Tag Archives: Humanity

Shit poetry (no, seriously)

A sixth-century poem, preserved in the Anthologia Palatina and ascribed to Agathias Scholasticus, celebrates the renovation of Smyrna‘s suburban latrines by Agathias himself in his capacity as father of the city (AP 9.662, transl. W. R. Paton): Χῶρος ἐγὼ τὸ … Continue reading

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Happy New Year!

1,870 years ago, Marcus Cornelius Fronto wrote the following letter (Fronto 5.45) to Marcus Aurelius, then heir apparent to the throne of the Roman Empire: Domino meo. Annum novum faustum tibi et ad omnia, quae recte cupis, prosperum cum tibi … Continue reading

Posted in Prose | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

People of Changing Colour

In a vitriolic letter to Marcella about one Onasus, dated to A. D. 385, St. Jerome, one of the Christian fathers, makes a remarkable, commonly overlooked statement (Letters 42.2): non et lucus ideo dicatur, quod minime luceat, et Parcae ab … Continue reading

Posted in Carmina Epigraphica, Epigraphy, Poetry, Prose | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Loneliness in Old Age

Poetry and song do wonderful and – in the truest meaning of the word: awesome – things. They allow us to create entire worlds using nothing but words. Alternative worlds in which we may explore and experience what we are … Continue reading

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‘You’re dead, you’re a joke,’ or: How should one respond to that image of a Pompeian who was struck by a massive piece of rock?

Contrary to what most people think, there is not only one certainty in life, namely that we all must die: there is a second one, and that is that, before we die, we must live with the certainty of death. … Continue reading

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Blazing with passion

It has been just over one year now since the devastating fire of Grenfell Tower in London – a horrendous, fast-spreading blaze that killed dozens of people and left over two-hundred of the tower block’s inhabitants in the sudden need … Continue reading

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Love Island

According to Suetonius, Rome’s foremost purveyor of biographical detail laced with outrageous gossip, the emperor Tiberius enjoyed the island of Capri as his retreat (Suet. Tib. 43, transl. J. C. Rolfe [only in the online version of the Loeb, not … Continue reading

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An arrogant boss, an overwhelmed manager, a botched valuation, and the exploitation of workers

In the so-called Zenon archive, a cache of some 2,000 papyri from Philadelphia (Fayyum), covering a time-span from 263 to 229 B. C., there is a complex deposit that starts with a letter from one Panakestor to Zenon, the Egyptian … Continue reading

Posted in Labour disputes, Prose | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Advice, Conciliation, Arbitration

It is difficult to find solutions in conflicts in which emotions run high, and it requires insight on either side of such conflicts that presumably not all demands can be met. At the same time, it requires a desire to … Continue reading

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Strike action and the creation of cheap labour

Until very recently, I believed that the strike of Egyptian artisans at Deir El-Medina in the twelfth century B. C., as recorded in a famous papyrus now in the possession of the Museo Egizio at Turin, was the oldest actual … Continue reading

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