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).
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.
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”.
This July I’m very excited to be in New York, at Columbia University, 9th to 11th July for the 27th Annual Pacific Rim Roman Literature Seminar. The theme is ‘The Journey in Roman Literature’. I’m giving a 30 minute paper, provisionally scheduled for 9.30am Wednesday morning, titled ‘Hannibal’s Alpine Journey and the Wasteland of Italy in Livy Books XXI and XXII’ … The abstract is:
Hannibal’s journey across the Alps to attack the Romans in Italy is one of the most celebrated and famous events of Roman history. This paper deals with one of major accounts of this event, and its aftermath: the story of the crossing in Livy’s book 21, and the battles which follow it at the River Trebia and Lake Trasimene. In particular, the paper will highlight a number of connections in Livy that are found between the personality of Hannibal, the events of the Alpine journey, and Livy’s representation of the Italian landscape. The paper will argue that, starting with the divine vision of the ‘wasteland of Italy’ that was granted to Hannibal at 21.22.6–9, Livy’s depiction of Hannibal, and his journey across the Alps, have strong correspondences in the way the landscape of Italy was rendered in Livy’s literary scheme. It will show that the manner in which Hannibal inflicted defeat on the Romans, is intimately tied, in a very literary way, to both the representation of the alpine crossing and the content of Hannibal’s dream that precedes it. Although the annihilation of the Roman army at Cannae is the military highpoint of Hannibal’s career, this paper will demonstrate that it is the battle of Lake Trasimene, with its rich tapestry of omens, prodigies, weather, terrain and an earthquake mid-battle, that marks the centrepiece of Livy’s representation and the crescendo of Hannibal’s journey through Italy.
There’s lots of other really good papers being presented over the three days, and the registration is really quite cheap, so if you’re on the USA Eastern seaboard in July this year or feel like a trip there, you should come along, say hello, hear my paper and a whole bunch of even better ones.
 No, I’ve got no idea why the Pacific Rim Roman Literature Seminar is in a city on the Atlantic Ocean either, but as it’s Manhattan I’m not complaining.
Along with a small cadre of my fellow research postgraduates at the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at The University of Queensland, I’m involved in organising a conference, Perspectives on Progress, which will be held in November 2013.
This is our second call for papers. The abstracts are due 31 May 2013. If you can, please consider submitting an abstract. More information about the conference can be seen at our website – http://perspectives2013.org/, but the basic information is reproduced below.
Perspectives on Progress – An interdisciplinary postgraduate and early career researcher conference, at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. November 27-29, 2013.
The organising committee is pleased announce that Dr. Alastair Blanshard and Dr. Sarah Pinto have each agreed to deliver Key Note Addresses at Perspectives on Progress, 2013.
Dr. Blanshard is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney. His most recent monograph is Sex, Vice, and Love from Antiquity to Modernity (Wiley Blackwell, 2010). In addition to his work on ancient sexuality, Dr. Blanshard is also concerned with examining the role that the classical past plays in the history of ideas.
Dr. Mills’s Futures of Reproduction: Bioethics and Biopolitics (Springer, 2011) is a compelling interrogation of the myriad bioethical issues associated with liberal eugenics and selective reproduction. As the recipient of a prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, Dr. Mills is currently working on a project concerned with exploring the concept of responsibility as it pertains to issues in reproductive and maternal-foetal medicine.
Call for Papers
In 1968, historian Sidney Pollard defined the Victorian ideal of ‘progress’ as, “the assumption that a pattern of change exists in the history of mankind… that it consists of irreversible changes in one direction only, and that this direction is towards improvement.” Despite the increasingly problematic nature of this ideal, the ‘progress myth’ still remains pervasive in the Western cultural tradition.
This postgraduate and early career researcher conference seeks to promote innovative interdisciplinary dialogues interrogating the concept of progress by bringing together scholars from across the humanities and social sciences.
Contributions are invited from disciplines ranging from history, classics, religion and philosophy through literary, media and cultural studies to anthropology, psychology and political science. Conference delegates will be invited to consider how the idea of progress influences their own work, while being given the opportunity to explore how this intersects with scholarship in other disciplines.
The conference committee invites proposals for papers in the form of an abstract of between 250 and 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 May 2013. Paper format is a 20 minute paper with a 10 minute period for questions and answers.
I have previously written about LatinOWL for iPhone which I released on the app store last month.
Can’t work out the root form of a irregular Latin conjugation? Confused as to whether it’s a 3rd declension neuter plural or a 1st declension feminine ablative .. or even nominative? Is that 1st/2nd pl. dative or ablative, or a 3rd m/f sing. genitive? Know how to parse the form, but don’t know the vocabulary?
Well, there’s an App for that!
There’s now a free iPad version available. You can read more about it, and get it from the App Store, via this link: http://inlustre.net/latinowl/.