Friday, 25 November 2022

7x7 (10. 334)

 the winnowing oar: an itinerant floating city in the Pangeos Terayacht and other mega projects from Saudi Arabia—via Things Magazine  

mรถnitรถr nรธn: previously unheard audio from the first gigs of British rock band The Fall  

imperial isolate: gold coin in a museum cupboard proves existence of Sponsian, an emperor heretofore dismissed as fake—via Digg  

artificial gravity: spinning spacecraft don’t supply a wholly satisfactory solution to the effects of zero-g for human anatomy 

purple tomato: an anthocyanin-rich vegetable is a heuristic for exploring the distinction between genetic modification and selective-breeding—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

feed-back loop: schema for artificial neural networks from the 1940s up to the present—via Web Curios   

anyox: an abandoned copper mining operation in British Columbia is Canada’s largest ghost town

Friday, 11 November 2022

menas of egypt (10. 293)

Early third century wonder-worker and Coptic soldier in the Roman army martyred for refusing to recant his Christian faith, Menas (โฒ€โฒƒโฒƒโฒ โฒ˜โฒโฒ›โฒ—Amen), is commemorated on this day, corresponding to 15 Hathor on the Egyptian calendar. Garnering a posthumous reputation for intercession on any number on ailments, Abu Mina, the site where his body was buried (according to legend, the camels bearing his corpse stopped twice in this exact location and refused to move further) after being dismembered by fellow soldiers became a popular pilgrimage—following Constantine I (previously) sending his ill daughter, Flavia Valeria Constantina—later known as Saint Constance, destination with terracotta flasks with the saint’s iconography taken as souvenirs and found from Heidelberg to Cheshire and all points in between. Protector of the falsely accused, peddlers and travelling salespersons, Menas is the patron of the city of Heraklion, Koblenz and many Swiss villages in the north Alps.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

6x6 (10. 288)

elektrisk kjรธretรธy: a retrospective look at how A-ha inspired and informed Norway’s early adoption of electric vehicles—via Things Magazine  

taposiris magna: archaeologists discover a nearly mile long tunnel deep under a temple near Alexandria on the search for Cleopatra’s lost tomb—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

market cap: major online retailer first company to lose one trillion dollars in stock value—see also

stenography: more on shorthand (see previously) in ancient Greek and Roman texts  

nit-picking: oldest inscription bearing a full sentence found on a Canaanite comb 

terrain de stationnement: France to require all existing and new parking lots to be covered with solar panels

san casciano dei bagni (10. 287)

Heralded as a find as significant as the Riace Bronzes—discovered fifty years ago nearly to the day—a cache of statues depicting Greco-Roman gods have been uncovered in the muddy ruins of an ancient bathhouse in a hilltop village in Siena whose natural springs have been a draw for the Roman elite and modern tourists alike. A horde of coins also found during the excavation helped to date the figures to two millennia along with other inscribed, votive offerings (with some interesting ones in the likeness of vegetables) in Roman and Estrucan. Archaelogists believe that the pantheon of two dozen, including Apollo and Hygieia, the goddess of health and cleanliness, was submerged in the thermal waters that helped preserve them in an exquisite state as part of a ritual of thanksgiving. The spa was in operation from the third century BC to the fifth century AD when Christian conservatism forbade public bathing with the chambers sealed off by heavy pillars. After cleaning and restoration, the community plans to display the finds in situ.

cathedral of the pope (10. 286)

While outside of Vatican City proper, the archbasilica and other properties of the Holy See are accorded extraterritorial status within Italy pursuant to the Lateran Treaty of 1929, the Major Papal, Patriarchal and Roman Archbasilica Cathedral of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in Lateran, Mother and Head of All Churches in Rome and in the World (Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris ac Sanctorum Ioannis Baptistae et Ioannis Evangelistae ad Lateranum) is fรชted on this day on the anniversary of its dedication in a tradition dating back to at least the twelfth century. The oldest public Christian church in the Western world, St John in Lateran, Emperor Constantine I donated the edifice to Pope Sylvester I (previously a palace for the empress) in 324, and in addition to many works of art, papal tombs also house the Scala Sancta, the Holy Steps, relics that comprised the staircase of the praetorium of Pontius Pilate and sanctified with the footsteps of Jesus, retrieved by Constantine’s mother Helen. In a tradition going back to sixteenth century and the reign of Henry IV of France, Emmanuel Macron is ex officio the first and only canon of the archbasilica.

