ricardienne: (york)
During the long domination of the patron–client model and the associated “prosopographical school” of Republican history, analysis in terms of “ops-and-pops” was highly unfashionable, and apt to be dismissed as the residue of a nineteenth-century supposition that the ancient Republic functioned rather like a modern parliamentary system. (R. Morstein-Marx, Mass Oratory and Political Power in the Late Roman Republic, (Cambridge, 2004) p. 205)

Ahhhhhhh NOPE. Extensive googling/jstoring, etc. shows that the only people to use this particular short-hand are Morstein-Marx here, and some random crank commentator on an article about the Euro-zone from a couple years ago (and who is definitely *not* M-M because his grasp of Roman political history was pretty terrible.) Of course, it could be an oral tradition.

If I had a tumblr, this is where I would post a Mean Girls "Stop trying to make Ops and Pops happen" macro.
ricardienne: (york)
It's just the Greek word for 'fanfiction', right? Here are some excerpts from Robin Lane Fox's 2010 article, "Thucydides and Documentary History" (Classical Quarterly 60.1 11–29), which is mostly speculation about the sources of the treaties in Thucydides, and, sadly for me, very little about what Thucydides is *doing* with them when he sticks them verbatim into his history. But it's very entertaining:Thucydides fanfiction, basically )
ricardienne: (york)
I'm working with a book by a 20th century Norwegian scholar named "Eiliv Skard." Awesome name or awesomest name? I feel like he should be a guest character on Deep Space Nine or something. (In fact, he was he was also a resistance fighter during WW2 and survived three concentration camps; he wrote on Latin literature, Roman history, Greek history, European philosophy, and a bunch of other stuff (as far as I can decipher the Norwegian titles) and was writing against Fascism in the 20's. Those scholars back in the good old days, right?) And then I got distracted and started to read all about the Norwegian Language Struggle.
In 1911, the writer Gabriel Scott's comedic play Tower of Babel had its premiere in Oslo. It is about a small town in eastern Norway that is overtaken by proponents of landsmål who take to executing all those who resist their language. The play culminates in the landsmål proponents killing each other over what to call their country: Noregr, Thule, Ultima, Ny-Norig, or Nyrig. The last line is spoken by a country peasant who, seeing the carnage, says: "Good thing I didn't take part in this!"

There was at least one brawl in the audience during the play's run, and the stage was set for a linguistic schism that would characterize Norwegian politics to this day.

ricardienne: (york)
Things I read over the last couple of days:

"Bitterly opposed as I am to anthologizing in general -- it is not only the history of the declining Roman Empire that teaches us how the epitomizers and anthologists move in not more than a century before the barbarian hordes -- I would make an exception of Seneca's prose works."-- C.J. Herington, "Senecan Tragedy"Arion 5.4 (1966), p. 433

"In AD 41, the year of his father's death and the first of Claudius' reign, he was exiled to Corsica for committing adultery with the Emperor's niece Julia. He spent his time there in philosophical reflection and writing, which is about all you can do on the island." Henry and Walker, G&R, 1963, p. 99.

"This is contemptuous in tone...but it is a reference of a kind so common in Tacitus that we may attribute it here largely to absent-minded malice" -- iidem, p. 101

"few would react with ready speech when woken in the middle of the night and told by an ex-pupil that he has failed to murder his mother and wants to have another try." --iidem (103)

"This reads as though Tacitus, feeling compelled to allow Seneca a proper appearance, had in the event been defeated by boredom. Stale similes, stale and conventional phrasing make Seneca's last attempt to escape the mesh a matter of indifference to writer and reader alike." --iidem (105 n. 1)

(on Tacitus on Seneca) "His sympathetic understanding reveals something of his own personality and ideals -- in short, the man of letters who serves the 'res public' to the best of his ability, without illusions and with little hope." (Syme, Tacitus, p. 582)

