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Thread: A humble appeal to the EB historians

  1. #1
    EB Historian/Artist Member Intrepid Adventurer's Avatar
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    Default A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Dear fellow historians,

    Recently I have enrolled in a very interesting course at my university, called: "Empires in the Ancient World: from the Assyrians to the Ummayads." Goal of the course is to be able to define and compare several empires that existed from 900 BC to 900 AD.

    Apart from reading very cool in-depth articles and having interesting discussions, the course also requires us to write a 12-25 page paper on a topic of our choosing. Though we are completely free to choose any topic we like, we are encouraged to compare two or more empires in any aspect we'd like.

    Now, as I know deeply respect the work and effort that has gone into EB, I know that most of you are familiar with the era covered in my course. That's why I'd like to ask you for some advice!

    What I'd really like to do is write about a topic I'm not really familiar with, but is extensively covered in secondary sources. This course does not require an in-depth primary source paper - just a solid presentation of research done in sources either primary or secondary.

    I've been thinking along the lines of perhaps shedding some light on the Achaemenid (sp?) Persian empire, from Persian sources (as opposed to Greek ones). Either the rise of this empire (which I've heard is comparable to the Arab one - any good books that use this comparison?) or in the lines of the inner workings of the empires, perhaps compared to the previous Babylonian or Assyrian empires. Or perhaps the story of the Macedonian invasion, but this time from the Persian side.

    My other thought was to write about the Byzantine - Sassanid wars and think about why the Arabs were able to crush both those empires in a very short amount of time. I know very little about any one of those three empires, which is what's sparked my interest.

    So, my question (thanks for being still with me ): are there any good books you know of that cover some of the topics I've mentioned, that you know of? Articles, websites or anything else you know of is fine as well, of course. Or is there another suggestion you'd like to make that covers the assignment?

    I count on the vast wealth of knowledge that the EB team combines together. Thanks a bunch for anything you can help me with!

    Kind regards,

    IA


  2. #2
    EB Nitpicker Member oudysseos's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    First off have a look at the bibliography thread

    Some additional works that might be of use;

    The Triumph of the West, J.M. Roberts
    A great book, offers a very rational synthesis and framework for your own historical analysis
    The Golden Age of Persia, Richard Frye
    Would be great for the latter part of the period you mention- reviews the early period but really digs into the period of the Arab conquests and the mutual impact thereof on muslim and persian culture.
    Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia, Curtis & Tallis ed.

    You might also consider using the Shahnameh as a basis for considering how the persians viewed their past
    οἵη περ φύλλων γενεὴ τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν.
    Even as are the generations of leaves, such are the lives of men.
    Glaucus, son of Hippolochus, Illiad, 6.146



  3. #3
    Come to daddy Member Geoffrey S's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    What I can recommend is following your sources. I always find it hard to quickly find a clear-cut subject to write on, but far easier to keep reading until something catches my eye, and take it from there. Obviously the Persian empire is too large geographically and chronologically to cover in a paper, so I must recommend not putting yourself in that particular pigeonhole too quickly.

    Edit: though, a brief check of my library suggests a comparison of the treatment of Judea under successive empires is quite well-documented? You could even throw in biblical quotes!
    Last edited by Geoffrey S; 02-16-2008 at 14:35.
    "The facts of history cannot be purely objective, since they become facts of history only in virtue of the significance attached to them by the historian." E.H. Carr

  4. #4

    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Yep if I were you I would take something like that: you get to compare multiple empires, as suggested, and you get relatively well-defined boundaries of your subject...

    Some general on-line sources that may come in handy if not now, perhaps later:

    Since you study in the Netherlands, you're bound to have access to the TLG - didn't you study at Utrecht University, btw? -- in that case, check out the digital part of the UBU under the faculty of Literature, you get a direct forwarding link to the TLG there among numerous other valuable sources. Useful for directly quoting ancient authors (in Greek, mind you!) if you ever needed to. You can even search the entire lexicon, by author or by specific words if need be (though the beta engine doesn't support multiple words per search entry...). It helps if you have a proper Greek based font installed, such as SPIonic. (Which is free to get on the net as well.)

