Sun and Mirror ineffective?
It's long been a an article of faith that Archimedes used mirrors to set fire to and destroy the Roman fleet during the siege of Syracuse in 213 BC. The story in fact comes from Iohannes Zonaras, a Byzantine chronicler of 12th century AD, who précised the works of earlier writers (including Cassius Dio, for the period of the Punic Wars). A team from MIT last week tried to set fire to a ship with mirrors in San Francisco harbour- they couldn't get it to do more than smoulder a bit. Having failed themselves, they now claim that the great Archimedes could not possibly have succeeded. Seems a pretty feeble experiment to me! [Guardian 24 Oct 2005 - with Zonaras erroneously assigned to AD 12 rather that 12 century AD!] .
In a programme called "A Brief History of Spin" broadcast tonight, the
Oxford Historian Felipe Fernandez Armesto awards the second prize for
the greatest spin doctors of all time to Gaius Maecenas, publicist to
the emperor Augustus. He manipulated his patron's image so successfully
that few outside the ranks of ancient historian realise that the man
who "found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble" (not a
bad sound-bite) began his career as a world class mass-murderer. Forget
Ted Sorensen and Pierre Salinger, forget Peter Mandelson or even James
Carville - this guy could have made Pol Pot into Mother Theresa (and
who did her publicity?). [Leviathan, BBC TV September 25
Colin Tweedy, chief executive of Arts and Business, hopes to find an extra £140m for the arts by enlisting donors in a scheme that rewards them with a modest lapel pin with the head of Maecenas, now proclaimed the founding father of giving to the arts by Arts and Business.
"The idea of Maecenas is to change the culture, to make people - individuals and businesses - proud of giving to the arts, to make them boast about it, to make them feel loved and valued in return. The money is there, we just have to extract it. We have to teach people how to give, and teach arts organisations how to ask."
A closer study of the Augustan period might have revealed that Maecenas was truly the patron of Spin Doctors rather than the arts - he recruited the top figures from popular culture and bribed them to celebrate the regime. But Horace and Virgil were clever enough to include their own agenda while apparently toeing the line. [Guardian 1 March 2004]
The Euro - which became the only legal currency in most of Europe at midnight - has the Greek letter epsilon as its symbol, with an extra line to emphasise its stability. Let's hope. More here. [January 1st, 2002]
So it's dear old Aristotle still at the top after 2,400 years.
Small Latin and less Greek?