The Many Things I Don't Know

Had this art history seminar on Tuesday and it reminded me how there are just tons of things--whole genres of relatively common knowledge--that I don't know. For example, oh, the entirety of world history. I even had an excellent high school world history teacher, Mr. O'Donnell. He used to give lectures dressed in the appropriate costume of whatever the topic was. And yet, the only thing I remember from world history is that someone named Hannibal invaded another country on the back of an elephant. I don't know when this was, or who he was, or why he was on an elephant, or if he "won." So, in class, as the teacher was asking things like, And what are the names of the three main Greek columns? No clue. (Answer: Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian). At one time, I think I knew this fact. But it has gone away from my brain, as has many very elementary things like the names of all the planets. I swear, I can't remember them all. This lack occurred to me as I was sitting there trying to think of all the names of the 12 main Greek gods/goddesses and the corresponding Roman names. I should know this b/c, as I remembered this month when going through some stuff at my mom's house, I once did a huge project on the Greek gods. It wasn't research or anything--I just made dolls of every single one of them and their different outfits. I actually do remember some of the Greek Olympian gods: Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Poseidon, Ares, Hades (? or is that the Roman name), that little crippled guy, uh..........I'm looking it up. Okay, and Hestia, Apollo, Hermes, Artemis, and Hephaestus. And that's how I started thinking about how the Romans stole all the gods and renamed them and many of those names are the names of our planets in the solar system: Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Neptune, Pluto, Mercury. And the other planets are? Well, Earth, duh. And...Saturn. Oh, Uranus. Embarrassing.

Anyway, I read somewhere recently that learning new things can actually create new brain cells or neurons or something. I need this stimulation. Here are some other Trivial Pursuit type things I learned in class:

1. The Greek Olympians competed naked. I didn't know this. Wouldn't that hurt? Is it hard to run like that?

2. The Romans stole much of their architecture and sculpture and theater and gods from the Greeks, but then improved on them by creating things like arches and theater in the round and more life-like status.

3. The emperor Constantine is the man who brought Christianity to the masses starting in Italy--before the leader's last-minute conversion on his death bed, only a small faction of people followed Christianity. But then, because he was seen as so powerful and important, the people around him also adopted Christianity and it spread like it to use the simile of a venereal disease?

4. We don't always have to have such a Euro-Christian idea of time. Instead of saying something happened BC (Before Christ) or AD (Anno Domini/The year of our Lord), we can say it happened BCE (Before the Common Era) or CE (after the Common Era). The Common Era, by the way, is the time when the world starting arranging itself around shared constructs of time--a seven day week, a certain number of months in a year--at least, that's my layman's understanding of how it works.

I learned a few more things, but that's mostly what i remember off the top of my pretty little empty head.


Leigh Ann said…
It's "ionic."
I can't wait to read your blog posts each week to see what I can learn about art history from the class you are taking. Won't you please come with me to all cocktail parties and let me stand next to you while you impress everyone with your quick wit and interesting art trivia?
Aimee said…
I was testing you....................