Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First time drive to work

This afternoon I drove to QCC and drove back home alone. Woo, this is my first time driving to work. I was excited and nervous. Anyway, I got home safely. It is all.
The reason I went the college is because a director from another department wants to hire me. I have already been arranged working in ID room this summer, but she need a part time person. Dr. Jean-pirrie recommended me to her. She spoke with me twice on the phone last week; thus, today I went her office to talk the details with her in person. After talked with her, I found she can only give me six hours a month, and the six hour would be divided in three days, 2 hours a day from 5pm-7pm. It is not attractive at all. Moreover, as a part-employee, I definitely cannot work more than 20 hour/week. If I work 20 hours in ID room already, how can I work with her? She could not solve the problem. I asked her to call me if she found any solution, and then left.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do nothing

I really feel bad about my final papers of Roman cities. I didn’t understand the material very well. I was unable do well. Even though the draft has been sent out, I could not get ride of the bull feeling.
I’ll start James paper tomorrow. I am only staying idle a day, but i have already feel boring. The day is soo long compared to any of my study days.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Messene: the History, People and Architecture

In 369 BC, a new city Messene was founded at the foot of Mount Ithome in southern Greece under the leadership of Epaminondas. The inhabitants of the city included various ethnic groups but were mainly the former slaves of the Spartans called Helots. During the seventh century BC, the Spartans conquered the land of Messenia and enslaved the inhabitants for more than three hundred years. Although the Helots were exploited and abused and their culture and history were suppressed, they did not lose the strength to strive for freedom. In 371 BC, while Sparta was being fatally defeated by the Theban troops, the Helots took advantage of the opportunity and gained their liberty. The immediately founded city of Messene symbolized the Helots’ victory, freedom, and independence. In fact, the inhabitants’ unusual history, specifically, the Helots’ long-term struggle and conflicts with the Spartans became the critical factor that shaped the main aspects of the architecture of Messene. The fortification wall was one of the best structured defensive monuments in Greece, and the gates and towers on the wall are also worthy of detailed examination. The defensive constructions demonstrated the independence of the Helots and the rising power of the anti-Spartan alliance, and also suggested that the potential threat of Sparta and the military defense against it were still the primary concern of the city and its inhabitants. Furthermore, buildings for non-military use proceeded to fulfill the varied demands of the inhabitants during Messene’s existence until the third century AD; for instance, the Asklepieion for religious purpose and the theatre and the stadium for cultural purpose.
Although the term “Messene” appeared long before the Hellenistic Age, what exactly it referred to was uncertain. In the second century BC text Description of Greece, the author Pausanias stated that “the whole land [Messenia] receiving the name Messene from the wife of Polycaon, [the daughter of Triopas, son of Phorbas, from Arogos].” The Modern scholar Nino Luraghi offers a similar observation. “‘Messene in olden times had been the name of the whole region which in their own times was called ‘Messenia’.” It was approximately the district of the south-western part of the Peloponnese that was west of the Taygetos ridge and south of the river Neda. However, Luraghi also points out a different idea from older texts; according to the Odyssey, Messene could refer to a smaller territorial unit. Moreover, new archaeological evidence shows that “a settlement existed at the foot of Mt. Ithome in the ninth and eighth centuries.” Pausanias also mentioned that a small town existed at Mount Ithome during the Homeric period. Nevertheless, the name “Messene” was finally assigned to the particular city at Mount Ithome only after the liberty of the Helots in 369 BC. As Pausanias wrote, “[b]efore the battle which the Thebans fought with the Lacedaemonians at Leuctra, and the foundation of the present city of Messene under Ithome, I think that no city had the name Messene.”
When Messene was founded, the people living in the city included the Helots, the perioikoi, the old Messenians who were exiled after Spartan conquest, and a few other ethnic groups such as the Thebans. Among them, the population of the Helots was the largest; thus, the Helots’ three-century long servitude under the Spartans became a critical historical influence on Messenian life. In the southeast Peloponnese, Sparta was a military-oriented city-state that emerged around the tenth century BC and developed into an important state after the sixth century BC. As a part of its territorial expansion, in the later eighth century BC, Spartan forces crossed the Taygetos Mountain and reached the territory of Messenia. Through the first and the second Messenian War, until the seventh century BC, the Spartans suppressed major Messenia rebellions and completely captured the land of Messenia. Many Messenians were exiled; the rest became Helots, the slaves of the Spartans.
Despite the Helots enjoyed a few rights such as marriage and community life and some scholars preferred calling them serfs to slaves, the main picture of Messenia in this period was the Spartans’ harsh exploitation of the Helots as well as the land. The Spartans denounced the Helots’ Messenian identity, claiming because the Helots were later migrants to Messenia, they had no rights or freedom on the land. The Helots possessed no social status or rights and could be insulted or killed by the Spartan masters. The cultural heritage, social life, and education of the entire ethnic Helot group were suppressed. For example, “for the years of Spartan control the name of not a single Messenian helot is preserved, let alone their personal or communal histories.”
The Helots revolted many times throughout their servitude. Following the earthquake of 460 BC, one of the most violent and historical significant Helot revolts took place. During this uprising, Mount Ithome became the best and last place that the Helots could dwell because of its defensive advantages such as its height and steepness. “The insurgents took refuge on Mount Ithome, dwelling there (in one account) for as long as ten years before sueing for truce.” Although this revolt was eventually suppressed, it became a very important historical event for the Helots. It was one of the reasons that Mount Ithome was chosen as the holy site on which to build their city after the Helots’ final independence a century later.
