- A female pharaoh was unknown in Egypt before Hatshepsut, who began her reign in 1502 B.C. In order not to shock convention, she had herself portrayed in male costume, with a beard, and without breasts.
- When Elizabeth I of Russia died in 1762, 15,000 dresses were found in her closets. She used to change what she was wearing two and even three times in an evening.
- English was not the mother tongue of Queen Victoria. Her mother, the daughter of a German duke spoke German in the home, and Victoria - though she ruled England for sixty-four years – was never able to speak English fluently.
- February originally had twenty nine days every year. In 8 B.C., the Roman Emperor Augustus renamed the thirty day month of Sextillis, giving it the name of August to honour himself. He took a day from February so that his month would have as many days as July, which had been named for Julius Caesar.
- The greatest soldier of ancient times, Alexander (356-323 B.C) was tutored by the greatest thinker, Aristotle.
- The best known story about Archimedes is that when he discovered the principle of buoyancy in the bathtub, he ran naked through the streets of Syracuse, shouting “Eureka! Eureka!” (“I have it! I have it!”) This was not a very astonishing thing for him to have done. The Greeks habitually exercised in the nude, and the sight of a naked male figure meant little to them.
- One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the elaborate Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, was destroyed in October 356 B.C. – A case of deliberate arson. When the culprit was caught and asked why he had done the deed, he replied he did it so that his name might live in history. The man was executed, and it was ordered that his name be erased from all records and never be spoken. But he did succeed after all; we know his name: Herodotus.
- The vampire bat is not as vicious as its image. It does not puncture the skin of its victim’s neck, but instead, scrapes exposed patches of skin with its teeth until it draws blood. So gentle is the scraping that the sleeping prey does not wake up while the bat is at work.
- “The wolf at the door” was once a sad reality. Wolf packs could be found in all forest of Europe, and in 1420 and 1438 wolves roamed the streets of Paris. O-o
- It is the female lion who does more than 90 percent of the hunting while the male is afraid to risk his life, or simply prefers to rest.
- Despite man’s fear and hatred of the wolf, it has not been proved that a nonrabid wolf ever attacked a human, Fir years there has been a reward offered by the Sault Ste. Maris, Ontario, Star to anyone who could document an attack by a wolf. The reward has never been claimed.
- The ancestors of a horse were only about a foot tall 60 million years ago. o___o
- A nearly fatal misjudgment marked Pablo Picasso’s birth. The midwife, thinking him stillborn, had abandoned him on a table; but his uncle, a cigar-smoking physician revived him with a blast of needed (albeit smoke-filled) air into his lungs.
- Artists consider the basic colours to be red, yellow and blue, but scientists say they are red, green, and blue. No pigment combination of red, green and blue will produce yellow. Yet, if a beam of red light and green light overlap, the result is yellow. The answer to this riddle lies primarily in the totally different ways colours are achieved with light and with pigments.
- In the grassy fields above the cliffs at Etretat, Claude Monet would work on five or six paintings at a time. As the weather changed, he would switch from one canvas to another. (I remember Miss Kasia’s art class, we were observing his drawings.)
- As though he didn’t have everything else going for him, Leonardo da Vinci was described by people who knew him as “the most beautiful man who ever lived.”
- Vincent van Gogh was known to have sold only one painting.
- Picasso, when he died in 1973, left in four repositories in the south of France the following: 1,876 paintings, 1,355 sculptured, 2,880 ceramics, more than 11,000 drawings and sketches, and some estate was worth – at the official appraisal – 1,251,673,200 French francs, or approximately $250 million. (WOW!)
- Students were given a month to complete the competitive art examination at the estimable Barcelona Academy of Fine Arts. Picasso, at the age of fifteen, completed the all the examination in one day and furthermore, won first place over all adult competition.
- In his early days, Picasso kept warm by burning some of his drawings.
Better to give
- Ernest Hemingway gave to the Shrine of the Virgin in eastern Cuba, where he lived, Nobel Prize money he had won for the novel The Old Man and the Sea. “You don’t,” he said, “ever have a thing until you give it away.”
- So far in the twentieth century, two objects have struck the earth with enough force to destroy a whole city. Each object, one in 1908 and one in 1947, struck isolated regions of Siberia. Not one human being was hurt at the time. Pure luck.
- The first hydrogen bomb, tested in 1952, was as powerful as the total of all bombs dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II, including the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- The sinking in 1912 of the Titanic with a loss of 1,513 lives is not, as most people seem to believe, the greatest sea disaster of all time. Far from it! It was dwarfed by the sinking thirty three years later of the German vessel Wilhelm Gustloff, torpedoed in the Baltic Sea by the Russian submarine S-13. Close to 8,000 people drowned, most of them women and children – more than five times the number of victims that went down with the Titanic.