Friday, June 30, 2006


I love it when my ancient history interests and my astronomy interests collide. Um, no pun intended. But check this out: King Tut's necklace shaped by fireball.

And while we're colliding the old and the new, the new X-Men movie (X3) also collided ancient lit and sci-fi with a nice Medea reference. I shan't spoil it, but I think it's a good one. I could almost write an essay on it. But I don't really want to spoil anything if people haven't seen the movie yet.

And I know all of my friends are sick of hearing me say this, but that movie has a lot more character depth than many people are giving it credit for. And the particular Medea reference of which I speak does a lot to help explore the particular characters to which it refers.

Ok, it really is difficult to talk about things without spoiling. Hm. This is probably why I shouldn't make references to modern entertainment here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On ancient tombs and learning Latin

Ok, this is just COOL: Egypt tomb reveals ancient woven flowers. I wish they had a picture of it!

Also, Mary Beard is writing about "Is Latin too hard?"

As a language itself, it's definitely not. I mean, anybody in the ancient world could learn Latin. But it's also true that we deal with "higher" literature. Personally, I just think it's a trade-off of focusing on lit rather than conversation. Coming up with the right words quickly to hold a conversation is a pretty difficult skill as well. And that is the focus of most modern languages. We skip that or don't worry about it as much in Latin, which is why we have time to focus on reading and interpreting literature.

More of my thoughts are in the comments to that post, though.

Although what I didn't say--and probably should have said--is that we've been teaching school children (boys, mostly) Latin for centuries. Some were naturally the brighter ones, and some weren't as able with languages. But they could learn the language and its literature (despite not being native speakers, for the most part, after the Roman Empire). There is really no good reason why any student today can't learn the language and literature of Latin if given the opportunity.

It really is strange that in this age of education for everyone we should be lowering standards. I thought the idea was to show that, regardless of class, the rest of us are just as capable as the "elite." As a whole, the wealthy "elite" aren't any more intellectually capable than anyone else. So why aren't we expecting the same standards in education as we used to expect of children of the elite??

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

More on the Ancient World According to Bucky

Of course, he also thinks England and owls don't exist either, so I guess Greeks are in good company.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Great Pink Scare

Firstly, MANY thanks to DRAKOS for making this blog all shiny and spiffy! I hope you all enjoy the new layout as much as I do!

So after work today, I came home and randomly caught the end of The Great Pink Scare on PBS. It basically tells about Professors Newton Arvin, Ned Spofford, and Joel Dorius at Smith College, who were outed, arrested, and found guilty in 1960 for homosexuality and possession of gay pornography. And this is actually notable on this blog, because Ned Spofford is apparently a Classicist. What bothers me, though, is that a google search, at any rate, gives me nothing on him as a Classicist. I suppose I shall have to dig further.

Anyway, I was really touched by their story, which is apparently also told in Scarlet Professor. I think it's true that too many people of my generation just don't realize how much has been gained in the last few decades for the GLBT community and how hard it was to make that progress. And I think, particularly, Spofford and Dorius and also Helen Bacon--Spofford's dept chair--played a great role in the progress that has been made. Certain political groups may be fighting to ban gay marriages, but at least we are no longer at the point where a person can be arrested for being homosexual. That said, there is still a lot left to fight for.

But, back to Classics. I have to wonder what that did for the study of Classics in the 1950s and '60s. I mean, honestly, how much of our Classical art is nudity, particularly in males?? Where do you draw the line? Could these professors have possessed copies of Classical art? Personally, one of my favourite paintings of all time is the Delacroix Medea (which I actually wanted to use for my blog picture, but then I wondered if it was "work safe" and if you, dear readers, would thus object), and she is nude! So what does that mean for women who wanted to study the painting? (Although I guess since they used to keep women out of the raunchy parts of Pompeii, women would probably not be allowed anyway.) Or what about the statue of David? Or Antinoos? And his relationship with Hadrian?

