Knowledge NewsLetter Year:2004 Volume:1 [July Issue]

Legends of the Universe

Achilles - The Greek Hero

Achilles, one of the greatest fighters in Greek Mythology, was the son of Peleus, king of the Myrmidones in Phthia (SE Thessaly), and the sea nymph Thetis. Zeus and Poseidon had vied for her hand until an oracle revealed she would bear a son greater than his father, whence they wisely chose to give her to someone else.

The legend goes, Thetis tried to make Achilles invincible by dipping him in the river Styx, but forgot to wet the heel she held him by, leaving him vulnerable so he could be killed by a blow to that heel. This is the origin of the proverbial Achilles' Heel.

One of the main heroes in the Trozan War, Achilles was the key to winning Troy for Agamemnon. According to Illiad, Achilles took twenty-three towns outside Troy and killed Hector, the prince of Troy and the prime leader of Trojan army.

The fall of Troy and fall of Achilles was not far apart. He was very soon killed by Paris (Hector's Brother) - either by an arrow to the heel, or in an older version by a knife to the back while visiting Polyxena, a Trojan princess. Both versions conspicuously deny the killer any sort of valor, and Achilles remains undefeated on the battlefield. His bones are mingled with those of Patroclus, and funeral games are held. Like Ajax, he is represented as living after his death in the island of Leuke at the mouth of the Danube.

Did Ya Know?

'Shire'

Frodo Baggins came from shire, to win the war on Saruman. But what is a shire? In general, shire is a province or a county, used in Scotland, Great Britain and Australia.

  • In Australia, a shire is a type of Local Government Area
  • In Great Britain and Scotland, a shire is a county that is named after its prinicpal town. The county takes the name of the town with the "shire" suffix, like , Buckinghamshire.

Some more..


> Madrid is the only European capital city not situated on a river.
> Goat's eyes have rectangular pupils.
> Giraffes have no vocal cords.
> Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks otherwise it will digest itself.

Chronicle of Time

Mongol Invasion of Europe and Asia

Though few in number (approximately 200,000 people at the height of their empire), Mongols were important in world history. Under the leadership of Genghis Khan, the Mongols created the largest land empire in world history, ruling 13.8 million square mile(36 million square km) and more than 100 million people. At their height, their empire spanned from Korea to Hungary, and included most of the lands in between, such as Afghanistan, Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Persia, and much of the Middle East.

The Mongols were a nomadic people who in the 13th century found themselves encompassed by large, city-dwelling agrarian civilizations. However, none of these civilizations were part of a strong central state. Asia, Russia, and the Middle East were either declining kingdoms, or divided city states. Taking the strategic initiative, the Mongols exploited this power vacuum and linked all of these areas into a mutually supporting trade network.

The Mongols were largely dependent on trade with the city-dwelling peoples. As nomads, they could not accumulate a surplus against bad times, or support artisans. When trade was reduced by the northern Chinese kingdoms in the 1200's, shortly after Genghis Khan rose to supremacy over the Mongol tribes, the Mongols repeated their tradition of getting their goods by looting Northern China.

Conquest, in the Khan's initial viewpoint, did not consist of subordination of competing cultures to the nomadic way of life, but rather in their looting and destruction. As a nomad, Genghis Khan is supposed to not have understood (or cared) of the supposed benefits in the city dwellers' way of life. This contrasts with their dependence on trade with the cities. However, the economic theories of these relationships still lay seven centuries in the future.

The Khan's initial plan of conquest was sacking all that was valuable, and then razing the city and killing the entire population, leaving only artists and human shields (for future campaigns) to survive. Different theories exist for why the Mongols were initially so extreme. Militarily, the Mongols were often far from home territory and greatly out-numbered, and wouldn't want to leave enemies in their rear. Psychologically, the Mongols were a nomadic people, and saw no use for a civilian population. Economically, destroying population centers gave the Mongols more room to graze their herds.

Timeline of Conquest

  • 1200, Northern China - Unknown number killed
  • 1215, Yanjing China (today Beijing) - Unknown number killed
  • 1221, Nishapur, Persia - ~1.7 million killed in assault
  • 1221, Merv, Persia - ~1.3 million killed in assault
  • 1221, Meru Chahjan, Persia - ~1.3 million killed in assault
  • 1221, Rayy, Persia - ~1.6 million killed in assault
  • 1226, Tangut Campaign - Gengis Khan launches war against the northern China people of Tangut.
  • 1236, Bila¤r,Bulgar cities, Volga Bulgaria - 150,000 or more and more (nearly half of population)
  • 1237-1240, Kievan Rus' - half of population
  • 1241, Wahlstatt -- defeat of a combined Polish-German force in lower Silesia (Poland); the Mongols turn back to attend to the election of a new Grand Khan.
  • 1258, Baghdad - ~800,000 people. Results in destruction of Abbasid dynasty
  • 1226-1266 (re-check dates) - ~18 million reported killed in conquest of northern Chinese territory. This number estimated by Kublai Khan himself.

WordMaster

manacle (MAN-uh-kul)


noun
1. A shackle for the hand; handcuff.
2. Restraints.
verb tr.
1. To handcuff; fetter.
3. To restrain.
[Middle English, manicle, from Middle French, from Latin, diminutive of manus, hand.]
"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. ... One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity."
Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream, Washington DC, Aug 28, 1963.

furl (furl)


verb tr.
To roll up and secure (a flag or sail, for example) to something else.
verb intr.
To be or become rolled up.
noun
1. The act or an instance of rolling up.
2. A single roll or a rolled section.
[Perhaps from French ferler, from Old French ferlier, to fasten : ferm, firm + lier, to bind (from Latin ligare).]
"Arriving at last at some sheltered cove, we'd furl the sails and drop anchor."
Jeremy Clarke, End of Story, Independent on Sunday, Aug 8, 1999.