Sunday, 23 February 2014

Delenda Est

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

When Manson Everard and Piet Van Sarawak arrive in the wrong 1960, the crowd that they see are described as "...roundheads..." (p. 178). I have googled this word but have found only the political term, "Roundhead," not a physiological term, "roundhead." Obviously, I know what a "round head" is but nevertheless have not elsewhere, as far as I know, come across "roundhead."

Everard describes the people as "'...brachycephalic...'" (p. 180). I have googled this word and do not quite connect its dictionary meaning with round heads. Indeed, "brachycephaly" is described as "flat head syndrome."

Although this particular inquiry has led no further yet, I find it fruitful not only to admire Anderson's large vocabulary but also to check the meaning of every single unfamiliar term. Doing this has proved to be informative.

The title of this story, "Delenda Est," of course requires an explanation that is not given in the text. "Delenda est Carthago" ("Carthage must be destroyed"), a slogan repeated in political speeches in the Roman Republic, meant that conflict with a persistent enemy must be ended not by a peace treaty leading to preparation for another war but by annihilation of the enemy.

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