Latin, Chinese, and Baked Goods

A nice article was recently published by Concord Academy’s website about their successful collaborative project  to translate the DCC Caesar into Mandarin. The project was led by CA’s Latin teacher Liz Penland, with help from their Mandarin teacher and many students. The article quotes Liz saying some very nice things about DCC:

Penland believes a classical education should not just be the mark of the elite. “Anyone should be able to study Latin,” she says. With its peer-reviewed, crowd-sourced approach, DCC is leading a charge to make the classics accessible to anyone with an internet connection. And despite an international trend of declining study of the classical humanities, thousands of students in China are learning Latin and ancient Greek.

Many high schools, colleges, and universities rely on DCC commentaries, as does Penland. By aggregating generations of contextual notes, they reveal “a chain of interpretation, of teaching, and of use,” she says. “They help the text feel more like a cultural object that many people have read.”

A little further down we see how many people were involved, students, administrators, and teachers:

Once Penland had recruited students, Adam Bailey, head of modern and classical languages, and John Drew, assistant head of school and academic dean, offered their support. It seemed the perfect project to encourage research and independent thinking. Mandarin teacher Wenjun Kuai agreed to consult with students. “Wenjun is such a generous colleague and a wonderful teacher,” Penland says. “She did so much work on the Mandarin. The students had responsibility and a voice in how the project ran. Their group work was self-directed. It was a highly collaborative process, a model of linguistic research.”

And then there is the crucial role of baked goods:

 A friendly but intense competition emerged, thanks to weekly “brownie challenges” that earned baked goods from Penland. Lin, who completed numerous translations, says, “I’m not going to lie. It really motivated me.”

Liz put the fundamental purposes of DCC better than I could: access, community, intellectual inquiry. I am so proud of the folks at CA who used DCC in such creative ways, as a learning resource, but also as a way to share knowledge with others and have fun themselves. It shows the potential power of getting students involved in scholarly digital projects at every appropriate level. Here’s hoping DCC can be part of more wonderful projects like this in the future!

The Concord Academy Latin-Mandarin Project team. Photo (by Rebecca Lindegren, use only with permission): Top row from left: Ben Zide, Tenzin Rosson, Ken Lin (林鸿燊), Michael Qiu (邱阳), Anna Dibble, Lysie Jones, Elizabeth Penland. Bottom row from left: Nora Zhou (周安琪), Helen Wu (吴颖怡), Rebecca Yang (杨若祺)

The Concord Academy Latin-Mandarin Project team. Photo (by Rebecca Lindegren, use only with permission): Top row from left: Ben Zide, Tenzin Rosson, Ken Lin (林鸿燊), Michael Qiu (邱阳), Anna Dibble, Lysie Jones, Elizabeth Penland. Bottom row from left: Nora Zhou (周安琪), Helen Wu (吴颖怡), Rebecca Yang (杨若祺)

Spanish Publishers: You Had One Job

In the course of a review of an excellent Latin-Spanish bilingual edition of Frontinus’ De aqueductu, the distinguished Dutch classicist Vincent Hunink makes a welcome comment on the relative difficulty of obtaining Spanish classical books, including the one under review:

Perhaps I may take the opportunity to make a general point on Spanish books. In the world of classical scholarship, English, French, German, and Italian seem the dominant languages. Spanish, although a major world language, takes a much less prominent place, and I know many colleagues (to say nothing of students) who never open a book in this language at all. Several reasons may be adduced to explain the relative isolation of Spanish classical studies, but surely the lack of easy access to Spanish books must rank high. I have searched for Paniagua’s new edition online, but what I found was deploringly little, indeed: on August, 28th, 2017 there was one copy (!), without a cover image, available through Amazon, and one online shop in Spain that sells the title (Marcialpons.es). This means that this book is effectivelyunavailable to international readers, and that only dedicated specialists will take the trouble of purchasing it.

Spanish books on classics deserve more attention from the public, but for a start readers should be given the possibility to find Spanish books at all. I suggest that publishers, universities, and government institutions throughout the Spanish speaking world should unite forces and provide users with an easier way to become familiar with new Spanish books on classics, and to buy them if they are interested. A good Internet shop (or a serious Spanish department within an existing shop) might be an idea. Alternatively, an internet platform offering free PDFs of such books would be a great instrument to promote Spanish publications. As soon as information would become freely available, many of those who now decline to read any Spanish might be effectively tempted to change their behavior.

