Saturday, July 30, 2005

Musings before I return to my regularly scheduled life...

Well, I for one am glad to see that The Stoa is back and working again. It was hacked earlier today, and as I made it my homepage some time ago, I was a little saddened by that. Actually, I need to add it to my links on this blog!

Anyway, my friend showed me this article, which horrifies me because of the name of the brothel. I mean, why? Are these the same idiots who wrote The Empire?

On a completely different note, I was really annoyed that this poem isn't posted anywhere on the (google-searchable) internet in FULL. It has nothing to do with Classics, except that it may prove that John Quincy Adams had the emperor complex that we see so often in ancient history in wanting to deify (well, poetically deify, anyway) his father. And, as I've said before, the 18th and 19th centuries were so steeped in Classical education that they can't help but be at least a little Classically related!

Anyway, here's the poem, written about a year after his father's death on his birthday:

Day of my father’s birth, I hail thee yet.
What though his body moulders in the grave,
Yet shall not Death th’ immortal soul enslave;
The sun is not extinct—his orb has set.
And where on earth’s wide ball shall man be met,
While time shall run, but from thy spirit brave
Shall learn to grasp the boon his Maker gave,
And spurn the terror of a tyrant’s threat?
Who but shall learn that freedom is the prize
Man still is bound to rescue or maintain;
That nature’s God commands the slave to rise,
And on the oppressor’s head to break his chain.
Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round,
Till not a slave shall on this earth be found.

- John Quincy Adams, 1827

I really like this poem, and it's a shame it only ever gets half-quoted to prove JQA's anti-slavery sentiments (or to support current politicians in ways that baffle my brain).

Friday, July 29, 2005

More booklust!

I forgot to mention the article that really caught my interest: Roman legion found in Chinese city. I don't know about you, but that really puts the Roman empire into perspective for me. I know how far it reached, but... that is still incredible.

In other news, I went to a favourite used bookstore of mine today (unintentionally!), and I spent a bit under $100 on fifteen books. About half of those were Classically related (well, directly--I bet I could relate ALL of them to Classical studies if I wanted to!). I really must acknowledge a booklust problem here. Eheu!

I've also discovered, much to my horror, that my earlier old-book allergy (well, the mites really, but still!) that developed this semester seems to be here to stay! That place had my skin on edge, and my eyes and nose itchy. It's quite pitiful. But nothing will deter me from my books! I'll just have to remember to take allergy medicines next time... I guess it's true when my history instructor told me I picked the wrong profession--allergic to the very things I love most! Vae! They never really warn you about this when you choose to be a Classics (or English) major...

Anyway, my ancient Greek history class starts next week. That will either mean fewer updates (because I know I'll be swamped) or more updates (because I'll have more to talk about). My Greek history is abysmal, so I'm glad to finally be taking this class!

For now, though, I am reading Charlotte Brontë's Villette and should probably finish it tonight. It's amusing me, because I'm fairly certain it's filled with more Classical allusions than any of her other books.

The Empire--finale

Well, dear readers, let it NEVER be said that I've let you down. Ok, so I missed the airing of the episode, but Glaukopis is wily and has managed to procure the episode (we just won't discuss the lengths to which she had to go for it). She has also watched it, and was almost wishing for the poor reception of her own television again.

To be fair, this episode made for a better script than previous episodes. There were some decently-written scenes, though they mostly leaned on the cheesy side.

However, as per usual, there was far more annoying me.

First, we have the matter of Camane. By this episode, nobody seems to think it all that wretched that Octavius is romantically involved with her. In fact, Antony taunts him with promises of exile with her if he gives up the battle. Um? They also actually KISS, and there is suggestion that it was more than a mere kiss. It is difficult to know, though, because by the end of the episode, they remember that she is a Vestal (though we're not certain if she is still a virgin...). Octavius appoints her "Keeper of the Flame" and "matriarch" (it's possible I've forgotten already--I do try to forget unpleasant experiences--but what happened to the previous matriarch??) and makes her vow to remain childless. I like their choice of "childless," rather than "a virgin." Mmhmm.

So yes, directly after their kiss, Camane is musing about how she fucked up (excuse the language, but the bad pun was intended), and I'm sitting there thinking, "Well, yes, you just broke your vow to Vesta--of course that's a sign of the ruin of Rome." I also like how, at the end, she is called "child of Minerva" as well while taking her her role as "keeper of the flame" and "matriarch of the vestals." It's also convenient how they never once (that I caught) actually use the word "virgin" in this episode.

Oh but I dwell too long on one thing. My apologies.

Issue the second--the third legion. This is just... a whomping big issue. I mean, I was actually shocked that they got the technical idea of decimation correct. However, since when does decimation of what is supposed to be Caesar's "finest legion" mean that the legion will be so BROKEN (mentally) that they will defect and run off into the hills to become legendary ghosts until boy Octavius comes to rally them (with a cheesy speech, after he tells Cicero--who has also come running to his aid again--that he will speak for himself) to his cause?? I mean, it was... interesting, I suppose, but it smacked of imposing our own modern notions of "decimation" onto a Roman practice.

Issue the third--the comet. Ok, so I'll admit that my Caesar/Augustus history isn't the best, and I'd forgotten the details of the comet. But upon looking it up (in a two-second search), I quickly remembered. So why is Octavius making pretty little speeches about this comet with no reference to Caesar? It hurts enough that they don't mention Caesar's deification in the first place, but to randomly throw in the comet in the last episode and make it about something else entirely--it just hurts.

My last issue is with Tyrannus. He is treated like and acts like a mindless android (no offense to Data's kind) throughout the episode. He even has this moment on the battlefield (fighting on Antony's side, because he suddenly just does exactly what he's told) when he kills a guy who says, "Hail Caesar!" as he dies. This apparently brings back old, repressed memory files (I kid you not--it was filmed in a way very reminiscent of androids regaining old memory files. Yes, I watch too much sci-fi), and he suddenly recalls his initial droid imperative to defend Octavius. And so he turns, and his men follow (for which, I suppose, I should give them some credit).

I must admit, though, that my absolute very favouritest moment was when Octavius decided to spare Antony, who is daring Octavius to kill him--and Antony has this look on his face like, "Shit. Now I have to go back to my bitching wife..."

