Friday, July 30, 2010

Josephine Pollari Terranova

Josephine Pollari Terranova (April 21 1889 - July 16, 1981)was born in San Stefano, Sicily but immigrated to New York City with her widowed mother.  After years of sexual abuse at the hands of her aunt and uncle, she stabbed them to death and was brought to trial on double murder chargesl. 

But the trial itself took an absurd turn when she was put through a battery of tests to see if she was sane enough to stand trial for murder.  The experts shot electricity through her body, jabbed needles into her cheeks, hit her ankles with steel and dropped rocks on her toes.  She pleaded with them to let her return to the Tombs.  She was steadfast in declaring she was neither crazy nor afraid.  Many New Yorkers were horrified at what the young teenage girl was made to endure.

The jury acquitted her in what was widely regarded as an act of jury nullification. She later moved west and finally settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, allegedly with the financial assistance of William Randolph Hearst.

The case was a major and sensational news story at the time, leading to a widespread public debate on the proper role of psychiatric expertise in judicial proceedings.  It was largely forgotten until the appearance of a 2004 article in the Western New England Law Review by Brown University Professor Jacob M. Appel.

Here is what the original article in The New York Times on February 24th, 1096 reported right after the crime took place:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lizzie Borden (1860 - 1927)

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
And when she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one

To this very day, the horrific tale of Lizzie Borden is still talked about.

Lizzie Borden was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on July 19, 1860. When she was three years old, her mother Sarah Borden died, leaving both Lizzie and her elder sister, Emma motherless. Their father, Andrew Borden, soon remarried a woman named Abby Durfree Gray in 1865 and the newly formed family lived a relatively quiet life in their home on 92nd Street.

Lizzie and Emma grew to womanhood. Lizzie was a strong churgoer and taught Sunday School, belonged to Church organizations, and even travelled a little. Lizzie Borden's father was a hard working man and had acquired a significant amount of wealth, but he was stingy with his money, spending little, even refusing to add modern plumbing to their relatively nice home of decent size.

In 1884, Andrew bought his wife's half-sister a home. This incensed the two sisters who objected vehemently. Conflict within the home escalated. The siblings fought with their stepmother and referred to her as "Mrs. Borden" instead of "mother".

In an effort to eliminate the growing hostility between his daughters and his wife, Andrew gave Lizzie and Emma some money of their own and permitted them to rent out his old family home. But tension between the three women continued to grow. When some thefts were discovered from Andrew and Sarah's bedrooms, each member of the family bought and installed locks for all their bedroom doors.

In July of 1892, Lizzie and Emma went to visit some friends. Lizzie returned soon thereafter, but Emma remained. During the same time, Lizzie's uncle, the brother of her deceased mother, came to stay at the house for a visit. In early August, Andrew and Abby fell ill with an attack of vomiting. Abby confided to a friend that she suspected someone had poisoned her. On August 4, Lizzie's uncle and father went into town together. Andrew returned home without his brother-in-law and and lay down for a nap in the sitting room.

The family's maid was also taking a nap at this time and was awoken by Lizzie who urged her to come downstairs. Lizzie's father had been murdered, hacked in the face and head with an axe or hatchet. Lizzie said it happened while she was in the barn. The doctor was sent for. Upon his arrival, they discovered Abby dead in a bedroom, also hacked numerous times.

Andrew died without a will, therefore the entire estate, worth between $300,000 to $500,000, would go to Lizzie and Emma and not to Abby's heirs.

When evidence revealed that Lizzie had tried to burn a dress several days after the murder and that she'd tried to purchase poison, Lizzie Borden was arrested even though there was no bloodstained clothing found and only a washed, very clean hatchet made to look dirty was discovered in the cellar.

The widely publicized trial of Lizzie Borden commenced June 3, 1893 and popular opinion as to her innocence or guilt was split. Some Massachusetts feminists wrote in Lizzie Borden's favor and other townsfolk vehemently voiced their anger at her guilt.

Lizzie Borden never testified because she was adamant she had been in the barn searching for fishing equipment and eating pears outside while the murders were occuring. She insisted that she was innocent and kept her silence and allowed her lawyer to speak on her behalf.

Lack of direct evidence failed to convince the jury of her guilt and she was acquitted on June 20, 1893.

