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.
I know that whenever I tell someone that I’m taking Latin, the immediate response is always, “say something in Latin!” Of course, I usually just say “veni, vidi, vici,” or something, but I know that I and many others want to know really how to speak conversational Latin. I recently uncovered a few links containing resources on conversational Latin, so here you go!
This one’s just a preview of a book, but even the preview contains some pretty cool stuff. Unfortunately we don’t have it at Hatfield, but if you want it’s pretty easy to order through Summit.
In case you want to text your friends in Latin (email is too outdated, but that’s what they used for this article!)
Et tandem, I thought this was a fascinating video on the importance of conversational Latin!
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.
If you think Latin died 2000 years ago, get ready to learn. Neo-Latin, the form of latin between Medieval and Contemporary, was used up to the early 1700’s conversationally and in written works. One common use was in international treaties because, like English today, it was the only internationally learned language in Europe. It was quite a bit different from the classical Latin that we learn here at Willamette but if you were there you would still be able to understand, basically, what was going on, at least in writing. Some of the great Enlightenment and Renaissance intellectuals even wrote works in Latin so that they could reach a wider audience. For example Newton and Galileo each wrote books in Latin as well as their native languages. While Neo-Latin may have died out because of the French influence, Contemporary Latin, or Living-Latin, is still alive today. So if anyone tells you that Latin died out with the Romans, you can tell them otherwise!
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.