Thursday, December 20, 2012

Appetitive: Cool Manuscript Research

I'm supposed to be working on an article about knowledge in the Meno and the Theaetetus right now, but instead I've been reading, flitting from one thing to another.

One of the things I found this morning was a post on the Homer Multitext about a group of undergraduates at Brown who were given a thus-undecoded set of  notes in archaic shorthand by Roger Williams, founder of the colony of Rhode Island and the First Baptist Church. The students actually managed to not only decode it, but find that it contained a great deal of historically relevant information about the Baptist church. I think it's pretty awesome that they let undergraduates do the work, and it's wonderful that the digitization of old and ancient manuscripts allows a much wider range of individuals to work on primary sources.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Appetitive: It's Been a While...and Sanskrit

It's been quite a while. Now I'm back and I'm going to try to stay sane enough to post fairly regularly. Perhaps it will keep me sane.

One of the things I learned this last quarter is that Sanskrit is really hard, and, no one seems to like any of the books out on the market right now. I liked Sanskrit, but I'm not going to continue to take it because it takes up too much time for something that is not in my area of interest. However, I realized that the reason it took up so much time is that I basically had to rewrite the book for myself and gather information from other resources to supplement it.

My guides are far from complete, but I realized that if I put them up online, people could benefit from the many, many, many hours I spent making them and it might make Sanskrit an easier process for beginners or people trying to teach themselves. I realize this sounds presumptuous-- because it is; it is somewhat unreasonable that I, with only one quarter of Sanskrit, would be able to help other people. I do not pretend I know anything-- I just thought I would reorganize the information already out there into a more easily digestible form. I also would be more than happy for help/corrections/etc.

It's going to take a while to convert my notes into a distributable format. I've started doing this, but it will be a little while before I am able to post it.

I used Perry's Sanskrit Primer, both because it was my textbook for class, and because it is both cheap (book form) and free (PDF form). I did a lot of my supplementary reading out of Complete Sanskrit, but I also occasionally used William Dwight Whitney's Sanskrit Grammar (PDF).

More classically related things soon. Happy holidays, everyone.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Appetitive: A New Temple

A while ago, Egnatius sent me this exciting article about a new temple. Interestingly, this site was discovered in 1995, but it wasn't excavated until recently. It must be pretty nice for Xeni Arapogianni, the person who found the site, that she should be able to investigate it all these years later.

I haven't been able to blog for a while. Things are a bit hectic as I'm in school and applying to programs. My writing sample is proving to be hurdle. However, it has allowed me to do a bunch of great research filling in the gaps. Right now I'm reading The Play of Character in Plato's Dialogues. It's wonderful.  I just wish I didn't have to do quite so much other work at the same time. I should be really working on it right now. I may be posting very little for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Appetitive: Procrastination

We translated this (simplified) sentace from the Bhadavad Gita[1] today and I just needed to put it up (and I'm avoiding reading 10 OCT pages of Cicero's letters for tomorrow):

प्रसक्ताः काम-भोगेषु पतन्ति नरके (The ones attached to the satisfaction of desire fall into hell: XVI.16)

I may have this not entirely right because I'm typing it from a transliteration and I don't know if words represented with a hyphen in transliteration have a hyphen in Devanagari script. I, however, cannot type the transliteration because I can't put the dot under letters. Anyway, this sentence just amused me, especially because I am, at the moment, satisfying my desire to do my Sanskrit homework instead of my Latin homework which is more immanent. However, this is probably not the kind of desire spoken about in this passage.

  1. Can someone with a Windows computer tell me how to make unicode macrons? Also how to make the little dots under retroflex consonants and the tilde-n. That would be awesome.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Appetitive/Spirited: Formatting in LaTex

I've been fighting with LaTeX for the last few days. I wrote my thesis in LaTeX because the formatting was so pretty, but I was really foolish. I am not a computer person in general and it didn't occur to me that I might want to deal with portions of my thesis in other contexts and trying to make a decent version of a portion of my thesis is problematic with LaTeX partially because I'm just completely hopeless with it and partially because it just takes a lot longer to make some of the stuff work.