Afterwards, Lizzie continued to live in Fall River, but bought and lived in a new, much bigger home called "Maplecroft". She called herself Lizbeth instead of Lizzie. She and Emma lived in their new home together until they argued sometime in 1904 or 1905. Lizzie and Emma owned many pets, and left their estates to the Animal Rescue Leauge.

Lizzie Borden died at Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1927. She never outlived her notorious reputation as a murderess. She was buried next to her father and stepmother. The home in which the murders took place was turned into a bed-and-breakfast in 1992 and is now a popular tourist spot.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Giveaway Scout

Recently, I learned about Giveaway Scout - a free service that helps promote prize giveaways on various blogs.

What a wonderful way to publicize our giveaways on this blog.

There's a terrific widget which I've added to our sidebar, so if you're looking for a freebie, check the widget for the latest offerings.

May you all have good luck and win!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Author Interview - Lisa Yarde


Lisa Yarde is passionate about history and writing. Her love of the past inspires her to write historical fiction. Her favorite period is medieval, an interest which began in her childhood. Since she crafted her first stories about knights and castles in junior high school, she has not stopped writing. She loves to travel, and research on her books has taken her to England, Spain, and Barbados. She currently lives in New York. On Falcon’s Wings is her first published novel.

You can find more information about Lisa and her writing on the website or on her blog at:

An Interview with Lisa Yarde

A warm welcome to Lisa Yarde, author of On Falcon's Wings.  Lisa has a wonderful insight and talent for writing about strong medieval women, so I thought it would be interesting to learn more about Lisa and her writing and test her knowledge about medieval women. 

Welcome to History and Women, Lisa.  Can you tell us a little about your novel?

Thank you for hosting me. On Falcon’s Wings is a medieval story, the intertwining lives of two lovers, Avicia and Edric, and their struggles to preserve their love in the face of great obstacles. Through her ties to Matilda of Flanders, Avicia becomes part of the court of Matilda’s husband, Duke William of Normandy. Her lover Edric is a distant relative of Harold Godwinson, who would be the last Saxon King of England. When William and Harold vie for the English throne, their clash threatens to drive Avicia and Edric apart forever.

What inspired you to write a novel about a woman in this period of history?

I have always had a "thing" for strong but sympathetic heroines. When I was researching this story, I found many examples of that type of character. Strong women existed in my favorite historical romances, but one consistent idea about them always annoyed me. The medieval woman was portrayed too often as a damsel in distress, waiting on the knight in shining armor for her rescue, yet there are so many instances in history where real medieval women have proven just how resilient and capable they were. It was very important to me in my portrayal of Avicia, that she should be passionate and dedicated to her beliefs, and unwavering in her love for Edric, despite the pain it brought her at times. I also wanted her to be sympathetic; the kind of heroine I would care about. She also had to have her match in a hero who would always love her, despite the difficulties and distance between them, a man willing to prove himself worthy of her.

What hardships did women face in this particular century and what lessons can today's woman learn from it?

Medieval history has been a long-time favorite of mine. I’ve always been fascinated by the combination of social upheaval, religious fervor and brute violence in that time. The commonplace view seems to be that women had very few freedoms, but prior to the Conquest, Anglo-Saxon women enjoyed protection from forcible marriage under King Cnut and disposed of their property through wills. With the coming of the Normans and the imposition of feudalism on English society, women’s roles as daughters, wives, mothers or wards dominated their lives. In On Falcon’s Wings, Avicia endures such an existence but it doesn’t keep her from pursuing her love with Edric. Medieval women were not all wilting wallflowers, at the mercy of men. I hope modern women will look to their sisters of the past as inspiration as role models, and recognize the inherent strength of womanhood has long existed, even in a time that doesn’t often credit the fortitude of women.

Where do you get your inspirations for a novel?

Inspiration comes from my love of a particular period and fascination with its people; not just those who affect history, but the people who are altered by their actions. When I write, I like to immerse myself completely in a period: the societal customs, religious views and politics of the day. It’s the only way I know how to bring the past to life. I found an immense number of sources for the late Anglo-Saxon period. The rivalry between Edward the Confessor and the Godwinson family, the great battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings are the big events in that history, and well documented in the period chronicles. I’ve often wondered, how the Norman invasion changed the lives of people like Edric and Avicia, both swept up in the intrigues of their rulers. I wanted to write a story that showed how the consequences of the invasion extended beyond Harold and William and the destiny of a nation.