This is a nifty quote about the effect of reading history on the reader, and I can't believe I never came across it before!
Anger must be escaped with learned instructions; that is, the conscious fault of the mind, not the sort that occurs by some condition of human existence and therefore happens even to the wisest; chief among this sort of thing is that blow to the mind which moves us after becoming conscious of an injury. [3] This happens even at staged plays and while reading history. Often, we seem to get angry at Clodius when he is exiling Cicero and at Antony when he is killing him. Who is not stirred up against Marius's arms, against Sulla's Proscriptions? Who is not enraged at Theodotus and Achillas and 'that boy who dared no boyish crime'? [4] Sometimes even song incites us, and a stirring tune or the martial sound of the trumpet; the mind is disturbed by horrifying paintings and grim sight of even the most just executions. [5] This is why we smile at those who laugh and a crowd of mourners make us sad and we blow our tops at others' contests. This is not anger, no more than it is sorrow that makes us frown at the sight of an imitation shipwreck, no more than it is fear which runs through the minds of readers when Hannibal is besieging the walls after Cannae: rather, all of these are movements of minds that move not of their own volition: not emotions, but the first preludes of emotions. [6] So a veteran's ears, even when he is a civilian during peacetime, are sometimes aroused by the trumpet, and the clank of weapons stirs up army horses. They say that Alexander put his hand to his weapon while Xenophantes was reciting. (Seneca, De Ira, 2.2.2-6)

(NOTES: Theodotus and Achillas and that boy...: Ptolemy XII and his two advisers, who murdered Pompeius Magnus when he sought refuge in Egypt in 48 BC.

imitation shipwreck: slightly disturbing example of "fake emotion" in that a "mimicum naufragium" might well be a staged arena spectacle in which people were actually dying.

Xenophantes: A musician at the court of Alexander? Anyway, this passage is sort of interesting as an ancient reference to PTSD.)

I wonder if I could pitch an article to the Toast on the theme of "a partial list of people and things described as "sinister" in the works of Sir Ronald Syme." If there were a classics-themed The Toast, perhaps.
ricardienne: (Default)
Last night's Colbert Report was super classical! (I watch on the internet, a day or so behind and especially when I'm grading) Oh, and it also had Anthony Everett, noted popularizing historian of Ancient Rome on it.

The contrast was interesting! Colbert's opening segment was an incredibly tasteless routine about Donald Trump. Seriously problematic jokes about coerced pathic homosexuality --- oh, hey Catullus/Martial/Juvenal/... But really. There's an interesting point of continuity with the ancient world, there: male identity, power, authority, who gets to speak, sexual domination. But elderly (white, male) professorial types waxing fondly in British accents about the Empire, mostly in terms of its military and its exciting imperial personalities? Not so much.

I'm not bothered by the gross generalizations, the really bizarre statements about Romanization (straight out of the 19th century), the reduction of Rome to a homogenous machine enlivened with a few salacious anecdotes. (I'm a pedant and I have a field of expertise: of course I think he said everything wrong!) I'm just a little annoyed that this is what history, and especially Roman history apparently means. When there are so many more interesting things being done, and so many more interesting people doing them (plenty of whom are popularizing personalities, I might add), why is it still comforting traditional authorities and Great Man history?
ricardienne: (heiro)
From the commentary of W.B. Stanford on the Odyssey, published 1948.

On 19.500-502 (Odysseus has just been recognized by Eurycleia, he's threatened that if she reveals what she knows, he will not spare her "though you are my nurse, when I kill all the other slave-women in my house." She responds with an assurance that she will be as silent "as barren stone or iron... but I'll tell you about the household women, which did you dishonor and which are innocent." Odysseus responds: "Granny, why are you to tell me about them? It isn't your place. For you can be sure that I will investigate it and learn about each one."
O. rather curtly cuts short Eurycleia's tale-bearing about her fellow-servants. He prefers to see to this sort of thing himself
On 22.195-199 (Eumaeus and Philoetius tie up the treacherous Melanthius during the slaughter of the suitors and stick him in a store room). Stanford:
no one is so hard on a faithful servant as an unfaithful servant.
on 22.474 (execution of Melanthius -- his nose, ears, and genitals are cut off and fed to the dogs, then he is dismembered. Stanford finds this much more disturbing than the execution of the maidservants, which he annotates in detail. Although he does note that the last line of that section ("their feet writhed a little while, but not for long") contributes to "the horror of their agony.")) But about Melanthius:
ἦγον sc. from the θάλαμος : the subject is presumably the swineherd, the cowherd, and perhaps -- one hopes not -- Telemachus. O. himself was inside the house and had no part in the following barbarities, which are best excused as the revenge of servants on a traitorous servant. Even Antinous when he threatened similar indignities on Irus, did not propose to inflict them himself.
Of course, Telemachus is the one who decrees that they are going give the maidservants the unclean death of hanging rather than the execution by the sword that Odysseus had ordered (nb. the first thing he does is to ask Eurycleia which ones are guilty* and which are innocent.)

