Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30

On this day in 41 AD, Titus was born. He was Roman emperor from 79-81 AD. During his reign the Coliseum was completed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sports Becomes Increasingly Boring As Death No Longer Punishment For Losing

Sports Becomes Increasingly Boring As Death No Longer Punishment For Losing

According to prominent sports historians, the modern-day practice of allowing a losing team or athlete to live has significantly lessened the intensity of sports as a whole in the centuries since the execution of defeated competitors has fallen out of vogue.
"A shared awareness that the loser would be put to death raised the stakes and increased crowd involvement, to say nothing of its effect on the entertainment value of the match itself," said Joachim Albrechtssen, professor of competitive outcome studies at Louisiana State University. "Sports today just can't compete with that. If a Roman Colosseum audience saw Kobe Bryant miss a last-second shot, they would be unable to comprehend why he would not be stabbed to death, drawn and quartered, or burned alive, not to mention torn to shreds by the winning teams' womenfolk."
Through careful study of the behavior of sporting audiences from 3500 B.C. to the present, sports archaeologists have noted a distinct drop-off in crowd enthusiasm around the time of the last jousting matches, a lull that has been interrupted only by brief localized spikes during the heydays of public duels, bareknuckle boxing, bullfighting, and air shows.
Such studies suggest that reintroducing the mandatory execution of losing athletes could add a new level of fervor to tie games, and could especially increase crowd interest during lopsided victories, which currently see crowds leaving early and television audiences changing the channel because they no longer have the opportunity to witness the mass slaughter of the losing side.
"Even today's championship games have very little at stake," Albrechtssen said. "Imagine the increased excitement and level of play we would have seen in Game 6 of the last World Series if the Phillies went in knowing that they faced televised beheadings in the event of a loss, or if Tom Brady had been sacrificed to Apollo after the Patriots' Super Bowl upset at the hands of the Giants. As it was, those games were extremely boring."
Like many sports historians from the 19th century to the present, Albrechtssen and his colleagues argue that drastic changes should be made to the dominant competition structures. In order to restore sports to the level of pageantry and importance it enjoyed in previous eras, they advocate the immediate death of team captains after a regular-season loss in any sport; the public execution of any individual athlete who loses a championship game or race; the implementation of wheel spikes and fender-mounted blades in NASCAR; and the immediate guillotining of every member of the PGA Tour except for Tiger Woods.

The Odyssey ("Across the Universe" by the Beatles)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

On this day in 336 AD the first recorded celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25th took place in Rome.

Friday, December 24, 2010

If the FCC was in charge of Rome's barbarian policy

David "Stupid Network" Isenberg puts the FCC Net Neutrality cop-out into perspective with this tale from Roman times:

The RCC has determined that the pending Barbarian invasion of Rome meets the so-called public interest standards that the RCC is charged with upholding, as long as conditions are imposed. Roman Commission Chairman Julius Genacowcus told Tempus Romanus reporters that the Barbarians are required not to sack the city or move too far inside the city's gates. Chairman G said additional conditions also applied, including a requirement that Barbarians pillage and plunder only unlawful residences, and engage only in consensual, protected sex. Genacowcus said the Barbarian compromise will promote investment, commerce and competition.

Robertus Comcasti, speaking for the Barbarians, said that he was "gratified" that the RCC was taking this proactive step. "We have emphasized that this transaction is pro-competitive, pro-consumer, and will deliver real public interest benefits," he said.

RCC officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the proposed conditions were intended to ease harm to Roman citizens, and they emphasized that they were not treating the deal as an opportunity to affect the behavior of future invading hordes. They did not say how long the conditions would be in effect.


December 24

On this day in 3 BC, Servius Sulpicius Galba was born. He was emperor of Rome from 68-69 AD.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23

December 23 was Larentalia, a funeral festival to an obscure goddess by name of Acca Larentia. 

