ORICUM.

Suspicious of Lane Fox after the Bytyllion incident, I checked up on his mention of “the island of Oricos in the Bay of Valona”; at first I thought I’d caught him out, because Oricum (now Albanian Orikum) is not an island, but a little research convinced me that it had been at the time under discussion, though it soon became connected to the mainland. (This leaves the question of why he calls it “Oricos,” with a Latin c married to a Greek -os, and refers to the “Bay of Valona,” using its Italian name rather than the modern Albanian Vlorë or the ancient Aulon, but let that go.) At any rate, I was so annoyed by the minimal and ridiculously outdated Wikipedia article (in its entirety: “Oricum was an Ancient Greek city in Epirus, modern Albania. It gained great importance during Roman rule. It was founded by colonists from Colchis according to Pliny,” with footnotes referencing books from 1841 and 1779) that I spent far too much time completely revamping it, enjoying the ability the internet affords to splash around among recondite references like Mogens Herman Hansen and Thomas Heine Nielsen, An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis, and Keith G. Walker, Archaic Eretria: A Political and Social History from the Earliest Times to 490 BC. Anyone who wants to admire the results of my labors can investigate the article in its present state, and if they have anything to add, so much the better.
To provide a linguistic hook, I will note that we would not know the quantity of the middle vowel, since neither Greek nor Latin distinguishes long and short /i/ in writing, except that the word happens to occur in poetry; Horace, for instance, in Odes III.7, writes the Lesser Asclepiad line “Gygen? ille Notis actus ad Oricum,” from which we learn that the i is short.

Comments

  1. Admirable indeed.
    However, I did make a slight correction for you. You linked to the correct passage in the Civil Wars, but you referred to the Gallic Wars in the article text.

  2. I linked Terebinth (Virgil and then Sextus Propertius) to it; it wasn’t obvious how to throw in the inverse link without disruption.

  3. Thanks, kishnevi—I hate having brain farts like that!

  4. When I saw the title “Oricum” come up in my RSS subscription, I thought it would be a blog post-length exposition of the use and history of the Romanian adverb oricum ‘however, in whatever fashion”. In any event, its middle vowel is unvocalized. :-)

  5. Charles Perry says:

    MMcM: I just looked up the terebinth Wiki entry & saw at least one omission. In southeastern Turkey, they make a “coffee,” bitim kahvesi, from roasted terebinth seeds (butm being the Arabic and not the Turkish name for terebinth, I assume the practice is also current in northern Iraq). It’s not bad — doesn’t taste at all of turpentine. It’s like a cross between coffee, cloves, sesame paste and peanut butter, with a curious meaty note, followed by a hint of chocolate in the finish.

  6. marie-lucie says:

    It sounds like it will be the next addition to fashionable gourmet coffees. Does it have the consistency of sesame paste and peanut butter? I hear some coffees are very “meaty” that way.

  7. To date, my contribution has only been the insertion of “from [[Oricum]].” But maybe I’ll get ambitious. I was discouraged last week to see a Macedonian folk etymology in Ajvar that not even the mk. page had, but it’s been fixed, so maybe there’s hope.
    The Vikipedi does say, “Ayrıca meyvelerinden kahve de yapılır.” ‘Besides, coffee is made from its fruit.’ It also mentions the name bıttım and bıttım kahvesi gets a few more hits than single t. Here is a Lane s.v. بطم.
    Neither page mentions soap, allegedly effective against the Prince of Wales’ dandruff.

  8. Menengiç Kahvesi in a jar.

  9. And, somewhat typically, the Wikipedia’s Şanlıurfa page randomly mentions menengiç kahvesi and links to terebinth, where as Charles Perry points out, there is no mention of it. Well, better to light a candle, I suppose.

  10. M, what it actually says uses my preferred spelling:

    Bıttım Soap the fame of which has gone beyond our country is also preferred by Prince Charles of Whales due to its above mentioned features.

    though I doubt that most whales have dandruff and I really doubt that soap helps them cure it.

