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To become a guest blogger send a registration request to Debra Hamel. You'll receive an invitation with directions in return from TypePad.

Blogographos is a public blog to which anyone interested in Greek and Roman antiquity may post. This means interested laymen as well as professional classicists and students. Feel free to post anything classics-related that you'd like: interesting links, reviews of classics-related media, book announcements, questions, amusing anecdotes, suggestions about improving the blog, and so on. Just try to keep things intelligent and properly spelt.

Introducing Noet: Research App for the Classics


Logos Bible Software is putting together a new suite of digital texts and tools for classicists—a research application with Greek and Latin language resources that synchronizes across your mobile device and desktop computer. Its name is Noet.

Noet will be available this fall as a mobile app and web reader. In 2014, Noet will be available as a desktop application for Mac and PC and as a social platform for collaborative reading and research.

Noet ebooks differ from ebooks in other platforms (Kindle, Nook, etc.) in that they’re tagged with data. When used in the Noet platform, Noet ebooks support a host of unique features that allow for deeper textual engagement. For example, the Noet mobile app includes:

  • High-powered search tools that allow you to search your entire Noet library or an individual ebook for an English or original-language word or phrase.
  • Split-screen view that allows you to sync related texts so that they scroll together as you read them. Sync Homer’s Odyssey and a commentary, so that as you turn the page of one text, the other automatically follows. Or sync a translation of the Iliad with an original Greek edition.
  • A Look Up tool that allows you to select an original-language word and access its gloss, lemma, and morphology.
  • A Word Study tool that allows you to link from an original-language word to its entry in a lexicon.

Noet is launching with several bundles of classic texts, and then expanding into new titles and disciplines. The Classical Greek Bundle with LSJ is the flagship product for classicists which includes the Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon and the Perseus Greek Classics. With over 198,000 links to Perseus, the Noet edition of LSJ allows for instant lookup of related texts without ever having to open a print book or flip through pages in search of a citation.

Noet equips classicists with cutting-edge, time-saving tools for research in the digital age. Preview a video of the Noet mobile app and visit to learn more.

Win a copy of Reading Herodotus!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Reading Herodotus by Debra Hamel

Reading Herodotus

by Debra Hamel

Giveaway ends August 31, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

The Mutilation of the Herms in paperback! Also, examination copies

The paperback of my self-published booklet The Mutilation of the Herms: Unpacking an Ancient Mystery is now good to go! It's available already on, and it will be available on Amazon very soon.

I've created a page for the booklet here: If you're an instructor in the US or the UK considering the text for classroom use, you'll find a form on the page to request a digital examination copy.

Ancient history on a Kindle near you!

I've written a roughly 50-page piece called The Mutilation of the Herms: Unpacking an Ancient Mystery that I've just self-published for the Kindle. It's about an event that occurred in Athens in 415 B.C., a city-wide act of vandalism that led to a sort of witch hunt and resulted in the execution or exile of scores of Athenians. It's written for a general audience. No prior knowledge of the period is assumed.

Below are the details from my product description on Amazon. Click here to buy the e-book or see its listing on Amazon.

The Mutilation of the Herms In 415 B.C. the Athenians woke to find that during the night most of the herms in Athens (priapic statues of the Greek god Hermes) had been vandalized. The damage was too widespread for the act to be dismissed as a youthful prank. What was it, then: a conspiracy brewing against the democracy? Or merely a bad omen for their upcoming expedition to Sicily?

The so-called "mutilation of the herms" is an important episode in Athenian history. Nearly 2500 years later, basic questions about the crime continue to exercise scholars—who done it and why they done it. In "The Mutilation of the Herms: Unpacking an Ancient Mystery," Debra Hamel provides a comprehensible account of the vandalism and its aftermath.

This roughly 50-page work is written for an audience of general readers and students. No previous knowledge of the period is assumed. The text could profitably be assigned for undergraduate classes in Greek history. Topics discussed include the Eleusinian Mysteries, the role of drinking groups (hetaireiai) in the vandalism, Alcibiades' involvement in the affair, and Eva Keuls' feminist take on the episode. (ARTICLE: 13,000 WORDS.)


Herodotus news!

I haven't updated here in a while, but I wanted to share the happy news that my book Reading Herodotus: A Guided Tour through the Wild Boars, Dancing Suitors, and Crazy Tyrants of The History will be published by the Johns Hopkins University press in the fall of 2012.

I've got a page up at, though for now it's just a place-holder. I just wanted to get the domain ready to go for when there's more information to include. (My intention is for it to ultimately mirror the design of my Neaira site.)