And, quite frankly, I am really curious about what Spofford's foci were in Classics and if he even had to deal with these issues at all, or if he avoided them. He really seems like a fascinating individual.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Under Construction

To whom it may concern:

The author of this blog has began a long process of outsourcing in order to improve the overall quality and readable of the site. In other words...


Heh. With that having been said, I promise you won't even know I'm here, but if you should happen to see any bizarre formatting changes occur just know that I do in fact know what I'm doing, and your darling Glaukôpis still has complete creative control.

Oh, and check this out. Sorry I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Link for kids!

Winged Sandels has a lot of fun crafts, mythology, history, and even an oracle. Geared towards kids, but I had fun playing with it a bit myself.

I'll try to make this the last post today. Considering there are only five minutes left of today, that shouldn't be too hard!

Lingua Latina Vivit!

Hah! Methinks our Founding Fathers would have been PROUD! Ecce!

Or maybe they would have blushed, but how often do you see Latin written on the sidewalks in your city? I'm rather jealous now and want to move to Philly.

Actually, I did once see Latin written on the sidewalks on campus--for I, Claudius, of course. It's somehow not as amusing as this.


I like this one: Ancient monument (in Wales) aligned to sun.

It has pictures too!

Also, thanks to Tropaion for the pimp in the Tropaion Carnival! You all should definitely check that out, for there are links to a number of interesting posts!

Also a belated thanks to Los sueños de Hermes for the pimp also. Lots of good links in that entry as well.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Etruscan tomb

And now for a turn back to the more normal contents . . .

David Meadows links to this article on a newly discovered Etruscan tomb (from the Chronicle, with a picture). There is another article on it here (from the NY Times, with a different picture).

I wish the pictures were better, though! But I think it's pretty exciting.

Thoughts on Medea

You know, sometimes I sit here and think about Medea (as I am wont to do), and I just think, by the gods, she is so beautiful. Her pain and even her anger--they are beautiful. Now, this is partially the talents of Euripides and Apollonius, but even they could not have made beauty where none existed. They were just both particularly good at seeing the beauty hidden beneath something that others would see only as ugly.

And I've always thought "lioness" was such an apt description for her. She was a noble wild animal who never should have been caged, and yet because of her love for someone else, for Jason (the merdiferous cur!), she allowed herself to be trapped and tethered to him. In her misguided youthful passion, she throws away everything she has, everything she's known--cutting herself off completely from her previous life--and takes one huge gambling chance to be with him. And what does he do? Instead of cherishing the noble creature who has chosen him--the most worthless scum of the earth--he sees nothing of who she is and throws her away, trampling on her heart with stupid platitudes (read: lies) about doing this for her own good. Jason, you pinprick bastard, I have four words for you: What. The. Fuck. Ever.

He had it comin'!
He had it comin'!
He only had himself to blame.

So Medea does the only thing left for a trapped lioness--destruction. She wreaks havoc on those who would cage her, and she breaks free. She essentially does the only thing she can do. Anything else--any compliance at all--would be a violation of her very spirit. And after she had tried so hard to tame that spirit for that spineless, merdiferous cur, only to be met with--what? Absolutely nothing. Not even a real rejection, just a complete lack of spirit, of soul, of passion--a complete lack of everything. After all that, how could she possibly have acted in moderation? The only thing left for a beautifully passionate soul such as hers was fury.

She's really one of those women who, if she had been treated properly, could have and would have done amazing things. But I suppose she was too much spirit for this world to contain--certainly too much for someone as worthless as Jason. And most of us would be lucky to have one iota of her passion. She had a great capacity for love--yes, love--that most of us only dream about. And it is too easy to see only the hate with which she was left, but the most important thing to remember about her was that her hate and her pain sprang from a great depth of love.

Anyway, thoughts on Medea are always rummaging around in my head, but after a couple discussions with friends, this post from William Blathers, and attempts to write my Zenobia paper (don't ask), stuff just needed to come out.

And while I'm at it, these are my two favourite pictures of Medea:

From a Lucanian calyx-crater.

