Anniversaries & Events in Academia & Elsewhere
Cleopatra famously died from the bite of an asp (or from two asps, or from a toxic ointment, or from drinking poison, or from being killed by Augustus), generally believed to have been on her arm, though it makes for a better story (one even Shakespeare went in for), and certainly a more eye-catching Victorian painting, if it is supposed to be on the breast, as this obliges the handmaidens who were present there too to be depicted completely topless also, for the sake of historical accuracy.
the Plague of Justinian (541-542), which he himself contracted. But survived.
And then there was the fact that they were using Roman numerals for the maths, about as surefire a method of guaranteeing mistakes as could have been invented. If you don’t believe it, try dividing MCLXIII by XIX, and bear in mind they had no decimal point in those days, France being the first country to go metric, also on August 1, as it happens, in 1793. The answer is LXXXII and a bit, if you’re struggling – or do we mean just over XVIIIC? Who knows? Who cares? Certainly not the Normans, who took the Iain Duncan Smith approach of “not very accurate, not at all reliable, full of errors, but delivered on time, within budget and something that the previous administration conspicuously failed to achieve.”
The very last of the Stuarts was the Young Pretender, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, that gallant hero who abandoned his troops to massacre at Culloden so he could get rowed over the sea to Skye. His name (very much in thematic keeping) was actually Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart, so you wouldn’t want to be the one making the announcements when he turned up at a do, would you?
In 1774, academia at last got a look in, with Joseph Priestly discovering oxygen, though he wanted to call it "dephlogisticated air" (from the Greek for flame), followed in hot pursuit (well, in 1785) by Caroline Herschel becoming the first woman to discover a comet. She was the sister of Sir William Herschel, of course, and they too were born in the Electorate of Hanover, though there is absolutely no suggestion that they took after their infamous compatriot, Georg Ludwig, in any way whatsoever.
This was also the day in 1914 that World War One broke out but, for our purposes, that doesn’t count because in England it was a Bank Holiday weekend, so we couldn’t join in until the Tuesday morning …