Can you describe a typical writing day?

My days are anything except typical! At times, the muse is right on my shoulder and others, I wonder where she has gone and more importantly, when she will come back.

Would you believe I used to wake up at 5am every morning to write a few paragraphs of On Falcon’s Wings? My writing is very important to me, but with a demanding, full-time job, it is not always easy to focus. Still, it’s what I love to do and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I do my best writing in the morning, after a good night’s sleep, when ideas are fresh. During the week, that may mean for an hour before I leave for work, or an hour during my daily commute. If the weekday proves too difficult, I reserve the weekend for my writing, typically on Sundays. The big challenge is incorporating my research in a way that’s not glaringly apparent. I constantly remind myself that while the history is important, I want readers to care as much about the characters.

Can you tell us about any other novels you are working on?

I'm writing The Rule of Love, the sensuous journey of the author of the Kama Sutra, told through his experiences of life in an ancient Indian brothel. When I’ve finished it, I’ll return to writing The Burning Candle, another medieval about Isabel de Vermandois, who was the wife and lover of two Anglo-Norman earls, and Renegade, in which a seventeenth century Dutch privateer turns to the life of a Barbary corsair, sacks an Irish village and sells four hundred of its inhabitants into slavery in North Africa. I’m also editing my first manuscript, Sultana, the story of the last Moorish dynasty to rule southern Spain in the thirteenth century. As you can probably tell, I have varied tastes and write about interesting characters.

Thanks very much for stopping by and visiting, Lisa.  It was great fun reading your novel and learning more about you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Falcon's Wings by Lisa Yarde

In 11th century England, Avicia is a daring young Flemish woman under the guardianship of her strict uncle. She is in love with Edric of Newington, the son of a minor Saxon thane, and to impress him, she shows him how well she can fly a falcon. Unfortunately, the falcon belongs to her mistress, the daughter of a Saxon count, and while in flight, the majestic bird tragically dies. Edric is forced to watch helplessly as Audra is brutally whipped for her indiscretion. Almost immediately, their families force Audra and Edric apart - Edric is made to return to England to marry Cynwise of Hastingleigh and Audra is married off to Philippe de Montfort, a Norman knight.

No romance is complete without a loathsome villain, and in this tale, Odo, Bishop de Bayeux is cast in this most dastardly role. Odo, the brother of a Norman duke, is strongly attracted to Avicia, but Avicia, repulsed by his sinister abhorrent nature, spurns him. Her rejection embitters him and unleashes a powerful urge for vengeance against her. He lurks in the background, waiting for any excuse to discredit her.

Audra focuses on making a life with her new husband, while Edric makes the most of his marriage to Cynwise. Yet, destiny conspires to intervene and throughout the story, their paths cross – a constant reminder of their great love for each other.

Rich with realistic characters, this well-researched medieval romance abounds with emotion. A multi-faceted story, it swept me into the unrest that led to the Norman Conquest between England and France, and into the lives of an unforgettable heroine and honorable, compelling hero.

Lisa Yarde has a gracious, lyrical style of writing that makes reading this novel a pleasurable, carefree experience. Her comprehensive research into medieval falcony enriched the story, bringing good understanding to this ancient sport. I found the tale engrossing and full of emotion. The turbulence and historical details of the era were accurately depicted, clear evidence that the author has a strong understanding of the period. Who doesn't love a story about love, betrayal, and deceit set against the backdrop of impending war? Lisa Yarde is a new upcoming author who has made her grand entrance with this passionate tale of honor, duty, and the reward of true love.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Giveaway - On Falcon's Wings by Lisa Yarde

I love to share the news when I discover an exciting new author. So this week, I'd like to introduce everyone to Lisa Yarde. All this week, I'm very excited to be hosting her here on History and Women and talking about her debut novel, On Falcon's Wings. As an author myself, I'm hooked on Lisa's lovely prose and romantic storytelling.

Here's a sneak peak at the back cover of the book!

