polutrope: (moar academia)
The traces of the ancient doctrine of Homer's infallibility linger on in contemporary criticism. If something in Homer is not absolutely correct, it must be justified, and cannot by any means be ascribed to poetic license or a slip of the poet's tongue. Felice Vinci takes this idea to its farthest ends in The Baltic Origins of Homer's Epic Tales.

A Long Review )
polutrope: (academia)
So I'm doing reading for the paper due May 19th, not the one due Tuesday morning, or even better, writing the one due Monday afternoon. Whatever, that's what the weekend's for, right?

Anyway, I am glad I did, because I've found my new favorite theories: Olaus Rudbeck, Atlantica, and Daniel Juslenius, Aboa vetus et nova. The first is Swedish, and argues that - wait, I might as well use all of William Wilson's summary - "which 'established' that Sweden was in reality the legendary island Atlantis, the Hyperborean region of Greek mythology... and the source of all culture." Well then.

Of course, the Finns couldn't take this lying down. If the Swedes were going to claim crazy things, well then the Finns were going to claim crazier things! Again, William Wilson summarizes: "He went still farther, boasting that Finnish was actually one of the basic languages created at the confusion of tongues." Of course, this was not all the ancient Finns had done: "The Finns had migrated to their northern home... under the leadership of Noah's grandson Magog. There they had become a mighty warlike nation and had subdued armies as far away as Spain. The women, too, participated in these heroic struggles, for, as Juslenius explained, the Amazons of Greek mythology had lived in Finland."

And nothing like this would be complete without a claim of a great conspiracy against your favored group (which, in the case of people like von Daniken, includes... yourself): "However, the envious Swedes... had destroyed all traces of this learning in order to crush Finnish national feeling."
polutrope: (academia)
So, I might have mentioned Annius of Viterbo to [livejournal.com profile] dolique in an IM. But Annius of Viterbo's crazy cannot be fully divulged in a single line. In fact, in Giants in Those Days, Walter Stephens takes about a hundred pages to do it.

Anyway, as the most-knowing Wiki tells us, Annius of Viterbo forged a lot of things. That's mainly boring - lots of people forge things. Perhaps not on the level of forging multiple texts from multiple cultures, but it's still boring. In any case, Annius had reasons for forging things.

Those reasons involved Giants. Lots of Giants. There were also valid historical reasons - to disassociate Italy from the Greeks, who had just fallen under Turkish rule, and were classified as heretics because of the Great Schism anyway, and to diss the French. But those reasons are much less interesting than Giants.

Noah, for example, was a Giant. After the Flood, he landed in Italy and founded an empire whose capital city was... Viterbo, of course. His successors included Osiris and Hercules of Libya. Isis is also in there somewhere. Also the Etruscans, who had an empire before the Romans, that was purely Italian and didn't fall under the sway of Greek culture.

He also includes some... interesting etymologies of "Gallus" from Hebrew and Latin. Sadly, the only one I remember is the Latin "Hen's Husband." And one other, that will be mentioned later.

However, Stephens doesn't mention whether or not people believed him. I don't imagine he was a popular figure around the monastery.

The scene is in a Dominican monastery in Viterbo in the late 15th century. Brother Sextus is walking peacefully in the garden. Suddenly he sees Brother Annius, and, knowing his theories and his fondness for recounting them, tries to hide. He is unsuccessful.
Annius: Brother Sextus! Good morning.
Sextus: Good morning, Annius. Oh, no, he's going to tell me about the giants, isn't he?
Annius: Have I told you about my theories?
Sextus: Has he forgotten? I should humor him. What if he turns violent? No, you haven't.
Annius, earnestly: Well, you see...
Sextus, during this: Should I tell Father Abbot? Has he told Father Abbot? What if he wants him here to keep him away from the general population? What if he hasn't told Father Abbot, and he thinks I'm crazy? OH GOD GET ME OUT OF HERE.

Anyway, people did take him seriously, and some French scholars didn't approve of his anti-French slant. So they - and by they I mean Jean Lemaire - retconned everything. Stephens says that "The great Hercules of Libya, twelfth king of Gaul" is his stock phrase. Hercules of Libya, by the way, was also a Giant. The Greek Hercules took glory from his predecessor. The French were also, of course, descended from the Trojans. His etymology of "Gallus" is from the Greek meaning "milk-white." Which is also very logical and not made up on the spot at all.

In conclusion, if Annius weren't a monk and we had invented time travel, I'd go back to the 15th century and propose to him right now.
polutrope: (work habits)
My new favorite nut : Ignatius Donnelly.

Highlights of his career: Founding a utopia. Writing crazy books about Atlantis. Passing the bar. Becoming a Congressman.

His Atlantis stuff is patently ridiculous, too. Like von Daniken, but with even less support. He says things like "There can be no question that these gods of Greece were human beings" with a straight face, and also that there was no way that the Greeks had invented their gods, because " Rude nations repeat, they do not invent; to suppose a barbarous people creating their deities out of clouds and sunsets is to reverse nature." Which goes in the face of pretty much all theory, even in 1882.

But on the other hand, he supported workers' rights and women's suffrage and the silver standard. The moral, I suppose, is that one can be stark raving mad and enlightened at the same time.

he's also a Baconist. I don't think I can like him anymore.


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