Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Figures of Speech: Hendiadys



Hendiadys are a figure of speech. it is an expression of an idea by the use of usually two independent words connected by the word "and" instead of the usual combination of independent word and is modifier. The origin of the word "hendiadys" is in the Late Latin word "hendiadyion", a modification of the Greek "hen dia dyoin" which literally means "one through two". The first known use of the device in English was circa 1577.
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William Shakespeare (1564-1616) often used hendiadys in his plays. For example, in his play Hamlet, he used the figure of speech sixty-six time. Some examples are below.

The book and volume of my brain

Oh this is hire and salary not revenge

The food and diet of some enterprise

Of this post-haste and rummage in the land

The gross and scope of my opinion

Most holy and religious fear

The single and peculiar life

The strength and amour of the mind

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Angels and ministers of grace defend us

The glass of fashion and the mold of form

The very age and body of the time
his form and pressure

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Interesting Facts about the U.S. Declaration of Independence



The American colonies had been at war with Great Britain for over a year when the document was signed.

The American Revolutionary War, aka: the American War of Independence, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen North American British colonies in North America on April 19, 1775 and ended September 3, 1783. The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) lasted 8 years and 137 days.

Because no nation had ever written a formal document declaring independence from another nation, there was no prototype document to follow by those who were assembled in Philadelphia in 1776 for declaring independence.

There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence, but it isn't a secret map or code. Instead, there are a few handwritten words that say, "Original Declaration of Independence/ dated 4th July 1776". No one knows who wrote this, but it was probably added as a label when the document was rolled up for storage many years ago.

Once the Declaration of Independence had been written and signed, printer John Dunlap was asked to make about 200 copies to be distributed throughout the colonies. Today, the “Dunlap Broadsides” are extremely rare and valuable. In 1989, someone discovered a previously unknown Dunlap Broadside. It was sold for over $8 million in 2000. There are only 26 known surviving Dunlap Broadsides today.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence had various occupations: 24 were lawyers, 11 were merchants, 9 were farmers and plantation owners.

The average age of the signers of the Declaration was 45.

1 out of 8 signers (7 in total) were educated at Harvard.

Although Thomas Jefferson is often called the “author” of the Declaration of Independence, he was not the only person who contributed important ideas. Jefferson was a member of a five-person committee appointed by the Continental Congress to write the Declaration. The committee included Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman.

The Continental Congress made 86 changes to the draft.

Robert Livingston, one of the members of the committee who wrote the Declaration of Independence, never signed it. He believed that it was too soon to declare independence and therefore refused to sign.

One of the most widely held misconceptions about the Declaration of Independence is that it was signed on July 4, 1776. In fact, independence was formally declared on July 2, 1776, a date that John Adams believed would be “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration. It was not signed until August 2, 1776.

After Jefferson wrote his first draft of the Declaration, the other members of the Declaration committee and the Continental Congress made 86 changes to Jefferson’s draft, including shortening the overall length by more than a fourth.

When writing the first draft of the Declaration, Jefferson primarily drew upon two sources: his own draft of a preamble to the Virginia Constitution and George Mason’s draft of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights.

Jefferson was quite unhappy about some of the edits made to his original draft of the Declaration of Independence. He had originally included language condemning the British promotion of the slave trade (even though Jefferson himself was a slave owner). This criticism of the slave trade was removed in spite of Jefferson’s objections.

On December 13, 1952, the Declaration of Independence (along with the Constitution and Bill of Rights) was formally delivered to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where it has remained since then.

The two youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence were both from South Carolina. Thomas Lynch, Jr. and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina were both born in 1749 and were only 26 when they signed the Declaration. Most of the other signers were in their 40s and 50s.

English philosopher John Locke’s ideas were an important influence on the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson restated Locke’s contract theory of government when he wrote in the Declaration that governments derived “their just Powers from the consent of the people.”

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the vote to approve the Declaration of Independence.

Some of the most famous lines in the Declaration of Independence were inspired by Virginia’s Declaration of Rights by George Mason. Mason said: “all men are born equally free and independent.” Jefferson's Declaration of Independence said: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Mason listed man's “natural Rights” as “Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.” Jefferson listed man's "inalienable rights" as "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Nine of the signers of the Declaration died before the American Revolution ended in 1783.
In the summer of 1776, when the Declaration was signed, the population of the nation is estimated to have been about 2.5 million. Today the population of the U.S. is more than 300 million.