In both the fifth century BC revolts and the fourth century BC establishment of Messene, various ethnic groups participated in the events; among them, perioikoi was an important one. “‘[T]he Messenians turned out to be formed by groups of various origins: Helots and perioikoi in the first case, probably Helots, perioikoi and settlers from other parts of Greece in the other.” Perioikoi were inhabitants scattered in Spartan territories who were freemen but did not have Spartan citizenship. The perioikoi occupied significant portions of Messenia although it is hard to say where they came from. As Luraghi comments, “[r]evolting against Sparta was the touchstone of Messenian identity.” “When Messenian identity surfaces for the first time in the light of history, the perioikoi also played a part --- and not on the Spartan side.” By joining in the revolts, those perioikoi identified themselves as Messenians, which allowed them to claim a right to the land of Messenia later.
In the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, the Thebans decisively defeated the Spartans, which dramatically changed the military and political situation in Peloponnese as well as in Greece. While the Peloponnesian war (431-404 BC) defined Sparta’s dominance among Greek city states, the Battle of Leuctra indicated the serious decline of its central power. In fact, after the war, Thebes “was recognized as the strongest single power and a dominant influence in all Greek affairs.” The Thebans’ victory and the Spartans’ defeat and withdrawal provided an excellent opportunity for the Helots to gain independence and freedom. “The news of Spartan defeat ran like wildfire through the long-subject states, and was the signal for revolt upon revolt and revolution after revolution.” Given the circumstances, this time, the Helots’ revolt succeeded. Pausanias recorded the remarkably historical scene.
The despised and abused serfs of three hundred years were proclaimed once more citizens of a free state; a city, bearing the long-proscribed name of Messene, was founded by Epaminondas on the slopes of that Mount Ithome which had seen the last heroic struggle, and word went out to the exiles of the race throughout all Hellas, to return to their liberated home.
The city Messene was quickly founded by the Helots along with people of other ethnic groups immediately after their military victory. It above all was a concrete and visible representation of the inhabitants’ ethnic identity and independence. For the Helots, freedom and happiness came along with the founding of the city. “Once freed from servitude the region’s inhabitants were well able to enumerate and praise their ancestry, their heroes, their mythic history: they apparently possessed a strong vision of just what it was to ‘be Messenian’.” Also, other ethnic groups in the anti-Spartan alliance, for example, the Thebans, used the creation of the city to demonstrate their rising power of in Greece. “By liberating Messenia from the Spartans, restoring the Messenian exiles from Naupaktos, and building these vast, modern defenses, the Thebans hoped to restore a situation which had not existed since prehistory.”
The fortification wall was not only the first monumental structure completed, but also was the most magnificent construction of Messene. Military success was the essential factor that proved the basis for all other Messenia progress. Thus, it is easy to understand why the fortification wall was built strong, grand and of high quality. “The building of the walls of Messene was one of the major feats of fourth-century military architecture; Epaminondas intended the new city to be an impregnable bastion to preserve Messenian independence.” In his famous book Description of Greece, Pausanias not only mentioned the wall but highly praised it.
Round Messene is a wall, the whole circuit of which is built of stone, with towers and battlements upon it. I have not seen the walls at Babylon or the walls of Memnon at Susa in Persia, nor have I heard the account of any eye-witness; but the walls at Ambrossos in Phocis, at Byzantium and at Rhodes, all of them the most strongly fortified places, are not so strong as the Messenian wall.
The approximately 10km fortification wall enclosed the central peaks of Mount Ithome and Mount Eva. The wall was a 2.5 m thick building of “substantial quarry-faced ashlar blocks on either side of a rubble core.” The bases of the wall were generally about 6 m in height and about 6 m wide. The northern and north-western parts of the wall were best preserved and are the finest specimens of Greek fortification in existence. However, the southern side of the wall on the slope of Mt. Eva was so badly damaged that in some places that disappeared. The enclosed territory of the wall was far larger than the area that the city needed, which strongly implied military requirements.
The wall displays in different styles and different technique in different sections, which prove that there were various ethnic groups living in Messene during the period of founding of the city who participated in construction activities. More specifically, it was people from the anti-Spartan alliance who defeated the Spartan troops and worked together to build the city and the wall. “By the joint efforts of Thebans, Arcadians, Argives, and Messenians, who together laid out streets and built houses, temples and circuit walls.” For example, the northern section of the wall was more substantial than other parts because the city was more prone to attack from the side facing Arcadia. Also, the style of the wall resembled contemporary Boiotian work.
Two gates served as main entrances to the city as well as military defensive places. The Laconian Gate was on the saddle between Mount Ithome and Mount Eva in the southeast corner of the city. The Arcadian Gate, better preserved and more impressive, was in the northern section of the wall. Being a double gate, the Arcadian Gate was an excellently military defensive spot. The outer gate was in the line of the city-wall flanked by two rectangular towers. The inner gate was formed by enormous stones with lintels. The circular court between the outer and inner gate measured about 62 feet in diameter, with excellent masonry. The open space of the court was surrounded by high walls rising 20- 22feet. The gate was designed to trap the invaders in the space and attack them from positions atop the wall. Gordon Campbell excellently explains the military device of the gate. “The 4th century BC Arcadian Gate Messene had a circular forecourt, open to the outside, which “invited” attackers to approach the closed inner gateway, thus exposing themselves to fire from all sides.” Indeed, this gate not only demonstrated the talent and efforts of the Messenians, but also confirmed the idea that military construction received the greatest concern from the inhabitants.