Much of what I suggest here on books in Spanish, also goes for books in that other important Iberian language, Portuguese. So perhaps a concerted Spanish-Portuguese campaign is due.

How is it that these publishers (or at least this one) are not doing the one thing they are supposed to to: publish, i.e., make their books widely available? Is this something more widely problematic in Spanish publishing, or is it a classics thing?

Dickinson Latin Workshop 2018: Maffeius, Historiae Indicae

Dickinson Latin Workshop 2018: Maffeius, Historiae Indicae

July 12–17, 2018

The Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop is intended for teachers of Latin, as a way to refresh the mind through study of an extended Latin text, and to share experiences and ideas with Latinists and teachers. Sometimes those who are not currently engaged in teaching have participated as well, including retired teachers and those working towards teacher certification.

Moderators:
Christopher Francese (Dickinson College)
Leni Ribeiro Leite (Federal University of Espírito Santo, Vitória, Brazil)

The text for 2018 will be taken from the Historiae Indicae of Giovanni Pietro Maffei (1536–1604, Latin name Maffeius). This 16-book history tells the story of the Portuguese voyages of conquest and discovery in the sixteenth century around the coast of Africa, to the Malabar Coast of India, on to Malacca, China, and Japan. It was widely read and admired all over Europe in its time, and draws on a variety of sources, some of which are now lost. We plan to read the sections of the work that describe the wonders of China, Brazil, and the Indian Ocean.

Jacques de Sève, “Le Pangolin,” illustration from Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, générale et particulière, avec la description du Cabinet du Roi (1749–1804). Source: Gallica http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105279332/f1.item

Jacques de Sève, “Le Pangolin,” illustration from Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, générale et particulière, avec la description du Cabinet du Roi (1749–1804). Source: Gallica http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105279332/f1.item

Maffei’s Latin is elegant, but not difficult. Contemporaries compared his style to that of Caesar. Yet he is no humble imitator, and the hallmarks of his writing are clarity and variety. In the words of fellow historian Faminio Strada, “nothing anywhere unkempt or careless; indeed, elegant perfection from beginning to end—unless his only fault is that he has no faults.” His vocabulary is strictly classical, except when he needs terms for unfamiliar items, such as “tea” (chia) or “pangolin” (cabim); even so, for “chopstick” he manages to find an appropriate word in Varro and Pliny the Elder, paxillus (“small stake, peg”). Though no full commentary exists, the moderators will supply notes on such special usages.

The participation fee for each participant will $400. The fee covers lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Dickinson cafeteria, the facilities fee, which allows access to the gym, fitness center, and the library, as well as wireless and wired internet access while on campus. The fee does not cover the costs of books or travel. Please keep in mind that the participation fee, once it has been received by the seminar’s organizers, is not refundable. This is an administrative necessity.

Lodging: accommodations will be in a student residence hall near the site of the sessions. The building features suite-style configurations of two double rooms sharing a private bathroom, or one double and one single room sharing a private bathroom.

The first event will be an introductory dinner at 6:00 p.m., July 12. The final session ends at noon on July 17, with lunch to follow. Sessions will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. each day, with the afternoons left free for preparation.

Application deadline: May 1, 2018.

Fee deadline: June 1, 2018.

TO APPLY: please contact Mrs. Terri Blumenthal, blumentt@dickinson.edu by the application deadline. The fee is due in a check made out to Dickinson College, by the fee deadline.

For more information please contact Prof. Chris Francese (francese@dickinson.edu).

 

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense 2018

CONVENTICULUM DICKINSONIENSE

July 5-11, 2018

The Conventiculum Dickinsoniense is an immersion seminar designed for those who want to acquire some ability at ex-tempore expression in Latin. A wide range of people can benefit from the seminar: professors in universities, teachers in secondary schools, graduate students, undergraduates, and other lovers of Latin, provided that anyone who considers applying has a solid understanding of the grammatical essentials of the Latin language. A minimum requirement for participation is knowledge of Latin grammar and the ability to read a Latin text of average complexity – even if this reading ability depends on frequent use of a dictionary.  But no previous experience in speaking Latin is necessary. Sessions will be aimed at helping participants to increase their ability to use Latin effectively in spoken discourse and to understand others speaking in Latin. After the first evening reception (in which any language may be spoken), Latin will be the language used throughout the seminar.

head shot of Terence Tunberg

Terence Tunberg

Participants will be involved in intensive activity each day from morning until early evening (with breaks for lunch and mid-afternoon pauses). They will experience Latin conversations on topics ranging from themes in literature and art all the way to the routines and activities of daily life, and will enjoy the benefits of reading and discussing texts in the target language. Activities will involve both written and spoken discourse, both of which engage the active faculties of expression, and each of which is complementary to the other. The seminar will not merely illustrate how active Latin can be a useful tool for teachers, it will show how developing an active facility in Latin can directly and personally benefit any cultivator of Latin who wishes to acquire a more instinctive command of the language and a more intimate relationship with Latin writings.

