Mohammad Al-Ubaydli’s blog

The geek shall inherit the earth

Posted in Books, History, People / organisations by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on January 28, 2008

Another character from “Justinian’s Flea” is Anthemius, one of the two architects who built the extraordinary Hagia Sophia. The building was one of the reasons for his wealth and thus in Constantinople he lived amongst notable neigbours like Zeno, a famous orator. Apparently the two quarreled over something, Zeno sued and won. Anthemius was a geek, however, and so “he took his revenge like a proper engineer, first simulating an earthquake with a steam line that he surreptitiously ran into Zeno’s apartment, then exploding noisemakers to mimic the sound of a thunderstorm”. What really made me laugh was his next trick:

[E]mploying a pivoting parabolic reflector to shine light at all hours into Zeno’s sleeping chamber. When Zeno asked Justinian to intervene, the emperor decline to punish his architect, writing that even he “cannot intervene against Zeus the Thunderer and Poseidon the Earth-Shaker”.


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