New Testament in Greek & Meditations of Marcus: Aurelius, Meditations: II,4 Beginning today, and posting every two weeks or so, I shall be quoting alternately from the New Testament and from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in Greek. Wherever possible I shall also translate sentences and phrases in each citation. This is a very tricky manoeuvre, but at the same time it close to ideally serves me in writing in natural, not tabular, Mycenaean Greek. The next citation will be drawn from the New Testament in Greek in early January 2017. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations: II,4 The Greek text is taken from Haines, C.R. ed. & trans. Marcus Aurelius. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 1953, with several revisions, the last of which was published in 2003. ISBN 0-674-99064-1. xxxi, 416 pp. Think of your many years of procrastination; how the gods have repeatedly granted you further periods of peace, of which you have taken no advantage. It is time now to realize the nature of the universe to which you belong, and of that controlling power whose offspring you are; and to understand that your time has a limit to it. Use it, then, to advance your enlightenment; or it will be gone, and never in yourf power again. Translation by Maxwell Staniforth = Marcus Aurelius Meditations. London: the Folio Society, 2002.
LBK&M has just joined several major literary LinkedIn Groups!
LBK&M has just joined several major literary LinkedIn Groups! These are:
And this is my welcoming message:
We expect to see many more visitors to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae now that we have hooked up with so many great LinkedIn literary groups.
Invitation to join The Premier Network of Major Classical Greek and Latin sites on the Internet: Linear B, Knossos and Mycenae is spearheading a major initiative to bring together and co-ordinate a brand new Premier Network of Major Classical Greek and Latin Sites on the Internet, which will be comprised of as many major Classical sites as we can reach in the next few months, in order to build a research network unlike any other yet seen on the Internet, apart from academia.edu itself. To date, our site and Koryvantes, the Association of Historical Studies and a major European Institute of Archaeology, in anticipation of their acceptance of membership. Our strategy is to ask as many major Classical sites that we can reach ourselves to join in our new Network, and then in turn to appeal to those new members who have already joined up to contact other key sites with which they are closely linked or in partnership with. Our eventual goal is to establish a new LINKS page on each of the participating sites to all other sites in the Network, which is to be multilingual, if at possible. Since LBK&M is a Canadian site, we hope to call our network: The Premier Network of Major Classical Greek and Latin sites on the Internet = Le premier réseau des sites les plus importantes des études classiques grecques et latines. And we are of course open to adding the title in other languages as well.
Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) as a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design In spite of my hard gained experience in translating Linear B tablets, the translation of this tablet on chariot construction and design posed considerable challenges. At the outset, several of the words descriptive of Mycenaean chariot design eluded my initial attempts at an accurate translation. By accurate I not only mean that problematic words must make sense in the total context of the descriptive text outlining Mycenaean chariot construction and design, but that the vocabulary entire must faithfully reconstruct the design of Mycenaean chariots as they actually appeared in their day and age. In other words, could I come up with a translation reflective of the actual construction and design of Mycenaean chariots, not as we fancifully envision them in the twenty-first century, but as the Mycenaeans themselves manufactured them to be battle worthy? It is transparent to me that the Mycenaean military, just as that of any other great ancient civilization, such as those of Egypt in the Bronze Age, of the Hittite Empire, and later on, in the Iron Age, of Athens and Sparta and, later still, of the Roman Empire, must have gone to great lengths to ensure the durability, tensile strength and battle worthiness of their military apparatus in its entirety (let alone chariots). It goes without saying that, regardless of the techniques of chariot construction employed by the various great civilizations of the ancient world, each civilization strove to manufacture military apparatus to the highest standards practicable within the limits of the technology then available to them. It is incontestable that progress in chariot construction and design must have made major advances in all of the great civilizations from the early to the late Bronze Age. Any flaws or faults in chariot construction would have been and were rooted out and eliminated as each civilization perceptibly moved forward, step by arduous step, to perfect the manufacture of chariots