Goddess of Love emerges into foaming Cypriot row

NICOSIA | Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:13am EST
(Reuters Life!) - She may be the ancient Greek Goddess of Love, but a picture of a nude Aphrodite on the new passport of Cyprus has set more than hearts racing.
Cypriot diplomats are furious with the interior ministry for failing to consult with the foreign ministry before issuing passports with a depiction of a naked immortal that might offend conservative foreign cultures.
"They are worried that civilians and diplomats could get into trouble, particularly traveling to very conservative Islamic countries," the authoritative Phileleftheros daily newspaper wrote on Thursday.
The interior ministry said it was too late to change them, the newspaper said.
Local legend says Aphrodite (also known as Venus to the ancient Romans) emerged from the sea on a crest of foam just off the Mediterranean island.
The image on the new biometric passports is modeled on a Greek marble statue of a completely naked Aphrodite in the Cyprus Museum located in the capital Nicosia.
(Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Paul Casciato)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22

On this day in 69 AD Roman Emperor Vitellius was killed in a street battle in Rome by soldiers of Vespasian, who succeeded Vitellius as emperor.

Additionally, today was the  Festival of the Lares 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Backpack-Laden Student Trudges Slack-Jawed Past Wonders Of Ancient World

Backpack-Laden Student Trudges Slack-Jawed Past Wonders Of Ancient World

ATHENS, GREECE—Iowa State sophomore Dylan Schumacher trudged pathetically past some of the most wondrous achievements of ancient Mediterranean civilization Tuesday, all but unaware of the magnificent cultural splendor surrounding him on all sides.
Enlarge ImageIowa State sophomore Dylan Schumacher near this one temple of some god.
"Greece is, like, so awesome," said the oblivious Schumacher, who is ironically considering a history major. "Last night me and a couple dudes from Florida that I met checked out this awesome discothéque, and I swear this one chick was totally giving me the eye."
Schumacher, looking laughably generic in Teva sandals, a pair of corduroy shorts from The Gap, and a matching North Face windbreaker and backpack, is spending his summer traveling through Greece, Italy and France as part of an effort on the part of his parents, Ames-area dentists Duane and Sheila Schumacher, to help the young student "broaden his mind." So far, reports indicate, he has visited several McDonald's restaurants in the downtown Athens area and has enjoyed many afternoons lounging by his hotel's pool.
Schumacher came within a few feet of the Roman Forum, built as an extension of the famed Agora by Julius Caesar and Augustus during the Pax Romana, passing through its main entrance, the relatively intact Gate of Athena Archegetis, while searching for a public restroom after consuming an extra-large café mocha at a nearby Starbucks. Later that day, reports indicate, he and some friends hiked up the footpath to the Acropolis, the heart of the first great city-state of Ancient Greece, a structure that has remained more or less intact for well over 2,000 years. There, he enjoyed several relaxing hours basking in the Mediterranean sunshine and listening to the CDFollow The Leader, the latest release by his favorite band Korn, which he purchased from a street vendor on the famous pedestrian walkway known as the Odhós Kidhathinéon using "real Greek money."
"It's so fascinating to be in a totally different culture," Schumacher said of his trip to the Acropolis. "I talked to this one guy, and, can you believe it? It turns out he never even heard of Korn."
"Yet, despite our different cultural backgrounds," he added, "we were still able to communicate, and he told me about this awesome sports bar downtown where they have this virtual-reality game. I can't wait to check that out."
While visiting the Acropolis, Schumacher purchased a pair of Oakley sunglasses at the Parthenon. The first great building created in Pericles' renovation of the ancient site in approximately 437 B.C., the Parthenon was designed by the architect Iktinos as part of a sanctuary for the cult of Athena, a fact Schumacher finds "kind of boring." At the Propylaia and Temple of Athena Nike—which feature some of the greatest works of the sculptor Pheidas—Schumacher bought some sunblocker and a T-shirt reading "Ouzo Power." He also purchased a hot dog within a few dozen feet of the Erechtheion.
"It was a pretty good hot dog," Schumacher said, "but I've got to admit it wasn't the same as you'd get in America. Oh, well. You win some, you lose some, but that's what the whole traveling-in-Europe thing is about: learning valuable lessons you can't experience anywhere else."
Schumacher, whose parents are providing him with several thousand dollars per week for the summer trip, reportedly plans to take in the nightlife of Rome next, a city he says is "bound to have a ton of killer bars." Before leaving Greece, however, he plans to spend "at least a couple of days" on the islands of the Aegean Sea, where he's heard that "they have these topless beaches where the chicks totally walk around with their tits showing." 

