Saturday, May 28, 2011

Appetitive: More Secrets from Giza

The Great Pyramid at Giza is the only remaining of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Recently, robots using cameras have ventured into a small chamber hidden by a cover stone and revealed writing in red. Apparently, masons and work-gangs often left marks on the rock to indicate the origin of the workmanship in the same way that Roman roof tiles sometimes bear the marks of those who made them. I found this story on Egyptology News and New Scientist.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Appetitive: Xenephon

Three of my favorite classical scholars gathered together to discuss Xenephon on Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time: Paul Cartledge, Edith Hall, and Simon Goldhill. I am listening to it right now. You can listen to it here.

Paul Cartledge describes Xenephon's Socrates (as depicted in the Memorabilia) as orthodox and boring, which is true. I have not yet pushed myself to finish Xenephon's Socratic dialogues for this reason.
Conversations of Socrates (Penguin Classics)
Enjoy the podcast!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Appetitive: Indo-European Linguistics

When I teach grammar and vocabulary, I tend to digress. I always liked to to hear about words in a broader context, but it only interests some of my students. Today, I ran headlong into a discussion about Indo-European linguistics. I talked about the traditional hypothesis concerning the Indo-European homeland and the branching and differentiation of the different branches off of the language tree. It was kind of fun, but it went over the heads of most of my students. I think I really need to be teaching classics...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Appetitive: Plato and Egypt

In the Laws, Plato presents Egyptian art and music as a static set of arts rigidly regulated by custom. In the Laws, the Athenian Stranger presents Egypt as a potential model for proper regulation of the arts. This lead me to believe there was strict regulation of the arts. However, an Egyptology News article lead me to a New York Times article that explained that this impression of Egyptian art is false: there was a move toward the greater characterization of humans as humans rather than rigid forms following an specified pattern.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spirited: Ian Morris on the Formation of the Polis

Burial and Ancient Society: The Rise of the Greek City-State 
During an exam I was proctoring today, I set out once again to read Ian Morris' Burial and Ancient Society, which traces the evolution of the polis through burial monuments and other means. Morris is brilliant. One of the pieces I found most fascinating was a brief mention of Plato in the introduction. Morris argues that Plato is one of the few instances in history of extreme introspective political analysis directly after a regime change. Ian Morris contends that the reason for this is that the polis is the first truly political system: one based solely on political relationships and specifically on the context of citizenship. This makes a lot of sense to me based on Plato's analysis. More to come...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spirited: Translation of Sulpicia 2 (Tibullus 3.14)

Long ago, when I first started this blog, I mentioned that I was going to translate the 6 poem cycle of Sulpicia. My favorite of the poems is Sulpicia 1, which I translated a long time ago. However, I had a little time today so i thought I woudl translate the second installment.

As always, I am happy for any translation suggestions. I used the version of the text from Minor Authors of the Corpus Tibullianum (e.d. John Yardley):
"Invisus natalis adest, qui rure molesto
et sine Cerintho tristis agendus erit.
dulcius urbe quid est? an villa sit apta puellae
atque Arrentino frigidus amnis agro?
iam, nimium Messalla mei studiose, quiescas;
non tempestivae saepe, propinque, viae.
hic animum sensusque meos abducta relinquo
arbitrio quam vis non sinit esse meo."

"My hated birthday is here, which must be miserably spent
In the troublesome countryside without Cerinthus.
What is sweeter than the city? But would a villa
In the Arrentine fields or the cold river be fitting for a girl?
Now, relax! Messalla is too eager on my behalf;
Frequently the journeys are not opportune.
Having been taken, I leave my mind and feeling here,
it is not permitted that she (i.e. Sulpicia) lives according to my own judgment"

I am a huge fan of Sulpicia's work. Enjoy!

Note 06/20/11: on second thought, I might retranslate the last two lines thus (in an attempt to keep word order and more elegantly translate the ablative absolute): "I leave my mind and feeling here, as I have been taken / it is not permitted that I may be my own master."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spirited: Notes on My Thesis #4

I never realized how much work an 80 page document needs. Going back over my thesis, there are so many mistakes that I missed and so many articles that I should have incorporated to back up my conclusions. Anyway, I have decided to spend at least one day a week working on editing my thesis at a coffee shop. I started last weekend (although it was while I was proctoring an exam) reading Ian Morris' "Attitudes Toward Death in Archaic Greece" (JSTOR) and Norman Gulley's "Plato on Poetry" (JSTOR). I am planning on reviewing the articles as I read them.

