Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Buzz

Marie Bolchazy, EdD, recommends popular modern fiction and nonfiction with ties to Classics.

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code
by Margalit Fox
(HarperCollins, 2013)

As riveting as any mystery book, this account of the discovery and decipherment of Linear B will appeal to anyone interested in ancient languages. My handyman gave me his copy telling me that I would find the book fascinating. I waited six months before starting to read it but once I started, I couldn’t put it down. The fact that Linear B was a syllabary made the decoding particularly challenging.

Fox divided the book into three sections, each focused on a key person: the digger, the detective, and the architect.

The digger was Arthur Evans. In 1900 in Knossos, Crete he found a terra-cotta bathtub full of tablets filled with writing in an unknown language and script, which he named Linear B. From the time of the discovery until his death in 1941, Evans tried repeatedly to decipher the mass of symbols but was not successful.

The detective was Alice Kober, an assistant professor of classics at Hunter College. She has been overlooked in the literature on Linear B, but she played a vital role in its decipherment. She refused to make hypotheses regarding the sounds associated with the icons or the language Linear B might be; she wanted the icons to speak for themselves. What she did do was to establish a system by which the language and script of Linear B could be unlocked. She died before she could apply the system she developed to Linear B but had she lived longer, she would have been the one to crack the code. Drawing on a newly opened archive of Kober’s papers, Fox restores this unsung heroine to her rightful place at last.

The architect was Michael Ventris, not an archaeologist nor a classicist nor a scholar in any other field that might have helped him with the decipherment. He did, however, have a prodigious ability to pick up languages. From an early age he was obsessed with this particular script. For a long time he held to the belief that Linear B was an Etruscan language. It was only after giving up that hypothesis that he deciphered Linear B in 1953. And he did that by using the system developed by Alice Kober.

It took over 50 years to decipher Linear B. And there are still 14 icons whose values are still unknown.

I give this book five stars.

Marie Bolchazy, EdD
President, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Classroom Project Part 2

Supper in the Strophades


The images are screen shots from a sample Prezi presentation I created for this blog.
In my last post 2015: A SEA ODYSSEY, I listed several possibilities for student projects on themes and images from the modern Mediterranean relevant to Aeneas and his journey. To review, some ideas for the presentation are to have the student:
  • Trace the journey on provided maps or maps of their choosing and make a brochure or itinerary of Aeneas’s route
  • Include images, screen shots, and annotations at each site, or provide their own to enrich and add color to the voyage
  • Calculate distances between each site (perhaps in Roman units!
  • Zoom in and add depth to each site, or step back and examine the whole picture
  • Follow a theme throughout the journey and set up a point of comparison between Aeneas’s journey and one taken today
Additionally, some programs students can play with include Google Maps, Google Earth, Zee Maps, and Prezi. Since my last post, my colleague showed me the AWMC: À-la-carte Map program. This is an effective geographic information system (GIS) that functions as an interactive, customizable atlas of the ancient world and features accurate historical, cultural, and geographical data. If you know of any other programs, please share them in the comments below!

In this post, I will give an example of how a student could present cuisine and explore what meals Aeneas could have eaten, were he to take his trip today.

With Prezi, students have the option of tracing
their routes, inserting pictures and including their notes.

After enjoying their artichokes, mixed vegetables, and snails on Crete, Aeneas and his companions make their way back to their ships and shove off, heading toward the Ionian Sea. The winds carry Aeneas and his crew to the shores of the Strophades, islands inhabited by Celaeno and other Harpies on Aeneas’s initial journey: “The straining sailors cut through the waves, making the spray fly across a sea that was blue once more, till we safely reached the Strophades, islands that lie out on the Ionian Sea” (Cobbold, G.B., Vergil’s AENEID: Hero - War - Humanity, pp. 68–69).