December 21

December 21 was the festival to honor Diva Angeronae, goddess of secrecy

Pompeii ("Bang Bang (My Lover Shot Me Down)" by Nancy Sinatra)

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20

On this day in 44 BC Cicero, the great Roman orator and statesman, delivered his third Philippic (one of 4 speeches against Mark Antony) in the Roman Senate.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18

On December 18th was the Festival of Epona, which honored a Gallic horse goddess

Friday, December 17, 2010


December 17-23 was Saturnalia. Merry making festival ot Saturn, the rustic god of seed sowing, later identified with the Greek Chronus. Sacrifice at the temple of Saturn followed by public feast and gift giving. Public gambling allowed. Holiday costumes and caps adorned. Candles lit. Slaves were temporarily absolved of duties. Master may have switched roles with slaves. 

I hate charades

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Classics for All

from Love of History Blog

Classics for All: "

“Launch of grants programme and call for applications

Classics for All is a new charity, set up jointly by JACT and Friends of Classics. Our aim is to complement the work of other Classical charities by raising significant funds to support projects for broadening access to Classical subjects. We are delighted to say that, thanks to the generous support of the major Classical bodies (the Hellenic and Roman Societies, the Classical Association, Friends of Classics and JACT) and of a number of individual founding donors, Classics for All has raised sufficient funds to be able to establish the charity, to appoint an experienced fundraiser, and to be in a position to make our first call for applications for funding.

We hope to give out around £100,000 in this first year, based on the recommendations of the charity’s Grants Advisory Committee at a meeting to be held in May 2011. We expect to make grants in the range of £3,000 to £30,000, although until we receive our first proposals we shan’t know the scale of new work which is planned. We are willing in principle to make grants to projects for more than one year, but at this early stage in our programme we cannot undertake to guarantee funding to any individual project for year two or subsequent years. So proposals should be designed to deliver meaningful outcomes in year one. If you are interested in putting forward a proposal for funding, more details of the types of project we will fund and the guidelines for making an application may be found at The deadline for applications to be considered at the May meeting is 4 February 2011.

Even if you do not intend to apply for funding, as a new charity we would be very interested in the views of colleagues about our plans and aims, and whether you can suggest any improvements. Our target is to get Classics firmly embedded and with a sustainable future in 500 schools over the next ten years; and to have been a launch pad for the teaching of Classics in a further 500. The long term aim is to convert as many schools as possible into institutions which no longer need our financial support for their Classical teaching. Please send any comments to us at

It seems that Classics has never been so topical, and there is a genuine and growing wave of enthusiasm among young people and teachers for our subject. We have been heartened by the warmth and generosity with which Classics for All has been welcomed, as the “new kid” on the Classical block, and we very much look forward to unveiling our first funded work next summer.

Sarah Jackson, Chair of CfA

Professor Tom Harrison, Chair of Grants Advisory Committee, Classics for All and past Chair of JACT Council (2007-2010)”


Rome Riots Picture

Rome. Photo by Alessandro.Photo by Alessandro.

Lecture : TODAY 12/16 @ SAMA : American Contributions to Preserving Egypt's Ancient Past

Thursday, Dec 16, 6:30p
Lecture by Gerry D Scott III, Director of the American Research Center in Egypt - American Contributions to Preserving Egypt's Ancient Past
SAMA Auditorium. Free for SAMA and ARCE Members (& w/ UTSA ID) $5 for non-members
Tickets available at the door 1 hour prior to lecture. Reception to follow.