The oldest signer of the Declaration was Benjamin Franklin, who was born in 1706 and was therefore already 70 at the time of the Declaration. Franklin went on to help negotiate the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778 and the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War in 1783.

The only signer of the Declaration of Independence to survive beyond the 50th anniversary of the signing was Charles Carroll of Maryland. Carroll died in 1832 when he was 95 years old.

Charles Carroll was the only Catholic who signed the Declaration of Independence.

The copy of the Declaration of Independence that is housed at the National Archives is not the draft that was approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Instead it is a formal copy that the Continental Congress hired someone to make for them after the text was approved. This formal copy was probably made by Timothy Matlack, an assistant to the Secretary of Congress. This copy was signed on August 2, 1776.

No one who signed the Declaration of Independence was born in the United States of America. The United States didn't exist until after the Declaration was signed! However, all but eight of the signers were born in colonies that would become the United States.

Although August 2, 1776, was the date of the official signing ceremony, there were several people who signed on later dates. Some of these late signers included Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean and Matthew Thornton.

The original document sheet of parchment paper measured 24¼ by 29¾ inches.

The last signer of the Declaration of Independence was Matthew Thornton from New Hampshire who signed on November 4, 1776.

Signing the Declaration of Independence was extremely dangerous - a treasonable act punishable by death. The Congress initially kept the names of the men who signed the document secret until January 1777 to protect them from charges of treason.

The Declaration of Independence states that the authority to govern belongs to the people, rather than to kings, that all people are created equal and have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 
George Washington ordered that the Declaration of Independence be read to  the American army in New York when it was first printed.

The First Public reading of the Declaration of Independence was in Philadelphia's Independence Square on July 8, 1776.

The Declaration has only left the capital twice. The first time was when the British attacked Washington during the War of 1812, and the second time was during World War II from late 1941 until the fall of 1944 when it was stored at Fort Knox. 

Independence Hall was originally called the Pennsylvania State House, but was changed after the signing of the Declaration of Independence when it became Independence Hall.

A bell sounded from the tower of Independence Hall on July 8, 1776, summoning citizens to gather for the first public reading by Colonel John Nixon. This bell eventually became known as the Liberty Bell.

It was not until 1941 that Congress declared 4th of July a federal legal holiday.

The Ancient Belief in Dreams



In  modern times, our dreams affect our daily lives on a more subconscious level, but for our ancestors, dreams were an important guide for adjusting their lives and activities. When our ancestors would dream, their emotional response would be carried over into the next day. For example, if a person had a positive dream about someone, it could result in a strengthened emotional bond between the dreamer and the other person. On the other hand, a negative dream could ruin a relationship. Dreams, therefore, had a significant impact in shaping ancient cultures, as humans would project their dreams onto their waking life, influencing behavior, social interaction, and inspiration for new ideas.

A strong faith in dreams is a major unifying factor in the three religions which trace their roots to Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These dreams often offered divinely inspired guidance, wisdom, inspiration, and intervention. Thus, dreams played a vital role in the birth and evolution of these religions. Abraham was one of the most prolific dreamers in the Hebrew Bible, Joseph was warned in a  dream to flee to Egypt with wife and the infant Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation during a dream. These dreams mirrored the ancient belief that dreams were a primary method for sacred intervention and revelation. 

It was a common belief in ancient Egypt that the dream state carried the dreamer into a divine realm. Here, interaction with the gods for prophetic visions was made possible through a process called “dream incubation.” During this incubation, the dreamer, following days of fasting, cleansing, and other ritualistic practices, would go to a specific temple dedicated to the god they wished to communicate with in order to obtain advice on worldly and spiritual matters. Following their visions, dream interpreters would elucidate the dream and offer insight into the future of the dreamer as given to them by the gods.

From myths to historical texts to ancient inscriptions, dreams have played a part in ancient literature. The earliest written example of dream interpretation can be found in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. It is here in the world’s first recorded piece of literature that dreams are incorporated in the text and these dreams allude to metaphorical traits of Gilgamesh’s undiscovered self.

