Elsewhere in this issue, in his article titled The Metal Age, Kris Fletcher discusses the relationship between classical studies and heavy metal music. Examining various metal appropriations of themes, characters, and ideas from classical antiquity, some less orthodox than others, Fletcher notes, “… these songs should remind us that we as classicists do not control this material.” On the SCS website, Mary-Kay Gamel and the Outreach Committee have voiced a similar view concerning the shared understanding of classical material: “We use the word ‘outreach’ not to suggest a one-way communication in which scholars inform others, but a complex interaction in which all involved contribute to a discussion of what Classics is and what it might be.”
Not surprisingly, then, in January the Outreach Committee enjoyed a lively discussion of the role of professional classicists and their students as editors of Wikipedia articles on classical subjects.
Wikipedia is, of course, “the encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” It is also the world’s sixth most-visited website. It is an enormous public forum in which academic experts and the interested public negotiate which facts should be given weight as reflective of a broad consensus of expert opinion. Wikipedia is a site to which many professors say that they turn for information outside their area of specialty. Teachers at leading universities now require that their students actively engage with the Wikipedia community. And these trends seem to be as true in classics as elsewhere. A show of hands at the Outreach Committee meeting confirmed that quite a few professors had edited articles. One member of the committee talked about requiring students to help edit Wikipedia articles. Many other Wikipedia classics editors are students–current or former–who were inspired by these same professors.
The question of the relationship of the credentialed expert to Wikipedia has been a raging controversy since (and, in truth, long before) Larry Sanger’s break with Wikipedia and subsequent publication of “The Fate of Expertise after Wikipedia” (Episteme, 2009). However, there seems to be less debate about the claim that Wikipedia and its users benefit from expert participation.
by Herbert W. Benario
This play is one of Shakespeare’s oddest. The theme focuses upon the Trojan War, with constant interplay among the great figures of the Greeks and Trojans, in the seventh year of the war. The cause of the war, the Trojan prince Paris stealing the beauteous wife of
Shakespeare will pronounce harsh judgments upon the heroine of the play. Her behavior and character will be sharply contrasted with one of Tacitus’ prime female figures in the struggle between Romans and Germans. Both suffer the indignity of being handed over to the enemy by their fathers. But their response and behavior are vastly different.
The focus of the play is likewise upon a young man and woman, Troilus, a son of King Priam of Troy, and Cressida, hitherto unknown in the ancient legend of Troy. She plays a relatively small role in the drama; indeed, almost everything about her is quizzical. She is traded by her father, Calchas, a seer who went over to the Greeks at the beginning of the war, for the release of an important Trojan, Antenor, of whom the audience knows nothing. Her father’s name is barely mentioned. Why had he defected from the Trojan side to that of the Greeks? But Homer (Iliad 1.69) states that he had sailed with the Greeks in the attack upon Troy. How came he there? Had he foreseen the ultimate victory of Troy’s enemy? For seven years, although on Trojan soil, he has had no contact with his daughter. Cressida tells Pandarus, “I have forgot my father; I know no touch of consanguinity; No kin, no love, no blood, no soul, so near me as the sweet Troilus.” (IV.2.99-102) Why?
What significance did he have among the Greek aristocracy that he should be the one to propose that his daughter should be exchanged for a political figure? Did he know that Cressida had of late spent a substantial amount of time with Troilus, which ultimately led, it appears, to intercourse and expression of deepest devotion? And, when the time came for the trade, she left Troy with deep feelings of love and regret but these rapidly passed and she soon found a Greek lover. Shakespeare tells his audience nothing about Calchas the father. The audience in the Playhouse must have been bemused when this as yet unknown character begins the proceedings that have such impact upon his daughter. Could he have determined that he wanted to separate Cressida from the Trojan royal family at the point when she grew from child to woman?
by Ronnie Ancona and Kathleen Durkin
There is a shortage of certified Latin teachers in the United States. Latin teaching positions at the precollegiate level sometimes cannot be filled for lack of qualified applicants. In New York State, for example, where we both teach, in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, Latin was named specifically as a language with a teacher shortage by the United States Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education.
by Sebastian Heath
As the tools and methods for creating 3D models of sites and objects become less expensive, archaeologists are increasingly putting them to good use in the field. This article focuses on my collaborative work to scan objects found at the site of Kenchreai in Greece and now stored nearby in the Isthmia Museum. It does cover practical issues and one goal of writing this piece is to encourage others to explore the creation of 3D content. Accordingly, I stress that 3D tools are becoming easier to use, not just less expensive. And it will be as important to think about what to do with these models after they are made. Permanent access to 3D models is a goal and initial steps towards that are described below. Likewise, rich linking of information about scanned objects to descriptions of their original archaeological findspot will further encourage contextualized studies of Greek and Roman material culture.
