Links for 23 Oct

Here are some of the more interesting things we’ve seen this week!

The Rogue Classicist shares some thoughts (and images too) on the Persephone mosaics recently found in Amphipolis.

60 Minutes has a story on how Italy is funding restoration projects across the country.

Pop Classics has been reviewing episodes of the BBC series Plebs.

Reuters reports that Pope Francis has made Italian, not Latin, the official language of the Vatican Synod.

Finally, for something light-hearted and amazingly adorable, check out this short video on the medieval legend De Herinacio. In Latin with English subtitles!

Lemures, sagae, et cadavera eheu! – Ideas for Halloween

It’s that time of year. Shadows are lengthening, the air is growing colder, and unknown monsters are lurking about. Soon neighborhoods will be filled with the raucous ramblings of zombies, ghosts, and witches. Today I’d like to share some ways that you can bring some frightful festivities into your classroom! And, if you read all the way until the end, O indefatigible reader, I offer a chance at a CANE Press prize.

The Greeks and Romans loved scary stories just like we do. Perhaps the most famous is Pliny the Younger’s tale of Athenodorus confronting a ghost haunting his Athenian home (Letters 7.27). You can find this in many places, but my favorite is an annotated version in Ecce Romani Scriptores. But that is only one tale in that letter; there are three other weird stories contained within, including a pair of spectral barbers. Another curious tale also provides inspiration for students of the Ecce Romani series; told by Chrysippus, it tells of a murdered man’s ghost seeking justice. While the original is Greek and found in a fragment by Aelian, I found a nice Latin version in H. J. Haedy’s A Latin Reader for the Lower Forms in Schools (search for Chrysippus refert apud Megaream).

If it’s not ghosts but witches you’re interested in, Apuleius is your source for an excellent tale of stolen body parts and shape-changing crones. Often called Thelyphron’s Tale, it’s been published as a comic book under the name Custos Cadaveris. Good luck getting one, since it’s out of print, but you’ll have better luck in the Cambridge Latin Anthology. The Cambridge School Classics Project has an online version with word-clickable definitions and includes a number of extra resources to explore. The Golden Ass is generally a great source for stories of witches and the supernatural – my other favorite is Aristomenes’ Tale, about witches who replace the eponymous tale teller’s heart with a sponge in revenge for spurned love.

Lucan, although his Latin is both difficult and gruesome, is the source of a particularly rich story of Sextus Pompey’s supposed approach to the witch Erictho as he tries to learn the future events of the civil war. See A. Zithos’ great website exploring Lucan and necromancy, including many Latin citations for your reading pleasure and possible inspiration for a student project.

Don’t forget about the Middle Ages, either. Monks seemed particularly imaginative when discussing all things supernatural. John de Alta Silva, a 13th century Cistercian monk, tells a terrible tale about a bandit’s experience with cannibal witches in his Dolopathos, Sive de Rege et Septem Sapientes. I’d suggest finding a copy of Ecce Romani Scriptores, which also has this story annotated for easy reading.

William of Newburgh (Willelmus Parvus) has perhaps the first stories in extant Latin of the walking dead in his Historia Rerum Anglicarum (see Book 5, Chapters 22-24, starting at p. 182). Here’s a slightly truncated example from Chapter 23 –

Ibi quidam vir pecuniosus sed pessimus, post fata sepultus, operatione ut creditur Sathanae, noctibus egrediebatur ex tumulo et, canum cum ingenti latratu prosequente turba, huc illucque ferebatur et multo cunctis accolis terrore incusso ante lucem tumulo reddebatur.

Good stuff, right? I’ll always thank Ken Kitchell, my advisor, mentor, and friend, for clueing me into the magic and wonder of Medieval Latin.

Some Halloween Activities

In my own classes I ask students to come up with a list of Halloween related vocabulary; you can be sure that sagae, vespertiliones, cadavera, sepulchra, cucurbitae, sanguisugae, umbrae daemones, nocte accidit caliginosa obscuraque, et ita porro are high on the list. I ask them to create their own story, inspired both by this vocabulary and by the ancient/medieval stories we read. They then huddle around with flashlights in darkened rooms and try to terrify one another.

Making monsters is always good fun, and it’s a great way to teach adjectives, body parts, and genitives/ablatives of description.

The Roman holiday of the dead, the Lemuria, happens in May (Ovid claims it makes sense, since Maius is related to Maiores…), but why not do a ceremony in October instead? Students need black beans to throw over their shoulders, and could go barefoot for authenticity, while reciting the ancient warding incantation ‘haec ego mitto, his’ inquit ‘redimo meque meosque fabis‘ 9 times and holding their thumb between their fingers. See Fasti 5.422ff. for details!