    For what's worth, you ought to have access to JSTOR as well. (though I couldn't find it just yet, but maybe the Faculty of Mathematics&Computer Sciences isn't the right one to be part of...)

    Finally something everyone gets access to is the online library of some Austrian university: Bibliotheca Augustana. Comes in handy because this doesn't require you to have some fancy font (at least Palineo Lineotype is something nearly all PC's have installed by default), and it too supports the wide variety of characters you'll need. You can't query the site for words or authors though; but there exists an easy to use index alphabeticus and index chronologicus (really they are called like that) - and what's more there is a wide selection of non-classical stuff.
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Hi IA,

    I did study these topics myself at UNi, although Im not sure how much i can really remember as I also managed to kill most of my brain cells whilst there. The Achaemenids are difficult to study using entirely their own sources because not many of them really survive and even where they do they can often be so biased in favour of some part of the faction that they are not entirely trustworthy (although of course all sources have that in common, it is especially acute with these guys due to the lack of balancing sources).

    If you do want to look at how they wanted to view themsleves versus other peoples the best place to look is the various friezes that are dotted about the place. There are also some *interesting* tax records from the more civilized areas they conquered. Egypt, Judaea etc.

    The societal changes brought on due to the change from straightforward mountain people to masters of the universe are genuinely fascinating, but dont know how relevant that is for your paper

    In contrast the rise of the Arabs is very well documented from several sources - especially the Byzantines. Of course the religious element is a complicating factor and I would suggest makes the direct comparison between the two rapidly expanding empires rather difficult.

    Anyway, good luck!

  6. #6
    EB Historian/Artist Member Intrepid Adventurer's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Thanks for the replies, guys. Keep them coming!!

    Tellos - yeah, Utrecht Uni. JSTOR is known to me, TLG doesn't ring a bell, but I'll check it out.

    Considering the Jewish suggestion: it would be a good subject, but I can't help not being too enthousiastic about it. If this had been a fixed subject and I had to write about it, it would be no problem, but since it's free topic I'd like a more, well, epic scale. I don't play EB for nothing. Ah well, I'll consider it anyway. Thanks for that, you guys!


  7. #7

    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Thesaurus Linguae Graecae in full. You'll need to log on using your SolisID and (short) password (as opposed to the full @domain version). In any case you can find it from the UBU site. Since it's a bit of a hassle to find it, I suggest you make it a favourite or something...
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    ὁ δ᾽ ἠλίθιος ὣσπερ πρόβατον βῆ βῆ λέγων βαδίζει Kratinos in Dionysalexandros.

  8. #8

    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    from rise of Achemenids to fall of Sassanians:
    "Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War" by Kaveh Farrokh
    http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Desert.../dp/1846031087

  9. #9
    Come to daddy Member Geoffrey S's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by Intrepid Adventurer
    Considering the Jewish suggestion: it would be a good subject, but I can't help not being too enthousiastic about it. If this had been a fixed subject and I had to write about it, it would be no problem, but since it's free topic I'd like a more, well, epic scale. I don't play EB for nothing.
    Well, just remember that it's a lot less fun writing a paper if you can't write all the details you want to write about and end up glossing over interesting matters, a common symptom of early uni papers. But I'm sure if you keep reading and keep looking something will pop up.

    If you do want large scale, perhaps a look into how much of the previous systems of running the various empires were adapted by later usurpers? How Achaemenid Persians were influenced by earlier empires, Alexander adopting Persian customs, Muslims switching from old ways to making use of Persian and Roman bureaucracy... If battles are your thing, as you mentioned a look at why the Roman and Persian frontier developed into a (fluctuating) stalemate.
    Last edited by Geoffrey S; 02-16-2008 at 22:10.
    "The facts of history cannot be purely objective, since they become facts of history only in virtue of the significance attached to them by the historian." E.H. Carr

  10. #10

    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Compare the Achademian's(I just butchered this) and the Sassanids.


