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Classical studies as we know it today grew partly from the pressure of politics — from people’s need for a repertoire of words and images that could respond to the new political possibilities in early modern Europe. When Coluccio Salutati studied Latin prose composition at his boarding school in Bologna, he focused on the art of letter-writing (the ars dictaminis), as generations of Italian boys had done before him. But his teacher also lectured on Cicero and other classical authors — and as Salutati’s career took him to the chancellorships of Todi, Lucca, and Florence, his administrative vision was broadened by his knowledge of classical history and moral philosophy.
Leonardo Bruni, Salutati’s disciple from Arezzo, drew on Athenian and Roman ideals to create a compelling picture of secular civic virtue that could absorb and transcend dominant Christian ideals. In his famous letter to his friend Francesco Vettori, Machiavelli took note of the “capital” he made from conversation with classical authors, which inspired him to write “a little work De Principatibus, where I delve as deeply as I can into reflections on this subject, debating what a principality is, of what kinds they are, how they are acquired, how they are maintained, why they are lost.”
One of the great things about working on a commentary is the random avenues it leads you down. What starts out looking like an unpromising bit of text turns out to raise issues about the ancient world that you’d never have thought of. Before you know it, you’re discovering all kinds of obscure debates, bizarre ancient texts, and random pieces of trivia: it’s the scholarly equivalent of link-surfing on wikipedia.
My most recent experience of this began with one of Archilochus’ least known fragments, 217 West, 'with hair shorn away from the shoulders close to the skin'. Not a line that sets the world on fire, all things considered. It might well have been really interesting in its original context, but we don’t know anything about it, since the line is quoted simply as an example of accentuation. But where it led me to was the wonderful world of Greek haircuts, and in particular to two notorious haircuts of the modern era, the bowl cut and the mullet.
Due to bad weather conditions, the University of Pennsylvania has suspended normal operations for January 22, 2014. The APA Office will therefore be closed as well.
To assist developers of websites who wish to embed New Athena Unicode font, the APA has recently clarified that the Open Font License for New Athena Unicode applies to the woff format as well as to the TrueType format that is installed by users on their own computers.
In addition, all four styles of New Athena Unicode version 4.05 have been converted to woff format and are available for download at the GreekKeys site.
This new font format is for hosting on web servers. Users of GreekKeys 2008 for Mac OS X and Windows should continue to use the TrueType version (newathu.ttf) in their own work in word processors or other desktop applications.
For more information see:
The editors and editorial board of the APA’s outreach publication Amphora are very pleased to announce Amphora is making itself yet more available to its readership. In coming weeks, in addition to its annual print appearance, Amphora will also publish its articles and reviews via the APA’s blog.
Articles and reviews will each have a tag of Amphora, to help readers determine which content stream is which, as usual for the blog. Such tagged pieces will also appear in the print version of the publication, possibly with minor modification as called for by a switch from one format to another.
This improvement to the availability of Amphora means we will now be able to work with authors who might have a prospective contribution with digital elements – images, perhaps, or film or sound clips, or a desire for a discussion thread or feedback – as well as with contributors whose works benefit from a print treatment.
As always, your Amphora editors welcome submissions, including submissions that take advantage of this new presentation. These are important days for outreach activity by our professional association, and the Amphora and Outreach committees believe this new format will enable us all to reach a yet-larger market.
Individuals who registered in advance for the recent annual meeting in Chicago but who were unable to attend because their flights were canceled, and they could not obtain new reservations in time to attend the meeting should use this form to claim a refund for registration and publication fees. As you will see, the form can be completed electronically. We suggest that you save and rename the form, fill it out, and then submit it as an e-mail attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. All claims must be received by January 31, 2014.
In last month’s column, I offered an overview of the Greek myth of the Titanomachy, the war between the Olympian gods (Zeus, Hera, and all the rest) and the earlier generation, the Titans; and I discussed some recent media telling of the escape of the Titans from their underworld prison and a second Titanomachy: in Disney’s 1997 Hercules, in the 1998 straight-to-video Hercules and Xena animated movie, in the 2012 movie Wrath of the Titans (sequel to the remake of Clash of the Titans), in the 2013 movie Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, in the 2011 movie Immortals, and in the video game series God of War.
Today I finish the journey by exploring the ramifications of these stories and their thematic material.
There’s a pattern to these stories. In all of them, the Titans are reawakened and they are opposed by a half-god protagonist: Perseus, Hercules, Percy, Theseus, Kratos (sort of). In each, the protagonist has a history of family loss. Perseus in Wrath of the Titans is a widower. The Disney Hercules is estranged from his birth parents, while the Kevin Sorbo version lost his wife and children to a fireball sent by Hera. Percy Jackson feels abandoned by his father Poseidon. Theseus in Immortals endures the death of his mother during the film. Kratos accidentally killed his family and is killed by his own father. Most of the protagonists are soldiers — Percy Jackson, for instance, is a teenager at a “camp” filled with what are essentially child/teen demigod soldiers. The Titans themselves are generally either monstrous or demonic in appearance, in contrast to the ancient Greek depictions of them as essentially anthropomorphic (as in the vase painting to the right).
So what’s the meaning behind all these modern Titanomachies? The surface explanation — that gods fighting gods makes for cool action scenes — isn’t all there is to it.
Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy is often characterised in terms of competitive individuals debating orally with one another in public arenas. But it also developed over its long history a sense in which philosophers might look to an authority and offer to that authority explicit intellectual allegiance. This is most obvious in the development of the philosophical ‘schools’ with agreed founders and canonical founding texts. There also developed a tradition of commentary, interpretation, and discussion of texts—composed by ‘authorities’—which often became the focus of disagreement between members of the same school or movement and also useful targets for critics interested in attacking a whole tradition. Discussing the meaning, force, and even the authorship itself of these texts became a mode of philosophical debate.
This international conference will investigate the twin notions of ‘authorship’ and ‘authority’—the Latin word auctoritas combines these two—in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Topics to be explored include: philosophical allegiance and schism, commentary and quotation, the treatment of anonymous texts or texts of disputed authorship, the collection of authorised corpora of texts and the rejection of spurious or non-canonical works.
More details will be posted on the Faculty of Classics website.
We are very grateful to the nearly 2,500 registrants who overcame difficult travel conditions to attend last week’s joint annual meeting. At the same time, we are aware that some members who had registered in advance were unable to come to Chicago because their initial airline reservations were cancelled, and their carriers could not put them on different flights in time to attend the meeting. APA and AIA carry “convention cancellation insurance” for such events, and next week we will announce a procedure by which affected individuals can apply for refunds of advance registration fees.
Adam D. Blistein, APA Executive Director
Kevin Quinlan, AIA Interim Executive Director
Anna Shaw Benjamin died on July 21, 2013. Dr. Benjamin received both undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. 1946, Ph.D. 1955) and at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. At the latter she held two fellowships, being a Thomas Day Seymour Fellow (1948/1949) and a Fulbright Fellow (1949/1950).
Dr. Benjamin commenced her devoted teaching career in 1951, as Instructor in Classical Languages and Humanities at Juniata College, a small institution in Pennsylvania, which she left for the University of Missouri-Columbia after receiving her Ph.D. in 1955. There, over almost a decade, she moved from Instructor in Classics and Archaeology to Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, and Chair. In 1964, she came to Rutgers University as a Full Professor in the Department of Classics from which she retired in 1987. During her years at Rutgers she served at various times as Chairperson and/or Director of Graduate Studies and created an archeology program within the Classics Department. Most summers were spent at digs in Greece with colleagues at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and later at excavations at Aphrodisias in Turkey.