The wall was interrupted by varied types of towers at intervals, and the catapult towers on the west and north sections were typically examples of the military defensive function of it. An important ethnic group in Messene, the Thebans, who possessed advanced fortification-building techniques, were most likely the people who designed and constructed these towers. Tower L on the north wall had two chambers. The upper chamber stored armaments. To access to it, one must have been “by ladder and trapdoor from the lower chamber.” Windows were always essential for towers. The rectangular windows on this Tower L “have facilitated aiming and firing the catapults.” Tower N on the western section was more impressive than Tower L. Standing 9 m high on a solid base, Tower N was a round and square two-storey tower. There were two windows in the front and one in each side wall. The shape of the windows were “pentagonal and resemble enlarged arrow slits.” This tower consisted of a 0.58 m thick single chamber; the space could accommodate “three catapults mounted on stands or four hand-held catapults.” The roof of the tower was a fighting platform, adding another fighting dimension to the catapults in the chamber to achieve a more efficient defense. “The fighting platform at [Tower] N allowed the defenders to fire upon enemy soldiers who approached close enough to the wall to be out of range of the catapults, which could not be depressed much below the horizontal.” In fact, “Tower N is an excellent example of an early catapult tower. Some of the experimental features of the tower were not used in subsequent projects; other features became canonical.”
Besides important military architecture, with time, many other monumental structures were completed inside the city. Around 150 years later, the Asklepieion that served as the religious centre of Messene was built. The complex of the Asklepieion was situated to the south of the Agora of the city. In the middle, the Temple of Asklepios (26.98×12.68 m with 6×12 columns) stood within the peristyled courtyard. It was built in Doric style with an altar in front of it. Inside it was Messene’s statue in gold and Parian marble and paintings of the ancient Messenian kings were placed in the rear porch. The temple was in use until the third century AD when the city was abandoned. Pausanias described the temple. “There is a holy shrine of Demeter at Messene and statues of the Dioscuri, carrying the daughters of Leucipuus. […] The most numerous statues and the most worth seeing are to be found in the sanctuary of Asclepius.”
On the east side of the Asklepieion, there was a monumental gateway, or a propylon, leading to the ekklesiasterion. An interesting feature of Messene architecture was the positions of these constructions. “Temple, altar and gateway were set on a single axis, leading the visitor’s eye directly to the temple façade.” The ekklesiasterion “featured a 21-m wide stage and an orchestra 9.7 m in diameter, and was possibly used for musical and theatrical performances as well as public meetings.” The ekklesiasterion, or assembly house, as well as the nearby building, the Bouleuterion, or the council hall, were both annexed to the Asklepieion. Because the constructions were adjacent to each other, this area became both the religious and political centre of Messene. In addition, more buildings stood nearby. For instance, there was a cult room of Artemis and the Sebasteion to the north of the Asklepieion, and some small rooms to the west that may have been public rooms and shrines.
The theatre was located on the northwest side of the Asklepieion. It was built of small blocks on a massive quadrangular foundation in the third century BC. Statues and inscriptions found on the site of the theatre became important sources of information on the inhabitants and the history of Messene. “A long inscription recently found in the theatre in carved on the marble base for a statue of Tiberius Claudius Saethidas. It provides valuable information on the family, its donations and building activity in Messene.” One noticeable characteristic of this theatre was its rather small-size; it was only about 60 feet in diameter. Also, surprisingly, it was not built on the slope of a mountain, but “[was] built of solid masonry from the level ground up.” As a rule, a theatre was considered an important construction for Greek cultural life and was generally built on the slope of a hill in order to create a more magnificent effect; for example, the theatres in Pergamon and Epidauros. By contrasting the modest Messene theatre to the grander typical Greek theatre, one can conclude that cultural demands were not as important as military concerns for the city.
To the south of the Asklepieion, there were the library, the stadium and the gymnasium. They stood together to serve the civic needs of Messenian citizens. The library was a large square room between the Asklepieion and combined stadium and gymnasium complex. The stadium was surrounded on three sides by a colonnade. The upper level of the semicircular end was double and comprised of three rows of columns. To the south side of the stadium was bounded by what seems to have been the city-wall, and at its lower end there are some ruins of a small Doric temple, consisting of a fore-temple and a narrower cella. There was a fine limestone Doric temple that was “possibly associated with one of the distinguished founder-families of Messene.”
Contrast to modern gymnasiums, Greek gymnasiums were not merely a place to do exercise, but for training and educating young men. In the Messene gymnasium, the young men only came from the indigenous five tribes, but also included those who moved from other places or were sent to Messene to study. While they stayed in the gymnasium, they carved their names and ethnic identities on limestone columns and many other places to distinguish themselves from others. The inscriptions revealed the change and fusion of ethnic groups in the city over time. By examining the inscriptions, P. Themelis concluded that the sixth tribe of “foreigners and Romans” formed in the Augustan period were gradually absorbed into the five old tribes at the end of the first century AD.
During its several hundred years of flourishing and existence, Messene experienced many important military and political events and was eventually abandoned at the end of the fourth century AD. In 213 BC Macedonian king, Philip V visited Messene. The next year his general Demetrius of pharos attacked Messene but encountered fierce resistance from the inhabitants; Demetrius was killed in battle. In 195 BC, Messene was captured by Nabis, the tyrant of Sparta. In 191 BC Messene was forced by the Romans to join the Achaean League and in 146 BC became part of the Roman Empire. After being sacked by the Goths in 395 AD, Messene was never inhabited again and the historical site was eventually abandoned.
The foundation of the city Messene in 369 AD was an important historical event in ancient Greece. The Helots, the majority of the population of the city, had suffered more than three hundred years under the Spartan rule; the establishment of Messene became an absolutely concrete symbol of their independence and freedom. Likewise, other ethnic groups from the anti-Spartan alliance participated in building the city, which indicated that they too were victors and provided them the identity of Messene citizens. The severe previous conflicts determined that the main feature of the city architecture focused on military defense. The fortification wall, the gates, and the towers all explicitly expressed this theme. Moreover, as the city became more stable, the temples, the theatre, the gymnasium and other constructions were gradually added which revealed the cultural, religious, and other aspects of Messene.