Monday, 31 October 2022

quintinus (10. 259)

Venerated with a feast on the calendar of saints on this day, marking his martyrdom by beheading whilst on his way to trial in Reims, the capital city of Gallia Belgica, for proselytizing Christianity in the late third century, Quentin of Amiens, was charged by the prefect Rictovarus (the province’s vicarious, a deputy, a vicar) whom under the reign of Diocletian (see previously) is cited as a the persecutor of thousands of the faith community—before converting himself and put to death, at least by tradition though that may be a pious fiction, and subjected to torture though refused to relent. Unceremoniously tossed in the Somme, his body was first miraculous discovered by a Roman woman visiting the region on pilgrimage—her sight restored—and then again in the seventh century by Saint Eligius who established a permanent shrine which became the basilica of Saint-Quentin. For no particular reason that I can fathom, Quentin is invoked against sneezes and coughs and dropsy (edema, water retention) and is the patron protector of chaplains, locksmiths (see above), porters, tailors and surgeons.

Saturday, 8 October 2022

santa reparata (10. 205)

Venerated on this day in celebration of her intercession that freed Florence from Ostrogoth dominance in 406, the third century maiden martyr from Caesarea Maritima is the co-patron of the Tuscan city (along with Zenobio, its first bishop) as well as sole patron of Nice. Arrested and tortured under the reign of Decius, Reparata was first saved by a miraculous rain shower from being burnt at the stake for refusing to apostatise and later decapitated with a dove’s appearance coinciding with her death to symbolise her soul ascendant, coming to be associated with Nice through the further elaboration that her body was put in a boat on borne on the breath of angles to Baie des Anges on the French Rivera. Similar traditions of posthumous relocation are associated with Torpes of Pisa—Saint-Tropez where his headless body arrived with a rooster and a dog in the boat—and Devota, patron of Monaco and Corisca with similar iconography and source of the flag, whose remains were ordered by Diocletian to be burnt to prevent veneration but was rescued from the flames and put on a boat bound for Africa but was diverted by a storm to the present day principality.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

kleiner freiheitsbrief (10. 142)

Drafted and issued in the milieu of the conflicts between the great houses of the Holy Roman Empire and struggle for overlordship, Frederick Barbarossa signed the title deed known as Privilegium Minus that elevated the frontier march of Austria to the status of a duchy, separate from Bavaria and an inheritable fiefdom, on this date in 1156.This denotation is perfect contrast to the Privilegium Maius (der GroรŸer Freiheitsbrief), a forgery drawn up at the behest of Hapsburg duke Rudolf IV, a beneficiary and ruling by grace of the former proclamation, two centuries later in 1359 which not only raised Austria’s status higher to an archduchy, it was not intended to replace Barbarossa’s deed but rather supplant it by sourcing some of the documentation to Julius Caesar for the Roman province of Noricum (roughly modern day Austria). The original was conveniently lost and many courtiers found the new document suspect—including Petrarch, who openly declared it a fake. Any grumblings were for nought, however, with the election of Frederick III to the imperial office in 1452, who had the prerogative to confirm the authenticity, making fiction fact, and conferring in perpetuity the rights contained therein.

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

reemployed annuitant (10. 111)

In a swaggering farewell speech—as his successor Ms Truss was directed by Her Majesty in Balmoral presumably in much the same way one asks a telemarketer to call back in five minutes (credit to columnist Marina Hyde)—Boris Johnson cemented his legacy, starting out with a tinge of bitterness over Brexit shambles, incurred in part due to his own proroguing of Parliament, and compared himself—not for the first time mind you, having recycled this line from when he left the office of the mayor of London to pursue a career as an MP and apparently cursory familiarity (see also) with the Roman statesman—to Cincinnatus, retiring to his “plough—and I will be offering this government nothing but the most fervent support.” While on the surface, it may suggest that Johnson would take his place on the backbenches—George Washington also evoked the figure of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus when he thought more than two-terms as US president unseemly, disbanded the revolutionary army and announced he was going back to his plantation—and the leader did in fact go back his farm, but to extend this analogy, Cincinnatus was recalled to suppress a rebellion and created dictator and given a small armed contingent. Handily accomplishing this feat, Cincinnatus is upheld as a paragon of virtue not for his statecraft so much but because he resigned and re-retired immediately afterwards and did not try to hold his power. We wonder if Johnson fancies he’ll be similarly deputised.

