From my diary

Brady Kiesling has kindly sent me a translation from the Greek of codex 186 of Photius’ Bibliotheca.  I have added it to the translations that I have online here.  My list of all the codices – sections – in the Bibliotheca is here.

Photius’ work, composed in the 9th century, consists of summaries of the content of 280 volumes of ancient literature still extant in his day.  Since many are now lost, these summaries are invaluable.

Codex 186 contains a summary of the Fifty Narrations by Conon, a Greek writing at the time of Augustus.  The work gives summaries of Greek mythology.

My sincere thanks to Dr Kiesling for his generosity.  I wish that I could return to translating the Bibliotheca.  Perhaps one day!

I am still convalescing from the vicious dose of flu, which has so far lasted more than three weeks.  Fortunately I seem to be recovering, at long last.

In the mean time, confined to a sofa as I have been, I have taken the opportunity to scour Twitter for claims that “Easter = Ishtar / Astarte” and the like.  All these claims derive from the nonsensical claims of Alexander Hislop in 1850 in his anti-Catholic tract, Two Babylons.  There have been quite a few instances of tweets of this nature, often accompanied by a deliberately hideous depiction of some Babylonian goddess, although fewer than I really expected.

Anyway, I have tweeted a rebuttal of some of them.  Inevitably in some cases this has been met with abuse, or impudence.  It is remarkable how invested some ignorant people are in falsehoods of this kind!  But really, nobody is served by getting the raw facts wrong.  I could wish, however, that there was some way of correcting widely-held mistakes of this kind, other than people like myself writing about it.

This evening I have seen material online suggesting that the damage to the ancient city of Palmyra is rather less than was feared.  I hope this proves to be true.  It is heartening to hear that the Syrians propose to restore the damage.  There is a tendency in Britain to do the opposite.  I remember a fire in a historic street in Ipswich, 20 or 30 years ago.  The Tudor timbers were barely cold before the town council announced its intention, not to rebuild the medieval street as it was, but instead to demolish whatever had survived and build some nondescript modern shops.  And so they did, the vandals.  Thank heavens that the Syrians know better.

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