Primary sources
Pausanias. Description of Greece. Vol. 2 of Book IV- Messenia. Translated by W. H. S. Jones
and H. A. Ormerod. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966.

Secondary sources
Alcock, Susan E. Archaeologies of the Greek Past: Landscape, Monuments, and Memories. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Campbell, Gordon ed., The Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture. Vol. 1 & 2. New
York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Frazer J. G. Pausanias’s Description of Greece. Vol. 3 of Commentary on Books II-V. Translated
by J. G. Frazer. New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1965.
Grond, Maarten J. “Messene: City in the southern Peloponnese.” In Encyclopedia of Greece and the Hellenic Tradition, edited by Graham Speake, Vol. 2., 1036-1037. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000.
Hopkinson, Leslie White. Greek Leaders. New York: Libraries Press, 1969.
Luraghi, Nino. “Becoming Messenian.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 122 (2002): 45-69.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/3246204 (accessed April 20, 2010)
-------. “Helots Called Messenians?: A Note on Thucydides 1.101.2.” Classical
Quarterly 52, no. 2 (2002), 588-592. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3556424 (accessed April 20, 2010)
-------. “The imaginary conquest of the Helots.” In Helots and Their Masters in Laconia and Messenia: Histories, Ideologies, Structures. Edited by Nino Luraghi and Susan E. Alcock, 109-141. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.
Levi, Peter. Atlas of the Greek World. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1982.
Ober, Josiah. “Early artillery towers: Messenia, Boiotia, Attica, Megarid.” American Journal of
Archaeology 91, no. 4 (October 1987), 569-604. http://www.jstor.org/stable/505291
(accessed April 21, 2010)
Spawforth, Tony. The Complete Greek Temples. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2006.
Themelis, P. “Roman Messene. The Gymnasium.” The Greek East in the Roman Context
Proceedings of a Colloquium, ed. by Olli Salomies. Vol. 7. Helsinki: the Finnish
Institute at Athens, 2001.

