Greeks and Romans, Happy Halloween!

The Classics Library’s Welcoming Host Handing Out The Library Guide.

Excerpt from a dialogue between the slave Tranio and his master Theopropides from Plautus’ comedy Mostellaria, The Haunted House. Theopropides’ son has squandered his father’s fortune and the slave Tranio is trying to divert the father’s attention by asserting that the house is haunted before the money lenders arrive to claim it. 


sed ecce quae illi in somnis mortuos:“ego transmarinus hospes sum Diapontius. hic habito, haec mi dedita est habitatio. nam me Accheruntem recipere Orcus noluit, quia praemature uita careo. per fidem deceptus sum: hospes me hic necauit isque medefodit insepultum clam [ibidem] in hisce aedibus, scelestus, auri causa. nunc tu hinc emigra. scelestae [hae] sunt aedes, impia est habitatio.” quae hic monstra fiunt anno uix possum eloqui” (496-505).

“But look what the dead man said to him in his sleep: “I am a guest from overseas, Diapontius. I live here, this dwelling place has been allotted to me: Orcus did not want to receive me into the Underworld because I lost  my life before my time. I was deceived in violation of the obligations of hospitality: my host murdered me here and he secretly put me underground in this house without due rites, for the sake of gold, the criminal. Now move out from here. This house is under a curse, this dwelling place is defiled.” I could barely tell you in a year what apparitions take place here.”


guttam haud habeo sanguinis, uiuom me accersunt Accheruntem mortui” (508-509).

“I don’t have a drop of blood! The dead are taking me to the Underworld while I’m still alive!”

The Classics Library’s staff shortage has temporarily been relieved by our most recent hire. Come meet Hecate.

Excerpts from Homer’s Odyssey.

“αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ ψυχὰς μὲν ἀπεσκέδασ᾿ ἄλλυδις ἄλλῃἁγνὴ Περσεφόνεια γυναικῶν θηλυτεράων, ἦλθε δ᾿ ἐπὶ ψυχὴ Ἀγαμέμνονος Ἀτρεΐδαο ἀχνυμένη· περὶ δ᾿ ἄλλαι ἀγηγέραθ᾿, ὅσσοι ἅμ᾿ αὐτῷ οἴκῳ ἐν Αἰγίσθοιο θάνον καὶ πότμον ἐπέσπον. ἔγνω δ᾿ αἶψ᾿ ἔμ᾿ ἐκεῖνος, ἐπεὶ πίεν αἷμα κελαινόν” (Od. 11. 385-90).

“When then holy Persephone had scattered this way and that the ghosts of the women, there came up the ghost of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, sorrowing, and round about him others were gathered, ghosts of all those who were slain with him in the house of Aegisthus, and met their fate. He knew me instantly, when he had drunk the dark blood.”

“δεδάκρυνται δὲ παρειαί, αἵματι δ᾿ ἐρράδαται τοῖχοι καλαί τε μεσόδμαι· εἰδώλων δὲ πλέον πρόθυρον, πλείη δὲ καὶ αὐλή, ἱεμένων Ἔρεβόσδε ὑπὸ ζόφον· ἠέλιος δὲοὐρανοῦ ἐξαπόλωλε, κακὴ δ᾿ ἐπιδέδρομεν ἀχλύς” (Od. 20. 353-57).

“sprinkled with blood are the walls and the fair panels. And full of ghosts is the porch, full also the court, ghosts hastening down to Erebus beneath the darkness, and the sun has perished out of heaven and an evil mist covers all.”

A recent archaeological find by the UC Classics Department of the skeleton of Roman poet Lucretius, proving that St. Jerome was correct in assigning the cause of the poet’s death to a love potion. Exhibition in the circulation area.

The ghost of Clytemnestra in Aeschylus’ Oresteia (Eumenides) when coming upon the furies fast asleep laments.

“ἐγὼ δ᾿ ὑφ᾿ ὑμῶν ὧδ᾿ ἀπητιμασμένη ἄλλοισιν ἐν νεκροῖσιν, ὧν μὲν ἔκτανον ὄνειδος ἐν φθιτοῖσιν οὐκ ἐκλείπεται, αἰσχρῶς δ᾿ ἀλῶμαι· προὐννέπω δ᾿ ὑμῖν ὅτιἔχω μεγίστην αἰτίαν κείνων ὕπο, παθοῦσα δ᾿ οὕτω δεινὰ πρὸς τῶν φιλτάτων οὐδεὶς ὑπέρ μου δαιμόνων μηνίεται κατασφαγείσης πρὸς χερῶν μητροκτόνων” (95-102).

“I am shunned in dishonor like this among the other dead, thanks to you. I am unceasingly taunted among the shades because of those I killed, and I wander disgraced; and I proclaim to you that I receive the greatest blame from them because, though I have suffered so grievously at the hands of those closest to me, none of the divinities is wrathful on my behalf, slaughtered as I have been by matricidal hands.”

A reference for the few…

Excerpt from a letter (XXVII) to Lucinius Sura by Pliny the Younger.

Initio, quale ubique, silentium noctis; dein concuti ferrum, vincula moveri. Ille non tollere oculos, non remittere stilum, sed offirmare animum auribusque praetendere. Tum crebrescere fragor, adventare et iam ut in limine, iam ut intra limen audiri. Respicit, videt agnoscitque narratam sibi effigiem.”

“At first there was nothing but the general silence of night; then came the clanking of iron and dragging of chains. He did not look up nor stop writing, but steeled his mind to shut out the sounds. Then the noise grew louder, came nearer, was heard in the doorway, and then inside the room. He looked round, saw and recognized the ghost described to him.”

The Library’s most recent book acquisitions.

Dialogue between the ghost of Tantalus and Menippus from Lucian’s Dialogues of the Dead, illustrating that even in death “life” is a struggle.


