Mastermind Club
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Mastermind Club

Quiz 2020

No 33

Classical Byways


Set by Maya Davis


1.Julius Caesar always insisted on being portrayed wearing a laurel wreath in statues and other visual images. Why?

He was a bit sensitive about having started to go bald in his 20s

2.According to Herodotus, whom did Xerxes, the Persian King, refer to as ’the only realman’ among his commanders?

Artemisia of Caria, the female commander of a smalldetachment of warships

3.When Nero’s former cultural adviser Petronius killed himself, why did he smash a large vase?

He knew Nero wanted it

4.‘Its mane and tail resemble those of a horse.’ This is the end of an otherwise correct description by a Greek author of which African creature?

Hippopotamus – in Herodotus Histories Book 2 but probably copied from a work by an earlier author

5.If a Roman was sewn up in a sack with a dog, a cockerel and a viper, then thrown into the river Tiber, of what crime had he been convicted?

Parricide; the animals haddone nothing wrong but that never stopped a Roman being nasty to animals

6.Two Greek poets are associated with the island of Lesbos. One is Sappho. Who is the other?


7.What nickname is usually given by modern historians of Roman history to the year 69AD?

Year of the Four Emperors

8.Whom does Homer describe in the Iliad as ‘Tamer of Horses’?


9.Which type of Roman ghost was more dangerous – a larva or a lemur – and why?

Larva –it was believed to suck humans dry. A lemur was just an unhappy spirit which haunted a particular location

10.Which Athenian law-code was the first to distinguish between murder and manslaughter?

Draco’s – otherwise known for the severity of the punishments prescribed

11.If an archaeologist describes an artefact from Roman Britain as ‘from the Corinium school’ what sort of artefact is being discussed?

Mosaics – Corinium/Cirencester was famous for training mosaicists

12.What would an Athenian have done with a ‘crater’?

Mixed wine and water in it for a post-banquet drinking session

13.What colour paint – apart from white - was used for the monkeys depicted in the frescoes from Thera/Santorini and Knossos?


14.‘Trinacria’ was the alternative Roman name for which Mediterranean island?

Sicily – the name means ’three-cornered’

15.What were stau, sanpi and digamma/vau?

‘Lost’ letters of the Greek alphabet

6.Which Roman orator has a name allegedly derived from the Latin for ‘chick-pea’ because of a strong cleft in the chin?

Cicero – the Latin for chick-pea’ is ‘cicer’

17.In Aristophanes’ play The Birds, which species of bird is the King of the Birds?


18.The Hippocratic work On the Sacred Disease is an attempt to demystify which illness, originally believed to be a sign of divine possession?


19.What name did the Romans give to the volcanic area which includes modern Solfatara?

Phlegraean fields

20.Which group of fossils is named after a feature of the way Alexander the Great was represented on coins after his visit to an Egyptian oracle of Zeus?

Ammonites – coins show Alexander with rams’ horns, a symbol of the oracular god Zeus Ammon)

21.Lucian’s short story The True History describes how he was blown wildly off-course by a series of storms during a sea voyage. He found himself in an unknown land. Where did he discover that he was?

On the Moon

22.Pliny the Younger, in a letter to the Emperor Trajan, says of an investigation ‘I found nothing but a degenerate sort of cult taken to extremes.’ What had he been investigating?

Christianity in Nicomedia

23.The famous Carthaginian general Hannibal lost an eye during his invasion of Italy. How?

Infection after an insect bite

24.Who could be a Crow, Lion, Persian or Messenger of the Sun?

A follower of Mithras– usually, but not exclusively, a cult followed by members of the Roman army

25.Which Greek hero died after being hit on the head by a falling beam from the rotting remains of his ship?



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