Homework can sometimes be fun!

As a senior, I am required to take the senior seminar in the Classics. It is divided up into sections, and the section that we are currently in is numismatics. For those of you who don’t know, that’s the study of coins. This seemed like it could be really fun. We had a guest come into the class, who is a numismatic as a hobby, not profession, but who really knows a lot. He brought in a bunch of coins, and we all got a chance to look at them, learn about them, and hold them.

There’s something really cool to think that you’re holding a coin that was likely once held by an emperor. Or that the coin you held was almost definately buried with a corpse to pay the ferryman on their journey across the river Styx.

However, the class itself was not that cool. I enjoyed looking at the coins and trying to figure out what they said on our own, but then once everyone had seen all the coins, we started discussing them, as a class. In detail. About the imagery. Oh. my. god. Then, when we were done discussing all those coins, he pulled out ANOTHER BATCH OF COINS. This class is two and a half hours. 

The next week was almost the same.  But better. I mean, I do find this interesting, it’s just … I feel like going over each coin by ourselves AND as a group was a bit much. Perhaps if each person/pair had been given a coin to examine, then afterwards they could have all been passed around, so we could all look at it, I think that would have been a lot more interesting.

On the other hand, I hate discussions, and I seem to be the only one at my entire school who does, so maybe it’s just me. I would much rather listen to a professor lecture all class than discuss something as a class.

Anyway, for the third week, tonight, we were each given a mystery coin, that we had to examine, and then we get to present it to the class. And while it seems kinda annoying to have to go into office hours and look at the coin (we couldn’t take them with us), I really did enjoy this project.

Here is my coin:

Not the best photo, sorry ...

Found the photo online, so its not the exact coin, but it looks the same, probably the same minting.

On the front it has a depiction of Emperor Crispus, surrounded by the text FL  IVL CRISPUS NOB CAES. It means Flavius Julius Crispus (his name), nobilissimus Caesar (most noble Caesar).

The back shows a turreted camp gate with a star overhead, and the words PROVIDENTIAE CAESS, which means something like the foresight of the Caesars. I’m not quite sure. At the bottom are the letters SMANTZ, which refers to the place where it was minted, in Antioch.

I didn’t really find anything that exciting about the coin itself, but I had fun looking up the history of it. After all, who has heard of Emperor Crispus? Nobody.

Crispus, born in 303AD, was the oldest son of Emperor Constantine and a woman named Minervina, who was either his consort or his first wife. He was named Caesar (a title of power, not just a name) in 316 AD. He served as consul three times and governed Gaul at one point. He was also a big military general. He led forces against the Germans, and won a large naval battle against Licinius (the brother in law of Constantine, or his son, I’m not sure which Licinius it was). It was the naval battle that really won him fame as a general, because they were outnumbered almost 2 to 1. My coin is probably referencing the fact that he was a general, because he is wearing armor and there is a gate to an army camp on the back.

Crispus was executed for treason in 326. No one is exactly sure why, but the common theory is that his stepmother, Fausta, was jealous of him and set him up. She tried to seduce him to get Constantine mad, but when Crispus refused, she told Constantine that he had tried to seduce her (kinda like the wife of Pontifar and Joseph). Constantine had him tried for treason and he was killed. A few months later, Fausta was killed. Some believe that Constantine found out what she had done and had Fausta suffocated in an overheated bath.

Not everyone believes this, because he suffered damnatio memorae, which means that all traces of him were wiped out of the records as best as they could. But if Constantine found out that his son was innocent, wouldn’t he have forgiven his memory? Maybe not, who knows.

Crispus was also married, and he had a son, but no one knows the name of the boy, or what happened to him. It’s amazing to think that even though we know so much about the Romans, there is still a lot that we don’t know. It’s finding out stuff like this that got me interested in the Classics in the first place. Not so much what we do know, but what we don’t know.

This coin project actually ended up being fun, which kinda surprised me, to be honest. I suppose it’s because I like puzzles, and this is like a puzzle, trying to figure out what things on the coin mean. And then I learned something new, which I feel hasn’t really happened in a while. Language classes that focus on translating really don’t teach much, and I’ve kinda missed learning. So if I got nothing else out of this project, at least I got to learn stuff from it. And I had fun while doing so.

Published in: on September 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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A little too connected

We live in a great computerized age. With our computers and phones, we can get online, where there is an unbelievable amount of information for us to sift through. We can talk to people through texts, emails, instant messaging, and social networks, all without ever actually saying a word. We can share information, music, and videos instantaneously with thousands of people simply by putting them on our facebook profile or blogs.

But at the same time, is any of this necessary?

All of this technology has caused us to be so connected that we are now impatient when it comes to real life. We send people an email, and we expect an answer immediately. When someone hasn’t responded within a couple hours, we get upset. And I’ve done this before, too. I am usually pretty patient about people replying to my emails, but after a couple days it starts to be annoying. Who doesn’t check their emails at least once a day? It also bothers me when all I need is a quick yes or no answer, and I still don’t get a reply. Even worse is when I know that you have a blackberry. Your phone is strapped to your belt all day every day. It beeps at you or buzzes whenever you get an email. How can you not reply to me?

damn he's sexy, and this isn't even a great photo

He's on a laptop, ergo it's relevant.

