#Thelxinoe ~ Your Morning Salutatio for May 31, 2019

The experimenting continues … we’ve added a couple new categories today …

In the News

In Case You Missed It

Latin/Greek News

Fresh Bloggery

Fresh Podcasts

We are once more between issues of the magazine, so in this episode the team have decided to discuss military celebrity in the ancient world, how important was celebrity and perhaps was there any pitfalls to celebrity status?

ICYMI Podcasts

Book Reviews

Dramatic Receptions

Jobs and PostDocs

Conferences and Calls for Papers

Twitter Highlight


#Thelxinoe ~ Your Morning Salutatio for May 30, 2019

… continuing the feasibility study …  seems okay so far  (might need to put some bullets in or something for clarity) … plans for a video-packed weekend edition on Saturday

In the News

Plutarch’s advice for the Tory leadership candidates | The Spectator

Russian archaeologists appropriate over a million Crimean artifacts  | Ukrinform [not sure about this source]

Archaeology: Finds at Forum site in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv ‘change view of history’ | The Sofia Globe

Herod as No One Has Dared to Show Him Before  | Israel News

In Case You Missed It

Georgios Papathanasopoulos – Famed Archaeologist Dies at Age 95 | Argophilia

Fresh Bloggery

An Island Archaeology of Early Byzantine Cyprus | Summertime Fragments

Language bites: grammar, consensus, and identity | University of Wisconsin Press Blog

Cato the Elder Endorsing Misogyny in Online Forums | Pharos

Fresh Podcasts

The History of Ancient Greece Podcast: 094 – New Leaders and New Strategies 

In this episode, we discuss the years 427 and 426 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the destruction of Plataea, civil wars in both Megara and Corcyra, and Athenian campaigns in Sicily, central Greece, and northwestern Greece.

‎Emperors of Rome: Episode CXIX – Fragments of Early Roman Literature 

While we are lucky that much Roman literature from the late republic and the imperial period comes down to us complete or almost complete, most of the historical and poetic works from the mid-republic have been lost and only survive in fragments.


The episode opens in year seven of Odysseus’ long, largely undocumented sojourn on Calypso’s island.  Odysseus is longing for home, apparently unmoved by the promise of immortality with a goddess.  Up on Mount Olympus: Athena pleads Odysseus’ case, Zeus relents, and Hermes is sent to Calypso’s island with orders that “Odysseus must be set free”.  And as the episode concludes, Odysseus the master wordsmith engages in careful rhetorical diplomacy, tactfully soothing the wounded pride (and the jealousy) of a most-unhappy goddess.

Child Emperors Part 1: Sharks in the Womb | Ancient History Fangirl

In ancient Rome, being made Emperor could be a death sentence. Experienced generals and statesmen lasted weeks or months sometimes. In some cases, children were raised to the role. What became of them? Part 1 of our series looks at two very different kinds of child tyrant: Elagabalus and Caracalla.

#7 Audite: with Charlotte Higgins 

My guest this week is Charlotte Higgins, Chief Culture Writer at The Guardian and author of Under Another Sky: Journeys In Roman Britain and This New Noise: The Extraordinary Birth and Troubled Life of the BBC. Charlotte is currently working on a third book, which we discuss over the course of the podcast alongside the beginnings of her Latin education, her admiration for a particularly excellent and important teacher, and the ways in which the classical world has informed her journalism.

Fund Drive Special – Ancient Rome: From Republic to Empire Series (Part 3 of 3) – KPFA 

Today, we hear part three of the part series of Ancient Rome: From Republic to Empire. In this episode we focus on the rise of the ancient empire that came out of the destruction of the republic with leading expert on ancient military history Barry Strauss.

Book Reviews

#BMCR Antonia Sarri, Material Aspects of Letter Writing in the Graeco-Roman World, 500 BC-AD 300. Materiale Textkulturen, 12. 

#BMCR Arlene Allan, Hermes. Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World.

#BMCR Stefanie Samida, Die archäologische Entdeckung als Medienereignis. Heinrich Schliemann und seine Ausgrabungen im öffentlichen Diskurs, 1870-1890. Edition Historische Kulturwissenschaften, 3.