Head shot of Milena Minkova

Milena Minkova

Moderators:

Prof. Milena Minkova, University of Kentucky

Prof. Terence Tunberg, University of Kentucky

We can accept a maximum number of 40 participants. Deadline for applications is May 1, 2018. The participation fee for each participant will $400. The fee includes lodging in a single room in campus housing (and please note that lodging will be in a student residence near the site of the sessions), two meals (breakfast and lunch) per day, as well as the opening dinner, and a cookout at the Dickinson farm. Included in this price is also the facilities fee, which allows access to the gym, fitness center, and the library, as well as internet access. The $400 fee does not include the cost of dinners (except for the opening dinner and the cookout at the Dickinson farm), and does not include the cost of travel to and from the seminar. Dinners can easily be had at restaurants within walking distance from campus.  Please keep in mind that the participation fee of $400, once it has been received by the seminar’s organizers, is not refundable. This is an administrative necessity.

camp fire at the farm, Conventiculum farm dinner

camp fire at the Dickinson farm, Conventiculum Dickinsoniense

Registered participants should plan to arrive in Carlisle, PA on July 5, in time to attend the first event of the seminar. This first event is an opening dinner and welcoming reception for all participants, which will begin at about 6:00 p.m., in which all languages are acceptable. The actual workshop sessions (in which Latin will the exclusive language) will begin early the next morning on July 6.

For more information and application instructions write to: Professor Terence Tunberg:

terence.tunberg@gmail.com

A mysterious animal in Maffeius

A story in Maffeius’ Indic Histories Book 5 concerns a fighter named Noadabegua from Malacca who fought the Portuguese bravely and died, pierced with dozens of wounds, but the wounds did not bleed until an arm band was removed that contained the bone of a certain local animal. When the arm band was removed all his blood flowed out at once, as if a vase had been shattered. mirum dictu! comments Maffeius. The mystery here is the identity of the animal: os animalis cuiusdam Sionii (cabim incolae appellant). In the book from which this comes both Sionii and Cabim are capitalized. Neither word appears in any Latin dictionary I have access to, nor is there anything of use in the very large LLT-A and LLT-B databases of later Latin published by Brepols, and which I have access to at work. Here is the whole passage.

Qua in re illud vel in primis accidit memorabile. Vehebatur quadam e navibus iis Naodabegua Malacensis, unus ex eorum numero qui nuper in Sequeriae exitium conspiraverant. Is in itinere oppressus ab Lusitanis cum egregie dimicans aliquamdiu restitisset, multis demum confossus ictibus ita corruit ut e patulis vulneribus nihil omnino cruoris manaret. Mox inter spoliandum corpus, ut primum detracta eius brachio est aurea armilla (mirum dictu) tamquam vase confracto ita sese cum anima universus repente sanguis effudit. Cuius rei stupore defixi Lusitani cum de captivis causam quaesissent, cognovere inclusum esse in armilla os animalis cuiusdam Sionii (cabim incolae appellant) cuius in sistendo sanguine virtus efficacissima sit. Id ipsum os deinde cum in Lusitaniam devehendum esset una cum pretiosis aliis rebus naufragio periit. Atque in hunc modum barbarus ille concepti in Sequeriam facinoris poenas acerba persolvit morte.

Presumably Sionius is an adjective referring to a nearby place or people; I’m thinking the nominative form of the animal in Latin would be cabis. But what is this magical critter whose bone can stop the flow of blood?

