marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

tidbits cross time

During the World War II victory parade in Moscow, a marshal rode a white horse. There were persistent rumors that it was supposed to be Stalin, but the horse had thrown him.

Lightning and thunder are good signs in India, where they presage the monsoon.

The influx of gold from the Americas produced economic boom as far away as China.

The Khrushchev Thaw meant really bad news for one set of people in the Soviet Union. It was not unknown for informants to commit suicide on being called to the government office again and again because their victims' names were being cleared.

When Alexander the Great captured Potus, an Indian king, Potus was so wounded he could barely stand, and yet answered, when Alexander asked how he should be treated, "As befits me -- like a king!" Alexander made him a vassal.

A Victorian maid could not hand a family member anything. She had to put it on a silver salavar and offer it.

Chilies spread like wildfire after Christopher Columbus, taking maybe fifty years to cover the globe. In the 16th century, their first appearance in Indian literature is a songwriter praising them as the Poor Man's Spice.

In medieval times, a Venetian woman controlled her own dowry during marriage. Many of them invested heavily in the spice trade.

Aristotle observed that the earth was obvious round, and not very large, because the stars would shifted based on a distance you could easily travel, with southward journeys revealing new stars, and northward ones having stars never set that did set in Greece.

In the later Vedic era, the "jewel-bearers" -- the king's court -- were so important that the coronation included sacrifices for the purposes of keeping them loyal.

Richard II's court was the first English one to indulge heavily in fashion and fine clothes. Richard II himself is the first king whom we have a definitely likeness of -- indeed, two portraits.

In Goa, the Portuguese would test natives who claimed to want baptism (to avoid penal laws) by inviting them to dinner. With the Europeans counting as untouchables, that would defile any Brahmin.

Rubens's classical figures are picked up from an extensive education. He knew five languages.

Roman military law made it a capital offense for a soldier to leave or enter Roman fortifications by any route except the gates.

Maharaja originally meant "great king". Title inflation endowed even the most minor of kings with that title.

One European argument against the spice trade was that God had made the worlds and fitted all its regions with the stuff needed to live in it. Thus, Europeans would be better able to cure themselves of the aliments of their region by resorting to the herbs of it.

When one of the hostages King John of France had left in England -- his own son, the Duke of Anjou -- broke his parole and fled, the king immediately knew his duty and returned to England to be prisoner himself.

Even though ancient India rarely allowed reigning queens, many kings claimed divine descent through Manu's daughter (the lunar line) and not his son (the solar line).

When committing seppeku, a samurai woman did not, of course, cut her belly. That would expose it and be immodest. She bound her limbs to prevent falling in an immodest manner, and cut her throat.

To qualify to attend the Austrian court, a person had to have every great-great-grandparent be noble.

In ancient India, it was held that the king incurred all the fault of those criminals he did not punish.

Medieval Venice maintained its salt monopoly by simple violence: destroying salt-works and even cities. Similarly the Dutch, after their contracts with the nutmeg islands, extorted by force, which would have starved the islanders because they were dependent on imported food, were violated, simply depopulated the island, only a fraction surviving even to be deported, which killed many, and they habitually invaded to burn down cloves plantations. For the Dutch, at least, it backfired: their rigorous limits on the spice export meant that cooks tried other techniques for flavor.

In medieval England, for show, arrows were sometimes feathered with peacock feathers instead the usual -- and more effective -- gray goose ones.

Austrian society held "pick-nick" balls, outside, which were said to be based on English picnics, and were less formal, so that the daughter of a countess and a commoner could attend.

In ancient India, there were three types of conquest. Righteous conquest meant taking the conquered king as your vassal; demonic, that you annexed the land to your own. (Then there was conquest of greed, for plunder.)

Once upon a time, they treated TB patients with a drug called Iproniazid. Doctors kept commenting on how giddy with happiness the patients were to receive treatment, until finally they connected the dots, and Iproniazid became the first ever identified antidepressant.

Pericles was popular in Restoration England because of the scope it allowed an actor to display, since the hero is a young man at the start and decades older, and having suffered horribly, at the end. Also the analogy to Charles was popular. Similarly, adapting Hamlet omitted and reworked things partly for length, but partly because a young hero finding his father murdered, nearly being murdered himself, but returning to avenge him, was too sharp a parallel without beefing up Hamlet's heroic and virtuous side.

Sudras were forbidden to become wealthy on the grounds it distresses brahmins.

The Dutch East India Company would burn its twenty-year-old spice stock as unsaleable -- meaning they must have been selling some quite old spices

Victorian parlourmaids would refuse to speak to anyone who worked in the kitchen, as being below them.

A dutiful Indian wife, whose husband was asleep with his head in her lap, saw her baby crawl toward the fire. Rather than risk disturbing her husband, she only prayed to Agni to protect the baby; the god, impressed by her dutifulness, let the child crawl into the fire without harm and stay there until his father woke.

In the 1930s, the Japanese government banned miko on the professed grounds that they made the Japanese look silly and superstitious. That their prophesying was an erratic and uncontrollable element in Shinto, which the government was trying to corral, did not help.

Greeks, for centuries, would bake their barley bread twice a year, to save fuel. The result, of course, was extremely hard and needed softening, but it kept.

Hospitality was important in ancient India. When a father was giving away everything, and his son asked whom he was giving him to, the father angrily told him Death. So he set out for Yama's. When Yama arrived three days later, he realized the son had been waiting for him, and gave him three boons in atonement for that lack of hospitality.

The increase in the cheese and butter market in England meant that the workers on the dairy farms saw their diet worsen. Milk was too valuable to drink, and they were stuck with the byproducts of the cheese and butter manufacture instead.

Saltpeter was used for years to cure meat because it worked better as a preservative than salt did. Of course, it had the little down-side of being a bit poisonous itself.

Confronted with definite records of customs such as the remarriage of widows, Hindu commentators proposed the rule of kalivarya -- that these had once been acceptable, but were so no longer in the dark age that they lived in.

Height was important in Victorian servant. Not only did footmen earn much more based on inches, women were passed over for the post of parlourmaids because they were too short.

During World War I, little Parisian boys and girls processed into the basements of various buildings -- such as department stores -- to receive First Communion because of the hits by Germany artillery on the city. (The barrels were capable of only sixty-five shots before they were sent back to the manufacturer, but the dangers was always there.)

A dedication from an Indian to Pan seems to indicate that in the interpretatio graeca that Krsna was identified with Pan.
Tags: historical tidbits
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