Update on the Threat to Hadrian’s Villa
I write with disappointing news regarding the effort to prevent a large garbage dump from being sited at Corcolle, near Hadrian's Villa: Giuseppe Pecoraro, the Extraordinary Commissioner of Rubbish for the Regione Lazio, has announced his final decision to recommend going forward with the Corcolle site. The Board of Directors authorized me to write on behalf of the APA to Prime Minister Mario Monti to protest this decision and to find an alternative site. In this protest we join many other individuals, organizations, and communities in Italy and around the world.
In the News: Ivy League School Janitor Graduates With Honors
From the Associated Press, via Yahoo.com:
For years, Gac Filipaj mopped floors, cleaned toilets and took out trash at Columbia University.
A refugee from war-torn Yugoslavia, he eked out a living working for the Ivy League school. But Sunday was payback time: The 52-year-old janitor donned a cap and gown to graduate with a bachelor's degree in classics.
As a Columbia employee, he didn't have to pay for the classes he took. His favorite subject was the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca, the janitor said during a break from his work at Lerner Hall, the student union building he cleans.
"I love Seneca's letters because they're written in the spirit in which I was educated in my family — not to look for fame and fortune, but to have a simple, honest, honorable life," he said.
His graduation with honors capped a dozen years of studies, including readings in ancient Latin and Greek.
Diocletian in the News
During a televised debate between Congressman Ron Paul and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Congressman Paul pointed to inflation under Diocletian as a reason to be concerned about expansion of the money supply today. Prof. Krugman disagrees, although he admits to little knowledge of ancient history, and in a subsequent post discusses the difficulty of talking about the "zero lower bound" when the numerical system has no zero. In Slate, Matthew Yglesias provides a literature summary on the topic.
Pulitzer Prize for Greenblatt’s The Swerve
From the Pulitzer website:
The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners
For a distinguished and appropriately documented book of nonfiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other category, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern," by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton and Company), a provocative book arguing that an obscure work of philosophy, discovered nearly 600 years ago, changed the course of history by anticipating the science and sensibilities of today.
APA Member in the News: Skateboarding Professor Becomes Internet Sensation
From the JournalStar.com:
Tom Winter finished a lecture on passive and past-tense Latin verbs on Thursday, pulled his skateboard from the desk and rolled into a cool spring afternoon.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln classics and religious studies professor became an Internet sensation Wednesday when a photo of him skateboarding across campus became the top item on the social news website Reddit.com. The photo inspired dozens of memes -- photos with humorous text superimposed.
"Nine pages of memes and a site I never knew about before yesterday," Winter said. "It's a pretty good photo."
By Thursday afternoon, the photo had gotten more than 756,000 views on Imgur.com, the Internet image hosting site on which it originally appeared, and 1,300 comments on Reddit.com. Users of Imgur.com wrote mock captions for the image, which features a skateboarding Winter, arms out and holding a briefcase.
The top-rated caption: "They see me rollin,' I'm gradin.'" On Reddit.com, users created memes using the photo of Winter with captions such as, "Write a two-page paper on shredding the gnar," and, "Has a PhD in righteousness."
In the News: The classical world just refuses to stay dead
From The Telegraph online:
After 244 years, the printed version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica has died a death, killed off by Google and Wikipedia. It’s sad to say goodbye to any venerable institution that’s lasted almost a quarter of a millennium but, still, the writing’s been on the wall for the encyclopaedia for several years now. And now the writing’s on the screen only – the great general knowledge reference work will live on in a digital format.
The idea of printing a sort of omnium gatherum – a collection of everything of any interest – seems ludicrous these days, as well as impossible, when the job is done so much better by a tiny laptop, thinner than a single volume of Britannica. What chance then for two new mammoth publications, out this week – the fourth edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary (OCD), 1,680 pages long, costing £100; and the second edition of the Oxford Latin Dictionary, with 2,344 pages, going for £275.
Is there really anything more to say about the ancient world and its most significant language? Perhaps there’s something in the old schoolboy chant - “Latin is a language / Dead as dead can be / First it killed the Romans / Now it’s killing me.” Well, the language may be dead; but the scholarship and the interpretation of that language survive, and are in constant flux. Among the new entries in the OCD are articles on vital ancient subjects, such as Hellenistic philosophy, madness and the Socratic dialogues – extraordinary that they haven’t been covered before.
Even if the language is dead, the classical world isn’t.
Read more here.
