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Biographies (6)

Philosophers

Philostratus, Flavius, the elder

Philostratus (Philostratos). Flavius Philostratus the elder, a Greek Sophist of Lemnos, son of a celebrated Sophist of the same name. He taught first in Athens, then at Rome till the middle of the third century A.D. By order of his great patroness Iulia Domna, the learned wife of the emperor Septimius Severus, he wrote (a) the romantic Life of Apollonius of Tyana. Besides this we have by him (b) a work entitled Heroicus (Heroikos), consisting of mythical histories of the heroes of the Trojan War in the form of a dialogue, designed to call back to life the expiring popular religion; (c) lives of the Sophists (Bioi Sophiston), in two books, the first dealing with twenty-six philosophers, the second with thirtythree rhetoricians of earlier as well as later times, a work important for the history of Greek culture, especially during the imperial age; (d) seventy-three letters, partly amatory in subject; (e) a fragment of a work intended to revive interest in the old Gymnastic; lastly (f), the Imagines (Eikones), in two books, being descriptions of sixtysix paintings on all possible subjects.
  Of these it is doubtful whether, as he pretends, they really belonged to a gallery at Naples, a statement accepted by Brunn, or whether their subjects were invented by himself, as maintained by Friederichs and Matz. Like all his writings, this work is skilful and pleasing in its manner, and the interest of its topic makes it particularly attractive. It is not so much designed to incite to the study of works of art as to exhibit the art of painting in a totally new field; and herein he is followed both by his grandson and namesake and by Callistratus.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Dec 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Lucius Flavius Philostratus was born ca.170 CE on the Greek island of Lemnus. He became one of the leading sophists or orators of his day, spent some years at the Roman imperial court, and publicized several books, among which are a very entertaining Life of the sophists and an intriguing biography of the charismatic miracle worker Apollonius of Tyana. Philostratus died between 244 and 249. His father, his son-in-law and his grandson (all namesakes) were also well known authors.
The Second Sophistic
  Ancient society was virtually illiterate. Only a few rich people could afford to attend school. Consequently, almost all communication took place by means of the spoken word, and the art of speaking in public was considered one of the most important of all human activities. Or, formulated more precisely: one of the most important of all male activities, because female orators were almost unknown.
  The first to think about rhetorics were the so-called "sophists" ("intellectuals") of the fifth century BCE, who taught the sons of noble Athenians how to convince or influence the people's assembly. Several handbooks about the art of speaking were written in these days: e.g., the Rhetorics by the great philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BCE). After the fourth century, the Greek cities lost their independence and political decisions were no longer made by speeches in political assemblies. Some thought that rhetorics had died.
  When Greece was part of the Roman Empire, the art revived in a different form. From now on, the title 'sophist' indicated rhetorical virtuosos, who were able to improvise in public on historical or fictional themes (meletai). The German language possesses the fine but untranslatable expression Konzertredner to describe these men; in English, they may be called 'concert orators' or 'show speakers'. The founder of these new rhetorics was Nicetes of Smyrna, who lived in the second half of the first century CE. Among the later sophists were illustrious artists like Herodes Atticus, Polemo of Laodicea, Publius Aelius Aristides, and Favorinus of Arelate - men who would travel across the entire Roman world, followed by their fans and disciples. Publius Aelius Aristides was responsible for several thoughtful essays about the importance of eloquence.
  A typical performance of a sophist took place in a theater or a music hall. When the orator had entered the stage, he invited his audience to mention a subject about which he had to improvise a declamation. Often, the people would request a historical speech on the great days of independent Greece, such as: Leonidas inspires his men to fight until death, Wounded Athenian soldiers ask their comrades to kill them or Pericles asks the Athenians to declare war on Sparta. Fictional themes were also popular: In praise of baldness, Which side of a woman is the most pleasing, front or back? or Physical defects of men. The sophist would choose his subject, leave the stage for several minutes to prepare himself, and would then deliver the requested speech in front of an enchanted audience.
  These performances were extremely popular and the sophists were the ancient equivalents of modern pop stars. They were rich men, who could afford to devote all their time to rhetorics. Show oratory was, therefore, an expression of elite culture, a place where a rich man could show his own importance in an Empire where he could no longer distinguish himself as a politician or a soldier.
