Re: Venetian Scales of Man

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Mon Feb 18 2002 - 15:12:29 MST

>From scerir:

><This Venetian Macrocosm brought to you by your servant,
>You forgot to mention this little venetian story, just one among
>a thousands.

>Johannes Kepler published his 'Harmonices Mundi' in 1619 (Linz).
>In this book he describes, for the very first time, his famous
>'stellarum duodecim planarum pentagonicarum', that is to say
>the stellated dodecahedron. Unfortunately (for Kepler) [...]

Shakespeare probably wouldn't have written 'The Merchant of Venice'
if Venice had been a boring place.

another story:
Venetian Marco Polo's nickname was Marco Il Milione (of the million
lies) because the city-folk didn't believe his tales -- hence the name
of the two little couryards where the Polo family lived: "Corte Prima
del Milion" and "Corte Seconda del Milion".

or another story:
of Galileo hoping to improve his status at the University of Padua
by pointing out to the Senate of Venice the powerful military
advantages of the telescope to observe distant sails that would
otherwise not be seen. This was done before he spent much time
observing the sky. By spending time improving the telescope and then
showing the telescope publically from the Campanile in the Piazza
San Marco (which collapsed under its own weight in 1902, but that's
another story), he gained a lead on the competition, who were just
beginning to bring other spyglasses into Venice.

Other tidbits about Venice, I find interesting:

Venetian houses/palazzos were always entered from the water (a city
with no roads, and that's why the facades on the water front), and
built usually with three storeys, serving as a warehouse and
business (lower floors), as well as a family home (upper floors).

Venice was very difficult to attack and penetrate due to its
location built on distributed island swamps. It survived and thrived
for 1000 years, becoming the strongest commercial and naval force in
the Mediterranean, so much so, that in the early 1500s, the most
powerful people of that time: the pope, the kings of France and
Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor felt compelled to join forces to
stop the Venetian empire's advances. Venice's advances were halted,
but the city still thrived for another 200 years before its decline.

The Venetian's naval strength was built on a boat: the trireme (oars
grouped in three), its shipyards were cranking out one one warship
per day.

During the Middle Ages it had a kind of constitution, an elected
leader, and council of ten and additional council of 2000, from
which other officials were selected. It was not really a democracy
but probably better than most other things going during the Middle
Ages, driven mostly by business. Venice was politically independent
for most of its history and not part of Italy until the mid 1800s.

The state-run Casino Ridotto was open to *anyone wearing a mask* (!)
but in 1774 was closed down because too many Venetians went
bankrupt while gambling inside.

The large industrial center Mestre was founded by Venetians who
foresaw a day when development land would run out in the Lagoon. It
is essentially an extension of the same entrepreneurial spirit that
characterized Venice in her high time, and which still typifies the
Veneto region, which is now the most productive region in Europe.


... and this is totally off-topic, but I think that someone should
write a book about the traveling adventures of government-stolen
art. Those Four Horses of St. Mark are now safely tucked away inside
of San Marco's Basilica (the dummy horses are those displayed
outside!).. well the Venetians claimed that the horses were theirs
when Napolean stole them and then he gave them back, but the Venetians
stole them from Constantipole four hundred years earlier! And those
obelisks that Rome proudly displays now were stolen by Mussolini and
now Egypt wants them back. And there are those many Greek art pieces
that the British Museum proudly displays as their own, which Greece
claims were stolen and would really like to havve returned.


Amara Graps, PhD email:
Computational Physics vita:
Multiplex Answers URL:
"Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the
future of the human race." -- H. G. Wells

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