Agreeable eye.

an eudæmonistarchives

More specifically concerning: history

1.05.01

Tuesday. A heavy day, with mind weighted, wandering through the hours without leisure and without interest. Reading, too, for my essay, attending lecture, and a seminar (on the 18th century: curious how I had never viewed the 1700s as being ‘wedged’ between the monoliths of early modern and late modern history, but have always thought […]

12.06.01

More and still more work in the library, reading about god and trying to comprehend Epidauros, which just leaves me muddled. I find it frightfully confusing that there were at least four different (?) artists called Polykleitos working in the Greek world during the late fifth and early fourth centuries BC; it just shouldn’t be […]

5 July

Acrocorinth. One sees the world open out to the horizon, from the span of Attica to the slopes of Parnassus, across the tenuous isthmus, the Peloponnese now broken to an island by the works of man. On the isle of Pelops, taciturn rocks lie uneven as a rumpled blanket, jagged as a broken shield. From […]

16 July

It’s deeply complex: it’s not what you see. There’s a tension between what you are and what you know. One must read behind the phenomena, the surfaces; one could take hours, days, months to comprehend one column capital, working over the surfaces with a magnifying glass in search of scratches. This is scientific. Then there’s […]

1 August

Piling pebbles upon the beach, the water laps against the sky, the low sound measuring time’s loss, the imponderable construction of a memory. Set one foot, then, in front of the other, and take no moment to look back, but continue — onward.

14.10.01

History — surrounded, immersed, drowning, etc., with regards to it. Be wary of being ahistorical. Yet history has of late become mere voyeurism, people sitting in their homes before some flickering screen, or engaged in a voluntary deafness to all but the radio. Even the sound of newsprint has learnt hysteria — and this is […]

29.11.01 – Thursday

The library. Dusty concrete steps to metal stacks and weak green-blue light. Reciprocity — sincerity — altruism. Walking. Cafés. Leading. Following. Chasing. Darkness. How the history crowds around one, pressing in on all sides, heading towards some incontrovertible truth.

30.01.02 – Wednesday

Just so you know, this post has been edited. Vergil is a hack.1 Homer (being collective) had it right; I don’t care if Iuno foments mishap for that man so blatantly remarkable for pietas (face it, Aeneas is a square — that’s what having a destiny does to people). I’d rather spend time with some […]

28.04.02 – Sunday

History is not a discipline but something that is not yours — which is the main definition of beauty. Hence, the sentiment, for it is not going to love you back. – Joseph Brodsky (‘Homage to Marcus Aurelius’) How tiresome it must be, to reduce the essential story of the world to nothing by a […]

Pacem supplices petunt

Explorers of the past are never quite free. The past is their tyrant. It forbids them to know anything which it has not itself, consciously or otherwise, yielded to them. – Marc Bloch (Apologie pour l’Histoire, ou Métier d’Historien, (194–) From the translation of P. Putnam, p. 59. * Livy II.49.12, of the Veientes in […]

Citation (3)

from The Book of the Knight of La Tour-Landry

Compendium academicorum

Within this field, which no single scholar can create but which each scholar receives and in which he then finds a place for himself, the individual researcher makes his contribution. Such contributions, even for the exceptional genius, are strategies of redisposing material within the field. Even the scholar who unearths a once-lost manuscript produces the […]

Annales

In the year were children born, were wars waged, and markets opened. In the year were ships sunk, were markets falling, were deserts crossed, was oil spilt more freely than wine. In the year were plagues driven through towns and cities, were roads built, were bridges burnt; in that year, too, were pestilences common and […]

Sed Vitae Caesaris

Coin depicting the Emperor Augustus1 from A Visual Compendium of Roman Emperors. At last reading Ronald Syme’s famous book, The Roman Revolution (Oxford, 1939), a history of the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the principate. It begins slowly, with a grim overview of the career of C. Julius Caesar Octavianus (later […]

Balance of Power

From The Roman Revolution (1939): The official version of the cause of the War of Actium is quite simple, consistent and suspect—a just war, fought in defence of freedom and peace against a foreign enemy: a degenerate Roman was striving to subvert the liberties of the Roman People, to subjugate Italy and the West under […]

