What’s your favorite hellenistic Greek City-State and why?
So, even as a classicist it has never really occurred to me to have a favourite Hellenistic Greek city-state (because… why?). Maybe this makes me a bad classicist. But it really seems like a weird thing to have, because we usually think of the Hellenistic period as the era when the city states don’t particularly matter anymore; it’s all about empires and god-kings. So I had this hour-long discussion with Jim the Editor about what possible valid answers this question could even have, because what still counts as a city-state in the Archaic-to-Classical Greek sense? He doesn’t think anything that’s part of one of the big kingdoms counts, because city-states are supposed to have political autonomy – so we can’t pick the really big centres like Alexandria or Antioch, and Jim thinks Pergamon does still count, whereas I don’t think you can count Pergamon if you’re not also willing to count Alexandria (and anyway, can’t you be both a city state and the capital of an empire? I mean… Athens and the Delian League, for fµ¢£’s sake). And then what even counts as Greek, because all this stuff is, like… Greco-Macedonian(-Persian?) koine that doesn’t closely resemble classical Greece in its politics, society or culture; the only ones that you could reasonably argue aren’t a little Macedonian by this point are the western colonies (Syracuse, Neapolis, Tarentum, Massilia, etc.) and Sparta (and no one, at all, in the world cares about Hellenistic Sparta). Or you can swing wildly in the other direction and argue with equal merit that everything is Greek, because I have definitely heard people suggest, only a little bit ironically, that Rome is in practice a Greek city-state up until basically the Punic Wars (especially if you buy into Dionysius’ “the Romans are totally Greek, guys!” bull$#!t).
So yeah, I dunno. My actual favourite is probably Cyrene but they only barely make it into the Hellenistic period with their independence so maybe that’s not in the spirit of the thing. Rhodes is cool. Colossus of Helios, obviously. Lots of good glasswork done on Rhodes in the Hellenistic period too, and I am nothing if not a glass nerd. Syracuse has Archimedes’ giant death laser (I want to believe, okay???). Hellenistic Athens is really interesting, actually; like, we all fixate on the Classical stuff in Athens but they get up to just as much Game of Thrones bull$#!t as any Hellenistic monarch in trying to preserve their independence and democratic traditions. They also have this fascinating position as, like, the ex-cultural capital of the Greek world that they continue to leverage for political gain well into the time of the Roman Empire. These are certainly some opinions that I have.
Who was right, Aegon or Rhaenyra?
So, I didn’t know the deep lore of A Song of Ice and Fire well enough to remember on my own exactly who Aegon and Rhaenyra are or what there was for either of them to be right about, so take this with a grain of salt… but I talked to Jim the Editor about this and read part of a wiki article, and it seems pretty clear-cut that Rhaenyra was the rightful heir and got fµ¢£ed over? I mean… it’s A Song of Ice and Fire so obviously the whole story is ridiculously complicated and I assume everyone involved was absolutely awful in one way or another, but the actual inciting dispute of the civil war feels to me like an open-and-shut case.
Can you recommend any good resources for learning about Aegean depictions of cephalopods?
That’s a… concerningly specific request
and this is coming from a guy whose thesis is on Roman window glass
So, uh… I mean, there’s nothing off the top of my head that isn’t ludicrously dry and technical; like, if you have JSTOR access or similar you could search for some of Penelope Mountjoy’s articles on the Late Minoan IB “Marine Style” but they’re, um… not exactly page-turners. They probably won’t make a lot of sense without a fairly thorough grounding in Minoan archaeology, and honestly I’m not even sure they’ll tell you what you want to know, if you’re interested in, like, the accuracy of anatomical details. Is the Marine Style what you mean? Because that’s where my mind instantly goes on hearing “Aegean depictions of cephalopods,” but without context that phrasing is… kinda broad. There’s a bunch of Attic black and red figure pots with octopuses(-pi/-podes) on them that you can find by searching the Beazley Archive database (type “octopus” into the “decoration description” field and hit “list” at the bottom of the page); I dunno if anyone’s ever written anything about them and at a glance it looks like a lot of them just have the octopus as a shield device or a generic ocean-themed ornament, but… I mean, they’re there if you want ‘em, I guess.
The regional variant Pokémon we’re looking at today all evolve from Pokémon that do not have regional variant forms of their own – a Pikachu, Cubone or Exeggcute caught or hatched in Alola will look much the same as a Pikachu, Cubone or Exeggcute caught or hatched anywhere else. In fact, they don’t just look the same, they are the same; an Alolan Pikachu that is sent to Galar will evolve into a standard Raichu (even though Sword and Shield do know what an Alolan Raichu is, and Pokémon games do track each individual Pokémon’s region of origin), while a Pikachu that arrives in Alola from anywhere else will evolve into an Alolan Raichu. That’s weird, because other regional forms don’t work this way (with the exception of two Galarian forms, Weezing and Mr. Mime); you can take an Alolan Rattata to any region of the world and keep it there for as long as you like, it’ll still evolve into an Alolan Raticate. Let’s see if we can figure out what’s going on here.
Continue reading “Alolan Raichu, Marowak and Exeggutor”
Should Hannibal have gone for Rome?
Well… to my mind, he did. I mean, that’s what he was doing in Italy. It’s just that the Romans’ strategy after Cannae was to ensure that a direct assault on the city would always be prohibitively difficult and dangerous. I’m not a military historian or an expert on the Middle Republic, and maybe I’d have stronger opinions about this if I were, but I just don’t think our sources for the Second Punic War give us a good enough picture of the overall strategic situation for there to be any profit in second-guessing the moves of a general who was there on the ground. Like, clearly he thought attacking the city wouldn’t have worked, and he knew a lot more about the capabilities of both the Roman and Carthaginian armies than anyone alive today. Jim the Editor thinks Hannibal probably saw attacking Rome as too big a gamble, risking his entire army and his foothold in Italy when he could just keep wearing the Romans down and demoralising them until they eventually capitulated. That’s not actually what happened, of course, but it’s very difficult to know whether the alternative strategy would have produced better results.
Which Pokemon would you choose for your personal sigil and why?
Should this just be my favourite Pokémon? Is there a reason for it not to be my favourite Pokémon; should I have a better reason than that?
Well, my favourite Pokémon is Vileplume (for reasons discussed herein). The Pokémon that represents me, that really is who I am and aspire to be deep down, is Druddigon, who lives in a cave being surly and irritable, occasionally emerging to terrorise a village and eat people. So I guess it’s one of those two (or both; I could have my arms quartered or something, right?). I hope that answers your question.
Do you prefer pahoehoe or aa?
I, uh… can honestly say I’ve never thought about it or developed a preference until this moment, but I suppose I like the smooth, flowing, wavy appearance of pāhoehoe. For what it’s worth, Jim the Editor says he likes a’a.