Fifth Century B.C. Ancient Greek historian Herodotus who is referred to as the father of history also wrote about dreams. In Book One of Histories, the Lydian King Croesus dreams that his son will die as a result of a spearhead wound. Croesus gets a bodyguard to protect his son during a hunt. However, his efforts are futile, and his son is accidentally speared by the bodyguard himself. Herodotus also describes a dream of King Astyages, where his daughter Mandane urinates all over Asia, flooding the entire continent. Astyages then dreams that she gives birth to a vine that puts Asia under a full shadow. This came to be when Mandane’s son, Cyrus the Great, who dethroned his grandfather in the Sixth Century B.C. and became King of the Persians.

Many other ancient and classical texts also used dream interpretation as prophetic literature, such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Aeschylus’s Oresteia, Macrobius’s Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, Pausanias’s Description of Greece, and Pindar’s Olympian Odes. Writers during the Middle Ages, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, presented allegorical tales in their work through a narrative framework of a dream. This allowed the writing to incorporate more personifications and symbolism, further inspiring many of the dream visions used in literary works of the Romantic period.

The origins of psychology are deeply rooted in dream interpretation. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle can be credited as one of the main influences in laying the foundations of psychology. He believed that dreams projected the mental health of the dreamer and could give insight into the mind as a reflection of waking life. According to Aristotle, while awake, we can easily distinguish between reality and imagination, but while we sleep, this ability is no longer present. This is why dreams seem so real at the time we’re experiencing them. Because of this belief, Aristotle claimed that dreams were a product of experiences, thoughts, and emotions we had while awake and were the mind’s way of revealing and sorting out mental anxiety.

In Artemidorus’s dream interpretation book, Oneirocritica, he divided dreams into two basic types, one direct and the other allegorical. The latter type was believed to signify what the soul was trying to convey to the mind and body. Both Aristotle’s and Artemidorus’s interest in dream interpretation to explore the deep corners of the mind in terms of psychology would later pave the way for Freud’s foundation of psychoanalysis, giving the world more information on the science and nature of dreams than it had ever received in history.

Many ancient rulers would often seek advice from dream interpreters when making important political or military decisions. Alexander the Great of Ancient Greece was led by a dream to conquer the Phoenician city of Tyre, and the Second Century B.C. Carthaginian military commander Hannibal believed his dreams revealed military tactics as prophetic instructions.

A common idea in philosophy is that what we think of the real world could be an illusion or a figment of our imagination. The first recorded mention of this concept is in the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhou’s famous dream: The Butterfly Dream. In this vision, Zhou is a butterfly that is ignorant of his identity as Zhou. Upon awakening from the dream, he is confused; is he actually Zhou, who had just dreamed of being a butterfly, or is he a butterfly that is now dreaming that he is Zhou? In conclusion, what Zhou is conveying is that there is the possibility that reality is a dream, and by accepting this idea, one should separate absolute representations from objects and people we perceive to be “real.” Through dreams, our ancestors developed a curiosity for what was outside of their own physical existence, sparking an interest in philosophy and the nature of reality. This idea would later shape the famous phrase coined by the French philosopher of the 17th century, Rene Descartes: cogito, ergo sum, or I think, therefore I am.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Little Known Historic Facts



Saint Simeon Stylites was a Catholic monk who gained fame in the 5th century for spending 37 years standing on a small platform on top of a tall pillar in Syria. He did it for ascetic reasons and his example was followed in later years by other well known stylite saints. 

In the First Dynasty of ancient Egypt, hoards of staff and family members were walled up with the body of the dead king. The humans and animals buried with the king were expected to help him in the afterlife.

In 1927 Otto Rohwedder invented sliced bread. He made the first machine to slice and wrap bread and won a patent for the process. After only six years from invention, more sliced bread was sold than unsliced.

In 1911, pigtails were banned in China because they were seen as a link with its feudal past.
To save the effort of sailing boats upstream, Ancient Mesopotamian traders built collapsible boats which they would sail downstream with a donkey on board. At the other end of their journey they would sell the frame and when they finished trading, they would use the donkey to return home.

In Ancient Rome the punishment for killing one’s father was to be drowned in a sack along with a viper, a dog, and a rooster.

Alexander the Great invented a spying technique still used today. He had his soldiers write letters home which he then intercepted and read to discover who was against him.

In Gubbio, Northern Italy, a race has been run every year since the 12th century and the outcome is always rigged. Villagers carry three statues in the race, Saints Ubaldo (for whom the race was started), Anthony and George. Every year Saint Ubaldo comes first, Saint George second, and Saint Anthony last.