Historicity

History should have a sense of proportion—a human touch, if you please. From a biography of Petrarch (2003.8, p. 51): In Verona, and well before the middle of June, he made his greatest find. He discovered in the library of the cathedral a volume containing the sixteen Books of Cicero’s collection of his letters to […]

Writ in water

Goethe, ‘Am Flusse’ – Ihr wart ins Wasser eingeschrieben; So fließt denn auch mit ihm davon. You were engraved upon the water; and flow, too, with the water away. Keats’s epitaph, in the Protestant cemetery, at Rome:1 Here lies one whose name was writ in water. Keats died 23 February 1821. Goethe’s son, Julius, who […]

Introductory

As the orchestra is warming up and the actors are completing their pre-show gargling, there is doubtless time for an introduction. Just as every story needs a preface, a truly erudite narrative simply cannot do without an introduction. The introduction gives some pompous literary windbag the chance to rattle on at length about aspects of […]

The Historicity of Peasants

Have been reading Michael Rostovtzeff’s A Large Estate in Egypt in the Third Century B.C. A Study in Economic History (Madison, WI: 1922), a short book in which the notorious Russian historian gives the Zenon archive his attention. Of course, in 1922 the Zenon archive, with early Ptolemaic documents numbering in the thousands, was bigger […]

moriae redux

raptores orbis, postquam cuncta vastantibus defuere terrae, mare scrutantur: si locuples hostis est, avari, si pauper, ambitiosi, quos non Oriens, non Occidens satiaverit: soli omnium opes atque inopiam pari adfectu concupiscunt. auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. Ravagers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, […]

der Brand

Something I’ve been thinking about lately, in pictures:1 Frauenkirche, Dresden, early 1945. Frauenkirche, Dresden, February 1945. Frauenkirche, Dresden, 12 September 2002 Amusingly, from the Library of Congress rather than the Sächsische Landesbibliothek. [↩]

Loot

Such dim-conceived glories of the brain Bring round the heart an undescribable feud; So do these wonders a most dizzy pain, That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude Wasting of old Time—with a billowy main— A sun—a shadow of a magnitude. – John Keats (‘On Seeing the Elgin Marbles’) Allow me to sound heartless for […]

The Diseases and Casualties this Week

London 39 · From the 12 of September to the 19 · 1665 Abortive23 Aged57 Bedridden1 Bleeding1 Cancer1 Childbed39 Chrisomes20 Collick1 Consumption129 Convulsion71 Dropsie31 Drowned 3. one at Stepney, one at St. Katharine near the Tower, and one at St. Margaret Westminster(3) Feaver332 Flox and Small-pox8 Found dead in the street at St. Olave Southwark1 […]

Shortcuts

In a papyrologist’s dream world, every office would have a recent monograph devoted to it; so would every institution, every tax, every contract type, and so on. Many of these monographs, it must be admitted, are not very interesting to read, and most of them are undoubtedly cited far more often than they are read. […]

formicae

From a review (via A&L Daily) of a biography of Hans-Georg Gadamer (of whom I am as ignorant as a newborn): Was Gadamer really like Socrates? Or did he lack the courage that made the Greek drink poison rather than submit to the mob? Uh, Mr. Reviewer, sir? Socrates drinking the poison? Uh, that was […]

Citation (12)

historical realities…

‘could it be J— H— herself?’

Jane Ellen Harrison, 1850–1928 Independent lecturer in London, later a fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, Jane Harrison was author of (among other things): Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Relgion (1903) and Themis: a Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion (1912). She is also one of the few women mentioned in the who’s […]

pseudaphoristica (6)

canine.

practical wisdom

Dickinson is not known to have met with the new and exciting novels by American women that dominated the market in the 1850s, many of them patterned after The Wide, Wide World by Susan Warner: perhaps they were secured out by Amherst’s tastemakers. Whatever the explanation, most of the women’s books that crossed Dickinson’s path […]

twigs

Prisoners in Bangladesh pleading for their lives in a news photograph from the London Daily Express, 20.xii.1971.