Since its inception in 1948, the American Research Center in Egypt has assisted scholars with humanities-based research in Egypt, as well as several large-scale conservation, documentation, and training projects. Highlights of ARCE's work will be presented by Dr. Gerry D Scott, Director of the American Research Center in Egypt and former Curator of Ancient Art at SAMA.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nero's Birthday

On this day in 37 AD, Nero was born. He was the Roman emperor who is alleged to have fiddled while Rome burned.
Today was also the 2nd festival to Consus.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roman Populace Constantly Argues Whether Chariot-Racing Is Actually A Sport

Roman Populace Constantly Argues Whether Chariot-Racing Is Actually A Sport


While the practice of racing chariots on circular or oval tracks enjoyed extreme popularity in the Roman Empire, particularly in the rural Southern provinces, historians claim its legitimacy as an athletic event was often a topic of heated debate among contemporary sports enthusiasts.
"Circus Maximus races captivated thousands of fans, but many Romans vehemently argued that, while standing in a chariot and being propelled by several horses may have taken a certain skill, the activity did not qualify as a sport," said Robert Page, a classics professor at the University of Cincinnati. "On the other hand, hardcore chariot-racing fans shot back that the heightened reflexes needed to avoid collisions, the hand-eye coordination required to maneuver the chariot itself, and the physical endurance necessary to withstand the long races all made it a viable athletic contest."
Despite the quarreling, chariot race results and news were covered in the Compositus Ludus, or Sports section, of the Roman daily gazette Acta Diurna.
"It was presented as a sport, certainly," Page said. "Still, many Romans felt that most plebeians merely watched it for the grisly equine collisions, and that ultimately there was no real strategy to chariot-racing other than whipping the horses and telling them to go fast."
Page also noted that a pattern emerged following the translation of hundreds of poorly written documents by chariot-racing aficionados: No matter how long or heated an argument became, it always ended with the defenders of chariot-racing declaring, "Have you ever even watched an entire race? No? So shut your fucking mouth."

Julius Caesar ("Besame Mucho" by the Beatles)

AIA Annual Meeting Kids Fair


Would any of you be interested in helping with the AIA Annual Meeting Kids Fair at Witte on either Fri 7 Jan or Sat 8 Jan? On Fri, the shifts will be from 7:30-11:30, and from 1130-3:00. On Sat, we will start at 8:30-11:30 and from 11:30-3:00. We have to set up on Fri morning (Witte won't let us set up the day before, unfortunately). From 2:00-3:00 each day, we will be cleaning up.

Many thanks!

Laura Childs
Doctrine Manager
AF ISR Agency/A9YD
DSN 969-6100
Commercial 210-977-6100

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Festival of Consus

December 12th was the annual Festival of Consus 

Today is Family Day at SAMA

Family Day at SAMA
December 12, 1p-2p
Interactive family tours of the "To Live Forever" exhibit at SAMA.
Free with museum admission, or with UTSA ID.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


On this day The Agonalia was held. It was held onJanuary 9th, March 17th, May 21st, and December 11th. On each day a ram was sacrificed by rex sacrorum , probably as an offering to Janus. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lego Antikythera Mechanism

This is from BoingBoing - This guy built the Greek Antikythera Mechanism - out of Legos! 

Lecture : 12/16 - American Contributions to Preserving Egypt's Ancient Past

Thursday, Dec 16, 6:30p
Lecture by Gerry D Scott III, Director of the American Research Center in Egypt
SAMA Auditorium. Free for SAMA and ARCE Members (& w/ UTSA ID) $5 for non-members
Tickets available at the door 1 hour prior to lecture. Reception to follow.

Since its inception in 1948, the American Research Center in Egypt has assisted scholars with humanities-based research in Egypt, as well as several large-scale conservation, documentation, and training projects. Highlights of ARCE's work will be presented by Dr. Gerry D Scott, Director of the American Research Center in Egypt and former Curator of Ancient Art at SAMA.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8

On this day in 65 BC Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) was born. He is one of the most familiar and admired of the Roman poets.