Meanwhile, daily tweets of The History continue on the Twitter account @iHerodotus (and its associated web site

Billows, Richard A.: Marathon

Overlook Press, 304 pages
1st published: 2010
4 stars

Note: Review copy received from publisher. Amazon affiliate: Links pointing to Amazon contain my affiliate ID. Sales resulting from clicks on those links will earn me a percentage of the purchase price.

In 490 B.C.--2500 years ago next year--a Persian army landed at Marathon, about 25 miles northeast of Athens. The King of Persia, Darius, was intent on punishing the Athenians for their involvement in the burning of the Persian capital Sardis some years earlier. But against all odds, the army he sent to subdue Athens wasn't up to the task. The Athenians were significantly outnumbered. The Persians were a formidable war machine. And yet some 10,000 Athenians and fewer than a thousand of their staunch allies, the Plataeans, managed to send the Persians limping back to Asia. The score card in the end: an astonishing 6400 enemy dead against 192 Athenian and 11 Plataean losses. In his book Marathon: How One Battle Changed Western Civilization, Richard Billows argues--and he's right, to my mind--that the battle of Marathon was a a turning point in western history: had the Athenians lost that day, Greek history, and western civilization, would have developed very differently.

Billows makes his case for Marathon as a decisive battle in his introduction, where he further discusses the three "legends" of Marathon: how the Athenians themselves held the victory up as a defining moment in their history; how, beginning in the mid-19th century, Marathon came to be appreciated by modern scholars as a pivotal event in world history (although in academic circles nowadays the notion of the "decisive battle" is unfashionable); and finally, how Marathon came to be associated with the modern "marathon" race.

After beginning his book with this focus on Marathon, Billows spends the next 150-odd pages discussing the background to the battle. In chapter one he gives readers a thumbnail history of Greece from the time of Homer to the eve of the Persian Wars, including discussions of hoplite warfare, Spartan society, and lyric poetry. Chapter two is an introduction to Persia, its geography and religion, the creation of the Persian Empire and its expansion and organization under its first three kings, Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius. Chapter three focuses on Athens: the reforms of Solon in the early 6th century B.C., the tyranny of Pisistratus and his son, Cleisthenes' democratic reforms, and so on. In chapter four Billows discusses the Ionian Revolt, when the Greek states on the coast of Asia Minor attempted--with the help of the Athenians--to free themselves from Persian control.

Having set the stage in his first four chapters, Billows finally returns to Marathon in chapters five and six. In the former he discusses the battle itself, and in his concluding chapter he provides a quick overview of what happened after Marathon--the political, military, and intellectual developments of the rest of the 5th century and some of the 4th. In closing, Billows returns to the subject of his introduction, arguing again that Marathon was a decisive battle by considering what would have happened had the Athenians lost:

  • The Athenians who survived the battle would have been deported and resettled somewhere near the Persian Gulf
  • The Persians would have subjugated the rest of Greece
  • The Athenians' various intellectual achievements--the great tragedies of the 5th century, the comedies of Aristophanes; the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato; Thucydides' History--would not have existed to inspire subsequent playwrights and intellectuals
  • Athenian democracy would have ended a mere 15 years after its creation, a failed experiment:
"What that would have meant for the later history of democratic theory and democratic governing systems can only be guessed at; but it is obvious that without its most successful model, the story of democracy in ancient Greece would have [been] very different and likely much poorer; and the concept of democracy as a viable governing system, indeed the whole vocabulary of democratic politics, would have been radically different."

Billows's Marathon is a sober, competently written book. I think there is some potential, however, for readers to be disappointed with it: the book's title and subtitle suggest that the focus of the book will be squarely on the battle of Marathon and its consequences. What one gets, however, is slightly different, an introduction to Greek history as a whole that culminates in the battle of Marathon while making a case for the battle's importance. Billows provides much more background information than is really necessary for a book aiming to introduce readers to Marathon (the nitty-gritty of Solon's economic reforms, for example). One may contrast this approach with Barry Strauss's The Battle of Salamis, which, while by no means leaving the reader in the dark about the context of the naval battle, is much more focused on Salamis than Billows is on Marathon. So the title of Billows's book feels a bit like false advertising. It is, however, a very good (if not very exciting) introduction to Greek history that will be accessible to the general reader and to undergraduates. 

Herodotus is using Twitter!

Malouf, David: Ransom

Pantheon, 240 pages
1st published: 2009
5 stars

Note: Review copy received from publisher. Amazon affiliate: Links pointing to Amazon contain my affiliate ID. Sales resulting from clicks on those links will earn me a percentage of the purchase price.