Texting is another issue. I personally do not have texting on my phone. (That’s not by choice, my dad bought me the phone when I was a freshman and blocked all texting because he doesn’t see the point. I don’t see the point of buying my own cell phone when he will pay for one, so I don’t have texting.) I can understand when texting would be useful and convenient. For example, if I just want to ask my roommate what time she’s coming home, or to ask a friend what time we’re getting dinner, a text would be nice. I don’t need to know RIGHT NOW (unless of course dinner is right now) so they can get back to me whenever they get a chance, and I don’t need to possibly interrupt them by calling.


I can't believe that this actually exists

Some people, however, live out their entire relationships through texts. They will have whole conversations, which, at that point, it would just be easier and faster to dial them up and talk to them. But nooooooooo, it’s so much better to text because then you can like have a million conversations going on at the same time while you’re at dinner/in class/hanging out with someone else.

And yet somehow, this seems normal. So normal, in fact, that the idea of being without any of our technology is terrible. My roommate has been turning her computer off at least two hours before bed, because it helps her sleep. The visual bombardment that we get from being online (all the light, the ads, etc.) stimulates your brain and makes it harder to fall asleep at night. So she has been closing her laptop and not doing anything online. Which to me, is CRAZY. I don’t see how she does it. I always have to check my mail at least once more right before going to bed. I feel compelled to check if anyone has emailed me. (I must admit, I’ve probably checked my email about 4 times since I’ve started writing this post) And if I have an email, I have to write back. I don’t see why I should be so compelled to check and respond to my emails so quickly. Shouldn’t people understand that I sleep at night? That I’m not always on my computer? Of course not.

Now, my roommate takes it a step further, and she doesn’t even turn on her computer in the morning. HOW CAN SHE DO THAT? I admit, I am absolutely and completely addicted to the internet. But still, shouldn’t you at least check your email before class? What if class is cancelled? How would you know if you don’t check? Then you’d go all the way up to the classroom to find a note on the door, when you could have just stayed at home and curled back up in bed. (This has happened … once …)

computer addict

This past summer, I was out of the country for a month. And where I was, I didn’t have any computer. I think I used a computer about 4 times that entire month. And somehow, I lived. I wasn’t even that upset that I couldn’t check my email or go on facebook all the time. And actually, I barely got any emails that whole time.

[Note: I was just writing this when I realized two things: Firstly, that the video of Hatter set to Hot Mess, which my roommates and I love, has been taken down off of youtube. Sadness. The creator of the video, TheOnlyDoylie, appears to have had their account either removed or disabled. If anyone has a copy of the video, I WANT IT. The second thing that I noticed was that there was a cat outside. The cat has an owner somewhere nearby, and he tends to wander over here. He is the sweetest thing, so I naturally ran out and petted him for about 15 minutes. He was happy to see me. Especially since I brought out the little fatty bits of my porkchop that I had for dinner.]

But anyway, back to me being addicted to my computer. It’s kinda sad, really, how much I’m on it. Even if I’m not doing anything, I’ll just browse the web, looking at pictures of cats with silly captions on them. And really, if that’s not a useless waste of time, then I don’t know what is.

Let’s not even get started with Twitter. Does anyone really need to know what you’re doing every moment of every day?

I’m not quite sure what I’m getting at here. Obviously, we as a society are way too addicted to our technology for our own good. We need to go outside or read a book, or have an actual conversation with someone, face to face. But even though I can see that our addiction is overwhelming and unnecessary, I’m still here, sitting at my computer, and I will be here all night, and tomorrow, whenever I’m home.

Published in: on September 20, 2010 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Top hats make you sexy.

At the beginning of this month, I signed up for a free trial of Netflix. My roommate and I decided that we should each get a free trial, so we can get two months free (maybe three if we can get our other roommate to agree to it, as well) before we agree to pay for it. Netflix is kinda awesome, in that they have a ton of movies, and there’s a bunch of movies that you can view online. Which leads me to my next point.

Netflix is the worst procrastination tool ever. It’s worse than Sporcle. I spend a while looking around for something to watch, and then when I’ve found a movie, I watch it. And since most of my homework requires the use of the computer, I can’t do anything while I watch the movie … it’s not a very good system.

Last week, my roomates and I watched Alice, the syfy miniseries version of Alice in Wonderland. And it was wonderful, we absolutely loved it. That may have had something to do with the fact that Hatter was SO DAMN SEXY! (And Jack was gorgeous as well!) And it wasn’t just that Hatter was facially/physically attractive, but it was also his character, who you just wanted to give him his damn hug! (If you’ve seen the series, you’ll understand what I mean.)

 you know you want him

Well, after the movie, we ended up on youtube, looking at fanvids of the characters, which led us to this (spoiler alert!!). There are a ton of those fanvids out there, but this is by far the best. And since it’s so short, we can totally watch it a million times (not that we’d do that … *coughcough).

