Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Buy a Friend a Book Week!

Well, there isn't much new to report here. I've actually been watching episodes of Babylon 5 today. It's not terribly on topic, but the Centauri, at any rate, are certainly based on the Romans. Actually, I think it would make an awfully interesting article to discuss the historical and literary (especially Tolkien) influences of the show. But that's neither here nor there.

My real reason for posting was to remind everyone about Buy a Friend a Book Week!

It's next week, so don't you forget! Or I'm sure your friends will be very disappointed... ;-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Just a few thoughts...

I almost recorded my own singing of Dido's Roasting on an Open Pyre, because Athena knows I've been singing it too much. However, she's also hidden my microphone, so you've all, thankfully, been spared by her gracious divinity. Actually, I'm betting she had Hermes' help.

After working a little more on grad applications (which are so close to being finished!), I decided to read Lynne Truss' Talk to the Hand, which deals with the rudeness of the world today. While it's not really Classics related (although she does cite Aristotle and Erasmus), it's a fun read so far, and I'd definitely recommend it. Also, for the grammar sticklers out there--and I've been in the world of Classics long enough to know that's most of you--I'd definitely recommend her Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It is downright hilarious and a really fun read.

I'm debating on the next book I'm going to tackle. On the one hand, I have a stack of Classics-related books I've been meaning to read. On the other hand, that's all I've been reading the entire semester and then some. Hrm...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad

Well, I just finished reading Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad. It's a very quick read, but even after exams, I've still been spending time with family and working on grad apps.

Anyway, I'm not quite as impressed with the story as I wanted to be. I love Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, but I didn't find as much orginality in here. She takes Penelope's story and does a good job with working in a lot of mythology and details (almost to excess, though), but the overall work was a bit too preachy for my tastes. She appropriates Penelope to have her condemn herself sometimes, and it too often seems more like Atwood speaking about Penelope rather than Penelope speaking about herself. I also find it a bit of a cop-out to say that Penelope was lying about certain things, or just pretending.

As for her excessive mythological references--I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it just seems like she's showing off that she did research. On the other hand, the ancient poets did it too. They just managed to do it with a little more poetical style, I guess. Plus, I mean, she actually did research. But I would expect nothing less of her!

I'm also really not convinced with the Penelope-as-goddess-cult-leader theory that she credits to Graves. I mean, it's plausible enough, but I'm not convinced of its obviousness the way Atwood seems to be.

Overall, though, it's a fun read. If you haven't been hit on the head with feminist theory already (it reminds me a lot of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, except it's a LOT shorter), it might actually provide a different perspective. The parts I thought were the most fun, though, were the mixture of the modern with the ancient and Penelope's self-awareness of the anachronism inherent in her talking about both the story of her life and the perception of the modern world from the Underworld.

By the way, I'm not trying to diss feminism. I'm a feminist myself, but I do often tire of the relentless "look at us victims!" turn it's taken lately. The Penelopiad has a lot of that, and it's not really my cup of tea. But I enjoyed the story, and I especially appreciate Atwood taking the story and trying to give it a new perspective. I also think that Atwood is also responsible for one of the better feminist novels, which was The Handmaid's Tale.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Tiny Iulus with his head all aglow...

For those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas! If you don't, well, have a wonderful day anyway!

Also, now that you've (hopefully--and, for the record, thank you to all of you who DIDN'T go looking for last-minute presents in a store just as it was closing today. We humble employees appreciate it!) finally gotten your Christmas shopping done, don't forget that next week is BUY A FRIEND A BOOK WEEK, created by the genius Debra Hamel.

And I remembered what I wanted to post about yesterday! An edition of the comic "Frazz" with some LATIN! Posted on the Classics-L list.

Also on the Classics-L list were a few more links on the tomb of the Egyptian manicurists:
-The Tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep
-A quicktime video of the tomb (methinks, I can't get my quicktime to play right now)

Veni vidi vici!

So earlier today (pretend that "today" is still Friday), I finished my last paper of the semester! FREEDOM! Well, not really. I then had to rush to work on about three hours of sleep. Oh well.

But it was about Medea. So even though it might not have been coherent, at least I finally had the pleasure of writing about my favourite heroine of all time.

Of course, it was a history paper, so I had to restrain myself from going off on literary tangents. Then again, it was probably better than writing a lit paper, because then I would've just gushed about how much I love Medea. :-D

Oh, by the way, I still haven't slept, hence the rambling.

I really could've sworn there was something I wanted to post about, but now I can't find it! Oh well. Perhaps after I've gotten some sleep...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

For the grad school seeking...