When anaesthetic was used for the first time in childbirth in 1847, the mother was so amazed and relieved at how painless the birth was that she named her child Anaesthesia.

The last time a cavalry charge was used in war was in the Second World War. A Mongolian cavalry division charged against a German infantry division. The result was that not one German was killed but 2,000 of the cavalry were.

The grid layout used in many cities around the world is not a new invention. It first appeared in the city of Mohenjo Daro, in India, 4,500 years ago. And, the houses on one the side of the streets had bare walls facing the street to keep out the sun and dust from carts.

The first policewoman who joined the Los Angeles Police Department was Alice Stebbins Wells in 1910. Because she was the first and only policewoman, she designed her own police uniform.
In the 1700s in Paris, women wore hats with lightning rods attached when venturing outdoors during bad weather. It turned out to be a very bad idea.

In circa 3100–3050 BC, Egypt was ruled by its very first Pharaoh, King Menes. It was said by the Ancient Egyptians that he was the first human ruler inheriting the throne from the Egyptian god, Horus.

Gorgias of Epirus, a 3rd century BC Greek sophist, was born in his dead mother’s coffin. Pallbearers heard him crying out as they carried his mother’s coffin to the grave. 

The best-selling book of the 15th century was an erotic book called The Tale of the Two Lovers. It is still read today. The author of this book was none other than Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, otherwise known as Pope Pius II, who reigned from 1458-1464.

In Ancient Egypt, cats were considered so sacred that when a family cat died, the entire family would shave off their eyebrows and remain in mourning until they had grown back.

The model for Uncle Sam on the famous 1917 poster which said “I want you” is the face of the painter, James Montgomery Flagg. For effect he aged his own portrait and added the goatee beard. Flagg used his own picture in order to avoid the need to find a model.

There is no such thing as the U. S. Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1862, Lincoln signed into law a resolution creating a “Medal of Honor” which is the official and only title for what most people think is the “Congressional Medal”.

In 200 BC, when the Ancient Greek city of Sparta was at the height of its power, there were 20 slaves for every citizen.

The tiny country of Andorra declared war on Imperial Germany during World War I, but did not actually take part in the fighting. It remained in an official state of belligerency until 1957 as it was not included in the Versailles Peace Treaty.

Only two people signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. The majority of the other members of Congress signed on August 2, 1776, although the final signature wasn’t added for another five years.

As a restorative medicine in Ancient Rome, people would drink a mixture of wine and the dung of wild boars.

During the Christian Western Schism (1378 to 1417), three men simultaneously claimed to be the legitimate Pope. When the cardinals didn’t like the Pope they originally elected, they elected a second (invalidly). This caused great troubles in the Church which lead to the election of a third Pope by the council of Pisa (also invalidly). Thus, there were three claimants to the throne: Pope Gregory XII, Anti-Pope Benedict XIII, and Anti-Pope John XXIII. It was finally ended when the original election was considered the only valid one of the lot.

In 1904, tea bags were accidentally invented. The inventor, Thomas Sullivan, a tea merchant, decided that it was cheaper to send small samples to prospective customers in silk bags rather than boxes. The recipients mistakenly believed they were meant to be dunked and soon Sullivan was inundated with orders for his “tea bags”. 

The oldest parachute design appears in an anonymous manuscript from 1470s Renaissance Italy -over 400 years before the airplane was invented. A drawing of it showing a free-hanging man clutching a cross bar frame attached to a conical canopy. As a safety measure, four straps run from the ends of the rods to a waist belt.

In the late 1700s, a tobacco enema was used to infuse tobacco smoke into a patient’s rectum for various medical purposes, primarily the resuscitation of drowning victims. A rectal tube inserted into the anus was connected to a fumigator and bellows that forced the smoke towards the rectum.

The U.S. income tax, along with many other taxes imposed during the Civil War, was repealed after 1865 because the government simply had no need for the extra revenue. The majority of federal income came from taxes on tobacco and alcohol which were hot commodities during the  war.

In Ancient Rome, there were people who specialized in armpit plucking. Sometime around 1 AD, Roman aristocrats interested in fashion, removed all of their body hair. Requirements for the profession were tweezers, a strong arm and the ability to deal with their customer’s pain.

It was not uncommon for animals but not their owners in Medieval England to be put on trial for criminal offenses. If the crime were severe enough to cause human bodily injury or death, the animal was "executed".