That, of course, would be the Delacroix Medea.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Roman history you never knew . . .

This morning's Get Fuzzy is quite amusing.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

On Education

A few years ago, I wrote a piece for my English class about the demise of Classical education in the U.S. (for which you may blame good ol’ Andrew Jackson, by the way). But really, the demise of the Classical education was really just the beginning of something even worse--the demise of actual education altogether. Now, before you think I’m just being melodramatic, check out the latest State of State World History Standards. You thought it was problematic when they refused to acknowledge anything in U.S. history prior to the last two hundred years? Well, now most of the world’s history has ceased to exist as well.

I'm particularly disturbed that my own state of Maryland (warning: these links to individual states open pdf documents, but they aren't very big) earned a D. Its main problem seems to be that it is ridiculously vague. I was fortunate that my own modern world history teacher had a good brain on her shoulders and was not actually vague or disorganized. However, looking back on my overall world history experience in grade school, I do believe I missed quite a bit.

Missouri earned, I hope, the lowest grade with a whopping 8 out of 170 points total (I kid you not). This particularly hurt my head: Missouri approaches Greek civilization and the Roman empire with the same lackluster model. The standards stress three nearly useless points: 1) "origins of democracy," 2) "rule of law," and 3) "government structures." Districts will have to do a lot of tailoring to fill the gaps.

Locally, though, Virginia earned an impressively high A. It's a good read, and they do address Greek and Roman civilizations among other ancient cultures.

So, it's not all dismal, but I have to wonder what some of these states are thinking. It's as if they've ceased to care about history, which wouldn't actually surprise me.

After all, Florida has recently passed the law that high school students must declare majors. While I could think positively and hope that they will all choose a humanities major, that itself does not exactly equal a "liberal" education. The idea is to be broad. High school education should still be broad so that students know what their choices are. Athena knows my interests at age 14 were not the same as they are now. If I had been forced to choose then, I certainly wouldn't be where I am now. And I know this is true for many others as well. But my thoughts on this have mostly been discussed here.

And saying that this makes high school education "more relevant and more interesting" is what I tend to call ass-talking. Relevant to what? Your high school education is not supposed to gear you solely towards your job. We as human beings should be more than just what we do for a living. The job should not be the be-all-end-all. And maybe that sounds too idealistic and elitist, but I don't think that even those struggling and living in poverty actually want their lives to be about their job. My point is that the traditional "elitist" idea of a "liberal" education should be available to everyone. And in our society today, where there is constant pressure to learn only things that help "make money," a 14 year old is more likely to cave to that pressure than to actually choose an education in something else. Because if they don't choose something to "make money" in high school, they won't get into the colleges for jobs that "make money." Thus they will be doomed to teach, and we all know how degrading a job that has become in this day and age (please note that I am hoping to pursue a PhD in Classics eventually and take this comment accordingly).

As to high school being interesting, well, that has more to do with the invidual teachers. I'm not entirely sure the first goal of our educational standards should be to make school "interesting," though. While we should hope that school is interesting to students, how far are we willing to take that? I'm sure teenagers would find school more interesting if it were all about the latest gossip on rock stars and movie stars.

Of course, that is an unfair statement as well. Many high school students really are interested in the world in which they live and the history from which it developed. But we cannot feed that interest if we force students to choose in high school between a vocational major that might help them "make money" and the very interests that make us more human but that do not necessarily aid in "making money," at least on the surface.

Yes, education is about helping us become more productive members of society, but we are at our most productive when we understand everything that goes on around us, not just the one job we are trained to do.

Reason #23536547745 why Classical studies are important

This, which a friend just showed me, must be why so many marriages are wrecked today. Can you imagine what that would mean on your wedding cake?!

Bride: We're married!
Groom: No, we're not!
Bride: Yes, we are!
Groom: Um, BYE!
Bride: CURSE YOU! [kills herself]

As another friend pointed out, of course, that's not actually that far off from most marriages today.