It's maybe also interesting that Stanford's introduction includes under CHARACTERS people like Anticleia (Odysseus's mother) and Ajax, and mentions that the Suitors and Odysseus' Companions are individuated characters, but doesn't even signal the existence of Eurycleia and Eumaeus, two of the main characters of the last third of the poem. The introductory essay to the second half of the Odyssey has a bit more:
Instead of queer folk rapidly sketched we are now shown ordinary folk searchingly portrayed...Who would not rather face the anger of Aeolus and the blandishments of Circe, and even the terrors of the Cyclops and Scylla, than suffer, in constant danger of detection and death, the taunts and missiles of insolent princelings and the derision of his own disloyal servants? Truly it needed a heart and face as hard as steel and horn (19.211) for a husband after nearly twenty years' separation from his wife to witness her deep sorrow, for a father to watch the humiliations of his only son, for a kingly householder, disguised as a beggar, to see the anarchy, extravagance, insolence, and immorality that prevailed in his own palace, without betraying himself prematurely.

*that is, "guilty." Melantho is about on same snide-and-mean level as O'Brian from Downton Abbey, though Melantho doesn't, as I recall, actually do anything particularly wicked (contra, O'Brian). Otherwise, what the maidservants are guilty of is sleeping with the suitors. (Let's just say that I have a hard time reading this part of the Odyssey straight and believing that sexual relationships between insolent and violent aristocratic young men and slave-girls were consensual seduction.)
ricardienne: (library)
νῦν δ᾽ ἄγ᾽ ἀείδοντες παιήονα κοῦροι Ἀχαιῶν
νηυσὶν ἔπι γλαφυρῇσι νεώμεθα, τόνδε δ᾽ ἄγωμεν.
ἠράμεθα μέγα κῦδος: ἐπέφνομεν Ἕκτορα δῖον

But come now, Achaean youths, singing the paeon
let us go to the hollow ships, let us convey him.
We achieved great glory: we slew divine Hektor
(Il. 22.391-3)

This means that according to Achilles' command the warriors are to bring the slain enemy to the camp in a victory procession and with a victory-song. With line 393, Achilles gives them the theme for their song, that is, they are to sing, at his pleasure, something like what some non-combatant back home could have said during the World War: we have conquered the Russians at Tannenberg, we took prisoners, he have brought enemies, guns, etc. to nought, and so on. Here, as in the lines of Homer, the speaking person or persons are not actively, but only emotionally sharking in the action. Due to shared communal feeling, which here bids together army and home, there prince and warriors, it situates itself sociatively. But a special refinement seems to me to lie in that the hero, who completed the deed alone, calls on his men to sing in the sociative mode; this especially shows us Achilles as a collectivist and socially-conscious man...
ricardienne: (library)

These noble sentiments are often echoed in the letters and speeches he wrote at this time. After Caesar's murder, Cicero felt himself in imminent peril. But he was still more anxious for the State than for himself...Finally, in the Fourteenth Philippic, "after the high Roman fashion, (he) spoke weighty and solemn words on the shortness of life and the eternity of glory. This speech, the last public utterance which we have of Cicero's is in his highest strain, and is in every respect worthy of the orator who delivered it, of the language he spoke, and of the Roman name." It was the twenty-first of April, 43 B.C. In December of that same year he was done to death by the agents of Antony.
. . .
"Rome's least mortal mind" remained to the end very mortal still. But all who know Cicero intimately must admit that the glory he hungered after was no mean or vulgar thing. It inspired him to live nobly and to die bravely, like one of his old Roman heroes.