That, dear readers, was a great acting choice.

I must say, though, that I am very glad this series is over.

And now for a couple links from Classics-L that amused me:

Satue of Emperor Found Among Roman Ruins
Chaucer's tales become rap songs

There are several other links of Classical interest that have popped up today, but since rogueclassicism is now up and running again, I no longer feel obligated to link to everything (or almost everything) of great Classical interest.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A couple articles...

The Classics-L list had some other interesting articles today:

Medieval manuscripts to hit Internet -- Apparently, Stanford University Libraries, the University of Cambridge and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, are going to make a bunch of medieval manuscripts accessible on the Internet. That's not really Classics-related, but I for one am very excited! It sounds a little like it'll be like Perseus but with actual text images. I think it's high time the medievalists caught up with the Classicists! ;-)

There was also this entry on languagehat that just cracks me up. Click and read! It's great fun.

Lastly David Meadows at rogueclassicism posted this article on HBO's Rome. I think it looks a LOT more promising than The Empire. Unfortunately, I don't have cable. You all will be the first to know if I somehow manage to get my hands on this, though.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Was there really a Tyrannus?

I was checking my blog stats this morning before going to work, and I noticed one of the search terms that led someone to this blog was the question, "Was there really a Tyrannus?"

Well, on the chance that this visitor returns (and didn't glean this from other posts), I'm going to put this right here in its own distinct entry:

NO. There is NO historical basis for Tyrannus. He is a FRAUD, a cheap knock-off of Gladiator (which was also not historically accurate, although it was actually a good film). Do NOT be swayed by ANYTHING you may have "learned" from The Empire, and, in fact, if you'd like to learn about the real "Octavius" (better known as Augustus), go take a nice Roman history course. Or read one of many biographies on him that are out there. Or read Shakespeare's plays Julius Caesar and Antony & Cleopatra (which aren't 100% historically accurate, but they're entertaining, good dramatic literature, and better than The Empire).

And Camane wasn't real either.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It was just inevitable...

It's been quite a distressing past couple of days. For the first time in weeks, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you, dear readers, on The Empire. It slipped my mind this afternoon before work that today is Tuesday. Thus, I did not tape it. I'm cringing at the thought that I might have to throw some form of money at these people just to claw my eyes out with the last episode.

I do, however, have a couple articles from the Classics-L list for your edification:

Ancient Rome Puzzle Yield Clue
Roman Legion Founded Chinese City

And for those of you looking for a little light summer reading, I highly recommend Jasper Fforde's new book, The Big Over Easy: A Nursury Crime. I'm a little more partial to his Thursday Next series, but Fforde always writes wonderful books. This one I mention, however, because Prometheus plays a decent-sized role in here. It's fun. It's fiction. Go read it!

Monday, July 25, 2005

More GRE stuff...

My apologies, dear readers, for the lack of updates recently. The last couple days were spent attempting to study for the GRE and ultimately failing due to lack of concentration. My brain occassionally picks the worst times to revolt.

Anyway, today was the GRE, and I can only say that no matter how good you once may have been, attempting to avoid math for four years will impact your GRE math score. That was the lesson learned today.

I may consider retaking it, but it's probably not worth it for the math portion. It's mostly my ego that's been bruised.

The Classics-L list has been fairly busy lately, and a couple interesting articles have popped up:

Bulgaria unearths Thracian riches
Ancient phallus unearthed in cave
Gibson Plans Another Historical Epic (Apocalypto--including obscure Mayan dialect, hrm)

It's been an exhausting day for various reasons, so I'm afraid I've not much to say about these articles.

Oh, and don't forget the final installment of The Empire tomorrow night at 10PM on ABC. I'm working tomorrow night, so the update might not be as quick as it usually is.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Ah! Debra Hamel at blogographos posted about the possibility of the OLD on CD-ROM!!

This makes me wish I hadn't already bought the actual book. CD-ROM would be infinitely easier to use! As it is, I'm not sure I can spare another $150 to pre-order. We shall see, though...

The OLD is definitely worth buying, though, but I'm sure you all already knew that. It's certainly been a most useful resource for me this summer, while I was struggling through Vergil.

Friday, July 22, 2005


The thing about studying for the GRE (besides the fact that it messed up my screen resolution and royally pissed me off--nobody messes with Hephy! Err, "Hephy" being short for "Hephaistos," which is what I named my computer--moving on!) is that the math stuff both vexes me and sends me down memory lane.

On the one hand, I'm staring at a bunch of equations I can still figure out in my head--after not having taken any math courses since 12th grade AP BC Calculus. And yes, it brings back memories of that time when I was a math geek and actually studied this stuff with some amount of pleasure. There is a certain satisfaction to walking away from a test knowing exactly how well you did without having to factor in a teacher's personality and "grading style." And, admittedly, being in "the zone" for math can be fun.

On the other hand, I'm having to re-memorise rules I'll never need again, just so I can solve the annoying problems a little quicker. It's all logic I can figure out eventually, but the exam has a time limit. Eheu. But honestly, now, if I've forgotten the technical rules, it's very likely because I haven't ever needed them in the last four years! I doubt I ever will again either.

I suppose I should go over the verbal and writing sections at some point. It would be embarrassing to still be scoring higher on math sections after four years of inundation in language, literature, and history. But really, if four years of studying the humanities hasn't helped me, I don't see what a little studying now will do.

And anyway, I still fail to see the point of standardised testing on the graduate level, especially for puny departments like Classics where there isn't even a field-specified examination! The SATs make a little bit of sense, because most schools need to set some kind of quality standard and can't afford to look at masses of incoming undergrads. It's not a great system, but it would be difficult to enforce something else. Once you reach grad school, though, those who don't want to work have already weeded out themselves, and programs are looking much more carefully at applicants. I should think that the classes you took, the grades you earned, your writing samples, and the impressions your profs have of you would be far more important than some standardised test that has little to do with the subject. Some people can't figure out the value of x on paper, but they can face the problems of their field and make correct deductions some other way in their head. That is at least as valuable to their field, if not more so!

