Pompeii Poop

University of Queensland
Image via Wikipedia

Tip o’ the pileus to the fine folks over at Blogging Pompeii for bringing our attention to an article in the Discovery Channel Magazine highlighting the work of Dr Andy Fairbairn and crew who have been poking around the potties of Pompeii to learn more about what the folks were eating etc. … very interesting article (pdf).

Amphora 9.1

In addition to the job listings (see below), new at the APA site today is the latest edition of Amphora, which appears to be the only one we’ll be seeing this year, alas, due to financial constraints … I’m still trying to decide whether it is reasonable to expect folks to pay 10.00 for two issues; I also wonder if this actually needs to be a print publication at all … it would look awfully nice on an iPad …

Classical Words on Youtube

One of the logos of Merriam–Webster.
Image via Wikipedia

Well, today my twitterfeed and Facebook feed has been inundated with this video on the plural of octopus (tip o’ the pileus to Terrence Lockyer, Francesca Tronchin, and a few others):

… fwiw, being a Classicist, rogue or otherwise, using octopodes is one of the few times you get to use your Greek plural endings in public, so that’s what I do.  And just so you don’t have to just blindly believe an editor at Merriam-Webster, here’s amicus noster Terrence Lockyer’s comments on matters similar brought up on the Classics list a year and a half ago, inter alia:

People will tell you that this should be “octopi”,
because it is from Latin, and Latin words ending “-us”
are pluralized in “-i”. This, however, ignores two
facts: (1) in Latin, common words ending “-us” may
belong to one of three different classes (called
declensions), and while it is true that the most common
class (the second declension masculine) pluralizes in
“-i”, the others simply do not – the second class
(third declension neuter) pluralizes in “-ra” (e. g.,
“opus > opera” [work], “corpus > corpora” [body], to
mention two words adopted by English), while the third
class has plurals spelled with “-us” like the
singulars, though pronounced slightly differently; and
(2) “octopus” is not originally a Latin word at all,
and does not belong to any Latin class.

In fact, “octopus” comes from ancient Greek (where it
could mean an eight-legged thing, specifically an
octopus, or a scorpion), and contains the elements
“octo” (eight) and “pous” (foot, leg: this is also
found in the famous name “Oedipus”, from Greek
“Oidipous”, but it is less common to pluralize personal
names; and the Latin equivalent is the word “pes”,
plural “pedes”, from which English gets words like
“pedal” and “pedestrian”). The hyperpedantic who wish
to pluralize “octopus” strictly according to derivation
should therefore use the correct Greek plural, which
would be “octopodes” (pronounced “ok-top-odd-es”), or
in English perhaps “octopods”. For the rest of us,
“octopuses” will do just fine.

That said, it has just come to my attention that this ‘ask the editor’ thing is an ongoing series from the fine folks at Merriam-Webster and there are a couple of others worth taking a look at. This one, ferinstance, looks at the Classical Roots of some English words:

Here’s one  that’s another one of my personal bugbears (and I don’t have any qualms about correcting folks):


CFP: Gods in Ruins

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!)

Gods in Ruins: The archaeology of religious activity in Protohistoric,

Archaic, and Republican central Italy


Gods in Ruins is a two-day conference to be held over March 20-22, 2011 at
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

This conference invites presentation of the results of current or ongoing
work on archaeological evidence for religious activities in central Italy,
with a particular view to advancing scholarly debate on periods, places,
and phenomena under-represented in the literary sources. We aim to bring
together researchers across a range of fields including archaeology, art
history, history, anthropology, archaeozoology, and religious studies; and
to stimulate discussion of shared methodological concerns as well as
sharing new results.

Topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to:
• Methodologies for an archaeology of religion
• Cult sites
• Ritual objects and their cultural biographies
• Votives and dedicators
• Religious landscapes

We welcome abstracts from advanced postgraduate students, postdoctoral
researchers, and early career academics whose work engages in whole or in
part with the material remains of religious activities – sanctuaries,
religious architecture, votives, and organic and inorganic residue of
ritual practices – from any period or region in central Italy prior to
c.200 B.C. The language of the conference will be English. Presentations
will be limited to 20 minutes and followed by time for questions and
discussion. Abstracts of approximately 300 words should be sent to
charlotte.potts AT lmh.ox.ac.uk by September 30, 2010 with ‘Gods in Ruins’ as
the email’s subject.

Please note that this will be a residential conference at Lady Margaret
Hall, Oxford. Generous support from Oxford’s Craven Committee means that we
hope to subsidise accommodation for speakers with accepted papers on a pro
rata basis.