More soon...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reasoning/Appetitive: The Purification of Delos

My favorite part of Thucydides is the purification of Delos (Thucydides 1.8.1, 3.104.1-2). I know-- it's a little strange. To me, the purification of Delos is a fascinating nexus of religious ritual and early archaeology providing insight into burial practices and the ways that the ancient Greeks viewed the remains of past ages. When I had to propose a paper topic for my Thucydides class, I asked if I could write on the purification of Delos. My professor's response was "nobody cares about the purification of Delos. There aren't any sources on it." When I looked myself just to make sure, I couldn't find anything either.
The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War
This morning, instead of reading the news, something drew me to do a L'Annee Philologique search for the purification of Delos. I only found one source, a short article by Roger Brock called "The Athenian Purification of Delos" (JSTOR), but my quick skim of the article showed me that my interest may not be a completely lost cause. Now I just need to get my hands on the Hornblower commentary on Thucydides...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Appetitive: Rock Art

I have always liked cave drawings and rock carvings. I remember studying petroglyphs with my second grade teacher and hiking through mountains covered with drawings with my eighth grade class. Consequently, I was excited yesterday to see an Egyptology News post about new rock art found in Sudan from about 5,000 years ago. This was especially intriguing when the article mentioned that there were scenes that scientists cannot explain. Unfortunately, Egyptology News often does not include pictures to go along with the news story, so I followed the link to Live Science to investigate. I was disappointed to discover that the scenes were extremely simplistic and that (as it appeared to me) archaeologists were providing much more specific meanings to drawings than I could possibly imagine e.g. a semi-circle around a dot was equated to a crescent moon and an orb rather than the plethora of possibilities for that symbol. The slideshow of some of the drawings from 1,500-5,000 years ago can be found here.

This was especially disappointing as I recently learned about the Lascaux caves in France, which contain some of the most incredible cave drawings I have ever seen-- mostly paleolithic drawings of horses.

The one redeeming factor in the Sudan rock drawings are the "rock gongs," a set of rocks that make sounds when hit, and soemtiems make multiple sounds. On the other hand, the archaeologists might be exaggerating this too...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Appetitive: Ara Pacis: Pictures, Diagrams, Maps, etc

One of the things that I remember most vividly from the second semester of my freshman year survey of the ancient Mediterranean was the art history day on the Ara Pacis. The Ara Pacis was lost for years until it was pulled out of a bog. It provides a reminder that Rome used to be a boggy landscape before it was drained and built. I found a large selection of pictures and diagrams on AWOL.

Spirited: Notes on My Thesis #3

I proctored another exam today. I finally managed to read a bit of scholarship today during the exam. I read Ian Morris' "Attitudes Toward Death in Archaic Greece" (JSTOR) and Norman Gulley's "Plato on Poetry" (JSTOR). I will review the articles in more depth tomorrow.

Morris' article is a rebuttle of work done in two articles by Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood. I have not read either of the articles, but I based some of my thesis on Sourvinou-Inwood's book 'Reading' Greek Death and I thought I could use Morris' arguments about the evolution of the city-state demonstrated through burials and Sourvinou-Inwood's contention on the changes in the fear of death and eschatology over time throughout the history of Greece. This article worried me.

The problem that Morris seems to have with Sourvinou-Inwood is not her understanding of the history (although he sees this as simplistic) but more with her use of analogy for the construction of her theory. I find the analogies not to be particularly useful-- they are certainly not evidence-- but just because the analogies might be poor does not make the argument incorrect. More to come...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spirited: It's Been a While...

Hi everyone. It's been a really long time since I updated. I am going to get back into it this week.

I got some good news, yesterday. I was accepted to a program which will allow me to take advanced classics classes at the local university without actually having to start graduate school. I will be doing my applications this summer for grad school. I am really should be a lot of fun, especially since Herodotus II and Propertius II are off to the same graduate programs.

On my recent trip to see Cerinthus, I started rereading Female Acts in Greek Tragedy. Notes will be forthcoming.
Female Acts in Greek Tragedy (Martin Classial Lectures)