Well, the time has come: even I can’t deny that Christmas is approaching (and believe me, I’ve been trying!). The Christmas tree is up, and there will be camels parading past the end of my street tonight (apparently that’s a Christmas thing now). So, following on from the excellent Eidolon list of things to buy for the classicist in your life (see also this list, and this one), here’s my own list of the weird, wonderful and so-bad-they’re-good classical gifts out there. Feel free to print it out and leave it lying around, strategically, for a friend or family member to notice…
1. Interested in sensory studies or Roman experiences of death and dying? Try your hand at stabbing Julius Caesar in the back – with a pencil. Not entirely an accurate recreation (Et tu, Biro?), but perhaps a reception…?!
2. Spread the festive misery with a Homeric Christmas Sweatshirt. A pretty special reworking of Santa and his sleigh – and you’ll have all the fun of explaining it, over and over again, to non-classicists.
3. Playmobil Romans have to be on the list. Because nobody’s too grown-up for plastic gladiators. Hours of fun for all the family, with the potential to recreate many grisly methods of execution with your four-year-old.
4. Also on my list this year is a personalised Rotten Romans book, as the next best thing to actually being a Rotten Roman.
5. I’m intrigued by the idea of Ovid-inspired tea. Slightly worried too: does it induce a change of form when you drink it, in the manner of Gremlins?
6. Harpy lapel pins, for those times when you really want to make a statement about vengeance and punishment. Should set the right tone for my family Christmas…
7. If you feel that Caligula gets a bad press (mad as a box of frogs, but a lovely chap underneath), show your support with a Caligula T-shirt …
8. …or if you think he deserved everything he got, you could use his head as a planter. That’ll teach him.
9. Liven up your drinking with a Roman army tankard. The swords are pointing downwards so you don’t get stabbed in the nose, which sadly removes the element of danger.
10. Finally, who wouldn’t want to wear the Iliad? Particularly useful if you have a Greek exam looming: it’s a step up from writing the answers on your sleeve.
This week’s classical links
Denarii in Scotland – Current Archaeology
The cycle of cultural change – News & Observer
Emptying a sarcophagus for a dog – The Art Newspaper
Decapitated skeletons – Haaretz
Recreating Mycenae in Germany – Greek Reporter
Hellene Travel December newsletter – Hellene Travel
Reviewing Megan Fox’s archaeology programme – Archaeological Fantasies
What do classicists do? – Council of University Classical Departments Bulletin
Elgin Marbles were a gift…? – IOL
The race for scrolls – National Geographic
Returning the Getty Bronze – The Guardian
Conflict between engineers and archaeologists – ITV News
Roman fort in Cumbria – Current Archaeology
Archaeologists and bedazzled babes – Forbes
Reviewing Ashurbanipal – Hyperallergic
Comment and opinion
Plato’s interpreters – The Caravan
The perspective of not reading the Greek – Eidolon
Musing on Roman sausages – Sphinx
Income inequalities in Classics – Sententiae Antiquae
Men of bronze – Ancient World Magazine
The Scylla and Charybdis Effect – The Epoch Times
Thales of Miletus – Classical Wisdom Weekly
Pausanias on Elvis…? – Eidolon
A Christmas song for the Late Republic – Classics is the New Black
Arachne’s punishment – Ancient Pages
Classical beer labels – Society for Classical Studies
Great commanders – Ancient History Encyclopaedia
Helena the prostitute? – Writing Helena
Ancient and modern demagogues – Fair Observer
Imperial letter collections – CAHA Research
Roman pollution – Eos
Questioning Aristotle – Classical Wisdom Weekly
Favourite artefacts – LSA Classics
Roman forensic science – Forbes
Virgilian watermarks – In Media Res
Classics and identity politics – Classics at the Intersections
On Pilate’s ring – The Daily Beast
Podcasts, videos and other media
Talking about gods and robots – a16z Podcast
Herculaneum – When in Rome
Greek short swords – Ancient History Guy
How hygienic were the Roman baths? – Ancient Blogger
Mary Beard on speech – How to Own the Room
Dying for a dream – Barry Strauss
The story of Little Boots – Ancient History Fangirl
Saving artefacts in Syria – Today
When Greeks flew kites – BBC Radio 4
Free articles on Roman politics in December – Cambridge University Press