Monthly Archives: August 2013

Who was the Emperor Hadrian?

The Emperor Hadrian, in the small museum at the Library of Hadrian, Athens, Greece

Head of a statue of Emperor Hadrian, in the small museum at the Library of Hadrian, Athens, Greece

There is so much known about Hadrian (Publius Aelius Hadrianus), one of the great emperors of Rome, that this short biography will center on his interest in Greece and the Greeks.

Hadrian ruled as emperor 117-138, during Rome’s heyday. He succeeded Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Traianus), his father’s cousin, who had adopted him as his heir. Greek studies at an early age caused him to be nicknamed Graeculus, “Little Greek.”

Born in Gades (modern Cádiz, Spain), Hadrian married Sabina August, the great-niece of Trajan. Hadrian enjoyed hunting, spoke Latin with a provincial accent (he was mocked because of this), thought himself an expert in playing the cithara and singing, was a poet, and knew mathematics and military tactics.

Hadrian is also known for his love affair with Antinous, a young Bithynian, who traveled with Hadrian and drowned in the Nile at 19. Apparently the affair was an embarrassment to the Romans, but for the Greeks this had been an acceptable practice for centuries. After deifying Antinous, Hadrian later went on to name a new Egyptian city after him, Antinoöpolis.

Hadrian’s affair with Antinous was one way he manifested his Philhellenism. Made a member of the Eleusian Mysteries (124), he toured Greece, dedicating the Olympeion, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, in Athens (128). He founded the Panhellenion, a league of Greek cities whose representatives met in Athens. The organization had cultic overtones, fostered the revival of the Peloponnese, and hosted the festival, the Panhellenia. Hadrian had a library built near the Roman forum in Athens in 132.

He died in 138 and was eventually cremated and buried in his mausoleum in Rome, now known as the Castel Sant’Angelo.

The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed., edited by Simon Hornbloweer and Antony Spawforth (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

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Who was Tiberius Julius Aquila Celsus Polemaeanus?

Statue of Celsus, from the Istanbul Archaeological Museum (Wikipedia)

Note: The following information comes from an article by Volke Michael Stroka. (See citation.)

The Library of Celsus was built in honor of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus (Τιβέριος Ιούλιος Κέλσος Πολεμαιανός), a wealthy Greek from (probably) Sardis. He was later granted Roman citizenship. The inscription on the façade of the library (which I do not remember seeing) gives his full name, stating that his son, Gaius Julius Aquila, built the library; Tiberius Claudius Aristion was executor of the will. There were two other inscriptions (one in Greek, the other in Latin) located on the “cheeks” of the stair banisters (which bore equestrian statues of Celsus); these stairs are not accessible to the public.

Celsus’ father was a Roman knight and rather wealthy. In 68, Celsus read the law and started his military career as a Roman tribune in Alexandria. The legion in which Celsus served was the one that later proclaimed Vespasian emperor in 69. As a reward for his support, Vespasian made Celsus a senator in 70. From there, Celsus then became an aedile. In the mid-70s he was a praetor, a supreme judge in Rome. From 78-85 he was in Cappadocia as legatus iuridicus, then became a Roman legion commander in Syria, then the governor of Bithynia and Pontus. From 85/87 Celsus was in charge of the pension funds for veterans in Rome, and then from 89-91 he was a legate in Cilicia. Emperor Domitian made him a consul suffectus in Rome in 92 as a reward for all his years of faithful service. After this, he was elected to the college of priests, the quindecimviri sacris faciundis. He served as curator aedium sacrarum et operum locorumque publicorum populi Romani in Rome. This office oversaw finances and organization of imperial building projects in the capital, which were huge during the reigns of Domitian (81-96) and Trajan (Cr. 98-117).

In 105/6, Celsus became the proconsul (governor) of the rich province of Asia , with the seat in Ephesus. He must have stayed in Ephesus; he died there before 114. His son, Tiberius Julius Aquila, continued the library project as a burial gift for his famous father, but he died before it was completed.

