A transformative trip

first_imgI’d never thought that a spring break jaunt could change a person. But sometime during the Classical Studies 112 class trip to Sicily, I became a true classicist.Maybe it was the hills and fields of Mount Etna, the rural landscapes Pindar wrote about in his epinician odes. Maybe it was our visit to Palermo, Marsala, Siracusa, Piazza Amerina, and the Egadi Islands. Whether all or one, the effect was transformative.A required course for classics concentrators at Harvard, “Regional Study of Sicily” is unlike any other class I have taken. Just as important as the all-expenses-paid trip was the chance to get to know my classmates and professors on a personal level, while getting physically and intellectually closer to the sites and monuments we have studied for years.Our first stop was Palermo, Sicily’s largest city, and the Norman Palace with its famous Palatine Chapel. While the overwhelming mosaics commanded our attention, one of our professors pointed out the polychrome marble floor: Its design elements, like the purple porphyry discs, he told us, were spolia — reused building stones stripped from a Roman structure dating even further back in the city’s history. The Capuchin catacombs were just as intriguing. Beginning in 1599, Palermo’s elite mummified their dead and displayed them inside the maze of the catacombs, where their relatives and friends could visit them.The interior of the Ear of Dionysius, a cave famous for its acoustic properties. Photo by Matthew DeShaw ’18On day three, we arrived in Segesta, a site famous for its unfinished Greek-style temple. Segesta was a settlement of Elymians, an indigenous group who served as intermediaries between the dominant powers in Sicily — the Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans— at any given time. The temple was apparently built to appeal to the Greeks, but left unfinished to appeal to the Carthaginians.From Segesta we traveled to Trapani, and from there to the Egadi Islands, the site of an instrumental naval battle between the Romans and Carthaginians. While the history is fascinating, some of us were more taken with the ruined castle on the hill overlooking the city. After an arduous, steep climb, the view from one of the towers rewarded us with the most remarkable vista in all of the islands.Our next stop was the capital of Sicily’s wine country, Marsala. While the wine was sweet, the island of Motya, a Carthaginian city destroyed in 397 B.C., was sweeter. Its ruins, some now below the tidewater, hinted at its former grandeur, and a few of us waded through the icy water to walk on the sunken causeway. At Selinunte, a ruined Greek seaport with five temples, we had the amazing experience of climbing the ruins of Temple C, traversing it like an obstacle course from one end to the other.The Greek Theatre in Siracusa (Syracuse), once the most powerful Greek city on the island of Sicily. Photo by Matthew DeShaw ’18A four-hour bus ride, with coastline giving way to fields and farms, took us into Sicily’s interior and the town of Piazza Armerina, known for its isolation and its more than 100 churches. At the Villa Romana del Casale, we saw its famous mosaics, like the Great Hunt, firsthand.Our last stop was the site of my class presentation, Siracusa (Syracuse). Founded in either 734 or 733 B.C., Syracuse was once the most powerful Greek city in Sicily. It was amazing to stand in the land I have studied for so long. We stayed on the island of Ortygia, the old city center. Looking out over the Great Harbor, I remembered that this was the site where the Syracusan navy trapped the Athenian fleet at the end of their disastrous Sicilian expedition.The morning after, I presented the famous sites of the Syracuse Archaeological Park to the class: the gardens; a former stone quarry; the Ear of Dionysius, a cave famous for its acoustic properties; the Greek and Roman amphitheaters; and the Altar of Hieron II, a massive Hellenistic altar with no parallels in the classical world.The trip was finally capped as we made our way to Catania Airport at 3:30 a.m., and saw lava and smoke spilling from Mount Etna, which had erupted earlier. It was a fitting end to a transformative trip, in which a Harvard class was changed from classics scholars to classicists.last_img read more

Judge orders polygamous sect to sell South Dakota compound

first_imgPRINGLE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota judge has ordered a secretive polygamous sect to sell it’s compound in the Black Hills to pay for a lawsuit settlement. Court documents show that a South Dakota sheriff has been ordered to sell the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ property near Pringle in Custer County. The sect still owes nearly $1.7 million to three men as part of a 2017 settlement in federal court. Sheriff Marty Mechaley says the 140-acre property will be sold during an auction on Feb. 25 at the Custer County Courthouse. The compound sits along a gravel road and is shielded from view by tall pine trees, a privacy fence and a guard tower.last_img

Late Mata strike gives Blues top four advantage

first_imgJuan Mata fired Chelsea to a dramatic late victory against Manchester United as the Blues took another step towards a place in next season’s Champions League.The Spaniard was Chelsea’s best player throughout a dire game at Old Trafford and finished a sweeping counterattack in the 87th minute as he drilled low into the bottom corner.United full-back Rafael was then sent off one minute from time for kicking out at Chelsea defender David Luiz in an extraordinary end to a game that lacked any spark and looked unlikely to produce a goal.The result sees the Blues move up to third in the Premier League table ahead of Wednesday’s crunch clash with London rivals Tottenham, while they are now one point ahead of fourth-placed Arsenal.The importance of the victory was evident in the triumphant celebrations in front of the away end at full-time and Chelsea are now well-placed to secure a top four finish this season.Sir Alex Ferguson made five changes to the side that drew with Arsenal, with David De Gea, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney among the players who dropped to the substitutes’ bench. Chelsea themselves made four changes to the side that reached the Europa League final on Thursday as Ashley Cole, Juan Mata, Oscar and Demba Ba returned to the starting line-up.Ferguson and his Chelsea counterpart Rafa Benitez have never seen eye-to-eye and did little to play down their feud ahead of the fixture with thinly veiled barbs directed at each other in their pre-match press conferences.But the two men shook hands before kick-off, a gesture that seemed to be interpreted by the players as a signal to drop arms during a lacklustre first half that felt more like a testimonial than an end-of-season clash between two of the biggest clubs in the country.United lacked any vibrancy in their attacking play while Chelsea were happy to keep men behind the ball, sit deep and play on the counter-attack.It was a tactic that nearly paid off in the 14th minute when Oscar broke down the right side, cut in to the United penalty area and toe-poked a right-footed shot that Anders Lindegaard managed to tip on to the near post before gratefully collecting the rebound. At the other end, Robin van Persie could only head straight at Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and the Premier League’s top scorer then shot just wide as he latched on to a pass from Ryan Giggs three minutes before the break.There was no improvement after the restart as the teams continued to cancel each other out.Then, out of nowhere, Chelsea found the winner. Ramires broke down the middle and fed Oscar, who played a first-time pass for Mata and the Spaniard fired a sweet low drive across goal into the bottom corner via the post.The goal completely changed the atmosphere at Old Trafford and moments later Rafael was sent off after hacking down Luiz by the corner flag.last_img read more