There are few things happier than nearing the completion of another semester. Although, were I to be sure that I'd get into a good grad program, I'd be even happier.

Anyway, all my exams are done, and I am now free to focus solely on this one paper about Apollonius' Medea as she emerges from a Hellenistic setting. Of course, I'm also trying to have it done by tomorrow. Hm. Well, I shall prevail.

But my friend did just show me a most interesting article, not directly related to Classics, but important for people in grad school: Student Finds a Stolen Thesis by Thinking Like a Thief

And whaddaya know. It just popped up on the Classics-L list too.

David Meadows also posted yesterday about What They Don't Teach You in Graduate School. I've actually been warned about some of that already, but it's useful.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Two Egyptian men hugging... hmm.

Well, I was just reading this article from the NYT on a depiction of two men hugging. It begins:

When Egyptologists entered the tomb for the first time more than four decades ago, they expected to be surprised. Explorers of newly exposed tombs always expect that, and this time they were not disappointed - they were confounded.

It was back in 1964, outside Cairo, near the famous Step Pyramid in the necropolis of Saqqara and a short drive from the Sphinx and the breathtaking pyramids at Giza. The newfound tomb yielded no royal mummies or dazzling jewels. But the explorers stopped in their tracks when the light of their kerosene lamp shined on the wall art in the most sacred chamber.

There, carved in stone, were the images of two men embracing. Their names were inscribed above: Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep. Though not of the nobility, they were highly esteemed in the palace as the chief manicurists of the king, sometime from 2380 to 2320 B.C., in the time known as the fifth dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Grooming the king was an honored occupation.

It's really worth registering to get the rest of the article.

Anyway, they go on to say that the biggest theory is that they're twins. Another theory, which has gained popularity more recently, is that they're a homosexual couple. The latest theory is that they're Siamese twins.

As far as I'm concerned, any of these theories are possible, but what gets me is that they keep insisting that the twin theory (not Siamese) is the "simplest explanation." Why?! They keep saying these two are depicted the way a husband and a wife would be. Just because we think homosexuality is a "modern" notion (and it is NOT!), can we ignore the fact that these men are depicted in the same manner as a husband and wife?! At any rate, if there was even a chance that homosexuality wasn't so frowned upon that some Egyptian might make homosexual art, then even an Egyptian might have to wonder about the intimacy of the two men.

It would be a convoluted explanation if there weren't parallels between depictions of married men and women, but there are. I'm not saying I know enough about Egyptian culture, but even that article says they don't know much about twins or homosexuality in ancient Egypt to know for sure. I just think that by dismissing the possibility as not "simple," they're the ones actually imposing our cultural biases on the subject.

I mean, we already have proof of homosexuality in an ancient culture, so it's not just us.

On the flip side, the parallel look of the two men reminds me more of twins. However, as they say in the article, Egpytian art was far more symbolic than actual. Thus, I wouldn't be surprised if a homosexual couple were depicted in such a parallel fashion.

You could also argue that since brothers and sisters often had a marital relationship as well, depicting them in a husband/wife pose might really just be the same as a brother/sister pose.

Frankly, I don't know enough about the subject either way, but they haven't offered any good reasons in that article why it's not just as "simple" to assume they're a homosexual couple. The only context in which it's not "simple" is our own culture's bias.

They did have a really good argument for the twin theory too, though, so I do think that's just as plausible. But I'd like some equal credit where equal credit is due.

If somebody knows more about this than I do, feel free to tell me otherwise. I'm certainly curious now!

Edited to add: Ok, it occurs to me that I've been using "homosexual couple" when I should've been using "same sex relationship" or some such. Homosexuality (and heterosexuality, for that matter) is a modern concept. Same sex relationships are not. But we confuse them too easily, and I know it's become acceptable to throw on "homosexuality" as a quick label in academia. Perhaps that's where we're going wrong. Scholars have been careful to differentiate between ancient "homosexuality" and modern "homosexuality," but the term can still be misleading.

So close!

Another exam down. Woo! One left and one more paper!

So on this loverly fourth day of the Saturnalia, I'm thinking I should've used this as an excuse to get out of exams/papers by having our profs write them instead! Somehow, I suspect that wouldn't really go over well.

Anyway, from the Classics-L list comes an article about Italy cutting funding to archaeological sites. This makes me sad, very very sad.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Parthenon snow sculpture

Another exam finished. Two left and one more paper, all to be finished by Wed/Thurs. Will she survive? Stay tuned to find out!

