venerdì 6 ottobre 2017

The blog name: Arsenale del Nano

What's in a name? 
(Romeo and Juliet, act II, scene II)

As some of you may have noticed, I recently changed the header of my blog, and I feel that's a good excuse to give to the (few) curious a short explanation about my blog's name, expecially for not-Italian speakers.
View of the Entrance to the Arsenal by Canaletto, 1732.



What's an Arsenale? "arsenal, armoury, dockyard", where weapons are stored and (sometimes) forged. Obviously my weapons are lead and plastic (and resin perhaps) soldiers and scenics, but also rulesets, scenics and terrain, painting and brushes, all that sort of stuff which keeps the bellic effort going. 

But Arsenale  was chosen also with a precise geographical reference in mind: Venice. The name Arsenale itself derives from this city, it's Dante Alighieri, the most famous Italian poet in his Divine Comedy to first use this term to describe Venice dockyard, comparing the boiling pitch used to mend the vessels during winter (a period in which navigation was suspended during middle ages) to the hell environment. For those interested in literature here's the full text, both in Italian and English.

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels over again
For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made
One hammers at the prow, one at the stern
This one makes oars and that one cordage twists
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen

Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,

Was boiling down below there a dense pitch

Which upon every side the bank belimed.
Quale nell'arzanà de' Viniziani
bolle l'inverno la tenace pece
a rimpalmare i legni lor non sani,
ché navicar non ponno - in quella vece
chi fa suo legno nuovo e chi ristoppa
le coste a quel che più vïaggi fece;
chi ribatte da proda e chi da poppa;
altri fa remi e altri volge sarte;
chi terzeruolo e artimon rintoppa -;
tal, non per foco ma per divin' arte,
bollia là giuso una pegola spessa,
che 'nviscava la ripa d'ogne parte.

(Dante, Inferno, XXI, 7-18)


The Lion

The symbol of the blog is going to be the Pireaues Lion, a statue located at the entrance of  Venice Arsenale, originally located in Athenes (Piraeus port), was taken in 1687 as plunder by Morosini during one of the various Turkish-Venetian wars. Probably it seemed pretty appropriate, since Venice symbol is a (winged) lion. The lion hides an additional history: at the end of 18th century a Swedish diplomat recognised a lindworm carved on the lion, probably by Varangian merceanaries sent by Costantinople to sedate a riot in Athenes during X-XI century. Nowadays the carvings are seriously deteriorated by pollution and time, but it's still intuible.

In conclusion, I felt that Arsenale and its Piraeus Lion are the perfect sintesis of the many instersections of histories represented by wargaming, the site where armies and weapons were assembled and where many glorious (and bloody) deeds had their beginning.

...and Nano?

Oh, that's just a nickname my girlfriend gave me at the beginning of our relationtship. It means dwarf in Italian, since I'm only 1.65 metres tall ...and she's 1.76! (Incidentally it's also my grandfather nickname, but as a shortening of Giordano).

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