Love united them. Destiny drove them apart.  When Avicia, a Norman noblewoman, makes a careless but costly mistake with a prized falcon, the brutal punishment nearly claims her life.  Her Saxon lover, Edric of Newington, witnesses her ordeal but cannot share her fate. Another destiny awaits him in England, and the prospect of a loveless marriage.  Swept away in the arms of another, Avicia enters the treacherous court of Duke William of Normandy. Through the years, Edric and Avicia reunite in a timeless, forbidden love, but a bitter rivalry for the English throne divides them. In a world forever altered in the aftermath of Hastings, hope rises and the chance to love again.

Lisa will graciously be awarding an autographed copy of her book to one lucky reader.

Here are the contest details:

1. Entrants must be from U.S. and Canada

2. Must be a follower of:

3. Tell Lisa why you are fascinated with medieval women and why you want to read this book.

Good luck everyone!  This book is worth reading.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Curtsey of Thanks - Tracy Falbe

I am always ecstatic whenever a reader of my blog makes contact with me.  It always leads me to wonderful new cyber friends and fascinating new books and blogs.  

Fantasy fiction author and publisher, Tracy Falbe, kindly reached out to me with a wonderful email, which resulted in a lovely post on her own blog, Her Ladyship's Quest about History and Women.  You can find the entire post here.  I'm honored that she discovered the blog and is enjoying it so much.

As a result, I spent considerable time on her blog and was excited to see that she is an e-book afficionado like me.  Not only that, she is giving away a free copy of her book:  Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I.  Or if you prefer a paper copy of the book, she offers it for only $1 plus shipping.  You can't beat that these days.  Tracy understands readers.

I've always wanted to sink my teeth into a good medieval Fantasy series and I think this is one.  I've downloaded her ebook and will give it a review here sometime in the near future.  I currently have 11 novels to review.

In the meantime, I encourage you to visit Her Ladyship's Quest and her other sites Brave Luck Books  and Falbe Publishing

So a curtsey of thanks to you, Tracy Falbe! 


Friday, July 16, 2010

The Loney Hearts Killers

Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez

Raymond Fernandez was born on December 17, 1914 in Hawaii to Spanish parents. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Connecticut. As an adult, he moved to Spain, married, and had four children, all of whom he abandoned later on in life.

After serving in British Intelligence during World War II, Fernandez decided to seek work.  Shortly after boarding a ship bound for America, a steel hatch fell on top of him, fracturing his skull, and injuring his frontal lobe.  The damage left by this injury may well have affected his social and sexual behavior.

Upon his release from a hospital, Fernandez stole some clothing, and was imprisoned for a year, during which time his cellmate taught him voodoo and black magic. He later claimed black magic gave him irresistible power and charm over women.

After having served his sentence, Fernandez moved to New York City and began answering personal ads by lonely women. He would wine and dine them, then steal their money and possessions. Most were too embarrassed to report the crimes. In one case, he traveled with a woman to Spain, where he visited his wife and introduced the two women. His female traveling companion then died under suspicious circumstances. He then took possession of her property with a forged will.

In 1947, he answered a personal ad placed by Martha Beck.

Martha Beck was born Martha Jule Seabrook on May 6, 1920 in Milton, Florida.  Due to a glandular problem, she was overweight and went through puberty prematurely. At her trial, she claimed to have been sexually assaulted by her brother. When she told her mother about what happened, her mother beat her saying she was responsible.
After she finished school, she studied nursing, but had trouble finding a job due to her weight.  She initially became an undertaker's assistant and prepared female bodies for burial. She quit her job and moved to California where she worked in an Army hospital as a nurse.  She engaged in sexually promiscuous behaviour, and eventually became pregnant. She tried to convince the father to marry her but he refused. Single and pregnant, she returned to Florida.

She carried out an elaborate charade in which she claimed that the father was a serviceman she married, later claiming that he had been killed in the Pacific Campaign.  The town mourned her loss and the story was published in the local newspaper.  Shortly after her daughter was born, she became pregnant again by a Pensacola bus driver named Alfred Beck. They married quickly and divorced six months thereafter, and she gave birth to a son.

