Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Latin lives! In Finland, anyway!

Glaukôpis has been feeling a bit under the weather today, but it is passing. And now it's back to work (after a quick update).

Also, please congratulate Glaukôpis, because she has managed not to forget her keys for four days in a row. If you had seen Glaukôpis last week, you would understand why this is an accomplishment (and she's quickly knocking on wood after making this statement too).

But anyway, on to the Finns. Apparently, Finland is filled with wonderfully crazy people who do things like sing Elvis songs in Latin. Glaukôpis doesn't get it. How come the botanists (Glaukôpis kids you not--she once saw a Latin for botanists book at her old job and wanted to take it home with her!) and the Finns have turned Latin into a lingua franca of sorts, but the Classicists haven't? Not that Glaukôpis, of all people, should really be encouraging this, but that's another story. Although, she has been known to write Ecce Romani fanfiction in Latin. But that will never see the light of day. She suspects, however, that Ecce Romani's popularity is more widespread than one would think, because she has had several google searches for Ecce Romani fanfiction. Glaukôpis' friends think she's insane, but at least she's NOT ALONE.

Actually, there have also been several attempts by smaller groups to read and speak Latin regularly, but it's not as focused and widespread an effort in Classics as it seems to be in Finland and botany.

And ecce! Finland's Latin news!

Oh, for the record, Glaukôpis loves Finns. She means "crazy" only in the best ways, as she considers herself a "crazy Classicist." She also recomments that you all read the Kalevala if you have not yet--particularly if you're interested in world mythology. And now Glaukôpis wonders if it's been translated into Latin yet . . .

Monday, October 23, 2006

Various and sundry . . .

It's been a busy weekend, trying to sift through everything I've read and decide exactly what it is I'm going to write about while my brain goes off in 10,000,000 different directions. I think I've got it now.

But now for a short break from that, I've come across quite a few interesting articles of note today.

From the Classics-L list:
-The Derveni papyrus published at last! Wonderful news!
-Another Delphic Delirium theory. I'm glad they're taking in to account geological changes, but my earlier questions have yet to be addressed. What would be really interesting to know is the long-term effects of exposure to this gas they're claiming, particularly in comparison with the short-term exposure of the visitors to the Oracle.

Over at Archaeoastronomy, we also have an article on finding and protecting Egyptian tombs using fracture traces.

Mary Beard gets to glimps the Sevso treasure (which makes me rather envious!). I'll be honest; I'm a sucker for shiny things.

And lastly, for those of you in the D.C. area, the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is doing an exhibit on Bible evolution. I should be back home in time to see this! Loverly.

And that is all. I had a few thoughts for you earlier in the day, but they seem to have taken flight. Perhaps another time!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Father Foster!

In case anyone's missed it, our beloved Father Foster has actually been fired--FIRED!--but is starting a new Latin program in Rome (thanfully). There's been wonderful coverage on ORBIS CATHOLICVS.

But still, who would EVER want to fire Father Foster?! That just seems absurd!

I'm glad he's starting a new program, though. If he hadn't, I'm sure lots of people would be clamouring to hire him anyway!

Monday, October 16, 2006

CFP and Research Rambling

UNC-Duke Graduate Colloquium in Classics, if anyone's interested.

My own area of research is completely unrelated at the moment. I'm trying to save Euripides' Orestes from hated bastard-child obscurity where others have failed. Many of my ideas have been put forth already with seemingly little success (I say that because most people still seem to think this play is a hated bastard-child--you should see the looks I get!), but I'm going to find my angle if it KILLS me.

Euripides was not stupid. And he knew what he was doing with this play.

Too bad I can't take on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus too.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Odysseus Unwound!

No, that is not a typo. No, this post is not on the Ithaca search (sorry! But there's nothing new so far as I can tell! If anybody would like to tell me otherwise, pleae do!).

So anyway, since I've taken up knitting myself (albeit at a snail's pace, considering I'm here to do research, not knit), this rather amuses me: Odysseus Unwound.

Unfortunately, it got a less than favourable review. As posted to Classics-L:

Greek Myth, Scottish Knitting Are Entwined in Quirky New Opera

By Warwick Thompson

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- I had never guessed that Greek myth and
Scottish knitting had anything in common. That was until I saw Julian
Grant's new ``Odysseus Unwound.'' Now, I know it for sure.

Staged in an abandoned theater in north London by the quirky company
Tete-a-Tete, the opera presents several scenes in the life of Homer's
great hero Odysseus, sung by Daniel Broad. We see him brutally
taunting the captive Trojan queen Hecuba, defeating the monster
Polyphemus with a trick, and returning home to find his wife Penelope
at her knitting, surrounded by suitors.

Along with the singers, the cast also involves five motherly Scottish
knitters who sit clicking away at the side of the stage and who
occasionally act as extras.

