Athenaeus Online

30 July 2010

FISH: Roman mosaic, Emporiae

Yesterday, having an 83-year-old friend to lunch, I had the opportunity to do a thorough scrub of my downstairs guest bathroom. Now I’m not overly addicted to cleaning house; I do it once a year on December 31st, whether it needs it or not, and usually catch a few nests of dog fur and a pocket or two of old catfood or spilled coffee. Nevertheless, yesterday I spent an hour at it in that one little room, spraying everything with bleach, scrubbing such things as the upper, lower, and hinge-side edges of the door just like I was back at the U. S. Air Force Academy many years ago (failing inspections, by the way, no matter what I did). Dunno how good it all was, but I did get the house to smell like a public swimming pool.

Yet finally I was surprised to find it was satisfying: I could see the result. Cleaning a whole house, on the other hand, is deadly: it’s just too much.

Inspired, I went on and cleaned one small room of a huge project long underway at LacusCurtius – to put onsite the complete Loeb edition’s English translation of the Deipnosophistae by Athenaeus: several thousand pages of Greek blather, mostly about FISH; although here and there he also talks about Homer, wine, whores, fish, music, religion, fish, the palaestra, literary conundrums, India, fish, spices, plants, etc. It’s a whole depressing houseful, and it’s been hanging undone for years, on my site, but not quite. I don’t normally like doling things out piecemeal, but in this particular case if I follow my usual practice and prepare all of it together, it’ll never get done at all. So now, then, one little room of it is done, and any ichthyophilous octogenarian out there with a hankering to read this stuff can now at least get a start: Book 1, in three webpages. The other 14 Books will stagger in over time, competing with other smaller and thus more satisfying projects, like tuna fighting the currents in the Bosporus.


An Interesting Experiment

30 July 2010

The High Alps

Not content with dressing like Roman legionaries, giving shows, and explaining things to the visitors – one of the most efficient ways to bring the results of scholarship to a great number of people – a group of Austrian and German reenactors has started to reconstruct a Roman road in the High Alps, on the original foundations, with original tools and methods. Of course it is nothing but a splendid piece of antiquarianism. The real questions we have, are different, and will not be answered by this experiment. But splendid it is.

Photos here. Watch them, if only for the beautiful landscape of the Mallnitzer Tauernpass.


A Little Known Roman Emperor

26 July 2010

Inconnus (Museum Jára Cimrman, Prague)

Long time ago, we drove to Italy, and someone joked that he wanted to meet that miss Caduta Massi, whose name was written on so many road signs. It became a running gag during a great holiday: we praised the paintings of Vietato Fumare in the Roman museum of contemporary art, asked directions to the home of Senso Unico, and were happy when A.S. Roma finally bought a new striker, Totò Calcio.

Some time ago, I was in the Louvre to take photos of Roman portrait busts, when a Dutch tour guide parked her group next to me, had a quick look at the explanatory sign, and asked attention for the bust of the Emperor Inconnus. Unfortunately, that was not a joke.


Tabula Leersumiana

17 July 2010

The "Tabula Leersumiana"

Tabula Leersumiana” is the modern name of a fragment of an ancient Roman inscription in bronze, found near modern Leersum in the Netherlands. It is too damaged to make sense of it, but there is one interesting aspect: it was found north of the limes. The object must have been taken away from a Roman military settlement by German looters, who cut it into pieces to melt it in an oven. Several fragments escaped, were found in 2003, and are now in the Leiden Rijksmuseum van oudheden.

The full text is here, and if you understand what it’s all about, Dutch historians will be eternally grateful.


So, where’s my Nobel Prize?!

15 July 2010

I write like
Edgar Allan Poe

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

BTW:

Suetonius writes like Shakespeare
Shakespeare writes like Lovecraft
Lovecraft writes like Doug Adams
Douglas Adams writes like James F. Cooper
James F. Cooper writes like … James F. Cooper


The backlog

14 July 2010

In one of the comics of Gaston, his increasingly frustrated boss Léon Prunelle starts to investigate why the office junior never manages to finish his jobs, and at some point explodes with the question “so answering this pile of letters has already been urgent for quite some time?!!” I do not remember the exact joke, except the date of the pile of letters: May 10, 1940.

The backlog of Livius.org is not as long as that, but nevertheless, over the past five years, I have accumulated a lot of notes: see the photo to the right, to which some forty e-mails must be added. I will make a lot of minor updates in the next weeks, without idea how much time it will take. Suggestions are always welcome.


Ba’al

13 July 2010

Baal (Louvre, Paris)

After several postings on updated old webpages, I am happy to be able to announce a completely new page: Ba’al, the name or title of one of the main deities of the ancient Near East. He is of course notorious as one of the favorite targets of the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament, but gods named Ba’al are known from Syria and Phoenicia as well.

Ba’al is especially well-known from a series of tablets from Ugarit, which tell the story about his fight against the sea god, his palace, and his temporary defeat in a conflict with the god of death. The god was also venerated in Carthage, had a twin named Bel in Babylonia, is mentioned on the Mesha stela, and is known from countless personal names.

The most famous story is, of course, that about the prophet Eliah, challenging the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. When I was preparing my article, I received a message from a friend who has been there several times, and remarked that the ancient altars, which were apparently still there, had been removed, because conservative Jews might take umbrage over those pagan objects.

The new page is here.


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