Category Archives: Article of the Day

Birdsongs

Birds sing using the syrinx, the avian vocal organ. Singing is usually confined to males and is at its height during the breeding season, when it is used to attract a mate. Birdsongs are usually more complex and longer than birdcalls. There is evidence that songs are learned, while certain calls are inherited. A male chaffinch hatchling, for example, sings a “subsong” but only learns the true song by hearing and imitating adult males. Deaf birds sing, but their songs are different in what way? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Domesday Book

The Domesday Book is a written record of a survey of English landowners and their property ordered by William the Conqueror in 1085. The most remarkable administrative feat of the Middle Ages, it now serves as the starting point for the history of most English towns and villages. Originally called “the description of England,” the name Domesday Book—a reference to doomsday, when people face a final accounting of their lives—was later popularly attached to it. What was the purpose of the survey? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Greatest Bridge-Maker

The pontifex maximus was the highest priest of Roman religion and the official head of the college of pontifices. As the chief administrator of religious affairs, he regulated the conduct of religious ceremonies, consecrated temples and other holy places, and controlled the calendar. During the time of the empire, and until Christianity became firmly established, the emperor was designated pontifex maximus. What religious leaders assumed the title after the rise of Christianity? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Housecarls

Housecarls were servants or household troops that acted as personal bodyguards to medieval Scandinavian lords and kings. They were free men, not slaves or thralls, and were in service voluntarily. Royal housecarls also served in Anglo-Saxon England after its conquest by the kingdom of Denmark in the 11th century, fulfilling a number of military and administrative roles there. Housecarls are well-known for having fought under Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson in what significant battle? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Men's Skirts

Outside of Western culture, men’s clothing commonly includes skirts and skirt-like garments, such as the dhoti or lungi in India and the sarong in South and Southeast Asia. Some long robes also resemble a skirt or dress, including the Middle Eastern and North African caftan and djellaba. One of the most well-known skirt-like garments for men is the kilt, which is usually made of a tartan wool and is part of traditional male garb in the Scottish Highlands. What is the Utilikilt? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Curse of the Ninth

The Curse of the Ninth is the superstition that a composer will die after writing a ninth symphony. Belief in the curse arose after Beethoven, Dvorák, and Schubert—among others—all died after composing their ninth symphonies. Mahler, perhaps the first prominent composer to fear the curse, attempted to elude it by naming his ninth symphony “The Song of the Earth,” but he died after writing “Symphony No. 9″—which was technically his 10th. Who are the other supposed victims of the curse? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Pontus

Pontus was an ancient region in northeast Asia Minor on the coast of the Black Sea. It became an independent kingdom with its capital at Amasia in the 4th century BCE. At the height of its influence under King Mithradates VI, it controlled all of Asia Minor. It continued expanding its borders until 66 BCE, when Mithradates was defeated by the Roman general Pompey the Great and Pontus was incorporated into the Roman Empire. What popular fruit of the rose family is thought to be native to Pontus? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Beelzebub

In the Old Testament, Beelzebub is a fertility god worshipped by the Philistines of Ekron and other Semitic groups. In the New Testament, he is the leader of the devils, sometimes identified with Satan and sometimes with his chief assistant. One of the fallen angels of John Milton’s 17th-century epic Paradise Lost, Beelzebub is described by the author as being next to Satan in power. His name, Beelzebub, ultimately derives from the Hebrew words bá’al zebub, meaning “lord of” what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Angora Rabbit

A popular pet of 18th-century French royalty, the Angora rabbit is a striking-looking variety of domestic rabbit that resembles a large, fluffy snowball. Its long, silky wool is valued for its softness and fluffiness and is often used in knit apparel like sweaters. It is important that these rabbits are regularly groomed and have their wool harvested; otherwise their coats can become matted or be ingested by the animal and cause digestive problems. How big can Angora rabbits get? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland

Percy was an English aristocrat who inherited his title from his father when he was in his early 20s. Under James I, Percy was imprisoned in the Tower of London for suspicion of involvement in the Gunpowder Plot, which was undertaken in part by his relative Thomas Percy. While in prison, he made the acquaintance of Sir Walter Raleigh, who was also confined there, and earned the sobriquet “The Wizard Earl” for his scientific experiments. What luxurious amenities did Percy have while imprisoned? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary