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  • In Search of Aristotle’s ‘On Comedy’ August 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    In Search of Aristotle's 'On Comedy'

                In 1928 that old grumpystiltskins K.K. Smith wrote that ‘Like many another Lost Atlantis the chapter on comedy which Aristotle may have written to conclude his analysis of Poetics has lured many a searcher into waters beyond his depths.’ And, mindful of the warning, Beachcombing straps on his Little […]

    Centaurs in Deepest Arabia August 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Centaurs in Deepest Arabia

                      Phlegon of Tralles is not a Greek author of the first rank. Indeed, he rarely comes up in conversation among students of the ancient except for a reported remark concerning the death of Christ. But this small-time second-century writer, who was born in south-west Turkey and who lived […]

    Roman legionaries in Central Asia? August 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Roman legionaries in Central Asia?

                        Beachcombing has written before about Roman penetration into central Asia and even possible direct contacts between Rome and the Chinese Imperial court. Tonight he wants, instead, to look at a claim that Romans – it is argued legionaries – visited western Uzbekistan close to Afghanistan […]

    Review: Off the Beaten Track in the Classics August 14, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Review: Off the Beaten Track in the Classics

    Beachcombing has to go and prepare a birthday surprise for a beloved niece and so decided that, today, he would limit himself to a quick write up of one of his favourite ancient history books: Carl Kaeppel’s Off the Beaten Track in the Classics (Melbourne 1936). If the name does not excite you then the […]

    The Mystery of Hanno’s Fiery Streams August 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Mystery of Hanno's Fiery Streams

    Regular readers will know that Beachcombing has visited the Voyage of Hanno before and that this text, written in Hellenistic Greek, purports to describe a Carthaginian expedition down the western coast of Africa in the early centuries B.C., in an age when good Mediterranean folk had as little to do with the sub-Saharan side of the continent […]

    Sex and Roman Coins August 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Sex and Roman Coins

              Beachcombing has waited for the family and some houseguests to vanish into the local countryside before addressing this particularly delicate theme. Spintria was a rare Latin word, used most vividly by Suetonius to describe the sexual acts of that old goat, the Emperor Tiberius on the island of Capri (43). But the […]

    Romans on the Shores of the Caspian Sea August 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Romans on the Shores of the Caspian Sea

    Beachcombing has looked in a previous post at supposed direct contact between the Roman Empire and China in the second century. Today he will not be attempting to take the Romans so far to the east – but he will still be going an impressive way into Central Asia. Azerbaijan to be exact. It should […]

    A Column of Burning Snakes August 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    A Column of Burning Snakes

                    Beachcombing has before him on his desk a volume from Frazer’s Golden Bough, perhaps the most famous work of comparative mythology ever written. In it Frazer quotes from Athenaeum (1869) concerning a difficult to forget and cruel bonfire. At Luchon in the Pyrenees on Midsummer Eve: a […]

    Russian Roulette Before the Pistol July 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Russian Roulette Before the Pistol

                  Beachcombing has never played Russian roulette. But he can think of plenty of people – mainly fictional – who have from some gentlemen in the Deer Hunter, to the hero of Royal Flash, to an all too factual bored teenage Graham Greene – though Greene’s experimentation with loaded […]

    Review: War Elephants July 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Review: War Elephants

                        Beachcombing is bringing Elephant Week, ‘the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal’, to a close with a review of an outstanding recent publication War Elephants by John M. Kistler (Nebraska 2007). In this work the author covers the history of pachyderms on three continents – Africa, […]

    Elephants and Burning Pigs July 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Elephants and Burning Pigs

                    A challenge. Your army is spread across the plain when rumbling into sight come not only two hundred enemy cavalry and a thousand hoplites but, unexpectedly, thirty mounted elephants that seem very, very angry – they have been made drunk before battle according to custom. As your horse […]

    The Last Elephant Charge in History? July 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Last Elephant Charge in History?

                                                      Beachcombing has had several very useful emails from readers on the last cavalry charge in history. So many useful emails, indeed, that he has decided to risk repetition and ask […]

    An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936 July 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936

                                    Night four of Beachcombing’s Elephant week extravaganza is taken up by Richard Halliburton’s attempt to cross the Alps in 1936 on the back of an African elephant. Halliburton, a fun kind of fellow, managed to hire (and insure!) an […]

    Execution by Elephant July 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Execution by Elephant

                                                And so begins Elephant Week – for the next seven evenings an article will be given over to the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal. First of all, this extraordinary passage from the […]

    An Early Christian Apostless July 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    An Early Christian Apostless

            Summer’s here, the sun’s out and Mrs B and little Miss B are trying not to have arguments with the in-laws on a distant strand of Mediterranean. Beachcombing, instead, took a far more sensible line and stayed at home with a collection of books and is subsisting on a diet of […]

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