in their military. In the case of the Mycenaeans contemporaneous with the Egyptians, this was the late Bronze Age. My point is strictly this. Any translation of any part of a chariot must fully take into account the practicable appropriateness of each and every word in the vocabulary of that technology, to ensure that the entire vocabulary of chariot construction will fit together as seamlessly as possible in order to ultimately achieve as solid a coherence as conceivably possible. Thus, if a practicably working translation of any single technical term for the manufacture of chariots detracts rather than contributes to the structural integrity, sturdiness and battle worthiness of the chariot, that term must be seriously called into question. Past translators of the vocabulary of chariot construction and design who have not fully taken into account the appropriateness of any particular term descriptive of the solidity and tensile strength of the chariot required to make it battle worthy have occasionally fallen short of truly convincing translations of the whole (meaning here, the chariot), translations which unify and synthesize its entire vocabulary such that all of its moving and immobile parts alike actually “translate” into a credible reconstruction of a Bronze Age (Mycenaean) chariot as it must have realistically appeared and actually operated. Even the most prestigious of translators of Mycenaean Linear B, most notably L.R. Palmer himself, have not always succeeded in formulating translations of certain words or terms convincing enough in the sense that I have just delineated. All this is not to say that I too will not fall into the same trap, because I most certainly will. Yet as we say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And what applies to the terminology for the construction and design of chariots in any ancient language, let alone Mycenaean Linear B, equally applies to the vocabulary of absolutely any animate subject, such as human beings and livestock, and to any inanimate object in the context of each and every sector of the economy of the society in question, whether this be in the agricultural, industrial, military, textiles, household or pottery sector. Again, if any single word detracts rather than contributes to the actual appearance, manufacturing technique and utility of said object in its entire context, linguistic as well as technical, then that term must be seriously called into question. When it comes down to brass tacks, the likelihood of achieving such translations is a tall order to fill. But try we must. A convincing practicable working vocabulary of Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean): While much of the vocabulary on this tablet is relatively straightforward, a good deal is not. How then was I to devise an approach to its translation which could conceivably meet Mycenaean standards in around 1400-1200 BCE? I had little or no reference point to start from. The natural thing to do was to run a search on Google images to determine whether or not the results would, as it were, measure up to Mycenaean standards. Unfortunately, some of the most convincing images I downloaded were in several particulars at odds with one another, especially in the depiction of wheel construction. That actually came as no surprise. So what was I to do? I had to choose one or two images of chariots which appeared to me at least to be accurate renditions of actual Mycenaean chariot design. But how could I do that without being arbitrary in my choice of images determining terminology? Again a tough call. Yet there was a way through this apparent impasse. Faced with the decision of having to choose between twenty-first century illustrations of Mycenaean chariot design - these being the most often at odds with one another - and ancient depictions on frescoes, kraters and vases, I chose the latter route as my starting point. But here again I was faced with images which appeared to conflict on specific points of chariot construction. The depictions of Mycenaean chariots appearing on frescoes, kraters and vases unfortunately did not mirror one another as accurately as I had first supposed they would. Still, this should come as no real surprise to anyone familiar with the design of military vehicles ancient or modern. Take the modern tank for instance. The designs of American, British, German and Russian tanks in the Second World War were substantially different. And even within the military of Britain, America and Germany, there were different types of tanks serving particular uses dependent on specific terrain. So it stands to reason that there were at least some observable variations in Mycenaean chariot design, let alone of the construction of any chariots in any ancient civilization, be it Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece throughout its long history, or Rome, among others. So faced with the choice of narrowing down alternative likenesses, I finally opted for one fresco which provided the most detail. I refer to the fresco from Tiryns (ca 1200 BCE) depicting two female charioteers. This fresco would go a long way to resolving issues related in particular