Gwendoogle Part CXXIII – There’s Some Herodotus at the End

GwendoogleAnswers served with references to Ancient Sources. Huzzah.

Summer searched: What should one do who loves to take walks but who lives in the SoCal desert where it is always 100 degrees?
There are a few options:

1) Hide until summer is over. In the winter, the Mojave averages a high of 65-75, which seems ridiculous to those of us whose January’s usually put icicles on our chins, but will be much more comfortable for walking.

2) Head west. See if there is a reasonable amount of time that will take you close enough to the ocean to catch the ocean breezes that cool the California coast.

3) Search your area for an indoor running track.

Whatever you do, drink lots of water. For the love of Pete and Steve, drink water. It’s like an alien planet over there! An average low of forty degrees in January?! Last year that was the average high where I am…

Ducky searched: Do convinced and invincible come from the same root word?
They both come from the Latin vincere, which means “to overcome, defeat.” Convince literally translates as “to overcome decisively” while invincible translates as “unable to be overcome.”

Kathryn searched: How about some more etymology? How did we get from a salon (a gathering of intellectuals) to a salon (a place you go to become more outwardly chic)?
Salon originally came from the Italian salone which means “large hall.”

The French adopted the term in the early 1800s as the word for “a gathering of fashionable people”. The definition of “fashionable” is as changeable as a pair of shoes, so it’s easy to see how some cultures and times have since taken the term to describe an intellectual commune.

It wasn’t until 1913 that the term was applied to establishments for hairdressing or beauty care. At that time, someone chose it as a grander replacement for the prosaic “shop.” As far as I know, there was no etymological reason for it. It’s only proof that we shape our own languages.

Neekers searched: Why does sand sparkle?
A majority of beach sand is made up of quartz, feldspar, and mica. Mica is often called “fool’s gold,” quartz has been used for jewellery for centuries, so you can bet those two are the culprits.

Kathryn searched: How many times do you need to say “down” without it making any difference before a dog is misbehaving?
I have never trained or owned a dog, but I’m ninety percent sure that if…

  • You had the dog’s attention (you know she could see and hear you)
  • The dog had previously demonstrated that she knew the correct response to your command
  • You gave the dog sufficient time to react to the command

… the dog is misbehaving after the first time.

But you should give them a second chance (using a firmer tone) because everyone deserves one. If they still haven’t responded properly, I believe a kind nudge in the proper direction is in order.

Neekers searched: Can either alligators or crocodiles jump while on land?
Terrifyingly, the answer appears to be yes. They are fastest in the water, but they can run, jump, and climb on land as well. Please add them to the list of animals that scare me out out of my pajamas.

Kate Kearney searched: What is your favorite weird myth?
It’s hard to pick favorites, but I’m a pretty big fan of the story of Rhodopis.

One day, Rhodopis took a bath (I’m sure she did it more than once, but I’m talking about a particular day when she took a bath). As most bathers did, she left her clothes and shoes beside the pool with her maid. I’m sure she thought they were safe there, and never imagined an eagle looking down and saying “Ha! Imma snatch it!”

The eagle snatched one of her sandals and carried it away. (At this point, I imagine that Rhodopis and her maid swore a bit.)

The eagle flew all the way from Naucratis (an Egyptian city on the Nile river, forty-five miles south of the open ocean) to Memphis (the Egyptian capital, farther south on the Nile). Then, it finally got bored of carrying the sandal around, and this punk eagle dropped the sandal into King Psammetichus’ lap.

The King thought the sandal so lovely that he became obsessed with finding its owner. When he finally found Rhodopis he made her his queen on the spot.

And thank goodness he figured out who she was, because Herodotus, Strabo, Pliny the Elder and the rest of us have been arguing about it since 425 B.C.E. Herodotus swears he got her name right. Strabo says his gal-pal Sappho called her Doricha and Rhodopis (“Rosy-cheeks”) was just a nick-name. Pliny doesn’t much care what her name was, but insists she was the Egyptian Queen who built the third pyramid. Herodotus thinks he’s an idiot. Historians today agree with him, but feel uncomfortable about it since they’re not used to agreeing with the man who thought the Nile flooded every year because the sun kept running away and stopped stealing all the water.

Flip the Otter searched: What were/are the burial practices of any Native American tribe (you pick)?
The Hopi inhabit an area called The Black Mesa (what we now call Northern Arizona), and they refer to it as the center of the universe. Once, farming and agriculture were the cornerstones of their traditional lives, and they grew squash, pumpkins, beans, sunflower, and over twenty kinds of corn. Eventually, they would cultivate cotton and tobacco. From what information we have, it’s been suggested that their name means “peaceful person.”

When an adult Hopi died, a close female relative (some sources say specifically a paternal aunt) would wash the deceased’s hair, then tie prayer feathers into it so that they laid over the face. A man would be wrapped in deerskin or a simple blanket while a woman would be dressed in her wedding garments.

The body was arranged in a sitting position in a corner of the home. The family designated an official mourner, who bore the responsibility of scolding the dead person for leaving and laying such sorrow on the community.

The burial itself took place at night. The father, brother, or other close male relative carried the body from the house with the help of one other relative. The body was buried sitting up, facing east. Then the two relative return to the community for cleansing.

It was imperative that the burial occur quickly after death. On the third night after death, mourners brought a bowl of food, a prayer offering, a feather, and a string to the grave. They left them there, with the string pointing from the grave to the west. The next morning, the soul of the deceased would rise from the grave, follow the string and enter into the Skeleton House.

When someone died, the family and friends grieved with wailing. One year later, they grieved again with tears.

When a child died, they were laid in a rock crevice and covered with stones. Mourners left a string for them, pointing back toward the mother’s home. This way, the child’s soul could come back to the home, reborn as the next child in the family. If the mother died without giving birth again, then the child would simply follow his mother to the Skeleton House.

Have a question for Gwendoogle? Leave it in comments below and I’ll be back next week to answer it.

The question bucket currently has: 6 questions


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