  This phenomenon is called the Second Sophistic (the First Sophistic being the art of speaking of the fifth and fourth century BCE). This term was coined by the sophist and author Philostratus.
Philostratus' life
  Almost all facts about Philostratus' life have to be deduced from his own writings. Unfortunately, several relatives were also called Philostratus, and these were authors too. Confusion is, therefore, likely, and we must first establish which Philostratus is responsible for what publication. A short catalogue of surviving works:
•Philostratus I (second half of the second century)
• Nero, a dialogue - maybe written by Philostratus II.
•Philostratus II (c.170-244/249)
•Eight books containing a Life of Apollonius, a vie romancee of the charismatic teacher Apollonius of Tyana, commissioned before 217;
two books of Lives of the sophists, a collection of biographies of Greek orators from the second century CE, written after 231 and finished in 237;
•Gymnasticus, an essay on sport, completed after 220;
•Heroicus, a dialogue on the heroes of the Trojan War (possibly not written by this Philostratus);
•two books of Imagines, a description of several pictures at an exhibition, in which the orator tried to improve on the painter's work (by the author of the Heroicus);
•a declamation On culture and nature (maybe by Philostratus III);
•an epigram on a representation of the legendary hero Telephus (maybe by Philostratus III);
•Love letters, a collection of several fictional letters;
•other letters, including one to Julia Domna, the wife of the emperor Septimius Severus.
Philostratus III (first half of the third century), surnamed the Lemnian
•An open letter on epistolography, addressed to Aspasius of Ravenna, the secretary of Greek letters of the emperor Caracalla (or Severus Alexander?).
Philostratus IV
•a second collection of Imagines (incomplete).
  The second of these men, the son of Philostratus I, is the subject of the present discussion. He was born in or about 170 CE, probably on the isle of Lemnus, one of the overseas' territories of Athens; in his writings, he indicates that he spent a part of his youth at the island. From an inscription we can deduce that his full name was Lucius Flavius Philostratus, a threefold name that means that he had the Roman citizenship.
  His father, who was known as an author (although we do not know with any certainty any of his publications), sent his son to Athens to study rhetoric under Proclus of Naucratis, and -later- under some unknown teachers living in Smyrna and Ephesus in Asia Minor. He must have started his career as a sophist in these days. The Severus family Geta's portrait was destroyed after he had been killed by his brother.
  In the first decade of the third century, Philostratus was the hoplite general of Athens, a very important function. After this, he moved to Rome, where he may have given sophistic performances. Between June 203 and 208, the orator was introduced to the court of the emperor Septimius Severus (193-211), his wife Julia Domna and their sons Caracalla and Geta. The empress was to be Philostratus' patron until 217.   Philostratus now belonged to a cultural coterie of 'geometricians and philosophers'. This combination has struck many scholars as odd, and they have assumed that the empress was influenced by the Neo-Pythagorean philosophical school. Unfortunately, the third century is not well known for the quality of its mathematicians and it is unclear what is meant with the word 'geometricians'.
  In the last years of his reign, Septimius Severus was obliged to go to Britain to fight against the Picts, tribesmen living in modern Scotland. Philostratus accompanied the royal family. In his Life of Apollonius he gives an eyewitness account of the Ocean tides. During the war, the emperor fell ill and died. He was succeeded by his sons Geta (211-212) and Caracalla (211-217). Philostratus stayed at the imperial court. His Life of Apollonius contains a brief aside on the murder of Geta by his brother.
  Together with the remaining emperor and his mother, Philostratus traveled to the east, where Caracalla was involved in important diplomatic negotiations with the Parthian empire. On their way to the east, the imperial court visited Tyana (in modern Turkey), where a temple was dedicated to the charismatic teacher Apollonius. Maybe it was on this occasion that Julia Domna commissioned Philostratus' Life of Apollonius. The vie romancee was finished during the reign of Severus Alexander.
  The sophist was married to one Aurelia Melitene -she is known from an inscription- and they had at least one son Capitolinus and a daughter. The latter married to Philostratus III, who must have been the son of a brother of Philostratus II. The son-in-law is known to have been the priest of Hephaestus on Lemnus and was a successful orator; his father-in-law and uncle calls him 'Philostratus of Lemnus'. Shortly before or during the emperor's voyage to the East, which took place in 215, this Lemnian Philostratus received a tax exemption after a fine declamation before Caracalla.
  During the winter, the royal family went to Alexandria. It is unclear whether Philostratus II was in their company. What is certain, is that he spent some time in the great city of Antioch, where he met one Gordian, who was to be emperor in January/February 238. Philostratus dedicated his Lives of the sophists to this man.
  In 217, Caracalla was murdered and succeeded by the commander of the imperial guard, Macrinus. Julia Domna realized that her life was in danger, refused food, and died. It is unclear what happened to the writers, geometricians and philosophers she had protected, and we have no idea what happened to Philostratus. He is mentioned in a medieval text under the name 'Philostratus of Tyre' and it is possible that he stayed for some time in this Phoenician city.
  He must have returned to Athens, however, where he moved in the leading cultural and political circles of Greece. His Life of Apollonius was published, followed by the Lives of the sophists (in 237). The Athenians dedicated a statue to him in Olympia and honored the family by choosing his son Capitolinus as hoplite general. He and at least one other member of the Philostratus family were members of the Roman senate.
  No doubt 'our' Philostratus saw the son of his daughter and Philostratus III, the above mentioned Philostratus IV. But he did not live to see his son-in-law as the major of Athens in 255/256, because he had died during the reign of the emperor Philip Arabs (244-249).
Life of Apollonius
  In the Life of Apollonius, Philostratus tells the story of Apollonius of Tyana, a charismatic teacher and miracle worker from the first century AD who belonged to the school of Pythagoras. It is an apologetic work, in which Philostratus tries to show that Philostratus was a man with divine powers, but not a magician. He also pays attention to Apollonius' behavior as a sophist.
  Although the hero is known from other sources, Philostratus' vie romancee is our most important source. Scholars studying the life of the Tyanaean sage -whose miraculous acts have often been compared to the miracles of Jesus of Nazareth- have tried to establish the sources of Philostratus' books in order to come as close as possible to the historical truth.
  The most important question is whether Philostratus used the notes by Apollonius' disciple Damis. Skeptical classicists and historians have tried to argue that 'Damis' is a literary fiction, comparable to the truthful chronicle of Cidi Hamete Benengeli which Cervantes claims to have used in Don Quixote. Recently, Jaap-Jan Flinterman has convincingly argued that there must have been a pseudo-biography of pythagorean character. His arguments are:
•Philostratus refers to 'Damis' to support information which he can not concile with his own attitude towards magic.
•The information ascribed to 'Damis' presupposes a conflict between pythagoreanism and the cynical school of philosophy, a rivalry that was important in the second century CE, but not in Philostratus' own time.
•One episode in the Life of Apollonius, the sage's meeting with the Indian brahmans, shows a conception of the relationship between sages and kings of which there is no evidence in Greek literature on India before the third century CE. A pseudo-biography of pythagorean character is an extremely viable explanation for the inclusion of such a conception in a work by an author like Philostratus.
  A further discussion of the Life of Apollonius can be found here.
The lives of the sophists
  The two books are dedicated to a proconsul named Gordian. This man was emperor in January/February 238, which makes it almost certain that the Lives of the Sophists were finished in 237, because the proconsulship was a magistrature only briefly kept.
  Lives of the sophists is an amusing collection of gossip about the famous sophists of the late first, second and early third centuries. Philostratus also tells us about their technical capacities, and is one of our most important sources for the study of the history of ancient rhetorics. He distinguishes two ages of 'the art of speaking':
•the first sophistic, which was founded in the fifth century BCE by Gorgias
•the second sophistic, founded by Aeschines in the fourth century, but eclipsed for centuries 'because there were no decent speakers' (in which line 'decent' means 'well to do')
  Philostratus allots much space to the sophist Polemo of Laodicea (90-145) and his Athenian colleague, the billionaire Herodes Atticus (101-177). The author of the Lives of the sophists does not aim to be complete, but offers a lot of entertaining anecdotes and literary criticism. (...)

Jona Lendering, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Livius Ancient History Website URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.



