From Lorna Robinson: Radio 4 report on Latin in the Park

Sorry for the short notice of this, but I've only just been told! Radio four recorded a Latin in the Parks session, and are running a piece on it on the PM programme this evening (between 5 and 5:30pm) – thought I'd pass this on in case you'd like to blog it…
(it did pour with rain quite torrentially though!).

Use the Listen Again facility on the BBC website to hear this. Fast forward to about 27 minutes 30 seconds. (Sorry I can't link directly to the recording. Just choose Friday)

See a page on this item here.

I'd have hated to be asked, without warning, how to say “You have been listening to PM on Radio 4”, but I thought Lorna coped well. What would you have said? post meridiem per radiophonicum quartum audivisti? Over to you.

Sharing experiences and tips about school trips

While I was away I received a very interesting email from Alan Chadwick. Thanks, Alan.

I'm contacting you to pick your brains. I've just returned from a school trip to Rome. It went as hoped but there were one or two teething problems – I'm sure you are aware of what can go wrong on events such as these. I was just wondering if there was something like TripAdvisor or Virtual Tourist or even Vibe Agent that exists solely for teachers taking school trips? A place where teachers could pool information and anticipate the problems before they arise? Stuff like hotels, places to eat, the sites themselves, even coach companies.

If such a site doesn't exist, do you think JACT or ARLT could be persuaded to set one up? I don't think that it would require much actual work after the site is in place, as it would just be a forum to share and discuss information.

This post is just to alert teachers to the topic and to say that the ArLT site will provide a forum such as Alan suggests. Log into the For Teachers section and follow the link from the home page there. To view the site without being able to log in or contribute, go here.

Roman gate found in Cologne

From Monsters and Critics

Cologne, Germany – A town gate that was probably built with a grant from Roman Emperor Nero has been discovered in Cologne, Germany during work on a new underground train line, archaeologists said Thursday.

'This is finest Roman handiwork,' said Hansgerd Hellenkemper, director of the Roman museum in the city.

The gate, found complete with 11 metres of wall, was a goods-delivery entrance to the Roman town from its river port outside on the Rhine. The sturdy Roman wall protected Cologne for 1,000 years.

The city fathers have appropriated 3 million euros to preserve the site with a train line underneath and a road deck overhead.

'I'm delighted it's going to stay in the ground where it has always been,' said Hellenkemper.

Recently diggers also found the bottom of a Roman wooden barge in Cologne.

The assumed Nero connection is based on the fact that the wall was built in the second half of the 1st century AD and that the city itself could not have afforded the cost. Nero's mother had been born in Cologne, so the emperor is thought to have fortified the town.

In the late Roman period, the inhabitants walled up the gate for fear of attack by the warlike Frankish tribe, using any rocks at hand including tombstones. Hellenkemper said the closure would not be undone and the gate would be left as is.

Editor of Technology Review re-learning Latin

An article by Jason Pontin about modern research into ultimate particles begins thus:

I am learning Latin–or, rather, relearning it, since I was taught the language in a haphazard way at school in England.

I set myself this whimsical task because I recalled that our masters told us that Latin made the mind supple, retentive, and acute; I am hoping that memorizing the language's endless conjugations and declensions, and submitting myself to its exacting syntax, will keep my brain plastic as I cruise into my 40s.

Yet given my daily occupations at Technology Review, what has struck me about Latin literature is how little the Romans thought about philosophia naturalis, or natural philosophy–the precursor to the modern natural sciences. They cared a little more for technology, but mainly as a branch of civil engineering, and only insofar as it was a tool of governance. Upper-class Romans exercised their intellects upon administration, law, conquest, and rhetoric. To science and technology they were indifferent.

What technologies they did possess were refinements and expansions of Greek inventions. Even their grand public buildings were different only in scale from models they appropriated from the Greek-speaking East. In science, the Romans were even more indebted to Greek civilization. The atomism articulated by the Epicurean poet Lucretius in De Rerum Natura (“On the Nature of Things”) derives from the Greek pre-Socratic philosophers, who had speculated that the universe was composed of very small, elementary things.

Thus, in the narrow sense that they intuited the existence of elementary particles, the Greeks can be said to have invented particle physics. In “A Who's Who of the Unseen” we reprint part of an article by the MIT physics professor Philip M. Morse, published in November 1939. He wrote, “It seems to have begun with Democritus, this idea of matter's being composed of fundamental, indivisible atoms.”

Some bits of Roman Britain news

Roman Britain is alive and popular, and being dug up or exhibited:

  • From the Ledbury Reporter
    Ancient graves reveal bizarre Roman custom (feeding the dead)
  • From the West Sussex Gazette
    A bid to scrap plans for a multi-million-pound Roman baths museum in Chichester, after disclosures about the rising cost of the project, has been defeated.
  • From the Dorset Echo
    BURIALS believed to be from a Roman Christian cemetery have been found on the site of a former garage in Dorchester.
  • From Kent Online

    A 'fistful of denarii' and turf river wall found in Rochester