Monthly Archives: September 2013

Who was Titus Flavius Pantainos?

There is no statue or relief of Titus Flavius Pantainos known to exist, so this is a photo of his library. The curvy area is all that is left of the original floor of the atrium where people would read.

There is no statue or relief of Titus Flavius Pantainos known to exist, so this is a photo of his library’s ruins. The curvy area at the right is all that is left of the original floor of the atrium where people would read.

The Library of Pantainos was built by Titus Flavius Pantainos. It really was a library complex, which included the library proper as well as the two attached stoas running along the front and side of the building. These stoas contained small shops and a cult room dedicated to Trajan, who was emperor at the time Pantainos built the library.

There is no known reference to this library in any of the surviving Greek texts. The strangely-shaped building is known to be a library because of two things. One, the library’s rules were found in situ. Two, the lintel with the library’s dedication was found in the Herulian Wall, built from the spoila from the agora and the library itself. The Herulian Wall rests on part of the library, the portico facing the agora.

It is from the inscription on the door lintel that we know what we know about Pantainos. The building, the porticos and the books were given to the city of Athens in the name of the emperor Trajan and Athena; the gift was from Titus Flavius Pantainos, his son, Flavius Menandros (named after his grandfather) and his daughter, Flavia Secundille.

Research has identified a Pantainos of Gargettos as having served as eponymous archon after 102, which was around the time the library was built. Since “Pantainos” is an uncommon name, it has been assumed that this archon was the same person who built the library. Therefore, he was either a citizen or made a citizen of the city, perhaps for his donation of the library. He and his family probably also had Roman citizenship, and they were wealthy. Only wealthy men could serve in the eponymous archon position. Also, Pantainos was a philosopher like his father, Flavius Menandros. However, it is not known if Pantainos headed a philosophical school, or was an amateur philosopher.

According to Arthur W. Parsons, “Pantainos” appears only twice in Attic prosopography. The first Pantainos is of interest. He was the father of Thucydides of Gargettos, who was an adversary of Perikles. He is probably an ancestor of the library’s donors.

Seventy-five years later in Alexandria, a Pantainos again appears. He is mentioned by Eusebius and Clement; they talk of him and his great influence. He had been a Stoic but by the time of Commodus, he was heading the Catechetical School there. Philip says that he was an Athenian, but neither Eusebius nor Clement mention where he is from; Parsons tentatively assumes Philip’s statement as true and therefore concludes that this Pantainos, who headed the first Christian school in Alexandria, was the grandson of the Pantainos who gifted Athens with a library.

Parsons, Arthur W. “A Family of Philosophers at Athens and Alexandria.” Hesperia Supplements, v. 8: Commemorative Studies in Honor of Theodore Leslie Shear (1949), p. 268-272, 462.


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Art or Not?–You Decide

Thomas Jefferson on one of the sides of the piece of art

Thomas Jefferson on one of the sides of the piece of art

This piece of art is in honor of Thomas Jefferson and stands near the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont.

Each arm holds something different. In one, a church; in the other, scales representing the state. Although I didn’t see it, my friend told me that the arms move.

Well, what do you think?

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Manchester, Vermont

I spent last weekend up in Manchester, Vermont. I had never been to Vermont before, and I went with a friend . It took us 2 ½ hours from New Milford, Connecticut (it took me an hour to drive from Sleepy Hollow to there), and she drove. We took country roads and passed through many small towns that were very quaint. From the road, we could see lots of farms and animals.

The leaves have already started to change up there. Sunday was the first official day of Fall, although it has been feeling like Fall for weeks now. The foliage is not at its colorful peak yet, but many of the hills were starting to look gorgeous.

We stayed in the Swiss Inn, a small, family-owned hotel. We ate at The Perfect Wife, which shares the same building with the tavern above, The Other Woman. (They’re owned by the same people.) We had gone to the restaurant but it was wait until a table had opened up; who knew you needed reservations? So we went to the tavern but discovered that the sirloin tips, available on the menu in the restaurant, was not available in the tavern. (They have different menus.) So we went back down and waited probably for 20 minutes.

The food was spectacular! I had the sautéed Misty Knoll Farm Chicken Breast, and my friend had her tips. We were very happy with our dishes, and the spring roll appetizers were good. By the time we left, the place was nearly empty. So we headed back to the Swiss Inn.

My friend didn’t have a good sleep. She had forgotten the cord for the machine that helps her to breathe when she sleeps. Also, the room was stuffy even though it was cold outside. Then it poured down rain and she got wet. We had switched beds because she wanted to be near the window, which she opened and then had to close in the middle of the night. For some reason the bathroom was cold, and we left the door to it open but it didn’t help the stuffiness.

