Classics in the News
In the News: Back to School, but for the Degree, Not Just the Fun
From the New York Times:
School was out, and Jack Kaufmann, who teaches 8th and 9th grade Latin at the elite Hewitt School in Manhattan, was on his way to catch the train home to Westchester.
That’s hardly surprising, except that Mr. Kaufmann is 71 years old and has been teaching for only the last three years. For much of the last 32 years, the dapper, silver-haired Mr. Kaufmann was a partner at the law firm Dewey Ballantine.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said of his law career, chatting over a quick coffee before heading home. “But at a certain point, I felt that I didn’t need to keep practicing.”
So in 2002 Mr. Kaufmann, who had enough money to retire comfortably, left the firm and began taking college classes. First he took a class on Chaucer, then another on the “Divine Comedy” by Dante and still another called Heresy in the Medieval World. He found the work so fascinating it led to a master’s degree in Classics (Latin and ancient Greek) at the City University of New York — and eventually to teaching jobs, first at the Browning School, then at Trevor Day and then at Hewitt.
Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/retirementspecial/retired-and-back-in-school-for-the-degree-not-just-the-fun.html
AAC&U Study on Employer Support of Liberal Education
The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) has released a report, It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, summarizing the findings of a national survey of business and nonprofit leaders. Among other things, the survey reveals that 74 percent of business and nonprofit leaders say they would recommend a twenty-first century liberal education to a young person they know in order to prepare for long-term professional success in today’s global economy.
“While policy leaders have been focused intensely on what college students are choosing as their majors and what salaries they are being paid shortly after they graduate, business leaders who actually hire college graduates are urging us to prioritize the cross-cutting capacities a college education should develop in every student, in every major,” said Mildred García, president of California State University, Fullerton and chair of AAC&U’s board of directors. “No matter what careers students seek, their college education must equip them with intercultural skills, ethical judgment, and a sophisticated understanding of the diversity of our society and of any successful business or organization.”
AAC&U also announced today the launch of a new LEAP Employer-Educator Compact to make quality learning a national priority as employers seek college graduates with a broader set of skills and knowledge to fuel our innovation-driven economy. More than 100 college presidents—all members of the LEAP Presidents’ Trust—and 150 business and nonprofit leaders have signed on to the LEAP Employer-Educator Compact and pledged to work together to ensure that all college students—including those attending two-year and four-year, public and private institutions—have access to a high-quality liberal education that fully prepares them for work, life, and citizenship.
More information about the study appears here.
Star NFL Quarterback Was Standout in Latin Class Too
APA Member Tommye Lou Davis has fond memories of Robert Griffin III of Baylor and now the Washington Redskins - as a Latin student.
NY Times Article on Nuntii Latini
The New York Times has just published an article on Nuntii Latini the weekly newscast in Latin produced by the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
Local Publicity for Precollegiate Teaching Award Winners
Local newspapers published articles about the two winners of this year's Precollegiate Teaching Award. The Seattle Times published this story about Nora Macdonald just before the annual meeting in that city. The Delaware County Daily Times carried an article about Lee T. Pearcy.
Threats to Russian Classics Programs
Classics programs in two institutions in the Russian Federation are being threatened with closure. Click here to sign a petition in support of the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow. Click here to sign a petition in support of the program at St. Petersburg State University. The latter link opens a page that appears to be completely in Russian, but the English version will appear if you click on an expansion link with a caret pointing down (V)after the first several lines of Russian text.
A Resurgence of Latin in Australia
"Because it's been a language of scholars and old things, it's got a mystique and romance to it," says Rachel Currie, one of many Australian students breathing new life into the dead language of Latin.
At the University of Western Australia, where Currie is taking a double major in biomedical science, introductory Latin this year has 129 students, an increase of 150 percent. Currie prizes Latin as a kind of master key of language that unlocks scientific terminology and opens up insights into English grammar as well as Romance tongues for travel in Europe.
But sheer fun can't be overlooked, and the textbook Lingua Latina, with its Roman family saga, helps teachers deliver. "Marcus beats up his sister, one of the uncles joins the army -- it's exactly like a Roman soap opera," Currie says.
