Ed: Summer Intensive Greek at Baylor

Not just classical, but early Christian and Byzantine Greek are immensely alive and productive fields in the modern academic world. This program is specially designed to open possibilities for you in all these areas. With dedication, you can follow these avenues as far as you like in almost any period and style of Greek, Classical or Christian, at an undergraduate and eventually professional level.

Maybe We’re Too Cynical About the Cynics?

Some nice hype from UCincy on Susan Prince’s work with Antisthenes:

Are cynics and happiness mutually exclusive? For modern cynics, perhaps. But for the ancient Cynics, not necessarily.

Research by the University of Cincinnati’s Susan Prince shows that despite the historical perception of the ancient Cynics as harsh, street-corner prophets relentlessly condemning all passersby and decrying society’s lack of virtue, these Greek philosophers, indirectly descended from Socratic teaching, weren’t all doom and gloom. They actually might have espoused a shortcut to happiness.

“We don’t have good scholarship on the Cynics. They’re seen as misanthropes and as sloppy and dirty people who want to cut down the elite,” says Prince, UC assistant professor of classics, adding, “But there’s a positive strand that needs to be recovered, and I’m really going to punch that hard with my research.”

Prince was invited to present her new research paper, “Antisthenes and the Short Route to Happiness,” during the 13th annual Unisa Classics Colloquium hosted by the University of South Africa’s Department of Classics and World Languages from Oct. 25-27 in Pretoria. More than a dozen presentations from international scholars will address the conference theme of “Ancient Routes to Happiness.”

Much of Prince’s work focuses on the individual believed to be the primary influence on the Cynic movement, Antisthenes.

Antisthenes was a pupil of Socrates and occasional rival of Plato. In fact, while history occasionally paints Plato as a philosopher of unequaled wisdom, UC’s Prince says that through study of his texts, it’s more plausible that he developed his ideas through tight intellectual debates with his contemporaries, and Antisthenes was among them.

ANCIENT CYNICS’ RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS: AVOID AN EMPHASIS ON MATERIAL GOODS
Plato and Antisthenes shared many beliefs in common with all philosophers – rejection of wealth and luxury, and embracing the pursuit of wisdom and virtue. But Antisthenes’ methods set him apart from Plato. Whereas Plato founded his Academy for philosophical teaching and lengthy study, Antisthenes advocated a short but rigorous path toward virtue and happiness.

Antisthenes’ way was short in that he endorsed an abbreviated curriculum when compared to those of other schools of philosophy, which contended that the quick route was a road to nowhere. Antisthenes’ teachings skipped over the technical aspects of logic in order to concentrate on ethical literature, such as reading Homer.

And Antisthenes’ way was rigorous in that it required a drastic attitude change. To follow the path of the Cynic was to abandon many societal conventions and to live in accord with nature – no more fancy clothes, no more exquisite feasts and even no more roof over your head.

ANCIENT CYNICS’ LACK OF EMPHASIS ON MATERIAL GOODS LED TO MORE LEISURE TIME
Through this shortcut, Prince says Cynics were able to gain leisure time which could be put toward living the good life or what Antisthenes called “seeing the things worth seeing and hearing the things worth hearing.” And that’s how an ancient Cynic could exist in ethical bliss until the end of his days.

“You get to your happiness quickly and then you practice your happiness for the rest of your life,” Prince says.

In a modern context, there’s some irony in the notion of a cynic devoted to the pursuit of happiness, and Prince hopes her research can clear the air on Antisthenes, et al. In addition to her paper for the Unisa conference, she has a 600-page manuscript on Antisthenes scheduled to be published through the University of Michigan Press in 2013 or 2014. She wants to show that the negative connotation associated with “cynic” might be historically inaccurate and to provide a little redemption for centuries of misjudgment.

“I’m resisting the modern sense of ‘cynic,’” Prince says. “That just hits the mission on the head: To recover the ancient Cynics and show that you can’t just project straight backward. There’s a whole history there that has led us to our modern sense of the term ‘cynic,’ and that comes from the negative tradition.”