For the record, my standardised test scores are usually pretty good, so I'm not just a bitter, angry person here.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Jason and the Argonauts (2000)

Hrm, where to begin? I'm thinking my standards must have dropped drastically after weeks of suffering through The Empire. I certainly wasn't planning on liking this movie, because--let's face it--who can stand Jason?

That said, I still can't stand Jason, but there was certainly a lot more of Medea in this version than in the old one.

Certainly, they took some literary license with this version, but it is mythology, after all. The only detail that actually sent me into agonising pain was when Hercules said he was the son of Hera. I know they were trying to reconcile Hercules' presence on the Argos, but that hurt my head in about ten ways.

There was also the burning of the Argos at the end, which made me wonder how Jason would die later in life. The thing that vexed me about this movie was that it showed such promise for showing how Medea and Jason truly end up. They alluded to it a little after the middle of the story. However, by the end, it was a happy wedding scene. They had an interesting line that might have worked with Jason saying something about them bringing the the same harmony (or somesuch) as was in heaven, but they ruined that with a cutesy scene of Hera and Zeus kissing. I suppose you can still draw a parallel that Medea and Jason get along about as well as Hera and Zeus normally do, but it was sketchy. I wanted to see real Medea anguish. The bit where Zeus tries to seduce her, and she denies him for Jason was also too cheesy.

On the other hand, they did actually have Medea kill her brother. They didn't cut him to pieces, but they emphasised how much she lost when she could "see" that her father was killed too. It might have just been me, but I thought the relationship between Medea and her brother (I think they actually call him Aspyrtes, which is just weird) seemed like it would have grown incestuous if Jason hadn't come along. It was a bit creepy. They added a lot about Medea too, which was interesting, if a little out-there.

Jolene Blalock actually made a decent Medea, even if I could see T'Pol in her every once in a while.

Derek Jacobi, as usual, had a wonderful if short performance.

Olga Sosnovska as Atalanta was pretty good too. They really played up the women in this version. Although, I might have had more respect for her if she hadn't been pining after Jason so much (even though she could certainly kick his ass!). I suppose it's one of those inevitable choices when putting things into film, though.

I guess my last random comment is that the harpies actually looked decently scary in this version. In the old version, they actually look a lot like the vampire chicks in Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman. In this version, the dragon actually looked like a dinosaur, which I thought was an interesting touch. Oh! And they also showed Jason actually sowing the teeth with the fire-breathing ox (only one). That was nice.

Over all? Not a bad adaptation. There were problems, and I suppose it was lengthy. But it was entertaining and had some good moments. Some of the liberties they took seem questionable in terms of the characters we know in mythology, but they are mostly understandable in the film medium. Between the two Jason and the Argonauts movies, I'd pick this one hands down. It's not a great film, but it's certainly better than the old one.

Dammit! I'm only human!

Wow. Latin Exam of DOOM is over. My brain needs a break. Of course, then I went to a review session of Greek later in the afternoon. After two semesters of having Latin and Greek always juxtaposed, you'd think I'd be used to this by now. My brain says otherwise.

Of course, to prove that The Lion King lives in any context, after we settled on τιμων (imagine the circumflex is actually there) as the present active participle for τιμαω, I just clearly had to shout, "And Pumba!" I really can't tell you why The Lion King references abound in my brain this week, especially considering I've not watched it in quite a while!

Anyway, there are apparently new audio files for Wheelock, if anyone's interested.

There is also an interesting article on new catacomb finds that help to further link Judaism and Christianity.

Also, I used this Borders coupon yesterday to buy the version of Jason and the Argonauts with Jolene Blalock as Medea. I'll probably be watching it tonight, so expect a review either tonight or tomorrow!

Edit: Ok, Jeopardy just had a category on "Greek Gods and Goddesses" (and while I'm normally a Hellenophile, I kept thinking of Roman names for some reason. I blame Latin!), and their Daily Double was something ridiculously easy about Hephaistos. I mean, if it's a Daily Double, shouldn't it be something a little harder? Perhaps a more minor god? I should think people would know Hephaistos at least as well as Hermes or Poseidon...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Empire, part 4

But first, I forgot to mention my Olympic moment tonight! On my way back from the lecture, I took the Metro. I had to change lines, and as I was coming up the escalator from one line, the train I wanted to catch was already there and making the "ding-dong" noise it makes when it's ABOUT TO LEAVE. So I went charging at the doorway in my skirt and sandles and literally LEAPT onto the train just before the doors closed. Yeah, I'm smooth. ;-) It was totally Olympic gold, though! I even got amused smirks from other passengers!

Anyway, since we've already established that the writers of The Empire don't actually know any of their history (and, for some reason, this episode really had me cringing over the way Roman religion was dealt with), I'm not going to pick too much on that. However, they had me raging within TEN MINUTES of the opening! Tyrannus discovers that his boy is with a nobleman by the name of Marius. He goes to fetch the boy, and Marius tells him that if Tyrannus' son stays with him, he will have tutors.

And guess what? These tutors won't just teach him reading and writing and Greek... nooo, they'll teach him...

wait for it...


[insert stunned silence]

Yes, because a Roman boy doesn't already speak Latin. I mean, do the writers have any concept of... well, anything?? Do they have brain cells? Do they think that common Romans spoke something else? Like what? Maybe they think they all spoke English! I mean, I really didn't think that's what Marius meant when he said that Tyrannus' boy was "special."

And I'm so serious; it really looks like they're trying to steal all the scenes and character motivation from Gladiator--right down to the delusions of his wife and blabber about meeting each other again in Elyseum (he finds out she died). Except, guess what? They don't even do it as well.

Ok, I'm done ranting now. I must very grudgingly admit that other parts of the plot this week, at the very least, were more interesting than most of the rest of the miniseries. The dynamics between Antony and Fulvia were entertaining. Perhaps a little more focus on that and ZERO of Octavius hitting on Camane, the Vestal Virgin, and this series might have more merit.

Fiddling with Nero

Attending a lecture on Nero on the anniversary of the fire is something akin to seeing 1776 (the musical) on July 3rd. I say July 3rd here, because the letter John Adams wrote that inspired the final song was written on July 3rd (even though it was talking about July 2nd).