Finally, monumenta. Students could create a little graveyard, possibly commemmorating a loved one, or perhaps themselves as a momento mori. A quick trip to the Boston MFA or local churches and graveyards will provide lots of exempla to draw from.

Do you do anything special for Halloween? Tell us about it by posting what you do below and we’ll enter you into a drawing for a lovely CANE Calendar. The deadline is Halloween, of course!

Announcements 18 Oct


  • ​2015 Annual Meeting: Final Call for Proposals

    The 109th Annual Meeting of the Classical Association of New England will take place March 13h and14th, 2015 at Noble and Greenough School, Dedham, MA. Proposals for papers, workshops, and discussion groups on all topics related to Greco-Roman antiquity are cordially invited. Studies of authors and works regularly taught in schools and colleges are particularly welcome, as well as historical, archaeological, and pedagogical papers of interest to a general audience of classicists.

    ​Please send a one-page (300 word) abstract to:

    CANE President
    Elizabeth Keitel
    Department of Classics
    524 Herter Hall, University of Massachusetts
    Amherst, MA 01003.

    Electronic submissions can be emailed to:

    All papers must be suitable for presentation in a fifteen-minute period, to be followed by a brief question and answer period. To be considered for the annual meeting, abstracts must be submitted by the deadline.

    Deadline is December 1, 2014.

  • The winter deadline for the quadriannual CANE Discretionary Funds grant is December 1st.  If you have a great idea for a class activity but need funds for books and/or materials, please apply!  For more information on this or other grants/scholarships that CANE offers, visit this page.
  • The deadline for the Alison Barker Travel Scholarship (, offered annually to undergraduates wishing to participate in educationally-enriching travel abroad, is December 1st.
  • The deadline for requesting aid from the Thomas and Eleanor Means Fund ( is December 1st.  Awards from this fund are granted to middle- and secondary-school students who wish to travel abroad for educational purposes.
  • It’s time to start thinking about this year’s CANE Writing Contest! Deadline is December 15.



  • The Yale University Art Gallery has recently renovated its ancient art galleries, and there is a great special exhibit entitled “Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of the Empire” running now through February 4th.
  • UConn’s Homer Babbidge Library is showing an exhibit of Roman aqueducts using Legos through Oct 24.
  • Speaking of Legos, there’s also an exhibit in Quincy Market in Boston that includes Lego reconstructions of a Greek vase and classical statuary through Jan 11.


  • Mementote!  The Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA) is holding its annual conference in Sturbridge, MA October 23rd-25th. There is a full schedule of Latin workshops and talks (nota bene, however, that the deadline for registration was September 26th).  Please note that the Classical Association of Massachusetts’ Annual Meeting takes place here on Friday night.
  • New York University’s Center for Ancient Studies will be hosting the Rose-Marie Lewent Conference on “WarStories:  Ancient and Modern Narratives of War” on Tuesday, November 11th, at 5:30 pm at NYU’s Hemmerdinger Hall, Silver Center for Arts and Science, 100 Washington Square East.  The event will be free and open to the public; a full program can be found here.


  • Live in western MA or northern CT and want to practice speaking in Latin? There is a large group that meets weekly in Amherst! For details, contact TJ Howell.
  • In the Boston area? Check out the Active Latin Meetup page for events.


  • The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) is seeking to fill several positions.  See the ASCSA website for information about current positions and to obtain an application.

Awards, Scholarships and Fellowships

  • The Society for Classical Studies has extended the deadline for nominations for its Precollegiate Teaching Award to Friday, November 7, 2014. Instructions for submitting nominations appear at this link.
    Deadline: January 15
    The M. Alison Frantz Fellowship, formerly know as the Gennadeion Fellow in Post-Classical Studies, was named in honor of photographer and archaeologist, M. Alison Frantz (1903 – 1995) whose photographs of antiquities are widely used in books on Greek culture.

    The Frantz Fellowship is awarded to scholars whose fields of study are represented by the Gennadius Library in Athens, i.e. Late Antiquity, Byzantine Studies, post-Byzantine Studies, or Modern Greek Studies.

    Eligibility: Ph.D. candidates and recent Ph.D.’s (up to five years) from a U.S. or Canadian institution. Successful candidates should demonstrate their need to work in the Gennadius Library.

    Terms: A stipend of $11,500 plus room, board, and waiver of School fees. Fellows are expected to be in residence at the School for the full academic year from September 1 to June 1. A final report is due at the end of the award period, and the ASCSA expects that copies of all publications that result from research conducted as a Fellow of the ASCSA be contributed to the Gennadius Library of the School.

    Application: Submit application for Associate Membership with fellowship, curriculum vitae, description of the proposed project, and three letters of reference online on the ASCSA web site .

    Web site: or

    The award will be announced by March 15.

    The American School of Classical Studies at Athens does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, ethnic origin, or disability when considering admission to any form of membership or application for employment.