~ No Update Tuesday
Alas, I'm mired in the darkest circle of Hades known as report cards ... as such, I'm fiddling and proofreading and highly doubt whether I'll get the opportunity to get an update in on Tuesday. See y'all bright and early Wednesday!
::Monday, November 22, 2004 9:56:08 PM::
~ Playing with Google Scholar
I haven't mentioned Google Scholar in these pages yet, primarily because I figured the webworld was so deluged with mentions of it last week that mention on my part was unnecessary. But I've been running it through its paces to compile some very nice bibliographies which will eventually appear here (as soon as report cards are done I'll be adding yet another 'regular feature' ... stay tuned) and have also come across some very interesting items which I doubt would have shown up otherwise. E.g., random poling around in GS revealed the existence of the McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought (which physically exists just down the road) and one of the articles therein is a fable written by Thomas Paine which originally appeared in The Pennsylvania Magazine about a trip to the Underworld to visit Alexander the Great. Here's roughly half the story:
Having a mind to see in what manner Alexander lived in the Plutonian world, I crossed the Styx (without the help of Charon, for the dead only are his fare), and inquired of a melancholy looking shade, who was sitting on the banks of the river, if he could give me any account of him, Yonder he comes, replied the shade, get out of the way or you'll be run over. Turning myself round I saw a grand equipage rolling toward me, which filled the whole avenue.
Bless me! thought I, the gods still continue [begin page 139] this man in his insolence and pomp! The chariot was drawn by eight horses in golden harness, and the whole represented his triumphal return, after he had conquered the world. It passed me with a splendor I had never seen before, and shined so luminously up into the country, that I discovered innumerable shades sitting under the trees, which before were invisible:
As there were two persons in the chariot equally splendid, I could not distinguish which was Alexander, and on requiring that information of the shade, who still stood by, he replied, Alexander is not there. Did you not, continued I, tell me that Alexander was coming, and bid me get out of the way? Yes answered the shade, because he was the fore horse on the side next to us. Horse! I mean Alexander the Emperor. I mean the same, replied the shade, for whatever he was on the other side of the water is nothing now, he is a HORSE here; and not always that, for when he is apprehensive that a good licking is intended for him, he watches his opportunity to roll out of the stable in the shape of a piece of dung, or in any other disguise he can escape by. On this information I turned instantly away, not being able to bear the thought [begin page 140] of such astonishing degradation, notwithstanding the aversion I have to his character.
But curiosity got the better of my compassion, and having a mind to see what sort of a figure the conqueror of the world cut in the stable, I directed my flight thither; he was just returned with the rest of the horses from the .journey, and the groom was rubbing him down with a large furz bush, but turning himself round to get a still larger and more prickly one that was newly brought in, Alexander catched the opportunity, and instantly disappeared, on which I quitted the place, lest I should be suspected of stealing him.
When I had reached the banks of the river, and was preparing to take my flight over, I perceived that I had picked up a bug among the Plutonian gentry, and thinking it was needless to increase the breed on this side of the water, was going to dispatch it, when the little wretch screamed out, Spare Alexander the GREAT. On which I withdrew the violence I was offering to his person, and holding up the Emperor between my finger and thumb, he exhibited a most contemptible figure of the downfall of tyrant greatness.
Affected with a mixture of concern and compassion (Which he was always a stranger to) [begin page 141] I suffered him to nibble on a pimple that was newly risen on my hand, in order to refresh him; after which I placed him on a tree to hide him, but a tom-tit coming by chopped him up with as little ceremony as he put whole kingdoms to the sword. On which I took my flight, reflecting with pleasure - That I was not ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
::Monday, November 22, 2004 5:24:22 AM::
~ Peter Jones
Here's the incipit of Peter Jones' latest in the Spectator:
Government advisers are suggesting that religious education in schools should teach Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh beliefs. The purpose is to encourage ‘tolerance and respect’.
Greeks and Romans would have found this incomprehensible. In the absence of divine and therefore authoritative scriptures, monotheistic, jealous gods did not exist in the ancient world, let alone ‘churches’ with a ‘priesthood’, imposing creeds, beliefs and moralities. Religion was a form of cult, hallowed by tradition, centred on rituals carried out in the right way at the right time. At its heart was sacrifice (lit., ‘making sacred’) when something useful to humans was made over to the god. With luck, the god so honoured would then answer your prayers, the most common of which were to be safe, prosperous, fertile and healthy.
If you met new gods in new cultures, you assimilated them to your own gods, if you could, or added them to the pantheon. So in Britain, for example, we find an altar to Mars, Minerva, Hercules and the local horse-goddess Epona. As Minucius Felix (3rd century ad) comments, all nations have their own gods, but Rome welcomes the lot. This, he goes on, is why they are so successful: they win the favour of captured gods by sacrificing to them immediately. [more]
::Monday, November 22, 2004 5:01:57 AM::
~ Rhodes Scholars
An AP report from Newsday gives an interesting little tidbit into the life of one of the recipients of a Rhodes scholarship this year:
[...] Ian Desai was so curious about some maps in a book that he retraced the ancient voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, one of the most enduring Greek fables, along the south shore of the Black Sea.
Both University of Chicago graduates were among the 32 Americans selected Sunday as Rhodes Scholars for 2005. The scholars, chosen from 904 applicants, will enter Oxford University in England next October. The scholarships fund two or three years of study.
Desai, a native of New York City, said he chose the University of Chicago because of its classical studies program. He received a university prize for his collection of poetry, and is now living in Chicago, working on a nonprofit organization he helped create that is focused on promoting cross-cultural understanding.
During a study abroad program in Greece when he was 19, Desai decided to replicate the ancient voyage of Jason and the Argonauts _ and for six weeks, he walked, took buses, rode a motorcycle and struck a deal with a group of Turkish fishermen to do so.
"I was looking to retrace this journey and get a kind of current perspective on this ancient myth," he said.
That experience influenced how he intends to approach Oxford, where he plans to pursue degrees in both modern Greek studies and Oriental studies.
"I'd really like to look back on the past through a modern lens," he said. "What I'm trying to understand is how the past comes to influence current political and social realities."
::Monday, November 22, 2004 4:53:32 AM::
~ Slings, Not Arrows
I meant to mention this one yesterday, but was in a bit of a rush ... over at Laudator, MG has a very interesting collection of snippets (and a link) relating to the use of slings ...
::Monday, November 22, 2004 4:49:07 AM::
~ Argonauts Prevail
It's always nice to be able to get the old ClassCon/CanCon combination going (CanCon is Canadian Content, of course). Folks in the Great White North already know (for the most part), that the Toronto Argonauts -- who boast to being the oldest sports franchise in North America -- defeated the B.C. Lions in the 92nd edition of the Grey Cup (for Canadian football). The Argonauts take their name, semi-interestingly enough, from the fact that they were originally the Toronto Argonaut Rowing club, back in the days when rowing was the big interscholastic sport. When they decided to play football too, they kept the name.
::Monday, November 22, 2004 4:45:40 AM::
~ AWOTV: On TV Today
4.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Moments in Time: Letter from the Roman Front
DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)
dna, by the way, means "description not available" ... i.e. the originating station did not provide one.
::Monday, November 22, 2004 4:39:18 AM::