Saturday, 27 August 2022

monica of hippo (10. 089)

Protector and patron of difficult marriages, disappointing children and alcoholics, the mother of Augustine—plus Navigus and ‘Perpetua,’ all of modern-day Annaba, Algeria—is venerated in the Catholic tradition on this day as a paragon of virtue and endurance, responsible for the redemption of her son and informing the Confessions of this Doctor of the Church. A sickly child, Monica beseeched her husband, the verbally abusive and adulterous Roman consul Patricius, but Augustine’s recovery led to a quite dissolute lifestyle and having gone off to school in Carthage and returning a convert to Manichaeism, a religion that believed the third century Parthian prophet Mani was the final one following Zoroaster, the Buddha and Jesus, Monica kicked him out until a vision came to her, instructing her to reconcile their relationship. Following him to Rome, Monica eventually prevailed and convinced Augustine to convert (fรชted on the following day) to Christianity.

Friday, 26 August 2022

time in a bottle (10. 087)

A favourite topic here at PfRC being the subject of time and time-keeping and having previously covered topics of Roman hours, the French Revolutionary Decimal Calendar, Time Zones, Knocker-Uppers and Daylight Savings Time, we quite enjoyed this latest instalment of You’re Dead to Me—the comedy podcast that takes history seriously, that explores both the want to escape the tyranny of clock and how in its measurement of time, our horizons are broadened beyond the immediate to the eminent. Following one tradition that informs the generally agreed upon standard, it was the Roman conquest of Greek Sicily and bringing back the sundial of Syracuse as a war trophy and putting it on public display (despite being calibrated for Sicily-time) was the beginning of regimented time-keeping with the fabulist Titus Maccius Plautus lamented of this new installation in the forum during the Punic Wars, duplicated all over the empire, “May the gods damn the man who first discovered the hours—when I was a boy, my stomach was the only sundial, but now what there is isn’t eaten lest the sun say so.” Much more to explore at the links above.

Thursday, 18 August 2022

bona stabularia (10. 069)

Referred to by some historians as a “goodly stablemaid” and likely from humble roots in Bithynia (Anatolia)—though other counterclaimants, as with Charlemagne or any number of the artefacts she collected vying for authenticity, are out there including Augusta Treverorum, Mesopotamia, Palestine, the Pyrenees and Camulodnum (Colchester—a princess of the legendary Ole King Cole)—widowed wife and empress dowager of Constantius, relic-hunter and mother to Constantine I, Helen (Flavia Iulia Helena) is fรชted in the Roman Catholic Rite on this day as patron protector of the Holy Places and archaeologist, converts and divorcees. Helen was assigned this last benefaction as Constantius divorced her when Constantine was a teenager to take a wife of higher status, Theodora, and the two of them were exiled to the court of Diocletian in Dalmatia. After his father died in battle fighting against the Picts at Eboracum (York) and Constantine was proclaimed emperor, Helen returned to the imperial court and after her son’s consequential victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and subsequent conversion to Christianity was appointed Augusta Imperatrix with unfettered access to the treasury and given the special assignment of collecting objects of Christian veneration, including the True Cross—the place of discovery now hosting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Holy Tunic.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

7x7 (10. 025)

spectacular vernacular: 99% Invisible celebrates milestone episodes with an exploration of vintage architectural styles, via Pasa Bon!  

conlang: fluency in Esperanto—see previously  

122 CE: a colourful gate house installed at Hadrian’s Wall 

the electric lucifer: the musical stylings of Bruce Haack 

civic duty: a resonant “I Voted” sticker for Ulster County, New York

isochrone: an interactive map illustrates how far one can travel from any European train station in under five hours 

la maison sculptรฉe: Jacques Lucas’ hand-sculpted home in Rennes

Friday, 29 July 2022

arbeia (10. 024)

Though we did not get the chance to survey Hadrian’s Wall this go around, on our way back to the port of Newcastle on Tyne we got to see among other things such as successive traffic roundabouts the ancient Roman garrison which guarded the main sea route to the fortified border near the South Shields docks in Tyne & Wear, so named because originally skilled boatmen from Mesopotamia were stationed there following the conquest of Persia by Septimus Severus (see previously).

Command-and-control for attempted incursions on Scotland, Fort Arbeia ultimately became a logistics base to supply activities along the frontier and preventing Pictish infiltration and once hosted over six hundred troops. The western gate is a modern reconstruction (see also) and contains a museum of artefacts found here and an education centre.