to the manufacture and design of wheels, which are the major sticking point in translating the vocabulary for Mycenaean chariots. Turning now to my translation, I sincerely hope I have been able to resolve most of these difficulties, at least to my own satisfaction if to not to that of others, although here again a word of caution to the wise. My translation is merely my own visual interpretation of what is in front of me on this fresco from Tiryns. Try as we might, there is simply no escaping the fact that we, in the twenty-first century, are bound to impose our own preconceptions on ancient images, whatever they depict. As historiography has it, and I cite directly from Wikipedia: Questions regarding historicity concern not just the issue of "what really happened," but also the issue of how modern observers can come to know "what really happened." This second issue is closely tied to historical research practices and methodologies for analyzing the reliability of primary sources and other evidence. Because various methodologies categorize historicity differently, it's not possible to reduce historicity to a single structure to be represented. Some methodologies (for example historicism), can make historicity subject to constructions of history based on submerged value commitments. The sticking point is those pesky “submerged value commitments”. To illustrate even further, allow me to cite another source, Approaching History: Bias: The problem for methodology is unconscious bias: the importing of assumptions and expectations, or the asking of one question rather than another, by someone who is trying to act in good faith with the past. Yet the problem inherent to any modern approach is that it is simply impossible for any historian or historical linguist today to avoid imposing not only his or her own innate unconscious preconceived values but also the values of his own national, social background and civilization, let alone those of the entire age in which he or she lives. “Now” is the twenty-first century and “then” was any particular civilization with its own social, national and political values set against the diverse values of other civilizations contemporaneous with it, regardless of historical era. If all this seems painfully obvious to the professional historian or linguist, it is more than likely not be to the non-specialist or lay reader, which is why I have taken the trouble to address the issue in the first place. How then can any historian or historical linguist in the twenty-first century possibly and indeed realistically be expected to place him— or herself in the sandals, so to speak, of any contemporaneous Bronze Age Minoan, Mycenaean, Egyptian, Assyrian or oriental civilizations such as China, and so on, without unconsciously imposing the entire baggage of his— or -her own civilization, Occidental, Oriental or otherwise? It simply cannot be done. However, not to despair. Focusing our magnifying glass on the shadowy mists of history, we can only see through a glass darkly. But that is no reason to give up. Otherwise, there would be no way of interpreting history and no historiography to speak of. So we might as well let sleeping dogs lie, and get on with the task before us, which in this case is the intricate art of translation of an object particular not only to its own civilization, remote as it is, but specifically to the military sector of that society, being in this case, the Mycenaean. So the question now is, what can we read out of the Tiryns fresco with respect to Mycenaean chariot construction and design, without reading too much of our own unconscious personal, social and civilized biases into it? As precarious and as fraught with problems as our endeavour is, let us simply sail on ahead and see how far our little voyage can take us towards at least a credible translation of the Tiryns chariot with its lovely belles at the reins, with the proviso that this fresco depicts only one variation on the design of Mycenaean chariots, itself at odds on some points with other depictions on other frescoes. Here you see the fresco with my explanatory notes on the chariot parts: as related to the text and context of the facsimile of the original tablet in Linear B, Linear B Latinized and archaic Greek, here: This is followed by my meticulous notes on the construction and design of the various parts of the Mycenaean chariot as illustrated here: and by The Geometry of chariot parts in Mycenaean Linear B, to drive home my interpretations of both – amota - = - (on) axle – and – temidweta - = the circumference or the rim of the wheel, referencing the – radius – in the second syllable of – temidweta - ,i.e. - dweta - , where radius = 1/2 (second syllable) of – temidweta – and is thus equivalent to one spoke, as illustrated here: The only other historian of Linear B who has grasped the full significance of the supersyllabogram (SSYL) is Salimbeti, whose site is the one and only on the entire Internet which explores the construction and design of bronze age chariots in great detail. I strongly urge you to read his entire study in order to clarify the full import of my translation of – temidweta – as