Globalizing Latin with Maffeius

One of the hidden treasures of neo-Latin prose is the Historiarum Indicarum libri XVI (1588)[1] by the Italian Jesuit Giovanni Pietro Maffei (1536–1604, Latin name Maffeius). It tells the story of the Portuguese voyages of conquest and discovery in the sixteenth century around the coast of Africa, to the Malabar Coast of India, on to Malacca, China, and Japan. While Maffeius himself did not travel to the East, he spent eight years collecting material and writing in the royal archives in Portugal, and his work is based on a variety of documents, including letters from Jesuit missionaries, some of which are now lost. The full-scale ethnography of China in Book 6 is of particular importance as a shaper of European images of China in this period. First published in Florence, it went through eight separate editions by 1600, was included in a two-volume edition of all of Maffei’s Latin writings in 1747, and was last printed in Vienna in 1752.[2] There has so far been no modern Latin edition or English translation.

Portrait of Maffei by Giovanni Battista Moroni , ca. 1560-65.

Portrait of Maffei by Giovanni Battista Moroni , ca. 1560-65. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum. Image source: Wikimedia.

The text merits renewed attention on three main grounds. First is the quality of the Latin. Maffei was a superb linguist (with enough Japanese to publish translations of Japanese texts and to act as an interpreter), a celebrated writer in both Tuscan and Latin, and a famously meticulous Latin stylist. After his early education in his home city of Bergamo and an apprenticeship in Rome under the head of the Vatican Library, Maffei gained the chair of rhetoric in Genoa on the recommendation of Paulus Manutius. While in Genoa in 1565 he submitted his name to the Jesuits, and shortly thereafter returned to Rome and became professor of rhetoric at the Collegium Romanum. He gained fame all over Europe in 1570 on the publication of his Latin translations of Acosta’s history of the early Portuguese voyages to the Indies and associated Jesuit letters. On the strength of this work he was invited by the learned Prince (and Cardinal, later King) Henry of Portugal to tell the whole story in a style worthy of the subject matter. After Henry’s death in 1580 the work was finished under the auspices of Philip, king of the now united Spain and Portugal, to whom the book is dedicated.

Contemporaries compared him to Caesar and Tacitus, but he is no slavish imitator, nor is his Latin as mannered as that of the other great Latin historian of the era, Paolo Giovio. His hallmarks are clarity, elegance, and variety. In the words of fellow historian Famiano Strada, “nothing anywhere unkempt or careless; indeed, elegant perfection from beginning to end—unless his only fault is that he has no faults.”[3] At one of the debates held at the literary salon sponsored by Christina Queen of Sweden at the Palazzo Farnese in the 1650s the question was posed which two authors one should want preserved if all the others should perish, choosing one pro antiquitate, another pro Latino idiomate. The consensus was that, among ancient authors, they would keep Plutarch, among works prized for Latin style, those of Maffeius.[4]

The second reason to turn to Maffeius now is that the text deserves to be better known to historians of the early modern period and the age of exploration. For most of the 20th century, when the dominant geo-political force was the north Atlantic alliance, scholars naturally tended to focus on the early period of contact between Europe and the Americas. The resurgence of China and other Asian powers has created renewed interest in the early history of European colonialism in the Indian Ocean and Pacific areas as well. The importance of the 16th century Latin sources to Atlantic studies has long been recognized, and led to modern editions and studies of authors such as Peter Martyr.[5] But Latin in Asia is still “the great terra incognita of Renaissance literary history.”[6] Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s excellent new study on Europeans’ early contacts with India, for example, neglects the Latin sources in favor of the undeniably important vernacular ones, and does not mention Maffeius.[7] The only substantial discussions of Maffei by historians known to me are by  Donald Lach and, more recently, Stefano Andretta.[8] A readable Latin text, combined with English and Portuguese translations, will make the work better known.

The third reason to make Maffeius better known is to foster the study of Latin in the areas that Maffeius discussed, particularly China. As witnessed by numerous recent conferences and publications, the study of ancient Greek and Latin is blooming in China and Japan.[9] Maffei’s Historiae Indicae would be of interest both to historians from those countries who study European colonialism from their own perspectives, and to students who want to learn to read Latin with a text of direct relevance to the history of their own countries. In particular I hope to edit Book 6, on China, in collaboration with a Chinese scholar, with notes to the Latin in Chinese, and comparison with what the Chinese sources to check the accuracy of and contextualize Maffeius’ and other European observers’ assertions about China in the later Ming period.[10] As the study of the Latin and Greek classics becomes globalized, neo-Latin about Asia and Maffeius in particular can play an important role in both scholarship and pedagogy. Study of such European neo-Latin texts should be coupled with the study of the Latin versions of the Chinese classics, and the wider use of Latin in Asia in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.[11]

