Month: April 2017

Month: April 2017

Cross-Post: Call for Papers “Fight Books in Comparative Perspective” November 2017

Sixt Wetzler of the Deutsches Klingenmuseum, Solingen, is organizing a conference which some of my readers might be interested in. It will take place in Germany on 9 and 10 November 2017. St. Martin Conference is the title of a new series of academic conferences held at Deutsches Klingenmuseum (German Blade Museum) in Solingen, Germany.... Continue reading: Cross-Post: Call for Papers “Fight Books in Comparative Perspective” November 2017

Rationalizing Cunaxa

At the battle of Cunaxa, two claimants to the Persian throne lined up their armies. One of them had a large force of Greek infantry, and both kings had men in their armies who went on to become famous writers. One of those aristocratic camp followers, Xenophon, tells a story which has puzzled many readers (Anabasis 1.8.19 from the Loeb). When the armies were about 600 or 800 yards apart, the Greek mercenaries ran forward:

And before an arrow reached them, the barbarians broke and fled. Thereupon the Greeks pursued with all their might, but shouted meanwhile to one another not to run at a headlong pace, but to keep their ranks in the pursuit.

It was very common in the 5th century BCE for one side to run away as the enemy approached, or after a few moments of fighting hand-to-hand. Combat is terrifying, and most soldiers of the day did not have a lot of practice working as a group. But it is very unusual for an army to run away before the enemy was within bowshot. What happened?

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In Praise of Folly

A painting of a fool in red and green mi-parti wheeling a man wearing an extravagant plumed hat in a wheelbarrow
A wheelbarrow painted on the ceiling of the Fembohaus, Nürnberg. Photo by Sean Manning, March 2017.

A few half-timbered houses survived the bombing of Nürnberg, and several of them have become museums. The Fembohaus is dedicated to life in Nürnberg from the 15th to the 18th century, and one of its charming decorations is this painting of a fool driving another fool in a barrow.

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New and Not-So-New Publications

A photo of a busy square with an ornamental column and reflecting pool
Ancient History 9 has an article on the agora of Athens, so how about a picture of Innsbruck’s equivalent? A view towards the Nordkette along Marien-Theresien-Straße. Photo by Sean Manning, April 2017.

While I can’t pull the lid off Ninkasi’s vat to announce some projects which are still fermenting, today I would like to remind my gentle readers about two other new publications.

First, I have a short article on Marduk and Tiamat in issue 9 of Ancient History magazine. The focus of that issue is on Athens in the fourth century BCE, but there are also articles on Sicilian and Egyptian topics. If you like Peter Connolly’s The Ancient City you will like this issue. Check it out!

Second, I have obtained permission to release a pre-print of my paper on the mnemonic techniques employed in the writings of Fiore dei Liberi, a fencing master from Friuli who died some time after February 1410 CE. It was scheduled for a conference proceedings which was intended to appear in 2014 but which has been delayed. I hope it has something useful for fencers who want to learn more about medieval studies, and medievalists who want to learn more about physical culture. You can download the PDF from my website. (It is not beautifully formatted, because I made it from a PDF of the proofs which I had to convert to LibreOffice to edit then back to PDF to post; I am sorry, but going through the file and correcting the formatting would be very time consuming, and I can’t afford to take that many hours away from my other writing projects).

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Responding to an Allegation

Although I wanted to post something short and light, today I feel it necessary to answer an allegation.

Obwohl ich lieber etwas leicht schreiben würde, fühle ich mich heute verpflichtet, einen Vorwurf zu antworten.

A photo of the bare stone keep of a cliff-top castle overlooking a small town
Burg Fragenstein over the town of Zirl in the Inntal, Austria. For more information see Photo by Sean Manning, September 2015.

As you know, I am in the habit of travelling Tirol and taking photos, notes, and sketches of military installations, like this strategic point overlooking the local tennis court.

Als Sie wissen, ist es für mich üblich, um Tirol zu reisen und Bilder, Zetteln, und Skizzen von militarischen Installierungen zu machen.

A cannon with a barrel made of an iron core inserted into a long and wrapped with iron bands
A cannon with a wood-and-iron barrel made for the Tirolean revolt circa 1810 and captured by the Bavarians after its betrayal. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, object W622.

I also have a professional interest in Austrian military hardware, whether the Landeszeughaus in Graz or this wooden cannon captured by the Bavarians during their temporary rule over Tirol.

Ich habe auch eine Berufsinteresse in den österreichischen Kriegsgeräten, entweder das Landeszeughaus in Graz mit seinem Plattenharnisch aus dem 17. Jahrhundert oder diese Holzkanone, die von der Bayern als Kriegsbeute um 1810 nach München gebracht war.

A meeting in the Hermitage Theatre, St. Petersburg. The reactionary activities of a certain California grape farmer were not on the program, and nobody got tipped into a canal.

And of course I travel on short notice to exciting cities like Isfahan, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Venice, and Glasglow and send cryptically labelled money transfers to publishers and artisans across Europe. Such is the life of an orientalist.

Und natürlich reise ich auch kurzfristig nach spannenden Städten wie Isfahan, St. Petersburg, Wien, Venedig, Glasgow, und schicke kryprische getitelte Geldüberweisungen nach Herausgeber und HandwerkerInnen in ganzen Europa. So geht das Leben eines Altorientalistes.

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