In case anyone else uses LaTeX for writing, I thought I'd put up some pointers for writing in Ancient Greek. I had some problems with Teubner, which is what (I think) most of my friends used and I just wanted to use unicode polytonic Greek and enter it like I enter Greek for everything else. Unicode should work in every program, right? Well, everyone on the internet seemed to agree with me, but basically none of the ways that any one posted worked. It was really really really disheartening/frustrating. So I thought I'd post what I'd managed to do, just in case anyone else runs into the same problems.

Here are my system specifications:
  • Windows 7
  • MiKTeX 2.9 (which runs as TeXworks and a DVI previewer)
  • Aspell
  • Emacs
  • + any packages MiKTeX prompted me to download throughout this process. If you have this, it will prompt you too so never fear.
If you don't have this system or any of this other stuff, I have no idea whether this will work for you. If you're using XeTeX I do know that this won't work. There are other ways, but you will have to do your own research on that (sorry guys).

  • Click on edit > preferences > editor > encoding > UTF-8 > ok
  •  Make sure that your system is building to pdfLaTeX+MakeIndex+BibTeX
  • Now insert this piece of coding. The bolded part is necessary, the unbolded parts around it show you where to insert it in your document
    • \documentclass[12pt,twoside] {article}
      \usepackage[LGR, T1]{fontenc}
  • When you want to type in Greek in the document, \greek{σκιαία}
    • The bolded portion is the way to indicate Greek. The Greek goes inside the curly-brackets. For this to work, you must have unicode polytonic Greek enabled on your computer and type in it in the curly brackets. If you don't have it set up, I wrote up some instructions for Windows XP and Windows 7. 
  • That's all!
I don't know why this works or why other methods didn't work for me. So far as I can understand, the  \usepackage[utf8x]{inputenx} tells LaTeX to use the unicode, the \usepackage[polutonikogreek,english]{babel} tells the document what languages you are writing in, and the \newcommand{\greek}[1]{{\selectlanguage{greek}#1}} tells it what the command is going to look like in order that LaTeX can recognize it. it seems to be working, anyway, which is all that matters.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Spirited: The Craft of Writing

I've been putting off working on my writing sample for PhD applications all summer. I have had a lot of other things to do, but I've also just been procrastinating-- doing anything else to avoid it. At first glance it might seem odd that this is the task which I have been avoiding. While I do find writing to be slow and difficult at times, I enjoy writing in general and I really loved writing my undergraduate thesis.

The issue is doing battle with my undergraduate thesis again. While I still believe in most of it, the copy editing is a mess and there are places where the writing is downright unwieldy or the ideas are expressed in an excessively convoluted manner. Yet, even this was not the main turn off. I've been hitting my head against the page restriction on writing samples for a long time. 25 pages is just not much space to express the ideas in an 80 page thesis. I honestly didn't think I could do that. In my head this was just something I couldn't get around.

For my birthday, my parents very smartly bought me a copy of Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Avoiding drilling more Latin vocabulary, yesterday, I decided to read the beginning of this wonderful book. While I am not turning this into an article for publication, the book helped me feel that I could probably mine something out of my thesis to make a solid 25 page stand-alone piece.

One of the things that Belcher recommends is to read the paper through twice, once without a pen and once with a pen. Most of the time, I read the binder copy I have of my thesis which already has some notes with typographical errors and snide comments. This time, I borrowed the nice, clean, bound copy I gave to my parents. Looking at it clean and not looking for problems at the level of sentences, I realize that there are at least 10 pages I can cut out of my introduction and first chapter because I wrote my thesis in the hope that someone without expert knowledge of Plato (and particularly someone who had not read the Laws) could read and understand it (as it will reside in the library of my alma mater). My new target audience (1) will mostly be people who have a solid knowledge of Plato and (2) who don't necessarily need to be up on the data because they are more looking for argumentative structure and originality than understanding. I'm sure I will find even more passages that I can cut the further I go.