So, what next? Are they going to have Jason and Medea cat wedding cake toppers?

Bride: We're married!
Groom: Uh, not really. I'm going to marry this other chick.
Bride: Oh NO you don't! [kills children]

And, of course, reason #23536547744 why Classical studies are important would be so that you don't name your child Jason--at least, if you'd like to have surviving grandchildren and if you'd like your child to not be associated with a cur.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Buy a Friend a Book Week is COMING SOON!

I just realized that I've officially had this blog for about a year now. I never thought so many people would actually read it.

Anyway, I forgot that I wanted to post about Debra Hamel's Buy a Friend a Book Week contest celebrating the first anniversary of this wonderful holiday! It starts the first week of July with various puzzles to solve that could lead you to some fabulous literary prizes. So, get ready, and don't forget to buy a friend a book the first week of July!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Various and sundry

I meant to mention this one earlier, but it slipped my mind. I believe I saw it on rogueclassicism a bit ago, but there is a new Classics magazine called IRIS that is seeking submissions.

Also, a cool little tool if you're writing papers or something and want to see what kind of changes you've made: Writeboard.

I suppose by now everyone's already heard about Muziris, but in case you haven't, there's the link.

Lastly, if filling out applications is the hardest part about schooling, then dealing with all the paperwork after you've been given an offer is the second hardest part. Paperwork and filling out forms are the bane of our entire modern society.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Classics Professor

Ok, this one JUST came in on the Classics-L list, and it cracks me up! You all know my love of theatre (or, if you don't, pretend you do!). Apparently, John Pielmeier has written a new play The Classics Professor, a comedy, which has already started showing in Manhattan. I actually laughed out loud when I read the summary!

And thanks for all the comments. I really do enjoy hearing from all of you!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"Homosexual" relationships in antiquity

As I promised yesterday, I thought I'd write a post on same sex relationships in antiquity, so that this post on modern homosexual issues wouldn't seem so off-topic. I am not, however, writing an essay on it here. This is just free thought, but I should warn you that it does get a little R-rated.

So as many of you know, we generally know a lot more about male same sex relationships in antiquity than female. Same sex relationships, were generally more acceptable in ancient Greece than in ancient Rome (this is, of course, a gross generalization, as there are periods and cities in ancient Greece where it was not so acceptable, particularly among women).

In Greece, there is the commonly known pederastic relationship among men (an older and a younger male in a mentoring relationship), which seems to be mirrored (from our scanty evidence) for women as well. The Romans looked down on this, but they had their own version of it, which basically consisted of a male in power (i.e. a citizen) penetrating a non-citizen. Any male citizen being penetrated by anybody was, of course, strictly forbidden (and those who defied this were called molles mares)--a threat to the masculine identity (vir) and all.

From this attitude, you can begin to see why so many of the Roman authors just could not stand the idea of women playing a penetrative role at all (such a woman would be called a tribas), which is why pretty much the only time you ever see women in same sex relationships is to illustrate how horrible the idea is or to mock. The Romans (well, Martial in particular) also seemed to have the same disconnect that Victorian authors had when discussing Sappho and decided that her relationships were somehow chaste.

The Romans also, very amusingly, had sex so explicitly worked out that they had an intricate set of verbs for each act that is laid out in a wonderful little chart in the beginning of chapter 5 of Craig Williams' Roman Homosexuality. They amuse me such that I shall reproduce them here (without the chart, since I don't know how to do that on blogger):

Vaginal: futuere (insertive) and crisare (receptive)
Anal: pedicare (insertive) and cevere (receptive)
Oral: irrumare (insertive) and fellare (receptive)

You can see where we get a couple of our English words and, also, where we are clearly lacking in the English language. The Romans clearly understood precision in vocabulary!

I suppose I could write more, but if I go into much more detail, I'll end up writing another paper instead.

