I’ve written a couple of conference papers on the the story of Flaminius in Livy’s book 21 and 22, and his ‘magic disappearing act’ at Lake Trasimene in 217 B.C. If you’re interested in reading my paper, (formal title ‘The Seen and The Unseen’) you can download it (plus the powerpoint and the translation handout) from my page at at academia.edu. (one slight warning; because the latest version of the paper was presented at a generalist conference there’s a page of overview at the start which Classicists won’t need to read, but I think otherwise this version of the paper makes overall argument better).
I’m a user of Mekentosj’s Papers 2. They’ve just released Papers 3.
It’s currently “beta” and they want you to pay $79 for this beta version. There is a 30 day demo. I just spend about two or three hours demoing it.
In that two hours I have just filed about seven support items against it. Three of them are data corruption issues relating to importing the Papers 2 library, although thankfully, the Papers 2 library files remain uncorrupted and it’s just the new Papers 3 library that is junk. I get:
- blank authors on some items
- these blank authors are not deletable
- book chapters do not import correctly (book title in “subtitle” field)
- most of my periodicals are missing from the periodical list even though the papers are in the database
- when you do a search, it doesn’t ask you for the ezproxy password if ezproxy is configured and just gives you no results instead
This is just what I found in three hours. I did not try actual citations or exporting the data into .bib files but given what I’ve seen so far I would not be very confident of success. Do not buy this program until they can report these issues fixed. This is quite apart from the fact that there are outstanding Papers 2 issues, like the fact that my iOS/iPad database incorrectly swaps authors names on the iOS data when imported. Oh look, an unfixed database corruption issue! What chance of Papers 3 being fixed? I rate this as none. Papers is a “data corruption ‘r’ us” special. For an application where data reliability is the key indicator of quality (research database!), this is very, very, poor quality, indeed, an amateurish effort. The company is focussed on making a pretty interface and churning major versions without fixing critical data reliability bugs.
This is a massive fail. 0.5 stars of 5.
If only Mendeley Desktop could search the online databases directly! Despite that limitation I am thinking about switching off Papers 2 onto Mendeley forthwith.
Metropolitan Museum NYC, a set on Flickr.
In July, I was in New York City for a conference at Columbia (the 2013 Pac Rim Roman Literature Seminar, which was enormously enjoyable); of course the collection at “the Met” was high on my list of things to do while in NYC – this is a selection on Flickr of some of the photos that I took of some of the objects there. (Some of the header images that appear at the top of this site are cropped from these images – all of the photos are taken my me)
My RHD colleague Yvette, no; former colleague, now that she is Dr. Yvette Hunt, has decided to enter the classics blogging field with her blog, Spare a Talent, which you will definitely find a valuable resource and on your regular reading list. It is described in the byline as “A sometimes humorous view of ancient history, archaeology and reception”, and I can personally vouch for Yvette’s keen wit and sharp observations. Her first article is the text of her speech in the UQ Classics and Ancient History Society’s debate earlier this week.
Still relevant to things today. Vergil, Aeneid 4.174-188
Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullum;
mobilitate viget, viresque adquirit eundo,
parva metu primo, mox sese attollit in auras,
ingrediturque solo, et caput inter nubila condit.
Illam Terra parens, ira inritata deorum,
extremam (ut perhibent) Coeo Enceladoque sororem
progenuit, pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis,
monstrum horrendum, ingens, cui, quot sunt corpore plumae
tot vigiles oculi subter, mirabile dictu,
tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit aures.
Nocte volat caeli medio terraeque per umbram,
stridens, nec dulci declinat lumina somno;
luce sedet custos aut summi culmine tecti,
turribus aut altis, et magnas territat urbes;
tam ficti pravique tenax, quam nuntia veri.
Rumour, the evil of which no other is speedier: flourishing with rapidity, and growing in strength as it moves, at first fearfully small, soon it exalts itself to the rarefied air; it advances by ground then hides its head in the clouds. Earth was its mother, provoked by her anger at the gods, bore her last, as they say, sister to Coeus and Enceladeus, swift of foot and agile on the wing, a vast and terrible monstrosity, on whose body there as many unsleeping eyes under as many feathers (miraculous in the telling), as many tongues as there are babbling mouths, and just as many ears pricking up. At night it flies among the clouds, in the shadows of the earth, hissing, nor does it shut its eyes with the sweetness of sleep; by light it sits guard on the highest roof gables, or on the summits of towers, and it terrifies great cities. It grasps at fiction and perversion as much as messages of truth.
