Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum

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:

Telling the human story of Pompeii and Herculaneum

As the self-appointed ResGerendae museum reviewer, I will certainly be visiting in the near future and sharing my thoughts, so watch this space!


Beware the Ides of March!

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.

La Mort de César (ca. 1859–1867) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

The Lost Books of the Odyssey

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’.)

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Antiquity À-la-carte

My latest find of incredibly-useful-tools-I-wish-someone-had-told-me-about-earlier is “Antiquity À-la-carte“, an application developed by the Ancient World Mapping Centre which allows the user to create customised maps of any part of the classical world:

Antiquity 2
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Linguistics Baking Part II: Cypro-Minoan

Following on from my Linear B tablet cake, the mission to raise the profile of obscure Bronze Age scripts through the medium of baked goods continues — this time with Cypro-Minoan, which was used on Cyprus from the 16th century B.C.E. until at least the 11th century. It has also been found at Ras Shamra, Syria (ancient Ugarit), from where this tablet comes:

Cypro-Minoan tablet RASH Atab 001.A
Cypro-Minoan tablet RASH Atab 001.A

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The Faculty of Classics: An Anthropologist’s Report

Editor’s note: A copy of this report was found this morning pushed under the door of the Mycenaean Epigraphy Room; it is reproduced here in its entirety, including the original illustrations. It is unsigned, and the author is unknown; presumably he or she wishes to remain anonymous in order not to jeopardise future fieldwork.

Many an explorer, anthropologist, or documentary-maker has attempted to enter the mysterious land known as the Faculty of Classics in order to study its inhabitants (termed Classicists). Living so long in isolation from the influence of the outside world, this uncontacted tribe must, it is often speculated, have developed its own, completely unique, culture, such as every anthropologist would dream of studying. It was, therefore, a great privilege for me not only to gain access to the Faculty of Classics just a few days ago, but also to witness first-hand one of the most important events of the Classicists’ ritual calendar: the festival known as Graduate Tea.

Participants in the celebration of Graduate Tea. See below on the ritual significance of the headdresses.

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