ICYMI ~ The Classical World in the News ~ January 12-17, 2016

[I’m thinking of making this a regular feature]

The Ancient Greece and Rome section of my Explorator newsletter for this week (full issue available here):

Horse burials from an 8th century necropolis in Athens:


Plenty of evidence found during A1 construction suggests the Romans were in Yorkshire a decade earlier than previously thought:


Remains of a Bronze Age village near Aquileia:


Nice feature on some Greek pots at Yale:


Bice Peruzzi is studying burial practices in Central Apulia:


That Bodicacia inscription is now in the Corinium Museum:


Studying/recreating Greek pottery:


Feature on the Battle of Watling street and other Boudiccan things:


Roman London was a pretty cosmopolitan place:


Lessons from the Iliad:


They drained the Great Bath at Bath:


On black Classicists:


Review of Holland, *Dynasty*:


More on Knossos being larger than previously thought:


More on Roman toilets and parasites:


Looking at Mental Illness in Antiquity

From Columbia News:

The examination of mental disorders would seem to be the almost exclusive domain of psychiatrists and psychologists, not humanities scholars. Yet William V. Harris, the William R. Shepherd Professor of History, has spent his time in recent years studying his chosen field—the history of ancient Greece and Rome—through the lens of mental illness.

Harris, director of the Columbia Center for the Ancient Mediterranean, has explored subjects in ancient times ranging from war and imperialism to literacy and economic history. More recently, he began to focus on emotional states, in books such as Restraining Rage: the Ideology of Anger Control in Classical Antiquity in 2002, and Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity in 2009. “I’ve always been interested in psychiatry and psychology, which I see as a quite natural interest for historian,” he said.

Then, in 2008, Harris was, “struck by lightning by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,” as he put it, which awarded him a three-year grant of $1.5 million for distinguished lifetime achievement. The selection committee said Harris transformed his field by “asking big, difficult questions and offering provocative answers that have generated significant debates beyond the confines of his discipline.”

Harris used the grant to promote research on the history of mental disorders in the classical world, and also on some other, not closely related, aspects of the classical world. “Mental illnesses are among the greatest challenges to understanding ourselves as human beings,” Harris said. Studying them, he added, improves our understanding of ancient lives and texts written thousands of years ago. All three great tragedians, Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides, staged scenes of madness in their plays. In Sophocles’ Ajax, for example, the title character slaughters sheep and cattle believing them to be Greek generals who disgraced him; he later commits suicide.

Harris soon realized that covering a subject so large would require help. So in 2010 he funded two conferences on the topic at Columbia, drawing classics scholars, psychiatrists and historians from around the world. Now the findings of those conferences have been published in a volume that Harris edited titled Mental Disorders in the Classical World.

Chapter titles contributed by many of the conference participants include, “The Early Greek Medical Vocabulary of Insanity” and “Plato on Madness and the Good Life.” Harris’ own essay focuses on hallucinations, which he chose in part because “describing a hallucination is not an impossible task, it tends to be relatively brief,” he said. “Try describing 20 years of depression. That is a very challenging task.”

He offers examples of ancient hallucinators, such as Pheidippides, the Athenian courier who saw the god Pan on his famous run to Sparta, which is the inspiration for today’s long-distance running event.

Another outcome of his conferences was sorting out ancient terminology and classifications, as he and his collaborators created a sort of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of ancient times. “The names of mental disorders that the very best ancient thinkers have used don’t often correspond to anything that exists in the modern world in a neat and tidy way,” Harris said. For example, the word “phrenitis” appears in ancient texts to describe illness characterized by delirium, fever and death. Today, some scholars think it refers to encephalitis.

But using modern-day medicine to understand ancient illnesses doesn’t always work, Harris said. “There’s always a temptation among historians of ancient medicine to do retrospective diagnoses and to say, for example, that so-and-so was a paranoid schizophrenic,” he said. “People have found this almost irresistible.” But ancient descriptions of cases are seldom complete enough to allow for a retroactive diagnosis, he added.

Nor did the ancients have anything approaching a scientific community of peers. The 2nd century Roman physician and philosopher Galen had colleagues and friends, Harris explained, but nothing comparable to the peer review or statistical support that present-day doctors get.

