New candidate for the OBI, alas!

I received a Christmas card today from my successor as head of Classics at Bruton School for Girls – yes, she always gets things done in very good time – telling me the sad news that she had to leave after 21 years because she was being made part-time 'following her (the head's) decision to axe Latin and CC at GCSE.'

Fortunately my friend found a post at a more enlightened school: Downside.

Downside, you have an excellent teacher there!

So, with a heavy heart I have to award the O.B.I. to the once-admirable Bruton School for Girls.

Why only plumbing can prevent the fall of Rome

An interesting article in the Daily Telegraph
By Hilary Clarke in Rome
(Filed: 20/11/2005)

An urgent rescue operation is being launched to save some of Rome's most important ancient ruins, including the palace where Julius Caesar once lived, from the ravages of increasingly violent rainstorms that are undermining their foundations.

Archaeologists fear that buildings on the Palatine Hill, most more than 2,000 years old, are becoming dangerously unstable and pose an increasing risk to the 3.5 million tourists who visit the area each year.

Repairs could take up to 10 years, engineers have said, and are expected to cost between €100 and €200 million (£68 and £136 million) – a small price to pay, they say, to preserve some of Rome's historical treasures.

These include the towering Palace of Septimus Severus, the Domus Augustana, where the emperors lived, and traces of an iron-age village where legend has it the city's founders, Romulus and Remus, were once suckled by a wolf.

Read on …

Catullus newly Englished

There's a long review here of the new text and translation of Catullus by Peter Green.

The reviewer Emily Wilson at one point writes:

As an example of the liveliness and the vigor of Green's translation, here is one of Catullus's most famous poems (poem 2, Passer, deliciae meae puellae), in which the poet envies his girlfriend's pet bird.

Sparrow, precious darling of my sweetheart,
always her plaything, held fast in her bosom,
whom she loves to provoke with outstretched finger
tempting the little pecker to nip harder
when my incandescent longing fancies
just a smidgin of fun and games and comfort
for the pain she's feeling (I believe it!),
something to lighten that too-heavy ardor–
how I wish I could sport with you as she does,
bring some relief to the spirit's black depression!

Romans remembered – in Cambridgeshire

From the Cambridge Evening News Ely edition:
TEACHERS swapped their suits for Roman costumes to lead children in an exciting themed activity day.

Youngsters from The King's School Ely were issued with Roman names and tunics in a quest to track down a missing Roman called Marcus Maximus.

They popped along to the Cambridgeshire Environmental Education Service Upware Centre to take part in the activity session, which is designed to bring history to life while following National Curriculum guidelines.

Text books were put to one side for the day while the pupils played with Roman toys, scribed using wax tablets, handled Roman artefacts and found out more about Roman language, food and wildlife in the fenland setting.

Brian Hutchings, one of the teachers at the centre, said: “The children had a fantastic time and really seemed to learn a lot about the Romans. Upware was a Roman port so we have got local connections to that era.”

For more information on the centre, contact (01353) 720264.
23 November 2005

America = the Roman Republic?

It's commonplace at the moment to read comparisons (written by Americans) between what they see as the decadence of the USA and that of the later Roman Empire. This one makes the comparison with the Republic:

I recently ran across a prophecy that struck me for its timeliness. It reads, “They will sink into a swamp of decadence: men will sleep with men, and boys will be pimped in brothels; civil tumults will engulf them, and everything will fall into confusion and disorder.” Scholars have dated this prophecy to around 140BC, and it referred to Rome, not America. Importantly, it was talking not about the later Roman Empire, but about the Roman Republic – – just on the verge of its fall and Romans’ loss of their liberties. I think it is timely because it reminds us of one of history’s basic facts: those who abuse their liberties lose them.

Read more

A Canadian viewer laments the end of "Rome"

Will there be a second season of the TV serial? It's not certain, according to The Toronto Star critic.

It looks like I'm just going to have to go cold turkey.

Last Sunday night, when Brutus and his bunch turned Caesar into a pasta colander, Rome resolved its history-driven plot line for the season — and perhaps forever, as HBO now seems to be seriously rethinking its hasty second-season pickup of the $100-million epic, shutting down production in Italy last week.