Sculptors

Alkamenes (Alcamenes) of Lemnos

   Alcamenes, (Alkamenes). A Greek artist of Athens or Lemnos, and a pupil of Phidias, who flourished towards the end of the fifth century B.C. Following his master's ideal tendency, he devoted himself mainly to religious subjects, working like him in various materials, gold and ivory, bronze and marble. His statue of the winner in the Pentathlon was stamped as classic by the epithet of enkrinomenos, as the Doryphoros of Polyclitus was by that of kanon. About B.C. 436 he was employed with Phidias in decorating the temple of Zeus at Olympia. The marble groups of the battle of Centaurs and Lapithae in its western pediment are his work. Of these considerable remains have been brought to light by recent German excavations.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Alcamenes (Alkamenes), a distinguished statuary and sculptor, a native of Athens (Plin. H. N. xxxvi. 5. s. 4.). Suidas (s. v.) calls him a Lemnian (if by Alcamenes he means the artist). This K. O. Muller interprets to mean that he was a cleruchus, or holder of one of the kleroi in Lemnos. Voss, who is followed by Thiersch, conjectured that the true reading is Aimnios, and accordingly that Alcamenes was born in the district called the Aimnai, which is in some degree confirmed by his having made a statue of Dionysus in gold and ivory to adorn a temple of that god in the Lenaeum, a part of the Limnae (Paus. i. 20.3). He was the most famous of the pupils of Phidias, but was not so close an imitator of his master as Agoracritus. Like his fellow-pupil, he exercised his talent chiefly in making statues of the deities. By ancient writers he is ranked amongst the most distinguished artists, and is considered by Pausanias second only to Phidias (Quintil. xii. 10.8; Dionys. De Demosth.; Paus. v. 10.8). He flourished from about Ol. 84 (Plin. H. N. xxxiv. 8. s. 19) to Ol. 95 (B. C. 444-400). Pliny's date is confirmed by Pausanias, who says (viii. 9.1), that Praxiteles flourished in the third generation after Alcamnenes; and Praxiteles, as Pliny tells us, flourished about Ol. 104 (B. C. 364). The last works of his which we hear of, were the colossal statues of Athene and Hercules, which Thrasybulus erected in the temple of Hercules at Thebes after the expulsion of the tyrants from Athens. (B. C. 403.) The most beautiful and renowned of the works of Alcamenes was a statue of Venus, called from the place where it was set up, He en kepois Aphrodite (Lucian, Imagines, 4, 6; Paus. i. 19.2) It is said that Phidias himself put the finishing touches to this work (Plin. H. N. xxxvi. 5. s. 4). The breasts, cheeks, and hands were especially admired. It has been supposed by some that this was the Venus for which lie gained the prize over Agoracritus. There is no direct evidence of this, and it is scarcely consistent with what Pliny says, that Alcamenes owed his success more to the favouritism of his fellow-citizens than to the excellence of his statue. Another celebrated specimen of his genius was the western pediment of the temple at Olympia, ornamented with a representation of the battle between the Centaurs and the Lapithae (Pans. v. 10.2) Other works of his were: a statue of Mars in the temple of that god at Athens (Paus. i. 8.5); a statue of Hephaestus, in which the lameneess of the god was so ingeniously represented as not to give the appearance of deformity (Cic. De Nat. Deor. i. 30; Val. Max. viii. 11. ext. 3); an Aesculapius at Mantineia (Paus. viii. 9.1); a three-formed Hecate (the first of the kind), and a Procne in the Acropolis at Athens (Paus. ii. 30.2, i. 24.3); and a bronze statue of a victor in the Pentathlon (Plin. xxxiv. 8. s. 19). A story of very doubtful credibility is told by Tzetzes (Chil. viii. 193), that Alcamenes and Phidias contended in making a statue of Athene, and that before the statues were erected in their destined elevated position, that of Aleamenes was the most admired on account of its delicate finish; but that, when set up, the effect of the more strongly defined features in that of Phidias caused the Athenians to change their opinion.
