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I spotted this in the latest Teen Girl Squad over at homestarrunner.com, and had to post a screen capture:
So and So is hooked on classics!
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i was looking through michael von albrecht’s survey of the history of roman literature this evening and found some very unflattering things he had to say about our grammarian friend ausonius, such as:
‘Book 16’ is the Griphus ternarii numeri, and ‘book 17’ the Cento nuptialis, an unholy montage out of shredded sentences of the chaste Virgil…(vol.2, 1322).
Just as Lucilius had once done, Ausonius mixed Latin and Greek elements to produce a hybrid poetry. This practice, an affront to both languages, seems to be typical of semiliterate epochs. Particularly striking is the slipshod prosody in many Greek words; he is not especially competent in this language. Even in Latin he shortens the a in contra (vol.2, 1324).
on the other hand, von albrecht also points out that his epigrams ‘do betray considerable linguistic awareness’ (1324).
finally, the following passage on ausonius’ outlook perhaps causes one to think of pliny the younger:
The most important witness to Ausonius’ view of his task as an author is the all-embracing character of his collection of poems. To this poet everything seems worth immortalizing: his family, the professors at Bordeaux, and much more. As in the case of Luciliusone is tempted to say that the old gentleman’s life lies before us as on a votive tablet. Like some early Latin authors do, Ausonius leaves us with the impression that the personality of the author is more significant than his modest and often incidental verse….In the jumble of seemingly unimportant matters, the reader is conscious of an individual attempting to become a mirror of the world (1325-26).
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I listened to the first selections of section 35: Memory and Destruction, presided by Harriet Flower who has done some important work recently on damnatio memoriae.
The second paper, ‘City-Destruction in Athenian and Theban Social Memory,’ was delivered by Bernd Steinbock of Michigan and incorporated modern psychology in a way I’m not used to (i.e. in a good way) and powerfully used the Morgenthau plan, fueled by Nazi propaganda and spread by word of mouth, as a parallel to the way social memory is formed in wartime. I was especially interested in Steinbock’s mention of the First Sacred War though I expected him to emphasize its role in influencing social memory. All in all a refreshingly good paper.
The first however, Julia Shear’s talk on ‘Stasis, Good Victory, and the Athenian Demos,’ plodded along to a predictable end (the Athenians de-emphasized stasis in accord with decree of Demophantos — *yawn*), so it was especially annoying when she showed up during section 44: Athenian Culture and History only to unduly attack a presenter who’d received a bachelor’s degree just a year ago. Sarah Murray’s ‘Man Overboard: A Re-evaluation of the Underrepresentation of the Navy in Classical Athenian Art’ might have benefited from some polish, but that’s hardly a thing to hold against a young scholar.
Murray argued succesfully that the navy itself had never been depicted on Athenian vases, countering a common view that there was a decline in their representation during a certain period due to fear and disdain on the part of the citizenry. In the second half of her paper, Murray showed that pride in naval victory was depicted through mythological symbolism. One vase employing a divine scene showed two individual sailors on the opposite side exercising.
This vase alone damaged Shear’s criticism, which was essentially that the Athenians may have taken pride in naval victories while hating the sailors. But I suppose anything is possible.
What was really objectionable was that Shear, while pretending to question Murray, began lecturing all in attendance, turning several times to address the room as though we were her students, virtually pleading with us to see through Murray’s holes. Then she would turn back to Murray and tell her sternly that her work was essentially evasive and incomplete.
To her credit Murray handled herself well and countered Shear successfully.
I’m afraid I may end up focusing on negatives, but I will eventually get to Robert Tordoff, who delivered one of the most satisfying papers of the convention.