EDIT: that video was taken down off of youtube. We all cried…

But I was thinking today about this, and browsing netflix, and I realized that there are a lot of different versions of Alice in Wonderland. I was actually surprised how many different versions there are. I can’t think of any one story that has been remade as many times, other than maybe Cinderella.

So now I’m kinda tempted to rewrite some classic story. I feel like it would be a lot harder than one would expect. Because it’s not like you can just rewrite the same storyline. It needs to have the same characters, but you can’t rely on that, you still need to have character exposition, and you need to give them their own personalities that’s unique to your own version. The storyline has to be basically the same, but still different enough to set your version apart from all the others. So it would be difficult, but I am really tempted to try. Only thing to figure out is what story I want to rewrite!

Published in: on September 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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An exciting day in Italian 201

So I am in my third semester of Italian (one of my three current language classes, along with Latin and Greek). This semester, instead of letting us choose our own topics for presentations, our professor gave us a list of possible choices. I chose Petrarch, because I’m fairly certain that our professor made the topic FOR ME, cause he wrote in Latin. So I felt rather obligated.

Anyway, there was this one guy presenting today, and his presentation was on Italian cinema. Our presentations are supposed to be 20-30 minutes long, which is A LONG TIME to be talking, so he had put a bunch of video clips from various films into his presentation. It was a really good presentation actually, talking about the history of Italian cinema, from the very beginning. The first film was only about 30 seconds, and featured the Pope, apparently.

After his presentation, we were all supposed to ask him questions. There was an empty chair next to me, so he pulled it out from the table and sat on it during the questions. Then my professor asked this question about some quote by Mussolini, and he PASSED OUT.

Since I was the closest one to him, I reached out and caught him before his head hit the floor, cause he had started sliding off the chair, but I was leaning awkardly over the back of my chair, and couldn’t actually lift him back up until another guy in the class came over and helped me.

It was scary.

He woke up after only a minute, but everyone was freaking out and a couple people were calling 911 and campus safety. He said that he hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning, and he had been complaining about it being hot, so I think he just wasn’t doing that well all class.

I do have to give him mad props though. The first thing he said when he woke up was, “How was the presentation? It was a presentation and a show.”

Published in: on September 10, 2010 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

The story of Persephone

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Persephone. She was very beautiful, with hair the color of golden wheat, and trim ankles (yes, that’s actually in the ancient literature). Persephone spent her days playing with her friends, the nymphs. One day, they were walking when they came across a field of flowers. The flowers were so beautiful that they decided to make garlands out of them. While they were picking the flowers, Persephone had wandered away from the nymphs, and soon they were out of sight.

Suddenly, the ground began to rumble, and Hades, the lord of the underworld, burst out of the top of Mount Enna in a chariot drawn by four black horses.

Aphrodite, the goddess of love, happened to see Hades, and felt a surge of anger. She had held power over all of the gods and goddesses at one time or another, all except for Hades. She didn’t see why he should be able to evade love, so Aphrodite sent her son, Eros, to shoot him with an arrow and cause him to fall in love. Eros went according to his mother’s wishes, and shot Hades just as he was passing Persephone.

As soon as Hades saw Persephone, he instantly became enamored of her. He decided that he wanted to have Persephone as his bride, so he pulled her into his chariot and started to drive away, ignoring her cries and screams. A water nymph who was inhabiting a nearby pond heard Persephone’s cries, and tried to reason with Hades not to take the girl against her will. She tried to convince Hades to woo her, and make her want to be his bride, but Hades would not listen to her. He pulled out his staff and struck the surface of the pond, causing it to crack open, revealing a path to the underworld. Hades pulled Persephone down with him into the abyss. The water nymph was so upset about Persephone’s fate that she literally dissolved into tears.

Persephone’s mother was Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, and it soon came to her attention that Persephone was missing. She spoke to Persephone’s friends, the nymphs, to see if they knew where she had gone, but no one had seen which way she went or what had befallen her. The nymphs were distraught that something had happened to Persephone while she had been with them, and they begged Demeter to let them help her search for her daughter. Demeter turned them all into harpies, creatures that were half woman and half bird, so that they could fly around in search of the missing girl.

Demeter searched the world for her daughter, all in vain. While she searched, she neglected her duties, and all of the plants began to wither and die without her care. This worried Zeus, because he could not get Demeter to take care of the earth, so he began to look for Persephone as well.

Zeus discovered that Hades had taken Persephone into the underworld, so he sent his messenger, Hermes, to summon Hades and tell Hades to return the girl to her mother. Hades appeared before Zeus, but told him that he could not return Persephone, because she had eaten the food in the underworld, and anyone who eats the food in the underworld is not allowed to leave. Persephone had only eaten six pomegranate seeds, so Zeus declared that she must be returned to her mother for half of the year, and that she must spend six month of the year in the Underworld, one month for each seed that she had eaten.

Every year, when Persephone returns to her husband in the underworld, her mother mourns the loss of her daughter. During this time, no plants grow, and this is why we have winter.

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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