Random facts of the day: some traditional measurements!

https://sites.google.com/a/wrps.net/lhschemistry/_/rsrc/1461015140094/unit-3-labs/units-of-measurement/Us%20Survey%20units.jpg?height=251&width=400

Random piece of general knowledge (many thanks to The Old Farmers Almanac):

1 league = 3 miles = 24 furlongs

In other words, there are eight furlongs to a mile. So how long is a furlong? 660 feet, or 40 rods (one rod being 5 ½ yards). Seen another way, a furlong is equal to one eighth of a mile: equivalent to 660 feet, 220 yards, 40 rods (1 rod = 5 1/2 feet), or 10 chains (one chain, therefore, being equal to 66 feet).

Originally, it was the length of the furrow in one acre of a ploughed field – thus, the name: one “furrow long” – in the old open-field system of medieval England, in which acres were usually long and narrow, and was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. From there, it passed into the British Imperial and U.S. customary system of measurements. An acre was reckoned as one furlong in length (naturally), and one chain in width, and was considered to be the amount of land one man, behind one ox, could plough in one day.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/Anthropic_Farm_Units.png/400px-Anthropic_Farm_Units.png

Other oxen-derived measurements include an oxgang (from the same root as our contemporary word “going,” with the implication of walking *), the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season (an area which could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres), a virgate, the amount of land tillable by two oxen in one ploughing season (thus, two oxgangs), and a carucate, the amount of land that could be tilled by eight oxen in a ploughing season: equal, naturally, to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates. Thus, these measurements were not random or arbitrary, they described what could be done on them, in a way that was very useful and informative for an agricultural society!

*  That derivation still exists, though somewhat concealed by changes in the language, and our understanding: a “gang” is a group of people who go (walk) around together. And the archaic English word “gangly” refers to a person or (usually young) animal who appears to be “all legs,” and therefore seems made for walking! Also, a “chain-gang” is not just a group of people joined by a chain; they are chain-gang: that is to say, they are walking chained, rather than free.

On a related note, the furlong was historically considered to be equivalent to the Roman stade (from which we get “stadium”), itself derived from the Greek stadion ~ and it was, although approximately: the old Roman measurement was actually 625 feet. The Romans reckoned eight stadia to the mile, and (as remains the case in our English measurement, albeit using furlongs) three miles to the league. Thus, the Roman mile was a little shorter than ours is. A league was considered to be the distance a man could walk in one hour, and the mile (from mille, meaning “thousand”) consisted of 1,000 passi (paces: five feet, or two single steps of two-and-a-half feet each).

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/proxy/kt0RpmdwysRDICsYv2fk1p1CQ2HmONAHkV_mdCZtmx-gTr9ieNl6lJieYNEsxs5-UuTF-0sVGBTtfhkIffR0iHE27Q

Now you know probably more than you ever wanted to about ancient land-measurements!

(Additional information gleaned from Wikipedia, and from my own knowledge of things medieval!)

Glories of the West – the Pre-Rafaelites: “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May” (Waterhouse)

Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor

This lovely painting fortuitously came across my newsfeed this morning, posted by a friend of mine, Paul Edward Lafferty Smallwood, who posted it and commented,

“‘Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May,’ 1909, John William Waterhouse, English. John William Waterhouse (1849 – 1917) was an English painter known for working first in the Academic style and for then embracing the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s style and subject matter. His artworks were known for their depictions of women from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.”

The reference is to a poem by Robert Herrick (1591-1674), entitled “To the Virgins, to Make Much of TIme”:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

 

How I was Kicked Out of the Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting | Quillette

“I am a Classics Ph.D. who recently attended the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS—formerly the American Philological Association), a yearly conference that provides papers on classical subjects and interviews for academic positions. I now regret doing so since some remarks I made at the conference led to me being branded a ‘racist’ and the loss of my editing job with the Association of Ancient Historians.”

Source: How I was Kicked Out of the Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting | Quillette

This essay is not easy reading. In fact, I found it both depressing and disillusioning (not that I had many illusions, to start with) and deeply angering. It is a classic example of the cultural Marxism prevalent in the academic world, and one of the reasons I did not choose to go on and obtain a PhD in Medieval History, as had been my original intention, since I saw the same trends developing in medieval studies, all the way back in the mid-’90s.

