Ancient word of the day: Augury

According to the Romans, every sound and motion the bird made had a different meaning according to different circumstances, times of the year and other factors.

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Athena Expelling the Vices from the Garden of Virtue 1502 by Andrea Mantegna

Opening Pandora’s Box: Phrases Borrowed from the Classics and the Stories Behind Them by Ferdie Addis

If you are in love with language, storytelling, folklore or classical history then you will love this book. It’s short at only 162 pages. However Opening Pandora’s Box punches well above its weight in terms of quality with many amusing and shocking stories from classical history to enjoy.

Les Oréades (1902) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, in Musée d'Orsay

Ancient word of the day: Nymph

In Greek mythology, the nymphs were tiny and minor goddesses that each presided over a type of landscape feature. Normally something glimmering, glittering and bewitching in nature like waterfalls, streams, mountains, lakes or trees. The name nymphe means bride in Greek and so the tiny and bewitching nymphs represented the brides or maidens of the…

Arachne (1884) by Otto Henry Bacher. Source: Met Museum

Ancient word of the day: Arachnid

According to ancient Greek myth, the first spider to ever live was a once human girl named Arachne. She lived in the ancient city of Lydia in Turkey and was famous for her ability to weave beautiful clothing. Arachne gained fame for her weaving and became boastful of her ability, telling people that her weaving…

Book Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is the first fantasy novel of acclaimed Japanese writer Kazuo Ishiguro. Previously, I have read The Remains of the Day, an incredible book that was turned into a successful film of the same name. Although creating a fantasy novel is a huge departure from his usual setting. In many ways, this book contains the…

Unusual augurs of thunder in ancient times

Unusual augurs of thunder in medieval England

In times of yore ( yore occurring around 1389) the appearance of thunder was a mixed bag. Thunder during January augured bumper crops, along with war when it crackled over the sky. However, thunder in December heralded abundant fruit trees, provisions and harmony among people. Harry the Hayward's Thunder Prognostication Chart (1389) Harry the Hayward's…

Omnia tempus habent: a delightful medieval rhyming calendar | December ~ And at Christemasse I drinke red wine

Omnia tempus habent: a delightful medieval rhyming calendar

Omnia tempus habent - All things have their season. Ecclesiastes Here is a medieval rhyming calendar depicting the labours of the months in the fields, designing in rhyming couplets dating from 14th century England. And yes the mis-spelling of the words is intentional. This is how it was spelt in Old English of medieval times.…

The ancient and elusive fairisle of Hy Brasil

Hy Brasil is a mysterious phantom island that was thought to exist off the west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean for hundreds of years. The area being nautically challenging for seafarers, it was an elusive and mysterious place, hailed in pre-Christian times as being the Celtic Elysium or land of promise. During Christian…

I bought this lovely book in Tokyo a month ago and they wrapped it up as though it were made of gold, in its lovely wrapping paper.

Book Review – Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

* Contains no plot spoilers This has to be my favourite Murakami novel so far. Although I’m not even half way through his oeuvre.  The plot is a compelling and slow unravelling of two separate strands. The first strand is the 15 year old Kafka Tamura, a teen runaway who takes refuge in a remote…