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  11. #11
    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Define and compare, and then there is the contrast. Maybe pick a theme, as there are many, this with narrow your concern, yet try to be a little different. For example, the empires of the horse (Iranic or Hunnic) vs. those of the wheel (Neo-Assyrian) or the ship (Rome of the Principate). Also tell a story, and whatever comes of that, do not try and teach a lesson.
    Last edited by cmacq; 02-17-2008 at 08:02.
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    EBII Bricklayer Member V.T. Marvin's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    An excellent account on the relations between the Roman Empire and the Sasanian Persia is the Rome and Persia in late antiquity : neighbours and rivals by Beate Dignas and Engelbert Winter (Cambridge University Press, 2007) - it is quite recent and unlike most of previous studies this builds upon persian sources as far as possible. Really recommend that one to anybody!

  13. #13
    Member Member Cyclops's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by Intrepid Adventurer
    ...I've been thinking along the lines of perhaps shedding some light on the Achaemenid (sp?) Persian empire, from Persian sources (as opposed to Greek ones)....
    I believe there are almost no contemporary literary sources for the Achaemenids so that might be a short project. There are the rock inscriptions of royal decrees but apart from the (rather long a guilty sounding) one at Behistun, they are laconic in the extreme. Was there an almighty destruction of Persian literature in the early Caliphate? AFAIK Achaemenid history is chiefly sourced from Hellenic sources and archaeology.

    Cmaq's idea about empires of the wheel vs empires of the sail etc is a fascinating idea: the way economy and technology shapes politics and culture sounds somewhat Marxist and unfashionable but frankly the nuts and bolts of an empire are worthy of study. A project on "where did the Roman & Sassanid empires get their administrators from"" is worth a look.

    I am struck by (or maybe I want to see) issues of continuity/similarity between empires. "Road building as a tool of empire" might touch on Persian and Roman engineering (and maybe Assyrian? Dunno), and the state institutions in common between a horse-riding aristocractic dynasty and a republican city-state.

    Provinces and satelites are part of every empire: you might discuss Persian, Roman/Byzantine and Arab responses to the status of Armenia (a real bone of contention for empires seeking domination of the region for millenia).
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    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops
    laconic in the extreme.

    Laconic, as in concise or of few words in Remembrance, of Empire or a nation's long-dead?

    Indeed a bit Recessional yet, 'lest we forget'...



    ...so for a little something, something about the, 'pomp of yesterday,' please see below.

    http://persepolistablets.blogspot.com/
    Last edited by cmacq; 02-18-2008 at 06:26.
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    EB Historian/Artist Member Intrepid Adventurer's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Thank you so much guys. Lots of useful suggestions. I'll let you guys know what I've come up with. For now I'm leaning towards the empires building on empires thing or that Byzantine/Sassanid/Arab melee.

    I don't have to decide till wednesday evening, so if anyone has another suggestion, I'll be very happy to hear it!


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    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by Intrepid Adventurer
    Arab

    I believe that technically, the Arab conquests were part and parcel of an ethnic movement and not an empire (under a single political authority at least in name). If one goes the Arab Empire route then we shall have the Keltic, Germanic, and Slavic empires; the Empire of the serf, slave, or all those not in an empire; and even the Empire of the Ant. If nothing else, empires are discrete polities and not the sad byproduct of self-loathing inclusionary-socialism, often of those hired to teach, not of those sent to learn?

    No reflection on you IA, but hows that for a thine slice of wonkish jargonistic nonsense; an Arab Empire indeed? As well, you may want to think twice before wading into a discussion of the Byzantine-Sassanid-Arab conflect, for here the currents of bias, bigotry, intolerance, penchance, and prejudice flow unabated on all sides, and in todays world these remain troubled waters.

    Daily rant over.
    Last edited by cmacq; 02-18-2008 at 15:39.
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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Well - it was for quite a while ruled pretty exclusively by Arabs. Of a fairly specific clan too, IIRC.