“Τοῦτ᾿ αὐτὸ ἡ κόλασίς ἐστι, τὸ διψῆν τὴν ψυχὴν ὡς σῶμα οὖσαν.”


“Αλλὰ τοῦτο μὲν οὕτως πιστεύσομεν, ἐπεὶ φῂς κολάζεσθαι τῷ δίψει. τί δ᾿ οὖν σοι τὸ δεινὸν ἔσται; ἢ δέδιας μὴ ἐνδείᾳ τοῦ ποτοῦ ἀποθάνῃς; οὐχ ὁρῶ γὰρ ἄλλον ᾅδην μετὰ τοῦτον ἢ θάνατον ἐντεῦθεν εἰς ἕτερον τόπον.”


“Ὀρθῶς μὲν λέγεις· καὶ τοῦτο δ᾿ οὖν μέρος τῆς καταδίκης, τὸ ἐπιθυμεῖν πιεῖν μηδὲν δεόμενον.”


“It’s just that that’s my punishment—that my ghost should be thirsty as if it were a body.”


“Well, we’ll believe it, since you tell us you’re punished by thirst. But what do you find so terrible in that? Are you afraid of dying for lack of drink? I can’t see another Hades after this one, or a death hereafter taking us elsewhere.”


“You are quite right; but this is part of my sentence—to long to drink when I’ve no need.”

Cerberus as a puppy guarding the Gates of Hades.








Book Sale in the Classics Library

In an effort to raise some much needed funds for our Library as well as offer our users some very fine books dealing with classical antiquity at bargain prices, we have launched an ongoing Book Sale in the printer area to your right as you enter the Library. It is self-serve. You will need exact change to put into the piggy bank. The price of each book is indicated on the verso of the cover and on a list in the bookcase on which we ask that you write your name next to the book(s) you purchase (List of Books).  All book lovers,

Happy Bargain Hunting!


Highlights from the Classics Library’s Collections

Reference list to the Book of Daniel. Fragment of a 15th century manuscript on vellum. England.  UC Classics Library’s Paleography Collection.

The Classics Library has added a brief description of its holdings to its website under “About”:

as well as highlights of a few of its many precious books: .

May 6, Birthday of the Goddess Artemis (Happy Thargelia and Apollo’s Birthday, too!?)

In Europe, practically every day is a communal holiday of some kind. Various saints are celebrated among Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox, one of countless remnants of pagan gods and goddesses, the original protectors and healers, and whose birthdays were celebrated with processions, song and dance, athletic competitions, the eating of special foods and fasting, libation offerings and purifications, and sometimes with a sacrifice of plants or animals.

On Sunday, therefore, we will take the opportunity to celebrate the “birthday” of Artemis (St. Artemisius and St. Artemidos) and on Monday, it’s Apollo’s turn (7. Thargelion). The Athenian Thargelia festival dedicated to both Artemis and Apollo is most famous for picking two scapegoats (φάρμακοι) that were driven out of town to rid it of sins and plagues. In Ionia, including at Ephesus, one of the months was named after Artemis, Artemision (corresponding more or less to April [with lunar and lunar-solar calendars versus solar it’s a bit complicated]) and in Macedonia, Artemisius (corresponding more or less to May).

May 6 (6. Thargelion) is the Athenian birthday of the greatest of the Greek goddesses – Artemis (as Artemis Ephesia worshiped by “Asia and the whole world” ([Acts 19:27]). In the 2nd century an entire month named after the goddess, Artemision, was a non-working holiday at Ephesus (IvE I 24). After a hectic year, the library staff would, I’m sure, happily embrace an off-work month-long period of celebration (or rest;-)!

Artemis Ephesia, providing sustenance to all (Orphic Hymn 36 (To Diana), 12).

Artemis’s temples were the most numerous, especially on the Peloponnese, and the number of her epithets was surpassed only by those of Zeus. One would think that it should also be the birthday of her twin brother Apollo.  However, traditions vary. In some she has no connection to Apollo and in others she even acts as midwife at the birth of her own twin brother.

Artemis was the goddess of all living things, animals and plants, but really all of nature – mountains, groves, marshes. Only later did she become the goddess of hunters. The hind was her companion, not her victim. She was associated with several Near Eastern goddesses – Anath (Hazleton, 2004, p. 114), Tanit (who shares many of Artemis’ attributes, the dove, palm tree, fish, and moon crescent), Belili (goddess of trees, the moon, wells, springs, and the willow – all sacred to Artemis), Astarte (Ishtar) (LIMC 2: 1, p. 618), Isis (LIMC 2: 2 912-913), Tyche (LIMC 2: 2 (Artemis) 893-899), Bendis (Hdt. 4.33; 5.7), Cybele (LIMC 2: 1 p. 618), the Minoan-Mycenaean goddess (Nilsson, 1971 [1950], p. 503), all stewards of nature; she is clearly mentioned in a Linear B tablet from Pylos — a-ti-mi-te (Bennett, 1955, p. 209, classification Un 219.5).

οἴκτῳ γὰρ ἐπίφθονος Ἄρτεμις ἁγνὰ πτανοῖσιν κυσὶ πατρὸς αὐτότοκον πρὸ λόχου μογερὰν πτάκα θυομένοισιν, στυγεῖ δὲ δεῖπνον αἰετῶν… τόσον περ εὔφρων ἁ καλὰ δρόσοις ἀέπτοις μαλερῶν λεόντων πάντων τ᾿ἀγρονόμων φιλομάστοις θηρῶν ὀβρικάλοισι τερπνά… (Aesch. Ag. 134-143).

