Thursday, September 22, 2011

Acting "Gay": c. 800

For he went to the baths and had himself closely shaved, polished his skin, cleaned his nails, and had his hair cut very short as if it had been done by a lathe. Then he put on linen undergarments and a very white shirt...
--From Two Lives of Charlemagne--

This passage is about a deacon, and although the text doesn't explicitly say he was homosexual the translator was kind enough to add a footnote telling us that was the gist of the author's description.

It got me to thinking:

You wake up, take a bath, scrub your skin and make sure your fingernails are nice and clean; then head down to the barber for a quick shave and a close cropped haircut. You top everything off by putting on a crisp white shirt.

In 9th century France this made you look like a raging homosexual, in 1950's America it made you look like a respectable businessman.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reverse Engineering: c. 800

These same Greek envoys brought with them every kind of organ, as well as other instruments of various kinds. All of these were secretly inspected by the workmen of the most wise Charles, and then exactly reproduced.
--From Two Lives of Charlemagne--

Teachers are helpful, but all you really need is a good example and some motivation.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Save the Children: c. 800

He was very enthusiastic in supporting the poor, and in that spontaneous generosity which the Greeks call alms, so much so that he made a point of not only giving in his own country and his own kingdom, but even overseas when he discovered that there were Christians living in poverty in Syria, Egypt and Africa...
--From Two Lives of Charlemagne--

There's a point where charity becomes vanity and I often wonder where that point lies; something as simple as sending money to poor people in Africa used to be the sort of thing only Emperors would think of doing.