Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)


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A different editor, I am sure, would have settled on an entirely different cohort of papers.

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It seems right to end this introduction on a different note, returning to the disciplinary relationships between classics and art history with which I began. In light of my opening anecdote, it might be easy to feel gloomy about the current state of classical art history; indeed, one might assume that ancient materials have little to contribute to the future twists and turns of the larger discipline.

But there are grounds, I think, for optimism. In my view, the very marginalization of the classical brings with it an opportunity, prompting productive questions about the objects we study, no less than about our rationales for doing so. Far from making a Eurocentric irrelevance of Greek and Roman materials, such trends can only illuminate the cultural peculiarities not to mention global diversity of classical traditions; if anything, moreover, they underline the constitutive role of Graeco-Roman antiquity in defining western cultural assumptions about objects, images, critical ideologies, aesthetics and phenomenologies of the visual.

By bringing together previously published articles, and making them freely available, the editorial board hopes that this virtual issue might spur further work, extending the remit of both classics and art history alike. Platt and Milette Gaifman. A version of this introduction was presented at the Andrew W.

Platt and Jas Elsner for their comments on an earlier draft. See also: Christine M. Donohue and Mark D. Fullerton, eds, Ancient Art and its Historiography , Cambridge, , 1—12, esp. On the history of scholarly traditions and institutional structures in North America, see Stephen L.

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It would be enormously improved by a large injection of theory, by a closer understanding of recent — and not so recent — developments in the art history of other periods, and most of all perhaps by a much greater awareness of its own institutional history and the reasons why it has come to be practised as it is. Dieselben Funktionen wurden z. Compare also the essays in Michael J. Squire and Verity J. On the other, his anecdotes — indeed, the rhetorical and conceptual frameworks for approaching the visual — were adopted and adapted after ancient precedent.

Francis Mallgrave, Los Angeles, Kottman and Michael J. See, for example, Rosemary J. Silver, ed. The book was ahead of its time, which accounts in part for some of the negative initial reviews by classicists for example, C. One cannot help asking for whom this book is intended.

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For the specialist or the non specialist? A letter from Nanni to Ea-nasir complaining about the quality of copper ingots delivered after a gulf voyage and about misdirection and delay of a further delivery, from Ur ca. The photo is a crop of the original posted by Reddit user tcb34 on Imgur. This tablet is presently housed at The British Museum. Customer complaints of the sort articulated by William Combs have a long history.

It is only the medium of communication that has changed. In my childhood, there were still old people around with nothing better to do than to fire off handwritten complaint letters left, right and centre.


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Troublesome busybodies of that cast are nowadays little more than a lingering memory from a bygone age. In modern times, the telephone, email, and in instances of extreme frustration YouTube have supplanted the handwritten letter as means of conveying formal statements of dissatisfaction. But it was the dependable old handwritten letter that dominated this mode of communication the for the better part of four millennia.

The oldest customer complaint letter of which I am aware is due to a businessman named Nanni, who wrote to one Ea-nasir with a grievance concerning the quality of copper ingots delivered to him after a voyage to the land of Dilmun. The letter, which is written in Akkadian on a clay tablet, was found by Sir Leonard Woolley during his excavations in Ur and dates from around BC [2].

Why Anecdotes Trump Data

Leo Oppenheim translated and published the letter in the s as part of a very curious volume that is now of print see footnote 1 [3]. The letter became the subject of renewed attention this year, after a photo of the tablet surfaced on the entertainment news website Reddit [4]. When you came, you said to me as follows: You put ingots which were not good before my messenger Sit-Sin and said: What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt?

I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money deposited with you but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way?

You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one trifling mina of silver which I owe? How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore my money to me in full. Take cognizance that from now on I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality.


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  4. Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 1).
  5. I shall from now on select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt. First of all, it is easy to imagine a stark raving mad Nanni toiling for hours chiseling out an angry rant on his tablet, only to think better of sending it off to Ea-nasir by the time he had finished. This pleasant picture is, however, wrong for two reasons: The reality is that we will probably never know.

    It could be, however, that a return tablet from Ea-nasir to Nanni lies waiting to be discovered in the Al ajarah Desert, although I admit this is highly unlikely. Third, what distinguishes a fine quality copper ingot from a shitty one? I assume the distinction is based on the purity level, but the details of this determination are unclear.

    These are some of my own pet curiosities. The reader will find many more delightful speculations and agreeable parallels with modern life on the associated Reddit post. A cavorting satyr of old balances a wine-cup on his penis. This satyrical depiction is from an Attic red-figured jug that is signed by the otherwise unknown painter Douris, c. I am afraid there has been a rape. This vile act of aggression was perpetrated on a barbarian woman by a noisy band of horse-tailed wildmen native to the Satyr islands.

    Knowledge of the astonishing spectacle is entirely dependent on the eyewitness testimony of a 2nd century sailor named Euphemos. Under usual circumstances I would quote from the W.

    Ormerod edition [2], which, being out of copyright, is freely available at The Perseus Digital Library. In this case, however, I found their translation to be unnecessarily prudish, and have therefore quoted from the comparatively faithful translation of Peter Levi [1].

    Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses

    The sacred chickens of Rome in their coop from an engraving of military insignia and instruments of war by Nicolas Beatrizet. The full engraving is found at Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae, [ Image no. In ancient Roman times, a roost of prophetic chickens was habitually consulted by eminent statesmen on matters of the utmost importance. While the very notion might strike the modern reader as being almost comical, to the Romans the sacred chickens were no laughing matter. During the First Punic War, Publius Claudius Pulcher turned to the sacred chickens for approval of his plan to launch a surprise attack on the Carthaginian fleet at the harbour of Drepana.

    The naval battle which ensued saw the near annihilation of the Roman fleet. A humiliated Pulcher returned to Rome in the aftermath of the disastrous engagement whereupon he was tried on the charge of impiety. What happened next is unclear but it seems that he was either convicted and sentenced to exile [2], or acquitted when the proceedings were adjourned due to a sudden shower of rain and the authorities decided not to bother starting it all over again [3]. Whatever the outcome, Pulcher evidently died soon afterwards. On another occasion the sacred chickens ran off into the woods just as Gaius Hostilius Mancinus was preparing to consult them about his upcoming campaign against the Numantians.

    The chickens were searched for high and low, but they were never found. As for Mancinus, he suffered a decisive military defeat at the hands of the Numantines, was compelled to accepted the terms of their peace treaty, and returned to Rome to face a trial by the Senate. The Conscript Fathers refused to ratify the treaty and decided instead for Mancinus to be handed over stark naked to the Numantines. This was arranged but the Numantines refused to accept the wretch [5, 6]. It would take socialism two thousand years to recover from what happened next.

    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2) Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)
    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2) Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)
    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2) Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)
    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2) Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)
    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2) Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)
    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2) Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)
    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2) Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)
    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2) Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)
    Anecdotal Aphrodite (volume 2)

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