Athelstan. The story taken from an anonymous (despite attributed to Tennyson) ode written in alliterative verse of the 937 battle between English King Athelstan and an invading army of Scots and Vikings. The English were victorious.
“Athelstan King. Lord among Earls, ...Slew with sword-edge There by Brunanburh, Brake the shield-wall Hew’d the lindenwood Hack’d the battleshield.”
Chapman’s Homer. A translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey by George Chapman (1559-1634).
Chillon. Chilon is located on the edge of Lake LeMon. His real name was Francois de Bonniyard (1500's). One of six brothers whose political opinions favored the republicans. All died defending their religious belief:L two in battle, one burned at the stake, three were imprisoned - two died in Chilon and were buried in the floor of the cell. The last was freed after four years -Byron described the release in verse:
“My very chains and I grew friends, So much a long communion tends To make us that we are: even I Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.”.
Sennacherib. Story in lyric of the king of Assyrian’s take-over attempt described in Isaiah V.37:33-38. “Therefore thus saith the lord concerning the king of Assyria. He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord, For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake. ...the Lord smote in the camp Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand...”
Baal. The sun-god worshipped by the Assyrians. A Semitic word meaning “possessor”. Denounced by the Israelites under Hosea as a form of heathenism.
tan. “His face is like the tan.” used as a simile. Tan is the bark of an oak tree. When it is used as the backpiece for tanning leather it becomes bruised and broken.
forge. “Thus at the flaming forge of life”. A metaphor as it likens the process of beating iron into shape on the anvil to the circumstances of life’s thoughts and actions, beaten to shape our character and destiny.
Dog, Referring to the night sky filled with stars the “Dog star” is called Sirius, from the Greek adjective scorching or hot. Later spawning the phrase “dog days” or unbearable hot.
Plough. Referring to the night sky. The ancients looked up at the sky and developed explanations for shapes formed by the brightest stars, thus we have the “Great Bear” or Ursa Major.or Charles’s Wain (wagon/cart) for this conspicuous northern constellations. The Greek version comes to us from Homer who called it Arktos , the bear and Hamaxa, the wagon. In his version Calisto was attacked by Jupiter so Juno changed her into a bear and placed her among the stars where he could watch over her. In the Roman version there is Ursa the bear and septimiriones - the Seven Ploughing Oxen. In Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson Boswell’s father refers to Samuel Johnson as Great Bear.
Hunter. In the night sky its astronomical name is Orion or hunter. In the Greek version Orion was a handsome hunter who was blinded by Cenopion. Vulcan rescued him, gave him Cedalion as his guide. By some miral his sight was restored when his eyeballs were exposed to the sun. Jealous Diana slew him but he was saved again made into a constellation. It is the clearest star in the northern sky. Along stars Betelgeuse and Bellatrix they form his sword along with Rugel the feet they point to Sirius, the brightest star in the heavens.
Miserere. Latin for “take pity on.”
Cimbric. Historically area of land belonging to Denmark known as the Jutland. The name can be found in Ptolemaic maps as Cimbric Chersonese home of Teutons, Cimbri, and Charudes. This battle occurred during World War I between the British Royal Navy and the German Imperial Navy and resulted in heavy losses on both sides although the British were declared the victors.
teocallis. “God houses” a terraced MesoAamerican pyramid surrounded by a temple. These ruins are what remains of the Empire of the Astecs destroyed by Spain in her attempt to seize land in the Americas.
diapason. The deepest, fullest sound of the pipe-organ.