As 3D content becomes available on the internet, new approaches both to teaching and research will be enabled. This is particularly the case as virtual technologies move into consumer products, which is a development clearly seen in news coverage of relatively inexpensive virtual-reality headsets such as Microsoft’s HoloLens and FaceBook’s Oculus system. If immersive experiences are coming, classicists can prepare by creating materials that represent the cultures we study. Within this broad context, an underlying theme of the following discussion is that all members of the SCS community can choose to engage with the opportunities that three-dimensional renderings of the ancient Mediterranean world offer.
In recent years, a workflow that involves taking many photographs and processing them into a 3D model of a real-world object or scene has gained in both mind-share and actual results. This approach uses the overlap between photos in a set to calculate the position and shape of objects. That overlap can be discovered automatically and the resulting model has a realistic appearance and can serve as a useful surrogate for the original. Many practical examples and good discussions of photo-based modeling appear in the recent volume Visions of Substance: 3D Imaging in Mediterranean Archaeology, edited by W. Caraher and B. Olson and freely available in PDF form (http://tinyurl.com/pz2rano). The work I describe here builds on themes developed in my contribution to that volume.
A major advantage of the photo based approach is cost. Many archaeologists working in the Mediterranean and elsewhere are using Agisoft Photoscan, which is available for an educational price of $59.00, though other solutions exist and there are more expensive versions of Photoscan as well.
by Thomas D Kohn
A few years ago, I adopted the Anthology of Classical Myth, edited by SM Trzaskoma, RS Smith, and S Brunet (Hackett, 2004), for my Greek and Roman mythology course. And so, some months before the start of the semester, I read through the text, in order to familiarize myself with the selections. At the same time, I began to read the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series by Rick Riordan. I was amazed by the degree to which the two complemented each other.
by Amy Richlin
In 1954, the girls went out to play
on the green lawns, under the maples lush with June,
and brought their cat’s-cradle strings and dolls
and a book.
“She’s always got her nose in a book,” their mothers said,
wondering about the distant years,
and called them home to dinner:
“Barbara! Natalie!”—names little girls had then,
just as they once were Sylvia and Celia,
Fanny and Minnie and Ida before that.
Serious girls, or rowdy, they got straight A’s,
they couldn’t leave the books alone, and wouldn’t rest,
but thought they might write one,
much to everyone’s surprise.
(No one expected a girl to write a book; not someone
who loved the color pink, and liked to go shopping,
and once wore Mary Janes.)
Once they wore red Keds, and collected barrettes;
once their skin was smoother than a Band-Aid,
and their eyelashes lay as they slept on cheeks like peonies.
Now it is summer again, and the trees cast the same green shade;
underneath, they still lie, reading;
and their mothers are calling them home.
by Victoria Pagán
The story is familiar. Musician marries the love of his life; on their wedding day, she dies. He grieves until he wills his way into the Underworld and is allowed to retrieve her on one condition, which he violates. Thus, even the theme is the same: the fallibility of the human condition and the inability of art to triumph over the persistence of suffering and the finality of death. Nor is Eurydice a strident feminist with a point to prove, after centuries of silent existence as nothing more than a catalyst for the erotic narrative that is the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
by Roberta Stewart
For the past seven years, small groups of combat veterans in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont have been making Homer their own. This article details the particular value of these small book groups for the veteran, for the community, and for me as the academic facilitator.
The proposal for the book groups originated from the premise that literature is able to provide useful insight into life experience and, more specifically, that Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey provide valuable insight—2800 years old—into the problems of soldiers who individually and collectively experienced deep internal conflicts while deployed (Iliad) and who needed somehow to get home (Odyssey). Homer provides a salutary distancing and deflection that, I believe, allows the problems of homecoming to emerge more clearly as a historical problem of the human condition across cultures and political or social organizations: the problem of homecoming is a product of war.