the emphasis was helped

Menas: These three world-sharers, these competitors, Are in thy vessel: let me cut the cable; And, when we are put off, fall to their throats: All there is thine. Pompey: Ah, this thou shouldst have done, And not have spoke on’t! In me ’tis villany; In thee’t had been good service. Thou must know, ’Tis […]

fructus

…eritis sicut diis scientes bonum et malum… malum punicum vel punica fides?

grave & weatherworn

Scaliger was far from untouched by the religious troubles of his day, but the way they bedevilled the scholarship of the sixteenth century is more starkly illustrated in the case of his friend and younger contemporary Casaubon. Born in Geneva of refugee Protestant parents, obliged to learn his Greek hiding in a cave in the […]

prosopopœia (1)

… or, an introduction to the history of classical scholarship1 The imminent schollrs of the 6/10 century — including the fatuous Scaliwag who eateded Easelbus, and the imperspicuous Käseböh who collected Athenians and fatted xviii chiliads — are now seldom dead but by kabbalists.The text is believed to be corrupt, the manuscript tradition poor, and […]

Citation (14)

the character of a historian.

inquiry (7)

‘La Casa Monte’, ca. 1914 Faubion House, ca. 2003

axunesias

Μὴ οὖν προδόται γένησθε ὑμῶν αὐτῶν, γενόμενοι δ’ ὅτι ἐγγύτατα τῇ γνώμῃ τοῦ πάσχειν καὶ ὡς πρὸ παντὸς ἂν ἐτιμήσασθε αὐτοὺς χειρώσασθαι, νῦν ἀνταπόδοτε μὴ μαλακισθέντες πρὸς τὸ παρὸν αὐτίκα μηδὲ τοῦ ἐπικρεμασθέντος ποτὲ δεινοῦ ἀμνημονοῦντες. κολάσατε δὲ ἀξίως τούτους τε καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ξυμμάχοις παράδειγμα σαφὲς καταστήσατε, ὃς ἂν ἀφιστῆται, θανάτῳ ζημιωσόμενον. τόδε γὰρ […]

when in Rome

διόπερ οἱ μὲν ἄνδρες τὰ τείχη προκατελάμβανον καὶ τοὺς πρὸ τῆς πόλεως εὐκαίρους τόπους, αἱ δὲ γυναῖκες περιπορευόμεναι τοὺς ναοὺς ἱκέτευον τοὺς θεούς, πλύνουσαι ταῖς κόμαις τὰ τῶν ἱερῶν ἐδάφη· τοῦτο γὰρ αὐταῖς ἔθος ἐστὶ ποιεῖν, ὅταν τις ὁλοσχερὴς τὴν πατρίδα καταλαμβάνῃ κίνδυνος. – Polybius (9.6.3–4) ploratus mulierum non ex priuatis solum domibus exaudiebatur, sed […]

splitted in the midst

Currently (and actively) reading (in no particular order): François Rabelais. Gargantua and Pantagruel. trans. J. M. Cohen. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1955.1 J. Innes Miller. The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire, 29 BC to AD 641. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969.2 Michel Foucault. The Archeology of Knowledge. trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. London: Routledge, 1989 (1969).3 Goethe. Die […]

curatores cloacarum

History of Sanitary Sewers: quite. WaterHistory.org: ‘Our objective is to explore prehistoric and historic water projects worldwide … without taking ourselves too seriously. We are particularly interested in the effect that water has on the quality of life.’ From Creek to Sewer: Sewerage and Drainage in Philadelphia. Let me remind you once again of our […]

invidia

the mind diseased

Modern Greece, in history and literature, has been viewed as a transitory moment squeezed between two larger and more important entities. Viewed chronologically, modern Greece rests between the glory of the classical Greek past and the hope of a resurrected Greek future, which in many Western minds ought to resemble the democracies of Western Europe […]

skholê

καὶ μικρὸν μὲν ἀνεκάθισεν, ἀνθρώπων τοσούτων ἐπερχομένων, καὶ διέβλεψεν εἰς τὸν ᾿Αλέξανδρον. ὡς δ’ ἐκεῖνος ἀσπασάμενος καὶ προσειπὼν αὐτὸν ἠρώτησεν, εἴ τινος τυγχάνει δεόμενος, ‘μικρὸν’ εἶπεν· ‘ἀπὸ τοῦ ἡλίου μετάστηθι’. – Plutarch Alexander 14.41 τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἀνθρώπους ὄντας παραλόγως περιπεσεῖν τινι τῶν δεινῶν οὐ τῶν παθόντων, τῆς τύχης δὲ καὶ τῶν πραξάντων ἐστὶν ἔγκλημα, […]