  11. jamessal says:

    In the current LRB, David Runciman has a fun piece about Wikipedia, with a quote some here should enjoy:

    The early years of Wikipedia were dogged by this suspicion [that entries were unreliable], and many people – including a lot of schoolteachers and university lecturers who could remember the distant days before 2002 when books were books and editors actually edited – were openly derisive of a work of reference that appeared to make no effort to discriminate between good information and bad. It is easy to assume that some version of Gresham’s Law, which states that bad money will always drive out good, must apply to the circulation of facts as well. Why would anyone with good information want to put it in a place where bad information could contaminate it at the touch of a button? Wouldn’t they choose to keep it to themselves, or at the very least give it to someone who could recognise its true value, leaving open-access encyclopedias to the mercies of all the flakes and grudge-bearers who want to use its veneer of objectivity to force their craziness down other people’s throats? Well, the answer is apparently not. One of the remarkable achievements of Wikipedia is to show that on the internet Gresham’s Law can work in reverse: Wikipedia has turned into a relatively reliable source of information on the widest possible range of subjects because, on the whole, the good drives out the bad. When someone sabotages or messes with an otherwise sound entry, there are plenty of people out there who see it as their job to undo the damage, often within seconds of its happening. It turns out that the people who believe in truth and objectivity are at least as numerous as all the crazies, pranksters and time-wasters, and they are often considerably more tenacious, ruthless and monomaniacal. On Wikipedia, it’s the good guys who will hunt you down.

  12. David Marjanović says:

    Does it have the consistency of sesame paste and peanut butter?

    Like the Wild West coffee according to Lucky Luke? “How to make coffee: Take a pound of coffee, moisten it slightly, and heat it. Then you do the Horseshoe Test. When the horseshoe sinks, there was too little coffee!”
    (Translated from what I remember of the German version.)

  13. David Marjanović says:

    When someone sabotages or messes with an otherwise sound entry, there are plenty of people out there who see it as their job to undo the damage, often within seconds of its happening.

    That depends on how popular and how widely known the subject is. I know someone (who reads this blog but shall remain nameless to keep his shame within earthly limits; well, “shame” – he’s actually proud of it) who deliberately inserted mistakes into the articles on relatively little-known languages (spoken in rather poor places) years ago, told me the mistakes are still there, and thinks he’s made some grand point about the unreliability of Wikipedia. Well, duh. Insert nonsense into the article on Spanish phonology, and within days at the most someone will either pepper your scribblings with “citation needed” or just correct them and support the correction with citations plus two or three paragraphs on the discussion page; insert nonsense into the stub on the Udmurt language*, and, well, don’t hold your breath. There aren’t “plenty of people” out there who have any idea of Udmurt and speak English well enough that they’d dare contribute to en.wikipedia and have Internet access.
    * Example picked at random; I do not know if that article contains any errors, deliberate or otherwise.

  14. To David’s friend: OK, you’ve made your point. Now how about contributing to the sum of human knowledge by going in and fixing the errors you introduced? You don’t want to be like those guys who prove members of some group are violent by going to meetings and badgering them to perform violent acts, do you?

  15. My results looking up Wikis on obscure topics I know something about have been good enough for me for Wiki to be my first stop on obscure topics I know less about. I never trust Wiki absolutely but there’s no source that deserves that level of trust.
    I’m most suspicious of topics with an ideological, religious, or nationalist angle, obviously. But even so, the nationalist approaches to the Volga Bulgars and the Caucasian Albanians were rather nicely handled, last time I looked. That is to say, they were properly labelled, and segregated in their own area.

  16. My results looking up Wikis on obscure topics I know something about have been good enough for me for Wiki to be my first stop on obscure topics I know less about. I never trust Wiki absolutely but there’s no source that deserves that level of trust.
    I’m most suspicious of topics with an ideological, religious, or nationalist angle, obviously. But even so, the nationalist approaches to the Volga Bulgars and the Caucasian Albanians were rather nicely handled, last time I looked. That is to say, they were properly labelled, and segregated in their own area.

  17. marie-lucie says:

    Topics about language origins or the “long-range” classification of languages (eg the hypothetical “Euro-Asiatic”) are also often biased and the discussions tend to be heated beyond what would be necessary.
    One thing about Wiki is the wide range of writing ability displayed. Many articles are very poorly written, or show the hands of several authors who introduced extra material without checking how this material fits into the paragraph in question, especially in matters of chronology.

  18. jamessal says:

    Anybody else see this about Wiki banning Scientology IPs?

  19. Hadn’t seen it, but I don’t have a problem with it.

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