--Francis A. Sullvan: "Cicero and Gloria." TAPA 72 (1941).
ricardienne: (tacitus)
So my long-awaited Cambridge Companions to Tacitus and to Roman Historiography arrived today. At least one person in the Tacitus one is saying stupid and overly-simplistic things about Tacitus and senatorial martyrs -- NOT THAT I'M SURPRISED.

More to the point, there is an astoundingly angry essay by J.E. Lendon about how "Woodman and Wiseman and people like them [i.e. scholars who approach ancient historians from a literary/rhetorical/theoretical perspective] are hacks and self-serving careerists enamored of sketchy ~French~ ideas who have utterly destroyed the noble discipline of ancient history." So...yeah. To be fair, a large portion of the article is making legitimate arguments about Cicero's discussion of historiography. But the opening and last portions basically consist of: "the following people and their namby-pamby ~theory~ suck..."

(Full disclosure: I stand (pretty) firmly on the literary/rhetorical side of the literary-historical divide, and I have even been known to be pretty scornful of the "well first we can delete the speeches, because obviously those were made up, and these elaborate descriptions and digressions are also obviously the creation of the author so we can remove them, too: okay no we know what happened" school of approach to ancient historians.)

But the point of bringing contemporary theory to bear on non-contemporary texts is NOT that some ancient author is amazingly anticipating the theoretical frameworks of Zizek or Foucault or Derrida. It's that there are observations about the way texts function and the way social pressures function that are -- surprise! -- visible in pre-modern texts as well as modern ones. No one seems to be upset that, e.g., Eastern European scholars have been using the experience of the intellectual dissident under a Soviet regime to think about Tacitus... (which is not to say that some very "theory-heavy" classics can get out-there and can get very far from plausible reality -- John Henderson is amazing and brilliant and ridiculously clever, but he may have extra gimmicks that don't really add to his argument.)

Also: quotes like this? "The result is like the diary of a fat teenager: riveting only to its creator, repellent to others, and illuminating to none." Was that adjective really necessary, Professor Henderson?

And: "But historians too have not answered as vigorously as they ought. Unconquerable love of ease is no doubt part of the reason for this long neglect, but more powerful is the admirable inclination of most historians simply to get on with it and not worry too much about the theoretical basis of what they are doing: theirs is the hard-skulled practical habit of mind that simply ignored Hayden White, and preserved academic history from the squalls of nonsense from France that overwhelmed the modern languages" (Italics mine). SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY? Are we self-important, much?
ricardienne: (Default)
So, I started actually filling in on-line apps today. Berkeley wants a "Personal History Statement:"

Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.

In a few words of one syllable: it doesn't, I haven't, I don't, I haven't, and it doesn't. Thank you, Berkeley, for making me feel even worse about the utility of what I study, and even more guilty about my apathy when it comes to practical matters.

On the other hand, I got proselytized this morning. I was baking muffins when the mysterious car pulled into the driveway, but since it's parents' weekend, I assumed someone was about to get picked up. And it was a little weird when the people who got out were an elderly man and a younger man (maybe a little older than I am), but since I'm sort of stupid, I didn't realize that they weren't parents until I noticed the Bible and the sheaf of tracts. And when the older man said "I see you're cooking breakfast" in a weird and fake-jovial voice, and then told me that he thought I would be interested in an article about Successful Families. I said that this was student housing, and we weren't interested, and he said, "oh, but it's for all kinds of people," and I told him that "really, we aren't interested" and sort of shoved them out of the doorway. And that was the end. Not very exciting, and yet, sort of exciting.

Also, someone just put a giant cardboard cut-out of Galbatorix in our kitchen (disclosure: it said "Eragon" at the bottom, which is how I knew it was an Eragon character, but I then identified Galbatorix on my own. Yes: I've read the first one.) and it keeps scaring me whenever I go out to make tea.

