Christie’s Upcoming Auction

Some of the interesting items in Christie’s upcoming antiquities auction include this torso of Aphrodite (from a 19th century Swiss collection) (the inline links will take you to the ‘official page’):

Christie's photo

A very interesting ‘young satyr’ with a panther at his feet (acquired pre-1970):

Christies photo

A bone figure of Aphrodite (left) and a doll (right) (acquired in the 1960s):

Christie's photo

There are 80+ other items … an awful lot of ‘satyrs’

Citanda: American Journal of Philology 131.1 (Spring 2010)

  • Middle Comedy and the “Satyric” Style – Carl A. Shaw
  • Menander’s Theophoroumene between Greece and Rome – Sebastiana Nervegna
  • The Tyrant Lists: Tacitus’ Obituary of Petronius – Holly Haynes
  • Unseemly Professions and Recruitment in Late Antiquity: Piscatores and Vegetius Epitoma 1.7.1-2 – Michael B. Charles
  • Reconsidering the History of Latin and Sabellic Adpositional Morphosyntax – Benjamin W. Fortson IV

via Project MUSE – American Journal of Philology – Volume 131, Number 1 (Whole Number 521), Spring 2010.

Some ‘partial access’ available …

CFP: Commentary Writers’ Workshop

Seen on CJ Online (please send any responses to the folks mentioned in the quoted text, not to rogueclassicism!):

Call for Proposals: Classical Commentary Writers’ Workshop Georgetown University, October 14–16, 2010: Latin Texts

Proposals are solicited for participation in the sixth annual Classical Commentary Writers’ Workshop, to be held on October 14–16, 2010 at Georgetown University in Washington DC. The 2009 workshop will be devoted to Latin texts. The deadline for proposals is June 15, 2010.

The workshop will consist of five 3-hour sessions, each devoted to discussion of a single pre-circulated chunk of text and commentary. We work in an intensely practical, hands-on way, asking questions, making suggestions, working out problems, and the like. Our expectation is not that the group will examine the whole of anyone’s primary text, but that all participants will return in the end to their projects with fresh insights, ideas and questions, new bibliographic resources, and a sense of working within a supportive scholarly community.

Workshop sessions are open only to the conveners, S. Douglas Olson and Alex Sens; the five participants; and (by invitation) previous participants and occasional graduate student observers. Participants are expected to arrive late in the day on the 14th, and to stay for the entire proceedings, including a final dinner on Saturday night.

Projects should be well enough advanced to provide a substantial sample of text and commentary, but not so far along that the Workshop will be unlikely to affect the final shape. Proposals should consist of (1) a brief (maximum one-page) description of the project, its intended audience, and the expected publication venue; (2) a 10-page sample of text and commentary. Proposals should be submitted, preferably in PDF form, to the convenors at sdolson AT and sensa AT Final Workshop samples will be due on Monday September 13, 2010, for pre-circulation to all participants.

Participants are asked to call first on their own research accounts and institutional resources to cover their transportation and housing costs. For those who lack such resources, the Workshop will provide up to $600 for travel and housing. All meals will be provided.

Support for the Workshop has been provided by the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, the Alexander Onassis Foundation, the Georgetown Provost’s Office, and the University of Minnesota’s Imagine Fund.

Roman Temple in Southwell (Iterum)

This one seems to be making the rounds again:

Remains unearthed in Nottinghamshire could be an unknown Roman temple, archaeologists have claimed.

Excavations on the Minster C of E School site in Southwell between September 2008 and May 2009 revealed walls, ditches and ornate stones.

The team analysing the finds said the shape and quality of the remains suggest it could have been an important place of worship.

This could mean Southwell enjoyed a high status Roman Britain, they added.

A wall of large block masonry that was probably plastered and possibly painted, with a ditch that may have contained water, was possibly the boundary of a large temple.

Roman pilgrims

The remains of timber scaffolding for the wall were also uncovered. Radiocarbon dating of this dated it to the first century.

Ursilla Spence from Nottinghamshire County Council, the archaeologist who supervised the work, said a lack of domestic remains, like pots and tools, also indicated a ceremonial use.

“This is a fascinating site,” she said. “But, so far, it has raised more questions than it has answered.

“I hope that future excavation work, when the site is developed, will throw more light on exactly what was going on here 2,000 years ago.

“But, whatever we might find in future, I believe we have already shown that Roman Southwell was a much more significant place than anyone previously thought.”

She added that if the site was a temple, a nearby ‘villa’ with mosaics, excavated in 1959, could actually have been a hotel for pilgrims.

The site is expected to be developed for housing and further excavation would take place during the building work.

via BBC News – Remains in Southwell ‘could be Roman temple’.