A new liberal arts-style curriculum at UWA has helped languages generally, says Yasmin Haskell, who holds the Cassamarca Foundation chair in Latin humanism. Students must take "breadth" courses outside their home faculty. As a result, Latin reaches beyond the language nerds. Students from the sciences narrowly outnumber those from the arts.
In the News: Pope Benedict to Open New Latin Academy in the Vatican
From the Guardian (8/31/2012)
Alarmed by a decline in the use of Latin within the Catholic church, Pope Benedict is planning to set up a Vatican academy to breathe new life into the dead language.
Long used by the Vatican as its lingua franca, Latin is currently promoted by a small team within the office of the Holy See's secretary of state, which runs a Latin poetry competition and puts out a magazine.
But Benedict – a staunch traditionalist – is backing a plan for a new academy which would team up with academics to better "promote the knowledge and speaking of Latin, particularly inside the church," Vatican spokesman Fr Ciro Benedettini said on Friday.
Read more …
In the News: Cryptic Olympic Ode to Be Read in Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek will resound in full Pindaric style at the welcome gala for the International Olympic Committee on Monday July 23.
An Olympic Ode, composed by an Oxford University academic, will be read in ancient Greek by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
"I have no doubt that the members of the International Olympic Committee are fully versed in ancient Greek, but to ensure the elaborate puns can be fully appreciated, I shall have the pleasure of vocalizing the Ode twice, once in Greek and then again in English," Johnson, who studied classics at Oxford University, said.
Read more here …
Update, July 30, 2012
Listen to a small portion of Mr. Johnson’s recitation at the opening event for the International Olympic Committee on July 23.
Update August 7, 2012
And here is a complete performance of the ode on August 2. The occasion is the installation of a plaque containing the text of the ode in both Greek and English near the Olympic Stadium. Dr. Armand D'Angour, the author of the ode, gives more details of Mr. Johnson's recitations.
In the News: The Latin Prize
"It was the last day of school in July 1942 in Niort, a French city occupied by the Germans. Louise Fligelman, then an eighth grader, still remembers the flurry of excitement when students and faculty were unexpectedly called to a special assembly. Her older brother, Richard, 16, was asked to step forward to accept a signal honor from the school’s principal: He had won the first prize in Latin in the prestigious concours général, a nationwide competition among high schools." Read more in The New York Times …
Knowing Ourselves: How the Classics Strengthen Schools and Society
In the latest issue of American Educator, Peter Dodington, a longtime Latin teacher, explains why studying the ancient Greek and Roman world and learning Latin achieve one of the central goals of public education: helping students think deeply about how they want to live their lives and what they hope to accomplish. Click here for the pdf.
Thanks to Ronnie Ancona, APA VP for Education, for suggesting that we post this piece on the APA Blog.
In the News: Subway work unearths ancient road in Greece
THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- Archaeologists in Greece's second-largest city have uncovered a 70-meter (230-foot) section of an ancient road built by the Romans that was the city's main travel artery nearly 2,000 years ago.
The marble-paved road was unearthed during excavations for Thessaloniki's new subway system, which is due to be completed in four years. The road in the northern port city will be raised to be put on permanent display when the metro opens in 2016. Read more…
In Full Regalia, and Ready to Regale
From the Harvard Gazette:
Before their degrees are formally conferred at Morning Exercises, three Harvard men still have one test left to pass. Each will speak for their class before a crowd of thousands in Tercentenary Theatre, an honor given to three graduating students each year.
Once a series of thesis defenses, often presented in Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, Harvard’s Commencement orations have evolved into succinct five-minute speeches. Each spring, the Harvard Commencement Office hosts a competition to select an undergraduate student, a graduate student, and an undergraduate speaking in Latin for the occasion.
Here, the Class of 2012 orators share their stories — and a glimpse at the words of wisdom they plan to offer.
Read more at http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/05/in-full-regalia-and-ready-to-regale/.
Fascination for Latin and Literature Inspire Salutatorian
From News at Princeton
When Princeton University senior Elizabeth Butterworth was in middle school she immersed herself in the richly imagined world of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." The experience sparked her fascination for stories from other eras, along with an abiding passion for delving into texts.