On a Roman anaglyph in the villa Albani there is the following inscription :
Q. LOLLIUS ALCAMENES DEC. ET DUUMVIR.
If this contains the name of the artist, he would seem to have been a descendant of an Alcamenes, who had been the slave and afterwards the freedman of one of the Lollian family, and to have attained to the dignity of deenrio and duumvir in some municipium. He perhaps exercised the art of carving as an amateur. (Winckelmann, viii. 4, 5.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited June 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


  Among the numerous sculptors active in or based upon Athens in the later fifth century, the sources explicitly name four as pupils of Pheidias and agalmatopoioi (makers of divinities) par excellence: Alkamenes, Agorakritos, Kolotes, and Theokosmas. By common consent the greatest of these was Alkamenes: Alkamenes of Athens/Lemnos Alkamenes
  The Souda calls Alkamenes a Lemnian, so he was perhaps born or (more likely) raised in the Athenian colony (cleruchy) established on the island around 450. The sources often mention him in the same breath with Pheidias (Quintilian 12.7-9 ), which may account for the somewhat early floruit of 448-445 assigned him by Pliny, N.H. 35.49-52. At any rate, he was still active in or after 403, when he made a colossal relief to celebrate the expulsion of the pro-Spartan puppet oligarchy from Athens (no. 9, below). His Hephaistos at Athens (work no. 6), if identical with that exhibited in the Hephaisteion and apparently recorded in IG 13 nos. 370-1, can be dated by the archons named on the stone to 421/20 -416/5. His early career is obscure, but he presumably served his apprenticeship either on the Parthenon or on the Zeus; if the former, he may have followed Pheidias to Olympia in 438/7 or stayed to complete the pediments.
  Like Pheidias, Alkamenes worked in chryselephantine, bronze, and marble, and tackled a similar range of subjects:
1. Aphrodite in the Gardens outside Athens, of marble (Lucian, Imagines 4 and 6)
2. Hera, in a temple between Athens and Phaleron
3. Triple-bodied Hekate Epipyrgidia, on the Akropolis
4. Ares, in his temple in the Agora (moved by Augustus, perhaps from Acharnai)
5. Dionysos Eleuthereus, in his temple near the theater at Athens, in chryselephantine
6. Hephaistos, perhaps grouped with Athena, probably in the Hephaisteion at Athens, in bronze (Valerius Maximus 8.11 ext. 3)
7. Hermes Propylaios at Athens, in marble (JdI 82: 40)
8. Asklepios in Mantinea (Pausanias 8.9.1)
9. Athena and Herakles on a colossal relief of Pentelic marble, dedicated by Thrasyboulos and the democrats of 403 in the Herakleion at Thebes
10. West pediment (probably in fact the western akroteria) of the temple of Zeus at Olympia (Pausanias 5.10.2-10)
11. Pentathlete in bronze
  In addition, Pliny (N.H. 36.16-17) records a victory over Agorakritos, gained because the Athenians preferred a citizen to a foreigner; the subject was supposedly an Aphrodite (cf. no. 1). A second such competition, between him and Pheidias, is recorded in Byzantine sources (Tzetzes, Chiliades 340-369), but seems purely anecdotal.
Finally:
  Pausanias 1.24.3: [On the Athenian Akropolis] there is Prokne too, who has already made up her mind about the boy, and Itys too, a group dedicated by Alkamenes.
  This is usually identified with a marble group found on the Akropolis: Athens, Acropolis 1358; Stewart 1990, fig. 399. Prokne's head, however, does not join the body break-on-break, and may not belong.
  Despite Alkamenes' high reputation, modern scholarship has encountered problems with every one of the types regularly attributed to him in copy. Thus the two archaistic works (3 and 7) each survive in two versions; while the Hekate (3: Paus. 2.30.2) may be represented most faithfully by a headless statuette in the British School at Athens, the Hermes is attested by inscribed replicas from Pergamon (Istanbul, Archaeological Museum 527; Stewart 1990, fig. 400) and Ephesos that both claim to be authentic but nevertheless differ markedly from each other:
  JdI 82: 40 Here you see Alkamenes' most beautiful image, The Hermes before the Gates; Pergamios dedicated it. I'm not just anyone's work; my form, If you'll look closely, was wrought by Alkamenes.
