marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

In Devon, bringing snowdrops or violets into a house will cause the farmwife's hens to stop laying.

Although young girls served in Athena's rites, a priestess of Athena had to be a mature woman who had returned to abstinence. (Then, abstinence was required for many rites, and then abstinence from certain foods, though which ones depended on which rite.)

Charles the Bold lost his golden seal, and so lost battles against the Swiss. His commanders would recognize his seal and did not obey orders not sealed with it.

The Black Death led to the professionalization of ale-brewing in England. Before then, it was done on a household basis, with excess being sold, or made part of a church-ale, a bride-ale, or any of the many other celebrations that were ales, but higher wages (from the decrease in the size of the labor force) led to higher standards.

Ancient Greek cities would give awards for the bravest soldier in battle. Alexander the Great later gave eight awards, ranking them in order.

The Welsh Tylwyth Teg would take children and leave changelings, but only boys. Also, some Tylwyth Teg would come out of lakes to entice young men to come with them -- but there is no mention of males that would do the same to women.

The Magna Carta forbids fining a villein of his "wainage" (wagons and carts) regardless of his offense.

A Roman writer dismissed discussion of catapults because it was all known, and it was true that the Romans made nothing except trivial improvement on the Greeks' ideas.

The English royal household had henchmen in the High Middle Ages until Elizabeth I abolished them. They were also known as "children of honor."

Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish was a social leader in New York City despite her habit of leaving parties she found dull, loudly announcing it if she were a guest, or just going to bed if she was the hostess.

A Greek priest was the priest (or priestess) of a specific god in a specific sanctuary. However, you did not need a priest for a sacrifice -- Herodotus comments on how the Persians require a Magus -- but in Greece, anyone with the wherewithal, even a slave or woman, could conduct one.

The explosions of granaries are a chiefly modern phenomena, stemming from the way the mechanical movement of grain rubs off bits of bran to produce the dangerously explosive dust. What did explode -- and this is recorded back to Roman times -- was the mills. The use of lamps in mills was therefore often forbidden.

English bridges often used to have chantry chapels where you would pray for the repose of the soul of the benefactor who built the bridge.

An ancient Greek battle ended when the losers petitioned for the right to remove the bodies of the dead.

The Roque Saint-Christophe, a rock shelter in France, was inhabited, apparently continuously, from Neanderthal times to the Renaissance.

The Magna Carta forbids the king to require people to build bridges or maintain river banks.

Alexander the Great, on capturing a splendid casket from Darius, pondered what it would be a fitting container for, and finally put a manuscript of the Iliad in it.

In some cultures you put a saddle on a reindeer as you do on a horse, and those restrict riding to women and children. Others put it on the shoulders, and adult men can ride in those cultures.

In North America, bears were often regarded as the "keeper of dreams" owing to their hibernation.

The only Greek gods of both certain Indo-European origin and certain Indo-European root to their names were Helios and Eos (the Roman Aurora) -- both minor.

The doctrine of the lesser magistrate is the view -- held by such thinkers as John Calvin -- that private citizens had a duty to submit to any injustice from the ruler, but those who held lesser offices had the right and even the duty to resist. (An older view, the doctrine of the private citizen, held that a ruler who did evil, because he was not authorized to do so by his office, did so as a private citizen.)

Roman soldiers who deserted during battle were, on the whole, less severely punished than those who engaged the enemy without orders, or were dilatory in withdrawing under orders.

Greeks not only offered valuable items at temples, but often cut their hair and offered it.

Between 1550 and 1824, London's registers clearly show that its baptism rate tracked very close to the percentage of the population that lived in London. Its death rate, on the other hand, was sky high.

Priestesses of Hera and Dionysus did not greet one another when they met, and it was forbidden to bring ivy into Hera's temple.

Under English law, a purported serf could prove in a court of law that he wasn't one by showing that he was a bastard, or his father was, or anyone in the male line, because that would break the lord's claim over him.