Except, of course, Dr. Rutledge did not provide us with song and dance. He is, however, a most energetic and enthusiastic lecturer, and even though I already knew the basics, I wasn't bored for a moment. He made good arguments for seeing Nero in light of the other emperors--he wasn't a good person by any shot, but then, he wasn't so much worse than many of the other emperors. At any rate, he certainly had some positive qualities. I think most of the people reading this are probably already familiar with that argument, but Dr. Rutledge, of course, had a wider audience to inform.

I'm glad I went, because I tend to need repetition to reinforce details into my swiss-cheese memory. Dr. Rutledge is also a very entertaining lecturer, which helps my memory, at least. Of course, I always remember stories better than I do names and dates, which is really why I started as an English major...

He also had good visuals. Although, I was a little surprised that he only used them for one portion of the lecture. He also says he'll be doing another lecture in the fall, so I'm going to try to attend that one. I presume the Smithsonian Resident Association website will have details on that.

Oh, and he really knows his restaurants in Rome. Would that I had known of this before I went to Italy!

And now--it's just about time to rot my brain out with The Empire! Joy of joys...

The Empire reminder...

It's on tonight at 10PM. You've all been warned about this. Apparently, my TV guide thinks it's part 4 of 5. I wonder if, when they said there were six parts to this miniseries, they meant that the first episode counted as two parts. I hope there's only one more after this week! I'm ready to claw my eyes out now!

Anyway, I think it will be hard for this show to get any worse than last week, but I think it will be very hard for them to SURPRISE me this time. I'm pretty much prepared for anything.

My TV guide also assures me that this thing won't get so wanky as to turn into "how Antony and/or Tyrannus took over the Roman Empire." It says Camane saves Octavius' life twice. Hrm.

Also, I don't know what time I'm getting home tonight. I'll probably be home in time for The Empire, but if I'm not, I'll make sure it gets taped. It'll just mean my review comes a bit later.


So what does one do when one is dreading an impending Latin Exam of DOOM? Naturally, one takes out a favourite chiddler's book, Roald Dahl's The BFG, and starts reading about bonecrunching giants eating human beans. And, of course, one can't help but think that Dahl was at least partially influenced by Odysseus and Polyphemus. I almost want to write a paper about it! Almost.

Then again, I also always think of Richard III whenever I watch The Lion King now--so perhaps I'm just insane.

Anyway, I also wanted to plug old school, which is run by a couple undergrads at UMBC and is about ancient history, classics, and archaeology. Classics blogs abounding!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Sappho on Buffy!

A wonderful friend of mine just pointed out to me that the character Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer draws a Sappho poem in Greek on the back of her girlfriend, Tara, in the season 4 finale. She sent me pictures from They can be found here and here. I'm not sure about that site's policy on direct linking, so if there's a problem, and someone there reads this, let me know.

Anyway, those pictures are clear enough that I've matched it to Sappho I, one of the complete poems. It's the one where she asks Aphrodite for help "again." You can even see Aphrodite's name spelled out in those pictures! Random digression: I'm also trying to figure out why I didn't use this poem in the Sappho section of my paper on female homosexuality in aniquity. It must have been because Sappho was already eating my paper. But still, I'm kicking myself right now.

So yeah, I was really excited about that!

I've also been linked, by another friend, to this article on Pompeiian silver found five years ago. It's yahoo and not very long.

On the Classics-L list another article on the "musical" version of The Persians has come up (it's a NYT article--you'll have to register to see it, but registering is free. You can also check the list archives). Also on Classics-L is a link from the Washington Post for an article about archaeology at Butrint.

I'm also going to take this moment to say that David Meadows at rogueclassicism needs to come back already so that I don't feel obligated to post every Classics-related link that comes my way! ;-)

Edit: Another article on the Pompeiian silver from CNN here.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Smithsonian lectures

My friend Will tells me that you can become a Smithsonian Resident Associate (and get discounted lecture prices) for only $19 (but I think it costs more to renew). This is a considerable savings, particularly for the bigger, pricier lectures (such as Decoding Mycenaean Greek Heroic Culture).

And while I'm talking about Smithsonian lectures, I'll make this my final reminder for Dr. Steven Rutledge's Fiddling with Nero this Tuesday (the 19th) at 6:30PM.

Anyway, I'm such a Classics freak that, apparently, people at my store will tell customers that one of their employees (that'd be me!) is a Classics major when people buy things like The Giving Tree in Latin or Harrius Potter! Hah! Yes, we finally sold Harrius Potter (apparently, sometime last night).

And then, of course, a customer today asked where Homer was, and I ended up telling her which translations are the best. I pick Lattimore, Fagles, and Fitzgerald and award NEGATIVE points to Samuel Butler (and to the Signet edition, because it's a prose translation). I loathe Butler. I've not actually read his translations, but I read the introduction to his book, Authoress of the Odyssey. There are not enough WORDS to describe what a pretentious PRAT he was. I wrote a short paper on this last semester, and I still despise him. He almost turned me into a "militant" feminist. Ugh.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Greek Transcoder v.1.0.2

First of all, I wanted to apologise for the radio silence here. Unfortunately, Glaukopis cannot afford her expensive book habit without holding a job. That job, fortunately or unfortunately, is at a bookstore. Unfortunately, the price of a job at a bookstore means having your soul consumed this weekend by the new Harry Potter release. Sadly, it does not look like Harrius Potter sold at our store at all. Eheu! But the weekend is not yet over!--she said with heavily concealed enthusiasm.

See, I want this kind of enthusiasm for newly discovered Sappho. I want to throw a huge party for the release of Sappho's poetry that hasn't been seen in millenia. I want to hold my breath at midnight as the new edition of the TLS with full Greek text finally comes out of boxes decorated like Greek pottery and people scurry into the line to get their very own copy (or two--or three!). I want to hear squeals of academic delight as people unfold the delicate grey pages to reveal freshly printed Greek text previously known only to those long dead and to a handful of scholars who first discovered the text.

And you know what? We can even recycle the fake round glasses as everyone dresses up to be the academic ancient Greek geek.

Ah, but who am I kidding? I've never been a huge fan of hype.

But now back to the title of this post! Apparently, the Greek Transcoder has been updated again. This news is actually a couple days old, methinks, but I've been rather busy.