Beyond this, I noticed that my writing style tends to imitate the authors I have been reading most recently. During my thesis I read a lot of two wonderful scholars: Catherine Zuckert and Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood. While I hope I incorporated some of their flair for analysis my writing definitely picked up some of their faults (Zuckert: over-inclusion of summary in arguments; Sourvinou-Inwood: clunky, overly-complex sentences). Divesting myself of some of this will also make my thesis more cogent and streamlined.

If anyone has any tips for doing similar things, I'd love to hear them. Also, so far, I would highly recommend Belcher's book. In the first 60 pages she tackled so many of my writing excuses and insecurities and made me feel like I should just go for it. I'm hoping it continues to be stellar.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Appetitive: Want to Try 2,000 Year Old Food?

Want to try 2,000 year old food? Well, you're chance just came up. According to the Daily Mail, a roman shipwreck has been discovered that is so well preserved, there is still food in the jars. It sounds absolutely amazing. Maybe this is one archaeological report I will actually read.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spirited/Reasoning: The 80% Rule

I wanted to make sure that I covered the verbs that would come up most often. Egnatius pointed me to this article from CPL Online to add to the list of the most important verbs in Greek. According to the article,
"Core vocabulary tends to cluster at two levels, 50% and 80%. The percentage refers to the proportion of a text made up by a certain amount of vocabulary. Half of most English texts, for example, consist of the same one hundred or so lemmas1 repeated as the situation demands. Words like “the” “to” and “is,” for example, generate a fair amount of text by themselves. In these statistics, linguists count lemmas, so different forms of a word (“is” and “was”; “camel” and “camels”) count as a single lemma, not separate vocabulary items. Despite some irregular words (“go” and “went”) and vocabulary items of considerable flexibility (“do”), these are words absolutely fundamental to any communication and comprehension of English. The Perseus Project ( provides an invaluable database, and its vocabulary tool ( has allowed scholars to generate similar analyses for Greek. Whereas an English 50% list consists of more than a hundred lemmas, which is normal enough for languages, a comparable Greek list contains about 65 (the exact number can vary depending on whether some items are grouped together as a single lemma or separated as distinct lemmas). The list itself, with further discussion, follows later in this article, but the key points now are that Greek has a much smaller list at this level and that these are unquestionably vocabulary items a student of Greek will need to be comfortable with" (Major 2).
It seems only reasonable to make the verbs of this frequency a priority. I will start working on this right away.

One think I've bee having a little bit of trouble with is the categorization of verbs. There is some conflicting depictions of verbs in terms of whether they fall under active or deponent.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spirited/Reasoning: Verbs

I haven't been getting much of my Greek and Latin review done lately. In fact, I haven't been getting much of anything at all done. However, I decided to finish up inputting all of the verbs from Hansen and Quinn into my list of verbs. At the moment I have the approximately 100 verbs from there as well as around 50 verbs from Eleanor Dickey's unpublished prose composition manual. More to come.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Appetitive: The Pindarophilic Olympic Hosts

Egnatius sent me this wonderful article this morning about an upcoming attraction at the Olympics: an ode read aloud in Ancient Greek. At the Olympics in Athens, Dr. D'Angour was asked to write an Olympic ode in Ancient Greek. At a classics conference, the Mayor of London requested that Dr. D'Angour write one about the 2012 Olympics which the Mayor will read himself in both Greek and English. The ode is based on Pindar's famous Olympian odes and written in Alcaeic Strophes. How cool is that?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back After A Long Absence: The Archimedes Palimpsest

So I haven't been posting much lately. I'm going to try to rejoin the classical world and post a little bit more.
Archemedes Palimpsest, the Walters

To start us off, I figured that I would continue on the theme of "back after a long absence" and post the wonderful TED talk on the reconstruction of the Archemedes palimpsest.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Appetitive: Update

Wow, it's been a long time! I've been incredibly busy with school and friends. I am going to try to get back to posting some things more regularly. For the moment, I have posted a few more verbs on my Principle Parts page.

