'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

30 January 2011

Give Peace A Chance

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” Mahatma Gandhi
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?” Mahatma Gandhi
“The pioneers of a warless world are the youth that refuse military service” Albert Einstein
Take off your clothes for a peaceful world. (nowhere to hide a knife, a gun or a bomb)
"If we do not end war - war will end us.  Everybody says that, millions of people believe it, and nobody does anything." H.G. Wells
Join the Army, see the world, meet interesting people - and kill them. Pacifist Badge, 1978

Ev'rybody's talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, that-ism 
Isn't it the most
All we are saying is give peace a chance 
All we are saying is give peace a chance 

Ev'rybody's talking about 
Ministers, Sinisters, Banisters and canisters,
Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Pop eyes,
And bye bye, bye byes. 
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Let me tell you now
Ev'rybody's talking about
Revolution, Evolution, Mastication, Flagelolation, Regulations.
Integrations, Meditations, United Nations, Congratulations
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Oh Let's stick to it
Ev'rybody's talking about
John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary, Tommy smothers, Bob Dylan, 
Tommy Cooper, Derek Tayor, Norman Mailer, Alan Ginsberg, Hare Krishna,
Hare Krishna
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
Imagine Peace Tower Lit for John Lennon's Birthday which is also Sean Lennon's  Birthday and for other anniversaries.
Love and Peace
"Sweet and fitting it is."
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind; 
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

"To die for one's country."
Wilfred Owen
Dulce et Decorum est was written by the great anti war soldier and poet Wilfred Owen in 1917. It is known for its horrific imagery and condemnation of war. Owen was killed a week before the end of the WWI, and this was published posthumously in 1920. The title and the Latin exhortation at the end are from the phrase "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" written by the Roman poet Horace in (Ode III.2.13): Ironically theses words were used initially in support of going to battle.
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori:
mors et fugacem persequitur virum
nec parcit inbellis iuventae
poplitibus timidove tergo.
"How sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country:
Death pursues the man who flees,
spares not the hamstrings or cowardly backs
Of battle-shy youths."
The Divine Marlene at age 71 with a stunning performance of a heartfelt Pete Seeger Anti-War song.

We do not need to gloat over pictures of the horrors of war. We are all too familiar with such images.
The great images are of those who stood up to guns with flowers.
In the late 60's and early 70's I marched in every anti Vietnam-war moratorium here in Brisbane. There were also local civil liberty issues, apartheid in South Africa and the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. My mother always gave me bail money just in case, but never did I get arrested unlike several friends. One short Russian friend made the full photo front page being held up by the throat by a special branch police officer. Not a single demonstration in which I was involved saw any violence on behalf of the students and other demonstrators, but unhappily the same can not be said of the police. A neighbour who worked at Police headquarters told of the excitement of the young police officers who cheered when they had a chance to go out and beat up students, just like your average young thug. I also recall driving around the hills of Brisbane shifting some of the more well known activists from house to house to avoid the arrest warrants that had been taken out against them. There was late night pamphlet printing, police raids, unnecessary vehicle mechanical checks by plain clothes detectives and harassment of grandmothers of the student leaders. Being throown over the roof of parked cars by Special Branch police after a sit in in the city and the sound of clapping echoing off the buildings as we marched, danced and sang 'Power To The People'. It was a busy period.
I had been conscripted on my 18th birthday, but as I was a university student I managed to have it deferred for several years and I also failed the occasional medical. It was not until the election of the great Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and his cancelling of the Draft on the day of his swearing in, that I finally avoided having to participate in a war I did not believe in. In fact I do not believe in war at all. I will not kill, nor do I believe in the state killing anyone under any circumstances. I do mean ANYONE at all and under ANY circumstances at all. One either believes in life or one doesn't.
A couple of demos in the 60's - 70,s I was in above and then in 2003 I was once again back on the streets with 50,000 other close friends marching against the Bush/Blair/Howard invasion of Iraq. It did nothing for my arthritis so I crawled in pain on all fours for 8 days after that.
No matter what happens one should always have faith that one day we will overcome the urge to hate, to be violent and to kill. In the words of perhaps the greatest anthem of all - We Shall Overcome