For holy Artemis, out of pity, bears a grudge against the winged hounds of her Father who slaughtered the wretched hare, litter and all, before it could give birth; she loathes the eagles’ feast…So very kindly disposed is the fair one to the unfledged seed of fiery lions, and so pleasing to the suckling whelps of all beasts that roam the wild… (modified Loeb trans.).

Pavement mosaic. Thysdrus, Tunisia. 2nd-3rd cent. CE.

Another pavement mosaic from Tunisia from the same period.

Goddess of animals. The so called potnia thērōn (πότνια θηρῶν, “mistress of animals”) motif. Boeotian pithos-amphora, c. 680-670 BCE. Athens, National Museum (NM 200).

However, she was also a goddess of culture – presiding over the education of young girls and boys and of cities, too. She was the protector of youth, especially young women during rituals celebrating their menarche (at Brauron, Mounychia, Sparta, Larissa, Halai Araphenides, and many more). Song and dance took center stage in these ceremonies. Girls and young women in choruses for Artemis abound in literature.[1]

A ”bear” (ἄρκτος) to-be (the menarcheal stage during rites of passage) at the Artemis sanctuary in Brauron, north-east of Athens, giving a rabbit as a gift to the goddess.

Minoan-Mycenaean seal-ring of gold discovered at the Ramp House on the Mycenaean acropolis.  Possible “rites of passage” scene in an outdoor setting with sun and moon, river, trees, cliffs, mountains, groves with the “labrys” (butterfly, poorly labeled, “double axe”), a symbol of the goddess, similar to the fish and cross as symbols of the Christ figure, and the goddess as “larva” (poorly labeled “shield of eight”), the earlier, younger, stage of the butterfly. Young women collecting various flowers used to alleviate and reduce cramps and labor pangs and bring about the onset of menstruation and ensure the health of a potential future mother — saffron crocuses, lotuses, poppies (a check on menstruation), lilies (an “emollient of the uterus,” Pliny. NH 21.126). CMS-I-017-1.

Girls with shaved heads as part of their “rites of passage,” picking saffron crocuses in preparation for and celebration of their menarche.  Even today, saffron is used to alleviate menstruation cramps and premenstrual symptoms. Wall painting from the East Wall of Room 3a of House Xeste, Akrotiri, Thera, c. 1700-1450 BCE.

“Minoan girl,” c. 1600-1500 BCE. Cleveland Art Museum, Ohio. Unique bronze statuette of a pre-adolescent girl with partially shaved hair.

As a virgin goddess (in fact, she is one of only three goddesses (Hestia and Athena being the other two) over whom Aphrodite has no power (Homeric Hymns [to Aphrodite, 6-32]), she is the patron of unmarried women and men, children, and all first born, human and non-human alike.

ἣ δὲ μάλ᾿ οὐκ ἔθελεν, ἀλλὰ στερεῶς ἀπέειπεν,
ὤμοσε δὲ μέγαν ὅρκον, ὃ δὴ τετελεσμένος ἐστίν,
ἁψαμένη κεφαλῆς πατρὸς Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο,
παρθένος ἔσσεσθαι πάντ᾿ ἤματα δῖα θεάων.
τῆι δὲ πατὴρ Ζεὺς δῶκε καλὸν γέρας ἀντὶ γάμοιο…
(Hymn. Hom. Ven. 25-29).

She was wholly unwilling, even stubbornly refused;
and touching the head of father Zeus who holds the aegis,
she, that fair goddess, swore a great oath
that she would be a virgin always and
er father Zeus granted her a fine privilege instead of marriage…
(modified Loeb trans.).

“Diana of Versailles,” a Roman marble copy of a Greek original from c. 325 CE by Leochares  Louvre.  In simplified terms, Diana was the Roman equivalent to Artemis. 

…ὡς ὅτε πατρὸς ἐφεζομένη γονάτεσσι παῖς ἔτι κουρίζουσα
τάδε προσέειπε γονῆα δός μοι παρθενίην αἰώνιον, ἄππα,
φυλάσσειν, καὶ πολυωνυμίην, ἵνα μή μοι Φοῖβος ἐρίζῃ…

…δὸς δέ μοι ἑξήκοντα χορίτιδας Ὠκεανίνας, πάσας εἰνέτεας,
πάσας ἔτι παῖδας ἀμίτρους…δὸς δέ μοι ἀμφιπόλους
Ἀμνισίδας εἴκοσι νύμφας… δὸς δέ μοι οὔρεα πάντα·
πόλιν δέ μοι ἥντινα νεῖμονἥν τινα λῇς… (Call. Hymn 3.4-7; 19-20).

…when sitting on her father’s knees, still a child,  she spoke these words to her father:
“Let me keep my virginity, Father, forever: and give me many names,
so that Phoebus may not compete with me…

…And give me sixty daughters of Oceanus for my choir, all nine years old,
all virgins yet ungirdled…and give me for companions twenty nymphs of Amnisus…
And give to me all mountains; and for city, assign me any, even whichever you will…
(modified Loeb trans.).

Her mythical companions included several famous virgins (Iphigenia, Atalanta, Callisto, Hippolytus, and countless more). Euripides’s famous play tells the tale of the tragic fate of the virgin Hippolytus.

Hippolytus and sad dog, presumably sad over the pending death of its guardian. Marble sarcophagus, c. 290 CE. Louvre. MA 2294.

ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: ὦ τλῆμον, οἵᾳ συμφορᾷ συνεζύγης· τὸ δ᾿ εὐγενές σε τῶν φρενῶν ἀπώλεσεν.
ΙΠΠΟΛΥΤΟΣ:  ἔα· ὦ θεῖον ὀσμῆς πνεῦμα· καὶ γὰρ ἐν κακοῖς ὢν ᾐσθόμην σου κἀνεκουφίσθην δέμας·  ἔστ᾿ ἐν τόποισι τοισίδ᾿ Ἄρτεμις θεά.
ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: ὦ τλῆμον, ἔστι, σοί γε φιλτάτη θεῶν.
ΙΠΠΟΛΥΤΟΣ: ὁρᾷς με, δέσποιν᾿, ὡς ἔχω, τὸν ἄθλιον;
ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: ὁρῶ· κατ᾿ ὄσσων δ᾿ οὐ θέμις βαλεῖν δάκρυ.
ΙΠΠΟΛΥΤΟΣ: οὐκ ἔστι σοι κυναγὸς οὐδ᾿ ὑπηρέτης.
ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: οὐ δῆτ᾿· ἀτάρ μοι προσφιλής γ᾿ ἀπόλλυσαι.
ΙΠΠΟΛΥΤΟΣ: οὐδ᾿ ἱππονώμας οὐδ᾿ ἀγαλμάτων φύλαξ.
ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: Κύπρις γὰρ ἡ πανοῦργος ὧδ᾿ ἐμήσατο.
ΙΠΠΟΛΥΤΟΣ: ὤμοι, φρονῶ δὴ δαίμον᾿ ἥ μ᾿ ἀπώλεσεν.
ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: τιμῆς ἐμέμφθη, σωφρονοῦντι δ᾿ ἤχθετο.
ΙΠΠΟΛΥΤΟΣ: τρεῖς ὄντας ἡμᾶς ὤλεσ᾿, ᾔσθημαι, μία.
ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: πατέρα γε καὶ σὲ καὶ τρίτην ξυνάορον (Eur. Hipp. 1389-1404)

Artemis: O poor man, to what a calamity you are yoked! Yet it was the nobility of
your mind that destroyed you.
Hippolytus: But what is this? O breath of divine fragrance! Though I am in misfortune
feel your presence and my body’s pain is lightened. The
goddess Artemis is in this place!
Artemis: Poor one, she is, dearest of gods to you.
Hippolytus: Do you see me, lady, see my wretched state?
Artemis: Yes, but the law forbids my shedding tears.
Hippolytus: No more do you have your huntsman and your servant!
Artemis: No, but though you die, I love you still.
Hippolytus: No one to tend your horses or your statue!
Artemis: No, for unscrupulous Cypris willed it so.
Hippolytus: Ah, now I learn the power that has destroyed me!
Artemis: The slight to her honor angered her, and she hated your chastity.
Hippolytus: One power destroyed us three, I see it now.
Artemis: Your father, you, and Theseus’ wife the third (modified Loeb trans.).

Artemis had also healing powers. As Artemis Podagra she cured gout, as Artemis Chelytis coughing (Clem. Alex. Protrepticus 2, pp. 32, 33 quoting Sosibius), as Artemis Rhokkaia rabies (Ael. NA 14.20) and as Artemis Kokkōka menstruation cramps and labor pangs (incomprehensible to poor Pausanias 5.15.7-8). As Artemis Thermia she presided over healthful hot springs (CIG 6172) and as Artemis Sōteira and Artemis Locheia she helped women in childbirth (Paus. 3.22.12).

She sought to protect virgins in her fold from men pursuing them, but also animals. According to some versions of this famous myth, Artemis transformed the hunter Actaeon into a stag to be torn to pieces by his own hunting dogs after he killed a deer. The more popular version, though, is the one in which Artemis punished him after he had come upon the goddess bathing naked in a stream with her companion nymphs (Ovid. Met. 3.138ff.). Euripides in Bacchae uses a version in which she kills him for having boasted that he surpassed her as a hunter (339-340). A children’s cartoon on American TV a couple of years ago featured a version in which Artemis transformed the hunter Actaeon into a stag to teach him a lesson about not killing animals. The terrified deer (Actaeon) attempted to speak but was unable to make himself understood without a human language. As his fellow hunters are poised to throw their spears and shoot their arrows and the hunting dogs are about to pounce upon the deer Actaeon, he promises Artemis that, if she would only change him back into human form, he would never harm another living being and that he would educate his fellow hunters about the plight and suffering of hunted animals, which was indeed the happy outcome.

Metope from Temple E, Selinus, Sicily c. 460 BCE.

We could end on this cheerful note, but Artemis was a complex goddess. Human sacrifice was also associated with her, especially at Taurus, of all foreign males.

τὰ τῆς θεοῦ δὲ μέμφομαι σοφίσματα,
ἥτις βροτῶν μὲν ἤν τις ἅψηται φόνου,
ἢ καὶ λοχείας ἢ νεκροῦ θίγῃ χεροῖν,
βωμῶν ἀπείργει, μυσαρὸν ὡς ἡγουμένη,
αὐτὴ δὲ θυσίαις ἥδεται βροτοκτόνοις (Eur. IT 380-384).

I criticize Artemis’ clever logic if a mortal
is involved in bloodshed or touches a new
mother or a corpse, she shuts him out from
her altar as polluted, but she herself takes
pleasure in human sacrifice (modified Loeb trans.).

But also of women, virgins, to which the famous sacrifice of Iphigenia, to allow the Greeks favorable winds to sail against Troy, attests.