Saturday, 9 July 2022

8x8

carina nebula: first five subjects for JWST announced  

a pharmacopeia with balneological appendix: a primer and point of departure for the mysterious pre-Renaissance volume, the Voynich Manuscript—see previously

putt-putt for the fun of it: a time-capsule of miniature golf courses 

trap daddy: spoof Russian history on Chinese Wikipedia introduces us to a catch-phrase for the deception hoax—see also, see previously  

jubilee: inflexibility applied to finance and debt contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire  

spatter platters: morbid 1960s teen tragedy songs

hushed-tones: a neural network makes a nature documentary about ants  

hudf: JWST takes deepest image of the Cosmos without even trying plus other space news briefs

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

santca zoe


Moved to speak again after being rendered mute for some six years after our friend Saint Sebastian made the sign of the cross over her whilst ministering to fellow imprisoned Christians, Zoe of Rome, wife of the imperial chancellor Nicostratus, under the reign of Diocletian, is feted on this day on the occasion of her martyrdom. Having her power of speech restored by witnessing said Sebastian imploring other inmates not to renounce their faith, Zoe and her retinue demanded instant conversion at the miracle, singing the praises of Jesus and Saint Peter. Fervently praying at the tomb of the latter, Zoe was arrested—along with her husband and other converts—and hung by her hair over a bonfire until stifled by the raising smoke, unceremoniously tossed in the Tiber.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

7x7

stare decisis: the phrase “to stand by things decided,” the doctrine of affording preference to precedent is post-Classical Legal Latin  

day at the beach: Ludwig Favre immerses himself at Brooklyn’s Coney Island—via Nag on the Lake 

kunst und keksdose: the art vintage German biscuit tins 

tubeway army: Are ‘Friends’ Electric? by Gary Numan climbs to the top of the charts on this day in 1979   

merrily, merrily, merrily: distinguishing dreams from waking  

full-stop: Gertrude Stein and others on punctuation  

hallux: Latin’s lack of distinction for fingers and toes—see also here and here

Sunday, 12 June 2022

you dare ask the proconsul of rome to kneel—i asked it of julius caesar. i demand it of you

Among the most successful sword-and-sandal epics filmed in Cinecittร  and lavished with well-deserved critical acclaim—though not a commercial success and nearly bankrupting the studio, the Joseph L. Mankiewicz adaptation of the 1957 historical novel The Life and Times of Cleopatra by Carlo Maria Franzero (with additional material from Plutarch and Shakespeare) featuring the acting talents of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and Roddy McDowall opened in US theatres on this day in 1963. After decisively suppressing rebellion in Greece and earning the title of dictator for life, Julius Caesar travels to Egypt as the executor of the late pharaoh’s estate, where Cleopatra successfully petitions Caesar to restore her to the throne and banish her younger brother the usurper. Both with imperial ambitions, they marry and have a child, Caesarion, publicly proclaimed as Caesar’s heir—disquieting for the Senate as the idea of returning Rome to a heredity monarchy is an anathema for democracy. Stemming from this fear, a conspiracy of senators assassinate Caesar, precipitating a revolt, put down by an alliance formed by Octavian (Caesar’s adopted son and to Cleopatra’s betrayal named in the will as opposed to their child), General Mark Antony and Marcus Ameilius Lepidus. Mark Antony, short on funds after the civil war, turns again to Egypt and forges his own personal allegiance with Cleopatra.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

apicius

We quite enjoyed revisiting the topic of a mysterious, most-favoured herb of Antiquity called silphium (previously)—considered a gift from Apollo and used as condiment, perfume, aphrodisiac, and seasoning and with medicinal uses ranging from anti-haemorrhoidal to contraceptive, imported into the Greek and Roman world from a narrow, microclimate in Syria that was resistant to transplantation. Over-harvesting and over-grazing coupled with climate change curried its abrupt disappearance from cupboards and medicine cabinets two millennia hence and serves as a warning best heeded about our own culinary staples and how familiar and enriching flavours and seasoning might meet the same fate. Much more at the links above.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

matthias the apostle

Formerly venerated on the sixth day before the Calends of March but with the calendar revisions of 1969, the commemoration of the Apostle Matthias, nominated by an assembly of disciples rather than chosen by Jesus himself to replace Judas Iscariot, was translated to this day as to take the celebration out of Lent and closer to the historical date (and as patron-protector against smallpox, coincides with the first inoculation administered by Edward Jenner in 1796 on eight-year-old James Phipps, the son of the family gardener). Though there are scant canonical details regarding his life, tradition places Matthias on the Caspian coast and evangelising to the people of the region that is modern day Georgia. Matthias’ patronage also includes tailors, carpenters, Billings Montana, Gary Indiana, Trier and alcoholics.