"I fell in love with that book. It made me interested in mythology and epic stories," she said.
Read more at http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S33/76/30M58/index.xml?section=topstories.
As Seen In The New Yorker …
… at the bottom of the third column on page 79 of the May 21, 2012, edition:
DEPT. OF HIGHER EDUCATION
From the Transactions of the American Philological Association
Valerius's allusive gestures thus problematize Venus's argument by drawing attention to the intertextual connection between Georgics 2.140 and Aeneid 7.281, texts that have very different things to say about the existence of fire-breathing animals in Italy.
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.
In the News: Glasgow University Revives Greek Post After £2.4m Bequest
"A university professorship which has been dormant for more than a decade is to be revived after a £2.4m bequest from the last person to hold the post. Professor Douglas Maurice MacDowell held Glasgow University's Chair of Greek between 1971 and 2001. After his death in 2010, aged 78, Prof MacDowell's will stated his portfolio of stocks and shares be used to re-establish the position. The new Chair of Greek is expected to be in place for September this year." Read more at the BBC online.
In the News: Classics Department Survives Despite Size
From the Truman State University Index:
"Despite its small numbers, the classics department remains alive even though their languages are ancient. There are 19 declared classics majors, five of whom will graduate this year, 27 minors and four full-time staff members, said Clifton Kreps, classical and modern language department chair. The Missouri Department of Higher Education reviewed all programs with fewer than 10 graduates a year during Fall 2010. Truman State thus was required to provide a written justification and answer a questionnaire regarding enrollment data for the small number of graduates in classics, along with art history, Russian, German, interdisciplinary studies and bachelors of music. The explanation satisfied the MDHE for the time being, but another review is scheduled for 2014. No further information regarding the format or consequences of the next review has been provided to the University."
Read more here.
In the News: Review of Books on Rome in The New Yorker
Adam Kirsch reviews Rome: Day One, Rome and Rhetoric, The Romans and Their World, Caligula, Invisible Romans, and Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History in the January 9th issue of The New Yorker. An abstract of the review is available online for free; subscribers have full access.
In the News: Could Ancient Pottery Improve Spacecraft Tiles?
"You might not think that a collaboration to study the chemical and physical properties of ancient Attic pottery would have anything to do with space missions, but, well, you'd be mistaken. Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded nearly $500,000 to scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute, Stanford's National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) and the Aerospace Corporation to do just that."
Read more at discovery.com.
In the news: Rome’s have-nots had more than U.S. plebs
"In a scene out of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, John Cleese’s character asked: “Apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Turns out the plebeians and freemen of ancient Rome had it pretty good, at least compared to today’s “working” class in the United States. A pair of historians recently concluded that the richest 1% of the population in the Roman Empire controlled about 16% of the wealth. Here in America, that deep-pocketed sliver of society owns some 40% of it."
Read more at Marketwatch.
In the news: Med Schools Disavow Classics Programs’ Claim as Road to M.D.‘s
According to U.S. News and World Report, "Med school officials say it's all Greek to them that classical language skills help aspiring doctors." Read the article, which quotes Cynthia Bannon and Charles McNelis, online.
In the news: Program sparks global collaboration
"John Bodel, chair of the classics department, is one of only a few scholars in the world working to digitize ancient manuscripts. On the other side of the Atlantic ocean, Michele Brunet, professor of Greek epigraphy at University of Lyon 2 in France, is working on a similar project, looking at ancient documents housed in Paris' Louvre Museum. Now, thanks to a new global exchange program launched by the University, professors like Bodel and Brunet will be able to share expertise in all disciplines by traveling to far-flung campuses to learn from their international colleagues." Read more at The Brown Daily Herald.
In the news: Late UT professor commemorated in ceremony Friday
The late professor Douglass S. Parker was a professional jazz ragtime pianist, but he strayed from his musical career to teach at the University in order to support his family, said Stephen White, Department Chair and professor of Classics.
