First: I had always known the word "decimate" to mean "destroy utterly; to wipe out." Well, what it actually refers to is the Roman practice (if that's the word I want) for the destruction of one tenth of your men. Apparently it was a punishment that was laid against the army for failure or cowardice--the men were required to kill one in ten of their own comrades. Good GOD, are you kidding me?
The source of this is Dreaming the Bull, which is one of the Boudica books (she's the Warrior Queen, you know). There's a little too much Rome and not enough British Islanders, if you ask my opinion, but it'll do for a sweeping historical saga.
Also, TWO conjunctions on the same day. Both stemming from the same book, in fact--the interminable Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers. Weakest Wimsey mystery I've read yet, mostly due to its prolonged examination of the romance of the newlywed protagonists. (The subtitle is "A love story with detective interruptions," and well-named.) But I found a reference to a Gordian knot on page 123, coincidentally not half an hour after I learned what a Gordian knot was while reading The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket. And neither five pages nor ten minutes later, Lord Peter mentions that, unlike Dickens, he wouldn't hang Fagin for being a pickpocket. This not one week after reading John Sutherland's complaint in one of his "literary puzzles" books that there was really no reason to execute Fagin, except that he's the villain of the novel and we hate him. Legally, they hadn't a leg to stand on.
This post kind of sucks, but Blogger's being a pain, so I'm going to post and go see if I can fix my interface. Wish me luck.
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