My random digression seems to have swallowed this bulk of this post, but I don't really feel like changing the title.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Smithsonian Resident Association Program lectures Aug/Sept

Once again, I'd like to announce upcoming lectures at the Smithsonian. This will be a full list for August and September, with weekly reminders as I've been giving.

The first one actually starts today, and apparently I missed it because I was only looking at courses. It's called Marvelous Mosaics and runs from today, July 14, to August 18 at 6:30 PM (still time, perhaps?). There are six sections that teach you how to make mosaics, and they are taught by Alfredo Ratinoff.

On Friday, September 9, from 6:30PM to 9PM, John P. Oleson of University of Victoria and Kim J. Hartswick of George Washington University lecture on Roman Genius: Foundations of Empire. That one looks really interesting!

The following day, Saturday, September 10, from 9:30AM to 4:15PM, Thomas Palaima of University of Texas lectures all day on Decoding Mycenaean Greek Heroic Culture. The topics are: What They Wrote on Clay (How top experts deciphered the Linear B tablets), Life in a Mycenaean Palatial Kingdom (Reconstructing what a functioning palace was like in the 13th century B.C.), People, Places, and Things in the Homeric Age (Linear B texts bring the social, economic, religious, political, and military spheres to life), Gods and Feasts (Reconstructing Mycenaean religious beliefs and ritual practices using Linear B texts). If it didn't cost $126, I'd probably be there! Eheu! I'm also trying to figure out of I've heard of this guy before. His name sounds familiar...

Monday, September 12 brings us The Grandeur That Was—and Is—Rome at 6:30PM with Chef Savino Recine and Michele Scicolone. This one is just listed because it's making me hungry. It's about Italian food. It's one expensive meal, though!

This next one is a little late for this blog, but it's on Medieval Italy—A Virtual Tour! It is Thursday, September 15 at 6:30PM. The tour uses the software of Alessandro Furlan of Altair4 Media in Rome.

And this one is just interesting and only very tangentially related: Wednesday, September 21 at 6:30 PM Forensic Linguistics: Can Words Help Solve a Crime? with Margaret van Naerssen of Immaculata University.

Actually, this one isn't entirely related either, except that Versailles is FILLED with Classically inspired art (if occassionally deviant): The Splendor of Versailles on Saturday, September 24 from 10AM to 4PM with Anne-Marie Quette of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris and Philip Jacks of George Washington University. I still have many wonderful pictures of Versailles that I might share here some day.

This one also is not directly related, but it, by definition, explores the Classical tradition in art: The Golden Age of Venice on September 24 from 10AM to 4:30PM with John Marciari of Yale University Art Gallery.

Again, the full listings can be found at the Smithsonian Resident Association webpage.

**Another reminder here for THIS coming Tuesday, July 19 (anniversary of the fire!) at 6:30PM Fiddling with Nero with Dr. Steven Rutledge of the University of Maryland.**

More translations of the "new" Sappho poem

Firstly, Happy Bastille Day all! I'm not going to have a long schpiel about how it relates to Classics, because while I enjoy studying the French Revolution, it's not really my specialty.

Anyway, somebody on the Classics-L list just posted about more translations of the New Sappho poem. They can be found in this article in the TLS.

Here are the translations:

Sappho to Her Pupils

Live for the gifts the fragrant-breasted Muses
send, for the clear, the singing, lyre, my children.
Old age freezes my body, once so lithe,
rinses the darkness from my hair, now white.
My heart’s heavy, my knees no longer keep me
up through the dance they used to prance like fawns in.
Oh, I grumble about it, but for what?
Nothing can stop a person’s growing old.
They say that Tithonus was swept away
in Dawn’s passionate, rose-flushed arms to live
forever, but he lost his looks, his youth,
failing husband of an immortal bride.


Sappho and the Weight of Years

Girls, be good to these spirits of music and poetry
that breast your threshold with their scented gifts.
Lift the lyre, clear and sweet, they leave with you.

As for me, this body is now so arthritic
I cannot play, hardly even hold the instrument.
Can you believe my white hair was once black?

And oh, the soul grows heavy with the body.
Complaining knee-joints creak at every move.
To think I danced as delicate as a deer!

Some gloomy poems came from these thoughts:
useless: we are all born to lose life,
and what is worse, girls, to lose youth.

The legend of the goddess of the dawn
I’m sure you know: how rosy Eos
madly in love with gorgeous young Tithonus

swept him like booty to her hiding-place
but then forgot he would grow old and grey
while she in despair pursued her immortal way.


My Greek isn't good enough to offer commentary on which translation is "better," but I have to admit that I liked the way Martin West ended it best. Edwin Morgan does a good job too. I just don't think Lachlan MacKinnon's emphasises the contrast and old age enough. Actually, what I really liked was the way Diane J. Rayor translated it (from the section we originally had) as "old age seized him," which is also the way Jane McIntosh Snyder translates it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ancient beer

The world of Glaukopis is rather slow at the moment. Although, I did learn of Blogger being used as a teaching aid. Actually, on the Classics-L list, they've been having an interesting discussion about podcasts for instructional use, but one of my professors is actually using Blogger for Latin. Sorry, I'm not linking, because that would just be too obvious. ;-)

Anyway, the link I did want to share is one my friend Brontëana showed me: Ancient Beer.

There is also a link on that page to a book about Roman Wine.

I don't really know that much about beer or wine, but I've heard some great things about some of the ancient Egyptian recipes. So if you're bored this summer...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Empire, part 3 -- aka My Soul HURTS.

Umm. ::scratches head:: I don't even know where to begin. What to say? Hrm.

Do you all remember two weeks ago when I said it's hard to "spoil" a miniseries about Augustus? Well, I stand corrected.

If you have plans to see part 3 of The Empire and don't care to be spoiled, you shouldn't read on.

First, I just want to say that the episode was utterly BORING until it caught me by shocktastic surprise, surpassing all my expectations of wankeriffic inaccuracy.

The lines were horribly cheesy, with a particular speech by Octavius in which he attempted to win over Caesar loyalists. My reaction was precisely what one of the senators scoffed--"The optimism of youth." In fact, Octavius managed to be both an annoying idealistic optimist and a spoiled BRAT in the same episode. Apparently, the writers don't understand character development and took us from Octavius-who-relies-on-Tyrannus to Octavius-who-whines-like-a-spoiled-brat-baby without warning.

