CFP: (Re)Constructing the Past: Abandonment and Renewal in the Ancient World

DEADLINE EXTENDED! Deadline for abstract submission extended to Friday, December 14, 2012!

Call for Papers: (Re)Constructing the Past: Abandonment and Renewal in the Ancient World

Graduate Student Conference, February 22-23, 2013
Department of Classical Studies, University of Michigan

Keynote Speaker: Professor Karl Galinsky, University of Texas at Austin

Modern conceptions of the ancient world are often dominated by images of destruction and abandonment, concretized in the ruins of ancient structures or fragments of lost texts. But ruin in the ancient world is almost always accompanied by eventual renewal, a regeneration or remembrance of the thing lost, abandoned, or destroyed.

The 2013 interdisciplinary conference in Classical Studies is open to graduate students studying the history, literature, art, and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean and will focus on cycles of desertion, ruin, and rebuilding in the ancient world. We invite papers on the abandonment of cities, buildings, and regions, the abandonment of literary genres and styles, the abandonment of ideas and religious practices and beliefs, and the modern abandonment of interpretative theories, as well as the memory of and responses to such abandonment. We welcome papers addressing how and why deserted objects and ideas are reconstructed, as well as the effects of rebuilding on individuals, society, material culture, and literature. Potential topics also include the historical and literary trope of moral or artistic decline, the literary topos of abandoned women, themes of regret and nostalgia, and the subject of exile. Submissions dealing with issues of reception and adaptation, including the reuse and reappropriation of abandoned buildings, objects, texts, laws, or ideas are also encouraged.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words by December 14, 2012 via email as a PDF attachment to classicsgradconference AT In your email please include the presenter’s name, institution, email address, phone number, and any A/V needs. Please omit identifying information from the actual abstract document. Accepted presenters will be notified in early January 2013. Food and lodging will be provided for presenters.

Nuntii Latini (YLE)

Separatistae in Catalonia victores

In comitiis Cataloniae partes politicae, quae ad independentiam spectant, maiorem partem delegatorum in parlamentum regionale acceperunt. Nihilo minus separatio Cataloniae non est probabilis, ut factiones principales iam nuntiaverunt. Inopia quaestus et depressio oeconomica usque gravescens voluntatem separationis apud Catalanos auxerunt.

Catalonia ex partibus Hispaniae oeconomiam habet validissimam, sed multi Catalani censent causam difficultatum oeconomicarum, quibus illi quoque gravantur, in eo esse, ut nimia pars pecuniarum regionis Matritum delabatur. Regimen Hispaniae centrale voluntati separatistarum vehementer resistit et habet proposita ad secessionem spectantia illegalia et constitutioni Hispaniae contraria.

Alia: Mursi novus pharao appellatus … Arafat exhumatus … Medvedev aurigas ebrios coercet …Tigres pauciores quam umquam ante …In Utsjoki sol disparuit

H-Net Review of Lendon, Song of Wrath

 Lendon, J. E., Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins. H-War, H-Net Reviews. November, 2012.

Reviewed by Joseph Frechette (University of Maryland)
Published on H-War (November, 2012)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey


J. E. Lendon’s engaging new history of the Ten Years or Archidamian War, that is, the first phase of what we have come to refer to as the Peloponnesian War, sets itself to what seems at first glance a formidable task. Disdaining Thucydides’ analysis that the “truest cause” of the war was the fear that Athens’ increasing power was inspiring in the Spartans, Lendon looks instead to the aitiai (charges) and diaphoroi (disputes) that the great historian so famously eschewed. He builds here on an earlier article in which he posited that a Homeric concern for honor and revenge were driving factors in the outbreak of Greek wars and sets out to test the theory against the history of the Archidamian War.[1] In Lendon’s estimation, cities’ sense of timē (honor), whether stemming from a mythological past or practical accomplishments, could be totted up and compared with real-world results. Thus, Greek poleis acted out of anger and concern for timē as much as out of rational interest when they made war on each other. Tragically, what one city saw as the taking of just revenge for another’s hybris (insult), could in itself be viewed as a disproportionate act of hybris and treasured up as the cause of future conflict, inspiring and perpetuating interminable cycles of war. Concern for cities’ relative ranking with regard to timē and whether or not they were treated with the correct level of respect or deference in the fluid environment of interstate relations only created greater opportunity for hybris and revenge.

Ironically, in such an environment, Lendon suggests that the appearance and rhythm of reprisal were as important as its reality. Poleis tried to carefully modulate their vengeance so as not to spiral out of control into hybris. Rather, the goal of this tit-for-tat cycle of violence was to either preserve or revise the combatants’ relative honor ranking in the eyes of the Greeks. Thus, Athens sought to force Sparta to accept her equality in honor while Sparta fought vindicate her superiority. To this end, Athens took care to retaliate for the annual Spartan ravages to Attica by amphibious raids around the Peloponnese and shaming the Spartans wherever possible. If Athens could not match Sparta in the virtue of andreia (bravery) in outright hoplite battle, they could surpass them in the competing virtues of charis (reciprocity) and mētis (guile). In essence, Lendon seeks to explain why the ancients approved of Pericles’ strategy, which, by modern lights, often seems half-hearted.

Lendon also seeks to rescue Thucydides from the realists and present a rereading of the Archidamian War in which honor, rather than fear or interest, is the dominant element in the remarkable trinity of Thuc. 1.75 and 1.76. Despite the comfortable familiarity that modern realists find in the importance of dynamis (power) in Thucydides’ analysis of the war’s outbreak, in the later sections of his history, such reasoning is generally placed in the mouths of reprehensible figures while Thucydides’ own analysis is more often expressed in terms of rank–that is, relative levels of timē. Whatever Thucydides’ theory behind the special case of the outbreak of the war, Lendon argues that Thucydides knew, and described in the rest of his work, a world in which honor and revenge rather than realist calculus governed affairs.