But anyway, I just saw this cool Parthenon snow sculpture from this page. It makes me happy! I want a Parthenon snow sculpture! Maybe we could have baby penguins too... (Don't ask. It was the only way I could think of to relate penguins to Classics!)

Also what thinkst thee of a Classics joke contest? Treebeard says I shouldn't, but his only reason was, "Just don't." Hrmmmm...

Edited to add: Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention this! The Classics-L list now has a blog! This will make it a lot easier to keep track of stuff. yay.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A break from the studying...

David Meadows alerts us to this Get Fuzzy cartoon. I'm sure Homo Edax will appreciate that!

And now I better get back to studying for Petronius... Ah, exam week. :-P

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I can't believe I forgot! I've been obsessed with it all week and then... yeah.

So yes, I hope everyone's had a wonderful first day of the Saturnalia! People at work think I'm nuts because I actually told them "Happy Saturnalia!"

She lives!

Well, now that I've one more major paper done (that makes the count 4 down, 1 to go, and 1 exam down, 3 to go--I think I miscounted in my last post on this), I am free for a moment to update!

Firstly, CTY's Summer Programs for kids is making me feel inferior again. I don't remember if they were offering Latin and Greek when I went to CTY, but there are days when I feel like I wasted my time there doing math. I haven't touched a math course since I got into college, because I APed out. After four and a half years, I'm so rusty that I think I've forgotten more formulae than I ever learned!

But anyway, I'm sad that they don't use Ecce. At that age, I definitely would have wanted the colourful pictures!

Also, David Meadows beat me to the Christmas songs, so I'm just posting a link to his post!

But of course, don't forget that Dido's Roasting on an Open Pyre.

Finally, I don't know if any of you have been keeping up with non-Classical archaeology, but there have been a couple articles on a newly discovered Mayan mural. There is also a video available online here. I haven't had a chance to look at it myself, though.

I think that covers everything I was bursting to talk about.

Oh, and I have another Horrible Classics Knock-Knock Joke for you all:

-Knock knock!
-Who's there?
-Achilles who?
-Achilles Trojan SCUM!

Yeah, the papers and exams are getting to my brain...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

G-String Clad Gladiator Found

My friend sent me this article from the Discovery Channel, and I'm just cracked up enough right now after my 8AM exam to pass it on to you all.

I'm going to put you all in the same suspense I was in when I saw that title until you click... :-D

I think I need some actual sleep before working on this paper...

Edited to add: Ohhh, while we're on really horrible things, I'll share with you all what has been deemed the Worst Joke Ever (for good reason!).

-Knock knock!
-Who's there?
-Aeneas Who?
-Aeneas Sex Change!

I had a couple others, but they're all about that bad. So I think I'll spare you all, lest you stop visiting... ;-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Ahhh! I have the coolest Greek professor EVER! Unlike some people (you know who you are! ;-)), she loves Sappho! And she let us read the new Sappho poem in Greek today! That is definitely one of the coolest things I've done in a language class!

In other news, today was the last day of classes! This makes me sad. I shall miss my classes this semester, particularly Homo Edax's tangents on food. ;-)

Of course, I still have loads of work left to do before the semester is really over. :-P

Also, David Meadows says that the Domus Aurea is closed! This is most vexing! First the Forum, now the Domus Aurea. Vexing, vexing...


My apologies for the lack of updates lately. It's crunch time both on the grad apps front and the end-of-sem front. My status:

Grad apps: 2 down, 6 to go
Papers: 3 down, 2 to go (although about 30 pages left in the next week...)
Exams: 0 down, 5 to go

Maybe I shouldn't have listed it so concretely...

Anyway, I really just wanted to remind everyone about Buy a Friend a Book Week, which is the FIRST WEEK of JANUARY!

This is my FAVOURITE gift-giving occassion EVER. And actually, this year I've gotten a head-start on it and have decided to buy everyone Saturnalia presents. I LOVE buying books for people. Debra Hamel is truly a genius.

AND if you care to get an early start, Borders has a 30% off any one item coupon good through the 19th!

I'm such a walking book advertisement. And they don't pay me for this part. Oh well.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A little Roman fun...

Firstly, as posted in rogueclassicism, an article on Gladiators. If you don't feel like registering with the NYT, David Meadows' post includes the text here.

Secondly, a "Who in Ancient Rome are You?" quiz, just for fun:

Banished Scholar
You scored 24 privilegedbirth, 60 scholarliness, 17 ruthlessness, and 41 outspokenness!

