East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Ancient Greek Insults – a primer

Greek was the language of phylosophy (and of commerce) to the ancient Romans, and therefore it was sort of a lingua franca in the Mediterranean.
As I have often explained, it is likely that Aculeo and Amunet speak in Greek to each other – and indeed Amunet tends to use Greek swearwords wjhen she goes over the top, reserving Latin profanities only to those she is sure can understand them.

dirtywords-300x217So, after yesterday’s roundup of Latin dirty words, here’s a quick list of Ancient Greek terms that are absolutely not safe for works, especially if you are a citizen of the Empire… Continue reading


Reading on Latin obscenities

51yI5IZ-QxL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_As I crawl towards my fifty-first birthday, friends are starting to hit me with gifts. Books and records, mostly, because they know what I like.
And so here I am with a small booklet that promises to up my game in a very specific field – that of ancient profanities.
Come insultavano gli antichi, that is How the ancients insulted is a small collection of profanities, extracted from Greek and Latin sources, showing a fine (well, maybe fine is not the right word) selection of bad words and obscene phrases.
Saying bad words in Greek and Latin the subtitle reads, and the book does in fact include the original texts for reference.

Time to finish this one, and I think I’ll be ready for another post on the subject – the topic seems to be much appreciated by the readers out there, after all.

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The Consul, the Elephant and the Sarcophagus

This is a story that features an elephant, an Egyptian sarcophagus, and a man that walked the fine line between academia and being an adventurer, all the while serving the French government and his own interests (not necessarily in this order).

DrovettiI’m putting together the special contents for the SuperDeLuxe Edition of AMARNA, and because of this, and because of an article I’ve written for a Turin-based magazine, I did some digging about Bernardino Drovetti.
Drovetti’s work in Egypt and in Luxor in particular is a central element in the backstory of my serial, and the guy was certainly a character.
You’ll probably remember we had last met him, here on Karavansara, when he sent his men to harass and try to kill Giovanni Battista Belzoni, the archaeologist and adventurer.

But things get a lot more interesting than that, and following Drovetti’s tracks, I stumbled on a number of weird things. Continue reading

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The man who invented the periscope

Photo_of_Morgan_RobertsonMorgan Andrew Robertson said he had invented the periscope. He had written a story, called The Submarine Destroyer, in 1905, which featured a submarine provided with a telescoping periscope, and called it a periscope, so he claimed he had invented the thing.
A former jeweler that had to find another job due to a loss of eyesight, Robertson mostly wrote sea stories, being the son of a Great Lakes captain and having spent ten years in the Merchant Marines (he had ran away from home at the age of 16, in 1877).

He mostly wrote short stories and novellas, that he sold to the story magazines that came before the pulps. He started writing, apparently, after reading some rather bad sea stories and going “What the heck! I can do better than that!”

He never made much money with his writing, but he sort of did better than that. Continue reading