Monthly Archives: May 2019

The Brazen Bull

The brazen bull is a torture and execution device designed in ancient Greece by Perillos, a brass-founder, for Phalaris, the cruel tyrant of Agrigentum, Sicily, who ruled from about 570 to 554 BCE. Perillos cast a hollow brass bull that had a door on its side, allowing the condemned to be placed inside it. A fire lit beneath the bull would roast the victim alive. The device was designed so that the victim’s screams would sound like the bellowing of a bull. Who, ironically, was its first victim? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Procession of the Holy Blood

This procession is a major religious event in Bruges, Belgium, to venerate the Holy Blood of Christ said to have been brought back from the Second Crusade by Thierry d’Alsace, count of Flanders, in 1150. Through living tableaux, the procession tells the story of the Bible, from the fall of Adam and Eve on through the New Testament stories. Some dozen groups also depict the triumphant return of Thierry d’Alsace to Bruges. When the procession has returned to Burg Square, the bishop of Bruges lifts the relic of the Holy Blood and blesses the crowd. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Armillary Sphere

Used as early as the third century BCE, armillary spheres are astronomical models of the celestial sphere—an imaginary sphere surrounding the Earth, upon which the celestial bodies seem to lie. Fixed and movable rings representing circles of the celestial sphere, such as the ecliptic and the celestial equator, allow astronomers to use armillary spheres to determine the movements and positions of stars. A representation of this device is prominently featured on what country’s national flag? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Battle of Legnano (1176)

In 1160, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa was excommunicated for his support of a series of antipopes against Pope Alexander III. In 1167, the communes of Lombardy in northern Italy formed an alliance to resist Frederick. The Lombard League soundly defeated Frederick’s forces in the Battle of Legnano, after which Frederick reconciled with the pope and made peace with the Lombard cities. Why, if he survived, did Frederick’s wife go into mourning for her husband following the battle? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Planting the Penny Hedge

The Penny Hedge is a fence of interlaced stakes and boughs that is built along the water’s edge near Whitby, England, in the morning on the eve of Ascension Day. According to the local legend, in 1159 three noblemen were out hunting a wild boar. When the animal took refuge with a monk from Whitby Abbey, they beat him to death. The abbot of Whitby ordered them to build a hedge every year on the shore while the bailiff announced their offences. Today it is the harbor master himself who continues the tradition, while church and civil dignitaries, along with townspeople and visitors, look on. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Blast Furnace

Blast furnaces are apparatuses that extract metal from ore by removing oxygen from metal oxide. These tall, cylindrical smelting furnaces are fed from the top with a mix of ore, coke, and a flux, commonly limestone, while preheated compressed air is introduced under pressure from the bottom. As the contents become molten, the metal sinks and impurities, called slag, float to the top. Blast furnaces were first used in China more than 2,000 years ago. When did they appear in Europe? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Armenia First Republic Day

The people of Armenia lived for hundreds of years under foreign domination. Then, in 1917, the Russian Revolution allowed Armenia the opportunity to create a modern republic. The Democratic Republic of Armenia (DRA) was formed in 1918. The DRA was short-lived but important, as it represented the beginning of the modern quest for democracy and independence in Armenia. On First Republic Day, titles and medals are awarded to Armenians of outstanding achievement, and there are speeches by government officials, fireworks displays, concerts, and dancing. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary