Old Treasures and New

Silvanus and Virna sit beside the dying Cerbonius.

He takes their hands and nods for some moments. “I have much I would wish to say to young people such as yourselves about the primal concerns and dangers of life.”

“Good Father, we are eager to learn whatever you think important.”

“First, let us remember that Almighty God created this earth for His pleasure and judged His work to be very good. Continue reading “Old Treasures and New”

Roman “Swiss Army Knife”

GR.1.1991The Romans were technically ingenious!

As well as a knife, spoon, and fork, this implement provides a spike, spatula and small pick. The spike might have helped in extracting the meat from snails, and the spatula in poking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles: the pick could have served as a tooth-pick.

While many less elaborate folding knives survive in bronze, this one’s complexity and the fact that it is made of silver suggest it is a luxury item, perhaps a useful gadget for a wealthy traveller.

Fate or Fortune?

silhouettemenCerbonius again took a seat on his favourite boulder and Silvanus sat at his feet. Then the Bishop told him a parable, saying:

‘A certain farmer lived with his wife and two young sons on a small island. Their possessions consisted of little more than a simple hut, several hens, three goats, a few vines and an ancient olive tree. Although the family meticulously gathered most of the olives, fermenting them in clay pots using rock salt, some were found by the hens and wild birds. Continue reading “Fate or Fortune?”

The Father’s Will

silhouettemenOne day Cerbonius went up to his favourite boulder and sat down. When Silvanus took his place next to him, the Bishop told him a parable, saying:

‘A father asked his sons to follow him. Procius maintained he was old enough to decide for himself what to do. Gallus, hesitated, then decided to join his older brother. So the father went out alone. Continue reading “The Father’s Will”

Cerbonius’s Counsel

scrollAware that he was soon to die, Cerbonius bequeathed all the wisdom he had garnered over his long and colourful life to his spiritual son, Silvanus, in the form of a scroll of warnings and admonitions for young Christian believers.

Silvanus would have liked to read Cerbonius’s advice out loud and ask for explanations where necessary. But the aged Bishop was too weak. So I’ve taken the liberty of here reproducing the headlines of that catalogue, together with some comments the Saint would have voiced had he had the strength: Continue reading “Cerbonius’s Counsel”

Translating English into English

I’m afraid she did exactly what I feared. Much to my grief, the good lady editor said my book was unworthy. And she begged me not to take steps toward self-publishing, like finding someone to design a cover for it.

‘It’s far too long. The plot is all over the place. Most of the action happens off stage. It doesn’t resonate with a young adult readership. And it’s too preachy.’

I was devastated.translator

One point she made, which others have also mentioned, was that Cerbonius‘s archaic speech didn’t work. I had given him that antiquated argot because I wanted him to come over as old and provincial. But if it didn’t work, it needed to be changed, I told myself. It needed to be translated from English into English.  Continue reading “Translating English into English”

Religion can make you stink!

Bad religion, that is.

In Late Antiquity, influenced by Platonic dualism, Christianity often promoted an other-worldliness. Let’s get out of this corrupt world as fast as possible so that we can enjoy disembodied bliss in heaven. And in the meantime, we despise all physical aspects of life. Continue reading “Religion can make you stink!”

Mending and recycling clothing in Late Antiquity

Originally posted at Visualising Late Antiquity by

Clothing in Late Antiquity was not the disposable commodity it is nowadays; it was valuable enough to be named in a will, used as surety for loans, or included in a dowry. Literary sources suggest that wealthy and high status individuals had many and beautiful clothes, however for the middle and lower classes clothing was an expensive necessity that was not to be wasted. This was true for the majority of the population, and ranged from enslaved and poverty stricken workers to the relatively prosperous members of the working middle class. While we might expect the former to have ragged and patched clothing, the evidence indicates that even members of the latter group might have needed used or recycled clothing as well as materials to embellish, mend and maintain their clothes.

A child’s wool tunic featuring skilful darning in matching wool (Whitworth Art Gallery T.8375). [Photo: Faith Morgan]
Faith Morgan’s examination of Late Antique garments shows that even high quality garments were …

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