notes on reading: social

19th century London & medieval Iceland

soporific

springtime and Cyprus

enemy action

Cataloguing one’s home library has its good points. Entering in ISBNs and publication information is a wonderful way to devour time. One also gets a chance really to look at one’s books; one so seldom has the opportunity. One buys the book, sometimes one even reads it,1 and then it goes on the shelf, jumbled […]

ostraka

The memory of cranes flying in rain-heavy sky, lit in low-slanting sunlight; tall grasses and the bounce and hum of a bus; gold-leaved crowns, and painted walls, dank scent of earth, and the brightness of the cranes, flying. Don’t know what direction they flew, nor what direction I went, but away from the past and […]

pseudaphoristica (15)

contraindications.

Citation (31)

ἀρχαιολογία δέ τίς ἐστι περὶ τοῦ ἔθνους τοῦδε τοιαύτη· Ἄρμενος ἐξ Ἀρμενίου πόλεως Θετταλικῆς, ἣ κεῖται μεταξὺ Φερῶν καὶ Λαρίσης ἐπὶ τῇ Βοίβῃ, καθάπερ εἴρηται, συνεστράτευσεν Ἰάσονι εἰς τὴν Ἀρμενίαν· τούτου φασὶν ἐπώνυμον τὴν Ἀρμενίαν οἱ περὶ Κυρσίλον τὸν Φαρσάλιον καὶ Μήδιον τὸν Λαρισαῖον, ἄνδρες συνεστρατευκότες Ἀλεξάνδρῳ· τῶν δὲ μετὰ τοῦ Ἀρμένου τοὺς μὲν τὴν […]

Citation (39)

Genocide, after all is an exercise in community building. A vigorous totalitarian order requires that the people be invested in the leaders’ scheme, and while genocide may be the most perverse and ambitious means to this end, it is also the most comprehensive. In 1994, Rwanda was regarded in much of the rest of the […]

Setting the East Ablaze

The main problem – and the reason why The Great Game is a superior book – is that the material does not seem fully digested. The tone changes from chapter to chapter depending on whose memoirs Hopkirk draws on…

Azerbaijan Diary

Thomas Goltz. Azerbaijan Diary. London: M.E. Sharpe, 1999. You cannot persuade a party of frenzied nationalists that two blacks do not make a white; consequently, no day went by without a catalogue of complaints from both sides, Armenians and Tartars, of unprovoked attacks, murders, village burnings and the like… – C.E. Bechhofer (1920) (qtd. in […]

hope against hope (2)

on Mirrlees and extravagant biographies; briefly.

open rejection

Your novel has been read by several of us, and we are very sorry that we have had to conclude that we cannot make an offer of publication. It is quite readable and has vitality, but, in general, it is our impression that you have not yet sufficiently mastered the technique which is necessary to […]

The Book: The Life Story of a Technology

Nicole Howard. The Book: The Life Story of a Technology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2009 (2005). This is a solid introductory text about book history, primarily from a technological standpoint, including some information on supporting technologies such as paper. It divides book history into six periods, centering on the development of print. The chapters are […]

A view (43)

Goris, Armenia, 2010 Going through my hard drive and tidying up all my old photos – discarding the blurred and the irretrievably badly exposed – brought up quite a few memories.

against the grain

One doesn’t quite know what to expect from In the American Grain – not if one comes to it expecting anything at all, because it upsets those expectations from the first page. I was expecting something about Emily Dickinson, because the only reason I picked up the book was because it was mentioned in Susan […]

Citation (61)

When we contemplate this display of passions and the consequences of their violence, the unreason which is associated not only with them, but even – rather we might say specially – with good designs and righteous aims; when we see arising therefrom the evil, the vice, the ruin that has befallen the most flourishing kingdoms […]

ego hoc feci mm–MMXIX · cc 2000–2019 M.F.C.