Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reasoning/Spirted: Platon und die Schriftlichkeit der Philosophie

One of my favorite pieces of Plato scholarship is Thomas Szlezak's Reading Plato. When I found out that I was supposed to find some scholarship to translate for my German class, I immediately set our to look for Platon Lesen, the original German of Reading Plato. None of the local libraries carried it, so I found another one of Szlezak's texts: Platon und die Schriftlichekeit der Philosophie, which I think translates to something like Plato and the Written Form of Philosophy. I can't seem to find an English version. I am translating the conclusion to his section on what I think is the order of the dialogues (the chapter is named "Der Gang des Dialogs." I'm looking forward to finding something interesting.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reasoning: Thoughts on Vocabularies

I have been reading a lot of Homer lately (although I have been having trouble concentrating so I have been reading it more slowly than I might wish). One of the books Propertius II recommended to aid me was Owen's Homeric Vocabularies and I checked it out from the library. The books lists words in the order of the frequency with which they appear in the Homeric texts. At first I found the book rather useless, but the more I read I realize how often Homer repeats his words and that it is significantly easier to look words up in the little paperback than my Homeric dictionary. I am also trying to add those words which I look up most frequently to my flashcard list.
Homeric Vocabularies Greek and English Word-Lists for the Study of Homer Classical Greek Prose: A Basic Vocabulary
I have also been recommended a similar vocabulary for Greek prose. I wonder if it will be useful.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reasoning: Death Outside Attica

I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Plato's views on Greek tragedy. Much of this centers around Plato's perspectives on lament and the portrayal of death in tragedy and poetry. I contextualized this with evidence on the evolution of death ritual over time in Attica (which contains the greatest wealth of evidence). AWOL posted a link to an open access journal which, among other things, deals with death ritual in the Peloponnese.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Appetitive: New Ancient Roman Palace Found in Egypt

A new Roman palace has been discovered in Egypt. Apparently there is great erosion on the ruins, but archaeologists have already been able to translate some inscriptions which relate to cultural activities in the region. I received the news from Egyptology News and the full article is here (with a picture).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spirited: Horace 1.30

A while ago, Propertius II and I read 25 poems of Horace. My goal was to read 30 (based on a sample reading list from Berkeley which I mentioned in a previous blogpost), but after 25 poems I was pretty tired of Horace. As I have been reading Greek lately, I decided I would try to translate five more Horace poems that I selected a while ago. The translations of these subsequent poems may be a little shakier because I am doing them completely on my own, but hopefully they will be reasonably decent. I am still using the Bennett edition for commentary. I started with Horace 1.30.

"O Venus regina Cnidi Paphique,
sperne dilectam Cypron et vocantis
ture te multo Glycerae decoram
transfer in aedem.

fervidus tecum puer et solutis
Gratiae zonis properentque Nymphae
et parum comis sine te Iuventas
 "O Venus, queen at Cnidos and Paphos,
Put aside beloved Cyprus and bring yourself

to the fetching temple calling you
with much incense.

The fiery boy and the Graces with unfastened girdles
hasten and the nymphs too, but Youth
is not sufficiently charming without you
and Mercury."

It's a funny little poem but I rather like it. The conceit of the poem (if you're not up on your Roman geography) is that Horace is asking Venus to come from the famous seats of her worship (Cnidos, a Doric city of Caria and Paphos, a city on Cyprus which was considered Venus' homeland) to, presumably, a little tiny temple with not much to recommend it except that is is well-adorned and is burning incense to try to tempt her.

More soon. I have a lot of Greek (and German) to read.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reasoning: Ancient Philosophy Lectures

While I am doing menial tasks such as organizing my notes for graduate school and vainly trying to clean my desk, I decided to revisit the lectures I listened to from UC Berkeley's Fall 2008 Philosophy 25A which I mentioned in a previous post. David Ebrey's voice is still annoying , but the lectures are engaging and easy to follow. His analysis is rather basic as he is speaking primarily to first-year philosophy students with little background and no Greek. They have been enjoyable anyway, especially as I recently began reading Crito with Propertius II.