Douglass S. Parker taught at UT for 40 years and was commemorated Friday by a lecture and performance in light of his passing. The lecture and performance called “The Story of the Music in James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912)” was given by James Tatum, a Dartmouth professor. Tatum played excerpts of classical piano pieces in honor of Parker’s talent for performance.
Read more in The Daily Texan
In the news: Ancient symbol of Rome – or a Middle Ages knock-off?
"The most celebrated and supposedly one of the oldest symbols of the Eternal City may not be a product of the ancient world after all. The Capitoline Museums' statue of the legendary she-wolf, which was said to have nourished Rome's founders, Romulus and Remus on the banks of the River Tiber, was not crafted by the city's ancestors, the Etruscans, but was made at least 1,000 years later in the Middle Ages, some experts now insist."
Read more at The Independent …
In the News: Who Were the 99% of Ancient Rome?
From Gibbon to "Gladiator," it might seem like we know a lot about Ancient Rome, but our view of this civilization is a skewed one. The Romans lived in one of the most stratified societies in history. Around 1.5% of the population controlled the government, military, economy and religion. Through the writings and possessions they left behind, these rich, upper-class men are also responsible for most of our information about Roman life.
The remaining people – commoners, slaves and others – are largely silent. They could not afford tombstones to record their names, and they were buried with little in the way of fancy pottery or jewellery. Their lives were documented by the elites, but they left few documents of their own.
Now, Kristina Killgrove, an archaeologist from Vanderbilt University, wants to tell their story by sequencing their DNA, and she is raising donations to do it. “Their DNA will tell me where these people, who aren’t in histories, were coming from,” she says. “They were quite literally the 99% of Rome.”
Read more on the Light Years blog at http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/11/who-were-the-99-of-ancient-rome/
Great News about Classics at Royal Holloway
It has now been decided that no reduction in staff numbers in Classics at Royal Holloway will take place until the end of the academic year 2013-14. Moreover if we recruit good numbers of students with AAB or above at A-level for 2012 and our plans to increase our numbers of Master’s students, both for our MA programmes and for our new MRes programmes, are successful, the proposal for a reduction in staff numbers is likely to be reviewed. Validation of our two new MRes degrees, one in Rhetoric and one in Classical Reception, is in train. For more details, see the Department’s blog at http://supportclassicsatrhul.wordpress.com and the Departmental website at www.rhul.ac.uk/ClassicsandPhilosophy.
We will be very pleased to receive good applications for Master’s and PhD degrees as well as for all our undergraduate programmes for September 2012.
Prof. Anne Sheppard
Head of Classics and Philosophy Department
University of London
Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX
World’s oldest sports manual found, covers wrestling
"Wrestling announcer Ed Aliverti often spiced up the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament by yelling that wrestling was 'the world's oldest and greatest sport.' Prints sold at wrestling events depict biblical figure Jacob wrestling an angel, and Abraham Lincoln engaged in his own wrestling match before becoming president. The sport has always been proud of the ancient origins of the sport.
"Now, wrestling has proof of its long history, as researchers at Columbia University found an instructional manual on wrestling that dates back to 200 A.D."
Read more at Yahoo Sports…
Latin Teacher Becomes Executive Director of ACTFL
Martha Abbott, a Latin teacher with whom many APA members have collaborated, has become Executive Director of the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), a society of over 12,000 language teachers and administrators.
An epic ‘Electra’ takes the O’Reilly stage
"When Ted Pappas returned to Greece last summer he took 'Electra' with him. 'I studied it in Greek under an olive tree on my property,' says Pappas, who is directing the Pittsburgh Public Theater production of 'Electra' that begins performances Thursday at the O'Reilly Theater, Downtown." Read more at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review online.
Editorial: Respect the Classical Tradition
Helen Hansen, a Plan II and public relations freshman at the University of Texas-Austin, wrote an impassioned defense of the Classics Department in her column in The Daily Texan this week.
In the News: Classic Comeback
A new programme to revive Latin and Greek in our schools
Peter Jones writes in Spectator.co.uk:
Some 15 years ago, at the behest of the then editor Charles Moore, I wrote a jovial 20-week QED: Learn Latin column for the Daily Telegraph. It attracted a huge following, and I still have four large box-files full of letters from users. The majority of them expressed one of three sentiments: ‘I learned Latin at school x years ago, loved it and am delighted to renew my acquaintance’; ‘I learned Latin at school, hated it, but now realise what I have missed’; and ‘I never learned Latin at school and have always regretted it’.