Petition to Protect Hadrian’s Villa
Dear fellow APA members,
Hadrian's Villa, the UNESCO World Heritage Site near Tivoli, is at risk. The City of Rome is under orders from the EU to close its biggest garbage dump at a place called Malagrotta. Since fall of 2011 the government has been looking for a new site to replace Malagrotta. Unbelievable as it may sound, the locality chosen is Corcolle, which is located at the doorstep of Hadrian's Villa.
As might be expected, the recommendation to use Corcolle has encountered stiff opposition. The City of Tivoli, the Ministry of Culture, and the Province of Rome have all gone on record with objections. Many civic groups and Italian citizens have also protested this irresponsible scheme. On February 26, 2012, an international petition was launched on the iPetitions website. In just over two weeks, we have collected more than 3,300 signatures. A list of cultural leaders and professors of classics, archaeology, and cultural heritage who have already signed can be seen on the website.
I write to urge all APA members to sign the petition now, before it is too late. Join people from all walks of life and from all four corners of the earth who have banded together to protest this unconscionable plan.
To grasp the seriousness of the situation and the lateness of the hour, read this translation of an article in Messaggero (Rome's main daily newspaper) of March 17, 2012. It should send a chill down our collective spine:
"GARBAGE EMERGENCY, A 'YES' OF THE TECHNICAL EXPERTS PUTS CORCOLLE AT RISK
"by Maruro Evangelisti
"March 17, 2012, ROME - Among the documents which the collaborators of the Commissioner for Waste Disposal, Prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro, are examining in meetings with the Director of the Ministry of the Environment and representatives of the Province of Rome, City of Rome, and Region of Lazio, there is a site plan. It shows the area of Corcolle (selected to be one of the new temporary garbage dumps) at a distance of 2 kilometers from Hadrian's Villa. The land parcel belongs to the corporation Pozzalana srl.
"In another site plan the boundaries of the UNESCO site of Hadrian's Villa are only 1200 meters away. And in the dossier of the staff of the Commissioner there is also a document dated 15 June 2010 from the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome in response to a request to install a rubbish dump in which the Superintendency affirms that the land is 'archaeologically sterile.' And the Superintendency expressed its approval.
"In contrast, in the course of the meeting of specialists which blocked the choice of Corcolle [i.e., several days ago--BF], the Cultural Ministry vetoed the choice of Corcolle.
"In a nutshell: for Pecoraro the candidacy of Corcolle has NOT been discarded. It is the only site among the seven under consideration that permits creation of the garbage dump by this autumn, if Corrado Clini, Minister of the Environment, gives his approval.
"Let's be clear: suppose that on March 22, 2012 the government says 'yes' to the areas chosen by Pecoraro (Corcolle and Riano). For Corcolle there is already a preliminary plan of action. Land expropriation and a call for bids will be set in motion. The winner will have to present a final proposal. An environmental impact report will have to be filed.
"Before October-November 2012 the new garbage dump [at Corcolle- Hadrian's Villa--BF] will not be ready. For that to happen, an additional month will be needed. If the options of Corcolle and Riano are rejected and if a different site is chosen, then the whole process starts over from the beginning and much more time is needed [to get Rome's new garbage dump up and running]. In that case, even an extension until December 2012 of the use of the current dump site at Malagrotta would not be enough."
In short, despite all the protests voiced to date, the committee of experts is still giving very serious consideration to the site of Corcolle-Hadrian's Villa.
Time is short. As the Messaggero article makes clear, March 22, 2012 is shaping up as the day for an up or down decision about the planned dump site at Corcolle. So on March 21, 2012, we will send the latest version of our petition to the decision-makers in Rome: Corrado Clini, Minister of the Environment; Gianni Alemanno, Rome's Mayor; Renata Polverini, the President of the Regione Lazio; Nicola Zingaretti, the President of the Provincia di Roma; and Prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro, the Extraordinary Commissioner for Refuse of the Regione Lazio. We will also deliver copies to the Italian embassies in various countries, including the United States. The more signatures we have by March 20, 2012, the better. So please sign if you have not yet done so; and, if you are already part of our cause, please redouble your efforts to send out the link to the signature page to colleagues, family, and friends.
Please act now to sign our petition, if you have not done so already. And please forward this message to your family, friends, and colleagues.
Thank you very much,
Bernard Frischer, APA member and professor of Art History and Classics, University of Virginia
SIGN OUR PETITION TO PROTECT HADRIAN'S VILLA AT:
In the News: Ex Libris Crossword Puzzle from the Chronicle
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a crossword puzzle with a Latin theme ("Ex Libris") this week. Download it (and the application for seeing it on your screen) here.