I have the benefit, this time around, of having read each of the texts up to the Nichomachean Ethics more than once. However, I have not read any of the other Aristotle and I thought I might give it a shot as the lectures move toward the Physics, etc. Is there a particularly fabulous translation that anyone recommends?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spirited: Reading Plato's Crito

I am finally back to reading some Plato. This is something I should have been doing all year, but I've just been far to lazy or schizophrenically busy with other things. Propertius II got me back on track: he wanted to read some Plato, as he had never read any (except excerpts in Hansen & Quinn) and he is taking a Greek prose survey next semester. We decided to read Crito alongside the homer that we have been reading. Propertius II found a cute little edition from the Cambridge Elementary Classics, an earlier edition of which may be found on
Crito (Cambridge Elementary Classics: Greek)
The commentary seems to be pretty helpful, although it refers to very old texts for it's references. I reread Crito in English last night and I remembered what a charming little dialogue it is. I read the first page in Greek. My Platonic Attic is very rusty.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reasoning: The Shield in Homer

I mentioned previously that I was interested in the many different words for shield in Homer. Propertius II found an article which is, in fact, the first thing that pops up on Google when one searches for "Homeric Sheild." The article is from 1913 and is probably out of date, but I found it quite intersting. In the article "Notes on the Homeric Shield" (JSTOR), Tayler argues that there are two main types of shield in Homer: ἀσπίς and σάκος. Almost to a person, the Trojans use ἀσπις, which Tayler posits are large Minoan-style hide covered shields, while the Achians use a combination of ἀσπίς and σάκος all though most of them prefer the smaller metal σάκος. Sometimes, the stronger of the heroes use ἀσπίς with large metal designs (usually circles). Making the large ἀσπίς entirely out of metal would be too heavy.

The "note" was short and intriguing. Tayler mentions that he is not actually an archaeologist and he is basing his evidence primarily on the literary distribution of the two words throughout the text. If anyone has more recent information on this, I would love to read it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Appeitive: Children's Tales

For the last few months, I have been tutoring a nine year old boy in English (vocabulary, reading comprehension, etc).  Early on, I realized that the boy liked Medieval history, so we read some Arthur mythology. Unfortunately, most of my Medieval books are a little too advanced because I studied the Middle Ages in 6th grade. So the trouble remained: how can you keep the interest of a smart kid who has trouble reading?

I found a picture book on Ancient Greece to read. The boy was only interested in battles, but we talked extensively about the Greek phalanx and the Athenian battle strategy at Salamis. He plays a lot of board games with his brother and cousin which involve military strategy, so he caught on to the intricacies of Greek warfare surprisingly quickly.

I decided that we should read some Greek myths. Plato reports in the Republic that children are raised on Greek myths and Homeric poetry, so I thought I could use the stories. I remembered my love of D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. The problem was that the boy got bogged down in complicated names of all the people and places. He liked the stories, but the names were too hard. One of the stories D'Aulaires sadly lacks is the story of Achilles. So I decided to write one that would not use as many confusing names. We will probably read it next week but I might post it for fun when I am finished.
D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths
More serious things to come when I finish my next passage of the Iliad.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Appetitive: Homeric Vocabulary

I have a confession to make: I don't really like Homer. Gasp. Yes, I know, it seems very strange that a classicist is not a fan of Homer, but I just can't get into it. Back when I first read the Odyssey, I really liked it, but in the last few years I have tried to get through both the Iliad and the Odyssey and failed.