Greece is the word for the New Yorker’s Comma Queen | The Spectator


Hate Groups Love Ancient Greece and Rome. Scholars Are Pushing Back | Undark


#Thelxinoe ~ Your Morning Salutatio for May 29, 2019

We’re still in the ‘figuring out’ stage for this feature … the idea is to help folks get quickly caught up with news and social media without having to wade through all the ‘other stuff’ … if you’re in a Classics department full of folks skeptical about social media, perhaps send them a link …

In the News:

Greek pioneer of underwater archaeology dies at 95 | Kathimerini

Lost Roman marching camp sheds new light on invasion of Scotland | The Scotsman

Mysterious ancient burial mound used for 2,000 years | Phys.org

Italy’s new ruins: heritage sites being lost to neglect and looting | The Guardian

Retaken Areas In Syria Reveal Vandalism By Terrorists In Ancient City Of Apamea | UrduPoint


What’s So Useful About Studying Ancient History? | Daily Beast [Barry Strauss]

How to talk to your kids about Byzantium | Neos Kosmos


The Languages:

@AkropolisWorldNews: Ἆρα τίς τῷ Βολσονάρο ἐπέθετο; 

@Ephemeris QUID DE ITALIA?




In Case You Missed It:

Ancient marble head of god Dionysus discovered under Rome | The Local

The new treasures of Pompeii | The Spectator


Fresh Bloggery:

Back to the Apotheke | Ancient History Ramblings

Autour des Pontiques d’Ovide | Spartokos a lu

ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Via Alessandrina: dagli scavi emerge la testa di Dioniso. Foto, in: IL MESSAGGERO (24 & 25/05/2019) & Foto, in: DR. ARCH. FEDERICO CELLETTI | FACEBOOK (24/05/2016).| The Imperial Fora: Archaeological News & Related Studies 2010-19

Ancient Celtic Egyptian Mithra Cults in Oklahoma | America Unearthed S1, Ep 5. –

The Harris Homer Roll Online | Variant Readings


Fresh Podcasts:


Odysseus listens to the Sirens.  I pause to provide a historical review of how Sirens evolved over time, following Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus then chooses between Charybdis and Scylla, and I pause to relate a seriously twisted “Scylla back-story”.  And finally, we witness the incredibly disturbing deaths of all of Odysseus’ remaining crew.

Episode 11: King of Kings  | The History of Persia

Returning to the narrative, it’s time to see what Cyrus got up to in the final decade of his rule, after conquering Babylon. He traveled around his empire, between a collection of important capital cities, founded cities, and constructed monuments. He also conquered. This episode pushes the narrative eastward into the provinces of Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia and explores some of the events that happened there. Then it’s time to finish the story of Cyrus the Great, with one last campaign on the northeastern frontier.


Book Reviews:

[BMCR] Sadie Pickup, Sally Waite (ed.), Shoes, Slippers, and Sandals: Feet and Footwear in Classical Antiquity. 

[BMCR] Christian Riedweg, Christoph Horn, Dietmar Wyrwa (ed.), Philosophie der Kaiserzeit und der Spätantike. Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike 5/3.

[BMCR]  Livia Capponi, Il ritorno della fenice: intellettuali e potere nell’Egitto romano. Studi e testi di storia antica, 23. 

Book Review: Adam Winn, Reading Mark’s Christology Under Caesar: Jesus the Messiah and Roman Imperial Ideology | Reading Acts

Book Scene: How religion influenced Alexander’s military campaigns | Yakima Herald [Naden, Soldier, Priest, and God]


Dramatic Receptions:

Review: Antigonick and The Fragments of Sappho from Taffety Punk – DC Theatre Scene

Review: Klytemnestra: An Epic Slam Poem, a courageous act of revolution in the Trump era – DC Theatre Scene

Blueprint Medea review at Finborough Theatre, London – ‘fails to convince’

Elektra | Croatian National Theatre | Music in Croatia

The themes in Antigone are revisited in this modern adaptation | Charleston City Paper


Conferences and Calls for Papers:

Schedule – Sportula’s Naked Soul Conference 

CASA Conference (CFP)



