Classical Ink

So there was a bit of twitter chatter about the Daily Mail’s claims about celebrity tattoos ‘causing’ a revival of interest in Latin, and it was decided that we’d start a new feature here which possibly is a bit more realistic in regards to Latin and tattoos by showcasing the Latin/Classical ink festooning the dermises (dermides? dermida?)  of Classicists and/or folks who actually work in Latin or Greek. Francesca Tronchin graciously consented to inaugurate this ongoing series:

Next we have a medievalist — Liam — who works with Latin, of course:

So … if you’re a Classicist or regularly use Latin and/or Ancient Greek in your daily pursuits, whether student or prof, and you sport some Classical ink, feel free to send it in so we can help drive this Latin revival along  (don’t forget to send a link to your blog or website if you have one too!)…

Roman Shipwrecks off Zannone

This one just started filtering in this a.m. … here’s the Reuters coverage:

A team of marine archaeologists using sonar scanners have discovered four ancient shipwrecks off the tiny Italian island of Zannone, with intact cargoes of wine and oil.

The remains of the trading vessels, dating from the first century BC to the 5th-7th century AD, are up to 165 meters underwater, a depth that preserved them from being disturbed by fishermen over the centuries.

“The deeper you go, the more likely you are to find complete wrecks,” said Annalisa Zarattini, an official from the archaeological services section of the Italian culture ministry.

The timber structures of the vessels have been eaten away by tiny marine organisms, leaving their outlines and the cargoes still lying in the position they were stowed on board.

“The ships sank, they came to rest at the bottom of the sea, the wood disappeared and you find the whole ship, with the entire cargo. Nothing has been taken away,” she said.

The discoveries were made through cooperation between Italian authorities and the Aurora Trust, a U.S. foundation that promotes exploration of the Mediterranean seabed.

The vessels, up to 18 meters long, had been carrying amphorae, or large jars, containing wine from Italy, and cargo from North Africa and Spain including olive oil, fruit and garum, a pungent fish sauce that was a favorite ingredient in Roman cooking.

Another ship, as yet undated, appeared to have been carrying building bricks. It is unclear how the vessels sank and no human remains have been found.


The vessels are the second “fleet” of ships to be discovered in recent years near the Pontine islands, an archipelago off Italy’s west coast believed to have been a key junction for ships bringing supplies to the vast warehouses of Rome.

“One aim was to test the hypothesis that the Pontine islands, which are very small and which were barely inhabited in antiquity, were really important maritime staging posts because they had very good natural harbors,” Zarattini said.

The team hope to find a secondary cargo of smaller items which they believe would have been stowed in straw and may be well preserved under the crustacean-clad sediments.

Last year, the project found five wrecks off nearby Ventotene, an island used in Roman times to exile disgraced Roman noblewomen. The Emperor Augustus sent his daughter Julia there to punish her for adultery.

Italy has signed a new UNESCO agreement that requires them to leave the wreckage in place, potentially opening the way to would-be treasure hunters although Zarattini said the benefits in terms of tourism outweighed the risks.

“We think the sea, which is particularly beautiful around these islands, can become a real museum,” she said.

“In the future, not so far off, a lot of people will be able to go down and see the wreckage themselves.”

via: Sonar scanners find ancient wrecks off Italian coast | Reuters

As mentioned in the article, last year this same group of folks found those five shipwrecks off Ventotene, and the project does have a website about their activities which is worth looking at. Their blog relates a press conference, however, which seems to suggest these shipwrecks are connected to the shipwreck found at Panarea which we mentioned a few weeks ago. Not sure if that suggests we may be hearing more in the near future or not, but a clarification post/article might be a good thing.

More coverage:

What To Do With a Classics Degree

The incipit and a bit of an item in the Guardian:

As experts warn the ongoing cuts in the public sector could result in record levels of graduate unemployment; despondent graduate jobseekers may find comfort in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Of course, Nietzsche was a great philosopher, but not many people know he originally studied classics; it was only after a book he authored on the subject was rubbished by a rival that he switched disciplines.

