Phenobarbital is a member of the barbiturate family of drugs, which have sedative and anesthetic properties; they can be addictive. Barbiturates such as phenobarbital have now largely been replaced by the less dangerous benzodiazepines, but are still sometimes used to counteract the symptoms of epilepsy and other types of seizures.
There have been several painters named Carracci, of which the most famous was Annibale Carracci (1560-1609); they were all Italian Baroque artists from Bologna. The Carraccis pioneered a Bolognese school of painting, which combined the colour of Venetian artists such as Titian with a Florentine emphasis on the line and draftsmanship. Annibale, his brother Agostino and his cousin Lodovico worked together on a number of frescoes including The Founding of Rome; however, once Annibale made a name for himself he often worked alone, travelling throughout Italy to complete commissions in palaces and churches.
The Italian word dunque means 'therefore', 'so', 'well'; it has no precise translation but is used when an English speaker would say 'okay', 'all right', or 'well', as a sort of filler word.
The Grateful Dead were an American band that formed in 1965 and came to an end in 1995, following the death of the guitar player Jerry Garcia. The original line up consisted of Jerry Garcia, guitarist Bob Weir, organist Ron McKernan, drummer Bill Kreutzmann and bassist Phil Lesh.
Voltaire (1694-1778; real name François-Marie Arouet) was a French Enlightenment writer and philosopher who produced over 20,000 letters and 2,000 books and pamphlets during his life. He is now perhaps best known for his strong defence of civil liberties, and for his 1759 satirical novel, Candide.
Come, lie upon my breast, cruel, insensitive soul,
Adored tigress, monster with the indolent air;
I want to plunge trembling fingers for a long time
In the thickness of your heavy mane,
To bury my head, full of pain
In your skirts redolent of your perfume,
To inhale, as from a withered flower,
The moldy sweetness of my defunct love.
I wish to sleep! to sleep rather than live!
In a slumber doubtful as death,
I shall remorselessly cover with my kisses
Your lovely body polished like copper.
To bury my subdued sobbing
Nothing equals the abyss of your bed,
Potent oblivion dwells upon your lips
And Lethe flows in your kisses.
My fate, hereafter my delight,
I'll obey like one predestined;
Docile martyr, innocent man condemned,
Whose fervor aggravates the punishment.
I shall suck, to drown my rancor,
Nepenthe and the good hemlock
From the charming tips of those pointed breasts
That have never guarded a heart.
(trans. William Aggeler)
Richard is referring to Hideki Tōjō (1884-1948), the Japanese Army General who served during the Second World War. Tōjō was Prime Minister of Japan from 1941 to 1944, during which time he also held other high level posts such as that of Home Minister, Education Minister, Foreign Minister and Commerce Minister. His nationalistic policies were popular until the summer of 1942, when the war began to go badly for Japan; he was forced to resign in 1944. After the defeat of Japan, Tōjō was arrested by the American army; he attempted suicide, but failed, and was executed on charges of war crimes on 23rd December 1948.
Callimachus was of a Libyan Greek origin, a writer and scholar best known for his poetry and epigrams. He is thought to have lived around 305–240 BC. In Ancient Greece, after the epic poetry of writers such as Homer, there came about a reactionary trend which emphasised brevity. Epigrams are the result of this trend; short statements that either make a particular point or describe something briefly (the modern idea of epigrams as always consisting of a pithy remark stems more from the Roman adoption of this form.) Callimachus championed the epigram as a poetic form; around 64 of his have survived.
Ahab is the captain of the Pequod, the ship in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, who is obsessed with catching the eponymous whale.
Falstaff is one of Shakespeare's greatest creations; he appears in Henry IV Parts 1 &2 and in The Merry Wives of Windsor. He is a comic character, a vain coward who accompanies Prince Henry until the latter becomes king, and casts him off.
Mrs Gamp is a character from Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit. She is a nurse and a midwife, an alcoholic who takes advantage of her patients to procure more alcohol for herself. Her character was so popular that black umbrellas, like the old one she habitually carried, became known as Gamps.