We also know about Aquila, who was born 70-75. He had been suffect consul in Rome in 110 after an unknown career. Aquila was able to tap into the contacts his father made with the architects and building guilds as aedium sacrarum. Aquila hired them for his Ephesian project. There are similarities between the decorations on the Celsus library (construction began around 113/4) and on the forums of Trajan and the reconstructed Caesar; such decorations were unknown in Asia Minor up until that time.

To bury anyone inside city walls was unusual, only done for those who served their city. It was forbidden to build mausoleums inside the city, so by burying Celsus in his library crypt showed how rich and honored he was by the citizens of Ephesus. No one is quite sure how he favored Ephesus while living there.

Most amazing of all, the remains of Celsus are still in his sarcophagus, and the sarcophagus is still in its original resting place in the crypt under the library apse.

Stroka, Volke Michael. “The Celsus Library in Ephesus.” In Ancient Libraries in Anatolia: Libraries of Hattusha, Pergamon, Ephesus, Nysa ([Ankara]: Middle East Technical University, 2003), p. 33-43).

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Is Carbonated Water Bad for the Teeth?

There has been a lot posted recently on carbonated water being as bad (or even worse) than carbonated soft drinks for the teeth.

I had not even heard this until I was getting a ride home from a couple of friends from a colonoscopy a few weeks ago. I had mentioned how much I loved seltzer water. (I always make sure to check to see if the seltzer I’m buying has any sodium in it; most brands do not add sodium but some brands do.) Imagine my surprise when I was told how harmful any carbonated water is for the teeth—more harmful than even Coke or Pepsi.

I found this hard to believe. After all, when I was young I was always drinking diet soft drinks. (I ate and drank a lot of crap when I was a kid.) This entire argument made no sense. After all, how could adding carbon dioxide to water make it destructive? I am no expert in science, having nearly flunked chemistry junior year of high school, nor am I a health care professional, but this was a topic I wanted to learn more about. Therefore I decided to do some preliminary research into the subject. I found the following web sites, which I evaluated:

The site of Dr. Mark Sircus lists him as the Director of the International Medical Veritas Association, and is a doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine. Here (viewed 2013 August 12) he states that sparkling water is bad.

I have never heard of “oriental and pastoral medicine,” nor have I heard of the International Medical Veritas Association. According to Quackwatch (viewed 2013 August 12), Dr. Stephen Barrett lists this as a voluntary organization of “considerable distrust.” Barrett gives a list of ten things to look for when evaluating organizations.

The main page of Quackwatch lists Barrett as the operator of the web site as well as a link to who Barrett is (a retired psychiatrist), the mission statement of Quckwatch, how to navigate the web site, who funds Quackwatch, how to become a Quackwatch advisor, etc. Actually, Quackwatch is a very good example of how a good, credible web site is constructed.

Verdict: Quackwatch. There’s too much credible information. (There’s nothing on the site about sparkling or carbonated water, however.)

Sparkling water: Pro 0; Con 0

Quick and Dirty Tips is the web site of the Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS. According to her page (viewed 2013 August 12), carbonated water is not damaging to teeth or to anything else in the human body. She is a licensed, board-certified nutritionist and a professionally-trained chef.

Reinagel has a link to what could be considered her mission statement as well as other links to her advice. This site also has her bio and background, how to ask her a question, links to her Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as how to subscribe to her podcats on iTunes and via RSS. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the American College of Nutrition, and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Reinagel concludes, “To sum up, although soda and other carbonated beverages have been associated with negative effects, carbonation is not harmful in and of itself. Drinking carbonated water offers the same benefits as drinking plain water. It keeps you hydrated, which (among other things) helps prevent constipation. Drinking water can reduce your appetite and help you eat less at meals. And depending on the source of the water, it may contain minerals that help strengthen your bones and teeth.”

Verdict: the Nutrition Diva. Again, there’s too much credible information on the site to discount her.

Sparkling water: Pro 1; Con 0

According to Oral Answers (viewed 2013 August 21), sparking water does erode teeth. And who is behind Oral Answers? Tom, who posted this in 2010. Who is Tom? Tom is a dentist in Bridgewater, Virginia. He never gives his last name, the address of his practice, or his vitae, but his web site is packed with a lot of different information on tooth care and dental-related questions. I have no doubt that Tom is, indeed, a dentist.