Despite the addition of the new volume on ancient mental maladies, there are many topics still to be plumbed, such as senility, demonic possession in Christianity and Judaism, and the ancient custom of seeking cures for mental (and other) illnesses by invoking the help of the gods. “I regard this book as a useful publication, but it’s a very long way from being the last word on the subject,” he said, perusing its cover, which depicts a 16th century woodcut of Galen. “We are left more with an agenda than a whole set of answers.”

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d.m. Lawrence Richardson

From the News and Observer:

Lawrence Richardson, Jr.
December 2, 1920 – July 21, 2013

Lawrence Richardson, Jr., died late July 21, 2013 in the Pavilion at Croasdaile Village after a very short illness. He lived a long and wonderful life, and he was lucid and productive to the end. Born December 2, 1920 in Altoona, PA, he was educated at Yale (A.B. with philosophical orations, 1942; Ph.D. in Classical Studies, 1952). But his heart was always in Italy, the center of his prolific scholarship, and at Duke University, where he taught in the Department of Classical Studies from 1966 through his retirement in 1991. Only in 2008 did macular degeneration stop him from going to his office daily, and even through the week of his death he continued to read Latin, correspond with former students, friends, and colleagues, and pursue scholarly projects in his retirement community at Croasdaile. He was a gentle, generous person, famous among friends for his love of convivial companionship and gardening, and known to many for his genteel affability as he walked daily to Duke’s East Campus. He will be sorely missed, even though his numerous scholarly works remain to represent his erudition, wit, and life devoted to the humanities.
He spent many years in Rome and the Bay of Naples, Italy. Larry arrived first in post-war Italy as a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome in 1948, a fascinating experience he recently described in The American Academy 1947-54. Reopening & Reorientation: A Personal Reminiscence (published in 2013, when he was 92). He returned to the American Academy repeatedly, as a field archaeologist working at Cosa (1952-55), Classicist in Residence (1977), and Mellon Professor-in-Charge of its School of Classical Studies (1980-81), as well as during summers. He served the Academy as a Trustee, on various committees such as the Library, and in many other ways. He served on the editorial board of the Associazione Internazionale “Amici di Pompei” (“Friends of Pompeii). He has published numerous articles, reviews, and books, including A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1992), Pompeii: an Architectural History (1988), A Catalog of Identifiable Painters of Ancient Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae (2000), and Pompeii: The Casa dei Dioscuri and its Painters (1955). He is a joint author of Cosa II: The Temples of the Arx (1960), and Cosa III: The Buildings of the Forum (1993), helping to publish the material from the site at which he first excavated.
He was a recipient of Fulbright, Sterling and Guggenheim Fellowships. He was a former president of the Archaeological Institute of America (North Carolina Society), a member of the AIA, the American Philological Association, and the Academy of Literary Studies. In 2012 he received the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement in recognition of his myriad contributions to archaeology through his fieldwork, publications, and teaching.
Although Larry taught also at Yale University and at the University of North Carolina, his real home other than Italy was in Durham and at Duke, where he mentored countless students and numerous colleagues from his arrival in 1966. He served as chairman of the Department of Classical Studies in 1966-69, and again in the 1980s. He was in his office daily from mid-morning until after 6, in early years accompanied by one or two of his dear Airedales. His door was always open, and he never seemed too busy to answer a question; he offered his full attention, and then, without a hint of having been bothered, he turned seamlessly back to whatever he had been doing. His personal library was vast and generously loaned; his knowledge seemingly even greater, and just as generously shared. One of his happiest courses was Latin Prose Composition, and he was often seen patiently working with individual students over a translation of a contemporary news piece into the Latin of Cicero. Many of those undergraduates have gone on to careers in medicine, law, or other non-Classical pursuit, but each vividly recalls Latin Prose Comp with Professor Richardson.
Larry was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dr. Emeline Richardson. He leaves to mourn him innumerable colleagues, students, and friends, whose lives he enriched. He was well cared for at Croasdaile where he continued to learn to his last days, introduced by devoted visitors to Italian soccer and other non-Classical topics. In keeping with his request, there will be no service. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Richardson Graduate Travel Fund, and sent to the Department of Classical Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0103.

Classics Confidential | Michael Squire on Philostratus’ Imagines

Here’s the official description (with a link to further info):

This week’s interview features Dr Michael Squire of King’s College London, talking about his current research project on the Imagines. This text, which was written by the third-century AD Greek author Philostratus the Elder, contains accounts of 65 paintings displayed in an (imaginary?) gallery on the Bay of Naples. Mike introduces us to some of the paintings described by Philostratus, including a representation of the Cyclops Polyphemus and an image of the Trojan river Scamander. He touches on questions of authenticity and fiction, ecphrasis and imagination, and explains how the images in Philostratus’ gallery relate to one another, as well as referring out to other ancient literary texts including Homer and Sappho.

