The Washington Post published a very interesting article about Mary Beard yesterday. For those of you unfamiliar with Beard or her impressive body of work, she is an English scholar and classicist. Beard is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Newnham College, and Royal Academy of Arts Professor of Ancient Literature. She is also the Classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement. In short: she knows her stuff. As the post reports: a new book by Beard links Hellenic mythology to modern (Twitter) trolls, arguing both have a problem with women who speak up.

(Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

The Cambridge University classics professor had been pondering the influence of the ancient world on modern political and public life when she came across mugs and T-shirts bearing an image from Greek mythology: the hero Perseus holding the bloody head of the snake-haired monster Medusa. In this version, Perseus had Donald Trump’s face and the monster bore Clinton’s.

Beard was shocked both by the brutality of the image and “the domesticity of it. ... The idea that you’d be sitting at your breakfast table and you’d have a mug with Hillary Clinton being beheaded on it.”

Beard asks how that ancient image ended up in a modern political campaign in “Women and Power ,” a short but punchy book published Tuesday in the U.S. by Liveright. The book explores the way images and ideas from ancient Greece and Rome have burrowed the way into the Western collective consciousness — and how many of them are about keeping women in their place.

“When it comes to silencing women, Western culture has had thousands of years of practice”

The book begins with one of the first works of Western literature, citing a scene in Homer’s 3,000-year-old “Odyssey,” in which Telemachus tells his mother Penelope to get back to her weaving because “speech will be the business of men.”

Beard argues that modern ideas about public speaking are still shaped by its definition as a male thing. In the book’s second half she explores how power, more widely, came to be defined as something wielded by men.

As well as Clinton, female politicians including Angela Merkel and Theresa May have been caricatured as the serpent-haired Gorgon. Beard argues that such images draw little criticism. In contrast, when comedian Kathy Griffin posed with a fake severed Trump head, it prompted an outcry that saw her fired by CNN. In an echo of the ancient image, online abuse aimed at prominent women often includes threats to rip out tongues or cut off heads.

“(It’s) the idea of cutting off, not just the brain and the beauty but the speaking organ of a woman.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

I think she has a point. As a feminist and a woman, of course I think she has a point. I have experienced it, I have seen it happen to others. Ancient Hellas was a patriarchal society, and we live in a patriarchal society to this day. There has been a shift toward more equality, and we continue to shift toward more equality, but we're not there yet.  I'll be getting Beard's book as a first step toward that future.
The Department of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus, has announced the completion of the 2017 season of archaeological excavations at the Bronze Age settlement of Kisonerga-Skalia near Paphos, conducted by a University of Manchester mission, under the direction of Dr Lindy Crewe (Director, Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute). The site exhibits a long Bronze Age sequence, and earlier Late Chalcolithic occupation, beginning before 2,500 BC until abandonment around 1600 BC.


The aims of the season were to continue to expose the latest phases of occupation preserved at the site. In the north of the area under excavation, the preserved occupation dates to the Chalcolithic period. Here an interesting area of Chalcolithic pit graves was revealed.

Although there were no grave goods to securely date the four burials excavated, sherds within the deposits indicate a likely Middle Chalcolithic date. This is important as it was previously thought that the burials at the neighbouring settlement of Kisonerga-Mosphilia were all associated with houses.
Further southwards, a building complex dating to Middle Cypriote III–Late Cypriote IA1 was revealed. There is no later occupation indicated during the Bronze Age. This final phase at the site is characterised by the construction of a large complex of over 1200m2 devoted to industrial activities, including beer production and large-scale cooking or firing.

Other activities undertaken include spinning fibres and grinding grain. This complex was built over the ruins of earlier Bronze Age houses and appears to indicate a community-wide effort of construction. This unusually large open space may have been used for gatherings or another unknown function.

In Area P/B2 an area of 55m2 was exposed. Two parallel long walls, seen on upper and lower part of Figure 1, appear to form a contained space. On the interior faces of both walls we have investigated wall tumble and superstructure collapse, suggesting that this area may have been roofed. A sounding dug between the walls revealed an underlying area of destroyed building material and extensive ashy deposits. The sequence of events suggests a deliberate destruction of an earlier Bronze Age built feature.

