From my diary

A reader kindly purchased a CD of my collection of the Fathers in English (available here).  Since this collections is something that I work on continuously, I don’t keep a stock.  So the order meant that I had to produce one.

I spent most of the morning trying to do so, and having baffling difficulties.  This was my own fault entirely.  What I did was to use Windows 7’s built-in facility to burn CDROM’s. When you pop a blank CDR disk into your drive, Windows pops up a menu asking if you want to burn data to CD.  I tried doing this, and it failed with “not enough space”.  Plainly the facility wasn’t familiar with the 700Mb CD-R format.  But …

What I did not realise was that Windows does not clean up after itself.  It leaves the files to be burned sitting in a temporary directory, and it leaves some kind of lock on the drive.

I learned this the hard way.  I realised that Windows wouldn’t serve my purpose, so I fired up the software I usually use to do this.  And the burn failed, mysteriously, wasting a blank disk.  And the next one did the same.  And then I rebooted, and, on reboot, got a message about files waiting to be burned to disk.  I cleaned these out, tried again, and … failed again.

In the end I got a fresh blank disk, and a small Word file, and did a burn using Windows 7 of that.  It worked perfectly, ran to end, and … reset whatever lock was messing up the other software.

That cost me a morning of my life.  The moral is not to use Windows to burn data CD’s.

After lunch, I came back and worked some more on proofing Ibn Abi Usaibia.  I reached page 750.  Only 200 pages remain.  I subdivided the remaining files into 40-page “projects”, as this gives a reasonable sense of achievement on a regular basis.  Anyone who sets out with a single project and 950 pages to proof is likely to give up, out of sheer exhaustion!  But break it up into smaller chunks, and the inner man is much happier.  Know thyself, as the man said.

I’m still reading Grant’s Greek and Roman authors.  It is a book that would be far better in chronological order.  But I’m still getting value out of reading it, cover to cover.  I realise from this how many classical Greek dramatic authors there are.  I learn how little I know about this literature!  But candidly, I acquired a set of the Loeb editions of the plays of the Latin dramatist Plautus, and I really couldn’t get into them at all.  Eventually I disposed of them.  I don’t have a single volume of ancient plays (or any other, come to that) on my shelves.  I just don’t care for drama, I think.

Last night I also read through Hinnells paper on Cautes and Cautopates.  It was very dry, consisting of solid statistical information.  What I did NOT see in it, however, was any reference whatsoever to the two attendants of Mithras carrying shepherd’s crooks.  This particular legend bubbles under on the web.  Vermaseren claims (in Mithras: the secret god) that some relief shows this; but I am very doubtful.  The image he gives looks dubious to me, and there is no indication of provenance.  It is entirely possible for authors to read into reliefs the things that they expect to see!  The Cumontian authors were terrible in just this respect. But I hope to acquire some PDF’s of Vermaseren’s real scholarly opus, the CIMRM, and so perhaps I can see precisely what there is to support his claims.   I suspect it is a phantom.

A bunch of  pages translated from the German of Methodius, “De Lepra”, has arrived.  This is a relief, because I had begun to wonder if that project was dead.  I’ve had no chance to look at these yet.  The translator also sent me a sample of a translation of the first chunk of embedded Greek.  I’ve passed it over to a trusted friend to check it over.  I don’t know whether the Greek is very good, tho.  My suspicions are roused because it doesn’t make that much sense in English.  The translator subcontracted that bit, and I have no idea whether the person responsible is up to the job.  We will see, in due course.


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