We first mentioned this back in December of 2008 (Roman Complex from Notts) and Adrian Murdoch (who mentioned on Twitter this was an “old story” was blogging about that one even before that (Roman temple at Southwell, Notts). It really doesn’t seem like there’s anything new here and it doesn’t appear that the relevant excavators’ website has been updated in a long time either.

The Loss of Classical Literature is Blamed On …

Islam? Here’s an excerpt from the middle of a very long book review of  Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Civilization by John O’Neill at Europe News:

Until the first quarter of the seventh century Classical Civilization was alive and well in the Middle East and North Africa — even more so than in Europe. City life flourished, as did the economy and the arts. Literacy was widespread, and the works of the Classical historians, as well as the philosophers, mathematicians, and physicians, were readily available and discussed in the academies and libraries located throughout the Near East, North Africa, and Europe. In Egypt, during the sixth century, renowned philosophers such as Olympiodorus (died 570) presided over the Alexandrian academy which possessed a well-stocked and funded library packed with probably thousands of volumes. The Alexandrian academy of this time was the most illustrious institute of learning in the known world; and it is beyond doubt that its library matched, if indeed it did not surpass, the original Library founded by Ptolemy II. The writings of Olympiodorus and his contemporaries demonstrate intimate familiarity with the great works of classical antiquity — very often quoting obscure philosophers and historians whose works have long since disappeared. Among the general population of the time literacy was the norm, and the appetite for reading was fed by a large class of professional writers who composed plays, poems and short stories — the latter taking the form of mini-novels. In Egypt, the works of Greek writers such as Herodotus and Diodorus were familiar and widely quoted. Both the latter, as well as native Egyptian writers such as Manetho, had composed extensive histories of Egypt of the time of the pharaohs. These works provided, for the citizens of Egypt and other parts of the Empire, a direct link with the pharaohnic past. Here the educated citizen encountered the name of the pharaoh (Kheops) who built the Great Pyramid, as well as that of his son (Khephren), who built the second pyramid at Giza, and that of his grandson Mykerinos, who raised the third and smallest structure. These Hellenized versions of the names were extremely accurate transcriptions of the actual Egyptian names (Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure). In the history of the country written by Manetho, the educated citizen of the Empire would have had a detailed description of Egypt’s past, complete with an in-depth account of the deeds of the pharaohs as well as descriptions of the various monuments and the kings who built them.

The change that came over Egypt and the other regions of the Middle East following the Arab Conquest can only be described as catastrophic. Almost all knowledge of these countries’ histories disappears, and does so almost overnight. Consider the account of the Giza Pyramids and their construction written by the Arab historian Al Masudi (regarded as the “Arab Herodotus”), apparently in the tenth century:

“Surid, Ben Shaluk, Ben Sermuni, Ben Termidun, Ben Tedresan, Ben Sal, one of the kings of Egypt before the flood, built two great pyramids; and, notwithstanding, they were subsequently named after a person called Shaddad Ben Ad … they were not built by the Adites, who could not conquer Egypt, on account of their powers, which the Egyptians possessed by means of enchantment … the reason for the building of the pyramids was the following dream, which happened to Surid three hundred years previous to the flood. It appeared to him that the earth was overthrown, and that the inhabitants were laid prostrate upon it, that the stars wandered confusedly from their courses, and clashed together with tremendous noise. The king though greatly affected by this vision, did not disclose it to any person, but was conscious that some great event was about to take place.” (From L. Cottrell, The Mountains of Pharaoh (London, 1956)).

This was what passed for “history” in Egypt after the Arab conquest — little more than a collection of Arab fables. Egypt, effectively, had lost her history. Other Arab writers display the same ignorance. Take for example the comments of Ibn Jubayr, who worked as a secretary to the Moorish governor of Granada, and who visited Cairo in 1182. He commented on “the ancient pyramids, of miraculous construction and wonderful to look upon, [which looked] like huge pavilions rearing to the skies; two in particular shock the firmament …” He wondered whether they might be the tombs of early prophets mention in the Koran, or whether they were granaries of the biblical patriarch Joseph, but in the end came to the conclusion, “To be short, none but the Great and Glorious God can know their story.” (Andrew Beattie, Cairo: A Cultural History (Oxford University Press, 2005) p. 50)

via How Islam Destroyed the Literary Inheritance of the Classical World | EuropeNews.

… but are there no writers who get it right? I’m sure every period has their share of shoddy historians (by whatever definition you want to apply to ‘historian’). Whatever the case,  it appears that Mr O’Neill has missed Warwick’s Podcast on Graeco-Arabic Studies (and probably much else). Perhaps it’s not surprising that this book appears to be self-published?