ORBIS: Google Maps for the Roman Empire

I’m sure many of you have often felt frustrated at the inability of Google Maps to accurately represent journey times within the ancient Roman Empire. Happily, a new online resource has been created for just such a purpose.

ORBIS, the Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World, will calculate the fastest, shortest, or cheapest route between any two major cities across the empire, based on a range of factors such as time of year, whether you are a member of the military or merely a civilian, and your chosen mode(s) of transport (options range from “rapid military march” to “horse relay” by way of “ox cart”, “fully loaded mule”, “private travel (routine, vehicular)” and a host of others. It even tells you the price (in denarii) per kilogram of wheat transported via your chosen route. Continue reading “ORBIS: Google Maps for the Roman Empire”

More classical graffiti – from The Other Place

The Other Classics Library

Occasionally during the holidays I like to masquerade as a student of The Other Place by working in the Sackler Library.

A trip to the toilets during my most recent visit there provided evidence that members of The Other Classics Faculty have the same urge to create classics-themed graffiti as the inhabitants of G21



Continue reading “More classical graffiti – from The Other Place”

Weird and Wonderful Classics: Sheep

The great thing about Classics is that even the most boring of animals (which, let’s face it, sheep generally are) can turn out to be quite weird and wonderful after all. As a philologist, I’ve always been rather fond of Greek sheep, for two reasons:

One: they provide important evidence for pronunciation changes in the Greek language. If anyone ever asks you to prove that Ancient Greek was pronounced differently from Modern Greek, by far the easiest way to do it is to point out that Ancient Greek sheep go βῆ βῆ [bē ]:

ὁ δ’ ἠλίθιος ὥσπερ πρόβατον βῆ βῆ λέγων βαδίζει

“The silly man goes around going baa baa like a sheep” (Cratinus, fragment 43)

Unless your interlocutor can find a breed of sheep that makes a noise like vee vee, you can at this point be regarded as having won the argument.

(The wonderfully onomatopoeic but sadly uncommon term βληχητά, “bleaters” [blēkhēta], will also do the trick.)

Continue reading “Weird and Wonderful Classics: Sheep”

The Cambridge-Munich Exchange

Just before Christmas a group of Classicists spent a week in Munich as the first part of the annual Faculty exchange with the Institute of Classical Archaeology in Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. As the exchange’s official Res Gerendae reporter, I’m writing a bit about what the week was like, in the hopes of convincing everyone who hasn’t yet been on one to sign up for next year’s. Which I reckon should be pretty easy to do when I say that most of the time that wasn’t spent in Christmas markets drinking Glühwein (or beer) was spent in beer halls drinking beer (or Glühwein).