The Homer book groups that I run are small (8-12 vets) but the ideas are large: life, or our daily lived experience, happens between the big events; and narratives, or figured worlds, conjure, create, and sustain lived experience (Holland and Skinner 1998); dialogic engagement with the text of Homer creates narratives, or figured worlds of return, and may help the daily experience of return and reintegration for combat veterans. Practically I bring the world of the liberal arts curriculum, namely philology as the art of reading slowly (Nietzsche), to a group outside of the liberal arts college. I teach veterans how to have a relationship with a piece of ancient literature and in the process I teach how to create a community that is founded upon a shared intellectual experience.
by KFB Fletcher
It is a great time to be a fan of both the Classical world and heavy metal music: the two have never overlapped to the extent that they do right now. Consider, for example, the fact that in 2013 not one but two Italian metal bands, Heimdall and Stormlord, released concept albums based on Vergil’s Aeneid.
But this overlap is not a new phenomenon—in fact, far from it. Heavy metal music has drawn on the Classical world almost from its very beginnings, and this interest in the Classical world is part of a larger obsession with other times and places—both real and imagined— that is a defining characteristic of the genre. And since metal is a conservative genre (there are clear forefathers to whom almost all subsequent bands owe and acknowledge their allegiance), the interest in these kinds of subjects by earlier bands sanctioned continuous use of them by all subsequent bands.
To simplify radically, metal begins in 1969-70, with the debut of the two main forefathers of heavy metal, the British bands Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Both of these bands demonstrate interest in fantastical worlds and the occult. Led Zeppelin draws on the works of JRR Tolkien, referring to places or characters from The Lord of the Rings in songs such as “Ramble On” and “Misty Mountain Hop.” But they also have a song entitled “Achilles Last Stand” [sic]. The members of Black Sabbath have said that they took their influence from horror movies; from the very beginning their albums have been full of otherworldly topics, especially the occult, as is evident from the title of their band, which is also the name of their first album and a song on it (another song on that album is “The Wizard”).
Your Amphora staff members are pleased to bring you this new issue, in print and digital formats. At the initiative of Executive Director Adam Blistein, we have been developing ways to bring materials to you in both formats, much as we did in our most recent issue, as a way of leveraging the benefits of print and digital presentation.
In this issue, KFB Fletcher (Louisiana State University) examines the considerable crossover that classical studies makes into the world of metal, or heavy metal, music. He surveys their use of Latin, and the reuse of mythical themes and plot elements from authors and works we know well, as well as people and events from ancient history. His piece includes hyperlinks to samples of “classical” metal music, so readers may care to visit the version of his article on the SCS’s blog, where the links are of course live and clickable, although those reading Amphora in PDF format will also find these links (and others in the issue) are live.
Similarly, Sebastian Heath (New York University) has shared with us details on the process of 3D scanning, drawing upon the excavations at Kenchreai led by Joseph Rife (Vanderbilt University). Sebastian discusses the ways in which scanning might take place and the effect of different kinds of techniques, as well as suggesting where this practice might fit into one’s teaching, if, for instance. a country of interest is hostile to students, or merely expensive to visit. Visitors to the version of Sebastian’s piece on the SCS blog will find links to sample rotating 3D presentations of artifacts.
A third piece that is best read online is my brief essay presenting an audio file of an important panel at the recent annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America. This specially commissioned session offered presentations by, and conversations among, scholars Barbara Rosenwein (Loyola University of Chicago, emerita), Irina Dumitrescu (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn), and Mary Carruthers (New York University, emerita). The panel featured a discussion of the situation facing the humanities, particularly but not exclusively medieval studies, in the context of an academic landscape, familiar to most of us, that privileges the hard sciences, medicine, and engineering. There is much to be gained from a consideration of a discipline in a rather analogous situation to our own, as analyzed by three experienced and innovative practitioners of the scholastic and administrative arts.
Wells Hansen, assistant editor of Amphora, asks whether SCS members can play a bigger role in creating and maintaining Wikipedia's information on the ancient world.
Amphora is a peer-reviewed publication of the Society for Classical Studies that aims to convey the excitement of classical studies to a broad readership by offering accessible articles written by scholars and experts on topics of classical interest that include culture; classical tradition and reception in the arts; and reviews of current books, films, and web sites. Sponsored by the Committee on Communications and Outreach and supported by the SCS, Amphora is intended for anyone with a strong interest in or enthusiasm for the classical world.
As of 2018 Amphora has been discontinued as a publication of the Society for Classical Studies. We thank the authors, editors, and SCS members whose tireless work made this publication possible.
PDFs for previous issues of Amphora are linked above. Any further questions about this publication should be directed toward firstname.lastname@example.org.
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