You're lucky to be banished! Most guys like you end up with their
entrails on the front steps. You rose from your lowly birth with
learning, but you forgot to keep your mouth shut. Nobody likes a party
pooper, and pointing out the foibles of Roman society did not earn you
that nice cushy position tutoring the Senator's feeble-minded
offspring. It is suggested that you never set foot in Rome again, but I
hear things are much milder and more tolerant down in Judea, so maybe
make your way over there. Cheers!

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 51% on privilegedbirth
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 94% on scholarliness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 3% on ruthlessness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 89% on outspokenness
Link: The Who in Ancient Rome Are You Test written by chickennibbler on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Are they telling me I should shut my trap? :-P

Thursday, December 08, 2005


When I first started keeping this blog a few months ago, I never dreamed there would be so much drama attached to it--not the actual blog, just the act of blogging!

Apparently, the WSJ has an article today about blogging potentially damaging careers. I haven't been able to get my hands on the article, but I've heard the horror stories before. At the risk of stepping into the political arena, which I usually avoid, how much sense does this really make? Universities kicking out students because they blog? That's not only a violation of free speech; that's violating one of the main foundations of ACADEMIA. We're here to explore, to learn, to question, and to have and share opinions. If THAT is stopped by the Universities, then what, exactly, are we paying for in our education? IS that an education? No! That's a damned expensive piece of paper saying that you know how to dance when they tell you to dance and how they tell you to dance.

Maybe I'm too fresh and idealistic to the world of academia, but maybe that's the problem too. How can we expect future generations to stand up for themselves if we roll over now? As Ben Franklin put it, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."* Have we slipped so far from that ideal? I should hope not.

I don't intend to step on toes (and as far as I know, I haven't yet), but I do want to spread word about Cool Things in Classics and maybe show some other Classics majors that they're not the only ones flailing around and trying to make it further. I'm grateful for my readers who have followed me from just another blogging student to following news of the Sappho poem to the excrutiating pain of The Empire to my much more enthusiastic reviews of HBO's Rome and so on. And it greatly disturbs me that anyone could consider such an attempt worthy of being shut down.

Then again, as one of my friends so expertly commented on the controversy of blogging--"They said the same thing about printing presses." Hopefully it's just the standard over-reaction to new technology, and the pendulum will swing back to something middling soon.

I should think Universities would delight in the fact that they've produced students eager to learn and to share, students who want to think a little for themselves and use different media to find new ideas. I should think they would want their faculty engaged in this as well. Otherwise, what else are we? Little more than automata. Is that what academia has become? Producing automata? Plato would be rolling over in his grave right now. Universities are supposed to serve the quest for knowledge, not somebody's bank account.

Anyway, I hadn't meant for this post to take over and turn into a rant (or a passionate plea), but it did. My apologies. In somewhat related news, Chris Weimer has posted some very interesting things about "Biblioblogging" "Femiblogging" and Blogdom. It's a long read, but I think it's an interesting one. (Plus, he mentions me at the end, and I'm very flattered!)

*Thanks to my "secret reference source" for looking up the exact wording of the quotation for me!

Minxy is as minxy does...

It's been a slow week for me online. My apologies. My apologies also for the use of "snurtched" in my last post. I didn't realise this blog was up for official academic scrutiny and thus ineligible for use of slang or made up terms! ;-)

Anyway, this is just a quick update on the State of Insanity around here now. I just finished my English paper on H.G. Wells (which, thankfully, had nothing to do with sexuality), and I also finished a little "story" thing I started a couple weeks ago and didn't look at again until last night. I just mention this because I'm evil, not because I'm going to share it here. But it's in Latin! Probably very bad Latin, but what can ya do? (Am I going to be lambasted for the use of "ya" too? ;-))

Three more papers remain, and I think I've finally settled on the Matron of Ephesus and Dido for my Petronius paper. It feels a bit like cheating somehow, but then I did use a book I read for my Petronius class in my Aeneid paper. So I guess it all works out. My other two papers are on Apollonius of Rhodes' Medea in comparison to Hellenistic women and interpreting Inanna with archaeoastronomy and Jung.

I'm trying really hard not to think about how many pages I must write in the next two weeks. Vae.

Finally, my earliest grad apps are due December 15. Everything is just about finalized, and I should get those done tonight or tomorrow. It's truly a nerve-wrecking business.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Latin quiz!

Here's something fun I snurtched from a friend:

You scored 100% for Latin knowledge!