Also, today is the Festival of Tiberinius, personification of Tiber river. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7

Cicero died on this day in 43 BC. He was assassinated by agents of Mark Antony.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Collapse In Pompeii Highlights Neglect In Italy

Debris at the scene of the House of the Gladiators in Pompeii, Italy.
EnlargeSylvia Poggioli/NPR
The collapse of the House of the Gladiators in Pompeii, Italy, was blamed on a failure to keep the drainage system working. Heavy rains soaked the walls and brought them down.
text size A A A
December 2, 2010
A 2,000-year-old building at the ancient site of Pompeii collapsed in rubble several weeks ago, only months after a piece of Rome's Colosseum fell to the ground and the roof of the home of Emperor Nero crumbled.
The collapses made world headlines and triggered criticism of sharp budget cuts and charges of neglect of Italy's vast archaeological heritage.
Pompeii, a UNESCO world heritage site, was destroyed in A.D. 79 by a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands and buried the city under 20 feet of ash. But the ash also helped preserve Pompeii's treasures, providing precious information about life in the ancient world.
Every year, Pompeii attracts 2.5 million visitors, and many come even on cold, rainy days in winter. Walking along the ancient Roman road, visitors see many houses propped up by beams, some of them rotting.
A 'Disneyland' In Center Of Pompeii?
Luigi Necco, a journalist and archaeological expert, says Pompeii is in desperate need of constant maintenance.
Steel scaffolding and the roof weigh on the original 2,000-year-old walls in Pompeii, Italy.
EnlargeSylvia Poggioli/NPR
Steel scaffolding and the roof weigh on the original 2,000-year-old walls in Pompeii, Italy. This house is part of a multimedia tour of the ancient city.
"Pompeii could crumble right now," he says. "It's always in danger — from rain, from the sun when its walls dry up, and when the wind blows mercilessly."
Budget cuts led to a drastic drop in the number of guards, so it's easy to sneak into the houses and get a glimpse of ancient frescoed walls that are exposed to the elements. Made with humble local stone, these homes were not built to last 2,000 years — all the more need for routine maintenance.
But November's collapse of the House of the Gladiators was due to a failure to keep the drainage system working, experts say. Heavy rains soaked the walls and brought them down.
Necco blames the government.
Economics Minister Giulio Tremonti said "you can't eat culture" as he drastically cut ministry funds. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's people, Necco says, have turned Pompeii into a flashy profit-maker, staging high-profile concerts and a gimmicky multimedia tour.
"Why this Disneyland here in the center of Pompeii," Necco asks, "the center of a human tragedy of 2,000 years ago? Why?"
The answer, he says, is "disdain for culture, disdain for past, disdain for history."
Government Criticized
The Berlusconi government is widely accused of crassly exploiting Italy's artistic heritage, not conserving it. The culture minister appointed a former McDonald's manager with no artistic expertise as his right-hand man.
The country with an unparalleled art heritage spends on culture only one-quarter of what France and Germany spend.
Seventeen of Italy's 19 superintendents of archaeological sites signed a letter protesting what they call the commercialization of Italy's cultural heritage.
Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, a former superintendent of Pompeii, quips: "Nobody goes to a carpenter for ... appendicitis."
"This government's focus on profiting from art has completely sidelined the experts, the only ones with knowledge of our heritage and who can help conserve it," he says.
The opposition is demanding the resignation of Culture Minister Sandro Bondi, but Bondi was defiant in Parliament. "This is not a morally and politically justified demand," Bondi said. "I do not deserve such treatment."
But Maria Pia Guermandi, an official at Italy's oldest environmentalist organization, Italia Nostra, says Italy lacks the desire and the ability to conserve its vast art heritage. She goes so far as to suggest that it be put under U.N. supervision.
"All outside help is needed," Guermandi says, "because we are no longer capable of administering our cultural patrimony."