Thursday, 22 June 2006

In Our Time: The Spanish Inquisition

Listen to Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time on The Spanish Inquisition, with John Edwards (Emeritus Fellow in Spanish, The Queen's College, Oxford), Alexander Murray (Emeritus Fellow in History, University College, Oxford) and Michael Alpert (Emeritus Professor in Modern and Contemporary History of Spain, University of Westminister). Very enjoyable.

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

The Paston Letters

BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour Drama has adapted The Paston Letters and is broadcasting it all this week. Norman Davis' edition, first published in the 1970s, has been republished by the Early English Text Society in two volumes. The Paston Letters span 1422-1509 and are a treasure trove of detail about life in a medieval family.

Tuesday, 6 June 2006


In these days of hose-pipe bans this is appropriate. I just want to tell you about this word.

I have been reading Emilio Pasquini, Dante e le figure del vero: la fabbrica della Commedia (Milan: Mondadori, 2001), and he used the word rabdomantico. The word means a diviner, or more specifically a water diviner (or a dowser, as they are also known).

It comes from the Greek ῥαβδομαντεία, f. ῥἁβδος meaning 'rod', and μαντεία meaning 'divination, prophetic power'. Someone who practises this is called a rhabdomancer. P. G. W. Glare (in the Oxford Latin Dictionary) records the word rhabdos ~i, f. A rod-shaped phenomenon allied to a rainbow. ~os..generis eiusdem ad uirgae rigorem perlongum colorata nubecula dicitur, Apul. Mun. 16.


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