Unemployed and the single mother of two young children, Beck escaped into a fantasy world, buying romance magazines and novels, and seeing romantic movies.  In 1946, she found employment at the Pensacola Hospital for Children. She placed a Lonely Hearts ad in 1947, which Raymond Fernandez then answered.

Fernandez visited Beck and stayed for a short time, and she told everyone that they were to be married.  He returned to New York while she made preparations in Milton, Florida, where she lived. Abruptly, she was fired from her job, likely because of rumors about her and Fernandez.  She then packed up and arrived on his doorstep in New York.  Fernandez enjoyed the way she catered to his every whim, and he confessed his criminal enterprises.  Beck quickly became a willing participant, and sent her children to the Salvation Army. She posed as Fernandez' sister, giving him an air of respectability.  Their victims often stayed with them, or with her. She was extremely jealous and would go to great lengths to make sure he and his "intended" never consummated their relationship. When he did have sex with a woman, both were subjected to Beck's violent temper.

In 1949, the pair committed the three murders of which they would later be convicted. Janet Fay, 66, became engaged to Fernandez and went to stay at his Long Island apartment. When Beck saw her and Fernandez in bed together, she smashed Fay's head in with a hammer in a murderous rage, and then Fernandez strangled her. Fay's family became suspicious, and the couple moved on to a new victim.

They traveled to Byron Center Road in Wyoming Township, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids, to meet Delphine Downing, a young widow with a two-year-old daughter. While they stayed with Downing, she became agitated, and Fernandez gave her sleeping pills. Enraged by Downing's crying daughter, Beck strangled her, though not killing her. Fernandez thought Downing would become suspicious if she saw her bruised daughter, so he shot the unconscious woman. The couple then stayed for several days in Downing's house. Again enraged by the daughter's crying, Beck drowned her in a basin of water. They buried the bodies in the basement, but suspicious neighbors reported their disappearance, and police arrived at their door on February 28, 1949.

Fernandez quickly confessed, with the understanding that they would not be extradited to New York; Michigan had no death penalty, but New York did. They were extradited, however. They vehemently denied 17 murders that were attributed to them, and Fernandez tried to retract his confession, saying he only did it to protect Beck.

Their trial was sensationalized, with lurid tales of sexual perversity. Beck was so upset about the media's comments about her appearance that she wrote letters to the editor protesting.

Fernandez and Beck were convicted of the three murders and sentenced to death. On March 8, 1951, both were executed by electric chair.

Despite their tumultuous arguments and relationship problems, they often professed their love to each other, as demonstrated by their official last words:

"I wanna shout it out; I love Martha! What do the public know about love?"Raymond Fernandez

"My story is a love story. But only those tortured by love can know what I mean [...] Imprisonment in the Death House has only strengthened my feeling for Raymond...."
Martha Beck

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Casa Braccio by F. Marion Crawford - A Scandalous Book

One of my all time favourite classic novels is Casa Braccio by F. Marion Crawford.  This book has everything to make it an ultimate read and a very, very scandalous book.  Forbidden love, unrequited love, passion, murder, vengeance, dark secrets, and plenty of emotion.  The setting takes place in Rome and a nearby village and the characters are one you will never forget.

I've lovingly recreated this classic novel and have included plenty of beautiful art and graphics to keep you interested and enjoying the book from start to finish.

This rendition includes the complete story - both Volume 1 and Volume 2!

Click Casa Braccio to download a free copy of this sinfully good Scandalous Book!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Murder of Helen Jewett

Helen Jewett
(October 18, 1813 – April 10, 1836)
Murder Victim

Helen Jewett's real name was Dorcas Doyen and she was born in Temple, Maine to a working class family.  Her father was an alcoholic and her mother died when Jewett was young.

When she was 12 years old, Helen found work as a maidservant in the home of Chief Justice Nathan Weston of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

As the years passed, Helen grew into a true beauty.  AT 17, she was ruthlessly seduced by an unscrupulous bank cashier.  

At 18, she changed her name to Helen Jewett and moved to New York City.  It was not long before her great beauty attracted notice.  She found work in a bordello and earned a very comfortable living as high class courtesan .  One day, while she was accosted by a ruffian outside a theatre, a man by the name of Richard Robinson, also known as Frank Rivers, came to her rescue.  A bond developed and Robinson soon became a regular patron.


Richard P. Robinson
A profile made in 1848 by the National Police Gazette.
Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.

But it was a rocky relationship and the couple broke up.  Some said that it was because Helen learned that Robinson was planning to marry another woman, and she threatened him.  Others said it was caused by the fact that Robinson had been embezzling money to lavish on Jewett, and he became worried that Jewett would expose him. 

On an April night in 1836, another woman in the brothel heard a loud noise followed by a moan.  She peered out into the hallway and saw a tall man hurrying away.  When the Madame of the brothel looked into Helen Jewett's room, she discovered a small fire and Helen who lay dead in a pool of blood from a arge wound in her head.  She was struck three times in the head.

Her killer fled from the house by a back door and climbed over a whitewashed fence to escape.  The women of the brothel named Robinson as their primary suspect. 

Police found him in his rented room, in bed with whitewash stains on his pants and they charged him with Helen's murder. 

Robinson was charged with the murder of Helen Jewett.  

The Coroner's Report revealed the murder happened sometime after midnight.  Helen was struck on the head three times with a hatchet.  Because there were no signs of struggle, the blows were unexected.  After killing her, the murderer hen set fire to Jewett's bed.  When her body was discovered, the room was full of smoke and Helen's body was charred on one side.  

Robinson denied killing Jewett and didn't display any emotion.  Based on witness testimony and the recovery of a cloak that resembled Robinson's, Robinson was indicted. 

On June 2, 1836, Robinson's trial for murder began. The media sensationalized it.  Because most of the witnesses were prostitutes, the judge ordered the jury to disregard their testimony.  The rest of the evidence was all circumstantial.  As a result, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. 

Jewett's murder excited the press and the public, with strong supporters for Jewett as well as Robinson. 

Long after the trial, some of Robinson's personal letters surface.  They disputed some of the claims he made in court and showed that he was more than capable of sexual, deviant behavior.  

Public opinion turned on him as his guilt became clear.  To escape the notariety, he fled to Texas where lived quietly until he died of a fever, murmurring Helen's name.   


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Giveaway - Win a copy of The Pendant

You can win a copy of my latest novel!

What they're saying about The Pendant!

Mirella spins a well-woven tale; there is enough action and conflict to keep this reader on her toes without sacrificing any of the tender courtship..."  Night Owl Romance 

...full of daring deeds, dastardly behavior and drugging kisses. Patzer gives us brilliant descriptions of jewelry, clothing and feasts that will have your senses swimming. All her characters are bigger than life... Romance Reader at Heart

Mirella Patzer’s writing is fast passed...  The myth of the bloodstone is exciting to read about as well. But what pushes this book into the rarified realm of a great story is its characters. Morena’s fiery strength, Amoro’s steadfast faithfulness, and the twists in the plot that highlight these aspects of their characters... The Road to Romance

Ms. Patzer has written a fast paced historical intrigue about matters of the heart and overcoming the outside forces to prove once and for all that love truly does conquer all...a good read for lovers of both historical romance and romantic suspense novels.  A Romance Review adrenaline pumping, often dark, gritty, skin-scraping story. Mirella Patzer takes a time in history and brings it alive with descriptions of pain, grief, and bleak hope...  Romance Reviews Today

While the love story between Amore and Morena is chaste it is told with tenderness and love. The historical elements that are brought out make the reader feel as if they are standing next to this couple and absorbing the pieces of their lives.  Historical Romance Club

And now...Here's a GIVEAWAY!!!  One lucky winner will win a PDF copy of my book!! 

To Enter:

Open to everyone Internationally!

You MUST BE A FOLLOWER of this blog.

Tweet or Facebook the about History and Women with link!

Add a link to History and Women to your sidebar.

Winners Announced August 1st!

Naples Castel Dell’ovo and The Legend of Egg

Castel dell'Ovo (in Italian, "Egg Castle") is perched on an island on the Gulf of Naples, Southern Italy.  According to legend, the castle's name comes from medieval times.  Virgil, a great sorcerer and poet took the first egg laid by a particular chicken.  He placed the egg inside a carafe through the very tight aperture of that vessel.  Then he had the entire carafe, egg inside, put inside a cage of the finest wrought iron. 
He had the cage fastened with sheets of iron under a beam of oak that was placed leaning against the walls of a little room, made particularly for this occasion, with two grooves through which the light could enter.  He had it kept with great diligence and solemnity in that little room in a secret place and had it secured by doors and locks of iron, since the entire fate of the castle depended on that egg. 