These responses have stayed with me ever since, but they prompt a question: anecdotal evidence about the value people place on Latin is all very well, but would it be possible to produce something a little more objective? Can we demonstrate unconditionally that, as Gilbert Murray argued to the Classical Association in 1954, our pearls are real?
This week the fund-raising charity Classics for All announced its first round of grants to projects that over the next ten years will, if we can raise the funds, open up the classical world to many of the 3,000 state schools (75 per cent of our pupils) that currently come into no contact with it whatsoever. Read more …
In the News: Ancient Greek Alive and Well at UT-Austin
From The Daily Texan's letters to the editor:
“Greek studies” is not about to be eliminated either as a field of study or as a major here, as the story titled “Greek studies to be eliminated from UT majors,” which ran in The Daily Texan on Thursday, suggests. The classics department continues to offer a wide range of courses on the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome (classical studies), and UT students will continue to have multiple options for pursuing degrees that include advanced work in the language and culture of ancient Greece.
Yes, the Higher Education Coordinating Board has directed UT to eliminate one of our majors: the bachelor’s in Greek. But students still have four other degree options that require advanced work in ancient Greek language and culture: classics, classical archaeology, ancient history and classical civilization and Latin. The classics major requires advanced work in both Greek and Latin language. The classical archaeology and ancient history majors require advanced work in classical culture and also in either Greek or Latin. Even the bachelor’s in Latin requires advanced work in either Greek or classical culture.
It’s worth emphasizing also that the elimination of our Greek major is unlikely to have any impact on our course offerings, either. As we pointed out to the coordinating board both this year and previously, all of our courses in Greek language and culture serve many other groups and degree plans besides Greek majors. So eliminating this major will have virtually no impact on either the UT budget or what students will be able to study here. As for the symbolic impact, well — that’s another story.
— Stephen White
Chair, Department of Classics
In the News: Greek Major to be Eliminated at University of Texas-Austin
"UT is the only public university in Texas to offer an undergraduate degree in Greek studies, but students entering the University after the current academic year will no longer be able to declare a major in the program. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board directed UT to eliminate its degree in Greek studies following this academic year. The board has suggested colleges cut certain degree programs with low enrollment in order to ease state-wide budget cuts to education." Read more at The Daily Texan …
For clarification, see Professor Stephen White's letter to the editor of The Daily Texan.
NPR: Lucretius, Man Of Modern Mystery
"Before he became a Professor of literature at Harvard, and way before he wrote his classic Shakespeare biography, Will in The World, Stephen Greenblatt was an I'll-read-anything kind of kid. One day, he was standing in the campus book store, and there, in a bin, selling for ten cents (good price, even in 1961) he noticed a thin, little volume called On the Nature of Things, by a Roman writer named Lucretius. When he opened it, he found a description of how the universe came to be. Because Lucretius lived a couple of generations before the birth of Jesus, Stephen was expecting a tale of how gods, goddesses, earth, air, fire and water and an assortment of miracles created everything we see, but as he turned the pages, he says 'his jaw dropped' and 'his head began to burst open,' because Lucretius' creation story doesn't feel remotely ancient. First of all, it's a radically secular account, ignoring gods, goddesses, heaven, hell, life after death, and intelligent design, but more surprising, its logic is eerily, almost spookily modern." Read more, or listen to the interview at NPR.org.