24 January 2011

Ancient Egyptians

The First Known Egyptian

It is assumed that modern man and his forbears had trekked through the lands of Egypt in the earliest of days, some hundreds of thousands of years ago, as he moved from Africa to other parts, but the first known, excavated Egyptian, a child, dates back to around 55,000 years before the Pharonic era. The Nile is always thought to be the cradle of much of civilisation, but evidence is being upturned of civilisations in what is now the Sahara which in times past was a lush and wet area that promoted earlier ideas of community, death ritual and religion and these migrated to the fertile Nile as the wetlands of the Sahara dried.

The First Known Brilliant Egyptian

Imhotep is the earliest identified great man in Ancient Egypt or anywhere else for that matter. He was High Priest of Ptah, scribe, vizier, philosopher, architect and master builder of the first monumental stone pyramid, and indeed the first great stone building on earth, at Saqqara for his king Djoser almost 5000 years ago in the Third Dynasty. 'First after the Pharaoh', he was later raised to the status of a demi-god and eventually a god some centuries later around 525 BCE and his popularity continued into the Greco/Roman times. Imhotep also studied astronomy and was renowned as a healer and could be considered the true founder of medicine. In fact he was later identified with the Roman god of Medicine, Asclepius.  His thoughts and writings on medicine etc. are known only through the records of others, as none of his original texts remain. As evidence of what we have lost, he was known to possess the wisdom to consult even more ancient texts as he carried out his research. This period of surge in invention developed under the rule of Djoser who was also the first Pharaoh to be recognised as a god. Click Pic on right

Egyptian Life

The Egyptians were highly skilled artists and craftsmen and proud in their work. Contrary to what is often promoted, the artists and builders were seldom slaves, but free and expert tradesmen. They lived in private homes in villages with their families, passed on family skills and even were known to stage industrial action like sit-ins and strikes (one being for the supply of makeup). They wore clothes of fine linen, usually a simple skirt and sandals for the men and the women often exposed their breasts. The weather was probably the main cause of various fashions and the number of clothing items worn at any time. Jewellery and makeup were popular and the black kohl which we often see outlining the eyes helped deflect the bright glare of the sun. Their diet was good and they ate breads of wheat and barley, figs, melons and fish and the upper classes ate beef and drank wine where as the poorer classes ate mostly pork and drank a thick beer. Music abounded, as did dance, and sport. The towns had laundry services, bakeries and one specialist village, now known as Deir el Medina associated with the Valley of the Kings construction, existed for around 500 years. It consisted of approximately 70 houses and the workmen had a ten day working week, but had rest days and public holidays. Here at Deir el Medina the population grew from around 250 upwards to 1000, but only a tenth of them were involved in construction and decoration of the tombs. The necropolis of the workmen has some tombs, which they would have built themselves, that were even more elaborate than that of the nobles. For the major works, like the Pyramids about 5000 artisans were involved and in turn many others up to 20,000 joined the monument construction forces as a sacred duty during the Nile inundation when farming was impossible. They had literature and several well known stories such as the story of Sinuhe survive to today. Marriage may have been the simple agreement of a couple to live together, but many documents refer to a formal divorce. The common folk were probably monogamous although polygamy was allowed in the later times, but this may have been restricted to the Royal family and certainly a poor man could not support more than one wife, even though many women had businesses of their own. The King would need to produce heirs and also wished to emulate the gods by marrying not only for love, but many had concubines and also married within the immediate family as well as forming other political unions that became necessary. The incestuous marriages such as the King with his daughter may have been necessary for filling religious positions like Gods-Wife, but intimacy remains conjecture.