As a “deus ex machina” in Euripides’s play Iphigenia at Aulis, Artemis appears in the last minute to rescue Iphigenia. As with most literary motifs in classical antiquity there are numerous versions. In the 7th century Kypria by Stasinos (a summary in Proclus, Chrestomathia, 47-51, as preserved in Photius), Artemis substitutes Iphigenia for a hind as in Euripides.  Stesichorus in the Oresteia, on the other hand, follows Hesiod in the Catalogue of Women fr. 19 (Philodemus Piet. 2.5; Oresteia – Piet. 215 — book 1 or 2) in substituting Iphigenia for an image (εἴδωλον), after which Artemis makes her immortal as Artemis of the Crossroads (Εἰνοδία), i.e., Hecate (Paus. 1.43.1). In Pindar’s eleventh Pythian Ode, Iphigenia is killed without any substitution or rescue. In the scholium of the Leiden manuscript of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata 645, Euphorius claims that Iphigenia was sacrificed at Brauron (not at Aulis as in Euripides and others) and that a bear was substituted for her, and Nicander and Phanodemus (FGrH. 325 F14 – Etym. Magn. s.v. Ταυροπόλον) claim it was a bull. In most versions, though, Artemis substituted Iphigenia for a hind deer making Iphigenia her priestess in the land of the Taurians (Proclus’ Chrestomathia [from the Kypria]), Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis; LIMC 2: 2 1373-1384). A reconstruction from a marble sculpture in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. Copenhagen.

In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon (209-217), the seer gives Artemis as the cause of the sacrifice.

μιαίνων παρθενοσφάγοισιν ῥείθροις
πατρῴους χέρας πέλας βωμοῦ·
τί τῶνδ᾿ ἄνευ κακῶν;
πῶς λιπόναυς γένωμαι
ξυμμαχίας ἁμαρτών;
παυσανέμου γὰρ θυσίας
παρθενίου θ᾿αἵματος ὀργᾷ
περιόργῳ σφ᾿ ἐπιθυμεῖν θέμις.

polluting a father’s hands with streams of a
slaughtered maiden’s blood close by the altar.
Which of these options is free from evil?
How can I become a deserter of the fleet,
losing my alliance? That they should long
with intense passion for a sacrifice to end
the winds and for the blood of a virgin (modified Loeb trans.).

The Sacrifice of Iphigenia. Casa del Poeta Tragico, Pompeii, c. 79 CE, terminus ante quem. Naples.

Lucretius’ famous polemic against an unjust religion uses the sacrifice of Iphigenia as an exemplum:

…as when at Aulis, the altar of our Lady of the Crossroads
was foully defiled by the blood of Iphianassa [Iphigenia], shed by chosen
leaders of the Danai, best of men. As soon as the ribbon had
bound her virgin hair falling in equal lengths down either
cheek, as soon as she saw her father standing sorrowful
before the altar, and by his side attendants hiding the knife,
and the people shedding tears at the sight of her, mute with
fear, she sank to the ground on her knees. Poor girl! It did not
help her at such a time that the name of father had been given
the king first by her; for lifted up by the hands of men, all
trembling she was brought to the altar, so that she not in
solemn and sacred ritual might be escorted by loud
wedding song, but a pure virgin to fall by impure hands
at the age of marriage; a victim sorrowful killed by a father’s
hand; all in order that a fair and fortunate release might
be given to the fleet. So powerful was Religion in persuading
evil deeds (Lucretius. De rerum natura 1.83-101, Loeb trans.).

Feminists can claim Artemis as theirs because of her eternal virginity and refusal to marry and have children, and instead choose the company of women, nymphs, and animals. Sexists may also have a case since Artemis could turn against women who defied her by either voluntarily (e.g., Melanippe) or involuntarily (e.g., Callisto, Polyphonte) lose their virginity. Animal rights advocates can also claim her as a protector of animals and all of nature, but those who take pleasure in killing animals, hunters, can also claim her as theirs. Those who celebrate life can claim her as a protector of children, human and non-human, also her association with Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, in spite of her own virginity, but so can those who relish in death and destruction since she also demanded human sacrifice and ruthlessly killed all seven of Niobe’s daughters (notwithstanding variations on “all” and the number). Witches can claim her as their high priestess. Many of her festivals were at night under torch-light and the full moon (also her associations with Selene and Hecate) and many healing herbs were under her purview. Witch-hunters can also claim her for the same reasons, honoring Tatian’s famous aspersion against her as a poisoner and Torquemada’s claim that she was the Devil. However, she was also a goddess of light who spent her days bathing in springs and hiking in the mountains; and, of course, she was a goddess of nature (the countryside) but also of culture (the city) — these seemingly contradictory attributes all at the same time. It has been pointed out that the dualism of our modern western Judaeo-Christian thinking was unknown to the ancient Greeks for whom life and death, light and darkness, were simply inextricably connected aspects of the same thing (there is no death without life and vice versa).

Artemis was a complicated, confusing, and contradictory goddess already in antiquity as many regions claimed her as theirs and assigned her various powers to suit their needs, which also varied throughout the centuries. More than most deities in the Greek pantheon, Artemis has suffered from distortions, confusions, appropriations, misrepresentations, and misinterpretations, beginning already in antiquity and it’s been downhill from there (we as classical scholars are not exempt:-).

Brief recent book bibliography (currently on display in the Classics Library’s Reading Room):

Budin, S.L. 2016. Artemis. New York.
Ellinger, P. 2009. Artémis, déesse de tous dangers. Paris.
Galiano, P., & Vigna, M. 2015. Diana e Apollo: La selva e l’urbe. Rome.
Janda, M. 2016. Artemis mit der goldenen Spindel. Innsbruck.
Léger, R.M. 2017. Artemis and her Cult. Oxford.
Rogers, G. M. 2012. The Mysteries of Artemis of Ephesos. New Haven.
Vincenti, M.C. 2010. Diana: Storia, mito e culto della grande dea di Aricia. Rome.

Critical editions to Callimachus (Hymn 3 to Artemis) and the Homeric Hymns (27 to Artemis and 6 to Aphrodite):

D’Alessio, G.B. 2007. Callimaco. 4th ed. Milan (BUR).
Asper, M. 2004. Kallimachos von Kyrene: Werke, griechisch-deutsch. Darmstadt.
Pfeiffer, R. 1953. Callimachus, vol. ii: Hymni et epigrammata. Oxford (OCT).