However, I finally started reading some of the Iliad in Greek with Propertius II and I am actually enjoying it. Although I know English is a spectacularly rich and wonderful language, there is something more expressive in the Greek-- partially, I think, because this type of epic is better designed for Greek than for English. While reading the short (22 lines) of Greek, I noticed that the richness of the definitions of the words were making me smile. I picked a couple of words that I really liked in context. I provide a basic form of the definitions I found in Richard John Cunliffe's A Lexicon of the Homeric Dialect:

αὔω-- This can be either to shout or to cry, but also to make the sound that armor makes when struck by a spear.
εἵλω-- hem up in a coop or drive prey together for slaughter. Homer uses this word to describe the way that Idomeneus covers himself with his shield as Deiphobus comes toward him in an attempt to avenge the death of Asios.
I also found the expression of a particular line that I liked.
"κρύφθη γὰρ ὑπ'ἀσπίδι πάντοσ' ἐΐσῃ" (XIII.405)-- "for he was hidden under his shield [which was] equal all directions" i.e. his shield was a circle. To me there is something both poetic and that reflects the culture in this phrasing. As Propertius II mentioned, Homer's poems show a fascination with geometry. Sadly, Lattimore renders it as "he was hidden beneath his shield's perfect circle" (Lattimore XIII.405)
I am also interested in Homer's many different words for shield. I will post what I find.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Spirited: Homer

I have not read any Homer since my paultry attempt in high school. I am now reading some homer with Propertius II and I am finally using my Cunliffe for the first time. It's actually rather fun, although my translation is slow and plodding. Starting at the middle of Book 13. Wish me luck!
A Lexicon of the Homeric Dialect

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Appetitive: Follow Up on Giza

Apparently, according to one mathematician, the markings on the secret room of the Great Pyramid at Giza  are numbers. I could not get to the original article, but the report is on Egyptology News. The numbers combine to be 121.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Appetitive: More Details on Ancient Dictionaries

I actually read the article I posted yesterday. Although the dictionary is called the Assyrian dictionary, it is an extensive dictionary and encyclopedic reference on the Akkadian language. It provides not only words, original uses, and cultural context.

This 20 volume monolith published over 55 years is similar to the Hittite dictionary also published by University of Chicago. I actually got to meet one of the people working on the Hittite Dictionary at the Indo-European Language Conference I attended. AWOL just posted some supplements to the Hittite dictionary.

Appetitive: Ancient Dictionary

The Assyrian dictionary has just come out, according to the New York Times. Pretty amazing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spirited: Back to Basics

I have been going back to basics with my Greek pronunciation. My rolled "r"s are getting better (slowly) and my pitch accents are getting a little better, although I still sound like an idiot. In order to help my understanding of pitch accents, I have been going back over the accentuation rules in Hansen and Quinn and doing the accent drills. Needless to say my accents are rusty, but getting better. Hopefully it will help my Greek prose composition once I go to grad school.
Greek: An Intensive Course
While doing this, I am listening to the Robert Strassler lecture from Marathon 2500, which I missed due to an unfortunate scheduling mishap.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Appetitive: POTSHERD

Being a Time Team (BBC) geek, a recent post from AWOL got my attention. POTSHERD is a project which crated an Atlas of Roman archaeology-- specifically ceramics and pottery. There is an introduction to archaeology created by University of Newcastle Upon Tyne which looks pretty cool as well as the Atlas, which can be searched by type of item (class) or area of discovery (source). Pretty awesome.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Appetitive: Pyramids in Egypt Found by Modern Technology

I am a huge Time Team geek. Before every dig on Time Team, the team does a geophysical scan of the area in order to see anomalies in the soil. Sometimes they even go up in a helicopter-- Roman ruins are often visible as lines in fields, soil, or crops that can be seen from the air.

What archaeologists are doing in Egypt takes this type of scanning one step further. The are scanning with inferred images from satellites in order to discover tombs-- and possibly even pyramids-- under layers of silt. Listen to the story on NPR.

Appetitive: Transactions of the American Philological Society

A few days ago, I received my first Transactions of the American Philological Society. There are a couple of articles on Homer scholarship that look pretty interesting. I will be relaxing and reading it this weekend.

I have also started working on Parmenides with Ovid II. More to come...