The Spiritual Egyptian

The Egyptians were far from obsessed with death and valued life highly, but definitely everything they did in this world was guided by a belief in the underworld. The duty of the Pharaoh was to provide a link between the gods and the land. It was his responsibility to represent the gods and in fact was Horus on Earth.  He was responsible for all worship and the priests acted in his place as he could not provide and be present at all temples. The essence was to see that Ma'at that is harmony, justice and balance was present in the land. Through Ma'at came a good life for the land and for the individual and was necessary to be able to be judged worthy to enter the underworld after death. The common people usually had a personal shrine in their homes where a particular god may be honoured but the main ceremony was conducted in the temples where the priests carried out the duties in private. Offerings could be left in the forecourts by the people but the shrines hidden inside were not approached by the people. On great days such as the Opet Festival (above) however the god (statue) was often taken from its inner sanctuary and adorned with ribbons and carried on a barque through the streets by chanting priests. On such occasions the people could participate and on such holidays they were provided with beer and bread as part of the celebrations. 
The most popular image in Egypt is the Last Judgement, which is found in houses, tombs and temples. The dead person kneels before the gods, swears that he is not guilty and presents offerings to help in his trial. Anubus, god of tomb protection and mummification leads him to the Balance of Justice to weigh his heart against the guiding feather of Ma'at -representing truth. A heavy heart means he is guilty of not following a good life and a light heart means he was a good person . Thoth, the god of writing, records the result and if honourable, orders him to pass accompanied by Horus, the god of protection, who leads him to Paradise for eternity. He is introduced to Osiris, god of  the underworld, who possesses the authority to take and to punish. Behind him his wife Isis, goddess of love, and his sister Nephtis, goddess of magic and beauty.

Rosetta Stone Click Right
It is believed that writing was invented in the time of King Scorpion as a means of marking and recording trade goods by means of symbols on small tablets attached to jars and the like. From there it grew into a sophisticated and complex system of recording events, prayers and stories. To modern civilisation the meaning of these markings remained a mystery until the Rosetta Stone was found at el Rashid (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta in 1799. This now resides in the British Museum where I once saw it. It contains a decree issued in 196 BC on the anniversary of Ptolemy V and was written in Hieroglyphs, Demotic (a late cursive Egyptian script) and also Greek. This discovery eventually unlocked the mystery of the hieroglyphs. Jean-Francois Champollion (some call the father of Egyptology) made the translation breakthrough in 1822.  It is unfortunate that the piece displayed prominently just inside the door to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is but a copy. Hieroglyphs can represent a word, a phonetic letter, an explanation or expansion of adjoining symbols and although an alphabet of sorts exists it takes a lot more than that to understand the true meaning.

Click on the Egypt tag to call up all my pages on Egypt

20 January 2011

Is History Important?

In words borrowed from Herodotus (The Histories) 
"I here display my inquiry, so that human achievements may not become forgotten in time, and great and marvellous deeds may not be without their glory."
Images can be enlarged
I recall from my own dim dark past an occasion when I came first in a History exam, but even though I scored more then twenty percent higher then my fellow class mates I still got abused by my teacher for not doing better. In those days and with that 'encouragement' I found history a chore; in fact I found all study fearful. It was not until my later, largely wasted, university days did I begin to awaken to an interest in the tales and achievements of those who came before. Not until then did I see that we are the result of the glories and also the shame of our past. Today I like to say our past because I see every people and land as contributing to the collective wisdom of the human race. I claim all races as my own. Never have we been totally isolated. The ancient Greeks travelled to Africa, Italians travelled to China, Chinese travelled to the Americas as possibly did the Aborigines of Australia. We have much in common. Just like the unresolved appearance of pyramids found in Africa, the Americas, Tibet and elsewhere, our interpretations of the heavens and of life appear to have emerged along strikingly similar lines. 
 Out of Africa, we seem to have all emerged and the collective memory of man is a source of commonality that expresses itself in our similar goals, beliefs and attitudes, even if we fail to recognise this from time to time.
 It has been suggested that a discovery in Spain a few years back now is the oldest evidence of human creativity: a 350,000-year-old pink (an unusual colour) stone axe in what may be a burial site. The placement of this artefact with a body in a grave may represent the first funeral rite by human beings and indicate that man was capable of symbolic thought far earlier than previously assumed. The artefact comes from the species Homo Heidelbergensis, around 600,000-200,000 years ago. They are thought to have given rise to both the Neanderthals and to our species, Homo Sapiens. Caution still exists however as others suggest that the axe may have been deposited with the skeletons by either sludging or placed there by later inhabitants.
Whether or not 'Lucy' is our mother, the sky is full of diamonds.
The skeleton of Lucy whose bones are shown left and image right (believed to be our oldest upright walking ancestor 3.2 million years ago -discovered in 1974) got her name from the Beatles song 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' which was playing on the radio. - 1470 Man was around 1.8 million years old and the more recently unearthed Kenyanthropus dates at 3.5 Million years has arrived as possibly a more distant relative. None are yet us but the history of our emergence continues to be debated. Did we have an Adam and Eve, and from where and when did they emerge? Genetic research of the 'Y' chromosome traces Adam to around 60,000 years ago in East Africa. Did civilisation spring forth from one place and did ideas stretch across the face of the earth from Africa, or as some like to think the lost continent of Mu or some yet undiscovered beginning or did much happen in a simply logical manner at various birthplaces. What we know today will no doubt be challenged tomorrow. Nothing is set in stone except unrelenting uncertainty. History, or what we think it to be today, is far from dead, but the most alive and changing guide to understanding ourselves.