MORE BACKGROUND ON ANTISTHENES AND ANCIENT CYNICS
“Plato didn’t become great by himself,” says UC’s Prince. “Antisthenes was very important as one of the interlocutors who wasn’t always Plato’s enemy. Their relationship was more like a sibling rivalry.”

Rivalry or not, when looking into history’s rearview it seems as if Plato’s shadow has grown larger than it appeared, diminishing the contributions of others. Peter van Minnen, head of the Department of Classics in UC’s McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, thinks the Cynics have been under represented in the scope of Greek philosophers.

“Susan’s revised Greek text is explained in more detail than ever before,” van Minnen says. “Once it is published, all classicists will turn to it for Antisthenes. The Cynics are kind of neglected but ‘good to think with’ so we don’t take Plato and Aristotle as the only gospel in Greek philosophy.”

Sundial from Chakidiki

From Greek Reporter:

One of the rarest sundials dating from the Greco-Roman period was found in Polichrono in Chalkidiki.This sundial is not a usual one as it shows the correct time at any given place.

It is noteworthy that in the Ancient Greek world, sundials consisted of a gnomon (indicator in Ancient Greek) in the form of a vertical post or peg set in a flat surface, upon which the shadow of the gnomon served to indicate the time.

This sundial has a surface which is separated in 12 parts representing 12 hours of the day. More particularly, the sundial consists of a hyperbola tracing the shadow’s path at the winter solstice, a second one for the summer solstice, and a straight east-west line in between marking the equinoctial shadows.

A line from the base of the gnomon to the south of the dial running due north denotes noontime. The hyperbola is centered on this noon line. The winter hyperbola opens to the north, the summer hyperbola to the south. In addition to the center noon line, additional oblique lines are added on either side to denote the hours of daylight before and after noon.

Archaeologist of the 16th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Betina Tsigarida, specialist in the area of Chalkidiki, was the one to find the sundial and was given it as a reward for her work.

via: Old Sundial Found in Chalkidiki (Greek Reporter)

Latin and Greek Acquire Hipster Status in Australia

Some excerpts from the Sydney Morning Herald:

LATIN is up. So is legal studies. Visual arts and studies of religion have dropped slightly in the rankings but remain in the top 15 most popular courses for students undertaking this year’s Higher School Certificate, with exams to begin on Monday.

[…]

Latin is slightly up on last year with 173 students enrolled in the continuers course, making it the 14th most popular language course. Classical Greek has nine enrolments in continuers and six in extension despite being taught in only five high schools in the state. Classical Hebrew has experienced something of a revival this year, with 37 students enrolled in continuers, up on 28 last year.

”Classical languages are alive and well in NSW which is not necessarily the case in other places,” Ms Taylor said. ”There is always a small but significant number of students who see value in classical study. They are a very passionate group of students and teachers, I can tell you.”

The head of classics at Pymble Ladies’ College and president of the Classical Languages Teachers Association, Emily Matters, said reports of the demise of dead languages have been grossly exaggerated. ”People sometimes express surprise that they are still being taught but it hasn’t stopped. The one thing I regret is that more children aren’t given access.”

Dr Matters has adapted the 2nd-century story Cupid and Psyche for the stage in a production in Latin and Classical Greek. More than 60 students from 10 schools are involved in the production.

Grant Kynaston, a Sydney Grammar School student who plays Cupid, is studying Latin and Classical Greek and believes the ancient languages are coming back into vogue. ”They are hipster subjects,” he said. ”But seriously, it’s interesting to be able to read things which have maintained their relevance for two or three thousand years.”

Emily Baird, from Sydney Girls High School, who plays Psyche, was drawn to Latin for its meditative qualities. ”It’s quite therapeutic – that’s my inner-nerd coming out,” she said. ”I find it quite calming to go to Latin after doing English.”

… checking out the original article is a good thing: there’s a brief newsish video about the Cupid and Psyche production mentioned above …

Amazon and Scythian Words on Greek Vases?

This is yet another one which I could have sworn I had posted, but which I can’t find when I look for it. A very interesting article by Adrienne Mayor (and several others … it’s a pdf):

… to which we can add some commentary by languagehat: