Thelxinoe ~ Classics News for March 29, 2023

Hodie est a.d. IV Kal. Apr. 2776 AUC ~ 8 Elaphebolion in the second year of the 700th Olympiad

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Fresh Podcasts

We’re wading into the messy world of English spelling in this episode — the first of two, since we couldn’t fit all of the ‘quirks’ of the language into one episode. The history of orthography in English is all tangled up with the history of the alphabet, so in this part we trace some of the twists and turns that resulted in our modern script.

In this episode, Jeff and Dave finish off their tour through and analysis of the penultimate book of Vergil’s masterpiece. Here we have the jazz-solo moment, the aristeia of the great warrior princess Camilla. She flies across the battlefield at breakneck speed, cutting down in her path every Trojan stooge who dares stand in her way – until she meets “Arruns the Dispatcher”, ironically named after an Etruscan prince. But this fast-paced, high-octane action vignette raises some complex questions, the very kind academics love to dilate upon: how come Camilla never encounters Aeneas himself? Why is the erstwhile hero Turnus so passive throught this part of the story, not providing the kind of leadership expected of a protagonist? And most importantly, has anyone used double-blind, controlled studies to determine the real benefits and side effects of daily consumption of horse milk on female Volscian infants? Tune in.

in 1923 Cecil B. De Mille made The Ten Commandments on a huge Egyptian set in the California dunes, which archaeologists have excavated. So obviously we’re asking, what’s the deal with Biblical movies? Ripping yarns or morality tales with Nazi punching? And would a picture about the backbreaking scientific tedium of real archaeology be a crowdpleaser? With a special shoutout to our friends Donny Osmond and Walter Benjamin!

Gripping tales that abound with fantastic characters and astonishing twists and turns, Greek myths confront what it means to be mortal in a world of powerful forces beyond human control. Little wonder that they continue to fascinate readers thousands of years after they were first told. Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek Myths for Modern Readers (Princeton UP, 2023) is a major new telling of ancient Greek myths by one of the world’s preeminent experts. In a fresh, vibrant, and compelling style that draws readers into the lives of the characters, Sarah Iles Johnston offers new narrations of all the best-known tales as well as others that are seldom told, taking readers on an enthralling journey from the origin of the cosmos to the aftermath of the Trojan War. Some of the mortals in these stories are cursed by the gods, while luckier ones are blessed with resourcefulness and resilience. Gods transform themselves into animals, humans, and shimmering gold to visit the earth in disguise–where they sometimes transform offending mortals into new forms, too: a wolf, a spider, a craggy rock. Other mortals–both women and men–use their wits and strength to conquer the monsters created by the gods–gorgons, dragons, harpies, fire-breathing bulls. Featuring captivating original illustrations by Tristan Johnston, Gods and Mortals highlights the rich connections between the different characters and stories, draws attention to the often-overlooked perspectives of female characters, and stays true both to the tales and to the world in which ancient people lived. The result is an engaging and entertaining new take on the Greek myths.

A challenge to the imperial authority was hardly unusual in the third century, but for whatever reason, Postumus decides to do things differently. Rather than marching an army on Rome he shaves off the western provinces, declaring Gaul, Germania, Hispania and Britannia the independent, but still very Roman, Gallic Empire. Part II of ‘Gallienus’ Guest: Associate Professor Caillan Davenport (Head of the Centre for Classical Studies at the Australian National University).

A Women’s History Month re-airing of the episode dedicated to varied women whose stories have been manipulated by their interpreters and interpretation.

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Research Papers of Possible Interest



‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it thunders today, it portends women obtaining better reputations.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)


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