Joseph Priestley (1744-1804). Minister first in Leeds then later in Birmingham. He became a member of the Lunar Society of intellectuals. When the French Revolution succeeded, the English felt threatened and free thinkers, like Priestley, had their homes and all belongings destroyed. Priestley fled to London. In 1800 his reputation as a scientist was established when he published “The Doctrine of Phlogiston Established and the Composition of Water Refuted.” ie that water is composed of two gases united in fixed and constant proportions, with “little formal knowledge and enormous luck.” The luck was that in Birmingham he lived next to a brewery. When you suck up to your next bottle of soda give a thumbs up to Priestley. He had discovered a way of impregnating water with a minimal amount of carbonic acid, if you missed the lecture that is known as “fixed air” today it comes in a variety of flavors and is called soda water. For this he received the Copley Medal. His political beliefs clashed with colleagues, he emigrated to the U.S. and died in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. He held to this belief: “try all things, hold fast that which is good.”
Ptolemy I, King of Egypt. in the late 2nd century AD, a dabbler in Astronomy.He Proposed the theory that the earth is the fixed center of the earth, all other bodies revolve around earth from east to west. The theory held until the 16th century and Copernicus.
Juvenal. Decimus Junius (60AD-140AD). Latin writer of 16 satires attacking public manners and morals. Many of his adages are still in use today: “Some men make fortunes, but not to enjoy them, for blinded by avarice, they live to make fortunes.” “A sound mind in a sound body.” “By his own verdict no man was ever acquitted.” “Death alone discloses how insignificant are the puny bodies of men.” “When a man’s death is at stake no delay is too long.”
Also derived from juvenile, Lat. Juvenis.
Ovid’s tales. Publius Ovidius Naso (43BC-17AD). Written late in life they act as a history of mythical themes. Among those he influenced are Dante and Ezra Pond.
Cadmus. meaning man of the east. In Greek mythology, son of Agenor, Kin of Phoenicia. Killed the sacred dragon of Ares. Created a half-formed army of men from the teeth of the dragon. He also appears in The Bacchae a tragedy by Euripides.
Quinquireme - A Roman war ship with five banks of oars. The story goes that at the beginning of the Punic Wars (with Carthaginians) the Romans had no navy, but soon realized that without a navy they would never be the dominant power in the Mediterranean. As it happens during the second Punic War of 260 BC, a Carthaginian quinquireme was beached on Roman soil, thus it fell into the hands Romans. They carefully copied the parts of the ship and in less than six weeks had built one hundred of their own.
Ophir - This ancient country was first mentioned in the Bible: Kings, ix. Its actual location is unknown but assumed somewhere in Asia minor.
Type - Probably Tynemouth located east of Newcastle England. Noted for shipbuildling and repair yards.
meres. great pools of water
Great Bear. Ursa Major a northern constellation. Also as Charles’ Wain because to some it resembled a wain or barrel (Homer). Some confusion among the populace somehow connected it with Charlemagne. Boswell writes in the biography of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) that his father referred to Johnson as the “great bear.” But there is a legend that tells us that Calisto, daughter of Lycaeon, was interferred with by Jupiter. Lycaeon sought to dissuade Jupiter from any further assignations and changed Calisto into a bear. In Homer the constellation is referred to as Αρκτoς or bear, and as Ηαμαχα, the wagon. While lthe Romans called it Ursa, or Septemtrionales, the Seven Ploughing Oxen. It is this latter that gave us September.
wan girth. refers to the “band of night” that covers the northern hemisphere.
Aaron. Aaron was the brother of Moses known mostly for his participation in calling down the Ten Plagues of Egypt. Unfortunately he also directed the construction of the Golden Calf (See Artwork) which angered Moses.
The character of Moorish lover in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.
Accept your fate
Skeleton gold key. A key that opens all doors i.e. a money maker.
Starred and crossed. Fated for disaster.
Bally. Add stress to the adjectives, more frequent use is “bloody”.
Hunks. Cross, selfish, mean, miserly person - term used in Elizabethan times - also performing bears were a frequent entertainment - giving rise to the term “cross as a bear.”
Rather fine. In this context meaning without emotion.
Rummy starts. Bad things are going to happen.
On the strike. Hunting for ways to make money.
Gathering wool. Day-dreaming