Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Take this quiz to enter the drawing for a free book


To celebrate this blog's second anniversary, I've decided to give away one copy of my novel, A Thing Done, to someone who is  brave enough to take this little quiz.  It can be the winner's choice of a Kindle edition, a Nook edition, or a paperback (unless you live somewhere other than the US, in which case I don't want to fork over the money to ship a paperback, so it will have to be Kindle or Nook).  If you want it sent to somebody else as a holiday gift, no problem.  I will let this contest run until December 10 before choosing a winner.

If you're not sure of all the answers, try anyway.  You've got nothing to lose.  And since some answers may be debatable, or the questions a bit sneaky, winners will be determined by use of a complex algorithm.  (No, I have no idea what I mean by that either, but you can get away with just about anything if you use a complex algorithm.  Just ask Amazon.  Or Goodreads.)  Comments count.  Creativity counts.  Flattery counts.   Becoming a blog follower counts.  Give me your answers in the Comments section, or send them to me privately if you prefer.  (And try not to look at any previous comments containing the answers!  Honor system applies.)

Ready?  Okay.  Think hard about the 13th century, about Florence, about Dante.  Once you've projected yourself back to then and there, you're all set to proceed.  It's short - only three questions.  Good luck! 

Question the First:  

I'm going to give you two lists, each describing an individual in late 13th century Florence.  Then I'm going to give you a list of political parties.  See if you can figure out which political party each individual belongs to.

If you are the First Individual:
  • You think the Pope is a really great guy.
  • You're a fan of Count Guido Guerra, who's the cousin of Guido Novello (who you don't like very much).
  • You think Emperor Frederick II was the Antichrist.
  • Your fortress has square crenellations.
  • You fight under a banner that sports a fleur-de-lys.
  • You're from Florence, or from Lucca.
  • When you look back on the 1216 fracas that was the subject of A Thing Done, your sympathies are with Buondelmonte and the Donati.
  • You really respect Charles of Anjou.  Or at least you'd like to keep him on your side.
  • You'd love to exile your opponents and tear down their towers, houses, and businesses.

If you are the Second Individual:
  • You think the Emperor is a really great guy.  When there is an emperor, at least.
  • You're a fan of Count Guido Novello, who's the cousin of Guido Guerra (who you don't like very much).
  • You think Emperor Frederick II was the Wonder of the World.
  • Your fortress has swallowtail crenellations.
  • You fight under a banner that has an eagle on it (even though it looks like a scrawny chicken about to be plucked)
  • You're from Pisa, Siena, or Arezzo.
  • When you look back on the 1216 fracas mentioned above, your sympathies lie with Oddo Arrigo dei Fifanti, the Lamberti, and the Amidei.
  • You hold Farinata degli Uberti in high regard. 
  • You'd love to exile your opponents and tear down their towers, houses, and businesses.

If you are the Third Individual:  
  • You'd rather the Pope didn't put your city under interdict, and you wish the Emperor would just occupy himself elsewhere and stop appointing vicars.
  • You don't really care much about any of the Conti Guidi.
  • You suspect Fred II was a heretic, but he was also pretty cool in a lot of ways.
  • You don't have a fortress.  You have a perfectly good house, thank you.
  • You prefer not to fight.  Somebody's got to keep the shops open.
  • You're Florentine.  You're not nobility, and you're not a mere laborer, either.  You might even have a surname, or be about to acquire one.
  • When you look back on 1216, you think, "What were they thinking?!?"
  • You respect anybody who can hold his own against the magnates.
  • You wish you could exile all the big shots at once, rent out their towers and houses, and take over their businesses. 

