Here’s a link to a great New Yorker article on the ancient Greek poetess Sappho. For the uninitiated, Sappho is the famous lesbian poet. That is to say, she was from the Isle of Lesbos and is renowned for homoeroticism in her poetry. However, as the article discusses, Sappho’s actual sexuality is difficult to pin down.
Controversies aside, Sappho was considered one of the great poets of her time. “Solon of Athens, son of Execestides, after hearing his nephew singing a song of Sappho’s over the wine, liked the song so much that he told the boy to teach it to him. When someone asked him why he was so eager, he replied, ‘so that I may learn it and then die.’ ” Needless to say, she’s well worth checking out and this article is a good introduction.
This is a fun article about the different spices and foods used by Romans with their dishes. Did you know that they used a lot of flavors that we might consider Asian? The Roman empire was quite expansive.
This is a site that I use to study Latin. It has a bunch of Latin games that were created by teachers around the world and shared in this community. The website for Latin Games (and you can search for specific ones) is http://www.quia.com/shared/latin/
Some of the ones I have found useful are the following quizzes on conjugations:
http://www.quia.com/cz/422995.html?AP_rand=1925616065 and http://www.quia.com/cz/422996.html
There are all sorts of different kinds of games and quizzes (the ones above are only one sort). You can search or scroll and find ones that interest you.
Hope they are helpful,
Bonus: Fun Latin Phrases
[One of my favorites is Si Hoc Legere Scis, Nimium Eruditionis Habes]
Did your reading of Homer, Vergil, or any other classical author happen to inspire your own poetry? If yes, the magazine Tellus out of the UK would love to see your work:
Tellus is an annual magazine which celebrates the rich use of the classical past in contemporary poetry; http://www.tellusmagazine.co.uk/. Poetry submissions for Issue 5 are warmly invited (deadline 15th November). Please do pass on this message to any colleagues or students to whom you think this would be of interest.
While on a study tour in Greece and Turkey this summer, I saw many beautiful artifacts depicting Roman gladiators. While all of these artifacts were fascinating, the most interesting ones that I found were two gladiator grave stelae in the Istanbul Archeological Museum that depicted left-handed gladiators.
With the first stele (labeled “A”), it is easy to tell that the gladiator (a secutor) was left-handed since he is depicted holding his sword in his left hand. It was not as easy to determine the handedness of the gladiator depicted on the other stele. The second stele (labeled “B”) depicts a gladiator (a provocator) resting his right hand on his stacked helmet and shield. The clue that reveals that this gladiator was left-handed, however, is that he is wearing his greave (leg guard) on his right leg. The heavily armed gladiator types, like the one depicted in this stele, wore a greave on the leg that corresponded with their shield arm. A left-handed gladiator would have carried his shield with his right arm and therefore would have also worn his greave on his right leg. Using this information, I was able to determine that the gladiator depicted in the second stele was a lefty.
I found these left-handed gladiators so fascinating partly because of my experience fencing. I am right-handed, and I distinctly remember that fencing with left-handed people was always very difficult. Although the Roman method of sword fighting was very different from modern fencing, I can’t help but think that differences in handedness between gladiators would have presented the same sort of challenges. The almost universal use of shields by most gladiator types would probably compounded these issues.
Every Latin student should know the wonderful Halloween stories in Petronius’ satyrical novel, the Satyricon (ch. 61-62).
During a dinner party in honor of an itinerant scholar and two of his students, the nouveau riche host, Trimalchio, and his fellow freedman, Niceros, entertain the guests with funny stories of werewolves and corpse-stealing witches. Check out the full Latin text (somewhat advanced difficulty, alas) and an English translation at http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_satyricon2_ghoststory.htm.
Thursday, Nov. 8th
*WU Campus : Rogers Music Center : Hudson Concert Hall
Dr. Jodi Magness
Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In this slide-illustrated lecture, we survey Jewish tombs and burial customs in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus, and consider the archaeological and literary evidence for the burials of Jesus and his brother James. The lecture includes a discussion of the claims surrounding the so-called “James ossuary” and the “Talpiyot tomb” (recently said to be the tomb of Jesus and his family).
