Siege Diaries 5/28/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What should I think about before I take action?

The meditation mentions the importance of not getting upset before taking action. I’d modify that a bit again–the importance is to make sure to not take action while you’re upset. I’ve mentioned this before: I fully believe in allowing myself to be upset over serious things–because I believe acknowledging that is the first step in being able to deal with it. Part of that is also knowing how to express being upset without making the situation worse or hurting others. That can be very hard–and pretending otherwise will not change that.

What’s the oldest thing you own that you are still using?

I’m not talking about mementos on a shelf or in a scrapbook, or half-forgotten souvenirs in a drawer somewhere. I’m not talking about childhood relics, or things you inherited from parents. I’m talking about an item that you’ve owned for the longest time that’s still “in rotation”.

This is mine.

Thirty-five years ago, I wrote an essay in an honours Roman Civilization class about a coin. We had learned how to identify Roman coinage by deciphering the abbreviations on the obverse, along with the names of the rules pictured there, and the iconography on the reverse, and I had written the paper about the coin I had selected, which turned out to date from the short reign of the third century emperor Gordian III. Gordian was just 13 when he became Emperor in 238 AD–the youngest ever to hold that title and reign alone. In his early years, the Roman senate held actual power, but as he entered his later teens, he showed signs of some ability in battle. Faced with a Sassanian incursion into Mesopotamia, Gordian opened the doors of the temple of Janus–indicating that Rome was at war–for the last time, before winning a significant victory. His luck did not persist, however, and he was subsequently defeated by the Sassanians in a subsequent battle in 244, where he either died or perhaps was killed by his praetorian prefect and successor, Philip the Arab.

The paper I wrote about the coin was nominated for, and won, a prize for excellence in the humanities, including a $50 prize. I took the money and purchased a very similar coin, then took it to a jewellery store and had it mounted to wear as a pendant. (I still remember how impatient I was waiting for the mounted coin to come back). I then wore that pendant constantly. It became an early symbol of what would eventually be my transformation from a genetics major to a classics and ancient history major, as well as a symbol of the overall changes in my life and outlook that began after high school.

I happened to see the pendant yesterday and decided to wear it. It is almost certainly my oldest piece of jewellery I’m still wearing (not counting, of course, the items I inherited from my mother–I wear her diamond ring every day.)

And in looking up the details for this post, I ran across a new book on Gordian III and Phillip that was just published last month. I’ve always been fascinated by Gordian’s story–especially given that I was, at the time I acquired his coin, the same age he was when he died. However, doing a little more digging, the writer of this particular work sees himself as an iconoclast and doesn’t seem to have a particularly good reputation for dealing with sources critically. Yet at the same time, he’s engaged with the reenactor community. I haven’t found any academic reviews of the work. So I’m torn…but probably won’t buy it.

Today is a cold, wet day. It’s by far the most rain we have had at one time in weeks, and it’s all of 4 C out there right now. I now have a sketch of what the redone front yard will look like and an idea what supplies we will need, and have sent it off for a quote (hopefully). The “old-style” Russian shirt I ordered arrived, and it’s so wonderful I may need to order a second one. (There was also a lovely handwritten note from the owner of the store in Russia.) It’s linen, and I got the size L this time so it would fit easily over my hips (I will wear it sashed, of course.)

Finished another Russian lesson – I’m going back and reviewing all of the previous lessons daily until I remember them all, as well as adding a new lesson daily. I’m also making more progress on the Pallas’ cat–the face is probably about 80% complete now, and I just added the eyes, which helps bring it to life. I’ll post the progress picture once I have the face done. I expect that once that’s complete, the rest should go a little faster.

No real plans at all for this weekend. Probably lots of embroidery. Probably a good walk tomorrow.