Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Regarding Chechens and Caucasians

Recent events demand that I make a post on this subject, yet I fear being redundant.  Still, I am a Caucasian, and those of us who come from this region must periodically come face to face with our heritage.

"The sea called Euxine, or hospitable, is belied by its nature and put to ridicule by its name. Even its situation would prevent you from reckoning Pontus hospitable: as though ashamed of its own barbarism it has set itself at a distance from our more civilized waters. Strange tribes inhabit it—if indeed living in a wagon can be called inhabiting. These have no certain dwelling-place: their life is uncouth: their sexual activity is promiscuous, and for the most part unhidden even when they hide it: they advertise it by hanging a quiver on the yoke of the wagon, so that none may inadvertently break in. So little respect have they for their weapons of war. They carve up their fathers' corpses along with mutton, to gulp down at banquets. If any die in a condition not good for eating, their death is a disgrace. Women also have lost the gentleness, along with the modesty, of their sex. They display their breasts, they do their house-work with battle-axes, they prefer fighting to matrimonial duty. There is sternness also in the climate—never broad daylight, the sun always niggardly, the only air they have is fog, the whole year is winter, every wind that blows is the north wind. Water becomes water only by heating: rivers are no rivers, only ice: mountains are piled high up with snow: all is torpid, everything stark. Savagery is there the only thing warm—such savagery as has provided the theatre with tales of Tauric sacrifices, Colchian love-affairs, and Caucasian crucifixions." - Adversus Marcionem, by Tertullian (160-225AD)

6 comments:

Rummuser said...

Wow!

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

In a way, the relationship between men and women are still a bit that way: they practise violent love; they fight a lot...it's odd to us. But that's their way - and maybe the climate in those parts of the world didn't/doesn't help either.

So, you originally come from the Caucasus, huh? I am asking because you said "Still, I am a Caucasian"...

Cheers

Looney said...

Max, yes, I am a "Caucasian", which here in the US is a synonym for white European. The government questionnaires we fill out periodically use this expression. Of course I am also doing a bit of word play. My ancestry likely goes back to the glorious Saxons, who were completely uneducated and liked to go around bashing other people and taking their property.

The term "Caucasian" reminds me a bit of the term "Asian", which originally meant a small corner of what is now modern Turkey that is just across the Hellespont from Europe.

Now about "Africa" ...

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

I noticed the word play (it was brilliant).
I never understood why the American government asks people about their ethnicity - what is the purpose of that exactly? In Europe it is viewed as discrimination.

Ah, the Saxons...I don't view them as uneducated but as rough. They were rough people. The Brits and Romans (occupying Britannia) used to call them savages.

"Now about "Africa" ..."

What about it? :)

Looney said...

Max, I am curious if you know anything beyond the tidbits I have learned: My earliest recollection from literature is from the Roman name "Scipio Africanus", which was awarded to Scipio for the defeat of the Carthaginians in 202BC. I don't know if the term is used earlier. Carthage was a Phoenician colony, so the word Africa is presumed to come from the Hebrew word for dust, aphar:

עָפָר

But Josephus claims that the continent is named after one of Abraham's grandsons, Epher, which is the same three consonants as for dust, but seems to mean "young deer" or "calf".

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

I will never forget Scipio Africanus:

"Legati Carthaginiensium pacem a Scipione petiverunt (...)" (the ambassadors of Carthagen asked Scipio for peace) - this text haunted me for a long long time lol.

You ask a good question. First, I didn't know that the word Africa could come from עפר; second, I am not sure of when the term Africanus began being used but I will check. If I find something, I will be back to you.

Have a great weekend.