Their involvement came about after the director Bill Bankes- Jones
made a chance visit to the Shetland Isles, and found plenty of
parallels with the opera's subject matter. Like Penelope, the
Shetlanders are famous for their spinning, weaving and knitting, and
like Odysseus they know a thing or two about hopping between islands
on small boats.

It was hoped that their experiences might resonate with the story
during the opera's gestation. Since Hattie Naylor's libretto avoids
any references to the Greek gods, it was also thought that the
knitters might fill a gap by representing the Fates who spin and ravel
the threads of Odysseus's life.

A cute idea, though ultimately not a fruitful one. A piece that avoids
divine references might have been better served on its own terms,
rather than padded with mystical symbolism.

Uneasy Energy

The matronly knitters, though charming in what they do, are also not
natural stage creatures. When required to be extras -- to coil up
ropes, move chairs, or to pretend to be sailors -- their awkwardness
creates an uneasy energy that is often distracting.

Naylor's ramshackle libretto only adds to the difficulties. She
doesn't solve the problems of presenting a picaresque story, and the
result is a series of rather random episodes that lacks structure and
direction. She also commits the cardinal operatic sin of creating a
second half that is almost double the length of the first. It almost
grinds to a halt.

There's still some fun to be had. Julian Grant's music is attractive,
and his mix of Stravinskian orchestral colors with mellifluous
attic-style modal melodies works beautifully. Bankes- Jones's
inventive, simple production uses just a few chairs and pieces of rope
to create the various locations.

The singing is very good, with Louise Mott (Penelope) and Sadhbh
Dennedy (Nausicaa) outstanding in their roles. Tim Murray conducts the
CHROMA ensemble with a lively sense of pace and rhythm.

All this, and you get to see the crumbling, atmospheric gem that is
the 1870s Alexandra Palace Theatre. If Tete-a-Tete could make some
cuts and rethink the knitters, it might be a piece worth revisiting.

``Odysseus Unwound'' is in repertoire until Oct. 16 and then on tour.
Tel. (44) (1473) 320407 or go to

(Warwick Thompson is a critic for Bloomberg News. The opinions
expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Warwick Thompson at WarwickTho [at] aol [dot] com .
Last Updated: October 13, 2006 01:15 EDT

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Indiana Jones! And more on Ithaca!

Another quick post before bed. (By the way, when they do "functions" here, they really do functions. And I just learned I'm at the coolest college ever, because, seriously, we have RICHARD III. Yes, be jealous.)

Many of you may have seen this on RogueClassicism already, but a lovely article on the aforementioned Ithaca theory has been posted. From what I hear today, the first hole has actually been drilled, and members of the team are sworn to secrecy about the results! But I would keep checking Odysseus Unbound for results (the site seems to be working just fine right now).

And a little more "fun": Indiana Jones' tenure rejection letter. Yeah. Too damn funny. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Delphic Delirium

I'll make this quick, because I should be heading off to sleep. But Aine Bina sent me this loverly link: Delphic Oracle Inspired by Low-Oxygen Delirium

Interesting idea. What I don't get about most of these theories, though, is how they can explain others not getting affected by whatever. Theoretically, people are close enough to the Pythia that the interpreting priests or the visitors or whoever's around would be affected too.

Hell, maybe the Pythia was just really damn good at making herself go into a trance (some sort of meditation?) or even just acting (but, y'know, god-inspired acting).

Also, does anyone know what's up with most of Perseus' sites being down? I was only able to access the German mirror site for any length of time tonight! And that was pretty slow! Or maybe I should have kept my "secret" about use of the German mirror site, lest the traffic grow worse. ;-)

Edited to add: Perseus seems to be working well this morning, so I guess it was a temporary fluke. I worry about the well-being of Perseus too much!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Odysseus Unbound

Dear readers, I am come again!

Honestly, I've been vaguely skimming Classics blogs, but I've just been so busy since arriving in England that I couldn't bring myself to post! But it's been wonderful here, so I'm certainly not complaining.

Anyway, I attended a lecture today with James Diggle and Robert Bittlestone on their book Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer's Ithaca:

That's a really good deal compared to the SALE price of £20 at the lecture today, to be honest (conversion is approximately double to US$). But then, Amazon's copies aren't autographed.

They also have a website at www.odysseus-unbound.org, but I've been having problems with it. Hope you all don't.

Anyway, it's a fascinating theory, and I have to admit I'm a bit surprised that with our modern geological understanding somebody didn't think to look back at Cephalonia sooner! But I'm also glad they are able to put this much effort into it now and are so close to finding the answers that may prove (or disprove, I suppose) their theory. If the book is anything like the lecture (I haven't read it yet--it's huge!), then I'm sure it will be an enjoyable and fascinating read. And the current updates are on their website (assuming you don't have any problems with it).