"History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon."  Napoleon Bonaparte

When I struggled through History in my youth, I was taught biased, isolated and sterile facts of power and rulers. The trend now is for archaeologists to delve into the remains of the common man, and to unearth the lives of people who died in the belief that their privacy had followed them to the grave. Do we have a right to invade what was once secret? Should we dissect, exhibit, discuss or even contemplate that which was not given to us freely? By what right do we expose the sins or successes of our dead predecessors? Like a family secret suddenly revealed, it just is and judgement is not required.

"Poetry, therefore, is a more philosophical and a higher theory than history; for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular."  Aristotle

Often it is said that we study history to learn about the self, understand the present and prepare for the future. I wonder if it is ever possible to learn from what others have done. When I look at a situation in my own life, I find it hard if not impossible for any other existence to have the ability to understand the truth and depth of what I feel. This is a reciprocal experience, as in truth, I find it difficult to honestly empathise with the interests and events of people other then those of a parent or lover. It appears to require an intense relationship to create the spark which ignites true interest and understanding. I do not say that we do not try, but do we really achieve empathy or honestly care? What hope is there for a historian or novelist to get to the truth, if writing about one who is not only not an intimate, but is separated by years, if not centuries. Theories abound and change, for like so many events, historical analysis becomes subjective, distorted and more often self revealing of the author then is obviously the intention, or I would say, is generally understood and accepted. Fiction is perhaps closer to the truth of what it sets out to be; one person's imagination. Fiction creates its own reality and pretends to do nothing else. Just what is to be learned from history? Probably that we are an infinite number of minute variations on a theme, a complex and unpredictable assortment of individuals who share some thoughts, but diverge on others. The only problem I can see is when one assumes to have the key to 'Truth'.

What is history? Art, music, literature, sculpture, architecture, stories, mountains, oceans, bones, thoughts, and the collective consciousness of human existence, and still it is recreated, modified and adapted over and over until we eventually lose track of what may have been the truth. We love to elaborate and embellish. A story can always be better and it is better if it fits our current views of the world and ourselves. Even our own life is being rewritten over the years. How many people do you know who hold to beliefs about you that you can claim as ill-informed? How many do you know who have different views on events from the past and the present. 

So what is history except a discussion that flows according to the whims of our ever changing mind. This said, there is no reason why we should abandon study. With all the distortion apparent, we still learn. Unlike obsessive fundamentalism, I believe the exact 'facts' of what went before are unimportant to a large extent. If we read much we are exposed to a range of observations that reflect the complexity of human understanding.  The narrow egotism of a little knowledge is not only dangerous, but stupid. Knowing a few 'facts', whether true or false, will not shape our personality or enable us to live life with any more fulfilment. However history is fun, it is a game, it is a discussion, it holds our interest. Who cares if it is true or not, for who knows what is true. If we look a lot we should gain a little. The telling of a story is not always an expression of  truth. Be careful, for what I write is not necessarily the truth. As I said, I try, but so must everyone and none of us should accept without reservation the dictates of anyone including our political or religious leaders. Conscience is a lone journey. My memory is selective, subjective and prone to error, but I write from what I am, in the hope that I will understand more each day.  One should never leave school until you close your eyes for the last time.  