This red-figure water jar, from the J Paul Getty Museum
in Malibu, California, USA, and attributed to the
Kleophrades Painter, shows the Harpies snatching away
food from the blind king Phineus.
Aeneas and company planned their first feast shortly after arriving: “Everywhere peaceful herds of cattle and goats were grazing. There was no one to look after them, so we began at once to hunt them down, calling on all the gods, including Jupiter, to grant us a share of this prize” (Cobbold, 69). It was this feast, of oxen and goats, upon which the Harpies
“Swooping down . . . they seize our food” (Cobbold, 69)
swooped down, and this feast that they plundered during Aeneas’s stay on this island chain. Today though, Aeneas and his men (and the Harpies!) would have much more variety in their dishes.

Perhaps Aeneas and his crew would start their meals with an appetizer of currants, or maybe melitzanes skordostoubi, a dish of fried eggplant with a tomato and garlic sauce.

Prezi not only allows students to travel across maps
with ease, but adds depth to the project by taking you deeper
into an image.
For a main course, chances are, the crew would feast upon veal and drink locally produced wine. There are several popular ways inhabitants of the islands prepare it today. For example, stufado is a dish made with pieces of veal, bay leaves, rosemary, fresh tomatoes, olive oil and spices, whereas sartsa is a dish involving veal, olive oil, tomato, garlic, oregano, pieces of ladotyri cheese and spices. Not a fan of veal, Ascanius? Try the gemisto kouneli, a rabbit dish stuffed with potatoes, ladotyri cheese, or the sofigadoura, lamb or goat meat cooked with onion, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, olive oil, spices and a little white wine. Is Achates a vegetarian? Try the oven-baked boutridia, with vegetables such as runner beans, eggplant, courgettes, and okra, cooked with potatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil and spices.
Such depth takes away from clutter when all
is said and you zoom out to view the big picture!

If the Harpies have not snatched away their plates and appetites by now, Aeneas and his men would move on to dessert, where frygania, fitoura, and mandolato would be served. The former two are sweet breads and the latter a nougat. Place your orders now, before dread hunger forces you to devour your tables!

Do you have experience with similar projects or have ideas you would like to share? Perhaps something went really well, or terribly wrong? Maybe you know of other programs not mentioned in the last two posts? Share your experience! Need more examples on how to make this an effective class project? Leave a reply below! I welcome your comments.

– Connor Hart

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Roman Women Reader - BC Reader Series is Complete

The BC Latin Reader is Complete!

The Roman Women Reader completes the BC Latin Reader Series

This selection of Latin readings, drawn from texts in a variety of genres across four centuries, aims to provide a comprehensive and accurate picture of the images and realities of women in Roman antiquity. Depicted in the readings are both historical and fictional women, of varying ages and at different stages of life, from a range of social classes, and from different locales. We see them dramatized—sometimes in their own words—in the roles the women actually played, as wives and mothers, friends and lovers. This Reader differs from others in showing women in explicitly erotic roles, in drawing some of its passages from "archaic" Latin, and in encouraging a variety of critical approaches, all suitable for its intended college-level audience.

For information on the series visit the BC Latin Reader page.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Classroom Project

2015: A Sea Odyssey

What would Aeneas's journey look like today? What sites remain from his original journey? How would the places he visited differ, and what would he see now? If you or your students are wondering how to make a class project from these questions, look no further. The internet provides a plethora of programs to assist students in creating these projects. Some of the best for ease of use and presentation are Google Maps, Zee Maps, and Prezi. Of course that only grazes the surface of the possibilities-let your students explore!

One of the great features of programs such as Google Maps, Zee Maps, and Prezi, is that students have the opportunity to include images from the modern world relating to things Aeneas might encounter, were he to take his trip today. This hunt for modern images is a great way to have students interact with the ancient world and discuss how it’s relevant today. Contemporary architecture would be a great theme for a student to focus on. Just as Aeneas visits several temples and performs religious sacrifices on his journey through the Mediterranean, so might the student, too, bring the class to similar places of practice, from churches on Crete to a monastery on the Strophades. Or, perhaps a student would want to imagine what meals Aeneas ate at each location on his journey and what he might eat if travelling there today. Let the student assume the role of a travelling food critic and review meals typically found at each location. Or, students may choose to show ancient sites from Aeneas’s world as they appear today, from the island of Delos to the remnants of Troy in Turkey. All of this becomes easy and presentable with these internet programs!