David Malouf's Ransom is a re-imagining of the events narrated in book 24 of Homer's Iliad. Achilles, mad with grief over the death of his friend Patroclus at Hector's hands, has slain Hector in turn. But contrary to convention, still savage in his unquenchable grief, Achilles daily abuses Hector's body, dragging it behind his chariot around the Greeks' camp, the insult further sorrow to Hector's parents and to the rest of the Trojans. Hector's father, Priam, the King of Troy, is visited by the goddess Iris, who bids him travel to the Greek camp and ransom his son's body. Priam does this, Achilles relents, and Priam returns home with the corpse, which the gods have preserved from decay and Achilles' degradations. Book 24 ends with Hector's funeral.

Continue reading at »

Joyful Latin Learning

_From: A New Weblog Announces Itself_

“Joyful Latin Learning” is the theme of “Tres Columnae” (our working
title), which aims to be everyone’s home on the Web for (you guessed
it!) Joyful Latin Learning. In fact, we aim to build a Joyful Learning
Community where all kinds of people can come together to learn about the
Latin language, the history and culture of the Roman Empire, and the
ways that Latin (and the Romans) have influenced today’s languages and
cultures. We’ll be launching the actual website (and the Joyful Learning
Community) early in 2010. But first, we want to spread the word, to
invite people to join us, and to let you know what’s special and
different about “Tres Columnae.”

So, what exactly is a Joyful Learning Community? Read more and join in

Meanwhile, Happy MMX to all!


Visit Zenobia's blog at Empress of the East

Lady linguists

I just ran across the strangest comment in How and Wells' Commentary on Herodotus (now available for the Kindle for $1.59!). At 4.114 Herodotus is writing about how these Amazon women were in relationships with Scythian men, but while the Amazons learned the language of the Scythians, the Scythian men were unable to learn to speak Amazon. Later, in section 117, Herodotus says that the Amazon women spoke Scythian but not quite correctly.

So How and/or Wells write in their commentary at 4.114:

"The greater aptness of the Amazons is a delightful touch of nature; but they were inaccurate (cr. soloikizontes chap. 117), as lady linguists often are."

So...some private joke with the lady linguist down the hall? An inter-departmental romance turned sour?

Monopoly power warning

Reposted from Ancient World Bloggers Group (posted by Charles Ellwood Jones). 

It's certainly distressing but perhaps also a serious warning of the power of a monopoly that aspires to be the digital librarian and cataloguer of the entire world. 

Distressing? Distressing! BMCR is not spam!

A notice at the Bryn Mawr Classical Review reads:

Please note that Google has removed all access to our blog after incorrectly flagging it as a spam blog. We had requested a review which did not happen, and on September 28 Google removed all access to the blog, which we are attempting to appeal.

I certainly hope this is a mistake!

For now the BMCR blog is blank.

(Via Zenobia's blog at Empress of the East

News on the Antikythera Mechanism


From Hewlett Packard: "The Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient astronomical computer built by the Greeks around 80 B.C. It was found on a shipwreck by sponge divers in 1900, and its exact function still eludes scholars to this day. In September, 2005, as part of the Antikythera Research Project, HP was able to access the device in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens to apply reflectance imaging techniques to the front and rear surfaces of the > 70 fragments that comprise the mechanism."

[I would doubt the word 'computer'; orrery would be better.]

A metre-wide plastic dome, covered with flashbulbs, is used to take photos of an object lit from 50 different directions. The images are fed into a computer and used to make a reconstruction of how the surface of the object reflects light. Once that's done, you can ask the computer to light the object from any angle, even impossible ones like beneath its surface, or you can change how the surface reflects light - such as making the crumbling stone of a cuneiform tablet as shiny as metal. Then it's just a case of playing around to find the effect that makes the lettering as clear as possible.

You can try this for yourself on Hewlett Packard's website. Click on one of the images to download the interactive demo in a new window, then move the mouse around to change the direction of the light. Or  right click on the image to bring up a little menu, and under "effects" turn on "specular".

The applications in the field of archaeology are awesome (not a word I often use).

For more on the Antikythera Mechanism, see Jo Marchant's blog, Decoding the Heavens, especially the Stunning Antikythera video.


Visit Zenobia's blog at Empress of the East <>


I'm a small press publisher in the hinterland of central Ohio, and have just published a fine translation of Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica -- 1st century AD Latin version of earlier Greek epic, now in lively English verse. The translation is from Michael Barich of the Kenyon College Classics department, with illustrations by his student, Thomas Chappell Lewis (including a vivid cover illustration crafted on Post-It Notes). The little-known Latin Argonautica has keen Roman touches that heighten the sense of adventure and erotic passion of the Greek, and Professor Barich does a fine job in creating his accurate and compelling version in English verse. Take a look at -- and thanks!