You can read more about Mike’s work on Philostratus on the Leverhulme Trust website:

… and the interview:

d.m. Spiros Iacovides

From inews (nothing in English yet):

Σε ηλικία 90 ετών έφυγε χτες από τη ζωή ο αρχαιολόγος και ακαδημαϊκός Σπύρος Ιακωβίδης, ειδικός σε θέματα μυκηναϊκής αρχαιολογίας, ο οποίος είχε πραγματοποιήσει ανασκαφές στην περιοχή των Αθηνών, στην Ελευσίνα, την Πύλο, τη Θήρα, την Περατή, τον Γλα και τις Μυκήνες.

Ο Σπύρος Ιακωβίδης γεννήθηκε το 1923 στην Αθήνα. Πήρε δίπλωμα αρχαιολογίας
του Πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών το 1946 και διδακτορικό το 1962. Διετέλεσε Επιμελητής Αρχαιοτήτων (1952-1954), δίδαξε αρχαιολογία στα Πανεπιστήμια Αθηνών (1970-1974), Marburg (1976-1977), Heidelberg (1977) και University of Pennsylvania (1979-1991) και υπήρξε μέλος του Ινστιτούτου Προχωρημένων Σπουδών στο Princeton, ΗΠΑ (1977-1978).

Συνέγραψε, μεταξύ άλλων, τα βιβλία: Η Μυκηναϊκή Ακρόπολις των Αθηνών (1962), Περατή (1969-1970), Αι Μυκηναϊκαί Ακροπόλεις (1973), Vormykenische und Mykenische Wehrbauten (1977), Late Helladic Citadels on Mainland Greece (1988), Γλας Ι (1989), Γλας ΙΙ (1998), Gla and the Kopais (2001), Ανασκαφές Μυκηνών ΙΙΙ. Η νοτιοδυτική συνοικία (με συμμετοχή συνεργατών, 2013). Δημοσίευσε σαρανταοκτώ άρθρα σε επιστημονικά περιοδικά, πραγματοποίησε διαλέξεις σε 90 περίπου Πανεπιστήμια, Μουσεία και επιστημονικά σωματεία στην Ελλάδα, Γερμανία, ΗΠΑ, Αυστρία, Αγγλία, Βέλγιο, Καναδά, Κύπρο, Ιρλανδία, Ισπανία, Αυστραλία, Ελβετία.
Μετείχε σε 65 περίπου επιστημονικές συναντήσεις στην Ελλάδα και το εξωτερικό (1971-2002). Επί Κατοχής κατατάχθηκε στις Ομάδες Ελλήνων Ανταρτών υπό τον Ναπολέοντα Ζέρβα και τιμήθηκε με το Μετάλλιο Εθνικής Αντιστάσεως, και τον Μέγα Ταξιάρχη του Φοίνικος

Διετέλεσε συνεργάτης στην Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους (1970) και στην Ägäische Bronzezeit (1987). Υπήρξε μέλος της Εν Αθήναις Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας, της Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, της Βρετανικής Αρχαιολογικής Σχολής Αθηνών, της Society of Antiquaries του Λονδίνου, της Société de Préhistoire Française, του Γερμανικού Αρχαιολογικού Ινστιτούτου, της Ιστορικής και Εθνολογικής Εταιρείας, εταίρος του Σεμιναρίου Αρχαιολογίας του Πανεπιστημίου της Columbia, τακτικό μέλος της Ακαδημίας Αθηνών (Έδρα Αρχαιολογίας, 1991), Γραμματεύς επί των Πρακτικών της Ακαδημίας (2000-2003), Πρόεδρος αυτής (2004) και επόπτης του Κέντρου Ερεύνης της Αρχαιότητος της Ακαδημίας Αθηνών (1993 έως τον θάνατό του). Επίσης υπήρξε Ξένος Εταίρος της Accademia Nationale dei Lincei (Ρώμη), επίτιμο μέλος της Αυστριακής Ακαδημίας Επιστημών στην Τάξη Φιλοσοφίας και Ιστορίας (Βιέννη), Επίτιμος Διδάκτωρ της Αρχαιολογίας του Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, ΗΠΑ, και του Πανεπιστημίου Κύπρου.