Some ideas for the presentation are to have the student:
  • Trace the journey on provided maps or maps of their choosing and make a brochure or itinerary of Aeneas’s route
  • Include images, screen shots, and annotations at each site, or provide their own to enrich and add color to the voyage
  • Calculate distances between each site (perhaps in Roman units!)
  • Zoom in and add depth to each site, or step back and examine the whole picture
  • Follow a theme throughout the journey and set up a point of comparison between Aeneas’s journey and one taken today
Online programs provide students with options to bring the ancient travels of Aeneas to a modern classroom. With many themes to explore, their ability to provide students with options makes tracing Aeneas’s journey through a modern lens fun and easy!

Stay tuned for next week's post, where I give a specific example of how to present cuisine in the Strophades using Prezi.

– Connor Hart

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Reader for Hansen and Quinn

Twenty Greek Stories

H. Paul Brown
xiii + 222 pp. (2014) 6” x 9” Paperback ISBN 978-0-86516-822-0

These selections adapted from ancient sources offer students of Hansen and Quinn, or any other introductory Greek book, accessible and enjoyable reading in their first year. Twenty Greek Stories presents readings paired to the grammar and vocabulary of each of the 20 units of Greek: An Intensive Course. Each reading is divided into small, easily handled selections with same-page notes and vocabulary. Selections are drawn from Appian, Apollodorus, Herodotus, Hesiod, Homer, Lucian, Plato, Sappho, and others. Grammar review charts summarize and reinforce key grammatical forms for students.

  • Fourteen grammar charts
  • Three appendices: List of Sources by Unit, List of Sources by Author, and List of Characters, Gods, and Places
  • Full glossary
eBook available from GooglePlay (free sample of the eBook available from GooglePlay)

Teachers/Professors request an exam copy

Check out Twenty Greek Stories and many other Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers titles at:

January 8–11, 2015
Sheraton New Orleans Hotel
New Orleans, LA
Representatives: Marie and Allan Bolchazy, Bridget Dean, and Donald Sprague

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Book Buzz: "The Swerve"

Marie Bolchazy, EdD, recommends popular modern fiction and nonfiction with ties to Classics.

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
by Stephen Greenblatt

A friend of mine recommended the The Swerve to me—told me he was sure I would want to read it. He was right. It is indeed a riveting tale about the discovery of Lucretius’s poem, De rerum natura, which had been lost for more than a thousand years. Poggio Bracciolini, the greatest book hunter ever, found a copy of the poem in a German monastery. Its return to circulation changed the course of history. Indeed, its vision helped shaped the ideas of Galileo, Freud, Darwin, and Einstein. Thomas Jefferson, when asked about his philosophy, wrote “I am an Epicurean,” and traces of Lucretius’s vision are evident in Jefferson’s writing. Consider that Jefferson included the pursuit of happiness, an Epicurean goal, to be a goal worthy of including in the Declaration of Independence.

My fascination with The Swerve began by reading praise for it from such notables as Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at University of Cambridge. My fascination increased when I read Greenblatt’s preface. His mother was obsessed and terrified by the thought of death, and so Lucretius’s meditation on the fear of death struck a deep chord in him. The preface also brought to my mind the views of my late husband. When Lou Bolchazy was completing his doctoral program, his special author was Lucretius, and Lucretius’s vision influenced him greatly. Lou became an Epicurean. I could almost hear him talking to me as I read the preface and then again later in the book when Lucretius’s principles were delineated.

The book is well researched and well worth reading. While it will appeal to all educated readers (the friend who recommended it to me has not studied Latin), it will have a special resonance for classicists.

Marie Bolchazy, EdD
President, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers

Monday, December 01, 2014

CyberMonday for Classicists!!!

48-Hour Sale — 40% OFF!

Enter coupon code 48BC14 upon checkout.

(The sale begins at midnight December 1st and ends at midnight December 3rd)

This offer is valid for one copy per title, prepaid, no returns.
Discount is not available to distributors.
This offer expires 12/03/14.

(Please note that there will be no adjustments on previous purchases.
Offer is non-transferable and subject to change without notice.
Only valid on products published by Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc.)

Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc.