Water by Morgan Maassen
The word “influenza” comes from the Latin influentia because people used to believe that the influence of the planets, stars, and moon caused the flu—for only such universal influence could explain such sudden and widespread sickness.
Eilmer of Malmesbury was an 11th-century English Benedictine monk best known for his early attempt at a gliding flight using wings.
He is known to have written on astrology. All that is known of him is written by the eminent medieval historian William of Malmesbury in about 1125. In his words:
He was a man learned for those times, of ripe old age, and in his early youth had hazarded a deed of remarkable boldness. He had by some means, I scarcely know what, fastened wings to his hands and feet so that, mistaking fable for truth, he might fly like Daedalus, and, collecting the breeze upon the summit of a tower, flew for more than a furlong [201 metres]. But agitated by the violence of the wind and the swirling of air, as well as by the awareness of his rash attempt, he fell, broke both his legs and was lame ever after. He used to relate as the cause of his failure, his forgetting to provide himself a tail.
Eilmer typified the inquisitive spirit of medieval enthusiasts who developed small drawstring toy helicopters, windmills, and sophisticated sails for boats. Church artists increasingly showed angels with ever more accurate depictions of bird-like wings. This led to a general acceptance that air was something that could be “worked.” Flying was thus not magical, but could be attained by physical effort and human reasoning.
image: (x) Detail from Edwardian Stained glass in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire. This image is the work of Bell & Co of Bristol. It dates from 1921.
You know what’s not possible without honeybees? Your morning cup of coffee.
From the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees - Emma Bryce
Animation by Lillian Chan
Congrats Gavin (Zen Pencils) for your originality, skill & tenacity. Look forward to your book!
A frequently occurring motif in Minoan art: the bull leaper.
A dangerous and difficult acrobatic feat, bull leaping is thought to have been a key religious ritual of the Minoan civilization in Bronze Age Crete. The strength of the bull may have lay behind their religious importance to the Minoans.
The bull was sacred to many early civilizations, and had a central role in Greek mythology around Crete. Because of this, many believe that bulls played a vital role in Minoan cults. The Minoans appear to have been skilled bull jumpers, as indicated by their representations in ancient art. It seems as though a person would grasp the horns, and be vaulted, or somersaulted, over the back of the bull. Bull leaping may have been part ritual, part sport, and part entertainment. It is also possible that the bull was sacrificed afterwards. Archaeologists suggest that bull leaping may have been practiced in the central courtyard of the palace at Knossos, where many artifacts featuring the bull, and bull leaper, have been found.
The shown example of a Minoan bull leaper was found in Crete, and dates to about 1700-1450 BC. In this depiction of the bull leaping motif, the person somersaults over the bull’s head, landing with both their feet on its back. The legs and arms of the figure do not remain.
Elsewhere in ancient art, a few other famous representations of Minoan bull leaping include the fresco from the Great Palace at Knossos, and this ivory figurine of a bull leaper also from the Palace of Knossos.
So are such leaps possible? The British Museum elaborates:
It seems highly unlikely that an acrobat could grasp a bull’s horns and use the toss of its head to flip over onto its back, because of the unpredictability of the bull’s movements.
Perhaps in reality the bulls were restrained or even tamed. Certainly some Minoan representations show bulls being captured, tethered and led, as well as apparently being held by the horns.
It is probable that the Minoans put considerable effort and long experience into the sport, and were able to achieve dramatic effects. Even so, the possibility of some artistic licence in the representations should not be discounted.
The shown artifact at the top of the post is courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by Mike Peel via the Wiki Commons. When writing this post, C. Scott Littleton’s Gods, goddesses, and mythology, Volume 10 was of great use.
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