And here are the political parties (only three will apply, but I like to provide lots of choices):
  1. Primo Popolo
  2. Whigs
  3. The Silly Party
  4. Guelfs
  5. Tories
  6. Christian Democrats
  7. Libertarians
  8. Ghibellines
  9. The Tea Party
  10. Communists
Assign one party to each of the three individuals.  Easy-peasy, eh?  Try the next one:

Question the Second:

All you Dante scholars, here's your chance.  Dante's Commedia is divided into three parts:  the Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso.   Tell me to which of those three regions of the afterlife Dante assigned each of the following: 
  1. Brunetto Latini, philosopher, civil servant, and Dante's mentor
  2. Alexander the Great, world conqueror
  3. Ciacco, notorious glutton
  4. Paolo and Francesca, famous lovers
  5. Mosca, whose comment provided the title for A Thing Done
  6. Jason of the Argonauts, adventurer and fleece fancier
  7. Pope Celestine V, who abdicated
  8. Brutus, Roman patriot who killed Julius Caesar
  9. Helen of Troy, problematic beauty
  10. Ulysses, extremely clever Greek guy
  11. Filippo Argenti, Dante's neighbor
  12. Frederick II, either Antichrist or Wonder of the World
Helen, Celestine, Alexander, Frederick
 So far, so good.  Now, for our last question of the day, an easy one:

Question the Third:

I'm going to list eleven women who were important in Dante's life in one way or another.  Then I will list several possible roles for these women.  Match each name with the role she played in Dante's life.  (It is possible for an answer to be used more than once.  In fact, it's downright necessary.)

Here are the women, in alphabetical order:
  1. Antonia
  2. Beatrice
  3. Bella
  4. Fioretta
  5. Gemma
  6. Gentucca
  7. Lapa
  8. Lisetta
  9. Lucia
  10. Tana
  11. Violetta
And here are the possible roles:
  • Muse and inspiration
  • Mysterious woman mentioned in Dante's writing (and scholars would just love to know more about her)
  • Stepmother
  • Mother
  • Half-sister
  • Wife
  • Daughter
  • Favorite saint

That's all there is to it.  Have fun, send me your answers, and we'll see who takes the prize.  Good luck!

Images in this post are in the public domain, except for the photo of the bust of Helen of Troy, which is licensed to Yair Haklai, and the photo with the swallowtail crenellations, which is licensed to Chfono.  Both are under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Blog anniversary!

Medieval bloggers

As of November 15, 2013, this blog has been in existence for two years!  When I started, I had so much to learn - it was a major project to wrestle a picture into place, I forgot to add a thingie so that people could follow the blog, and I was clueless about HTML.

Fortunately, I have a husband who is both extremely ept and extremely patient, so the blog finally evolved into something that was more fun that not, most of the time, and very rarely has me tearing my hair out these days.  (Part of that is because I've given up on fancy formatting, of course.)  The blog gets a healthy number of pageviews, which is gratifying, and has even managed to acquire some followers.  (Thank you, followers!)

So, to celebrate, I'm doing two things:

First, I thought I'd pick my ten most popular posts of the past two years, and provide you with links to them, in case you weren't on board with this blog at the time they ran.  Maybe you'll find something here that interests you, or something you'd enjoy revisiting, if you've already seen it.  (I've not included the most popular guest posts here, but they are also well worth looking for.)

And second, my next post - whenever it may happen - will include a short quiz, successful completion of which will enter the contestant in a drawing for a free copy of my book, A Thing Done.

Here are the ten most popular posts, not in order of popularity but chronological, from most recent to earliest:

... that Death had undone so many.

A post about famous people in central Italy who lost their lives in the Black Death in 1348 - artists, churchmen, scholars, and others.

A Hospital with a Venerable History

Some history of an ancient hospital still operating in Florence.

A Medieval Doctor and His Career

Taddeo Alderotti, medieval Florentine physician.

 Who was the historical Beatrice?

The real woman behind the legend - Dante's inspiration.

In Search of the Etruscans - Part 3: Cerveteri

In Search of the Etruscans - Part 2: Tarquinia

In Search of the Etruscans - Part 1: Rome 

Three posts about the Etruscans, in three cities where this mysterious people has left tantalizing traces.

Let's just call him Leonardo, shall we?


Names and what their structures mean

Was There a Florence Before the Renaissance?

What was Florence like in Dante's time?

A Historical Puzzle (and a Possible Solution) - Part 1 

The question that started me on the quest that became my first novel.

Images in this post are in the public domain or are our own, with these exceptions:  photo of hospital is licensed to Sailko, and photo of skeletons (detail shown here) is licensed to Mattis, both via the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, Wikimedia Commons.