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  • Plotinus Meets a God January 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plotinus Meets a God

    A WIBT (Wish I’d been there) moment from later antiquity, brought to mind, in part by stories at the end of 2011 about Socrate’s daemon. The subject is Plotinus, a follower of Plato and the thinker who offered the ancient Mediterranean a ‘sensible’ alternative to Christianity: neo-platonism. Plotinus, as all Platonists, had mixed feelings about […]

    Eating Flags December 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Eating Flags

    In Beachcombing compendious filing cabinets there is a surprisingly thin folder on flags. ‘Surprising’ as flags, as highly charged symbols, encourage moving and peculiar behaviour. One of the most notable films of the last years is, after all, the Flags of Our Fathers (2006) telling the story of that photograph and Old Glory on Iwo […]

    The Bearded Princess December 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Bearded Princess

    A day of freedom: 77 exams graded, course readers prepared, translations refined, goodbyes given… It is all over, at least, until, in January, the whole merry dance begins again. In the meantime, Beachcombing thought that he would go back to an old love of his, some of the more unusual saints in the Christian pantheon. […]

    Cannibalism and Syphilis December 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Cannibalism and Syphilis

    Syphilis (unless, of course, you have the misfortune to be a sufferer) is one of the most interesting of illnesses. Historians still, for example, argue about whether it crossed from Europe to the Americas or whether, on the contrary, it was a gift from the New to the Old World: the balance of opinion seems […]

    Christian Cannibalism in the Middle Ages December 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Christian Cannibalism in the Middle Ages

    Beachcombing sometimes begins his posts with naff excuses about why he can’t write much on this or that occasion, but today the pressure is really on: exams to be marked, the ill to be visited, books to be sent, syllabi to be written, course packs to be checked, the trauma of saying goodbye to much […]

    Hitler’s Italian Fantasy Life November 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Hitler's Italian Fantasy Life

    Beachcombing offers today an other example of a historical dream. However, unlike the nightscapes of Leonardo or Augustine, here, instead, is a fantasy from Adolf Hitler. Now Hitler’s private life is not particularly well known. There are unsubstantiated rumours about his genealogy and his sexual preferences, and his family relations (including a possibly murdered niece). […]

    Immortal Meals #7: Papal Orgies November 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #7: Papal Orgies

    It has been a while since Beachcombing visited an immortal meal, one of those dinners past where the great ate and history crackled in the air. Still suffering from the Italian Renaissance bug and given that this is, after all, the season of the chestnut he thought that he would today lift the veil on […]

    Buying Up Clarice October 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Buying Up Clarice

                      Beach hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the Italian Renaissance this past week: blame the genitals of the mad, bad but always interesting Caterina Sforza. And in this difficult time of renaissance obsession one source that has run around and around his head is (Lauro […]

    A Look Up Caterina Sforza’s Skirt October 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Look Up Caterina Sforza's Skirt

    Caterina Sforza was one of those extraordinary individuals who managed to pack five or six lifetimes into her forty odd years. Wife, alchemist, mother, warrior, seductress, torturer, hunter, general, rape victim and, don’t forget, the model for one of the three graces in Botticelli’s Primavera: she also had a lot of hot Milanese blood swilling […]

    Escapes, Wives and Cases October 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Escapes, Wives and Cases

    A reflection on escapees. Beachcombing  was brought up in the shadow of the Second World War where escape stories were  nutrition for a growing boy. Then he made the mistake of reading the Count of Monte Cristo at an impressionable age. Are there any more exciting pages in fiction than Edmond’s fake funeral? Beach can […]

    Royal Claimants October 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Royal Claimants

    A brief post today as visits from Beachcombing’s parents and his girls’s grandparents are proving a distraction. There is just time though to share with his readers a couple of fabulous photographs that he has dug up. At the head of this page you will find Sigismund Otto Maria Josef Gottfried Henrich Erik Leopold Ferdinand […]

    The Meal that Stopped a Suicide October 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Meal that Stopped a Suicide

    As Beach soars out of his convalescence here is a modern nonsense post to enjoy from the immortal meals series. The problem is that Beach cannot be sure that this meal ever took place: given the loons involved it may just have been a Futurist fantasy. But where the likes of Marinetti and Fillìa are […]

    Boethius’s Astronomy: Did it Exist? October 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Boethius's Astronomy: Did it Exist?

    Beach has always had a thing about Boethius (obit 525). Boethius penned the great Consolation of Philosophy, a strangely affecting study of human priorities, while waiting for his execution. Boethius hovers between Neo-Platonism and Christianity: he is, in some senses, the missing link between the two religions. Then Boethius also  wrote books that do not […]

    D’Annunzio Over Vienna August 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    D'Annunzio Over Vienna

    Gabrielle D’Annunzio – poet, fighter and proto-fascist – is one of the few individuals in Beachcombing’s reference cabinet to have a file all to himself: he started his life in ‘Italian Eccentrics’ but there was just so much material that he was shunted out into a manila folder of his own. In the many foolscap […]

    Fifteenth-century European Knowledge of Australia? August 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Fifteenth-century European Knowledge of Australia?

    Here is one of these sources that Beachcombing just doesn’t know that to do with. It seems to show knowledge of southern Australia/ Antarctica being shared with a European in Java at the end of the fifteenth century. Perhaps this is not so extraordinary as, after all, knowledge is not discovery: and ‘knowledge’ here could […]

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