One is reminded of G. E. M. de Ste Croix’s assertion that, on occasion, Thucydides’ “editorials” are contradicted by his “news reports.”[2] Although other scholars have applied the notion of a pivot point away from the realism of Book 1, Lendon sets himself apart by suggesting this was not necessarily due to some literary or didactic strategy on Thucydides’ part, but cultural factors.[3] Thucydides simply described the world as he knew it and the events as he saw them. Once we relieve ourselves of the comfortable, but facile notion of Thucydides as a modern realist, and try to set him and his history in the context of his own times and ethos, Lendon believes that the cycle of anger and revenge leap into high relief. The notion of Thucydides’ archaic sensibilities is not new, but Lendon makes the case with specific reference to his analysis of Greek interstate politics.[4]

In order to emphasize this point, Lendon adopts an interesting and engaging rhetorical style. He provides the reader with a narrative of the Archidamian War as he imagines the romantic Herodotus would have composed it rather than the austere Thucydides. To that end, he not only writes with verve and panache, but includes local myths and legends, sometimes anachronistically, in order to give a sense of the traditional values he believes to have been at work. The result may be debated as a matter of taste. However, this reviewer was delighted. This is not the dreary tome that is so often the product of academic scholarship, but is in fact a joy to read. Lendon wears his erudition lightly, although his extensive endnotes and appendix on the source material will be read with profit in their own right. His facility with the English language is of the sort usually drubbed out of historians in graduate school.

Overall, undergraduates and the general public will be able to rely on an accessible and well-written synthesis of the current scholarship, while specialists will profit from an old tale retold very well with an engaging new perspective.


[1]. J. E. Lendon, “Homeric Vengeance and the Outbreak of Greek Wars,” in War and Violence in Ancient Greece, ed. Hans Van Wees (London: Duckworth, 2000), 1-30.

[2]. G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, “The Character of the Athenian Empire,” Historia 3 (1954): 1–41.

[3]. For example, Robert W. Connor, Thucydides (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 63-75; and Josiah Ober, “Thucydides Theoretikos/Thucydides Histor: Realist Theory and the Challenge of History,” in War and Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Korean War and the Peloponnesian War, ed. D. R. McCann and B. S. Strauss (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2001), 273-306.

4. Lowell Edmunds, “Thucydides’ Ethics as Reflected in the Description of Stasis,” HSCP 79 (1975) 73-92.

Mithraeum Reopening to the Public

From the Art Newspaper:

Few people have ever visited the long network of underground tunnels under the public baths of Caracalla, which date back to the third century AD and are considered by many archaeologists to be the grandest public baths in Rome. This underground network, which is due to be reopened in December, is also home to a separate structure, the largest Mithraeum in the Roman Empire, according to its director Marina Piranomonte. The Mithraeum has just reopened after a year of restoration work which cost the city’s archaeological authorities around €360,000.

To celebrate the reopening, Michelangelo Pistoletto has installed his conceptual work Il Terzo Paradiso (the third heaven), which he first presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale, in the gardens surrounding the public baths. The work, made of ancient stone fragments and pieces of columns arranged in a triple loop, represents the harmonious union of the natural and technological worlds, according to the artist. It will be on view until 6 January 2013.

Mithraeums were places of worship for initiates of the religious cult of Mithraism, which was centred around the Persian god Mithra and practiced throughout the Roman empire from around the first to the fourth centuries AD. A Mithraeum would usually exist underground, either in a cavern or beneath existing buildings, and was traditionally dark and windowless.

The conservation problems began when skylights were installed. The presence of sunlight coupled with the circulation of air altered the underground microclimate and caused algae to grow on the walls as well as water gathering in the 25 metre-long central hall. During the works the skylights were sealed shut, a collapsed vault was restored and the walls and flooring were cleaned. A lighting system was also been installed to compensate for the closure of the skylights.

The Mithraeum was discovered a century ago and was almost entirely devoid of decoration. Only a small and poorly conserved fresco of Mithra remained, although the site had other significant features including the fossa sanguinis, a two-and-a half-metres-deep square pit in which new initiates would be lowered to receive the blood of a specially sacrificed bull.

The Mithraeum is due to be connected with the other branches of the underground network to form a single visitors route, although two further adjacent spaces have still to be restored before this can happen. Restoration work is expected to take around two more years.

One thing I’ve been meaning to look into is to try to get a handle on how many “Mithraeums” there were in Rome … just a stone’s throw away from this one (I think) is one near the Circus Maximus.

Another Necropolis in Bulgaria

The finds are from various periods, but it sounds like this find might lead to more within our purview. From Novinite:

A necropolis with over 100 burials has been unearthed during archaeological excavations near the village of Marten in northern Bulgaria.

The discovery was made by the archaeologist from the Archaeology Museum in the Danube city of Ruse, Deyan Dragoev.

The necropolis is on the path of the future gas connection between Bulgaria and Romania.

The site includes tombs from the Thracian times to the times of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. The oldest ones date from the 5th – 4th centuries B.C. Some reveal very interesting rites such as the tomb of a decapitated soldier, whose head was laid on his lap, while others have been buried with gold and silver jewelry or with their dogs.

Some skeletons have deformed skulls, which have been typical for the First Bulgarian Kingdom as a sign of high position in society and of nobility. Noble children then had their heads tightened with headbands in order to change the form of the skull, experts say.

Remnants include wooden coffins, and ceramics and glass from Roman times.

The two Thracian tombs, according to archaeologists, show that a Thracian settlement, unknown until now, has been located nearby.

On Wednesday, the Ruse archaeologists sent bone material for analysis at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.