Now, the main focus of my writing has been with female relationships, and the sources I studied most closely for this were:
-Sappho's poems, particularly fragments 31 and 94 (and some other smaller fragments as well)
-lyrics of Alkman, contemporary to Sappho (I unfortunately don't have the standard fragment numbers on hand at the moment)
-Xenophon's Constitution of the Lacedaemonians
-Plutarch's Life of Lycurgus (these two writing about Spartans long after the fact and not in Sparta! So some grains of salt should go along with them)
-Ovid, particularly Heroides XV (basically having Sappho call female homoerotic relationships shameful) and also in the story of Iphis and Ianthe in his Metamophoses (in which he shows some sympathy but ultimately has Iphis magically changed into a boy).
-Phaedrus' poem 16 in Fabulae Aesopiae, which is just a hilarious story about Prometheus coming home drunk and mixing up genitals
-Martial's Epigrams 7.67 and 7.70, dealing with Philaenis, a tribas whom he makes explicitly distinct from Sappho

These are not exhaustive for female homoerotic relationships in antiquity, but it's a majority of the work at any rate (to my knowledge).

Also, great "secondary sources" to look at include:

-Among Women: From the Homosocial to the Homoerotic in the Ancient World, edited by Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz and Lisa Auanger
-Roman Sexualities, edited by Judith P. Hallett and Marilyn B. Skinner
-Spartan Women, by Sarah B. Pomeroy
-Lesbian Desire in the Lyrics of Sappho, by Jane McIntosh Snyder
-Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity, by Craig A. Williams
-The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, by J.N. Adams

That, of course, is not an exhaustive list for same sex relationships in antiquity (and it's clearly leaning more towards female relationships), but it's a good start. I've also seen several interesting books pop up on Amazon, but I have yet to read them myself.

Hrm, so now I suppose I've given you all the keys to my pet project. I'd dig up my actual paper on it, but that might bore you all.

Oh, and if anyone gets this far, I do enjoy it when people comment and reply! I sometimes feel like I shooting messages off into space hoping that somebody might hear me . . .

Edited to add: I should probably include a disclaimer that this topic is far more complicated than I've indicated. Some of it I could explain with more time/space, but I'm sure some of it eludes me still. I also wasn't sure how much knowledge to assume, so I assumed quite a bit at times in order to get to the more interesting (mihi) parts.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

World's Oldest Astronomy Computer

I just gacked this one from a friend. I'm so excited that I'm trying not to jump up and down squealing!

Researchers find hidden Greek text on 'world's oldest astronomy computer'

I think if I get a little time later today or tomorrow I might continue with yesterday's post and discuss a little about same-sex relationships in antiquity. It quite accidentally became an interest of mine, oh, a couple years ago, and I started following up on more of it a little over a year ago. At any rate, I've got a pretty good reading list on it, at least, as well as a paper or two.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Modest Proposal

I debated long and hard about this before deciding that, in this case, I really do need to take my most public forum and use it for something slightly off-topic from its usual purpose. I try to avoid politics here, because I have seen what discussion of it does to people who can otherwise get along quite well. But when I saw this come up again, my blood boiled, again, and I decided I could not keep quiet, again.

I wrote this essay in 2004, last time the buzz went around for this Constitutional amendment. I shared it with a few friends and tried to send it to the Washington Post to no avail. Now, however, I share it with you, dear readers, with a few edits. Read it thoroughly and well before you judge. And please feel free to pass this one on.