In this essay, Mary Frances Williams – note, this is a woman, not one of those dastardly males! – who describes herself as an independent scholar living in California, having received her doctorate from the University of Texas, Austin, recounts the way in which she was harassed, bullied, mischaracterized, and denied the right to have her voice heard in defense of Classics as a discipline… at a Classics conference (!), and purportedly, one devoted to the future of classics. Dr. Williams notes that

“Of all the academic disciplines, Classics alone has managed until now to withstand most of the corrupting influences of modern critical theory and ‘social justice’ activism. Ours is the last bastion of Western Civilization in the academy.”

Or at least, has been. Continue reading “How I was Kicked Out of the Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting | Quillette”

Greek to Me, by Mary Norris | The New Yorker

Mary Norris, also known as the Comma Queen, on the pleasures of a different alphabet.

Source: Greek to Me, by Mary Norris | The New Yorker

While I must confess that I really do not have an urge to study Greek, either ancient or modern (if I were going to take up the study of ancient languages again, they would be Latin and Old English) I thought this was an interesting piece.

Combining a first-person memoir with a defense of the study of classical languages in our current era, it is fair apologia which deserves to be considered by, as author Mary Norris puts it, “anyone who doubts the value of studying a dead language.”

It’s also worth a share in light of my earlier post on Greece’s Nea Dexia party, as it points out one of the ways in which the Greek “hill” (the Acropolis, in Failos Kranidiotis’ engaging metaphor) has influenced, and continues to influence, Western culture.

(Nota Bene: It should be noted that The New Yorker can still publish worthwhile articles – so long as one stays away from its left-leaning political ones.)

QOTD: “We want a Europe based on its three hills…”

“We want a Europe based on its three hills: Acropolis, Capitolium and Golgotha. Hellenism, Rome and Christianity. An alliance of sovereign states against foreign enemies, terrorism and illegal emigration, with low taxes, rebirth of national production and motives to families to make more children.”

— Failos Kranidiotis, of the Greek nationalist and populist party Nea Dexia (the New Right)

Source: New patriotic Greek party wants higher birth rates and to protect Europe from Islamic colonisation – Interview

Globalism (which has both a sociopolitical and a corporate element) and cultural Marxism are strong, and firmly entrenched in the political, social, and academic elites of the West. The “long march through the institutions” has been, in many ways, all too dismayingly successful. But now, at long last, there is a real push-back.

People are beginning to see that, in the memorable image of Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “the Emperor has no clothes.” Or perhaps one should say, if the globalist / cultural Marxist “emperor” does have clothes, they include the jackboots of totalitarianism!

In any case, nationalist and populist sentiment is growing, and political parties with a nationalist and populist orientation are either springing up (like Nea Dexia) or finding new inspiration and expression (like the French Rassemblement National) with increasing vigour. Popular movements such as the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) are another manifestation of the same trend.

It’s as if the antibodies in the blood of the West have finally detected and begun to react against the disease that has been afflicting it for so long! Those of us who have been watching with both sorrow and anger the agony of the West’s long self-immolation find this a refreshing and hopeful development, and one inspiring cautious optimism.

And I find this motif of the “three hills” of Europe to be a powerful image. Granted, one of them (Golgotha) is not actually in Europe! But anyone who doubts the impact of Christianity on the development of Europe, and its right to be include as one of the core pillars of what was, after all, known as “Christian Europe,” or “Western Christendom,” is simply not paying attention.

It has long been understood – and only quite recently come into question, by those who seek to disassemble the West entirely – that Classical Greece, Ancient Rome, and Christianity are the three pillars or wellsprings of traditional Western culture. The philosophy, art, and literature of Greece, the legal, administrative, and military ability of Rome (and the political insights of both), and the spiritual, moral, and social teachings of Christianity have, between them, defined the West for millennia.

Remove any of the three, and we are left with something less that EVROPA.

Without wishing in any way to minimize the important (indeed, vital) contributions of my own Celtic and Germanic forebears, Europe – and thus, the West! – stands or falls on the Three Hills. It is on them that we must form our shield-walls, and from them that we shall begin the Reconquest of our culture and heritage from those who seek to destroy it.