the rim of the wheel. The only problem remaining with my translation is whether or not the word – temidweta – describes the rim on the side of the wheel or the rim on its outer surface directly contacting the ground. The difficulty with the latter translation is whether or not elm wood is of sufficient tensile strength to withstand the beating the tire rim had to endure over time (at least a month or two at minimum) on the rough terrain, often littered with stones and rocks, over which Mycenaean chariots must surely have had to negotiate. As for the meaning of the supersyllabogram (SSYL)TE oncharged directly onto the top of the ideogram for wheel, it cannot mean anything other than – temidweta -, in other words the circumference, being the wheel rim, further clarified here: Hence my translation here: Note that I have translated the unknown word **** – kidapa – as – ash (wood). My reasons for this are twofold. First of all, the hardwood ash has excellent tensile strength and shock resistance, where toughness and resiliency against impact are important factors. Secondly, it just so happens that ash is predominant in Homer’s Iliad as a vital component in the construction of warships and of weapons, especially spears. So there is a real likelihood that in fact – kidapa – means ash, which L.R. Palmer also maintains. Like many so-called unknown words found in Mycenaean Greek texts, this word may well be Minoan. Based on the assumption that many of these so-called unknown words may be Minoan, we can establish a kicking-off point for possible translations of these putative Minoan words. Such translations should be rigorously checked against the vocabulary of the extant corpus of Minoan Linear A, as found in John G. Younger’s database, here: I did just that and came up empty-handed. But that does not at all imply that the word is not Minoan, given that the extant lexicon of Linear A words is so limited, being as it is incomplete. While all of this might seem a little overwhelming at first sight, once we have taken duly into account the most convincing translation of each and every one of the words on this tablet in its textual and real-world context, I believe we can attain such a translation, however constrained we are by our our twenty-first century unconscious assumptions. As for conscious assumptions, they simply will not do. In conclusion, Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) serves as exemplary a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design as any other substantive intact Linear B tablet in the same vein from Knossos. It is my intention to carry my observations and my conclusions on the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design much further in an article I shall be publishing on academia.edu sometime in 2016. In it I shall conduct a thorough-going cross-comparative analysis of the chariot terminology on this tablet with that of several other tablets dealing specifically with chariots. This cross-comparative study is to result in a comprehensive lexicon of the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design, fully taking into account Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon and L.R. Palmer’s extremely comprehensive Glossary of military terms relative to chariot construction and design on pp. 403-466 in his classic foundational masterpiece, The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts. So stay posted.
Ideal Demands for ZERO-TOLERANCE in Accounting & Inventories from Mycenaean Greece, to Classical Athens, Imperial Rome, the House of Medici and beyond – References to Wikipedia Articles & Several Illustrations Inventorial Accounting Demand for ZERO-TOLERANCE Applied to the Translation of the Tricky Linear B Tablet KN 1507 E d 231 by Rita Roberts: Click to ENLARGE Our working hypothesis for Rita carefully considered translation of Knossos tablet KN 1507 E d 231. Before proceeding to the genesis of our hypothesis for a realistic and practical translation of this very tricky Linear B tablet, allow me to inform you all that Rita is now being confronted with mind-bending challenges in the decipherment of really difficult Linear B tablets. Had I known this when I initially assigned Rita this tablet and the next one to be posted, I would have surely left them for her first year of her university level curriculum. However, as it turns out, the fact that she had to force herself to stretch her logical powers of observation to the extreme means that she is more than ready to rise to the even more daunting challenges facing her in the next month or so, when she finally embarks on her first year of university level studies. The fact that she was eventually able to translate this tough tablet, the two of using working together, speaks to her mastery of Linear B, which is already very considerable. Working Hypothesis: Since Linear B is first and foremost an accounting language for Mycenaean Greek, in other words, a subset of this archaic Greek dialect, we should expect that all accounting and inventorial records would have to be completely accurate, both with respect with line items and with total, zero-tolerance in arithmetical calculation in