The first book published in Massachusetts was not a complete Bible -- no publisher in New England was licensed to publish Bibles -- but a translation of the book of Psalms, and was so popular that some were sent back to England.

Archaeological evidence shows that in the early empire, Roman legionnaires got more armor in the shoulders, back of the neck, face -- to protect from attack from above, thus showing they were more and more engineers at sieges.

The Davy lamp works by having a fine metal mesh that air -- and inflammable gases -- can pass through, but the flame inside can not, so it does not create explosions. It worked less well than in theory, owing not only to problems with the lamps but because it was used to justify more dangerous mines.

Asclepius was an unusual god. There were Olympian ones, and chthonic ones, and a few that straddled the division -- but he, really, was neither, more like one among men.

May 12 to May 15 were thought, in northern Europe, to be a period where cold snaps occurred, including the danger of frost. As a consequence, St. Mamertus, St. Boniface of Tarsus, St. Pancras, and St. Servatius -- which ones varied by location -- were called the "Ice Saints" for having feast days then.

In 206 BC, a novice Vestal let the fire go out. Chief Vestal Aemilia pressed her stola to the coals and restored it.

The earliest almanacs in Massachusetts tried to number months rather than give them pagan names. It didn't stick.

The Athenian Choes feast was based on the opening of the wine pressed in the fall, now that it could be drunk. Children at three received their own little jugs, and children that died before that age were often buried with such a jug. But on that day, all the temples were roped off, and no business could be conducted that required the swearing of an oath. Uncanny beings were held to haunt the city, and the feast was conducted without conversation with each feaster alone at a separate table, even the presiding "king" giving the signal to begin by trumpet -- noted in legend as the way Orestes received hospitality, since he was a matricide.

Under medieval Irish law, the revenues from a monastery were reserved for the heirs of the founders in perpetuity, making it a feudal estate. They had a lot of problems with their being treated as estates, down to marauding monks.

Anne Hutchinson arrived in Massachusetts with something of a reputation already because she had said that the sea voyage would take three more weeks -- and we conclude from the reputation for prophecy that so it did.

In Sparta, bachelors were ridiculed, limited in civic rights, and fined. They were also, despite Sparta's attaching great importance to age, not only not offered seats by younger husbands, but indeed required to give up their seats for the juniors who were married.

In Japanese folklore, a carp that swims up a waterfall is turned into a dragon.

Under medieval English common law, killing in self-defense was not grounds for a not guilty plea but a pardon. It was proverbial that it merited, but needed, a pardon. After a time, this evolved that you could kill a felon in self-defense because you were doing the king's work for him, really.

An ancient Greek saying, "O gods!" was not invoking them but making a diagnosis: what happened was so odd that it indicated divine intervention.

Mozart kept a starling. He found it in a shop, where it had somehow learned to whistle the motif from his latest piano concerto.

Commoners at Cambridge paid fees, unlike scholars (on scholarship) or exhibitioners (on a different kind of scholarship, known as an exhibition). Gentlemen-commoners paid higher fees for more privileges, and noblemen (normally the heir to a noble) still more for still more.

In Rome, grain was not distributed to all the plebeians, only to the limited plebs frumentaria. There were efforts to limit it, particularly to exclude the freedmen, but chiefly it was simply limited by number, and new people were added only when a former one died.

During the Middle Ages, besiegers generally built defensive works (circumvallation) around the besieged place -- and then a second set, facing outward (countervallation). Indeed, they would build a defensive camp even before they tried a hasty attack in hopes of catching the place by surprise.

In south-eastern Europe, during the Neolithic, people apparently burned down all their houses every seventy years or so.

Apollo was a late comer to Greek religion, though Artemis wasn't, and the traces of this can be found in such things as the temple at Delos being firmly Artemis's, and Apollo's sanctuary being built more on the periphery.
Tags: historical tidbits

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