"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph." Haile Selassie

I happened to read the following in a book on The Egyptian Philosophers by Molefi Kete Asante. Ptahhotep, who lived around 4400 years ago, passed on the wisdom of his experience and that of those who came before. For new and subsequent generations, age was his authority and he began with:-

'O king my lord, I am old, old age has finally arrived. I was first feeble, but now I am weak also. Like a child I sleep all day and when I wake, my eyes are dim and my ears deaf. My strength wanes with weariness, my tongue is silent, my memory is dead and arthritis wreaks havoc on my bones. Sweetness becomes bitterness, my taste is gone - surely old age affects everything. The sinuses are clogged and it is painful to stand or to sit.'

'May old age serve me as a staff, so that I may repeat the words of those who heard the words of the ancestors who listened to the gods. I want the same thing done for you, so that strife may disappear from among the people and the people of both banks of the river serve you! The majestic God said, therefore, - Instruct him in the words of the past, that he become a model for posterity. May he be obedient. May he be devoted to the one who speaks to him, because no one is born with wisdom.'     

I am far from that old and venerable; he claimed to be 110 years old, but  I have been around for a while and I have recorded the things I have observed from our past and from those who are wiser then I. You and I are the result of what has gone before and where we go will influence those who come later. Hopefully I may occasionally create some interest in our history. 
"Any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it." Oscar Wilde

"Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results." Machiavelli

"I believe that history is capable of anything. There exists no folly that men have not tried out." C. G. Jung

"Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes." Voltaire 

Great People of the Centuries.

The Famous of History
This is an attempt to count the centuries and those artists and musicians who gave us the many treasures that enrich our lives. As pointers and to give some context there are also writers, scientists and occasionally other people and events of influence. Perhaps they cross-fertilised and moulded the individual creativity, thoughts and attitudes of each other. Nothing is done in isolation and the attitudes, beliefs and theories of a time are often what manipulate our thoughts or alternately cause us to react against accepted trends. I have decided to stick to the previous thousand years; Once again it is a subjective choice. All people mentioned were born in the century under which they are listed in the order of their birth.
Composers/Musicians     -    Writers/Poets     -    Artists    -    Rulers/Events/People of Influence     -    Scientists/Philosophers