Sapeintissimus - superlative form of sapiens; translation: most wise
(though, I certainly don't need to give YOU any translations)
A perfect score! Ecastor, te miror! You clearly have quite a bit of
Latin under your belt. If I might reccomend some reading to you, Miles
Glorosus by Plautus, Cicero's ad Familias collection, and Ovid's
Metamorphoses are all worthy of your skills. Congratulations!

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Latin knowledge
Link: The Latin Grammar Test written by frozen0phoenix on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Of course, there were a couple typos in there, methinks. Well, looking at the two typos in this result (including one in English!), I guess I wasn't imagining the ones in the quiz.

In other news, my internet is back. Thank goodness (and the one really intelligent Verizon tech support person to whom I've ever spoken!).


The universe really hates me. First the nearly five day internet outtage; then the blackout; and now my internet is back to being down. Thank Athena for campus internet.

Anyway, I was shocked to see how many visitors I received yesterday, and I realised Blogenspiel had mentioned the Rome reviews on Carnivalesque 11 on Saturday. Thanks!

Since I haven't had a chance to actually ready Atwood's Penelopiad myself yet, here's a link to a review, which I found on the Classics-L list.

And on the Stoa, there was a link a couple days ago to visual image collection on the Mysteries at Eleusis.

That said (and since PEOPLE are looking over my shoulder!), I'm going to see if I can finish a little more work...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Fun with music and food and gardening, oh my!

First, I give you a link one of my friend's found: How the Greeks Roll. It's a rap music video version of the Odyssey. And it's surprisingly well-done. I'm glad there are people out there who feel the need to incorporate Homer into pop-culture still.

Next, from the Classics-L list, a couple interesting book titles were advertised:
-Roman Cookery: Recipes and History
-Roman Gardens

On the bottom of both pages, there are links to other related books, such as Medieval or Gregorian cooking and gardening books.

In other FANTABULOUS news, I finally finished that Aeneid paper (with the exception of edits and such--but please note that it's FOUR days before it's due!), and now I can finally think about OTHER papers. My head hurts, though, because I only accomplished this by staying up until after 7AM. :-P That would be fine, except that I have work soon. Oh well, at least I have that warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Peter Weller as... RoboProf?

This one's from the Chronicle of Higher Education (you need a subscription), and I don't have access to it here. But the general-access incipit reads:

Don't Call Him 'RoboProf'


The Hollywood actor Peter Weller is drawing rave reviews for his unlikeliest role yet: a college professor and expert in Roman history and art.

Mr. Weller, 58, is best known as the titanium-clad hero of RoboCop I and II. But lately he has been spotted teaching Syracuse University undergrads about the Roman Empire.

An Italophile and collector of ancient Roman coins, he earned a master's in Roman and Renaissance art in 2004 through Syracuse University's program in Florence. As a teaching assistant for Robert A. Hatfield, a Michelangelo scholar, Mr. Weller was a natural in the classroom. "I'm an entertainer by profession," he says. "I said to heck with this, I ain't using notecards." University officials asked him to come to Syracuse to design and teach his own course last spring.

I'm told it's a class on Hollywood and the Roman Empire. Makes sense.

Now, back to my paper. I'm about thisclose to killing technology. Last week, my internet was down for days. Today, my power went out for a few hours, and I was worried it would be out all day. I almost went up to campus to get work done!

Random conglomeration of things...

Wow, I'm extremely flattered that one of my posts has made it on the History Carnival No. 21 (under "Entertainment"). It makes me feel much more important than I actually am. ;-) Thanks much to Laura James (and whoever nominated the post!). For past History Carnival entries, click here.

Anyway, my friend found an excellent website, Archaeological News, which links to a variety of archaeological news articles on their website each day. I'll try to remember to add it as a permanent link when I'm done posting.

And another friend showed me this Phantom of the Opera Ball (in California), which happens to include a ballet from the opera "Sappho." She didn't show it to me because of that, and I suspect when they say that it's a "new" opera, they actually mean Charles Gounod's 1851 Sapho, which would have been relatively "new" at the time this pseudo-ball is taking place.

You all should know by now that I'll take any excuse to mention Sappho, even if Homo Edax does not appreciate this! :-D

Thursday, December 01, 2005


David Meadows says that HBO's Rome is being cancelled for next season!!!!

Why is it that every time there's a GOOD show on, they CANCEL it?! This is why I don't really watch TV anymore!

Well, part of it is just that I don't have time, but STILL.

Ah, the Universe is minxy and hates me. Eheu.