  Recent scholarship (e.g. Willers 1967) has tended to regard the Pergamene type as a classicizing variant. Less unanimity exists concerning his most famous creation, the Aphrodite in the Gardens (1), mentioned by both Pliny and Pausanias (Pliny 36.16; Paus. 1.19.2) but only described by Lucian (Imagines 4 and 6). Even before Delivorrias' publication of the version from Daphni (Delivorrias 1968) most identified her with the so-called Leaning Aphrodite type, but once more the statue exists in several recensions, both veiled and unveiled. The debate continues.
  As for the male cult-images, the Ares (4) is often recognized in the so-called Borghese Ares, though Bruneau 1982 exposes the attribution as totally gratuitous; fragments of a high-relief frieze found around the temple are often ascribed to the base of this cult statue, and at times indeed resemble the Prokne in style, though both their original location and subject-matter remain unclear. The Hephaistos (6) is described by Cicero, de natura Deorum 1.30, 83 and, more fully, by Valerius Maximus:
   Valerius Maximus 8.11 ext. 3 Visitors at Athens are impressed by the Vulcan made by the hands of Alkamenes; besides the other conspicuous signs of his supreme art, there is one thing in particular that they admire -- the god's lameness is masked. He stands there displaying a trace of it unobtrusively beneath his garment, so that this is no blemish that could be censured, but a definite and personal characteristic of the god, becomingly represented.
  Since Athens boasted only one cult image of Hephaistos, the following passage of Pausanias is usually taken to refer to the same statue, and the temple in question is identified with the so-called "Theseion" in the Agora.
  Pausanias 1.14.6 Above the Kerameikos and the so-called Royal Stoa is a temple of Hephaistos. I was not surprised that a statue of Athena stands beside him because I knew the story about Erichthonios. But when I saw that the image of Athena had blue eyes I found out that the legend about them is Libyan. For they have a saying that she is the daughter of Poseidon and Lake Tritonis, and so has blue eyes like Poseidon.
  A marble torso in Athens and a head in the Vatican, both copies, were associated with this statue by Karouzou 1954/5, working from representations on Roman-period lamps; since IG 13 nos. 370-1, probably the accounts for the group, also mentions an anthemon or "floral", she also resurrected the nineteenth-century identification of an Athena from Cherchel, which has a floral against her left leg, as the Athena Hephaistia.
  Against this, E.B. Harrison 1977a has argued that so much metal was budgeted for the anthemon that it had to be enormous, that Neo-Attic reliefs (stylistically related to the "Ares" frieze and the Prokne) showing Erichthonios's birth (Pausanias 1.14.6) demanded a high, wide base, and that the "Cherchel" Athena type is early fourth century. For it she substitutes the colossal "Velletri" type and hangs the Rondanini Medusa (Munich 252; cf. Belson 1980 and Stewart 1990, fig. 783) on the anthemon . Since this whole ensemble is too large for the "Theseion", she prefers to call this building the temple of Artemis Eukleia and identifies the "real" Hephaisteion with the large Hellenistic foundation to the North on the same hill.
  This thesis has met with considerable skepticism, not least because the Velletri Athena does not resemble the Prokne, and the "Theseion" is roughly where Pausanias tells us that the Hephaisteion should be, while he places Artemis Eukleia at the opposite corner of the Agora (Paus. 1.14.4-5); but see now Mansfield 1985, 361-65 for additional arguments against the traditional view.
  His archaistic work apart, then, Alkamenes remains an enigma, though this very aspect of this output, together with the later tendency to pair him with Pheidias (Pliny, N.H. 35.49-52 , Quintilian 12.7-9) has suggested to some a conservative sculptor, perhaps ministering to traditionalists among the wartime Athenians. The Prokne's style, so close to some sections of the Parthenon frieze, might support this if only we could be sure that he carved it, though the democrats' relief (no. 9) hints at an altogether less straightforward situation. Indeed, since both the political implications (if any) of stylistic choice and the artistic preferences (if any) of the ever-volatile demos remain obscure in the extreme (Pliny, N.H. 36.16-17), such neat equations may hinder understanding rather than advance it.

This extract is from: Andrew Stewart, One Hundred Greek Sculptors: Their Careers and Extant Works. Cited Dec 2003 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains extracts from the ancient literature, bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


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