any Linear B tablet in this sphere, and that means something like 90-95 % of all tablets in Linear B, regardless of provenance. While there are quite a few tablets dealing with religious matters, meaning that in that case Linear B cannot be considered as an accounting subset of Mycenaean Greek, but must be construed as a religious affairs subset of the dialect, we leave this aside for future consideration. Meanwhile, there are critical problems with not only this tablet, but plenty of others in the sphere of inventorial accounting, which simply must be addressed, and if possible, resolved. Based on the criteria our hypothesis for accounting and inventories demands in any society in any historical era, we should take into consideration several eras in succession, from the most ancient Babylonian through Egyptian, Mycenaean, the Athenian Treasury at Delphi: 507-470 BCE (Wikipedia) - a reasonably efficient financial system and Roman Imperial Finances, the aerarium or state treasury under Augustus Caesar (62-14 BCE) and beyond (an exceedingly inefficient and corrupt financial system): Roman Finance: Wikipedia (Click on the cameo of Augustus Caesar): to those of the Middle Ages, and above all else, the much more efficient accounting and banking procedures established by the Medici family in Florence in the 14th. And 15th. Centuries AD. ALL THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS WERE IN UNIVERSAL CONFORMITY IN EVERY HISTORICAL ERA, because they were not. This is especially true of the late Medieval era and the early Renaissance, when the sloppy Medieval accounting procedures in most European nations other than Italy seriously clashed with the extremely efficient banking system of the Medici in Florence. The House of Medici (Wikipedia): Click on their Coat of Arms - ZERO-TOLERANCE Banking System In fact, it was the Medici who invented the modern system of banking. Further developments and refinements ran through to the establishment of the Exchequer in Renaissance England: Click on the image of Thomas Cromwell - corrupt financial system Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540) Chancellor of the Exchequer under Henry VIII (1533-1540) and Ministries of Finance in the Renaissance and the 17th. Superintendent of Finances (France: 1561-1661) - reasonably accurate and 18th. centuries Comptroller General of Finances (France: 1681-1791) - extremely corrupt on to the rigorous banking system of the late nineteenth and early 20th. Centuries to the most modern stock market software systems, it is patently obvious that they all should ideally demand the following basic criteria: (a) line items in accounts and inventories must be completely accurate, and precisely named, down to the most specific details; (b) line and summary calculations cannot and must not contain any errors whatsoever. Zero tolerance; (c) accounting and inventorial procedures must be completely standardized across the board, from one site to another, from one city to another and one nation to another, regardless of historical period. Otherwise, the accounting system in place in that historical era collapses for lack of complete conformity. And all too many did! See above. We know that Mycenaean Linear B was consistent across the board, regardless of the site were the scribes used it, whether Knossos, Phaistos, Pylos, Thebes, Mycenae or elsewhere. (d) Accounting systems, if they are be at all effective and rendered zero-tolerance, must be subject to audit, regardless of the historical era in which they are in use. Rita Roberts and I are convinced that such an auditing system was securely in place in Minoan/Mycenaean society in which Linear B was the standard language of accounting and inventory. This is the administrative palatial accounting and inventorial system which Rita and I believe was operative in the Minoan/Mycenaean era when Linear B was the standard accounting language. Regardless of site, Knossos, Phaistos, Pylos, Thebes, Mycenae or elsewhere, it would appear that the administrative palatial accounting and inventorial offices were configured as follows: The Efficient Audited ZERO-TOLERANCE Minoan + Mycenaean Palatial Office of Inventories and Accounting: There was a large administrative palatial accounting and inventorial office (or room, if you must insist), especially at the metropolis of Knossos (pop. ca. 55,000), in which a relatively large number of scribes (possibly 10-40) ranged themselves for their daily work along a very long table or tables, all of them on the same side of each table, for the simple reason that each of the scribes must have had each of his tablets audited, either by the scribe to his left or right, or by both, to ensure zero-tolerance for line itemization and mathematical accuracy. If scribes had been seated on opposite sides of their table or tables, it would have been much more difficult to audit one another’s inventorial tablets, as they would have had to pass their work across the table(s), thereby adding to the risk of error, when zero-tolerance is demanded. That would have been an unacceptable scenario. Think of it this way: would anyone in their right mind nowadays allow for any deviance