A Modest Proposal:
For the Return of Good Morals and Influences in Society

In recent days, it has been proposed that a Constitutional amendment be made in order to define the term “marriage” as “a union between one man and one woman.” Anything else would, of course, be an affront to our Moral Sensibilities. Of course, it is not enough to simply ban a union between two people of the same gender. We must eradicate homosexual relationships in order to prove that such behavior is not Natural. Homosexual people must be banned from any influence upon our young people, especially the army, where they might be seen in heroic action; television—programs such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Will & Grace come to mind (we simply cannot have our children seeing homosexuality as acceptable or even “cool”)—and movies; and teaching positions, where they might inculcate abhorrent homosexual morals into the impressionable minds of our children. These people must not be allowed to live their sinful lifestyle, and if possible, they must be reconditioned to Normal, Happy, Monogamous heterosexual relationships. Of course, having exported the excess population (or having dealt with them with more extreme measures, should they provide resistance), we will need to ban and nullify marriages that cannot or will not produce children in order to encourage continual breeding. After all, childless couples are clearly unproductive members of society. Furthermore, all references to homosexual relationships in history, literature, and art must be deleted and rewritten, unless they serve to illustrate the inherent Evils of homosexuality. Our children are our Future, and they must not be corrupted by the Unnatural Evils of the Past!

This fight against unnatural sexual behavior must, of course, be extended to the denizens of the animal kingdom. Zoos and other institutions for animals must separate their homosexual pairs, such as the penguins Wendell and Cass of the New York Aquarium, and rehabilitate them with a mate of their species and of the opposite gender. After all, such behavior cannot be displayed and celebrated for our young children to see, especially when such institutions are supported by the government and funded by our tax dollars!

However, I would propose that even this definition of marriage and these solutions are not sufficient for preventing the Corruption of Good morals in our society. Perhaps a more complete definition of “marriage” should be “a union between one man and one woman of the same race, religion and class.” Each Christian denomination would, of course, be segregated into separate communities in order to prevent the intermingling of people, and therefore, of Values. Within each community would be kept a strict hierarchy of class, based upon birth, so that no one will Devalue or Corrupt the institution of marriage by marrying beneath them. All non-Christians—including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, pagans and atheists—are obviously Evil influences in our society and must be asked, with whatever Force necessary, to leave our Good country. Furthermore, all non-white Christians—including black, Asian and Hispanic people—must be asked to leave as well. The only moral community is a community of like-minded people. Anything else would be inviting Evil influences into our society, thereby morally Corrupting the people. Marriage, as an institution with “cultural, religious and natural roots,” must not be Corrupted by irreligious and non-Christian people, just as it must not be Corrupted by homosexual people.

Of course, even this regulation of marriage would not suffice. Women must also be asked to relinquish their freedom to choose in marriage and return this right to their fathers. Only a father can decide who will make a Good husband for his daughter. This is and has always been—until recent times—the traditional, cultural and Moral right of the father. Furthermore, the woman must remain chaste until marriage, as pre-marital sex, especially for a woman, indicates loose morals and constitutes Wicked behavior. Once married, women should remain in the home, as insurance that they are faithful to the husbands chosen for them by their Good fathers.

It is vital that we institute these corrections quickly, before our society is completely degraded by the numerous Evil influences that surround us. Those who are unnatural and un-Christian must be stripped of the privileges reserved only for the most Pious and deserving people. These Evil influences are, of course, the cause of such a high divorce rate in this country. We must fight to bring marriage back as a Sacred institution between one man and one woman of the same race, religion and class. We must fight to ensure that we of this same popular opinion can remain in power in order to ensure that all of these Evil influences are controlled and eradicated. Freedom—especially of religion and speech—is, after all, only meant for those wealthiest of us who are of the same mind, gender and color.


satire (sat•īre) n. literary composition holding up to ridicule vice or folly of the times; use of irony, sarcasm, invective or wit. – New Webster’s Dictionary

Sunday, June 04, 2006

On the Derveni papyrus and historical blogging

This is actually a few days old, but I kept forgetting to post about it. By now, I expect most of you have heard about the Derveni papyrus, but there's a link in case you haven't.

This next one is a bit sillier, but a friend just showed me that Vergil has a myspace account! The dead have really made a come back lately with the invention of the blogosphere . . .

I find this an intriguing concept, though. I once tried something similar with people from the 18th century as an historical RPG. But I suppose since there was so much more information on the daily life of people in the 18th century, it was much harder to embellish without feeling untrue to historical sources out there that I hadn't yet been able to peruse.

Perhaps it is easier with Vergil and Chaucer (who also hath a blog).