I got up early and got ready for the free breakfast, which was delicious. I chatted with my waitress. She made sure that I had authentic Vermont food for my big breakfast. She was originally from Norwalk, Connecticut.

My friend opted to stay in bed and try and get some sleep. She chose to eat later–and regretted it.

There’s a great bookstore in Manchester, the Northshire Bookstore. It is a multi-level store that is fun to explore. Their very top floor houses the children’s section as well as the events area where they have speaker and author signings. We stopped there Saturday night, but we went back on Sunday to buy some things. They have a great café that can be entered from the street. The tables are up a short staircase in the bookstore, and that area is big!

We went to Robert Lincoln’s house, but just drove up the road to take a picture. We passed through Bennington, Vermont, on the way home. We were exhausted. I didn’t get back to Sleepy Hollow until 9:30 or so.


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Sarcophagus of Tiberius Julius Aquila Celsus Polemaeanus


This is a photograph of a photograph in a book that I just got through inter-library loan, Ancient libraries in Anatolia : libraries of Hattusha, Pergamon, Ephesus, Nysa (Ankara: ODTÜ, 2003).

This is Celsus’ sarcophagus. His remains are still in there, under his library, all these centuries after he died.

Too bad there is no public access. I’d have loved to pay my respects.

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Mount Vernon Inn, and Home

The inn's sign

The inn’s sign

Before leaving Mount Vernon, Mary and I headed over to the Mount Vernon Inn for dinner, which was still open.

They weren’t too busy. It was another place with atmosphere. Like Gadsby’s Tavern, the wait staff were dressed in colonial costume. The gift store for Mount Vernon is located in the building, but it had closed at 6.

Tomorrow I take Megabus back to New York. I said my good-byes to Mary, as I will be leaving early tomorrow and won’t see her.

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George Washington’s Presidential Library

The entry sign across the street from the Mount Vernon complex

The entry sign across the street from the Mount Vernon complex

Mary and I arrived a bit early, and after parking in the lot on the opposite side of Mount Vernon, we moved to the parking lot right next to the library. The library sits back from the road among trees. The landscaping is not finished as yet, and there are still some things missing in the library itself, like the signature of George Washington which will hang in the entry lobby.

Washington's library surrounded by barren ground

Washington’s library surrounded by barren ground

I knew Mark Santangelo from the Onassis Library at the Met. He had assisted me in my research before I went on sabbatical. I was surprised that Mark had left and took the job at Mount Vernon, but this was helping to finish a new library for George Washington–the only president who didn’t have a presidential library. It was Mark’s wife’s birthday, so all his in-laws were there. He gave them a tour and invited Mary and me along.

This is the main reading room from the outside. The walls have busts of Franklin, Hamilton, Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison mounted

This is the main reading room from the outside. The walls have mounted busts of Franklin, Hamilton, Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison

There is no photography in the library. I might have been able to get away with some pictures, but I decided not to try. Special collections houses the books that were owned by George Washington. There’s a vault for the papers of Washington, which are slowly being transferred from the University of Virginia. In the 1960s, the Ladies of Mount Vernon worked closely with UV to gather and publish Washington’s papers, which are now being digitized.

Mary and me at the reception with the library in the background

Mary and me at the reception with the library in the background

The reception was nice, but it was held outdoors in the high humidity. As a result, the cheese had started to melt. This, however, didn’t stop people from eating. A nice couple talked to Mary and me and offered to take our picture. I also took one of them and promised to send them the photo.

What a wonderful place. Finally, Washington has the library that he always wanted, even if it is 214 years after his death. (Better late than never.)

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Gadsby’s Tavern, a Place to Eat with a Past

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Gadsby’s Tavern is in Alexandria, a place that has a long past. It was here that George Washington and other colonials ate with friends and family. There are two parts of the tavern, the original, small building built in 1785 and the later, grander building that is joined to the old building and opened in 1792. The small building is where the museum is housed; the new building is still a place to eat lunch and dinner. The tavern was also an inn when originally built; it’s now only a place to eat.

Gadsby's Tavern, the small left is the original tavern (and now a museum) and the right building still used as a restaurant

Gadsby’s Tavern, the small left building is the original tavern (and now a museum) and the big right building is still used as a restaurant

Mary had the peanut soup and a salad; I had the braised Hessian beef. It was good. I wanted something different, something that was eaten in the colonies that I wouldn’t normally have for lunch.

We had a very nice time. I’d love to go back to Gadsby’s. New York has a few places down in the old part of Manhattan, down towards the point, where Washington and other colonials once ate. Unfortunately, I never get down to that part of the city. I’m in Midtown.

Perhaps one weekend I’ll make a trip down and look for Manhattan’s colonial past.

The sign on the sidewalk

The sidewalk sign

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