Also, two Egyptology News article grabbed my attention this morning. The first is that a statue of Cleopatra and Marc Antony's children has been discovered. The second is about the recovery of fragments from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Interestingly enough, both of these "discoveries" were actually found years ago, but scholars didn't realize what they were until recently. It shows that there are still new things to be discovered, even in museum archives.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Appetitive: Birthday Poetry

One of my friends who is a superb Latinist is having her birthday coinciding with my next bread lesson. She insists that we not sing her happy birthday so I thought we would all chant a Latin poem together that had something do do with birthdays, like one of the ones from the Sulpicia cycle. Anyone have any good ideas?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reasoning: The Scythians

In reading Herodotus' Histories, I was always intrigued by the mysterious nomadic Scythians. Herodotus views them as fierce warriors and a people with a bizarre and mysterious culture. I am not a historian so the actual people that inspired his descriptions have not been anything more than a vague interest. However, I was excited to see an article in the New York Times about the sophistication of these ancient nomads.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Appetitive: A Summery of My Weekend

"κναπτόμενος δ'ἀλὶ δεινᾷ
σκύλλονμαι πρὸς ἀναύδων
παίδων τᾶς ἀμιάντου.

I slightly modified a line that reminded me of the way I feel this weekend. I don't think I altered the meter (although I could be wrong). Although it's pretty obvious, can anyone guess what this is from? I hope the rest of you had a better weekend than I did...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Appetitive: Greek Vocabulary

I am almost three-quarters of the way through the Lysias for tomorrow...about fifteen OCT pages in, and I am just amazed at how many words the Greeks had for "kill" and "destroy."

And also that "you were robbed of all hope" (lit. will be in the Greek, but only because it is in a particular type of condition) is exactly the same expression in Greek: "πασῶν τῶν ἐλπίδων ἀποστερήσεσθε" (Lysias 12.70).

Have a lovely evening, everyone.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spirited/Reasoning: Stagecraft in Aeschylus

Usually when I read Greek drama, I don't consider the actual theatrical performance of the plays. Instead, I think about the language and the themes. The first time the actual staging became important to me was when I was assigned large portions of Oliver Taplin's The Stagecraft of Aeschylus in my Agamemnon class at my alma mater. Taplin explains the importance of the entrances and exits of the characters and the staging.

Recently, in the Garvie commentary which I have been raving about of late, the staging has come to my attention. Garvie explores a lot of the controversial aspects of the staging of the Persians in his introduction. I ended up dealing with this specifically in my presentation today in my Persians class. Taplin (and Garvie citing Taplin) discuss the difference between the two entrances of Atossa. At the first entrance, the chorus greets the queen with a full body prostration and the queen arrives decked out in rich clothing and she presumably arrives in a chariot. In the second entrance, she arrives on foot, possibly dressed in black, and carrying a set of libations. Her change in attire demonstrates the change in fate of the empire.

The presentation went reasonably well, thanks to some help from Propertius II with regards to the meter. Now back to more Lysias (of which I have completed two pages today and am hoping to read two more tonight).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spirited: More Thoughts on Lysias

So my accountability scheme isn't working so well. I have been doing a bit of Lysias each day over the last few days, but I haven't posted it. I will definitely post some more this weekend. I've also been doing a lot of research on Lysias 12 and the Amnesty of 403 for my presentation on Monday. Should be fun.

Reasoning: Truth Behind the Song

So there was an interesting piece on Got Medieval about "Ring Around the Rosie." I thought it was pretty interesting that the supposed origin of the song was not in fact the plague, as I was always told.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spirited: Accountability

So I am taking a class that only meets once a week. I haven't been very good about starting my work early and this seem to pile up. However, I want to do well. So I thought I'd be forced to do a little every day if I forced myself to post a little every day. Just a little random snippet of what I've read.

