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
Archaeologist Michael Hoff (University of Nebraska), who gave a lecture at Willamette a few years ago, and his team have now uncovered about 50% of a gigantic Roman mosaic from the 4th century CE. The mosaic once formed a kind of stone carpet around a large, open-air pool in a Roman bath complex in Antiochia ad Cragum. Today a part of Turkey, this area on the margins of the Roman Empire, known as Rough Cilicia, has always been considered as only marginally Romanized. In fact, for centuries its rocky coast served as a perfect hideout for pirates. The discovery of this lavish mosaic may lead scholars to reconsider long-held ideas about the area’s remoteness and lack of civilization.
The Armenians of Istanbul: Church, Society, and Culture
The Deep Prehistory of Indian Gaming: The Perspective from Mesoamerica
The 11th Century Decline of the Byzantine Empire Seen Through Contemporary Eyes
The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Greek and Roman Artworks Travel to Oregon!
Link to CASA events calendar
Welcome old and new! I hope that your summers were fantastic. This is the first blog post of the semester and it won’t be the last. Check us out for cool facts, conference info, and general interest in the study of Classics.
Check out the World Languages Studio in the new Learning Commons! The Language Learning Center has moved into it’s new studio on the first floor of Ford along with other parts of the Learning Commons such as the Writing Center and the Learning Center. The Great Hearth is a great place to study classical languages as well as meet tutors and get help with your essays. We also have a ton of great software and online resources on our website and in our computer lab that is available for you all.
Finally, the Classics Club has fallen into disrepair which is a truly sad event. There are a great many things that could be facilitated through the Club and we are looking for people to take up the Leadership Opportunities that are available. Contact Soren at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in the club or have some ideas as to what the club might do.
Have a wonderful day!
“When in Rome……” Find out how the Romans did! Come to this FREE lecture by a renowned food historian and learn about ancient etiquette!
SALEM, Ore. —As part of the 41st Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of the Pacific Northwest and in partnership with Willamette University’s Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology, British classicist and noted food historian Andrew Dalby will present “Dining with Augustus: The Roman Princeps as Host and Guest,” on March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the College of Law’s Paulus Lecture Hall.
(Note: Dalby’s lecture is free and open to the public. No registration required.)
Dalby’s free talk will focus on the Roman arts of entertainment as practiced by Augustus – host, patron and consummate politician.
The Classical Association of the Pacific Northwest meets on campus March 9-10, bringing together scholars of classical languages and civilizations. Non-members may join CAPN and register by March 1 for the annual meeting, which features 28 presentations by participants from 20 universities and a tour of ancient art collections at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.
For membership, registration and a preliminary program, visit historyforkids.org/CAPN/2012/2012registration.htm.
Andrew Dalby earned his doctorate at Birkbeck College, London, and has written 18 books, including “Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece,” “Empire of Pleasures: Luxury and Indulgence in the Roman World,” “Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices,” “Flavours of Byzantium,” “Food in the Ancient World from A to Z,” “Rediscovering Homer,” “Cheese: A Global History.” Books will be available for sale at the meeting.
About the Classical Association of the Pacific Northwest
The Classical Association of the Pacific Northwest is one of the oldest academic organizations in the Pacific Northwest. It was founded on June 6, 1911, at a meeting at the Portland Academy in Portland, Ore. With members mainly from the United States and Canada, the association holds an annual two-day meeting and publishes a bulletin twice yearly. Ann M. Nicgorski, Willamette University Professor of Art History and Archaeology, is the association’s current president.