The Death of Twyborn

Digenes Akritas was a hero of mediaeval Acritic songs, ballads celebrating the deeds of border guards of the Byzantine Empire. The hero survived into Modern Greek folk song, and The Death of Digenis is a song that got a lot of renown.

I cited its depiction of the Grim Reaper at… , since I’ve come to be regarded as a Grim Reaper of Quora on Necrologue. If I’m to start rendering the folk song in blank verse, well, I might as well see it through.

The hero Digenes “Two-Race” was so called because his father was an Arab and his mother Greek. The name got alchemised into Twyborn by Patrick White, in The Twyborn Affair—White having heard of Digenes from his Greek boyfriend. Twyborn fits English metre better.

Ο θάνατος του Διγενή

Tuesday was Twyborn born; he dies on Tuesday.
He bids his friends and all the brave come gather,
Menna, Black Ali, and the Ogre’s Son,
and Trembling-Lip, whom world and earth both fear.
They went and found him lying in a field.
He moans—the mountains quake. He moans—fields quake.
“What is it, Twyborn, makes you wish to die?”

“Friends, you are welcome, friends and dear to me;
sit down, be quiet. Let me tell my tale.
Mountains of Araby, and Syrian valleys,
where two men dare not march, three dare not talk,
but fifty, a hundred men tread fearfully:
I’ve passed through them alone, on foot and armed,
my sword four cubits long, my lance three fathoms.
I’ve trod through hills and fields, through fields and summits,
on moonless nights, on nights without the stars.
And living all these years above the ground,
I’ve felt no fear for any of the brave.
I see now a barefoot man, with shining clothes;
his blazon from the lynx; his eyes are lightning.
He bids us fight on marble threshing floors:
whoever wins will take the other’s soul.”

They went and fought on marble threshing floors.
Where Twyborn strikes, blood flows, and forms a ditch.
And where Death strikes, blood flows, and forms a moat.

Will Quora someday come to an end? With all the absurd questions arising everyday it seems the threshold for meaningful questions has been reached.

Nick Nicholas’ answer to What will kill Quora?

Of course, as Bill Husted said (Bill Husted’s answer to Will Quora someday come to an end? ), all things end, and of course, it won’t be because questions are a finite resource: Are the number of questions that can be asked on Quora finite?

There are things that will kill Quora, and D’Angelo is not the source I’d seek any assurance from, about the future of Quora. I mean, come on. The guy’s a Silicon Valley CEO. What else is he gonna tell you?

No, it’s not the dumb questions.

No, it’s not the trolls.

No, it’s not the smugness.

No, it’s not the teens.

No, it’s not the moderation.

No, it’s not the UX randomness.

If Quora is the second incarnation of Gutenberg, remember that Gutenberg lost his printing press in a lawsuit, and he made his money from printing indulgences.

Monetisation. That’s what will make Quora live or die. The venture capital vat of money is running out. You’d better hope Quora has a good marketing arm to deal with ads.

Why is Cæsar pronounced “seezer” and not “sayzer” or “sahzer”?

Traditional English pronunciation of Latin – Wikipedia

One of the characteristic features of Anglo-Latin is that the diphthongs æ and œ merged with e. This is fully represented in the American spelling of Latin loanwords, though the simplified spelling is not consistently applied:

æon and eon, æther and ether, amœba and ameba, anæmia and anemia, anæsthesia and anesthesia, cæsura and cesura, chamæleon and chameleon, dæmon and demon, diæresis and dieresis, encyclopædia and encyclopedia, fæces and feces, fœtus and fetus, hyæna and hyena, prætor and pretor

In particular, names were not respelled. So Cæsar was pronouned in Anglo-Latin Cesar—even if it wasn’t spelled Cesar.

When the Great English Vowel shift came to town, the long e ended up changing pronunciation to /iː/, just as it did in English proper. So Classical Latin kajsar > cajsar > tʃajzar > sajzar > Middle Anglo-Latin seːzar > Modern Anglo-Latin siːzar.

What would a map of Quora look like?

Vote #1 User: User’s answer to What would a map of Quora look like?.

Vote #1, #2, and #3 in fact. BUT DON’T SOCKPUPPET TO DO IT!


This is my own poor attempt.

There are two “self-contained” national communities on Quora: the US Quora, and the Indian Quora, which the departed Laura Hale memorably once called “The Other Quora”. The non–self-contained Quora national communities are, of course, the Other Other Quora.

The rest, I trust, are self-explanatory.

What makes you wish you understood Russian?

Odd you’d ask me, Habib le toubib! Russian actually is a language I wish I understood.

  • There’s a little bit of Byzantine literature published in Russia, and it’d be useful to access the literature.
  • There’s a bit more Russian writing on Balkan linguistics: ditto.
  • Much more so: Mariupolitan Greek, spoken in the Ukraine, is substantially documented in Russian (and to a lesser extent Ukrainian); I’m at a disadvantage going through the older sources on it.
  • Maxim Kisilier, Neohellenist in St Petersburg and Quora user, mostly publishes his stuff in Russian, as do his students and his colleagues. (Maxim, is Fatima Eloeva still there?) And it’s very good stuff.
  • I knew several Russians in high school and uni, and I took a liking to some Russian literature and music. Baratinsky, Shostakovich, Mavakovsky. (Yes, that’s an eclectic list.) And the Russians, they are so духовные! (No, not David Duchovny; “spiritual”). I did in fact teach myself Russian for a few months in high school, which… is not a lot, but it’s better than nothing.
  • The main languages of Western Europe, I’ve got: I can access a lot of stuff that way, online, and it’s helped with tourism too. Because I don’t have much Slavonic (apart from those few months), Eastern Europe is a closed book to me. But Eastern Europe for me are cultural neighbours; it’d be nice if they weren’t a closed book.

What is the difference between egoism and egotism?

As I harrumphed in Nick Nicholas’ answer to What is the etymology of the word “egotism”?:

There is a recherché distinction that some people have made between egotism and egoism in English: egotism is a bad thing, egoism isn’t. But that distinction is pretty much made up, and noone really bothers with it any more.

What is Quora’s policy on copy-pasting one and the same Forer style text over and over in answer to completely different questions?

Quora has a policy on self-plagiarism, as part of its policy on plagiarism:

What is Quora’s policy on plagiarism and attribution?

Quora’s strong preference is for people to use Quora’s blockquote formatting. This plagiarism policy applies to people’s own answers on Quora and repeatedly posting the same answer on Quora without blockquotes and attribution is against policy on all answers after April 12, 2016.

Quora doesn’t have a specific policy about Barnum effect (i.e. statements that vacuously apply to anybody); Barnum statements by themselves are not against policy, and would merely fall into the morass of poor answers.

Self-plagiarism is enforced robotically on Quora, and is not uncontroversial: Is Quora’s policy regarding self-plagiarism reasonable?

Are there expressions related to cat knowledge other than “nine lives” and “επτά ψυχές” (seven souls)? What is the situation with other languages/people?

Vishal Mukherjee: Vishal Mukherjee’s answer to Where did the phrase “cats have nine lives” come from?

The myth that cats have multiple lives exists in many cultures around the world. It’s not always nine lives, though. Some Spanish-speaking regions believe cats have seven lives, while Turkish and Arabic legends claim cats have six lives.