Lysias 12.1:
οὐκ ἄρξασθαί μοι δοκεῖ ἄπορον εἶναι, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί, τῆς κατηγορίας, ἀλλὰ παύσασθαι λέγοντι: τοιαῦτα αὐτοῖς τὸ μέγεθος καὶ τοσαῦτα τὸ πλῆθος εἴργασται, ὥστε μήτ᾽ ἂν ψευδόμενον δεινότερα τῶν ὑπαρχόντων κατηγορῆσαι, μήτε τἀληθῆ βουλόμενον εἰπεῖν ἅπαντα δύνασθαι, ἀλλ᾽ ἀνάγκη ἢ τὸν κατήγορον ἀπειπεῖν ἢ τὸν χρόνον ἐπιλιπεῖν.

It seems to me that I am without a way not to begin the accusation, O jurymen, but to stop my speech. Such deeds with respect to their importance [were committed] by them and so many with respect to their number were committed that neither lying could I denounce more terrible things than the facts, nor wishing [to] could I speak the truth in its entirety, but it is necessary that either the prosecutor give in or time run out. 

I seem to have played a bit fast and loose with the grammar both in translating Greek and the English I used in order to translate it. However, I have a lot more to do before the classicist bread party tomorrow. So I will leave it here for now.

Appetitive: You Don't Doodle in Gold Leaf

Apologies for my long silence. I've been really powering though the Greek and Latin lately as well as trying to have a few moments to socialize with Catullus II and some fellow classicists.

For today, I thought I'd post a note on medieval manuscripts. Catullus II is really into medieval manuscripts and I want to a wonderful lecture the other week on Apocalypse narratives in medieval manuscripts that I will hopefully get a chance to post about at some point. Anyway, here is a lesson in distinguishing between doodles and marginalia.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Appetitive: The Joys of Greek

Although I have had a number of pitfalls so far, ever since I started taking this graduate seminar on the Attic Orators, I've begun to really enjoy Greek. Antiphon and Andocides are quite a joy to read, although they have their frustrating moments. My reading speed (for prose, although not for Aeschylus) is increasing significantly-- it seems like the effects of Greek prose composition finally caught up with me-- and I am beginning to learn the typical terms.

Nowhere did this joy manifest itself more than in reading Plato last night with Ovid II. When I read Crito over the summer with Propertius II, I was still struggling a lot with parts of the prose and my reading speed was quite slow. Now, I can carve a few hours out of my schedule and process the Greek pretty decently before going over it. While the orators are fun in their persuasive energy and the window they provide on Greek culture, the Symposium has a bit of wonderful colloquial wit that is just fantastic.

After that, even my remaining 50 lines of Vergil did not seem so dreadful, although the battle scenes are certainly grim. I'm actually beginning to appreciate parts of Vergil, finally.

To pass my little glimmer of exuberance on, I thought I would post a link to A.E. Houseman's "Fragment of a Greek Tragedy." My professor in the Persians class passes this out to us. I had seen it many years before, but it still absolutely cracks me up.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone. I will (I hope) be posting some interesting tidbits from Antiphon.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Appeitive: Follow-up on New Mummy

I mentioned a while ago that a team of scientists discovered a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Egyptology News sent out a video about  the new mummy within the tomb. My German isn't good enough to understand more than about 15% of it, but for anyone who speaks German, this is probably a useful resource.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reasoning: The Development of Writing

There was a great five-part (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) show on the the development of written language on In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg. I found the first two episodes quite fascinating. Melvyn Bragg discusses everything from the technology of writing to the development of literature in the whole series. The first two episodes focus on writing's early evolution from an accounting system into an alphabetic system and then the development from clay to paper.

For some reason only the first two episodes downloaded into my iTunes from the In Our Time podcast, but the rest of them might be heard on the website. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reasoning: Gone Antiphoning!

