Oct. 31st, 2011 10:30 pm
ricardienne: (Default)
At line 5 ff. the poet bids his addressee circulate along the benches of a ship and drink deeply: he gives as a reason the company's inability to remain sober in this spell of guard-duty.

Should we conclude that Archilochus sang this song for the first time while on guard by a beached ship? If so, I am tempted to suggest that the reason we have no more of the song is that the singer's throat was cut by a Thracian guerrilla: for real guard-duty is not effective if punctuated by drunken song.
--E.L. Bowie, "Early Greek Elegy, Symposium, and Public Festival." JHS 106. p. 16

(To be fair, there is no reason why soldiers on watch wouldn't *sing* songs about being drunk while on watch, even if they weren't actually drinking, is there?)
ricardienne: (library)
Sir Kenneth Dover on the Frogs of Aristophanes, l. 620, which is part of a speech on ways to torture a slave for evidence admissible in court:

στρεβλῶν, ἔτι δ᾽ ἐς τὰς ῥῖνας ὄξος ἐγχέων
[or you could] stretch him, or pour vinegar into his nostrils[, or...]

ὄξος: I have been dissuaded by medical friends from experimenting with a small quantity to see how painful it is.

Kenneth Dover. Aristophanes Frogs. Oxford, 1993, 271.

That is some serious dedication to historical investigation!
ricardienne: (library)
From C. R. Whittaker, "The Revolt of Papirius Dionysius A.D. 190-1", Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte
Vol. 13, No. 3 (Jul., 1964), pp. 348-369:
L. Antistius Burrus was even more notably connected, being married to the daughter of Marcus, Vibia Aurelia Sabina, an amicus of Marcus himself and consul in A.D. 181.
(I know I know: Latin endings and that fact that we know a woman couldn't become consul save us from the ambiguity: it's still a terribly unclear sentence!)
ricardienne: (Default)
1. There's something about discussions of animals in antiquity that always makes me giggle, but here, the earnestness about the precise dates of the discoveries is particularly wonderful.

For example, until 1948 or soon after it was believed that Polybius was quite wrong with regard to his view of the differences between Indian and African elephants. It was then demonstrated, in 1948, that Polybius was perfectly right after all, because Africa possessed, and still possesses, two types of pachyderm, and the Ptolomies and Carthaginians used the smaller, more docile forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis). Further, it now appears conceivable that they may at times have been able to acquire hybrid elephants in North Africa.
-- Eric Marsden, "Polybius as Military Historian" in Entretiens XXI: Polybe, ed. E. Gasba, 1974, p. 270

Also: hybrid elephants! Like the Prius of the ancient world!

2. This quote from Theopompus on the nasty doings of Phillip of Macedon's so-called "companions": ἀνδροφόνοι γὰρ τὴν φύσιν ὄντες ἀνδρόπορνοι τὸν τρόπον ἦσαν [man-killers by nature, they were in practice man-whores]. I probably should not find ancient sexual invective as funny as I do.
ricardienne: (tacitus)
Modern historians of the classical world frequently negotiate Roman hegemony with a salutary angst in case they are condemned for devaluing the culture of the oppressed or not looking hard enough to find it.
-Paula James, "The Language of Dissent" in Experiencing Rome: culture, identity, and power in the Roman Empire (1999): 293.


Dec. 15th, 2008 12:10 pm
ricardienne: (heiro)
Sejanus forewarned Tiberius that Drusus would try to poison him. So when Tiberius was offered a cup (poisoned by Sejanus) at a banquet, he passed it on to Drusus, whose subsequent death was taken as proof of his guilt (not of his innocence) on the ground that he had drunk it to commit suicide because Tiberius' refusal to drink showed that his attempt at murder had been detected (Ann. 4.10). That is to say: Tiberius is induced to misunderstand the offer of the cup and to attempt unnecessary self-defense, which, in fact, becomes the apparently unintended murder of Drusus mistakenly seen as suicide for a failed attempt to murder Tiberius by Drusus himself, who is in fact murdered by Sejanus. (Paul Plass 1988 Wit and the Writing of History U-Wisconsin.)

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