Then later, Tyrannus has a line that I swear he stole directly from Gladiator--"I'm a fighter, not a politician." He also told Antony that he does not "fight for amusement" when Antony wanted to test his moves. Right. Because gladiators are clearly not meant for entertainment.

But here's the real spoileriffic kicker: Apparently, the part they left out of the history books is that Antony invited Octavius and the Caesar loyalists to his villa so they could all get drunk and fall asleep there--and then he could have his pet bestiarius (although, it really sounded like they were saying "bestiaria") leave asps in everyone's rooms, so that they'd all be killed. As of the end of this episode, it seems that Octavius is dead. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if he actually IS dead. In fact, with the annoyingness of their Octavius, I'd almost be relieved.

Seriously, though, I spent the entire episode thinking that it was boring as all hell, and the only thing I'd be able to write was that it was too boring for words and that it's not worth picking at the historical inaccuracies anymore. And then they hit me on the head with a five ton brick with... that ending. I saw Antony's betrayal coming, and it was obvious that the bestiarius' assassination attempt (and Antony "rescuing" Octavius) was a set-up, but I've got to hand it to them--if their intent was to COMPLETELY throw everyone off, then they did well. That, however, is not a compliment, because it speaks to how craptastic their writing was that they had to "salvage" it with an "out of the blue" ending. Seriously, their idea of plotting and politics was bland and boring and obvious as all hell.

My SOUL really hurts right now. I sat here speechless for quite a while before I could actually start writing. I mean, just when I think it can't POSSIBLY get any worse...

Edit: I was so stunned by that, that I forgot my oh-so-witty line back to David Meadows at rogueclassicism! Anyway, I'm sure he is now THRILLED that he escaped punishment and is happily on his way to Alberta, where The Empire cannot touch him. Demm. My evil machinations are foiled again! ;-)

More Smithsonian reminders...

This is just a reminder for lectures upcoming in the next week at the Smithisonian. The original post, as well as details and links, can be found here.

Monday, July 11 through Thursday, July 14 - The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt with Dr. Bob Brier of Long Island University.

Wednesday, July 13 - A Language History of the World with Nicholas Ostler

Wednesday, July 13 - The Art of Tuscany: Ancient and Medieval Tuscany with Dr. Christiane Joost-Gaugier

Tuesday, July 19 - Fiddling with Nero (on the anniversary of the fire!) with Dr. Steven Rutledge of the University of Maryland

I suppose I'll have to work on a big August/September listing soon too.

In Glaukopis-related news, a date has been set for my Latin Exam of Doom (in which Vergil finally kicks my butt once and for all)--the 21st of this month. The GRE will be sometime after that, but I refuse to think about it until after Latin has killed me is over.

Immediately thence, Greek reviewing will commence, and soon after, I'll be starting a Classical Greece history course. I thought studying Latin (in Ecce Romani II) and reading all the Grene and Lattimore translations of Greek tragedies last summer was already Classicsful. Apparently, I had to out-do myself this summer!

Oh, I've also started listening to the Iliad on CD (unabridged, trans. Fitzgerald, narr. George Guidall) last night. Admittedly, it's in preparation for class, but we're supposed to be reading the Lattimore translation. I just figured I've read the Iliad before, and it would be nice to hear it, even if it's not in Greek. I'll probably flip through Lattimore later, though.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Jason and the Argonauts

First, I wanted to remind everyone who would like to scratch their eyes out that part 3 of The Empire airs tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10PM. A special reminder goes out to David Meadows at rogueclassicism, whose memory regarding The Empire has been doing him a great favour the last two weeks.

Of course, you all have been duly warned about the horror that is that miniseries.

On the other hand, I have to admit to a certain guilty pleasure of mine. You see, dear readers, one of the Classics-related movies I actually adore is The Clash of the Titans. I am quite aware of its blatant inaccuracies and cheesiness, but--unlike The Empire--it is entertaining and, in my opinion, actually captures some of the idea behind Greek mythology. It is, by no means, a great movie, but it is fun.

With that in mind, I thought I'd finally get around to seeing Jason and the Argonauts (1963). I have to admit I don't like this one quite as much. It's not as interesting, and I am truly offended by the portrayal of Medea. It's not bad on the level of Troy and The Empire, and it does some things right that The Clash of the Titans does. But I'm partial to Medea, and I couldn't like Jason if you paid me.

Seriously, I have to agree with one of my professors who said that if people knew about Jason in Greek mythology, they wouldn't name their children after him. But I digress.

It's a movie to watch if you're bored and have nothing better to do. However, turning Medea into a helpless bystander made me mad! May Medea have her vengeance for that atrocity! I never expected accuracy out of this film, but I consider that Medea-slander--"Hell hath no fury" and all. You'd think they'd learn.

The other thing that confused me is if they could do a multi-headed hydra in 1963, why couldn't they have Cerberus with his full three heads in The Clash of the Titans? Oh well.

But you know what I like best about these old movies? They're not afraid to deal with the gods like the ancients did. I miss that in movies. What is with all this movement to reality on screen anyway? Whatever happened to imagination and the chance to escape reality through the creative arts? It makes me sad--almost as sad as watching The Empire does. Of course, that makes me sad for different reasons. It certainly takes creative license, but it does not use creativity or imagination in anything resembling a good way.

What I'd like to see, however, is the 2000 version of Jason and the Argonauts. I didn't know Derek Jacobi and Jolene Blalock were in that! Blalock should make an interesting Medea, at any rate, as I'll probably keep thinking of her as the Vulcan-that-was-not.

Of course, I just spent all my money on books, so that will have to wait.

And apparently, there is a "comedy with songs" based on Aeschylus' The Persians. What makes me (and my friend who showed me this) cringe, though, is the fact that this director, Ridgely, thinks that Aristotle "came up" with comedy and tragedy. He also seems to think that only Aeschylus wrote comedy and tragedy before Aristotle came along to define it. Right. This is material this guy should have covered in his history of theatre class. You don't even have to be a Classics major to know this.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Latin ate my brain!