I have generally gone dark at the moment because I started the term off really lazily and I am now rather behind (although I should be almost caught up after this weekend, I hope). One of the things that I am assigned for Monday is reading Antiphon 1 and 3 in Greek. I hear the Antiphon's tetrologies (mock trials) are really hard (and so I am not looking forward to Antiphon 3) but I am so greatly enjoying Antiphon 1. It helps that we were assigned a wonderfully helpful commentary by Michael Gagarin.

Also, if you enjoy poisoning in the ancient world as much as I do (and really weird gender politics), I am sure the work is also good in English, although I don't know for sure.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reasoning: Tools for Vergil

First, because I'm posting today, I thought I would post an article about SOPA explaining not the problems but rather that it is based on a false premise. Wikipedia and Amazon as well as AWOL have links to information.

Second, I found this amazing resource. Let me preface this with the fact that no matter how easily I can read Latin prose, Vergil still just makes me hate life. I am not sure why, but every time I look at a line of Vergil all of my Latin seems to disintegrate underneath me. This class I am taking is supposed to be easy, but it just depresses me. I am spending the next two days doing massive amounts of Vergil to catch up and I have a quiz on Monday. The commentary by R.G. Austin is good, but sometimes either provides help that is too ambiguous or focuses more on the inter-textual references than something useful. So I found a resource provided by the University of Pennsylvania. Obviously this resource is a bit dangerous in that it gives a lot of information. However, studying for a quiz when I can't ask questions of someone else, it might provide some guidance. Enjoy with caution.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reasoning: Lectures on Vergil

I am taking a class on Aeneid Book II because I am trying to like the Aeneid. I know this may sound like a strange statement, but I hated the Aeneid when I read the Mandlebaum translation in my first year of college and I continued to take it when we read Book VIII in my second year Latin class. One of the things that I meant to do over winter break was to read the Aeneid in its entirety (using the Fagles translation translation) and listen to the Standford lectures by Susanna Braund (see iTunes U) on the Aeneid. Needless to say, I didn't get around to it.

Since I've been going back over the first 100+ lines we had to translate, I decided I would listen to the lecture while I transferred my notes. It was quite enjoyable, with the exception of a few stupid comments by the students. Each lecture (after the introduction) is about 2 hours and discusses 3 books of the Aeneid. She uses the Fitzgerald translation, but any translation should do.

I've enjoyed the first two lectures and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Appetitive: Persians (line 24)

I've been reading Aeschylus' Persians lately. Unlike the majority of extant tragedy, there is no prologue that begins the play. Instead, it starts with an extended parodos delivered by the group of Persians elders that make up  the chorus. Much of the beginning of their entrance (i.e. the part in marching anapests) lists the names of the Persian commanders. My favorite line is: "βασιλῆς βασιλέως ὕποχοι μεγάλου (kings subject to the great king)" which is a sort of elegant and wonderful reversal of the phrase "king of kings."

This commentary by Garvie that we are using is fantastic, although absurdly expensive. It is supposed to come out in paperback soon, which is great.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Appetitive: Valley of the Kings

I came across this new fantastic archaeological discovery on Egyptology News. Apparently a Swiss team discovered a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings! Very cool.

I am hoping to post some stuff on Plato and Aeschylus in the next few days and get back into the swing of blogging.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Appetitive: The Top Shelf


There are very few bookshops left near me. Even the big ones like Barnes & Noble and Borders have shut down now. I ran into a bookshop that I thought had closed down a few years ago. It's very small. I thought about not even looking for classics books, but I spotted an old copy of Herodotus on the shelf. I couldn't reach. I had to use the big ladder to get up to the top few shelves where I spotted a few Loebs and OCTs.

The books were actually a good price and rather wonderful. The selection is not very large, but it's nice to know there's still a bookstore around. I bought a couple of things but I am not sure how it stays in business.