Dublin might not seem the obvious city for a Classical tour, since the Greeks and Romans never really made it as far as Ireland, and don’t seem to have known all that much about what they called Ἱέρνη/Hibernia. All Pliny the Elder (4.102-3) has to report about the island is its size (300 miles wide and 600 long, apparently; he’s only out by a couple hundred miles), though Strabo (4.201) has a bit more information: apparently the inhabitants of Ἱέρνη were savage incestuous cannibals. (Keen to avoid a libel suit, though, he’s quick to add that he doesn’t have any reliable sources for this, and anyway plenty of other peoples are said to practice cannibalism, at least during sieges). And, apart from a list of towns in Ptolemy’s Geography, that’s about it on Classical interaction with Ireland; Dublin itself was probably founded about 800 A.D. So why, I hear my readers ask, does a trip to Dublin merit inclusion on Res Gerendae?
Last week a group of intrepid graduate students gathered their courage and dared to step outside the Cambridge Bubble. Our mission: to attend the Classical Association conference, hosted this year by the University of Reading, and involving around 400 Classics students, lecturers, and teachers from all over the UK and abroad.
A reminder that the British Museum’s Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition, which I’m pretty sure all of us are going to want to go see, just opened today:
As the self-appointed ResGerendae museum reviewer, I will certainly be visiting in the near future and sharing my thoughts, so watch this space!
To celebrate this glorious/inauspicious day (depending on your Roman political stance), some wonderful Victorian and early-20th-century advertisments for how to avoid ending up like Julius Caesar from the British Newspaper Archive:
If only Caesar had had some Scotch whisky with him, history would have been very different.
“Hobbits and archaeologists basically have the same meals…They’re equally hairy, too.”
(Before anyone starts accusing me of anti-archaeologist prejudice, it was an archaeologist who said this…)
I’ve been meaning to write a review of this book for ages, since it’s not only one of my favourite Classics-based books, but also definitely has a place in my (long) list of favourite books ever – as the many of you to whom I’ve recommended it already know!
‘The Lost Books of the Odyssey’ is the literary debut of Zachary Mason, a computer scientist from California who wrote it in his spare time after work (don’t you just hate some people?). It’s a collection of forty-four stories, most of which are loosely constructed around episodes, characters and themes from the Odyssey (there are also a few based on the Iliad, and on other Greek myths) – the premise being that these are remnants of the epic tradition as it was before the canonisation of the Homeric versions of these stories. (The preface claims it to be a translation of a papyrus found at Oxyrhynchus, which ties in quite nicely with all our discussions last term about creating authority through ‘translation’.)