    And arguably the related population shifts were a direct result of the creation of the empire - ie. garrison settlements - in much the same way as the creation of Hellenic communities all across the old Persian empire under Alexander and the Diadochi...
    Last edited by Watchman; 02-18-2008 at 15:24.
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    Member Member Michiel de Ruyter's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Okay,

    I have had a lecture last friday by an expert on the Parthians and Parthian religion (currently completing a volume in a series about Zoroastrism).

    If you want to talk about the Achaemenid (Parthian) empire mainly using sources from them, your paper will be very very short. There is very little to no litterary evidence from them... most of what there is are ostraca dealing with the storage of wine... the best known aspect of them is their viticulture...

    There is still fierce debate about who their kings were (especially the early ones), and the most informative sources we have about them are Roman. Archaeology will offer little help, primarily because of local difficulties (of nationalist/religious origin) over the past decades. Afghanistan (civil war), Iran (especially since the Islamic Republic little to no work done, only starting up again), Iraq (Saddam), and Turkey (sensitivities conerning everything not ethnic Turkish).

    The mellee between multiple empires needs specification (the subject is HUGE). If you want to do something with it, narrow it down ASAP.

    If you want to include non-Graeco Roman sources one empires, check asap about the availability of sources (translations). Nothing is more frustrating than finding the perfect book/narrative and it not being available in the country or only available in a language you can not read

    Anyway, good luck!


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    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by Michiel de Ruyter
    If you want to talk about the Achaemenid (Parthian) empire mainly using.
    Is that Arsacid or Achaemenid?
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    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman
    Well - it was for quite a while ruled pretty exclusively by Arabs. Of a fairly specific clan too, IIRC.
    I may have been misunderstood as I would not call any of these Arab Empires

    -------------------------
    The Rashidun Empire, 632 – 661 AD

    al-Khulafā’ur-Rāshidūn, The Righteous Caliphs

    Abu Bakr (632-634 AD) Banu Taym---clan
    Umar ibn al-Khattab, (Umar І) (634-644 AD) Banu Adi---clan
    Uthmān bn ‘Affān (644-656 AD) Banu Umayyad ---clan
    Ali ibn Abi Talib (656-661 AD) Banu Hashim---clan
    Hasan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (661 AD) Banu Hashim---clan

    The Umayyad Empire, 661–750 AD

    Sufyanid dynasty
    Mu‘āwīyah ibn Abī Sufyān (661-680 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Sufyanid ---sept
    Yazid Ibn Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan (680-683 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Sufyanid ---sept
    Mu'āwiyya ibn Yazīd (683-684 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Sufyanid ---sept

    Marwanid dynasty
    Marwan ibn al-Hakam (684-685 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (685-705 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (705-715 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Sulayman bin Abd al-Malik (715-717 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (717-720 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Yazid bin Abd al-Malik (720–724 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (724–743 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Walid ibn Yazid (743–744 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Yazid ibn Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (744 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Ibrahim ibn Al-Walid (744 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept
    Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan (744–750 AD) Banu Umayyad---clan, Marwanid ---sept

    Abbasid Empire
    (750 -1258 AD)

    Fatimid Empire
    (910 -1171 AD)

    Ayyubid Empire
    (1171-1250 AD)

    Mamluk Empire
    (1250-1517 AD)

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman
    And arguably the related population shifts were a direct result of the creation of the empire - ie. garrison settlements - in much the same way as the creation of Hellenic communities all across the old Persian empire under Alexander and the Diadochi...
    Again, I would not call any of these Hellenic Empires.

    But that me.
    Last edited by cmacq; 02-19-2008 at 20:44.
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    Member Member Cyclops's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by cmacq
    I may have been misunderstood as I would not call any of these Arab Empires...
    I think Arab empire is a reasonable and understandable shorthand for all those dynasties you mention up to the Abbasids.

    I use expressions like british Empire and French Empire and they aren't quite right but people get what I mean ( a bit klike the way people use "America" to mean the USA).

    Would you call them an Islamic Empire?
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    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Right, well then how about Arabic empires, with a lower case 'e?' As these are not homogenous constructs, I just think its important to separate the ethnic from the political element. For example, in the case of an Arab Empire, many mistakenly subsume all semantic peoples within the mantle of an Arab minority.

