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Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg December 20, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg

A wonderful story that could probably only come out of Italy. First, some necessary background. Indro Montanelli was perhaps the finest Italian journalist of the twentieth century: he was able to interview and work with Andreotti, Berlusconi, Hitler, John-Paul II, Mussolini and many other notables whose deeds changed the peninsula and Europe (mostly, being notable, […]

Flying Boy Across the Mersey? December 16, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Flying Boy Across the Mersey?

This interesting but very confusing passage comes from Aubrey’s wonderful Brief Lives. It is, more specifically, from the chapter on a Lancastrian mathematician named Jonas Moore who had been taught by one William Gascoigne (this becomes important). Aubrey includes several fascinating facts including the unforgettable sentence that: ‘Sciatica: [Sir Jonas] cured it by boiling his […]

How Islam Created the Italian Renaissance November 16, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
How Islam Created the Italian Renaissance

The Renaissance! What’s not to like: Leo flying; Micky chipping at marble; men in tights and women in bodices; the pop, snap, crackle of Kultur; and cherubs falling from the sky like hailstone. According to the textbooks fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italians, more particularly the urban Italians of northern Italy rediscovered the Greek and Romans and […]

Ardeatine and Truth August 24, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Ardeatine and Truth

In the now long-ago examination of the Ivanhorod picture Beach came across a number of sites with, let’s say, disreputable agendas. One of these led to the website of one Germar Rudolf, who must be the only German since the Second World War to have sought asylum in the United States. GR was prosecuted in Germany over […]

Vision Quest #3: Witch Lotions June 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Vision Quest #3: Witch Lotions

An interesting witch case from fourteenth-century Italy with hints of hallucinogens. The following passages appear in the work of Bernard of Siena (aka Bernardino, and Bernardine) (obit 1444). This, btw, is before the witch craze really catches fire. It has several curious features. I having preached of these charms and of witches and of sorceries, […]

Capital Problems March 19, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
Capital Problems

Capital cities should represent a country. They should be the head that directs and controls: unless you live in a properly federal society and there are none of those left. But what happens when capitals come to outweigh and dominate the country that they stand in? Take an example from close to this blogger’s home. […]

Is the Pope Catholic? March 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Is the Pope Catholic?

Here follows a potted biographer of one of those seventeenth-century Quakers who enjoyed riling the world. In fact, this was the period when the Society of Friends was anything but… One case, in London, may be given as an illustration in John Perrot, an Irishman, who during the times of stripping from death or imprisonment […]

A Mysterious Island, Incest and a Twelfth-century Papal Letter February 21, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Mysterious Island, Incest and a Twelfth-century Papal Letter

Greenland certainly had contact with the New World in the late tenth century. Did though this contact continue into the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth century? This controversy is one we have looked at before, showing that there is some evidence that it did: though the evidence is intermittent. Here is a further document […]

Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3 December 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3

Ponte Vecchio’s transformation from kitschy chocolate box cover medieval bridge to unlikely love goddess was unexpected. But it has happened nonetheless. In the last ten years many young Tuscan couples have made the pilgrimage there to cement their love. The ritual is long and complicated. The couple in question first go to a hardware store […]

Cursing, Roman Style August 26, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Cursing, Roman Style

***Dedicated to Mac, Invisible and Southern Man who sent the latest British curse tablet in*** The Romans were, as is well known, good at everything. They could start land wars in Asia and win; they could sell their soul for the fruits of the known world and enjoy said fruits; they could sail to southern […]

Precious Pot Sherds at Tell-el-Hesy July 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
Precious Pot Sherds at Tell-el-Hesy

Beach has failed to find the original for this as it appeared unreferenced: a crime he is going to compound by unreferencing that one late inadequate reference. However, the passage almost certainly relates to the work of Flinders Petrie at Tell-el-Hesy in 1890, sometimes said to mark the birth of modern archaeology. FP, among his […]

The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic May 22, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic

Beachcombing has often celebrated in this place lost books and burning libraries. Today he wants to celebrate a book that while not lost (it can be found in a modern edition on the top shelves of academic institutions around the world) got through to us by the skin of its erotic teeth. Beach refers, of course, to  I […]

Immortal Meals 9#: The Discovery of Nero’s Rotating Dining Room? May 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Immortal Meals 9#: The Discovery of Nero's Rotating Dining Room?

Beach’s reading today comes from Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, Nero (31) There was nothing however in which [Nero] was more ruinously prodigal than in building. He made a palace extending all the way from the Palatine to the Esquiline, which at first he called the House of Passage, but when it was burned shortly […]

The Popess: A Female Pope? April 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The Popess: A Female Pope?

There are popes who had children, there are popes who took part in orgies, there are popes (at least one) who did not believe in God. However, Beachcombing has so far avoided the most remarkable pope of all: Pope Joan. The story is quickly told. Pope John VIII went out to bless the people of […]

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 […]

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