In general I would agree with this article by Steven Pinker in the New Republic: Science is not the enemy of the Humanities. I’m not going to address the broader philosophical issues that he unconsciously raises (e.g. in that he seems to assume a utilitarian ethics), however Pinker makes several mistakes of data:
By most accounts, the humanities are in trouble. University programs are downsizing, the next generation of scholars is un- or underemployed, morale is sinking, students are staying away in droves.
There are actually relatively good indicators that generally, since a steep decline in proportion of students in 70s and 80s, since then the Humanities are not in decline (although here we find the perhaps typical American substitution of “English Majors” for the “Humanities”). And I think, that the crisis is one of higher education in general is one of ever-growing demands of an instrumentalist mangagerialism on Faculty: and this affects the Sciences (especially the hard physical sciences) as much as the Humanities. Universities tend to love their Commerce and Law faculties at the expense of the others.
Then Pinker went and asserted this:
The humanities have yet to recover from the disaster of postmodernism, with its defiant obscurantism, dogmatic relativism, and suffocating political correctness.
Now he shows he’s simply afraid of what he doesn’t understand, simply by asserting the standard labels of denigration and dismissal and hoping no-one notices. Post-modernism is not, central at it core, anything about “obscurantism”, “moral relativism” and “political correctness”; anyone who asserts so simply hasn’t read many so-called post-modernists (most of whom are properly defined as structuralists and post-structuralists anyway). It also overlooks the fact that in general, apart from a post-modernist style in architecture, it is actually a label applied to a human condition or age, not a methodology or a belief system. Pinker utterly confuses a label of description for one of methodology. What he’s done is just assume the worst examples he could find (which of course, are unquoted and unreferenced and just assumed) are the typical ones: it’s exactly what he accuses Humanities scholars of doing when they point to artefacts of the 20th century scientific revolution like the atomic bomb.
Actually and that’s an argument I don’t think he adequately deals with. Yes social darwinism is unscientific claptrap wrought by humans with the worst intentions, but how does Pinker account for the fact that one of the most revolutionary scientific discoveries of the 20th century (the discovery and quantification of the atomic forces of the atom’s nucleus) leads straight to the creation of the H-bomb? Not in a roundabout way either, but by the many of the very same scientists who helped make those same discoveries? From all accounts Teller was an immoral monster of the first order. I don’t make this point lightly, but nor do I make the point to condemn all science and scientific progress. I think this one example falsifies Pinker’s apparent belief (which I may be mistaken about) that all science automatically results in the morally good. The social good is defined only by science acting in concert with ethics, politics, philosophy, history, linguistics, economics, literature, and art – in short by science, the social sciences, and the humanities: not by science alone.
This is the problem: just like physicists don’t like misguided lectures on the “hermeneutics of gravity” from half-baked social scientists, humanists would prefer not be lectured on their discipline from someone who wilfully misunderstands a large portion of their own discipline or wishes to assert their own discipline’s natural superiority.
Just saw on the CLASSICISTS mailing list a job listing. Of course, as a mere PhD student this sort of thing is of only ‘academic’ interest to me. Nonetheless, it really boggled me to think that a University would trawl about for a scholar ‘producing publications of international significance’ who could ‘be expected to enhance REDACTED’s international reputation as a centre for the study of the ancient world’, and yet the quid pro quo of this research excellence is a contract of merely one year’s length? Surely the job market is not this bad? Have they got a RQF review next year and need to bump up their numbers? Anyway it seems pretty bleak, as you can see below:
The Department of Classics and Ancient History at REDACTED University is seeking to appoint a suitably qualified candidate to a fixed-term Lectureship in Classics (01 January 2014 – 31 December 2014). The successful applicant will be expected to enhance REDACTED’s international reputation as a centre for the study of the ancient world.
The successful applicant will be someone producing publications of international significance in a field of classical studies which will complement the Department’s current strengths in Ancient History, Greek and Roman literature (especially ancient epic), Ancient Philosophy, the study of Classical Receptions, and encounters between the ancient Mediterranean and the Near East.
The successful candidate will contribute to research-led teaching at all levels, and will be expected to make a contribution to the teaching of Latin and ancient Greek. They will, likewise, be expected to enhance the research environment at large, through contributions to seminars and collaborative work with other colleagues as appropriate.
Finally, they will be required to act as examiner at all levels, play an active role in the day-to-day running of the Department, and undertake such administrative duties in the Department as will be assigned to them from time to time.