Baylor Undergrad Students Get Rare Chance for In-Person Research on Ancient Manuscripts
"Fragments of ancient, rare manuscripts of Greek classical poetry, Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian Scriptures are being retrieved from papier-mâché-like mummy wrappings on loan to Baylor University -- all part of an international project that will give undergraduate humanities students rare hands-on research. The project, called the Green Scholars Initiative, eventually will include more than 100 universities, with Baylor University as the primary academic research partner. Professor-mentors will guide students through research and publication of articles about rare and unpublished documents, among them an ancient Egyptian dowry contract on loan to Kent State University and an ancient papyrus of Greek statesman Demosthenes' famed "On the Crown" Speech, said Dr. Jerry Pattengale, initiative director and a Distinguished Senior Fellow with Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion." Read more at baylor.edu …
Scanning Device Could Reveal Secrets of Historical Documents
"New technology developed by Oxford University’s classics department could help reveal the secrets of historical documents. A spin-out firm is commercialising the scanning device, which uses different wavelengths of light to detect faded or erased ink, for analysing manuscripts and archived documents, as well as modern forgeries. ‘The technical leaps we made mean many ancient documents that were previously unreadable can now be scanned and read,’ said Dr Dirk Obbink, head of the research group that developed the scanner."
New Yorker Podcast: Greenblatt on Lucretius
"This week in the magazine, Stephen Greenblatt explains how Lucretius and his poem 'On the Nature of Things' shaped the modern world. Here Greenblatt reads a passage from John Dryden’s translation of 'On the Nature of Things,' and talks with Blake Eskin about how the poem disappeared for a thousand years, how it was rediscovered, and the clash between Lucretius’ ideas and the Catholic church—and also Greenblatt’s Jewish mother." Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/online/2011/08/08/110808on_audio_greenblatt#ixzz1V1u18qeH
Digital Version of Loeb Classical Library Featured
The forthcoming digital version of the Loeb Classical Library will aim to make the treasures of ancient literature easier to find for non-classicists. Read more at InsideHighered.com.
Dig under ancient Trajan’s Baths in Rome turns up mosaic depicting a nude Apollo
"Excavations in the bowels of an ancient Roman hill have turned up a well-preserved, late 1st century wall mosaic with a figure of Apollo, nude except for a colourful mantle over a shoulder." Read more at The Telegraph online.
Action Alert from the National Humanities Alliance
This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives began debating the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies spending bill (H.R. 2584). In last week’s action alert, I mentioned that amendments could be offered on the floor that would further reduce funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities beyond the $135 million in FY 2012 funding approved by the Appropriations Committee (a $19.7 million, or 13% cut from the current year).
Just hours ago, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) offered an amendment to reduce funding in the Interior bill by $3 billion in various accounts, including $1.9 billion in EPA spending, as well as complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts (among other programs). The Huelskamp amendment failed by voice vote, but a recorded vote was requested, and is expected to take place tonight.
Even if the current measure fails, additional amendments to weaken funding for NEH may be offered during this week’s floor consideration of the FY12 Interior bill. If you have not already done so, please email your Representative and ask him/her to:
Oppose any amendments to eliminate or further cut NEH funding in the FY12 Interior bill (H.R. 2584)
Speak on the floor in support of the humanities and the benefits that NEH provides your community
If you would prefer to call the office directly, you can do so through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Earlier today, the Congressional Humanities Caucus Co-Chairs, Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Tom Petri (R-WI), issued a Dear Colleague letter urging Members to oppose the Huelskamp amendment. Reps. Price and Petri are still planning to lead a bipartisan “strike the last word” effort to protect NEH and provide Members an opportunity to join their colleagues on the House floor to speak in support of the humanities. The timing of this effort is likely to coincide with the reading of the bill portion that references NEH funding (expected within the next 1-2 days).
Thank you for taking action. We will continue to post updates as new information becomes available.
Jessica Jones Irons
National Humanities Alliance
Take action here: http://www.congressweb.com/cweb2/index.cfm/siteid/NHA/action/TakeAction.Contact/lettergroupid/17
In One Classics Department, Translation by the ‘Crowd’
"Two years ago, an archivist at Tufts University was sifting through manuscripts in the library's special collections when he came across a lone, unlabeled folder. To his surprise, it contained a stack of documents that no one then at the library had ever seen, some of them dating back to the 12th century. The Tisch Library Miscellany Collection was born. Now, Marie-Claire A. Beaulieu, an assistant professor of classics, has a novel way of identifying the documents and translating them from Latin to English—she's having her students do it. The 15 undergraduates and graduates she enlisted became historical sleuths, opening the cold case of the centuries-old texts; their work has been published online in the project's digital archive." Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education online.
