During the 18th and 19th centuries, Circassian women had a reputation for being unusually beautiful, spirited, and elegant. In Europe and America, their beauty was idealised in poetry, novels, and art. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was known to have Circassian concubines adorning his Imperial Harem, and the image of scantily clad European beauties in exotic Asian settings seems to have fired the imagination of many an artist.
A seraglio was the enclosed living quarters used by wives and concubines in an Ottoman household, the harem of a house or palace.
"The Seraglio" may refer specifically to the Topkapi Palace, the residence of the former Ottoman Sultans in Istanbul. Beautiful and intelligent slave girls were either captured in war (mainly Christian Europeans in the Balkans), recruited within the empire, or procured from neighbouring countries to become imperial concubines.
In Virgil’s Aeneid, the story is a little different. Aeneas visits Carthage, and he and Dido fall in love. This enrages King Iarbas, who Dido has scorned. The gods send Aeneas away from the city, to avoid war, and it is then that Dido sacrifices herself on the funeral pyre. She also curses Aeneas and his Trojans and proclaims endless hate between Carthage and the descendants of Troy.
Pittacus (c. 640-568 BCE) was one of the Seven Sages of Greece. When the Athenians were about to attack his city, Mytilene (on the island of Lesbos) Pittacus challenged their General to a single combat, with the understanding that the result should decide the war, thus avoiding great bloodshed. The challenge was accepted, and Pittacus killed his enemy with a broad sword. He was chosen as ruler of his city and governed for ten years, during which time he made laws in poetry.
One was: "A crime committed by a person when drunk should receive double the punishment which it would merit if the offender were sober."
"Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him."
"Pardon is better than punishment."
"Whatever you do, do it well."
"Power shows the man."
"Do not say beforehand what you are going to do; for if you fail, you will be laughed at."
"Do not reproach a man with his misfortunes, fearing lest Nemesis may overtake you."
"Forbear to speak evil not only of your friends, but also of your enemies."
"Cultivate truth, good faith, experience, cleverness, sociability, and industry."
"Know thy opportunity"
Samos is a Greek island. In ancient times, it was a rich and powerful city-state. It was the birthplace of philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, the philosopher Epicurus, and astronomer Aristarchus, the first person recorded as proposing that the Earth revolves around the sun. The island was a center of Ionian culture and luxury, renowned for its Samian wines and its red pottery. By the 7th century BC Samos was established as one of the leading commercial centers of Greece.
Samos’ most famous building was the Ionic order Temple of Hera, the Heraion. The goddess Hera annually bathed in the spring of Kanathos, close to Nauplia, to renew her virginity. These rites were not to be spoken of (hence the ‘mystery’). At Samos, the ritual bathing of the Goddess was represented by the archaic wooden cult image of Hera being taken out annually and ritually washed in the sea.
Ancient Arcadia occupied the highlands at the centre of the Peloponnese. The area takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. The region was mostly mountainous, apart from the plains around Tegea and Megalopolis, and the valleys of the Alpheios and Ladon rivers.
In ancient and medieval times, Arcadia was renowned as a beautiful, secluded area. It was sparsely populated, and the inhabitants were mostly pastoralists. In literature and art, the area was associated with an idyllic rural paradise, where people lived in harmony with nature. This image is portrayed in Virgil’s Eclogues, and later by Jacopo Sannazaro in his pastoral painting, Arcadia, of 1504. During the Renaissance, Arcadia was imagined as a lost Eden.
In modern times, Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece, covering the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula.
The Rehearsal was a satirical play aimed at John Dryden, and specifically Dryden’s exhortations in favour of ‘heroic drama.’ It was published anonymously, and staged in 1671. Evidence suggests that it was by George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and several collaborators.
The play concerns a playwright named Bayes attempting to stage a play, which is made up almost entirely of excerpts of existing heroic dramas. Most of these excerpts are lifted from Dryden, including his very popular The Conquest of Granada.
In Dryden’s preface to The Conquest, he had scolded other dramatists for having immoral heroes and low sentiments, and proposed heroic drama as a new type of theater. The Rehearsal takes heroic phrases and speeches from Dryden's play and pastes them haphazardly together, exposing their over-blown absurdity.
In December 1742, the following advert appeared for The Rehearsal:
“Mr Bayes’ Troops have been on their March for some Days past from their late Encampment in Goodman’s Fields; they march’d in good Order through the City without Beat of Drums, and were received at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where they have now pitch’d their Tents with great Acclamations of Joy by the Populace. We hear they will be reinforced by some Auxiliaries from Covent-Garden; and we can assure the Publick, there will certainly be a Battle of Monday next, so the Report of their going quietly into Winter Quarters without coming to Action, proves a groundless Tale, and was merely calculated to serve some private Ends.”
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was a satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric. He originally published all of his works under pseudonyms, including Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, and MB Drapier.
He was born and schooled in Ireland, but left for England in 1688. In England, he moved in high society, and enjoyed audiences with the King. In 1694 he returned to Ireland to become an ordained priest in the Established Church of Ireland, and was appointed to a small rural parish in County Antrim. He continued to travel between England and Ireland for much of his life, ministering to small rural parishes in Ireland, producing a great many literary texts, and becoming increasingly involved in politics, in both countries.
His most famous work is Gulliver’s Travels, published as Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver. The book, published in November 1726, was an immediate hit.
Jonathan Swift died in 1745, four years before Tom Jones was published – hence the reference to ‘the late Dr. Swift.’
Alexander Pope published his translation of the Odyssey in 1726, with assistance from William Broome and Elijah Fenton. Pope attempted to conceal the extent of the collaboration (he translated 12 books, Broome 8 and Fenton 4), but the secret leaked. It did some damage to Pope's reputation, but the scandal soon passed.
The Peripatetics was a school of philosophy in Ancient Greece, founded by Aristotle. Peripatetic was the name given to Aristotle’s followers. The school originally derived its name Peripatos from the peripatoi (colonnades) of the Lyceum gymnasium in Athens where the members met. A similar Greek word peripatetikos refers to the act of walking. After Aristotle's death, a legend arose that he was a "peripatetic" lecturer - that he walked about as he taught - and the designation Peripatetikos came to replace the original Peripatos.
The school dates from around 335 BC. It was an informal institution whose members conducted philosophical and scientific inquiries. While the school eventually ceased functioning in the 3rd century AD, the study of Aristotle's works by Peripatetic scholars continued.
Aristotle was a firm advocate of private property. He argued that it is more highly productive than common property, and that private property is rooted in man's nature: his love of self, of money, and of property, are tied together in a natural love of exclusive ownership. While Aristotle was critical of money-making, he opposed any limitation on an individual's accumulation of private property.