Greetings, all, from South Shields, North East England, where the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the queuers are queuing round Morrisons’ car park. I am pleased to inform you that – unlike almost every other academic on social media – I have not been baking my own sourdough bread while in lockdown.
No, I’ve been marking (as always!), running online tutorials (no change there), talking to people on the phone, Skype, Adobe Connect and Zoom (ok, the Zoom thing is new) and trying not to panic at the mounting pile of emails (again, business as usual). I’ve also been trying to entertain and educate my son, who is unfortunately showing no signs of being interested in the finer details of my marking. So far my homeschooling has consisted of watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Journey (as a gentle introduction to 5th century Athens), painting targets on the back-yard wall, and trying to remember everything I ever knew about fractions.
I gave up primary teaching for good reason. I’m rubbish at it.
But lockdown isn’t all bad – so far, at least. When I’m out for my daily walk, nobody stops me to chat. Nobody pops round unannounced. Even delivery people are gone almost before I’ve opened the front door. There’s an element of Introvert Heaven to all of this.
And then there’s the internet. Lots of people, I suspect, have abandoned social media temporarily, because it can be pretty panic-inducing. But those who remain are so starved for entertainment that they attack anything interesting like online piranhas. It’s great fun. Yesterday I had fun following the feeding frenzy among bored Roman historians on Twitter, when former MP Douglas Carswell made the mistake of using the Roman Republic as an example of the dangers of Universal Basic Income:
Mary Beard’s response to this was, I thought, rather restrained. Other people were rather more… vicious. Proof – if any were needed – that it’s unwise to antagonise a bunch of locked-down classicists.
But you don’t have to join in with an enthusiastic takedown of dodgy scholarship to have fun on the internet these days. No – there’s more exciting stuff out there every day. In fact, I can’t keep up, so the links below represent only a few of the things I’ve spotted. I would like to draw your attention, though, to Dr Gina May’s Monday reading group: here are the details…
Quarantine Classics is a new, free, online reading group bringing together people who love talking all things ‘Classics’. We are all trying to do the right thing and stay home so why not relieve some the boredom by joining the group? Each week for two hours there will be readings from a best-selling book starting with Stephen Fry’s Mythos. You can either join in by reading a section of the book to the group, or maybe just relax and listen as the book is brought to life by different voices. The group will run from 2-4pm every Monday afternoon starting on Monday 30th March. All you need to do is grab a cuppa and a copy of the book then log in and join us. To reserve a place go to ginamay.co.uk and click on Quarantine Classics or email email@example.com. We don’t need alcohol gel to join hands on line!
I’d also like to introduce you to my current favourite online resource – the Google Drive of Classics PDFs, set up by Dr Hannah Silverbank, which is full of Classics journal articles, reference works, commentaries and textbooks. Download anything you need, and upload anything you have to share! This is the sort of thing I joined the internet for…
I hope you’re all keeping well and occupied, and baking like crazy. Baking seems to be the way through this, as far as I can tell from the internet. It’s unfortunate that I’m so notoriously bad at baking – I’m clearly missing out on the full Quarantine Experience. However, I do have a cupboard full of Pop-Tarts, so I think I’ll make it…
This week’s links from around the internet
There’s not much Classics news around, so I’m collecting other stuff of interest.
Comment and opinion
Ancient ‘plague lit’ – U of SC
Writing a Latin crossword – Quinquennium
Lessons from Ovid’s exile – Eidolon
The true cost of museum fakes – Hyperallergic
Latin reflective pronouns – Medium
We’re all bored – The Petrified Muse
Martial on poetic obscurity – Curculio
The story of Hypatia – Face2Face Africa
Mary Beard on lockdown – A Don’s Life
A penis on the screen – Sententiae Antiquae
From Pompeii to Rome – Wanted In Rome
Alexander’s tomb – The Express
Doom! – Sphinx
Pompeii mania – JSTOR Daily
Some places to ‘visit’
Virtual tour of Arbeia – Tyne and Wear Museums
Virtual tour of Delphi – You Go Culture
Virtual Museum Tours – Google Arts and Culture
Twelve great museums – Parents.com
Podcasts, video and other media
Performance of Antigone –Actors of Dionysus
Thucydides Explains Everything – Neville Morley
Caligula the Living God – Life of Caesar
Et tu, Etna? – Eos
The Sasanians – Emperors of Rome
Free online resources
Open access Classics resources – Institute of Classical Studies
Latin Resources – Cambridge Schools Classics Project