[1] Ioannis Petri Maffeii Bergomatis e Societate Iesu historiarum indicarum libri XVI. Selectarum item ex India epistolarum eodem interprete libri IV. Accessit Ignatii Loiolae vita postremo recognita, et in opera singula copiosus index. Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1588. https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_zOibVyJgfdoC   

[2] Ioannis Petri Maffeii Bergomatis e Societate Iesu historiarum indicarum libri XVI. Vienna: Trattner, 1752. http://www.mdz-nbn-resolving.de/urn/resolver.pl?urn=urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb11197028-0

[3] From Prolusiones Academicae (1619) II.iii, quoted by Félix Sánchez Vallejo, “Quartus imminet dies saecularis a morte insignis cultoris Latinitatis, Ioannis Petri Maffei,” Latinitas 51 (2003), 50–55, at p. 53.

[4] Pierantonio Serassi, Vita Maffei, in Jo. Petri Maffeji Bergomatis e Societate Jesu opera omnia Latine scripta, nunc primum in unum corpus collecta, variisque illustrationibus exornata, vol. 1 (Bergamo: Petrus Lancellottus, 1747), xxi. https://goo.gl/ubqaM6

[5] Andrew Laird, “North America,” in Sarah Night and Stefan Tilg, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 525–540.

[6] Zweder von Martels, “Asia,” in Philip Ford et al., eds., Brill’s Encyclopaedia of the Neo-Latin World: Macropaedia (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 849.

[7] Europe’s India: Words, People, Empires 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017), 63.

[8] Donald F. Lach, Asia in the Making of Europe. Vol. 1: The Century of Discovery (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), 803–805. Stefano Andretta, “Modelli di santità nelle Historiae indicae di Giovanni Pietro Maffei,” Monaci, ebrei, santi: studi per Sofia Boesch Gajano: atti delle Giornate di studio “Sophia kai historia,” Roma, 17-19 febbraio 2005 (Rome: Viella, 2008), 451–470.

[9] Kathleen Coleman, “Nondum Arabes Seresque Rogant: Classics Looks East.” Society for Classical Studies Blog, October 16, 2016. https://classicalstudies.org/scs-blog/kcoleman/blog-nondum-arabes-seresque-rogant-classics-looks-east

[10] Lach, op. cit., p. 745.

[11] See Noël Golvers, “Asia,” in Sarah Night and Stefan Tilg, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 557–574.

Workshop: Creating a Digital Commentary for Teaching

Dickinson Latin Workshop

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Creating a Digital Commentary for Teaching

Bret Mulligan (Haverford College) and Chris Francese (Dickinson College)

Place: Dickinson College, Tome Hall 115, 10:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.

Tome Hall, Dickinson College

Tome Hall, Dickinson College

Do you write your own notes on Latin texts for your students? Are you frustrated with the limitations of Microsoft Word when it comes to parallel display of text, notes, and vocabulary? Now you can create attractive, usable reading texts online with vocabulary lists and notes simultaneously displayed, and the ability to include hyperlinks and add audio-visual material. This workshop will demonstrate and provide practice with a new plugin for the WordPress CMS that mimics the easy-to-read format of Dickinson College Commentaries. In addition, participants will see demonstrations of and practice using a variety of online tools that are helpful in the creation and annotation of reading texts: The Bridge for vocabulary list creation; DCC core vocabulary; Pleiades for geography; digitized grammars and reference works for simplifying annotations; Johan Winge’s macronizer; and others.

This workshop will be of interest primarily to Latin teachers, but others are more than welcome to attend. The workshop is free of charge, but to order materials and food we need to have an accurate count of attendees. For pre-registration please contact Terri Blumenthal: blumentt@dickinson.edu, by October 9, 2017.

Bret Mulligan is Associate Professor of Classics at Haverford College. He is a specialist in Late Antique Latin Literature, and a leading digital classicist. He is project director of The Bridge, the author of Life of Hannibal, Cornelius Nepos (Open Books Publishers and DCC), and a contributor to The Living Past: Recasting the Ancients in Late Latin Poetry (forthcoming, Winter Verlag).

Chris Francese is Asbury J. Clarke Professor of Classical Studies at Dickinson College. He specializes in Latin literature, and is project director of Dickinson College Commentaries. He is the author of Ancient Rome in So Many Words (Hippocrene 2007), and Ancient Rome: An Anthology of Sources (Hackett, 2014).