Friday, July 2, 2010

The Love Story of Antony and Cleopatra

The Legend of the love story between Marc Antony and Cleopatra was immortalized by William Shakespeare.  It has endured and fascinates to this day. 

When Marc Antony's duties took him to Egypt, me met Queen Cleopatra and was immediately beguiled.  The spell she weaved over him was intense, and Marc Antony soon began to neglect his duties in order to be with her.  While he dallied with the Egyptian queen, Rome was in turmoil and his wife in Rome died.
He is called back to rome from Alexandria to battle Sextus Pompey, Menecrates, and Menas, three notorious pirates of the Mediterranean.  But Cleopatra is heartbroken and she repeatedly begs him not to go.  All Marc Antony can do is reaffirm his love for her, but he is firm - he must go.

In Rome, Agrippa pushes for Antony to marry Octavius Caesar's sister, Octavia, in order to cement the bond between the two men.  Reluctantly Atony weds Octavia but Antony's lieutenant knows that Octavia can never satisfy him after Cleopatra.  
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies.

A soothsayer warns Antony that he is sure to lose if he fights Octavius.

In Egypt, when Cleopatra learns of Antony's marriage to Octavia, she takes furious revenge upon the messenger that brings her the news.  But her courtiers assure her that Octavia us ugly, short, low-browed, round-faced and has bad hair.  This soothes Cleopatra's temper.  

Antony clashes with Octavius and Antony returns to Alexandria, he crowns Cleopatra and himself as rulers of Egypt and the eastern third of the Roman Empire.  He accuses Octavius of not giving him his fair share of Pompeii's lands.  
Antony prepares to battle Octavius, and although warned not to battle at sea, Antony refuses.  Cleopatra pledges her fleet to aid Antony, however, during the battle, Cleopatra flees with her sixty ships, and Antony follows her, leaving his army to ruin.  Ashamed of what he has done for the love of Cleopatra, Antony reproaches her for making him a coward, but also sets this love above all else, saying "Give me a kiss; even this repays me."
Octavius sends a messenger to ask Cleopatra asking her to give up Antony and come over to his side.  While Cleopatra flirts with the messenger, Antony discovers them.  He orders the messenger to be seized and whippped.  The lover's spat cools and later, he forgives Cleopatra and pledges to fight another battle for her, this time on land.
Antony is winning the battle until Octavius shifts it to a sea-fight.  Once again, Cleopatra's ships desert him.  He is forced to surrender and publically denounces Cleopatra who has betrayed him once again.  He is determined to kill her.  
But Cleopatra wants to win back Antony's love, so she sends him word that she has killed herself, dying with his name on her lips. She locks herself in her monument, and waits for Antony to come to her.  
Unfortunately for Cleopatra, her plan backfires.  Saddened by the news of her death, Antony decides that his own life is no longer worth living.  He succeeds only in seriously wounding himself, prolonging his death.  When he learns that Cleopatra is alive, he goes to her monument, but dies in her arms.
Octavius attempts to convince Cleopatra to surrender.  She refuses.  But Cleopatra is betrayed and the Romans seize her.  Cleopatra resolves to kill herself, using the poison of an asp.
She dies thinking of Antony who she hopes to meet in the afterlife.  Her serving maids also kill themselves. When Octavius discovers the dead women, he experiences great emotion.  Antony's and Cleopatra's deaths cleared the path for him to become the first Roman Emperor.  He ordered a public military funeral for them both and buried them together.   

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day

Earlier this week, I travelled down to Great Falls, Montana to enjoy the summer and finish work on my novel, The Blighted Troth.  Sadly, I missed all the Canada Day celebrations in Canada on July 1st.  Instead, I'll be watching and enjoying the patriotic American 4th of July celebrations.

So to honor my country and in the spirit of being a proud Canadian, I'd like to share a cute Canada video with you.

Happy Canada Day everyone!
Don't you wish you were Canadian too, eh?

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