Anno Domini or Year of the Common Era
French poet and composer Pierre Abelard famous for his love for Heloise. Composer and playwright Abbess Hildegard of Bingen. Romanesque revolution in art and monumental architecture, for the purpose of propaganda, Art andscience flourished in China. The writings of Buddism were printed. Guido  of Arezzo invented four line musical notation and intervals.
Saladin and Crusades, King Richard Coeur de Lion composed many plaintive melodies. Genghis Khan, Emperor Hui Zong artist and patron, A monk Nestor created the record of the foundations of the Russian Empire, European literary activity and Carmina Burana collection.  St Francis of Assisi,
Magna Carta signed 1215, Nicola Pisano, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Giotto di Bondone, Philippe de Vitry's treatise 'Ars Nova' described music of the period.  Alighieri Dante,
Francesco Landini blind musician and poet and achieved the highest quality of his time. Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Robert Campin, Donatello, Fra Angelico,
Johannes Gutenberg, Bellini Family, Thommaso Guidi (Masaccio), Filippo Lippi, Andrea Mantagna, Donato Bramante, Sandro Botticelli, Josquin des Prey  Leonardo da Vinci,   Albrecht Durer, Nicholas Copernicus, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Martin Luther precipitated the Reformation and was also a composer of Hymns. Santi Raphael, Titian, King Henry VIII probably incorrectly is credited with writing 'Greensleves', Antonio Allegri da Correggio, Hans Holbein,
Benvenuto Cellini, Thomas Tallis, John Calvin, Tintoretto, Giovanni Gabrieli, Giovanni da Palestrina, Pieter Bruegel, Veronese, Elizabeth I, El Greco, William Byrd, Giulio Caccini, Jacopo Peri ( the first opera? 'Euridice'), Francis Bacon, John Bull, John Milton Senior composer fathered John Milton the poet. William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlow, Galileo Galilei, Claudio Monteverdi wrote the first true operas. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, Gregorio Allegri wrote the famous Miserere which a hundred years later Mozart wrote from memory thus leaving it to the world. Nicolas Poussin, Rene Descartes. Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Anthony van Dyck,  Diego Velazquez,
Rembrandt van Rijn, Murillo,  Jean Baptiste Moliere, Robert Boyle, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jan Vermeer, Christopher Wren, Dietrich Buxtehude,  Sir Isaac Newton, Antonio Stradivari the violin-maker, Johann Pachelbel, Henry Purcell, Alessandro Scarlatti,  Francois Couperin, , Giovanni Bononcini, Tommaso Albinoni, Antonio Vivaldi, George Philipp Telemann,, Jean Philippe Rameau,  Antoine Watteau, George Frederic Handel,, Johann Sebastian Bach,  John Gay, Giuseppe Tartini, Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet) , Giovanni Tiepolo, Canaletto.
Farinelli the male soprano,  Thomas Arne, Marquis, de Sade, Giovanni Paisello, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi,  CPE Bach, 4th Earl of Sandwich ( invented style of eating while playing cards),  Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, Thomas Gainsborough, Niccolo Piccinni,  Captain James Cook, Josiah Wedgwood,  Joseph Haydn,  JC Bach, , Luigi Boccherini, Francisco de Goya, Domenico Cimarosa, Johanne Wolfgang von Goethe,  Antonio Salieri,, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,   William Blake, Luigi Cherubini,  Ludwig van Beethoven,   Gasparo Spontini, JMW Turner, John Constable, Daniel Auber,   Niccolo Paganini violinist and composer,  Henry Bishop,  Carl Maria von Weber, Ludwig I of Bavaria, Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Gioacchino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, Franz Schubert, Auguste Comte, Eugene Delacroix,  Fromental Halevy.
Vincenzo Bellini, Albert Lortzing, Hector Berlioz, Mikhail Glinka,  Michael William Balfe, Felix Mendelssohn, Charles Robert Darwin, Frederic Chopin, Otto Nicolai, Robert Schumann, Franz List, Ambroise Thomas, Frederich von Flotow,Henri Rousseau, Giuseppe Verdi,  David Livingstone, Richard Wagner,, Charles Gounod,  Jacques Offenbach,  Walt Whitman, Cesar Frank,  Edouard Lalo,  Bedrich Smetana, Anton Bruckner, Johanne Strauss, Anton Rubinstein,  Hans von Bulow, Carl Goldmark, Edouard Manet, Alexander Borodin, Johannes Brahms, James McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas, Amilcare Ponchielli, ,Camille Saint-Saens, Leo Delibes, Georges Bizet, Paul Cezanne, Modest Mussorgsky, Auguste Rodin, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Claude Monet,  Antonin Dvorak, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Arrigo Boito, Jules Massenet, Arthur Sullivan, Edvard Hagerup Grieg, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche,  Henri Rousseau, Gabriel Faure, Paul Gauguin, Hubert Parry, CharlesVilliers Stanford, Vincent van Gogh, Engelbert Humperdinck, Oscar Wilde,  Leos Janacek, John Philip Sousa, Sigmund Freud, Edward Elgar, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Giacomo Puccini, Georges Seurat, Gustave Charpentier, Gustav Mahler, Ignacy Paderewski, Hugo Wolf, Nellie Melba, Claude Debussy, Gustav Klimt, Frederick Delius, Henry Ford, Constantine Cavafy, Edvard Munch, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec,  Pietro Mascagni, Richard Strauss, Jean Sebelius, Alexander Glazunov, Carl Nielsen, Kandinsky, Ferruccio Busoni, Francesco Cilea, Erik Satie, Enrique Granados, Arturo Toscanini, Scott Joplin, Henry Wood (the Proms), Henri Matisse, Franz Lehar, , Alexander Scriabin, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Enrico Caruso, Sergei Rachmaninov, Gustav Holst,  Charles Ives, Arnold Schoenberg,  Joseph Suk,  Thomas Mann, Maurice Ravel, Carl Jung,  Manuel de Falla, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari,   Albert Einstein, Ottorino Respighi, Bela Bartok, Pablo Picasso, Percy Grainger,  Zoltan Kodaly,  Igor Stravinsky, Amedeo Modigliani, Alban Berg, Jerome Kern, Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Marc Chagall,  Marcel Duchamp, Irving Berlin,   Man Ray, Arthur Bliss,  Serge Prokofiev,  Max Ernst, Cole Porter, , Ivor Novello, Paul Hindemith,  Carl Orff, Bessie Smith,, Erich Korngold, George Gershwin, Rene Magritte, Henry Moore, Duke Ellington, Francis Poulenc
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Sir Isaac Newton