    But, please let me get off my soap box and pull the stick out for a few?
    Last edited by cmacq; 02-19-2008 at 11:50.
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    EB Historian/Artist Member Intrepid Adventurer's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    With Arab I meant Ummayad, I think, haha.


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    Urwendur rbl Senior Member Mouzafphaerre's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    .
    PS: All of the aforementioned clans are branches of the Quraysh tribe.
    .
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    Member Member Michiel de Ruyter's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by cmacq
    Is that Arsacid or Achaemenid?
    Oops

    It is indeed the Arsacids... they and the Sassanids always considered themselves the successors to the Achaemenids.

    Ouch....
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  26. #26
    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    No biggie as I assumed that was what you meant.
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    Member Member Cyclops's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by cmacq
    Right, well then how about Arabic empires, with a lower case 'e?' As these are not homogenous constructs, I just think its important to separate the ethnic from the political element. For example, in the case of an Arab Empire, many mistakenly subsume all semantic peoples within the mantle of an Arab minority.

    But, please let me get off my soap box and pull the stick out for a few?
    Oh no, I really value semantic points. And semitic peoples.

    There's a new WW2 history by Norman Davies, No Simple Victory that begins with a very simple set of questions about WW2 such as "name the ideologies at odds", "where was the biggest prison camp?" etc, a lot of simple points about facts and semantics, and even dates.

    There's a great point that on the main WW2 monument in Washington the dates for WW2 are given as 1941-1945. IIRC there's a number of monuments in London giving the dates for WW1 as 1914-1919 or even 1914-1920.

    He's a grumpy old man with a bonnet full of bees, but I like cranky pedants setting the record straight.

    The basic point is its worth getting your facts, including terminology, right. Getting a bunch of different POV's has got to help the OPoster too.

    That whole "what is an empire?" debate is one he might get value from, was it on a big anti-USA thread some months back?

    The Islam movement might be a bit like the Goths (just with more of a unifying ideology)? Maybe it would be fruitful to see the arab empire as a process with a foundation phase, a horde phase, a state formation phase?
    From Hax, Nachtmeister & Subotan

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  28. #28
    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops
    Oh no, I really value semantic points. And semitic peoples.
    Ay, right...

    but ya didnae git mi Kiplingesque riff on Empire, Ah tried an aw hantle tae plank abuin.
    I just don't like all that bloody talk about those bledin semantics and its all but just words this and just words that, Blech!

    In the end a'dinnieken and Ah wiz a black affrontit bleter.

    Pardons for my spelling.
    Last edited by cmacq; 02-19-2008 at 23:59.
    quae res et cibi genere et cotidiana exercitatione et libertate vitae

    Herein events and rations daily birth the labors of freedom.

  29. #29
    Member Member Cyclops's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Quote Originally Posted by cmacq
    Ay, right...

    but ya didnae git mi Kiplingesque riff on Empire, Ah tried an aw hantle tae plank abuin.
    I just don't like all that bloody talk about those bleding semantics and its all but just words this and just words that, Blech!

    In the end a'dinnieken and Ah wiz black affrontit bleter.
    I'm confused. Is that the name of a new Skythoi-Getae unit?
    From Hax, Nachtmeister & Subotan

    Jatte lambasts Calico Rat

  30. #30
    Bruadair a'Bruaisan Member cmacq's Avatar
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    Default Re: A humble appeal to the EB historians

    Not Skytho-Getae, its a type of Scoats-Leid, so-to-speak, with but no hint of Doric.

    a'dinnieken and Ah wiz a black affrontit bleter
    I know nothing and am embarrassed beyond belief.

    Just a simple vernacular form of English?

    And...
    speaking of semantics you may want to seek the use of 'Arab' therein.

    Now, back to Kipling.
    Last edited by cmacq; 02-20-2008 at 05:12.
    quae res et cibi genere et cotidiana exercitatione et libertate vitae

    Herein events and rations daily birth the labors of freedom.

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