Miami professor aims to tell Cleopatra’s full story
"When the name Cleopatra is mentioned, images of a powerful, exotic seductress may come to mind. While that may not necessarily be false, a Miami University professor is looking to flesh out the infamous femme fatale in a presentation working in conjunction with the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal’s exhibit of the Egyptian queen. Associate professor of classics Denise McCoskey’s presentation, “Cleopatra, a fatale monstrum? Encountering the Egyptian Queen in Roman Literature and Propaganda,” examines Cleopatra’s entire person, both as an able, multicultural ruler of a powerful state as well as how the Augustan propagandists presented her in the midst of Rome’s civil war — an image McCoskey said endures to this day."
Read more at middletownjournal.com…
Tickets on Sale for Trojan Women at J. Paul Getty Museum
"Trojan Women (after Euripides), a new version of one of the greatest anti-war dramas of all time, will be the sixth annual outdoor theatrical production in the Getty Villa's Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. New York-based Siti Company, one of America's leading ensemble theater companies, will perform an original retelling of Euripides' ancient Greek tragedy, in the world premiere of a Getty-commissioned production. These performances will mark one of Siti Company's rare appearances on the west coast. Directed by the company's artistic director Anne Bogart, the play features original music composed by Christian Frederickson and a text adapted by playwright Jocelyn Clarke."
Read more at losangeles.broadwayworld.com…
Royal Ontario Museum’s Newest Galleries Bring Ancient Empires Back to Life
"On Friday, July 1, 2011, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) opens a suite of new permanent galleries, reintroducing its visitors to the ancient civilizations of Rome, Byzantium and Nubia. Several never-before-seen objects are featured while others have been unseen by the public since previous galleries were closed in 2004 during the Renaissance ROM expansion project. To showcase these remarkable empires as never before, extensive new videos, shot on location, are featured alongside impressive artifacts in this new, dynamic space." Read more at artdaily.org…
Monday’s Poem: ‘Laelaps,’ by Michael Collier
Read Michael Collier's poem "Laelaps" and a critical essay about it by Lisa Russ Sparr at The Chronicle of Higher Education's web site.
Text and Translation of the Latin Oration Delivered at Princeton
Princeton Classics major Veronica Shi delivered the traditional Latin oration at commencement ceremonies on May 31. Here is the text and translation of her Carmen Salutationis:
Habita in Comitiis Academicis Princetoniae
In Nova Caesarea prid. Kal. Iun.
Anno Salutis MMXI
Anno Academiae CCLXIV
quibus modis, quîs principiis, amans
Mater, salutem progeniem tuam?
favete opus, Musae, novis ne
nunc titubem pedibus rubescens!
nobis aratrix splendida messium
felixque dux, te, praesidium bonum,
primam saluto, namque florent
omnia lumine sub tuo; nec
vos nunc silebo, qui sapientia
tuentur Almam semper et omnibus
Matrem; professoresque laudo
filia grata scientiamque
eorum cano, quae discipulos alit
virtute, curis et patientia
benignius: vobis pietas
magna, amor altus et eruditus.
et vos, parentes: mane scholasticos
nos creditis, quos canticulo meo
gaudere nunc vidistis: ecce
spes modo perficimus decoras.
nunc paululo modis minoribus,
sodales, libere vos alloquor;
ignoscite inflatis prioribus
verbis: eram iussa ut modo gravi
cantarem. nunc autem imprudentias
varias, Musae procaces, pandite (Ha!):
quae lectiones desertae, prius
quae vel licentiae convivia
bacchantis vel longae turpissimi
amoris noctes, et quot et quibus-
cum – quid nunc? vos irascimini mihi?
noli sanctos simulare aut integros;
et cur metuistis? non ullo modo
vestri parentes haec intelligunt.
horum atque si fecisti umquam nihil,
hercle! “Miser!” tantum dicam tibi.
laeti memores este et licentiae
aeque et victoriae, carissimi
(numquam triumphi parca scilicet):
omnia sciens ignoscit omnibus
Mater; non semper vita vera ita est.
nostram vitam tigridis quam splendidam!