New Directions in Global Classicism

Excitement is mounting for the coolest Ovid conference in a generation, or maybe ever, Globalizing Ovid: An International Conference in Commemoration of the Bimillennium of Ovid’s Death. Organized primarily by the indefatigable Jinyu Liu of DePauw University, the conference is jointly sponsored by the Chinese National Social Science Foundation, Shanghai Normal University, and Dickinson College. It will take place May 31–June 2, 2017, at Shanghai Normal. The large international cast of Ovidian luminaries includes John Miller and Allison Sharrock, as well as many wonderful Chinese Latinists. I am  delighted to be giving the concluding address, of which the abstract follows. Abstracts of all the talks are available now via the conference website, linked above.

The impulses motivating the study and teaching of the classics have been alternately outwardly and inwardly directed. On the one hand, the classics promise effectiveness in the world, more informed public action through the cultivated powers of thought and expression. On the other hand, and at other times, the classics promise a kind of inner ennoblement, a purer refuge from the less desirable aspects of modernity. These fundamental aspects of studying the classics do not change as globalization occurs, or with the actual content of the canon or national tradition. What is changing, and quickly, is the size and the interconnectedness of the communities of classicism. The role of digital technology in these changes has been much discussed. The best uses of technology are those that create opportunities for the promise of classicism to flourish among people. It is a mistake to follow the apparent dictates of technology separately from the communities of actual people among whom it operates and which it serves. The best opportunities for serving, augmenting, and enriching the communities of global classicism lie in three areas. First, the creation of commentaries geared toward specific communities of readers (e.g., accessible commentaries on the Chinese classics in English, or commentaries on Greco-Roman texts by Chinese scholars for Chinese students) with a focus on close readings of key passages.  Second, an approach to digitization that creatively rescues good pre-digital work in order to create broader access and better pedagogy—for example special dictionaries like Frieze’s Vergilian dictionary or Goncalves’ Lexicon Latino-Sinicum. Third, the creation of experiences and communities around the love of the classics, outside traditional academic venues. The Paideia Institute is the model here. The challenge is that none of these activities is sufficiently rewarded by the incentives of individuals in academic life. Yet the rewards of these approaches will be very real for all of us who love the classics.

In the Tracks of Alexander

[update 5/4/2017:  the apparent mistake of Alexander going to Bangladesh derives from an error in the Pleiades database. https://pleiades.stoa.org/places/59910 Malli is described as “An ancient Indian people that settled at the confluence of the rivers Hydaspes, Acesines, and Hydraotes.” These are indeed the folks Alexander terrorized in the Mallian Campaign. But the current location in Pleiades has them way off near the Padma. They should be much further west, in the Indus valley. I have alerted the good folks at Pleiades to this.]

I got a nice response on Twitter to a photograph of a composite of Google Earth maps made by my students of the expedition of Alexander the Great. (People were too kind to point out that some of the students thought Alexander made it all the way to the Padma river in what is now Bangladesh).

My students’ Google Earth maps of the expedition of Alexander, as seen from space.

A.M. Christensen (@AM_Christensen) asked me to post the assignment that generated these maps, and so here it is. I have done this for several years, and the reaction from students ranges from “Google Earth is infuriating” to “That was the best assignment we did–time consuming but really valuable.” I was on the point of cutting it out of the Ancient Worlds on Film class when a former student in that class convinced me to put it back in. 

As with most unorthodox assignments it requires careful preparation and explanation well in advance, and a willingness to be flexible when technical issues crop up. For me this works because it is in sync with my learning goals: learning about the ancient world on the basis of primary sources. To do well a student must summarize and tell the significance material based on the reading, and cite the sources–by no means easy tasks for the average non-classics major in a general education classical studies course.

I spent some class time demoing Google Earth and showing them the magic of Pleiades, which has readily downloadable .kml files of the places.  (Pro tip: “Tyre” is not findable on Pleiades. You have to know to search for Tyros.) One problem is that the dates of events are not always indicated in the books they are reading. So I pointed out the very full chronology available on Wikipedia. I have learned to be very, very clear about the necessity of having the entire folder highlighted before you save your .kmz. This is by far the most common problem. Second to that are Google Earth crashes, in which some students lose work. Make sure they save their stuff and back it up. I also pitch this as a way to take notes on the reading in Arrian. Pick a couple spots in every night’s reading, write down their significance, and making the map will be easier when the time comes.

