User:E. Underwood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Hi. I'm a undergraduate student from Connecticut living in Montreal. I'm interested in classical history, literature, and mythology.

Wikipedia's coverage of the last seems to me to be uneven: some of the entries (especially on ancient myths) are very good; others, especially those relevant to present-day religions, seem to have been infected by the touch of those who don't understand that myth isn't a negative term. The entries on the genealogies of Genesis and Jewish mythology (User:RK has revised the latter article nicely since I first wrote this) illuminate the problem nicely, and the reader is apparently supposed to think of Cain as a "Torah person" and the near sacrifice of Isaac as a "Torah event". Ah well. Herodotus's anecdote about Hecataeus may be enlightening.

The coverage of the first two is better. The history articles contain perhaps too many unattributed "legends", while schoolboy mistakes and confusion of historical accounts with later fictions exist, but the entries are in the main quite good. The article on Attalus I sets an excellent example.

Coverage of classical literature seems spotty; the highlights (the Trojan War cycle, the Theogony, The Golden Ass) are decent, but lesser-known pieces (for example the Tristia) all too often lack a proper entry.

Other areas are mixed. Many entries seem disjunct—which I suppose is a consequence of many authors working on the text without paying enough attention to the rest of it—and the prose is variable. Substantive editing of poor writing seems to be rare; fighting over trivial matters like quoting style and regional spelling variations seems to be common. One might think all these obsessive copyeditors could apply their talents to serious matters like sentence and paragraph structure, coherence, consistency, etc.

(By the way, I solemnly vow that I will ignore all copyediting tweaks of what I write, except for my em dashes. The HTML entity dash (—) is simply the correct character for sentence breaks and parentheticals in English typography. En dashes, double hyphens, and single hyphens are simply not proper substitutes. I won't go around changing them just for the sake of changing them, though; I'll only change them if I'm also making substantial edits to the article, and I hope that other editors will extend the same courtesy.)

I get a guilty thrill out of writing about crackpot history: ancient astronaut theories, modern catastrophism, etc. I like the way Wikipedia can discuss these in a reasonably neutral and informative manner (you'll never find Velikovsky or Sitchin's ideas covered in Britannica), but sometimes they get mixed in with the serious scholarship on a subject, e.g. in Anunnaki before my revisions, or dominate an entry entirely—you wouldn't have learned that Nibiru was just the Babylonian name for Jupiter before I edited the article. Fixing these problems often teaches me stuff I didn't know before, though, so I won't complain.

I previously used the IP address

Pages in which I've done significant work[edit]

(not counting minor tweaks, links, corrections, and such):

Woodrow Wilson (fixed horrible lengthy trivia section); Palio di Siena (a lot on the history, some on the modern race); Plutarch (stuff on pseudo-Plutarchian works); Logographer (disambiguation page), Logographer (legal), and Logographer (history) (all new, and owing much to the French Wikipedia articles; I saw a bad link on Attic orators and just had to fill the gaps); Hecataeus (on his sceptical attitudes, including the anecdote from Herodotus); Mead (on some mythological meads); Nimrod (king) (mostly just tidying, contextualizing, and referencing); Bull (mythology) (Hittite, Hattian, and Hurrian bull cults); Deer (mythology) (miscellanities that I remembered and could confirm through Wikipedia articles); Horned God (gave the neo-pagan ideas historical context); Hurrians and Greek mythology (explained and clarified a connection between the two); Tristia (basic background and summary); Lament for Ur (new article, an ancient Sumerian city lament); Teshub (new article, an Anatolian storm god); Ten plagues (on historicity, or lack thereof, and Velikovskian theories); Solomon's Temple (made into something a bit more than a 19th-century Bible study with a modern news report tacked on); Moses (some work on the mistranslation that gave Moses horns); interpretatio graeca (here I wrote basically a complete article on interpretatio Romana, but I didn't see any point in separating the two); WASP (total rewrite; previous version was a hopeless muddle); Anunnaki (a real scholar's reading and translation of the word) and Nibiru (actual Babylonian astronomy before crackpot theories); Barber (on classical barbers) Strix (mythology) (new article, a Roman vampiric bird).