There's a new installment of Father Foster today. He's discussing sports, and stem cells come up at one point. I think she finally stumped him! wow.

There isn't much Classics-related going on in the world of Glaukopis now. I'm afraid, dear readers, that I've been swamped with the job that actually pays for my book-habit (or almost pays for it). Unfortunately, working at a bookstore, my life will literally be eaten up by said job next weekend. Do you think the scary bookstore lady could coerce some little kids into learning REAL Latin as they buy their brand new Harry Potters?

The other thing going on in the life of Glaukopis is mad studying for my up-coming Vergil exam. Long-term memorisation of vocabulary has never been my strong point. Eheu!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Ah, sweet booklust.

There is nothing quite like coming home with an armful of new books. Today, I bought (with the excuse that these will further my studies and/or that they are books for class) a few Loebs, an Egyptian Language book, a Penguin edition of Plutarch's The Age of Alexander, Kenneth G. Holum's Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity, Debra Hamel's Trying Neaira, Magika Hiera (ed. Christopher A. Faraone and Dirk Obbink), A.A. Long's Hellenistic Philosophy: Stoics, Epicureans, Sceptics, Peter Trippi's J.W. Waterhouse (if you've not seen Waterhouse's paintings, particularly his mythological-themed paintings, you don't know what you're missing), Alexander Heidel's The Babylonian Genesis, Duncan Sprott's Ptolemies (fiction), Ian Shaw's The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, and some other unrelated books.

Yes, I realise I have a compulsive addiction problem.

Actually, what would be even better than coming home with the books would be if I actually had time to read all of them now. Eheu!

In unrelated news, I've only just discovered the hilarious grad student comic strip, PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper). It's not about Classics at all (in fact, it seems to lean towards science), but I'm starting to relate to some of that even as an undergrad!

On a completely unrelated note, I also wanted to plug my friend's blog--Brontëana. It's about the Brontës, but my friend is also a fifth year Classics/English major who is looking to get into grad school. She really is quite the Brontë enthusiast, so do go and take a look!

Thursday, July 07, 2005


I don't think words can ever be enough in crises such as this. For that matter, I don't even think I have words for this that won't sound shallow and over-used.

However, I do want to extend my sympathies to everyone in England.

I've only been to London for a grand total of two weeks in my entire life, but when I was there, I knew it was home to me. Part of it was because of the people; part of it was just because it was London. I knew I was going back, and I had considered studying abroad for a semester there. Unfortunately, I spiralled off into a path where I need to make sure I'm taking the appropriate classes in order to graduate in even five years. Thus, any trip abroad could end up turning me into supersupersenior (an ubersenior?). There is still grad school, of course, but I digress.

Anyway, the point to that rambling is that contrary to expectation, I wish I could be in London right now. It feels wrong to be across the pond at a time like this. Impossible though it is, I hope everyone out there is ok.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Empire, part 2

I think this show has officially made me cringe even more than Troy and King Arthur. This second episode didn't even have the courtesy to have at least one decent moment.

Again, I think it is pointless to pick at the historical inaccuracies at this point, and I really do wish I had gone ahead with the drinking game idea. However, a few things did bug me enough for mention.

1) Um, gladiator school? Please. Why is Octavius at gladiator school? Why is this gladiator school called Arkham? Does this gladiator school breed insane Batman villains? Did the writers think about this at all?? Even for one moment?? I've known about this since last night, and I still can't wrap the thought around my brain. It hurtsss, preciousss. It burnssss ussss! Really, though, if they wanted Gladiator, they should have just done a gladiator movie.

2) It would have taken a ten second google search to figure out how Vestals are killed. What is this business about being buried to one's head and stoned to death? Where did they even get this idea? A Vestal Virgin! Stoned to death! I pray Vesta seeks her vengeance on these writers.

3) Am I the only person who thought that the business about Tyrannus being recoginsed for his fighting was dumb? I mean, I suppose it could happen, but that move? That move is so over-used in television and movies, how can it be the mark of the great Tyrannus? The guard learned to use it too, so clearly not every individual who uses it must automatically be Tyrannus. These plot holes hurt my head.

4) This is stupid, but by the time I got to this point in the episode, it really bugged me. Octavius is trying to shoot a rabbit for dinner, and he tells Tyrannus, "You do it--I've had my fill of blood." Please. It's a rabbit! This is our pansy new emperor? He can't even shoot a rabbit for dinner? Give me a break. I certainly hope Marc Antony came with extra food.

I'm not sure how I'm going to make it through the next four episodes (boy, am I glad they cut it down to six! It's not short enough!), except that I've a morbid curiousity about how much further they can dig themselves in this hole. Rest assured, I shall keep you all updated on my ranting if it kills me (which it probably will).

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A milestone of sorts

Well, I've had my 1000th visitor today! Thanks to everyone who's visited so far, and I hope to see you back! I admittedly never expected to reach 1000 quite so soon.

Unfortunately, my review of The Empire is going to have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. I got called in to work tonight, but I do have it on tape. I did, however, catch the last fifteen minutes, and I can tell you right now that it did not look promising.

I also wanted to remind those of you in the D.C. area about upcoming Classics-related lectures at the Smithsonian:

Saturday, July 9 - The Gnostic Gospels with Dr. Bart D. Ehrman of University of North Carolina.

Tuesday, July 12 - Malta's Temples of Stone Age Genius with Linda Eneix.

Monday, July 11 through Thursday, July 14 - The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt with Dr. Bob Brier of Long Island University.

Edit: The original Smithsonian posting (along with details) can be found here.

Monday, July 04, 2005

It's been a slow couple of days in the Classics world

Firstly, Happy American Independence Day for those of you who celebrate on the normal calendar!

Secondly, I wanted to ask you, dear readers, a question. I came across the book The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman and was wondering if it's worth buying. It involves murders at a school and a woman returning to the school as a Latin teacher. Apparently, Carol Goodman was a Latin major herself and taught it for several years. So has anyone read this? Any thoughts? I may give in and buy it myself, unless someone tells me it's horrible.

