisville, will discuss recent research confirming ancient descriptions of the sacred oracle of Delphi. His talk, titled “The Delphic Oracle: Modern Science Examines an Ancient Mystery,” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in the Museum’s Little Theater. The free presentation is co-sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America-Toledo Society and the Museum.

Ancient Greek and Roman authors describe the sacred site at Delphi as containing unusual geological features and phenomena: a fissure in the rock, emission of sweet-smelling vapor and a sacred spring. The Pythia—the priestess who pronounced the oracles—sat above the fissure where she could inhale the vapor, thus triggering a trance in which she became the medium for the prophecies of the god Apollo.

Most 20th century scholars were skeptical of the ancient traditions. Then, in 1995, an interdisciplinary team began studying not only the archaeology of Delphi, but also related evidence from geology, chemistry and toxicology research. Hale and others on the team were able to validate the ancient sources. The team has gone on to study Greek oracle sites elsewhere in the Aegean and Asia and has found similar geological features.

Hale has been involved in archaeological fieldwork for more than three decades. In addition to studies of ancient oracle sites in Greece and Turkey, he has looked under the sea for lost fleets from the time of the Persian Wars in Greek waters. He has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a doctorate from the University of Cambridge in England. His writings have been published in the journal Antiquity, The Classical Bulletin, the Journal of Roman Archaeology and Scientific American.

After the lecture, copies of the new trade paperback edition of Hale’s book, “Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy,” will be available for purchase and autograph.

via Museum lecture examines The Delphic Oracle | The Press.

… which reminded me … I haven’t consulted the Oracle via the Winged Sandals site lately. Last time I asked whether rogueclassicism would take over the blogosphere, I was told “Blessed is Corinth, but I would rather come from Tenea” . This time, after performing the goat ritual and paying the entry fee, I received the somewhat more vague response that “a crow will show you the answer”. Plenty of room for interpretation here … standard ‘bad omen’ … possible reference to my mother (my father affectionately called her the ‘old crow’) … possible reference to Gladiator (i.e. Russell Crowe) … then there’s the crow in the movie of the same name …

Catching up with @Classics@

Some first drafts posted over the past few months:

Sean Signore, “Andromache as Maenadic Warrior,” April 5, 2010.

Claire Jacqmin, “Woman between the Tyrant and the Polis: the Role of Women in Tyrannical Regimes,” (Woman between the Tyrant and the Polis), April 5, 2010

Sarah Lannom, “Isthmian 8: Binding, Exchange, and Politics,” March 22, 2010.

Sergios Paschalis, “The Dioscuri in Pindar’s Nemean 10, Theocritus’ Idyll 22 and Ovid’s Fasti 5.693-720: Cattle, Brides, and Strife,” (The Dioscuri in Pindar’s Nemean 10) February 18, 2010.

Guy Smoot, “A Commentary on Pindar’s Olympian Ode II,” February 17, 2010.

Dan Bertoni, “Τύχη in Pindar,” February 4, 2010.

Emrys Bell-Schlatter, “Pythian 1: A Brief Commentary,” January 27, 2010.

Daniele Iozzia, “Ragioni e fortuna della metafora dello scolpire
in Plotino, Enn. I 6 (1) 9, 6-15,” January 6, 2010.

via First Drafts @Classics@ | The Center for Hellenic Studies.