Cavafy on the Emperor Julian

A splendid piece in The New Republic by the always readable Peter Green on the Daniel Mendelsohn translation of the collected poems of Constantine Cavafy. Every autodidact, someone once claimed, can be guaranteed to have a bee in his bonnet somewhere, and this was certainly true of Cavafy, whose bee (pursued in no less than a dozen poems, five of them unfinished) was the improbable figure of Julian the Apostate. It might be thought that a poet who glimpsed the old gods winging it over Ionia would welcome an emperor who aimed to put them back officially on their pedestals; but in fact Cavafy reveals a visceral distaste and contempt for Julian. G.W. Bowersock, in two characteristically erudite and incisive essays....

Read more at Bread & Circuses

All good wishes,

Judith Weingarten
Visit Zenobia's blog at Empress of the East

Saveguarding Zenobia/Halebiye


The city of Zenobia, said to have been founded by Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, and refortified by Justinian, is now in mortal danger from a plans for a new dam on the Euphrates River.  The French-Syrian Archaeological Mission, excavating at Zenobia/Halebiye since 2006, are circulating a petition in the hope of saving this fascinating site.  They do not aim to cancel the project (which is needed for the development of the region) but to have the dam moved so that it will not drown most of the city.  Please help by clicking here and signing the petition:

Please also forward the petition to as many interested parties as you can.  More information on the site and excavations at the Mission's webpage.

And you can read a post that I recently wrote about the city's history here: Where Did Zenobia Die?

All good wishes,

Judith Weingarten

British Library dissertation EThOS

Via History News Network, the British Library's EThOS beta is now available on-line. EThOS stands for Electronic Theses (dissertations) Online Service.  Nearly all British Universities are participating (except Cambridge and Oxford; naturally not). Any thesis ever accepted in Britain is eligible for inclusion in the database, possibly going back to the 1600s.  The theses have been OCRed, not just scanned, which means that you can do keyword searches on the PDFs, for example. And, if you only want an electronic copy, it is free of charge (hardcopy costs, obviously). If the thesis you want hasn't been scanned yet, then you may be asked to contribute towards the cost of that.


Judith Weingarten

Herodotus is on Twitter!

You can follow him at

Dido is no longer online

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the Aeneid on Facebook:

I particularly like the various relationship statuses.

East, Rebecca: A.D. 62: Pompeii

iUniverse © 2003, 292 pages
4 stars

Miranda, the protagonist of Rebecca East's A.D. 62: Pompeii, is a graduate student studying classical archaeology at Harvard. It turns out that her knowledge of ancient cultures and her relatively small size make her the ideal candidate for a time travel experiment being conducted by unnamed researchers. The science behind the experiment and the particulars of its financing are never spelled out, but our heroine is due to earn a hefty sum as a guinea pig. The plan is for her to be sent back roughly 2000 years to ancient Rome, though the scientists won't be able to pinpoint precisely either her location upon arrival or the exact date. She is to live among the natives for a few days, attracting as little attention as possible, and then return to the 21st century by activating the transmitter that's embedded in her upper arm.

Continue reading at »

Cleobis and Biton go bowling

Another story from The Week (November 14, 2008). This one's not funny (unlike this one), but it does call to mind an interesting classical parallel:

"An avid bowler from Michigan bowled his first perfect game after 45 years of trying, and promptly died. Don Doane, 62, had just rolled his final strike, say witnesses, bringing his score to an unimprovable 300, and was accepting congratulations from teammates when he suffered a massive heart attack and died instantly. 'It was like a book, a final chapter,' said teammate Todd Place. 'He threw his 300 game with all of his friends, gave each other high-fives, and it's like the story ended. He died with a smile on his face.'"

Picture 1-27Readers familiar with Herodotus will immediately see this as a modernized version of the Cleobis and Biton story (Hdt. 1.31). The Athenian sage Solon, asked by the Lydian King Croesus to name the most fortunate of men, named as second most fortunate the brothers Cleobis and Biton. When their mother needed a ride to a religious festival, but the oxen weren't yet available for her cart, they yoked themselves to it and pulled her some five miles. Everybody was impressed: people gathered around and congratulated the boys, and they congratulated the boys' mother on what great sons she had. And she, the mother, prayed to a statue of Hera that her sons might get from the goddess whatever is best for men to receive. Afterwards the boys feasted and then fell asleep and they never woke up again, and so died at the pinnacle of their accomplishments. And, importantly, because they died there was now no chance for misfortune to befall them in the future: fate, being fickle, tends to upend the lives of men given enough time.