He cites an article from the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, the journal of the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry, with a link to the citation at the Wiley Online Library. Wiley is a big vendor of databases that libraries subscribe to for lots of money. This is a credible source. I have never heard of the organization or the journal, but I am sure the journal is a valid, scientific journal of a credible dental organization. (Both are based in Great Britain.) However, Tom’s conclusion differs slightly from the journal’s. He states:

Here is what the researchers concluded, straight from their paper written in the King’s English:

Flavoured sparkling waters should be considered as potentially erosive, and preventive advice on their consumption should recognize them as potentially acidic drinks rather than water with flavouring.

In other words, sparkling water can erode your tooth enamel. It’s probably not something you need to worry about though, unless you drink carbonated water several times per day. Our saliva can repair the enamel through a process called re-mineralization as long as your teeth aren’t being bathed in the acid constantly.

Ah, not quite.

The researchers are talking about flavored sparkling water, not plain sparkling water. There is evidence, as Reinagel also mentions in her article, that flavored sparkling water can damage the enamel on teeth. Tom though, does not make the distinction, and it is an important one.

I do not have access to the full article (either I have to be a member of the organization, have my library subscribe to it, or buy access, and I am not that interested in reading something that would be in technical jargon). The full abstract lists the objective, methodology, results and conclusions.

Flavored sparkling waters are being studied, not plain sparking water. An in vitro study is one that isolates the component that is being studied from its natural surroundings; basically, research done in a laboratory. The methodology (to me) is jargon. However, the results once again mention flavored sparking water as corrosive to teeth. As the authors stated in the objective, “Whilst the wide-scale consumption of bottled waters is unlikely to contribute significantly to erosion, the role of flavoured sparkling water drinks is unclear.” (Emphasis mine.) So unflavored, plain sparkling waters do no damage to teeth. Though Tom does not make the distinction and simply states that sparking water is bad for the teeth, the research he cites is credible, and supports my belief that seltzer water does not harm teeth.

Sparkling water: Pro 2; Con 0

There’s Ask by Yahoo ( viewed 2013 August 21). This forum allows people to post questions to anyone who wants to answer them. One person, perhaps a teenager or a child, asked if sparkling water was bad for the teeth because his father thought that it was. The answers were uninspiring and contained no facts.

Sparkling water: Pro 2; Con: 0

And finally, I went to the American Dental Association and the American Medical Association web sites to see if they had anything on seltzer/sparkling water. Imagine my surprise when a search of the web sites using “seltzer” and “sparking water” brought up no relevant results. If sparkling water/seltzer was so dangerous to teeth (or to health), then why hasn’t the ADA and/or the AMA put out some type of warning, or at least have references to research having been done?

Sparkling water: Pro 2; Con: 0

Winner: sparkling/seltzer water, unflavored.

My advice: go to credible web sites for information. As I have demonstrated basic, preliminary research is not hard to do. Evaluation of information is something that academic librarians teach regularly. It goes hand-in-hand with critical thinking skills, which seem to be sorely lacking in our society. Why would someone ask a question to a general forum? This is a topic that needs research, not opinion. If one does not know how to evaluate a web site, ask your local librarian for help. If you still have questions or are unsure, ask your primary care physician for help.

Conclusion from Preliminary Research: there is no evidence that plain sparkling water (and therefore plain seltzer water) damages teeth or does us any bodily harm. There is evidence that flavored sparkling waters can damage teeth. Since I drink plain (unflavored) seltzer water, I have decided that it is safe to drink.

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Fontina in Armonk, New York

I had dinner at Fontina Restaurant, a new, trendy, eating establishment in Armonk, New York. It’s at 17 Maple Avenue.

Honestly, I had never been to Armonk. When I lived in Brewster, I used to pass the sign on I 684 but never gave it much thought. I did buy gas near there when I had a blowout on 684 years ago, but I never was in the town.

The only reason I went was to see Christina, who used to work at the Silver Tips Tea Room. Christina left while I was in Greece, so I’ve been meaning to stop by and say hello. Fontina opens at 5 pm except on Sunday when they open at 11:30 for brunch. I had heard good things about Fontina, but I wanted to see Christina.