Also, I just saw Batman Begins, and there is an interesting claim that Liam Neeson's character makes regarding Rome. I'm not sure I can believe that, but the reference amused me. On the whole, it's an excellent movie, and I would certainly recommend seeing it.

I'd also like to remind everyone about Buy a Friend a Book Week!

Lastly, Father Foster has a new program up. It's actually a couple days old by now, but I don't think I mentioned it earlier. It's about Latin words for modern concepts and how Father Foster wanted to strangle a nun for saying that Latin is dead. Again, how can you not love this man?

Edit: The next installment of The Empire should be tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 9PM EST on ABC. Check your local listings, if you really want to suffer through it.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

American Independence Day

First, I'd like to apologise for neglecting Canadian Independence Day yesterday, but I know very little about Canadian history.

Secondly, yes, I'm going to talk about American Independence on July 2nd in a Classics blog.

John Adams wrote, on July 3rd (the whole of which can be found on The Massachusetts Historical Society's webpage:

But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not.—I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.—Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

He believed July 2nd, the day the 2nd Continental Congress voted for the Declaration of Independence, would be celebrated as the day of American Independence. He got everything else right, so I like to be contrary to the rest of the country and celebrate American Independence on July 2nd.

Of course, what does this have to do with Classics? In my opinion? Everything. The Founders were so steeped in the Classical tradition that they lived, ate, and breathed it. Abigail Adams often signed her letters to John as "Portia," Brutus' wife. Practically all the Founders strove to be Cicero. John Dickinson, contrary to his portrayal in the musical 1776, fought for American rights (although, he was opposed to actually declaring independence) and wrote in 1768:

I would beg Leave to ask whether any People in any Age or Country ever defended and preserved their Liberty from the Encroachment of Power without suffering present Inconveniences. The Roman People suffered themselves to be defeated by their Enemies, rather than submit to the Tyranny of the Nobles.

That is just one of many quotations I could pull from various Founders in which they looked back to the Romans and the Greeks for inspiration and support.

It has become my observation that writing about the Founders almost inevitably leads you to the Classics. Most of the books I've read on them are so heavily influenced by the Classics, whether or not the author intends it as such. The Classics were so much a part of the world of Revolutionary America, that modern authors cannot help but address the Classics. A good example of this is David McCullough (particularly, his book John Adams), who said in an interview found on NEH:

One of the regrets of my life is that I did not study Latin. I'm absolutely convinced, the more I understand these eighteenth-century people, that it was that grounding in Greek and Latin that gave them their sense of the classic virtues: the classic ideals of honor, virtue, the good society, and their historic examples of what they could try to live up to.

Mind you, he said this without any prompting. The Founders' lives really were steeped in the Classical tradition.

Anyway, for good books on this subject, I recommend The Founders and the Classics by Carl J. Richard, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn (not as explicitly focused on the Classics, obviously, but it probably gives a less biased sense of its impact), and almost any biography of a Founder--particularly McCullough's, John Adams. Joseph Ellis' books are a wonderful read also.

The Adams/Jefferson/Franklin information is easy to find. If anyone, by any chance, is looking for information on John Dickinson, I've actually written a paper on him and the Classics and have a decent list of sources.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The mundane struggles of a Classics major

I was debating whether or not to post today, because what I have to say today isn't exactly--well, exciting new Sappho. But a Classics major's life isn't all fun and games. Sometimes, it's just the internal struggle.

My first point is one with which I'm sure you're all familiar. My parents and I saw some preview for a movie with Orlando Bloom, and my mom turns to me and asks, "Wasn't he in that movie? Tr... Trail... or something?"

At this point, I wanted to stab my eyes out. I love my mother, but she honestly does not know anything about what I study. The most she knows is through that mockery of a movie, and she didn't even remember the name of that.

Then again, she also thinks that in my Classics classes, we read Shakespeare. At least, though, she saw Hecuba with me and enjoyed it! But she made me laugh when she said, "I wish she hadn't killed the children!"

My second point is one that someone else brought up in comments--Post Bacc programs. I've pretty much decided I don't want to do one, for a couple reasons. The first is because it will be extra money I can't really afford to spend. The second is because I'm already a fifth year undergrad student. I'd really rather not delay any longer. I've done enough that, at the very least, my own department will probably take me for their MA program, so I no longer see the necessity of Post Bacc programs for me. The real conflict is whether or not I'll be laughed out if I wanted to apply to MA/PhD programs also.

Currently, my rather haphazard strategy is to apply to several places and see what happens. I have various professors telling me conflicting things about my chances out there. I figure the best I can do is just try to apply and make sure I have back-ups.

Grad schools and drinking games and books--oh my!

I was talking to my professor yesterday (Wednesday)--after we went over Vergil--about grad schools. Mostly, he seemed to think it would be a grand idea if I stayed where I am and got my MA here before going off to get a PhD. He's also offered to read Greek with my next summer (that would be after I get my BA). We actually have a two year MA program that is designed for people who need to catch up with their languages, which would be good for me, since I did start so late. By the time I graduate next spring, I will have had two years of Greek and two and a half years of Latin (but I moved through Latin rather quickly, so it could be considered the equivalent of 3+ years by then). Based on the research I've done, that's probably the bare minimum for most programs, and I'm really not sure if my good grades, insane number of credits, and extra majors are going to help me enough. I'm afraid I'll go and apply to schools, and the bottom line is going to be that I just didn't start Latin early enough. There are also finances to consider, so I can't just be good enough to get in--I have to be good enough to get financial aid too.

On the other hand, it's good to know that the faculty in my department likes me enough to want me to stick around for another two years. Frankly, I'm surprised they're not sick of me by now.

On a less whiny and more amusing note, my random thought of the day was that it would be damn fun to get a bunch of Classics majors together and play a drinking game next Tuesday while watching The Empire. I've never done a real drinking game, so I shan't pretend to make up rules--but this one I would do, with the right company.

And, finally, on a more serious note, Debra Hamel at blogographos introduces a new site called Apparently, the first week of January, April, July (that's next week? or does this week count?), and October, you buy a book for a friend for no reason (other than buy-a-friend-a-book week) and give it to them. I like this idea and shall probably participate in it! I'm just afraid I'll get carried away and want to buy books for more than one friend--then I'll go bankrupt. Eheu.