A few days ago, Bernhard posted the draft of an article on gospel.net, a popular site that he created after his graduation to disseminate the insights from his senior thesis on several early, non-canonical Christian gospels. Entitled “How the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Might Have Been Forged: A Tentative Proposal,” the article improves upon earlier observations by Francis Watson (Durham University) that the Gos. Jes. Wife seems to be a “patchwork” of words and small phrases “culled from the Coptic Gospel of Thomas“.
Bernhard has discovered that at least one of the grammatical oddities of the new gospel’s Coptic text may be copied straight from an online source, the early pdf-verson of Michael Grondin’s bilingual Coptic-English edition of the Gospel of Thomas. Gos. Jes. Wife 1, which juxtaposes words found in close proximity to each other in Gos. Thom. 101, leaves out a single-letter Coptic object marker (M with a supralinear stroke). That same error, which Grondin later corrected, occurs in the pdf-version of his interlinear translation, which has been available online since 2002.
While at Willamette, Andrew Bernhard studied classical and New Testament Greek with George H. Atkinson Professor emeritus of Religious and Ethical Studies Lane McGaughy. In the summer before his Junior Year, he was awarded a Carson Undergraduate Grant to write a paper on “The Acceptance of the Gospel of John into Normative Christianity.” During his research, he became fascinated with early, non-canonical Gospels and eventually wrote his 1998 senior thesis on “Seven Early Christian Gospels.” Inducted into Willamette’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, he graduated magna cum laude.
Andrew Bernhard’s subsequent career path, which led him first to a second B.A. in molecular biology, then to a Masters of Studies in Greek and Roman History from Oxford University, and finally to his current position in biotechnology sales, is outlined in an interview published in Willamette’s alumni magazine, Scene 39 (2008). On the side, Andrew Bernhard continues to run his gospels.net site and, as his article so splendidly demonstrates, to shape the scholarly discussion in Classical Studies.
By the way, while Coptic (unlike Latin, ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew, and six other languages) is not taught at Willamette University, Professor Stephen Patterson, the current holder of the George H. Atkinson Chair in Religious Studies, happens to be an authority on the subject and has published several books and articles on the Gospel of Thomas.
Dickinson College has just launched a very helpful new resource for intermediate Latin students.
The Dickinson College Commentaries, a new series edited by Christopher Francese (Dickinson College) and available for free online, aims to make ancient Greek and Latin texts accessible to a wider audience. Each commentary is prepared by a scholarly expert and offers not just the usual notes on grammar and material culture, but also illustrations, animated maps, videos, and even audio clips that allow you not only to read, but to hear the Latin text. In addition, the site offers vocabulary lists of the most common Greek and Latin words, arranged alphabetically, by parts of speech, by frequency, and by semantic groups (http://dcc.dickinson.edu/resources).
Three commentaries have appeared so far: Selections from Caesar’s De bello Gallico, Ovid’s Amores I, and a late antique text, the Life of Saint Martin of Tours by Sulpicius Severus (ca. 363 – ca. 400 CE). More texts, including Greek texts, will hopefully follow soon.
Archaeologists from the University of Mainz have discovered the first Roman military camp from the time of Julius Caesar on German soil.
Situated in a corn field 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Trier, near the small town of Hermeskeil, this camp had a size of 26 hectares, enough to shelter 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers. Built in trapezoid form, it enclosed its own spring to provide the Romans with a secure source of water. No more than 5 km (3 miles) from the camp, there are remains of a settlement of the Celtic Treveri, which was protected by a Celtic fort, the so-called Hunnenring (Huns’ Ring) near Otzenhausen. This fortification, as has long been known, was abandoned in the first century BCE.
Part of the original Roman camp wall is still preserved in a piece of forest bordering the corn field. The rest has been plowed over so many times that it could not be discerned by untrained eyes. Inside the camp, excavators discovered pot sherds, late-republican coins, and a hand mill, which legionaries used to grind their daily ration of grain in order to prepare the staple of Roman diet, a kind of gruel named puls. The most important discovery, however, are 70 rusty, 1-inch long, umbrella-shaped hobnails from the Roman legionaries’ boots. As one of the excavators, Dr. Sabine Hornung from the University of Mainz, explains, the length and shape of these hobnails, which prevented the Romans from slipping on the muddy ground, allow experts to date them to the Caesarian period.
Below is a link to a brief video clip from Stern TV:
Oldest Roman camp in Germany