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la-2Hic usor media latinitate contribuere potest.
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This user maintains a blog at I, Ian.
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Antony or Antonius?Edit

A number of ancient Romans are commonly known by anglicised names in English; Pompey the Great, Octavian, Mark Antony, Virgil and Livy are probably the most famous, besides a whole plethora of Roman emperors. At the talk page for Caesarion I found a question (posted several months previously) asking if Octavian and Antony, both referred to in the article, should be called by their anglicised or Latin names. The only response was a rather dismissive (and uncalled for) reply questioning the relevance of the topic to the ultimate fate of the universe.

Personally I feel quite strongly that we should be using the anglicised names in our articles. These are their names in the English language, which is what we're writing in, and they're the names that both laymen and scholars use. Most crucially, we're here to inform, not confuse, and our database is made more accessible by the use of anglicised names. The average internet user, coming here for answers, can instantly link references to men named Antony or Virgil to a context he already knows and create an understanding for him/herself of what s/he's reading about. But when we start talking about Antonius or Vergilius Maro, that same reader is left stranded in a sea of context-less, complicated-looking Latin names which don't add anything to his/her knowledge or understanding. In fact, not only do we not increase understanding by using Latinate names, but, since even scholars use the anglicised forms, we risk coming off like a bunch of amateurish intellectual snobs just trying to show off how smart we are (while in fact showing off quite the opposite).

Wikipedians seem divided on the issue. There are probably more people using anglicisations, but there's still a sizeable chunk--particularly, for some reason, regarding Antony and Octavian--who use the original Latin forms. (The Mark Antony article itself referred to them as Antonius and Octavianus throughout, until I copyedited it, and the article's talk page even contained a request to change the article's title to Marcus Antonius.) I actually think this is a pretty broad issue, striking at the very nature of the accessibility of our work on ancient Rome to the people who come here looking for answers, so I'm using this page to advocate the use of anglicised names for those Romans who are known by such in English. Feel free to weigh in on my my talk page.

Encyclopaedia BritannicaEdit

Within a few months of finding Wikipedia, I ended up at the article on Lawrence of Arabia and was rather surprised not to find any mention of his alleged rape at Dara. I checked the article's talk page and found a brief mention that someone had found a source claiming to disprove that the rape had ever happened, but nothing more.

I feel quite strongly that an incident as significant in the life of Lawrence of Arabia, and as integral to his legend, as Dara should be included in the article--even if just to state that historians concluded it never happened--and, given the rigour of the article and the extensive amount of work that, its history page makes clear, has gone into it, I could only assume that the it hadn't been included because of disagreement over its veracity.

So, neither being an expert on T.E. Lawrence nor having the time to devote to researching the incident in the depth it deserves, I asked myself what I could do. I concluded that I needed what might be considered the "quintessential standard reference source"--a source that could be considered to sum up the "current accepted scholarly position" in the English language, and that, ideally, I had access to. In short, I needed the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

So I looked up Lawrence in Britannica and inserted its summary into the article (in this case, that he was "apparently" homosexually brutalised while at Dara) and, since I knew the addition might be contentious, I added a reference to the encyclopaedia. A few weeks later, this reference was questioned on the article's talk page; the question was asked whether Britannica's account offers anything to substantiate the claim of the rape any further than the account Lawrence gave himself in The Seven Pillars of Widsom.

Well, no it doesn't, and, as I said in my reply, questioning the reference on those grounds is perfectly valid, but it's also not my point. Britannica shouldn't be taken as "proof" of a historical account's veracity; like us, it's an encyclopaedia, intended not as a primary source or even a secondary source, but rather a tertiary source, collating and summarising what the secondary sources have to say on the manner in a concise and accessible format.

But it's the best, most thorough and--critically--best respected tertiary source in the English-speaking world, and as such, to me it's the starting point for deciding how contentious issues are presented. If you want to dispute what Britannica says based on other sources you have, that's fine--in fact, it's encouraged. But if Britannica says it's true, then you have to acknowledge and dispute it, not just omit it.

Of course, debate is the cornerstone of intellectual growth, so if you want to take issue with this, or present another possible standard reference, I invite you to do so on my talk page.

InterestsEdit

My greatest interests are, and always have been, learning and writing. I'm an aspiring author and an avid book collector; my personal library currently contains approximately 1000 volumes.

I have a broad interest in much of the humanities, especially history, religion, myth, language and society; my main interest focuses on European and Mediterranean civilisations, from the Metal Ages until the present. Within these confines, I'm particularly interested in the times of great change, when people find their entire society and way of life torn apart and rebuilt into a "new order". For instance:

In fiction, I call myself a "fan" of alternate history, science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction, though I'm an extremely critical audience and, consequently, often have a great deal of difficulty finding material I can enjoy.

I'm also a sport fan, most especially of association football, American football and men's college basketball. In association football I support Bradford City, Manchester United and, as in all things, England; in the NFL I support the New England Patriots; and in college sports I support the University of Florida Gators.

Lists of 5 Things in Whatever Topics I ChooseEdit

The history sections are probably going to be pretty Eurocentric. Items on the lists aren't ranked, which is why they're bulletted, not numbered.

5 Men Who Shaped Europe and Our WorldEdit

5 Men of History Who Don't Always Get a Fair ShakeEdit

5 Men of History Who Are OverratedEdit

  • Cicero, a much weaker individual than we give him credit for nowadays.
  • Cato the younger, who was always willing to compromise his principles when his own interests were at stake, just not when his political opponents' were
  • Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and the rest of the senators who assassinated Julius Caesar. Most of them acted out of jealousy at their rivals receiving greater political advancement than themselves under Caesar's new regime, not out of some morally supreme regard for the Roman Republic
  • Thomas Jefferson, never willing to put his money where his mouth was. American society owes far more to Alexander Hamilton--and is better off for it
  • Andrew Jackson, a genocidal tyrant who has somehow managed to carve himself a reputation as the great democratiser of the American Republic

My Favourite 5 Men of HistoryEdit

That there are crossovers between this list and the 5 Underrated list should surprise no one.

My 5 Favourite NovelsEdit

They're all still packed away at the moment, so you'll have to wait on ISBNs. Of course, this is a wiki, so you could just add them yourself.

5 (actually 6) Great Works of History or BiographyEdit

For the general reader. Since academic works need to be kept up to date, years refer to my edition, not necessarily the first edition.

  • Caesar: A Biography by Christian Meier (1982), ISBN 1567315747
  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940 by William Manchester (1989), ISBN 0385313314
  • Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War by Robert K. Massie (1992), ISBN 0345375564
  • The history of the Byzantine Empire by John Julius Norwich:
  • The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin by Gordon S. Wood (2004), ISBN 159420019X

5 Good Historical Reference WorksEdit

For the general reader. Since academic works need to be kept up to date, years refer to my edition, not necessarily the first edition.

My 6 Favourite MoviesEdit

My 5 Favourite TV ProgrammesEdit

Legal NoticeEdit

I agree to multi-licence all my contributions, with the exception of my user pages, as described below:

Multi-licensed into the public domain
I agree to multi-license my eligible text contributions, unless otherwise stated, under Wikipedia's copyright terms and into the public domain. Please be aware that other contributors might not do the same, so if you want to use my contributions in the public domain, please check the multi-licensing guide.