In Australian politics it’s been a pretty awful week for women, with a range of rather horrid men from the conservative side of politics parading their misogyny in public concerning our (female) Prime Minister. But this blog isn’t the place for that (you can see my twitter for many comments illuminating what exactly I think of this country’s right wing). This blog’s about Classical History and related topics.
But as well as the political dimension, the Australian football manager (as in, the coach of the national soccer team, not as in so-called “Australian Football”, i.e. the Victorian game that’s played on Cricket ovals) made a terrible sexist gaffe about women shutting up in public (yes, he really said this). Now he claimed that the cause of this was actually him quoting a Latin expression mulieres taceres in ecclesia, an expression I have never heard before, but somehow as if quoting some old bit of sexist Latin that supposedly spouted out of some fourth century patristic saint somehow excuses your own sexism (and Osieck’s attempt at translation is thoroughly debunked here). So it’s been an entirely terrible week for women in general in this country, what with the army thing also coming to light (but to their credit, Army brass seem to have responded to this incident with some foresight and an excellent commitment to the ongoing acceptance of women in the military).
However so-called political columnist Annabell Crabb seeks to explain the week with this article A little more respect, a little less Latin, right?. Crabb tries to get a little even by using Google translate to tell Osieck, in Latin, that:
“Football experts should stick to football”
which Google translate apparently told Ms. Crabb was:
“ornare eu peritorum adherebit”
Oh, dear God, no. Anyone who says Google translate is OK is a fool. It doesn’t understand even something basic like verb tense, let alone mood or voice. Allowing for the spelling mistake of adhaereo, the above says something totally nonsensical like:
to embellish, well done! it will stick of experts
Well, In Latin you’re going to have a real problem with football of course, so let’s broaden the possibility to sport in general: “experts in sports should stick to sport” … using the 2nd person plural imperfect subjunctive active as a iussive for “should stick to”, and the dative (adhaereo takes the dative) for the thing that must be stuck to (ludo, sport), as well the genitive for “experts of sports”, I get something like:
periti ludorum ludo adhaerent
You could also probably use the gerundive adhaesundum est (or perhaps adhaesundi sunt in the pl. masc.) to imply a sense of obligation, but I’m not going to even attempt that here.
It’s funny sometimes how Latin terms are glossed. Consider Sallust, Catilinae Coniuratio 55.5;
in eum locum postquam demissus est Lentulus, vindices rerum capitalium, quibus praeceptum erat, laqueo gulam fregere
This is typically translated as something like the following:
When Lentulus had been let down into this place, executioners, to whom orders had been given, strangled him with a cord.
The translation above is almost exactly the one on Perseus, which is the 1899 English translation by J.S. Watson. But he has glossed “executioners” above as “certain men”.
But even then, the word “executioners” is a certain type of gloss. The Latin in question is vindices rerum capitalium, which is far more literally something like “the revengers of the capital matters”, or perhaps more favorably but still rather cryptic (although no more cryptic than “certain men”): “capital revengers”. Anyway this is where we get the idea of “capital punishment” or “capital crimes” from.
A strange turn of phrase, perhaps, but how exactly did Lentulus (and Cethegus, Statilius, and others too) die at the illegal order of Cicero? Is that “strangled with a cord”? Well, yes, but … no. In fact it’s far more brutal than that!
The Latin words for the method of execution are laqueo gulam fregere. Laqueo is ablative laqueus, meaning noose, snare, etc, lets say “by a noose”. Gulam is straightforward: it’s accusative gula – the throat or neck. Now that’s leaves the verb, fregere. Oh yes, perhaps “strangled”, but not exactly: there’s some typical archaising going on here by Sallust that’s altered the form of the verb somewhat, it’s really frango frangere fregi fractum … and look at that supine, fractum, which is were we ultimately derives the word “fracture”. And indeed frango means more like “break”, “crush”, “grind”, “bruise” and also by transference, “violate”, “subdue”, “soften”, and “weaken”. Lentulus is having his throat violated. This being ancient Rome, it’s not a noose breaking the neck as in a 19th century long-drop hanging: it’s a rather brutal garrotting, pure and simple.
So sure, while it might be fine to think that “certain men … strangled him with a cord”, but that makes it sound rather more pleasant a death than the way it surely was (and Sallust had just finished describing just how disgusting in darkness, filth, and smell, the dungeon where the execution took place, actually was). Therefore I think it’s far more fitting to think that in the dark and fetid pit of the Tullianum, that “the capital revengers … crushed his throat with a noose”.