For today’s classics graduates, Nietzsche’s famous quote may be particularly relevant. Six months after leaving university, only 51.6% of 2008 classics graduates were in employment compared with 61.5% of graduates in other subjects. However, the subject is held in high regard by employers, and graduates in the subject often acknowledge its indirect importance; as London mayor (and classics graduate) Boris Johnson, has said: “I’m hugely grateful to my degree. The mere possession has been of no assistance at all – what’s invaluable has been the philosophy.”

So if you do initially struggle to find a niche, you should at least, like Johnson, be able to remain philosophical about life’s hardships.

What skills have you gained?

Studying classics will highlight your ability to learn and comprehend challenging subjects. You will also develop your ability to research, collate and analyse materials and learn to critically evaluate resources in order to formulate arguments, which you can present competently. You will be able to work alone or within a team and to think imaginatively, a talent Harry Potter creator and classics graduate JK Rowling (pictured) has in abundance. Perhaps she also found studying different societies, cultures and civilisations helped her create a completely new fictitious one. Classics graduates therefore enter the jobs market with specific, practical, intellectual and theoretical skills.

What jobs can you do?

“Careers can vary from those that use historical knowledge, in roles such as museum education or exhibitions officer or archivist, historic buildings inspector or conservation officer to those that use the classics graduate’s understanding of language in roles within advertising, editorial work or public relations,” says Margaret Holbrough, a careers adviser at Graduate Prospects.

About 11% of classics graduates entering full-time work found professional roles as private and public-sector managers, while almost 15% entered retail, catering and bar work. Other clerical occupations accounted for the most number of classics graduates (22.2%) who entered employment, possibly a reflection that administrative roles tend to be the entry-level route for graduates wanting to work in creative, cultural and heritage-related positions. Teaching is an option – there is currently a shortage of classics teachers in the UK. As a classics graduate, you are attractive to recruiters from all sectors, including law, finance and consultancy.


The article goes on to mention ‘graduate’ opportunities. Not sure the exempla provided are useful or encouraging. I have created a delicious link (which I update as I find examples) to a pile of bios etc of famous folks who had/have Classics degrees which are probably more encouraging than the somewhat ‘sketchy’ connection of JK Rowling, but the variety of fields folks end up in after taking a Classics degree is incredibly interesting. We have, e.g., recently mentioned the anonymous ‘Hedge Fund Manager’ … not long before that, the Psychology Today blog was also listing a pile of things available for those with Classics training.  A followup piece in the same source had some useful advice on how to sell yourself as a Classicist in a non-Classical job market. One of the great things about the existence of the web is that it does allow you to find plenty of examples of folks who have ‘survived’ getting a Classics degree, should you have to convince your parents …

Saving Latin in Scotland – Followup

In today’s Scotsman:

IT IS the dead language of ancient Rome, the Declaration of Arbroath, law books and medical terminology.

But a new campaign is using that most modern of inventions – Facebook – to wage a battle to save Latin in Scottish schools.

An online bid to protect qualifications in the study of the ancient language is picking up global support with the rallying
cry “Heri, hodie, semper!” – “Today, tomorrow, always!”

The campaign was launched in response to proposals by the Scottish Qualifications Authority to cut back the exam options available to pupils.

Entry-level exams in the subject could go, deterring pupils from taking the language at a higher level, say opponents.

The plans have been branded “elitist nonsense” and a “regression to past inequality” by allowing only the brightest pupils to gain qualifications and axeing options for youngsters with lower academic ability.

Helen Lawrenson, a recently retired teacher of Latin and English in Fife who launched the online campaign, said: “I would argue that Latin isn’t a dead language, but a timeless language.

“And the acquisition of Latin is undoubtedly an advantage in the study of law and medicine.”

The Facebook page has attracted support from pupils, teachers and academics around the world, many of whom have also written to the SQA and education minister Mike Russell in protest.

via Modern drive for ancient language – News.