'I don't know what I may seem to the world, but, as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.'
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' What Des-Cartes did was a good step.  You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration.  If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.'
    Isaac Newton was born at Woolsthorpe Manor (above), near Grantham in Lincolnshire on Christmas Day 1642,(4 January 1643 in the modern Gregorian calendar). He came from a family of farmers but his father had died in October 1642. His father was wealthy, but uneducated. His mother Hannah remarried Barnabas Smith a minister, when Isaac was two years old. He was virtually an orphan in the care of his grandmother, having an unhappy childhood unloved by his grandfather. In 1653 his stepfather died, and he then lived with his mother, grandmother, half-brother, and two half-sisters. He began school in Grantham. Being five miles from his home, he lodged with another family. Described as 'idle' and 'inattentive', he was taken from school by his wealthy mother to manage her estate, but he showed no talent, or interest in this.
    An uncle persuaded his mother that he should attend university so Isaac returned to school in 1660, lodging with the headmaster of the school, and apparently showed academic promise. Newton entered Trinity College Cambridge, on 5 June 1661. He was older than most of his fellow students but, to receive an allowance toward expenses, he acted as a servant to other students. Humphrey Babington, a distant relative was a Fellow at Trinity, and possibly his patron. Newton's aimed at a law degree. Although dominated by the philosophy of Aristotle he studied Descartes, Hobbes, and Boyle. Copernican astronomy of Galileo attracted him and also Kepler's optics. In a book titled Certain Philosophical Questions, he wrote"Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my best friend is truth".

    Newton's interest in mathematics possibly began in 1663 when he bought an astrology book at a fair but could not understand the mathematics. He found that he also knew nothing of geometry, so he read Euclid's Elements and continued to explore. His first original mathematical work seems to have grown out of reading Wallis’s Algebra. Newton was elected a scholar on 28 April 1664 and received his bachelor's degree in April 1665. His scientific genius had not emerged, but it did suddenly when the plague closed the University in the summer of 1665 and he had to return to Lincolnshire. In the next two years he began revolutionary advances in mathematics, optics, physics, and astronomy and he was still under 25.

Newton's first relationship may have been his 20-year roommate John Wickens, while he was a student and professor at Cambridge. Wickens and Newton moved in together to escape the unruly Cambridge student life. John also joined the faculty and later he was laboratory assistant and secretary to Newton.

    When Cambridge reopened he was elected to a minor fellowship at Trinity College but, after being awarded his Master's Degree, he was elected to a major fellowship. In 1669 Barrow sent Newton's text De Analysi to London, but it was not recognised. Barrow resigned and was replaced by Newton to the Lucasian Chair, (held now by Stephen Hawking) where as professor his first work was on optics and this was the topic of his first lecture course in 1670. He concluded that white light is not a simple entity for when a beam of sunlight went through a glass prism he noted the spectrum of colours formed.
    In 1672 Newton was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and published his first scientific paper on light and colour, which was attacked by some. He wanted fame and recognition yet feared criticism and the easiest way to avoid being criticised was to publish nothing. Newton turned in on himself and away from the Royal Society delaying publication of his full optical researches until 1704. Another argument led to a nervous breakdown and when his mother died and he withdrew further into his shell, mixing little with people for many years.

