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October 1, 2019

Alexander’s spectacular campaigns not only won for him an empire stretching from his Greek homeland, Macedonia, to the western border of India, but they united most of the Greek people. Prior to his conquests, they’d lived in autonomous and fiercely independent city-states, each with its own culture, politics, and resources.

   

The empire was divided into three parts after Alexander died in 323 BCE. Ptolemy I, one of Alexa...

September 24, 2019

Miriam often refers to the comfort of Phoebe’s lavender-scented embrace. In THE DEADLIEST SPORT, Miriam tells of Phoebe’s Shabbat visits to her home. Crossing the threshold of her atrium and cutting short her trill of delight, Phoebe opens her arms to gather Miriam into her lavender-scented bosom and swallow her up in the folds of her body.

    

In THE DEADLIEST THIEF, when Miriam fears that Phoebe is dead, she moans:...

September 17, 2019

In THE DEADLIEST LIE, Miriam brags about living in the finest neighborhood of Alexandria:

Of the three residential quarters in Alexandria, the Jewish quarter is the district Ptolemy I pledged to our people to encourage us to settle here. We’re on the coast and farthest from the main necropolis. Alexandrians have been burying their dead there for more than a century, whether in multi-chambered underground tombs of stone decorate...

September 10, 2019

In THE DEADLIEST LIE, Aunt Hannah tells Miriam about her mother’s visit to an astrologer: “When your mother felt life quicken inside her, she went to her astrologer, who told her that she’d have a daughter with great gifts, one whose contributions would be famous for centuries but who would also experience great losses. So, she knew your life would be exceptional.”

   

With the conquest of Asia by Alexander the Great, astro...

September 3, 2019

Miriam tells us in THE DEADLIEST HATE that she as well as her colleagues in the Alchemical League would face certain death if the authorities ever discovered their work:

   

As a Roman citizen, I could at least appeal to Claudius for the right to defend myself in a proper trial. After that, the worst I could face would be a presumably painless death by beheading. The others, being non-citizens, would be summarily crucified....

August 27, 2019

After greeting me and taking my himation, Amram’s narrow-eyed, wooden-faced, doorkeeper escorted me to a padded stone bench in the atrium. While I rested alongside its pool of floating lotus blossoms, he sent for two maids. One placed a bronze footstool under my feet, removed my boots, wiped my feet with a damp towel, and fitted me with a pair of slippers. The other brought me a small mahogany serving table set with a silver c...

August 20, 2019

The Plain of Sharon is the central section of Israel’s Mediterranean Coast. For Isaiah, the Plain of Sharon was the ultimate symbol of beauty. It was also the region from which Christianity set sail to the world. Today, the Sharon region boasts beautiful farmland as well as the city of Caesarea, which Miriam visits in THE DEADLIEST HATE. Aboard ship, she encounters Gershon, an acquaintance of her father.

    

“I hear t...

August 13, 2019

The Dewey Decimal System was created by Melvil Dewey in 1876 while managing the Amherst College Library. Unlike Callimachus’s system, Dewey’s is hierarchical with a numeral for each subject, including fiction. Many libraries, however, maintain a separate section for fiction that is shelved alphabetically by the author’s surname.

   

As you can see in the picture, there are ten main classes of disciplinary knowledge, such as...

August 6, 2019

Callimachus’s most famous work is the Pinakes  (meaning Tables), a 120-volume bibliographic survey of the authors who works were stored in the Great Library of Alexandria. By consulting the Pinakes, a patron could find out if the library contained a work by a particular author, how it was categorized, and where it might be found. Callimachus, who lived about 300 years before Miriam’s time, apparently without any models fo...

July 30, 2019

Miriam is overwhelmed by the size of the Library’s collection when her tutor, Hector [see my blog, “Miriam’s Tutor” of June 27, 2017], brings her there in THE DEADLIEST LIE:

   

Hector hustled me into one of the many chambers that flank the vaulted reading room, the Library’s largest and airiest hall. Each must store hundreds if not thousands of scrolls. Slaves on ladders were shelving and fetching scrolls from immense stor...

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