Allen, T.W. 1912. Homeri opera, vol. 5. Oxford (OCT).
Baumeister, A. 1894. Hymni Homerici. Leipzig (Teubner).
Càssola, F. 1975. Inni Omerici.  Milan (Mondadori).
Crudden, M. 2001. The Homeric Hymns. Oxford.
Humbert, J. 1936. Homèrehymnes. 2nd ed. Paris (Budé).


[1] Hom. Il. 16.181; Hom. Hymn 5 to Artemis 27; Hom. Hymn 3 to Apollo 190; Hom. Hymn 5 to Aphrodite 115; Apoll. Rhodius Argon. 1.1225; and Ael. NA 12.9.

Happy Floralia, Greeks and Romans!


As heavy snow falls on April 16, it seems appropriate to remind ourselves of the Roman festival, Floralia, in honor of the goddess Flora to usher in spring and flowers and the renewal of all living things (the Greek nymph goddess Chloris had a similar association).

I who now am called Flora was formerly Chloris: a Greek letter of my name is corrupted in the Latin speech. Chloris I was, a nymph of the happy fields where, as you have heard, dwelt fortunate men of old. Modesty shrinks from describing my figure; but it procured the hand of a god for my mother’s daughter. ’Twas spring, and I was roaming… I enjoy perpetual spring; most buxom is the year ever; ever the tree is clothed with leaves, the ground with pasture (Ovid, Fasti, book 5, lines 195-201; 207-208; Loeb transl.).

Chloris eram, quae Flora vocor: corrupta Latinonominis est nostri littera Graeca sono. Chloris eram, nymphe campi felicis, ubi audisrem fortunatis ante fuisse viris.quae fuerit mihi forma, grave est narrare modestae sed generum matri repperit illa deum…vere fruor semper: semper nitidissimus annus, arbor habet frondes, pabula semper humus.

“Flora,” detail of fresco, Villa di Arianna, Stabiae. First century CE.

Some people think that butterflies are the most reliable sign of spring, on account of the extremely delicate structure of that insect; but in the very year in which I am writing this treatise it has been noticed that their supply has been three times annihilated by a return of cold weather, and that migratory birds arriving on January 27 brought a hope of spring that was soon dashed to the ground by a spell of very severe winter. The procedure is two-fold: first of all it consists in trying to obtain a general principle from celestial phenomena, and then this principle has to be investigated by special signs (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, book 18, chapter 57; Loeb transl.).

…sunt qui certissimum veris indicium arbitrentur, ob infirmitatem animalis, papiliones; sed eo ipso anno cum commentaremur haec notatum est proventum eorum ter repetito frigore extinctum, advenasque volucres a. d. vi kal. Febr. spem veris adtulisse mox saevissima hieme conflictatam. res anceps: primum omnium a caelo peti legem, deinde eam argumentis esse quaerendam. super omnia est mundi convexitatis terrarumque globi differentia, eodem sidere alio tempore aliis aperiente se gentibus, quo fit ut causa eius non isdem diebus ubique valeat. addidere difficultatem et auctores diversis in locis observando, mox etiam in isdem diversa prodendo.

The first flower to herald the approach of spring is the white violet, which moreover in the warmer spots peeps out even in winter. Afterwards comes the violet which is called ion, and the mauve one, followed closely by the flame-colored flower called phlox, but only the wild variety. The cyclamen blossoms twice in the year, in spring and in autumn; it shuns summer and winter. A little later than those mentioned above come, overseas, the narcissus and the lily, which in Italy, as we have said, is after the rose. But in Greece comes later still the anemone. This however is a flower of the wild bulbs, and different from the plant to be spoken of among the medicinal herbs. It is followed by the oenanthe, the melanium and the wild heliochrysus, then the other kind of anemone, which is called the meadow anemone, after which comes the gladiolus, together with the hyacinth (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, book 21, chapter 38; Loeb transl.).

Florum prima ver nuntiantium viola alba—tepidioribus vero locis etiam hieme emicat—post ea quae ion appellatur et purpurea, proxime flammeum, quod phlox vocatur, silvestre dumtaxat. cyclaminum bis anno, vere et autumno. aestates hiemesque fugit. seriores supra dictis aliquanto narcissus et lilium trans maria, in Italia quidem, ut diximus, post rosam. verum in Graecia tardius etiamnum anemone. est autem haec silvestrium bulborum flos, alia quam quae dicetur in medicis. sequitur oenanthe ac melanium et ex silvestribus heliochrysos, deinde alterum genus anemones quae limonia vocatur, post hanc gladiolus comitatus.

The Classics Library’s “Book of the Month” in April: Wild Flowers of Cyprus.

See the delightful Facebook post about this book by PhD candidate Angelica Wisenbarger:

…the blossom is the token of full spring and of the rebirth of the year—the blossom is the trees’ rejoicing: it is then that they show themselves new creatures and transformed from what they really are, it is then that they quite revel in rivaling each other with the varied hues of their coloring (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, book 16, chapter 40; Loeb transl.).

…flos est pleni veris indicium et anni renascentis, flos gaudium arborum: tunc se novas aliasque quam sunt ostendunt, tunc variis colorum picturis in certamen usque luxuriant.

Almond trees in bloom at Agrigentum (Agrigento), Sicily.


“Spring” from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.

I Vespri Siciliani, Act 3, “Spring” by Giuseppe Verdi.

Colorful rendition of Flora, from Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera.

The real thing. The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

Pics and Video from Ovid Celebration

The UC Classics Library celebrated the birthday and 2000-year anniversary of the ancient Roman poet Publius Ouidius Naso (20 March 43 BCE – CE 17/18) on March 29, 2018. See UC President Pinto’s tweet

Thank you to all the outstanding participants and to all those who attended!