Here is the whole 3-week timeline from start to finish:

4/10       Alexander (2004)  no reading                        

4/12       Watch Alexander: Director’s Cut

4/14       Youth; Aristotle; sack of Thebes   Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 1–32; Plutarch, Life of Alexander, sections 11–14.

4/17       Granicus → Fall of Tyre    Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 33–69. Plutarch, Life of Alexander, sections 15–17 and 21–23.

4/19       Egypt → Gaugamela; Death of Darius      Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 70–93. Plutarch sections 27–28, 33–34, 36–40, and 42–43.

4/21       Central Asia; Roxane      Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 94–113. Plutarch sections 45 and 47.

4/24       India; the Gedrosia desert    Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 114–148. Plutarch, sections 64–67.

4/26       Susa weddings; death of Hephaestion      Romm, Alexander the Great, pp. 149–173. Quiz on Alexander.

4/28     Alexander Map assignment due

Ok, here is the assignment. The grading rubric follows.

In the Tracks of Alexander the Great

The intent of this assignment is to familiarize you with the geography and chronology of Alexander’s conquests through the making a Google Earth map of them. It will act as a kind of combined map and timeline. It is due by noon Friday, April 28, 2017, via Moodle.

You will need to download Google Earth to your computer. A tutorial by Google on how to create a map with place marks is here: http://www.google.com/earth/learn/beginner.html#placemarks-and-tours&tab=placemarks-and-tours

 . . . and see below for a step by step guide.

Using Romm’s book Alexander the Great (which contains the writings of Arrian) and the account of Plutarch in his Life of Alexander, create a series of place marks and a route to guide you through Alexander’s expedition. For each place, create a place mark, name it, and then write annotations in the description field. Each annotation should contain:

  1. a Pleiades link
  2. a brief discussion of your view of the significance of the place, based on your reading in Arrian and Plutarch.
  3. specific source citations of Arrian (book and chapter) and/or Plutarch (chapter) from which you got your information, along with any other sources you used
  4. an image of any relevant landscape, archaeological remains, artifacts, or an artist’s reconstructions from this place, with a title and specific photo/artist credit.

There should be at least one or two placemarks from every major stage of the expedition, a minimum of 20 total. Observe that the notes in Romm, and your translation of Plutarch’s Life of Alexander (Greek Lives pp. 448 ff.) specify dates for many incidents. The actual look of the tour is up to you, and you should feel free to add whatever enhancements you like. When you have finished making your place marks, put them in a folder and save the folder (it will save as a file with the suffix .kmz).

IMPORTANT:

  • Make sure when you save your work that the whole folder is highlighted, not just one place.
  • Give the folder a name that includes your own last name.

Submit the .kmz file via Moodle. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE to creating and saving placemarks:

  1. Download Google Earth: https://www.google.com/earth/
  2. Under the “Add” menu select Add Folder. Name the new folder with your name and Alexander’s Route or something similar. The folder you just created will now show up in the Temporary Places list at the left, and look something like this:
  3. Add a placemark: Either search in the search bar of Google Earth to find a place, or (more accurate) go to Pleiades and search for a place and download their ready-made placemark. On Pleiades, when you find the relevant site, scroll down to the list of “Alternate representations”:

Click on “KML.” (This stands for “Keyhole Markup Language,” the file type used by Google Earth.) Download and open that file and it will create a placemark for you in Google Earth at the precise location you want. (You may have to delete some extra placemarks included by Pleiades as associated places.) Make sure that your placemark is within the folder you created earlier.

1 placemarks must be included under the right folder or they will not be saved in the project when you save at the end.

  1. Edit the placemark: Right click on the placemark and select Properties.

You can change the name to whatever you want, add text, links, images, and change the look of the placemark itself by clicking on the small icon at the top right of the Edit placemark window.

Here is an example that has been edited to include an image, with information about that image, and some short annotations with source citations. Your annotations should be longer, several sentences.

  1. Create the Route. Click on the “Add Path” icon at the top of the screen

Name the path, and before closing that window, draw the path you want. Consult the maps in Romm’s book as you draw the paths. From the Properties window you can style the path, giving it any width you want.

  1. Save the file. Make sure that you have the whole folder highlighted, not just a single place within it, when you save. Go to File > Save > Save Place As and save the file on your computer as a .kmz. Submit that .kmz file via Moodle. You are done!

Rubric

20+ Places accurately identified?  
Route accurately marked?  
Significance of the spots clearly explained?  
References to sources included?  
Every major stage included?  
Dates included?  
Pleides uri included?  
Images included?