Thirdly, I downloaded a 1920's dissertation the other day for the Latin Paper that I Won't Actually Be Writing, Now, and it's all in Latin and is ADORABLE! There is one bit where he pulls out a Greek tag, and says "ut potius lingua Graeca quam nostra utar" (if I may use the Greek language, rather than ours). It's so cute. I want to be able to say that Latin is "my" language.

But the best part is the last page, which is a little CV that I shall quote in full:

Natus sum Paulus Joannes Guilelmus Kempe a.d. III non.Nov. anno 1897 in Pomeraniae oppido, cui nomen est Koeclin, patre Ernesto, matre Augusta e gente Mueller, quibus vivis salvisque vehementer gaudeo. Fidei addictus sum evangelicae.

Primis litterarum elementis imbutus ab anno 1908 patrio in oppido gymnasium regium adii, ubi maturitatis testimonium adeptus sum. Vere anni 1916 libens arma cepi ad patriam defendendam. Graviiter vulneratus paulo ante finem belli stipendiis relictis ab autumno anni 1918 Berolinensem frequentavi universitatem ibique studiis inprimis philologicae incubui. Inde mense Ianuario anni 1920 Gryphiam me contuli iisdem litteris operam daturus.

I was born Paul John William Kempe on the fifth of November, 1897, in the Pomerianian town of Koeclin, my father being Ernest and my mother Augusta of the Mueller family, in whom I rejoice greatly that they are alive and well. I am devoted to the evangelical faith.

Given the first elements of letters, I went to the Royal Gymnasium in my home town from the year 1908, where I achieved a diploma. In the spring of 1916 I freely took up arms to defend my homeland. Severely wounded a little before the end of the war, I attended Berlin University from the autumn of 1918 with the pension left to me, and here I dwelt on philological studies above all. From there, in January 1920 I took myself to Gryphia to study those same letters.

It may be because I am thinking a lot about "personal statements" these days, and because I just read A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book, which ends with a lot of bright young things encountering WWI, but there is something v. touching about it. The emphasis on his parents, the note that he enlisted, and wasn't conscripted into the army -- these are probably standard phrases that aren't being used out of any particular feeling but because they are conventional. But nevertheless, there's a whole story there about a young soldier in the war who came home and wrote his dissertation on metric clausula in Petronius.
ricardienne: (tacitus)
I can't decide whether it's unreasonable for me to even be contemplating applying/auditioning to two vastly different kinds of graduate program, or whether I should be able to do it, if I were more focused and organized and single-(double)minded.

On the other hand, some excerpts from Gwyn Morgan's 69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors (Oxford, 2006):
No sooner had Helvidius returned, however, than he took advantage of a senate meeting to try to settle scores with Marcellus. In later days, Helvidius too would be idolized by supposedly freedom-loving senators, but he must have been almost impossible to deal with in person. (49)

Tacitus asserts that nobody had the desire ore the nerve to claim Galba's corpse that day, but this need not contradict Plutarch's assertion that the insufferable Helvidius Priscus undertook the task. (72)

Also to humor the senators, the emperor attended meetings and acted as one of them, even when trivial matters were discussed. But one result was a confrontation with that prickly champion of "free speech," Helvidius Priscus. Helvidius seems to have proposed a motion contrary to Vitellius' wishes. (160)

Once they turned to the restoration of the temple, the stiff-necked Helvidius Priscus threw a wrench in the works. So was Rome robbed of any guidance, says Tacitus: the defeated Vitellians grumbled, the victorious Flavians got nothing done, and later senate meetings bogged down in petty quibbles and pointless recriminations. (257)

Helvidius Priscus resumed his career as the noisiest critic of every emperor from Nero on, until the otherwise equable Vespasion put him to death in 75. (267)

Wait, wait wait, Professor Morgan -- I think you are being too subtle with respect to your assessment of Helvidius Priscus' career.


ricardienne: (Default)

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