Newton's law of universal gravitation:-
... all matter attracts all other matter with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. 

    Newton's greatest work was in physics and celestial mechanics, which led to his theory of universal gravitation. By 1666 Newton had early versions of his three laws of motion. Newton's novel idea of 1666 was to imagine that the Earth's gravity influenced the Moon, counter- balancing its centrifugal force. From his law of centrifugal force and Kepler's third law of planetary motion, Newton deduced the inverse-square law. Halley persuaded Newton to write a full treattise of his new physics and in 1687 he published the Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica or Principia as it is known, which is recognised as the greatest scientific book ever written. He analysed the motion of bodies and the results were applied to orbiting bodies, projectiles, pendulums, and free-fall near the Earth. He further demonstrated that all heavenly bodies mutually attract one another. Newton explained the eccentric orbits of comets, the tides and their variations, the precession of the Earth's axis, and motion of the Moon as perturbed by the gravity of the Sun. This work made Newton an international leader in scientific research. 

    James II became king of Great Britain on 6 February 1685. He had become a Roman Catholic in 1669, however rebellions arose. Newton was a staunch Protestant and when the King tried to insist that a Benedictine monk be given a degree without taking any examinations or swearing the required oaths, Newton opposed this and when William of Orange landed in November 1688 and James fled to France the University of Cambridge elected Newton, now famous for his strong defence of the university, as one of their two members to the Convention Parliament on 15 January 1689. Newton was seen as a leader of the university and one of the most eminent mathematicians in the world. However, his election to Parliament let him see a life in London, which appealed to him more than the academic world in Cambridge.

    Newton never married and formed one notable close relationship with a young handsome mathematician Fatio de Duillier (left), a Swiss-born mathematician resident in London. Fatio was attracted to science celebrities. Some passionate letters between the two men survive, recording several trips and overnight lodgings these men had together. Fatio was 25 and Newton was 46 at the beginning of their four-year friendship. This was six years after Newton had parted from Wickens. Soon after Fatio moved to Europe Newton suffered a second nervous breakdown in 1693, and retired from research.Newton's relations with Fatio had undergone a crisis. Fatio became ill; then family and financial problems threatened to call him home to Switzerland, which distressed Newton enormously. In 1693 he suggested Fatio move to Cambridge, and Newton would support him, but this did not eventuate. Through early 1693 the intensity of Newton's unsettled spirit grew until without surviving explanation, both the relationship and correspondence ended. Four months later, Samuel Pepys and John Locke, both personal friends of Newton, received bitter letters of accusation. Pepys was was told that Newton would see him no more and Locke was accused of trying to entangle him with women. Many theories evolved as to the cause of the breakdown: poisoning from his alchemy experiments; frustration with his researches; the ending of his one profound relationship with Fatio; and problems with his religious beliefs linked with depression, that he suffered most of his life.

 Newton became Warden of the Royal Mint in 1696 and Master in 1699, but did not resign his positions at Cambridge until 1701. He became a very rich man. In 1703 he was elected president of the Royal Society and was re-elected each year until his death. He was knighted in 1705 by Queen Anne, the first scientist to be so honoured for his work.
The story that Newton's theory of universal gravitation was prompted by a falling apple, is probably based on fact although it may not have fallen on his head. The first account was recorded by William Stukeley following a dinner.

'The weather being warm, we went into the garden and drank tea, under shade of some apple-trees, only he and myself. Amidst other discourses, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasioned by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself. Why should it not go sideways or upwards, but constantly to the earth's centre.'
 Newton's Grave and Memorial in Westminster Abbey, and Death Mask  below.
Other Scientist's Biographies here.
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