adstoma.com

'What is unknown lies hidden; there is no desire of the unknown' Ovid Ars Amatoria 3.397

'Tisiphone's Times' Ovid Tristia 4.9.6

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The title of this website derives from the words Ad Stoma ('At the Mouth'), which was name given to the last Roman fort on the Danube before the river debouched into the Black Sea. The mixture of the Latin 'ad' with the Greek 'stoma' conjures up an atmosphere of bilingualism with which we will be much concerned in these pages. The fort's whereabouts however have remained a mystery to this day. We think it lay opposite the now lost Lipovan settlement of Galinova on the Sfantu Gheorghe branch of the River Danube. Ad Stoma was certainly swallowed up by its surrounding waters many centuries ago.
Galinova is a fascinating name. It seems to derive ultimately from the Greek 'galena' meaning 'peacefulness', 'calmness'. This leads us to believe that the name was apotropaic, just as the ancient name of the Black Sea, the 'Euxine' ('Friendly to Strangers') was itself apotropaic. Effectively apotropaic means 'wishful thinking'. That is, the Euxine was in reality 'hostile to strangers' just as we think Galinova was the heir to a settlement that, in ancient times, was 'agitated' and 'restless'. Apotropaic names are intended to deflect away the negative aspects of a place by assigning a name that means the polarised opposite of the conditions obtaining at the site itself. The ancient Galinova was never at peace, for it lay on the site of the ancient city of the Cimmmerians, where, famously, according to Homer, the Sun never shone from its rising to its setting (Odyssey 11.13-19).
Homer's uncompromising picture can be reconciled with the agitation ironically conveyed by the name Galinova. If the Danube ended here at Sfantu Gheorghe kilometre 38, then it ended in a convulsion of spray and waves. We know the branch was narrow and very fast-flowing (Arrian). If the final meander brought a head of water swirling round southwards at breakneck sppeed, this body of water will have collided violently with the cliffs to the south upon which stood the city of the Cimmerians. The Sun never shone here because the spray that hurtled upwards through the air cast a continuous pall of vapour over the entire city.

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Articles


Ovid Tristia 3.9.10 'dicitur his remos applicuisse vadis'

How Medea came of Age as a Helmsman

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The Candidus Lector

The Shining Selector, the Radiant Reader, the Green Gatherer, the Candid Construer

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Coffering and the Ancient Text

In what sense do the recessed panels of a Roman ceiling constitute an aspect of the poetics of textual change

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The Return of Persephone by A.D. Hope

A literary Perambulation

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Catullus 76

Difficile est longum subito deponere amorem

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You

A poem 'in memoriam' The Vision stilled / the Fear, it was now, come true / in those days th'all-redefiningly Whisper'd / cried 'You" the Swallow'd Breath / caught whole atmospheres stone wak'd / awoke though now forthspillingly all muted / still spoke: 'Near Red Adm'rals / singly flown as battalion spies / their page all-descendingly prostrated wide / in Dis there asphodel kiss / through viola'd fields that sigh / to the now-encompassingly murmur'd 'You"/ 'Pass by'