Dr. Bridget Langley, UC Classics Department, gave a brilliant and hysterically funny talk on Ovid.

Dr. Colin Shelton, UC Classics Department, read the tale of Echo and Narcissus, in a hauntingly beautiful and suggestive manner, in Latin and in translation/interpretation by modern English poet Ted Hughes. It gave us all goose bumps.

Dr. Jenny Doctor, Library, UC College-Conservatory of Music, gave a fascinating talk on modern English composer Benjamin Britten and his opus 49 for solo oboe, “Six Metamorphoses after Ovid,” as well as introduced the piece’s individual metamorphoses and the oboist.

Yo Shionoya, oboist, UC College-Conservatory of Music. If we were not already Britten and oboe fans, we all became such after his outstanding performance.  Yo is an amazing musician, who although a graduate student, has a full program of public appearances. He, not Ovid, dictated the date of the event.  Many of us were moved to tears (of joy) during his rendition of the heart-wrenching grief of Niobe, the loving “self-reflection” of Narcissus, the hubris of the flight of Phaeton.

It was a full house!

Yo Shionoya and Jenny Doctor enjoying themselves at the reception.

Professors Susan Prince, Jack Davis, Steven Ellis, UC Classics Department, in deep conversation.

Mike Braunlin, UC Classics Library, Bibliographer and Numismatist, handsome in a rare suit.

Three of the UC Classics Department’s bright students, Maria Gaki, Cecilia Cozzi, Kelly Grogan.

“Performers” Bridget Langley and Colin Shelton relaxing together with Professor Valeria Sergueenkova and Tytus Fellow Salvador Bartera.

Mike Braunlin, UC Classics Library, and May Chang, UC Libraries’ Chief Technology Officer. May, although a techie, borrowed a book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses after the event and commented that if she had had Bridget and Colin as teachers of Latin, she may have chosen Classics instead of IT, which highlights the importance of Latin teachers that enthuse rather than frustrate their students.

UC Classics Professors Antonios Kotsonas and Daniel Markovich in spirited conversation.

Dan Gottlieb, UC Libraries, Senior Adviser to the Dean and Interim Dean of Library Services, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and Mike Braunlin having fun.

The delicious and healthy and “ancient Roman” refreshments prepared by Christina Miller, vegan chef at Whole Foods — roasted asparagus, wild mushrooms, leeks, dates, cinnamon apples, figs, melon, strawberries, grapes, breads, olives, nuts.  Ovid would have enjoyed this feast, free from animal suffering, hormones, and pesticides and perfectly in line with UC President Pinto’s new strategic directions, Next Lives Here! It is our hope that human health, the health of the environment, and kindness to all sentient beings become the norm for receptions at UC. Ovid himself said it best: “The earth, prodigal of her wealth, provides you with her sweet sustenance and offers you food without bloodshed and slaughter” (Metamorphoses book 15, lines 81-83).

The attendees were also treated to “ancient Roman” candy, the so called Confetti di Sulmona, from Ovid’s hometown of ancient Sulmo, present-day Sulmona, in the province of Abruzzo, Italy.

Although born in Sulmo, exiled to Tomis by the Black Sea, present-day Constanța, Romania, where he died, it was the City of Rome Ovid called home.  The She-Wolf with the legendary twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, has become a symbol of Rome, also here in Cincinnati (Eden Park).


If you wish to read Ovid’s Metamorphoses or any other work from his quite extensive œuvre, you could, for example, use the translations with parallel Latin texts in the Loeb Classical Library series. Here are the perhaps best known of Ovid’s poems:

Metamorphoses —

Fasti —

Amores —

Ars Amatoria

Tristia —

(Epistulae) Ex Ponto —


Dr. Shelton read from the Latin text of the Metamorphoses from the so called Oxford Classical Text edition:

Tarrant, R.J. 2004. P. Ovidi Nasonis Metamorphoses: Recognovit brevique adnotatione critica instruxit. Oxford University Press.

And from the English translation by Ted Hughes:

Hughes, Ted. 1997. Tales from Ovid. Faber & Faber. Also online from Chadwyck-Healey (ProQuest):

Another very readable and accessible translation is that of Charles Martin, with introduction by Bernard Knox.

Martin, C. 2010. Metamorphoses : A new translation, contexts, criticism. Norton.


Moreover, be sure to check out graduate student Angelica Wisenbarger’s amusing and witty description of March’s “Book of the Month,” an Elzevir edition of the Metamorphoses from 1629:

You could also check out the video of the Ovid celebration; however, the sound quality is poor.

Finally, don’t miss the book exhibits, still up in the Classics Library’s Reading Room, of rare editions of the works of Ovid with Emperor Augustus, the source of much of Ovid’s chagrin, on top of the display, from a UC excavation at Troy.



Our Favorite Ovid Quotes


In connection with the event on Thursday, March 29, in the Classics Library, celebrating the life and works of Publius Ouidius Naso (see blog post below), we are choosing our favorite Ovid quotes. If you would like to participate, please share your favorite(s) (with exact attribution) or choose from the ones below!

“There is nothing constant in the universe, all ebb and flow, and every shape that is born bears in its womb the seeds of change” (Metamorphoses 5.177). UC President Pinto’s favorite quote!