Summary – Chef Meets Curator: A Roman Banquet 

#Thelxinoe ~ Your Morning Salutatio for May 28, 2019

Testing to see if this is feasible/doable (cutoff time for inclusion was 7:00 a.m. on this day)… culling assorted social media feeds to create something to allow folks to get caught up with Classics beyond the tower … still trying to figure out formatting for podcasts … more to be added when I get the rhythm …

In the News:

Remains of entire Roman town discovered next to A-road in Kent | The Independent

Proof of the ancient Hekate cult found | Neos Kosmos

2,000-year-old marble head of god Dionysus discovered under Rome | Telegraph

Statues on top of Mount Nemrut await visitors | Hurriyet

Fresh Blogs:

Domestic Violence in Ancient Rome and Game of Thrones | Society for Classical Studies

The Edithorial: Next-Generation Classicists in Prague & Warsaw Police Station 

Catullus 101: A fraternal farewell | The Classical Anthology

The Lysippus bust of Alexander the Great | Roger Pearse

Talking about Making Choices via Hercules at the Polish Theatre | Mythology and Autism – Susan Deacy

Renewed Italian claims on the Getty | Looting Matters

Alexander in Iran | The Second Achilles

Interactive Dig ~ Pompeii 2018: Week 4 | Archaeological Institute of America

Fresh Podcasts:

When in Rome: Insula dell’Ara Coeli 

Living in Rome for your everyday pleb was quite different to the plush Roman villa we’re all familiar with, and the Insula dell’Ara Coeli is one of the rare examples we have of an ancient Roman suburban apartment block.

Women in Wartime with Pat Barker by That’s Ancient History

Welcome back for season two of That’s Ancient History! We are kicking things off with a very special first episode featuring an interview with award-winning author Pat Barker. Pat Barker’s latest book, The Silence of the Girls, retells Homer’s Iliad from the perspective of Briseis a Trojan Queen who has been captured during the Trojan War and given as a slave to the Greek hero Achilles. This podcast discussed the experience of women during wartime, enslavement, sexual violence, PTSD, retelling ancient myths and the timeless themes of Homer’s poetry.

Kings and Generals: History for our Future: 1.2. Bactrian Revolt and Lamian War

In this episode we will talk about the first embers of the Wars of the Successors

Book Reviews:

Paul Fontaine, Sophie Helas (ed.), Le fortificazioni arcaiche del ‘Latium vetus’ e dell’Etruria meridionale (IX-VI sec. a.C.) : stratigrafia, cronologia e urbanizzazione : atti delle Giornate di Studio : Roma, Academia Belgica, 19-20 settembre 2013. Institut Historique Belge de Rome Artes, 7. [BMCR]

Matthew Wright, The Lost Plays of Greek Tragedy. Volume 2, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. [BMCR]

Paolo Orsi, Giuseppina Monterosso, Gioconda Lamagna (ed.), I taccuini, I: Riproduzione anastatica e trascrizione dei taccuini 1-4. Monumenti antichi, 75. Roma: Giorgio Bretschneider, 2018. [BMCR]

Dramatic Receptions:

Blueprint Medea review – Euripides explodes in modern London | The Guardian

Nice Troy | Artforum International [Norma Jeane Baker of Troy]


Cartoon exhibition pokes fun at life on Hadrian’s Wall | BBC News


How Technology Is Tracking Stolen Artifacts | US News

Where you can volunteer at archaeological digs in Israel | Haaretz.com

Preserving the Ancient Greek Martial Art form- Pankration | Greek City Times

Barry Baldwin ~ Eggheads of the World Unite!

[Editor’s note: this is another never-before-seen effort from Dr Baldwin; we are again grateful that he thought this was an appropriate venue! As always, yours truly takes responsibility for any typos or other editorial negligences which may accrue.]

(As Adlai Stevenson once proclaimed)

Two mythical heroes, Palamedes and Rhadamanthys, were said to have invented jesting, which is about as daft as the claim of the tenth-century Byzantine dictionary Suda that Helen of Troy’s slave-girl Astyanassa invented all the sexual positions, or the student essay that informed me the Egyptians invented the horse in 1800 BC.

Poor Astyanassa. Her name means “ she’s unable to inspire erections.” – those who can’t, teach.