from the standardized international online stock market system? Never! Likewise, the Mycenaean system must have been based on the same general principles, and the pretty much the same specific accounting criteria put into practice. Otherwise, the system would have collapsed. Such a system makes perfect sense, especially for Mycenae an Greeks who were, after all, Greek. The ancient Greeks were notorious for their insistence on accuracy and logic, right from the outset, all the way through to the rise of their astonishingly consistent philosophical systems in the age of Plato and Aristotle, and far beyond. Zero-Tolerance on any Linear B Inventorial Accounting tablet based on the template of Knossos Linear B Tablet KN 1507 E d 231: Given the strict criteria for Mycenaean accounting procedures we have proposed above, Knossos Linear B Tablet KN 1507 E d 231 must stand up to scrutiny down to the very last detail. But there are problems with it which immediately leap to the fore. The scribe has scratched out, i.e. erased all the text to the left of the and below the number 2 (if it is the number 2). What does this tell us? If we assume our hypothesis is correct, and we are pretty much convinced it is, it tells us a great deal. First, it tells us that he was aware he had made a gaffe, and a big one at that. But how did he become aware of this? He was audited by another scribe or scribes, and according to the standard office procedure we have outlined above, by the scribe to his left or right, or by both of them. Take your pick. But the principle of zero-tolerance must apply. Perhaps he fell asleep at the switch after a long day slogging through numerous accounts, and writing down inventories on at least 5 tablets. Very demanding and exhausting work. Any accountant, past or present, can tell you that. However, if the standard practice was for fellow scribes to audit every single tablet they inscribed, zero-tolerance would prevail. So the next step in our decipherment of this extremely tricky tablet (one among countless hundreds or thousands in any given fiscal year or “weto” in Mycenaean Greek) is to make a supreme effort to put ourselves in the same place as any Linear B scribe having to make a full inventory of anything anywhere in the Mycenaean Empire, and not only that, to assume one of our fellow accounts has caught us out and put us squarely on spot. Let us imagine the conversation: Scribe A (the fellow who inscribed this tablet, KN 1507 E d 231) to Scribe B: Well, I am done with this tablet. It is the end of a long day, and I am getting very tired. I may have made a mistake. Audit it. Scribe B: Hmmm. Let’s see. (reads the original figures on the tablet). Good gods, you wrote the same number for both the rams and the ewes! 38! That seems a remote possibility. Yes, you do look tired, and I can hardly blame you. What is the number of ewes? We have to get it right. Scribe A: Oh my gods, it is just 2 ewes! How could I have missed that! So he scratches out all the Linear B numeric strokes for tens, i.e. 3 horizontal strokes & 6 for units (vertical strokes), leaving the number 2 (2 vertical strokes). Voilà. The calculation is completely accurate. We have zero-tolerance. Scribe B: Good! It is fine now. Maybe we should go for a beer or two as soon as work is over, which is pretty soon. Scribe A: Great Idea! To all our VISITORS: it took me 6 HOURS to compile this complex post. Please show your appreciation by tagging it with LIKE, assigning the number of STARS it deserves, or even re-blogging it! Richard
SPECIAL MEDIA POST! 2 Linear B Tablets at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum Naming Knossos & its Harbour, Amnisos + More Tablets: Click to ENLARGE: These tablets speak for themselves, to say the very least. There are in fact scores of tablets mentioning the name of the unwalled metropolis, Knossos, estimated population 55,000 (a very large city for antiquity) and of its bustling town harbour, Amnisos. We have already translated over a dozen tablets naming Knossos & Amnisos. Here is a sampling: Click to ENLARGE Check Wikipedia to read all about Amnisos: By comparison, Athens, with its own harbour, Piraeus, had about the same population at the acme of its power in the 5th. century BCE. Click to ENLARGE: This is the first time ever that I have put my modern Greek lessons to the test, by including the title of this image in modern Greek, as well as English & French. If there are any errors at all in the Greek title, I beg one of our native Greeks to inform me ASAP, so that I can correct the error statim. To read all about the Piraeus, see Wikipedia: while Rome, a much larger city (est. pop. at least 750,000 at its height in the Augustinian period, ca. 20 BCE – AD) also had its own town harbour, Ostia (aka Ostia Antica). Click to ENLARGE Check Wikipedia to read all about Ostia: SPECIAL NOTE: From here on in, whenever we post anything which largely features MEDIA (photographs, videos & films), we will tag them as such in the post Title, MEDIA POST! We are also creating a new Category at the top of the first page of our blog, MEDIA, so that you can search all archived media posts at your leisure! Richard