It is laid back but very trendy and pricey. I had a pizza with honey mixed in its sauce. The dessert was a chocolate mousse with sea salt and something else in it. These were two of Christina’s favorites, and they were quite good. One of the owners Rob, stopped and asked me how I liked the food. Several weeks ago, I had planned on surprising Christina so I called to see if she was there. Rob answered and handed her the phone. Turns out that I could not go that night as I was volunteering at the Warner Library, so I disappointed her. This time, I did surprise her.

After I said my good-byes, I headed into the small block that makes up the downtown area. I bought a bottle of wine and started talking to the woman who ran the local liquor store. Rob had mentioned a place that sold hamburgers and shoes (?!), and that’s what I was looking for. Turns out that the place is “closed for renovations.” (Sorry, Rob.)

When I started working at The Graduate Center at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, there was a place a few blocks up Fifth called Munch. It was opened for about six months before it was “closed for renovations.” The space was brand new. The storefront reopened, but with a completely different restaurant–that closed after about a year.

I walked back to Fontina and found a lovely park nearby, Wampus Brook, with a bridge over the brook. I love water with bridges, and as the sun set I snapped a few photos.

If you go to Fontina, please say hello to Christina, and give Rob your regrets about the hamburger/shoe store.

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August 25, 2013 · 12:53 am

Kent, Connecticut

Kent CT-Church Steeple (2013-08-17 010)

When I first moved to New York, I lived in Brewster. One day I took a drive up Route 7 just to see something. I ended up in Kent, a small town with some charm. For awhile, I visited Kent every summer, visiting that big, book sale. This year I bought several paperback mysteries.

The book sale supports Kent Memorial Library which, I was told, gets very little money from taxes. There was a raffle for a convertible that was being held for the library.

If you are up near Kent Connecticut, stop by and spend some money on books to help keep the Kent Memorial Library open.

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The Metroon

Plan of the Metroon

Plan of the Metroon

The old Bouleterion, where the city’s Boule met, was expanded and converted into the Metroon; the new Bouleterion building is behind the Metroon. The Metroon housed a cult statue of the Mother of the Gods, where the name Metroon is derived, as well as rooms that held the city’s archives and an atrium.

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Why are Library of Congress Subject Headings Better than Keywords?

Having either been a cataloger or having worked with catalogers for most of my academic career, I know the value of subject headings. They take some time to create (there are rules as to what can and cannot be used as subdivisions), but they work wonderfully bringing works together for the user to find.

They are not keywords; they are better than keywords.

It takes some time to learn how to use subject headings, but once you know how, it makes searching for information very easy. Whereas keywords come from terms either assigned by someone or (more likely) are indexed by a spider that uses the entire text for keywords, subject headings are only assigned if the work is about that subject or a major part of the work deals with that subject. Keywords make no distinction, so your search brings up everything with that word or words in it regardless of where they appear.

Subjects, like languages, change over time, so the Library of Congress (LC) and its partners have kept a database of alternate spellings, names, etc. of places, people, organizations, and topics so that anyone searching under any of those alternate spellings or names can find what is being searched. These authority records are not visible in library databases, but generate searching notes to help guide users in finding information.

The user would be expected to look at the bibliographic record created for the item, take into account the description and other subject headings assigned, and decide if this work is relevant to the research he/she is doing.

Subject headings are very precise, whereas keywords are not.

Everyone knows that the Internet is vast, encompassing contributions from just about every country on Earth. LC subject headings are restricted to libraries in the United States; other countries create and maintain their own subject headings. Some, like Greece, base their subject headings on LC’s, modifying them to suit their own needs.

You also need people to analyze works and assign the appropriate subject headings to works, and that takes time and money which, in the U.S. at least, is a no-no. Since taxes are evil, as the American conventional thinking goes, “fringe” costs, like actually having someone organize information so people could find it easily, is not needed. The only research that’s valued in America is research that leads to making money; otherwise, research serves no real purpose. Therefore, organization of information–beyond keywords–is not needed.

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