Earlier civilizations were already chuckling. According to a BBC website news item, the world’s oldest joke is a bit of Sumerian (c. 1900 BC) toilet humour: “ Something which has never happened since time immemorial: a young wife did not fart in her husband’s lap.”

Followed by this thigh-slapper from Egypt (c. 1600 BC): “ How do you entertain a bored Pharaoh? Sail a boatload of young girls dressed only in fishnets down the Nile and invite him to catch a fish.”

Another claimant is Isaiah  37.36: “ The Angel of the Lord smote a hundred and four score and five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians and when they arose early in the morning, Behold, they were all dead corpses.”

In fourth-century BC Athens, there was a Comedians Club. This popular Group of Sixty met to hone their wit in the Temple of Heracles. Alas, we have no specimens of their jests, but do know six of their names, including one nicknamed ‘ The Lobster’ – doubtless a prickly character. No less a fan than King Philip II (father of Alexander the Great) of Macedon paid this sniggering sixty the enormous sum of one talent for a copy of their joke book.

Roman comic playwright Plautus twice alludes to such collections. Scholars Quintilian and Macrobius both attest to a plethora in the early and later Roman empires. The ultimate assemblage was probably that of Melissus, a favourite professor of emperor Augustus, who put together 150 volumes of jokes. Macrobius collected Augustus’ own witticisms together with those of his daughter Julia. Several authors paraded Cicero’s rib-ticklers as well as those of (to us) such lesser lights as Hellenistic harpist Stratonicus and Lucian’s cracker-barrel philosopher Demonax.

One Christian wag, Bishop Sisinnius had his bon mots collected. Feeble stuff, e.g: “ Why do you bathe twice a day? Because I can’t bathe thrice.” In his article ‘ Is Wittiness Un-Christian?’, P. W. Van der Horst generated much debate, provoked by some Early Church Fathers’ contention that Jesus never smiled.

The sole surviving joke book is the Philogelos (Laughter-Lover). Its oldest manuscript is in the Pierpont Morgan Library. It contains 265 jokes, some recycled from section to section, classified by victim under several headings. It is attributed to the otherwise unknown pair Hierocles and Philagrios – the ancient Rowan and Martin? Double authorship is very rare in classical literature. Its date is equally elusive. Joke 62 refers to emperor Philip’s Millennial Games of AD 248. Number 76 about the Serapeum temple in Alexandria cannot post-date its destruction in AD 391. Other jokes are much older chestnuts. The Greek contains several late linguistic features, including Latinisms. There is no formal Christian presence, albeit some have detected elements thereof, with chronological consequences, pointing mistakenly – the Byzantines had no objections to ‘ obscenity’ – to the relative absence of blue jokes. Its manuscripts, plus a muddled quotation from the twelfth-century polymath John Tzetzes, suggest a Byzantine popularity.

Philogelos may have been an intended manual for wannabe gagsters. It has scored one modern success in British stand-up comedian Tom Bowen’s performance based entirely on it, immortalized on YouTube.

Between Byzantium and Bowen, the Philogelos has other progeny, for example Scoggin’s Tudor Jests, sometimes considered a Shakespearean source, and Joe Mlller’s 1739 Jest Book. No surprise that Samuel Johnson published a selection of its jokes two years later. And, a shame that the plan of his contemporary, Classicist Richard Porson, to show all Miller’s jokes came from Philogelos was addled in the egg.

Modern killjoys will condemn many items as ‘ politically incorrect’. I ignore such nonsense, though do blench at number 121 about a crucified runner. There’ll be no twaddle either about theories of humour: people know what makes them laugh and why.

Neo-conservative philosopher Leo Strauss rightly denounced “ the loathsome task of explaining a joke,” which didn’t stop Robert Browning ( Classicist, not the poet) from some outlandish Freudian and Marxist exegeses of items involving inherited wealth.

Now, a mini-Porsonian demonstration of humour’s Universality. Wearing my academic cap, I must wincingly disclose that Philogelos’ most ridiculed butt is the scholastikos, variously translated as ‘pedant’ (Johnson), ‘ absent-minded professor’ (American Albert Rapp), ‘egg-head’ (my own 1983  annotated translation):

The ethnic humour involves cities rather than countries. A typical joke has a swimmer dive under water to avoid getting wet when it rains – very Monty Python.