An A on Messene paper

I sent out the take-home final essays of History 710 today a few hours ago. I was so luck that this afternoon I went school writing centre in which met a very nice tutor. She helped me to go over the two essays, totally eight pages. I didn’t expect a tutor to help me in organization and content, but merely for some grammatical errors that I could not have self-realization. She certainly did what I expected, and I am satisfied. Although there is another essay from another class, it is too short to request much concern or to get pressure. I’ll go back work until next Wednesday, and have a plenty of time to finish the two-page essay. Thus, it seems my summer holiday is coming.

I got an A on Messene paper. In the beginning of the semester, I told myself that I thought Professor Allen was a fair rather than easy professor. If he could get me an A, then I would believe I am really ok. However, when I positively got an A on a research paper from him, I still felt uncertain, asking myself an unsolvable question, “do I really deserve this grade? Or is it only because the professor pities me?” I spent too much effort on the Messene paper. Now there are merely a few useless sheets of paper left on my table. But I do not regret.

I am planning doing nothing tomorrow, but since now, I am bored. I profoundly understood that I could never stop perusing formal study; otherwise, I must turn to be the dullest housewife in the world. Pressure, busy, and suffering are all necessary factors to make the life could be felt meaningful.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Last week of Spring 2010

This week is the last week of the spring 2010 semester. Tomorrow and Thursday I’ll have the last classes of my two courses. In the History 710, Professor Allen will return the research papers to us. I really have no idea what grade I will get. I wish I can get an A-. I’ll hand in the Du Bois paper to Professor Scott on Thursday. I will not get this paper back and never know what the grade is.

I won’t go to work tomorrow because Ray asked me to work on Friday instead. He needs some more people to go to City Hall to protest. Right now, I don’t know what it is exactly for. Thus, I’ll have two days to ready William James’s book, The Varieties of Religious Experience. Also, I am not studying tonight. At least, I don’ think I have to. If something I can do tomorrow, I never want to do today. I am watching Chinese drama. It is very fun and I feel at least it is not as stupid as the majority of Chinese drama.