“To put it briefly, we possess nothing that isn’t mortal, except the benefits of the heart and the mind” (Tristia 3.7.43-44). Bridget Langley’s favorite quote

“The barbarian here is me, for I make no sense to anyone” (Tristia 5.10.37). Colin Shelton’s favorite quote

“Believe me, nothing perishes in all the world; it does but vary and renew its form. What we call birth is but a beginning to be other than what one was before; and death is but a cessation of a former state” (Metamorphoses 15. 254-257). Mike’s favorite quote I

“A person’s last day must ever be awaited, and none be counted happy till his death, till his last funeral rites are paid” (Metamorphoses 3.134-6). Mike’s favorite quote II

“O Time, thou great devourer, and thou, envious Age, together you destroy all things; and, slowly gnawing your teeth, you finally consume all things in lingering death!” (Metamorphoses 15. 234-236). Mike’s favorite quote III

“O mortals, do not pollute your bodies with food so impious [the flesh of animals]! You have the fruits of the earth, you have apples, bending down the branches with their weight, and grapes swelling in ripeness on the vines, you also have sweet herbs…” (Metamorphoses 15.75-78). Rebecka’s favorite quote I

“Poor me! Love cannot be cured by herbs” (Metamorphoses 1.523). Rebecka’s favorite quote II

“Not for one person’s delight has nature made the sun, the wind, the waters; all are free” (Metamorphoses 6.349).

“You can learn from anyone even your enemy” (Metamorphoses 4.428).

“I am the poet of the poor, because I was poor when I loved; since I could not give gifts, I gave words” (Ars Amatoria 165-166).

“If you want to be loved, be lovable” (Ars Amatoria 107).

“A faithful study of the liberal arts humanizes character and permits it not to be cruel” (Epistulae ex Ponto 2.9.47-48).

Happy Valentine, Greeks and Romans!


Some recommended texts this lovable period might include those about:

The love of a woman as expressed by the greatest of the Ancient Greek lyric poets, Sappho:

…ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ᾿ ἴδω βρόχε᾿, ὤς με φώναισ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἒν ἔτ᾿ εἴκει, ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσᾴ <μ᾿> ἔαγε, λέπτονδ᾿ αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμηκεν, ὀππάτεσσι δ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἒν ὄρημμ᾿, ἐπιρρόμβεισι δ᾿ ἄκουαι, κὰδ δέ μ᾿ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲπαῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας ἔμμι… (frag. 31.7-14).

…for when I look at you for a moment, then it is no longer possible for me to speak; my tongue has snapped, at once a subtle fire has stolen beneath my flesh, I see nothing with my eyes, my ears hum, sweat pours from me, a trembling seizes me all over, I am greener than grass…

Or the touching love of a dog in Homer’s Odyssey (hey Mike!):

…ἂν δὲ κύων κεφαλήν τε καὶ οὔατα κείμενος ἔσχεν, Ἄργος, Ὀδυσσῆος ταλασίφρονος…  ἔνθα κύων κεῖτ᾿ Ἄργος, ἐνίπλειος κυνοραιστέων. δὴ τότε γ᾿, ὡς ἐνόησεν Ὀδυσσέα ἐγγὺς ἐόντα οὐρῇ μέν ῥ᾿ ὅ γ᾿ ἔσηνε καὶ οὔατα κάββαλεν ἄμφω, ἆσσον δ᾿ οὐκέτ᾿ ἔπειτα δυνήσατο οἷο ἄνακτοςἐλθέμεν… (17. 290-291; 302-304).

…and a dog that lay there raised his head and pricked up his ears, Argus, steadfast Odysseus’ dog… There lay the dog Argus, full of dog ticks. But now, when he became aware that Odysseus was near, he wagged his tail and dropped both ears, but nearer to his master he had no longer strength to move…

Or the love of a cow for her newborn calf when he is brutally taken away to be sacrificed (or raised as veal) in Lucretius:

…nam saepe ante deum vitulus delubra decora turicremas propter mactatus concidit aras, sanguinis expirans calidum de pectore flumen; at mater viridis saltus orbata peragrans quaerit humi pedibus vestigia pressa bisulcis, omnia convisens oculis loca si queat usquam conspicere amissum fetum, completque querellis frondiferum nemus adsistens et crebra revisit ad stabulum desiderio perfixa iuvenci; nec tenerae salices atque herbae rore vigentes fluminaque illa queunt summis labentia ripis oblectare animum subitamque avertere curam, nec vitulorum aliae species per pabula laeta derivare queunt animum curaque levare: usque adeo quiddam proprium notumque requirit… (2.352-366).

…for often in front of the noble shrines of the gods a calf falls slain beside the incense-burning altars, breathing up a hot stream of blood from his chest; but the mother, bereaved, wanders through the green glens, and knows the prints marked on the ground by the cloven hooves, as she surveys all the regions if she may espy somewhere her lost offspring, and coming to a stand fills the leafy woods with her moaning, and often revisits the stall pierced with yearning for her young calf; nor can tender willow-growths, and grass growing rich in the dew, and those rivers flowing level with their banks, give delight to her mind and rebuff that care which has entered there, nor can the sight of other calves in the happy pastures divert her mind and lighten her load of care: so persistently she seeks for something of her own that she knows well…

Or the love of nature longingly expressed by Vergil in Eclogue 1:

…fortunate senex, hic inter flumina notaet fontis sacros frigus captabis opacum. hinc tibi, quae semper, vicino ab limite saepes Hyblaeis apibus florem depasta salicti saepe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro; hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras: nec tamen interea raucae, tua cura, palumbes, nec gemere aëria cessabit turtur ab ulmo (Ecl. 1.51-58).

…happy old man! Here, amid familiar streams and sacred springs, you shall enjoy the cooling shade. On this side, as of old, on your neighbor’s border, the hedge whose willow blossoms are sipped by Hybla’s bees shall often with its gentle hum soothe you to slumber; on that, under the towering rock, the woodman’s song shall fill the air; while still the cooing wood pigeons, your pets, and the turtle dove shall cease not their moaning from the elm tops.

Or one of the many rather twisted love stories in Ovid’s Metamorphoses — Pyramus and Thisbe, Apollo and Daphne, Orpheus and Eurydice and countless others: 

Or that of Cupid (Eros) himself (and Psyche) in Apuleius:

Happy Reading!