In the News: Baylor Celebrates Ninth Annual Latin Day
From the Baylor Lariat:
An ancient Roman comedy and other Latin activities will kick off the weekend for a group of high school students celebrating ancient Roman culture. Baylor’s Classics Department is having its ninth annual Latin Day from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.
Undergraduate students will provide Latin-themed activities for about 200 high schoolers from across Texas, but the day can be enjoyed by anyone, said Dan Hanchey, assistant professor of classics.
A comedic play written by Plautus and directed by Dr. David White, professor in the classics department, is expected to be the most popular event, Hanchey said.
Read the rest of the story here.
In the News: Robbers Raid Olympia Museum, Steal Artifacts
Athens (CNN) -- Robbers broke into a museum in Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics, tied and gagged a museum guard, and fled with stolen artifacts, Greek authorities said Friday.
The two men raided the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games, a smaller building close to the main Archaeological Museum of Olympia, just after 7:30 a.m. local time, said Athanassios Kokkalakis, a police spokesman.
The robbers "approached the museum's guard, tied her hands and bound her mouth and then went into the museum, where they took 65 to 68 small clay and brass small statues, and a gold ring, and put them in a bag and left."
Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos submitted his resignation after the robbery took place, the prime minister's office said.
Read more …
In the News: Barbara Gold
Inside Higher Ed's academic minute today features APA member Barbara Gold speaking on the subject of love in ancient Rome. Listen to the audio clip at http://www.insidehighered.com/audio/2012/02/14/love-ancient-rome.
In the News: Ancient Roman Text Offers Tips On Winning Elections
Robert Siegel talks with Classics professor Philip Freeman about his translation of the book, "How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians." The book was written by the brother of Marcus Cicero, for when Marcus ran for office in Rome in 64 B.C. But the ancient Roman guide for campaigning still holds lessons for today's elections.
Listen to the story at npr.org.
News from Royal Holloway
The Classics faculty at Royal Holloway have just been informed that in 2014 they will lose one position or, if applications decrease this year, two positions. Applications are holding up, so it seems that only one position will be lost. This is much better than the dire scenario that was threatened last summer, when many of our members signed an international petition in defense of Classics at RHUL.
In the News: Siege of the ‘Iliad’
From The Chronicle Review:
Erasmus quoted the Iliad in a time of widening war:
Men get their fill of sleep and love, of beautiful singing and carefree dance, but they never get enough of war.
And they never get enough of the Iliad. In his anthology, Homer in English, George Steiner asked in 1996, Why are there so many Iliads in English? His answer: notions of noble manliness. "There shines throughout the Iliad an idealized yet also unflinching vision of masculinity, of an order of values and mutual recognitions radically virile."
Small wonder the epic has appealed to warrior nations like England and the United States. William Blake warned, "It is the Classics & not Goths nor Monks, that Desolate Europe with Wars.
According to The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, the Iliad is among the most translated works in English, and English has more versions than any other language. They include their share of casualties. Lord W.E. Gladstone, four-time prime minister of England, tried to squeeze the Iliad into ballad stanzas. He foresaw his fate: "I have involuntarily conceived of the poem as a fortress high-walled and impregnable, and of the open space around as covered with the dead bodies of his translators, who have perished in their gallant but unsuccessful efforts to scale the walls."
In the depths of digital libraries lie dead Iliads. Who remembers the English translations of William Sotheby (1831), J. Henry Dart (1865), or Charles Bagot Cayley (1876)? And I doubt we will ever see another like The Iliad of Homer in the Spenserian stanza by Philip Stanhope Worsley and John Conington (1866-68). Samuel Butler's prose Iliad (1898) still gains praise, and T.E. Lawrence's Iliad (1932) has its following, while the couplets of Edgar Alfred Tibbetts (1907) and hexameters of George Ernle (1922) gather dust. For those that fall, new Iliads rush in.
Read more at http://chronicle.com/article/Siege-of-the-Iliad/130381/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
In the News: Botanists Agree to Loosen Latin’s Grip
"Latin is a bit like a zombie: dead but still clamoring to get into our brains. In one discipline, however, Latin just got a bit deader. For at least 400 years, botanists across the globe have relied on Latin as their lingua franca, but the ardor has cooled. Scientists say plants will keep their double-barreled Latin names, but they have decided to drop the requirement that new species be described in the classical language. Instead, they have agreed to allow botanists to use English (other languages need not apply). In their scientific papers, they can still describe a newly found species of plant — or algae or fungi — in Latin if they wish, but most probably won’t."
Read more online at The Washington Post.