Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Recommended article-- Greek Tragedy

Reading up for my recent post about the archaic notion of justice, I was reminded of an excellent article also by E.R. Dodds, called "On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex." A professor gave it to me when I read the play with him several years ago, and upon reading it again today I was reminded what a valuable part of the Sophoclean bibliography it is. It is brief, only thirteen pages, but points to the major ways the play was misread (by his students) when the article was written in 1966. The article remains a valuable insight into the character of Oedipus, the author Sophocles, and the play itself. I recommend it to all readers of the play as an accessible introduction to thinking about "justice" in the play.

Dodds, E.R. "On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex." Greece & Rome, 2nd Ser., Vol. 13, No. 1. (Apr., 1966): 37-49.

recent takes on Dante

I just want to link this post about the "interpretations" Dante has been getting recently in Italy-- where's this stuff in the states? Granted, people here do this kind of stuff for Shakespeare.

Homer's gods and justice

The opening lines of this post are enough to pique the interest of any Iliad-lover. One of the most interesting things about reading the Iliad is trying to understand the conception of the gods and fate put forth. There are reams of books and articles on the subject. One of the best and most accessible is E.R. Dodds' The Greeks and the Irrational, which my Greek teacher gave us the first few chapters of to introduce us to the issue of the brutal gods in the epic. Here is a passage from page 29 of the UC Press 2004 edition:
"In Iliad 24 Achilles, moved at last by the spectacle of his broken enemy Priam, pronounces the tragic moral of the whole poem: 'For so the gods have spun the thread for pitiful humanity, that the life of man should be sorrow, while themselves are exempt from care.' And he goes on to the famous image of the two jars from which Zeus draws forth his good and evil gifts. To some men he gives a mixed assortment, to others, unmixed evil, so that they wander tormented over the face of the earth 'unregarded by gods or men.' As for the unmixed good, that, we are to assume, is a portion reserved for the gods. The gods have nothing to do with justice: else the moral would be false. For in the Iliad heroism does not bring happiness; its sole, and sufficient, reward is fame. Yet for all that, Homer's princes bestride their world boldly; they fear the gods only as they fear their human overlords, nor are they oppressed by the future even when, like Achilles, they know that it holds an approaching doom."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

the new big "fluffy" planet

Scientists have discovered a new planet! This short article discusses the find. I'm disappointed in the name, TrES-4. Since it is bigger than Jupiter, shouldn't it be called Kronos or something? Oh but the Star Trek writers already used that name for the Klingon homeworld (pronounced Kronos, spelled Q'onoS). The Klingons wouldn't be pleased with scientists calling their planet "fluffy" though!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Success! Cypriot coins added to ban

At the end of January, a friend of mine working in Athens emailed me to alert me to a campaign to add Cypriot coins to the agreement with Cyprus that had come up for renewal. The agreement restricts the import into the United States of undocumented archaeological materials from Cyprus, but did not include coins. So I emailed the Cultural Property Advisory Committee in the U.S. Department of State, who solicited comments from interested parties about whether or not to add coins to the agreement. Several archaeological organizations encouraged their members to email the committee, and a number of archaeology professors in my school encouraged students individually.
Because of my interest in coins, I am on the mailing list of at least two coin sellers. They each sent emails to their clients, urging them to email the committee and request that coins be kept off the agreement. They stated that the archaeological organizations were rallying their members (as they were) and that these archaeologists were trying to stop the sale of antiquities (including coins) on a large scale (which they are). They warned their clients that their hobby was at risk.
Well, Dennis just sent me this link to an article stating that coins were included in the agreement, and that the "State Department was barraged by letters from personalities of the archaeological and arts world" and I must admit that I got a little swell of pride-- one of those was mine!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Shakespeare Reception

I want to recommend this article, linked through Arts & Letters Daily. It's about Shakespeare's universality and the reception of his plays in other cultures (German, Czech, Japanese). It's really interesting and makes me want to pick up my Riverside.

Speaking of Shakespeare, it's funny how often his name comes up in my Greek Tragedy seminar.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dante's new nose

Can you picture Dante, or his famous profile? His iconography is pretty static, yet now new research has concluded that his famous straight aquiline nose was more "pudgy" and "crooked!" Check out the article here. If anyone finds a visual recreation of the "new nose" let me know!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

new Archimedes

I admit, my first exposure to Archimedes was through Merlin's pet owl in The Sword in the Stone, but it's the classicist in me that finds a discovery of some previously unknown texts of his so exciting. The story is here, and includes some cool pictures.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A book to make your skin crawl...

I found on the Drudge Report today a link entitled, "Ancient Book May Be Covered in Human Skin..." This piqued my interested, because "books" in the ancient Mediterranean were originally made with papyrus (into rolls) and then also with wood and wax (as notebooks, as the work could be "erased"). Then came the transition from roll to codex, when paper was made from worked vellum (calfskin, kidskin, or lambskin). By the Middle Ages, the vellum codex was the way to go-- the baby farm animal skin made a smooth and durable writing surface.

But human skin? I had never heard of such a thing in the ancient world! Here is the link to the article. You'll notice that the "ancient" book is only 300 years old! The OED gives the first definition of ancient as "old," so technically, 300 years ago could be considered "ancient." I'm fine with that, but I'm much more comfortable with the second definition: "2. esp. Which existed in, or belonged to, times long past, or early in the world's history; old." I like that "especially."

And the third is the best: "3. a. Specifically applied to the period of history before the fall of the Western Roman Empire. In this sense contrasted with modern, and medieaval. b. Concerning or relating to ancient times."

By the way, the Yorkshire Police article is appropriately more subdued about the "human skin" aspect of the book. And here are some pictures.