Archaeologists working on a rescue excavation in Athens city centre have just announced the discovery of a series of clay tablets inscribed in the Linear B script, the first to be found in the city. The tablets date from the end of the Bronze Age, c.1200 BCE, and provide exciting new evidence for ritual practices in Mycenaean Greece. According to the excavation director, Professor Ilithios Apriliou, the texts refer to a ritual taking place on the first day of the month Apate, tentatively identified as the fourth month of the Mycenaean year. Participants in the ritual are recorded as receiving varying quantities of barley, while other tablets list offerings of wine and olive oil to the god Hermes (Hermahas in Mycenaean Greek). The most enigmatic of the tablets appears to act as an introduction to the whole series; while much of its text is currently obscure, Prof. Apriliou believes it describes a part of the ritual in which participants compete to tell the most outrageous stories in honour of the trickster god Hermes. The tablet is, however, badly damaged, and this interpretation relies heavily on Prof. Apriliou’s suggested restorations; an alternative reading, in which the festival is simply opened by a council of elders, is equally possible, and only close further study – and, it is to be hoped, further discoveries of tablets – will reveal the true nature of this mysterious ancient celebration.
Update: some helpful explanations (and a few more classical news items from April 1st) here!
I’ve recently started taking some classes in modern Greek – something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, since it would be nice to be able to speak it when I travel to Greece (my repertoire up until now has consisted of a relatively fluent ability to order kebabs, but little else). The first thing people normally ask when I mention that I’m learning modern Greek is “how different is it really from ancient Greek?” To which the answer is, well, a) I can’t really speak ancient Greek, as opposed to reading it (the average Classics course is generally more concerned with teaching the vocabulary you need to read about the Persian War than useful phrases like “excuse me, I’m lost, which way is the marketplace please?”), and b) even if I could, I’d still have a lot of trouble making myself understood if I went around speaking it in modern-day Athens, because the language has changed so much. Continue reading “Greek, ancient and modern”
Ever felt as though your life were actually a Greek tragedy? Inspired by The Toast’s “How To Tell What Novel You’re In“, Res Gerendae presents a handy guide to establishing whether this is the case. If one or more of the following apply to you, you may well be a tragic character, and are advised to consult a literary scholar immediately (there will be nothing they can do to stop the inexorable progress of your fate, but they may be able to get a conference paper out of it). Additional symptoms missing from this list may be reported in the comments. Continue reading “How To Tell If You’re In A Greek Tragedy”
I’ve just come across this fun blog illustrating the Iliad, the Odyssey, and Greek myths in comic form, and thought I would share it. Favourite post so far: the infographic with a statistical breakdown of all the deaths in the Iliad, because who doesn’t sometimes need a quick reference to how many people are killed by rocks in the whole poem (10) or the Top Three Grimmest Death? Though I’m pretty sure that last one is debatable, so feel free to make your own nominations…
Editor’s note: This report was recently found pinned to the notice-board in the Graduate Common Room. It appears to be written by the same person as the previous anthropological report, but their identity remains a mystery. It is evident, however, that their fieldwork project in the Faculty is still ongoing.
Following my initial study of the event known as “Graduate Tea“, I have since been fortunate enough to gain access to the Classicists’ second important weekly ritual, the “Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar” (or “GIS”, as it is generally referred to by the initiated).
MPhils – want to know how you’ll do on your first essay? PhDs – want to know when, if ever, your thesis will finally be finished? Desperate to know the definitive answer to the Homeric Question, or whether Linear A will ever be deciphered? Help is at hand! The UCL Oracle is available entirely free of charge to answer all your questions, any time of the day or night, with no need to queue! Of course, interpreting the answers is still up to you, so take care – remember Croesus…
I thought I’d give it a test by asking if there was anyone wiser than Socrates. The answer:
Guess I’m going to have to try harder next time…But what will the oracle predict for YOUR future? Inquire if you dare!