sed cuique, sodales, nostrum hic parcius
tempus datum, vae, fatis invidis.
huc redibunt aestiferi dies, sub
limpido caelo foliis vigebit
flammeis Autumnus, et alba mox et
vere solvetur vice. nos tamen non
huc redimus; nos, abituri amici,
ex pylis late gerimus, calentes
signa doctrinae: variis alumnis
Mater auget mundum iterum suis. sic
saecula excedunt. semel, ergo, amici
ac simul cantamus, “Io, Triumphe!”
gestientes, et bis, “Io, Triumphe!”
dicimus caeloque feremus alto
Princetoniensis, memores sodalum
atque honesti. nunc ego “Ave,” beati,
non “Vale” dicam, atque “Fidelitate
Given in the Academic Assembly of Princeton
In New Jersey on the 31st of May
In the year 2011
In the 264th Academic Year
With what measures, what beginnings, loving
Mother, should I greet your progeny?
Bless this endeavor, Muses, so that I
don’t stumble blushing over untried feet!
Glorious tiller of harvests for us
and prosperous leader: you, good
guardian, I first salute, for all things
flourish under your guiding light; nor
Will I pass by in silence all of you who
wisely protect our kindly mother, always
and for all. Our professors too I praise
as a grateful daughter, and I sing
Of their scholarship, which nurtures their students
with special kindness, excellently, attentively,
patiently: your devotion to us
is great, your attachment deep and learned.
And you, our parents: this morning you believe
that we are scholars, since you have seen us
take pleasure in my little song: behold,
now we fulfill your honorable hopes.
Now, in rather humbler meters
I address you candidly, friends:
forgive me for being highfalutin just now –
I was told to sing in a serious manner.
But now, naughty Muses, reveal far and wide
all the various indiscretions of this class (Ha!):
the lectures we’ve ditched, the parties
of raging, Bacchic licentiousness we’ve thrown,
the long nights of shameful love, and how many
and with whom we spent them –
What now? Getting annoyed with me?
Don’t pretend you’re a bunch of saints or innocents –
and why fear? There’s no way at all
your parents can understand what I’m saying.
And if you’ve really never done any of these –
Great Hercules! I say only this to you: “Miserable wretch!”
Cherish the memory of your foibles
as well as your success, o friends
(not that our Mother was ever grudging with success):
She knows all, but forgives: Real Life isn’t always like that.
What joy it has been to be a young tiger!
But the jealous Fates, friends, have given
each of us, alas, only a short time here.
Here the heat-bearing days will return;
beneath a crisp sky, Autumn will flourish
in its fiery foliage, and then soon hoary,
will be dissolved by Spring’s changes. But we
do not return here; we, friends, will depart
from these gates, bearing far and wide, aflame
with lofty hearts,
the standards of our learning: with her diverse progeny
our Mother again enriches the world. So
the generations advance onward. Marching once
and only once, then, friends,
and all together, we sing, “Hurrah, Victory!”
exulting, and twice again say, “Hurrah, Victory!”
and will lift to heaven’s lofty arch
the noble name
of Princeton, keeping each other close to our hearts,
ever forthright. Blessed friends, I shall say “Hail,” not
“Farewell,” and this too: “With undying loyalty,
love each other always.”
Under Rome, a Trip Back to Imperial Times
"As a rule, digging beneath the surface of modern Rome turns up ancient buildings. Excavations conducted in 2007, just steps from the traffic hub of Piazza Venezia, revealed two Imperial era villas embellished with mosaics, polychrome wall veneers, fountains and frescoes. Dating back to the second and third centuries, these opulent dwellings were abandoned in late antiquity, filled with landfill, and unknowingly used as foundations for the 16th-century Palazzo Valentini, now seat of the Province of Rome’s offices." Read more in the New York Times…
William F. Wyatt Jr., Brown classics scholar, dies at 78
"William F. Wyatt Jr., 78, professor emeritus and former chairman of the department of classics at Brown University, and a prolific contributor to the op-ed page of The Providence Journal, died March 25 in The Miriam Hospital, Providence." Read the full obituary at the Providence Journal Online…