Monthly Archives: March 2013

At RU on Friday 15 March, Peter Meineck (NYU, Aquila Theatre) speaks on cognitive recognition in Greek drama

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Performance at Epidaurus, December 1962. Photo: Gjon Mili (LIFE/Google)

Here’s a real newsflash. On Friday 15 March  at 4:00 PM, the Rutgers Classics Graduate Student Association welcomes Professor Peter Meineck to speak on aspects of cognitive recognition in Greek drama. Peter Meineck is Clinical Associate Professor of Classics at New York University, Honorary Professor of Classics at the University of Nottingham, and Founder of Aquila Theatre. The title for his talk ? “The Theatre that Moved the Soul: Understanding the Power of Ancient Greek Drama through Modern Cognitive Science”. It all takes place in the Ruth Adams Building Room 001 (across the hall from the Classics Department), on Rutgers’ historic Douglass Campus. Continue reading

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It’s March 4th. RU celebrating ‘Exelauno Day’? Here’s the origin of this classicists’ holiday

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From The Warriors (Paramount 1979). It’s based on Xenophon’s Anabasis—really!

Picture this. You’ve been laboring over introductory ancient Greek for a full six months, and you’re starting to empathize with those ancient rowers chained to the bottom bench of an Athenian trireme. There’s still snow on the ground and the sun is setting at  5.50 PM. Baseball opening day is almost a month away. You shuffle into your early morning class on the 4th of March, and at the start of the hour your Greek teacher yells….”HAPPY EXELAUNO DAY!”. If you’re lucky, the instructor has brought cupcakes along. Or better yet, she or he absolves the students from some usual ordeal, such as writing the principal parts of highly irregular verbs on the blackboard to general ridicule.

You see, ‘exelauno‘ is a pun. One of the meanings of the Greek verb exelaunein (that’s the infinitive form) is “to march forth”. It’s particularly common in Xenophon’s Anabasis, a masterpiece of early fourth century BC prose that’s one of the more gripping first-person military narratives that has come down to us from any age. And since “march forth” sounds just like “March 4th”…well, it’s not hard to see the point of the joke. These days, lots of classics folks at all levels of study in North America acknowledge the “holiday”, to varying degrees. But who first came up with this idiotic incredibly clever and witty addition to the classicists’ calendar? Continue reading