A talkative barber asking an egghead how he wanted his hair cut was told “ In silence.”

This was a golden oldie, attributed by Plutarch to King Archelaus of Macedon. It is also a fake golden newie: a British newspaper credited politician Lord Hailsham – my protest letter went unpublished. Barber-customer situations are, of course, standard Dagwood.

Two father-hating eggheads agree to kill each other’s fathers. Oedipal jealousy, opined Browning. The real interest is its anticipation of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.

An egghead forgot a friend’s letter asking him to buy some books. So, he explained, “ I never got that letter you sent.” Here’s the origin of our Irish Bull, named for Obadiah Bull in Henry VII’s reign. It crops up in Larry Wilde’s The Last Official Irish Joke Book.
Gazing at twins, an egghead remarked,” This one doesn’t look as much like that one as that one like this one.” Also in Wilde, rivalled by a British soccer commentator’s “ At times he looks almost like his double.”

The pillow joke in which an egghead tries to soften an earthenware jar by stuffing it with feathers lived on in the Byzantine bishop-scholar Eustathius, hence to Wilde.
When an alcoholic, while drinking, was told his wife had died, he called out, “ Bartender, some dark wine, please.” In Wilde, a newly-widowed drunk asks for black olives in her martini.

No one paid attention to an egghead fallen down a well, so he climbed out and ordered somebody to fetch him a ladder. Wilde has a similar one about a man who lost a penny in a dark street and went to look for it in a lighter place, a joke I also remember from the old BBC radio comedy The Goon Show.

“ That slave you sold me has just died!” “ Well, he never did that when I owned him.”

This exchange between egghead and shop-keeper prefigures the immortal Monty Python ‘ Dead Parrot’ sketch.

Having bought some trousers too tight to put on, the egghead solved the problem by depilating himself – Fashionistas, take note! Also makes me recall the old Brooke Shields commercial ‘ There’s Nothing Between Me And my Jeans.’

An egghead ill in bed was hungry. Since food never seemed to arrive, he ordered the sundial to be moved into his bedroom. This variant on the classical jokes on gluttons whose bellies are their clocks is paralleled by the likes of Dagwood and Garfield, also the

British children’s comics ‘ Beano’ and ‘ Dandy’.

Seeing his tenants were having a good time, their spiteful landlord evicted them. Peanuts devotees will recognize this as prototype of Lucy’s typical behaviour.

An idiot teacher suddenly looked over to the dunce’s corner and shouted “ Dionysius is misbehaving there!” When another boy objected that Dionysius had not yet arrived, the teacher replied, “ Well, when he gets here then.” Boissonade, the 1848 Swiss editor of

Philogelos produced an identical item from local folk-lore.

A man with bad breath kissed his wife, murmuring “ My Aphrodite, my Hera.” Turning her head, she muttered “ Phew, Zeus” – this depends upon the Greek pun  O Zeus/ Ozeus, O Zeus, You Stink. This is one of a dead of bad breath jokes, no doubt a common affliction, given ancient love of garlic and onions and rudimentary dental hygiene – poet Catullus gibes at a man who brushed his teeth with urine. The emperor Marcus Aurelius optimistically recommended philosophic understanding as the best way to cope.

A shaggy-dog story beginning ‘ An egghead, a bald man, and a barber’ is the only joke with such a beginning, anticipating our (e.g.) ‘ An Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman” – the Greek punchline is sadly missing.

I ‘sex up’ my finale with one of Philogelos’ very few carnal funnies. A Young man said to his randy wife, “ Shall we eat or make love?” “ Whatever you like,” she replied, “ We haven’t any bread.” This one has recurred both as a sixteenth-century French epigram and as a Robbie Burns ballad, ‘ Supper Is Na Ready’ in his The Merry Muses of Caledonia:

Roseberry to his lady says,

My hinnie and my succour
O shall we do the thing you ken,
Or shall we take our supper?
Wi’ modest face, sae fu’ o’ grace
Replied the bonny lady:
My noble lord, do as you please,
But supper is na ready.

So, Philogelos does not get off Scot-free…