Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Page Design & More.

As you can see, I decided to upgrade my blog.

The truth is it didn't look all that exciting and I felt it needed to be refreshed. I admit I'm not thrilled with the color of the font, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with the new layout (I chose the ocean because of course it makes me think of Themistocles' and his fleet of triremes).

Now that I've changed the look of my blog, I have a question for you:

What can I do to make the blog more interesting?

What questions do you have about Themistocles or the time he lived in? What do you want to know about Triremes, Archaic Athens or any other related topic? I can't really post about Classical Athens because in Themistocles' time many of the things and people you associate with it (the Parthenon, Aristotle, Socrates, etc.) don't exist yet. Thus it makes Archaic Athens a tricky time to write about, but the upside is that not many people have touched upon it. And there's still lots of things to cover. Here's a quick list of potential topics (and things that incidentally appear in my novel):

1) Marathon. Not just the battle but the actual area and why it was so important.

2) Rhamnous. The fort north of Marathon functioned both as a small port and as a fortress (it's also home to the temples of Nemesis and Themis).

3) The Archaic Acropolis. Before the Parthenon there were smaller more ancient temples with an interesting mix of gods and heroes worshipped there.

4) Athenian Class System. Before Cleisthenes' reforms there were form distinct classes of Athenians created by Solon.

5) Ancient Agora. Before Cimon planted trees there and it was surrounded by stoas and philosophers the Agora was a different place.

6) The Demes of Attica. Attica was divided up into different districts; even Athens had its own demes. Who lived where and why might be an interesting topic (as well as what each deme thought of its neighbors).

7) Powerful Families. Before democracy took hold of Athens, it was ruled by various kings, oligarchies, and even tyrants. By Themistocles' time there was a small handful of families who wielded power: the Peistratid family, the Alcmaeonid family and the Kimoneioi family.

8) The Laws of Athens. From Draco to Solon and even Cleisthenes the laws in Athens frequently changed in an effort to make things more equal for the common citizen.

9) Women in Archaic Times. How they differed from their Classical counterparts.

10) Foreigners and Slaves. What rights they had (or rather didn't have) and how they were perceived.

If you read this blog please feel free to suggest what you'd like to see on it in the future. I'd love to hear from you!


Mark said...

Cool new blog:) I'd definitely love to learn more about the Parthenon in the pre-classical era..what specifically was up there then?

Carla said...

All of the items on your list would be interesting. I don't know very much about pre-Classical Athens, so all information is a net gain.

oddodddodo said...

Hi, I just landed on your blog by happenstance (so I never saw the old design ... but the new design looks nice).

I found it intriguing because the time you write about, 480 BC, is very close to a time that I wrote an article about. In the British magazine New Scientist, 14 June 2008, I wrote about how a then-young philosopher named Anaxagoras was led to the first correct theory of what causes eclipses: he proposed that the moon was a giant stone in the sky, about the size of the Peloponnesus, that passed between Earth and the sun. He based this deduction on the total eclipse of 478 BC, an annular eclipse whose antumbra (region of greatest darkness) passed exactly over the Peloponnesus.

I'm a nonfiction writer, so the article is pretty short. Information about pre-Classical Greece is sketchy! But I think that this episode, and indeed the whole life of Anaxagoras, who is shrouded in legend, would be very suitable for a historical-fiction treatment.

Just a thought for you, in case you want to write a new short story ... or a new book!

oddodddodo said...

Sorry, in the comment I just posted I meant to say "solar" eclipse, not "total" (obviously an annular eclipse can't be total, although it's as close to total as can be).

Meghan said...

Hi, Qxpch! I'm so happy you found my blog. It's funny, I was just re-reading a chapter in one of my books on Ancient Greece and it mentioned Anaxagoras and eclipses! I would love to read your article, btw. :)

oddodddodo said...

Hi Megan,

I can send you a copy of the article if you like. You can e-mail me at with your address (either electronic or postal).

I got interested in Anaxagoras first when I wrote a book on the moon ("The Big Splat," published by John Wiley & Sons, you can look it up or buy it on Amazon if you want) and found that all the ancients credited him with the then-heretical theory that the sun and moon were just other worlds, not gods.

Anaxagoras was eventually exiled from Athens for his beliefs. There are three different versions of this in the ancient histories, all quite dramatic. In one version, Anaxagoras' protege Pericles (yes, that Pericles) finds him at death's door in the prison and gets him freed out of mercy. In another version Anaxagoras had already escaped from Athens and was condemned to death in absentia.

So you can see that it was a serious business, going up against the old beliefs and arguing for the power of the human mind!

Anyway, Anaxagoras was very interesting to me because there is so little known about him, and he is a sort of proto-scientific figure, groping towards a rational theory of the cosmos without really knowing what he is doing. The parallel between his story and Galileo's is quite striking, yet Galileo is famous and nobody knows about Anaxagoras.