Further areas of stone wall tumble were associated with the wall seen upper left in fig. 1. The wall tumble was removed to reveal a series of two floor deposits. Lying beneath wall collapse and above the upper surface, the upper portion of a terracotta figurine was retrieved (fig. 2). This figurine is unusual but it is probably of Middle Cypriot date. Very few figurines of this period are known and all have variable characteristics. Its decoration is of local Kissonerga style, comprising impressed circles with a central dot and lines framing a row of dots. The figurine has a very elaborate hat and triple pierced ears.

There are still areas of the final phase complex to be revealed at Kisonerga-Skalia. It is hoped that in future seasons evidence for the nature of the occupation and the activities being undertaken at the site will be revealed. Outstanding questions remain: why was such a large complex constructed and only occupied for maybe one or two generations? What was the function of the large open area and why were so many large-scale heating/burning installations constructed?
Marcus Aurelius was Roman emperor from 161 to 180, ruling jointly with Lucius Verus until Verus' death in 169 and jointly with his son, Commodus, from 177. He was a practitioner of Stoicism, and his untitled writing, commonly known as Meditations, is a significant source of our modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. It is considered by many commentators to be one of the greatest works of philosophy.

I'd like to share a quote today, as I spoke to a young woman late last night, who wondered if the Gods were real--who had started to doubt. I sent her this part of the Meditations, and it seemed to sooth her worries. I hope it does the same for you, should you ever doubt.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 2.11-12

“Do, say, and think each thing as if it is possible to die right now. To leave the discussion of human affairs, if there are gods, it is nothing terrible—for they would not ensnare you in evil. If, moreover, there are no gods—or if the realms of men are not their concern—why would I live in a universe emptied of gods or their foresight?

No, there are gods and they are concerned with the affairs of men. And they have completely arranged it that the human race many not fall into evils that are truly evil. And if there is any evil in what remains, they would have foreseen this too, so that it would not be possible for us to fall into it completely. How can anything make a human life worse which cannot make the person worse?

The nature of the totality could not have overlooked this because of ignorance, or, if knowledgeable, because it was incapable of guarding against or correcting these things. Nor could it have made so much a mistake because of inability or lack of skill that good and evil things would happen to good and evil people indiscriminately. Nevertheless, death and life, fame and infamy, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all these things are indications of good and even among men even though they are not intrinsically noble or shameful themselves. Therefore, they are not good or evil.

How swiftly everything disappears—in the universe, the bodies themselves, and in time, their memories with them. What kinds of things are all those sensed goods, especially those that delight us with pleasure or terrify us with pain or are shouted out because of pride! How simple, and despicable, and filthy, and temporary, and dead! It is the mark of our intelligence to recognize this—what these things are whose beliefs and voices obtain fame; what it means to die, and, if a person looks at dying itself and disentangles its phantom fears with a portion of his intelligence, he will suppose that it is nothing else than the work of nature. If the work of nature frightens someone, he is a child.”

Thank you all for the prayers! The fever has started to drop--which is a great relief! I'm going to try to get back to regular posting tomorrow. One more video today, which had me in stitches but which is also educational: The Try Guys Try The Ancient Olympics. See you tomorrow!


Still sick. More sick, actually, which is not how it's supposed to be, I think. If you have a prayer to Asklepios to spare, I'd be much obliged. For today: humor. I needed a good laugh!

Sorry, I'm still as sick as a dog. As such, I'm still mostly stuck browsing YouTube. I'm not a Star Wars fan (I was raised a Trekkie), but even I know the theme song. For those of you who do not, this is it. This is what it would sound like on ancient Hellenic instruments, and it's kind of awesome. The second half of the video shows which instruments were used and what defines them, so I'm just going to leave you with it. Back to bed with me!

My lovely girlfriend, who catches every flu in town, has finally managed to pass one on to me, so I am officially phoning in sick. I'm not going to leave you without a post, though! Since I'm reduced to spending my day surfing the web and watching bad movies, I've stumbled upon something very awe-inspiring.

Photographer Dustin Farrell spent the summer of 2017 chasing storms while toting a 4K camera rig that takes 1000 frames per second of raw, uncompressed footage. (For comparison: most movies are shot at 24 frames per second.) After driving 20,000 miles over a 30-day period, he had recorded 10 terabytes of data, which he then whittled down to 3:18 of spectacular video. Make sure to turn the volume up!

If anyone has to ask why I'm sharing it with you on Baring the Aegis, well, you might be in the wrong place. Bless Zeus!