Archive for August, 2009

I just read that the island of Ibiza, home of intense clubbing, drinking and so forth, was named by the Carthaginians. Apparently, the name’s original meaning was ‘Island of Bes’, the Egyptian god of lots of things, including fertility. And what do fertility gods do best? Well, Google him. Very probably NSFW, unless your office does that kind of thing…

Amazing, Carthaginians. Well done for your prophetic naming of this little place. Plus, Ibiza, now you can claim your behaviour as part of your cultural heritage!

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Wow, I win the prize for the weirdest entry title ever.

A very small piece of news: I was reading the very good Classical magazine Minerva at work today, and I read a review of an exhibition in Athens about daily life in Ancient Greece. They include a section about war in antiquity, and there was a Cyrpiot lead “bullet”, which would have been flung from a sling, which had the name ‘Philetair’. The article also said, “… sling bullets form a particularly interesting exhibit as, in a form of psychological warfare, they were inscribed with names (presumably of the ‘senders’), or sometimes with the phrase ‘take that!’.” Does this remind anyone else of ‘Dr. Strangelove’, with the nuclear bomb and its anti-USSR slogans? Still, I think the Greek way was better- no one will be able to read the messages painted on an atom bomb, but when you have ‘take that’ impressed into your skin after a nasty hit… that’s psychological warfare.

Also, thank you so much to all those participating in Rebecca Reid’s Really Old Classics Challenge for stopping by with your interesting comments about the My Encyclopaedia post I did a while back. I get the feeling I’m going to have to do an entire post on the merits of various Classical translations some time soon, and maybe another post of must-reads!

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I just moved into a new house! I’m living with some friends from university and I have a job in another city.  The commute (I estimate) is roughly 1 1/2 hours, so I have stocked up on rather a lot of books to keep me going on long train rides, and I thought I’d list some of them here:

Thomas Mann- Death in Venice and Other Stories

Aravind Adiga- The White Tiger

Sarah Vowell- Assassination Vacation

Cormac McCarthy- No Country For Old Men

e e cummings- Selected Poems 1923- 1958

Cullen Murphy- Are We Rome?

David Sedaris- When You Are Engulfed In Flames (this is one of the funniest books I have ever read)

Jon McGregor- if nobody speaks of remarkable things (simply beautiful- it makes you think in poetry)

Charlotte Roche- Wetlands (definitely NOT for the squeamish)

Alexandre Dumas- The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers

An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43

Herman Melville- Moby Dick

Christopher Booker- The Seven Basic Plots

Richard Nelson Bolles- What Color Is Your Parachute?

Charles Elton- Mr Toppit

Philip Gourevitch- We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

And, of course, a few classical ones:

Simon Goldhill- Love, Sex and Tragedy: Why Classics Matters

Ted Hughes- Tales From Ovid

Sophocles- The Theban Plays  and Electra and Other Plays

Aeschylus- Prometheus Bound and Other Plays

Suetonius- The Twelve Caesars

Apollonius of Rhodes- The Voyages of the Argo

Christopher Kelly- The Roman Empire: A Very Short Introduction (one of my professors wrote a very good VSI about Classics, and another wrote a great one on Classical mythology. Brilliant series!)

Homer- The Iliad and The Odyssey (because no Classicist’s room is complete without!)

Virgil- The Aeneid

Euripides- Medea and Other Plays

Aeschylus- The Oresteia

Peter Parsons- City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish (a great book about Oxyrynchus, a town in Egypt whose recently-discovered rubbish tip contained large sections from ancient texts, some of which we didn’t have before. Yay!)

And that’s only some of them! I have a few more books, mostly religious ones, such as some C. S. Lewis texts. Can anyone suggest any more I should look into?

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