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October 5, 2012     Post-Gazette
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October 5, 2012

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Page 2 POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 5, 2012 .p.. :\ by Prof. Edmund Turiello A weekly column highlighting some of the more interesting aspects of our ancestry.., our lineage.., our roots. Most of our concerns today seem to be centered around "faenus," which is the Latin term for interest, debt, profit, gain or financial advantage. In early Greece, the rate of interest on invested capital was not restricted by law, but was left entirely to arrangements between the parties concerned. The aver- age rate was considered to be quite high, far higher than the rental fee for houses or for land. This was due to the scarcity of ready cash and the difficulty in accumulating any large amount of capital. During the time of Demos- thenes (about 300 B.C.) twelve percent was regarded FAENUS as a rather low rate of inter- est and higher rates, up to eighteen percent were quite common. In bottomry (insur- ance on shipping cargo), the ordinary rate of interest at Athens was twenty percent. In the event of failure in the payment of interest due, it was permissible to charge compound interest. Interest was computed and charged by one of two different meth- ods. It was quite usual to agree on the amount of a monthly payment, or by an annual payment based upon a fraction of the principal. Interest was usually paid on the 1st day of each month but yearly payments were also possible. In early Rome, as at Ath- ens, the rate of interest was originally unrestricted, and it was not until after much work was done that a stan- dard rate of eight and one third percent was estab- lished. The law limited the interest rate for Roman citi- zens, but usury (gouging) was quite the common prac- tice where foreigners were concerned. The exchange of commerce between foreign countries prompted changes in inter- est payments. Money was no longer lent by the year but (Continued on Page 14) Time for Ruth by Bennett Molinari and Richard Molinari Many years ago, we had a close friend who taught us a lesson that has often served us well in life. Ruth was a very wise woman who, whenever the pressures at work would begin to get out of hand, Ruth would simply announce, "It's time for Ruth," and with that she would place a wide brimmed straw hat, that she always wore, on her head, fasten it with a huge hat pin and leave the situation. Ruth would take a walk and return in an hour or so, relaxed and able to deal with the problems that so vexed her just an hour before by seeing it calmly and from a different perspective. About a week ago we had reached a "Time for Ruth" iii!ii~iiii!!iiiiii!iiiili!ili!iliiiii!~i!!~i.~i~::i~ii~i~ ~i~i!ii~:!iiiii!ii~i~ili~i~ ..... ~ililiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!ii!~i Seven ober 15 - November 30 ON YOURR ING DAY. Place paper barrel yardwaste. : :::' i'! Waste stickers, (UPtO sti kers available petlh NO PLASTIC BAGS moment. Phones kept ring- ing, problems were mount- ing and nothing seemed to be working out. After three hours of this, we announced to each other, "It's time for RuthI" It was then that we put everything aside, jumped into the car and, literally, "Headed for the Hills". The hills of central Massachu- setts and the town of Spen- cer to be exact. We planned to spend the rest of the day admiring the early fall foli- age and doing the simple things that so often bring us to this place that is quite special in our lives. Halfway out to Spencer, we telephoned our friends Anna and Jim and asked'if they would like to have lunch together at a little inn we are very fond of. They agreed and within an hour we were pulling into their driveway. Jim was splitting wood for the winter while Anna was placing it in a pile by their garage. We went through the usual pleasantries and minutes later, after having changed from their work clothes, we were-on our way to lunch. The inn we ate at contains one of our favor- ite restaurants in western Massachusetts and provided a delightful place to spend time with each other. After lunch, we dropped Anna and Jim off at their home and continued on to an apple orchard that we hadn't visited for many years. We were delighted to see that it had not changed a bit since last we (Continued on Page 12) Publica David Trumbull by .... Standing Up for the Real Christopher Columbus Today, everyone knows that Christopher Columbus did not have to persuade doubting backers that the world was round. Everyone in Europe knew the Earth was a sphere; it had been known for nearly two thousand years. Yet generations of America children, from the second quarter of the 19th century, through the middle of the 20th century, were taught that people in Columbus' day believed the Earth to be fiat! How did this story start? And why should we care? We care because on Mon- day we celebrate Columbus Day in honor of his historic voyages that opened com- munication, commerce and migration between the Old World of Europe and the New WOrld of the Americas. Columbus' voyages of discov- ery led directly to Spanish settlements and the New World that became, with time, the many Spanish- speaking nations of South, Central and North America and the islands of the Car- ibbean. The United States, today a sea-to-sea continen- tal nation with citizens and residents whose ancestors lived in every corner of the globe, likewise traces her beginnings to Columbus. As early as 1738 "Columbia" had entered the English tongue as a name for the 13 British colonies in North America that became our original 13 States. Yes, from the birth of our nation it was understood that it all started with Colum- bus. That's why Columbus matters. So how did the fiat Earth myth get mixed up with the story of Columbus? To under- stand, one must look, not to the history of Columbus, but to the social history of the United States. It is true that in early America Columbus was revered, however, by the 1820s, with the rise of immi- gration, especially German and Irish Catholics, native- born Americans, Protestant English, Scots and Ulster- men, found Columbus an increasingly embarrassing hero. He was an Italian employed by the Spanish. Southern Europeans were considered "dirty" and stupid races in the thrall of a superstitious church. By casting Columbus as a beacon of scientific enlight- enment, practically a fore- runner of Martin Luther, rebelling against a church "stuck in the Dark Ages", he became an icon of a modern New World. In 1928, author Washing- ton Irving obliged by publish- ing A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. The book became the most popular work on the subject. It held that place until Boston's Samuel Eliot Morison published his Admi- ral of the Ocean Sea in 1942. Irving catered (whether in- tentionally, I do not know) to nativist American anti- Catholic bigotry by inserting in his work (Volume I. Book II. Chapter IV.) a lengthy, and largely fabricated, inter- view of "Columbus before the Council at Salamanca" where the navigator is forced to answer charges of error and possible heresy for denying the "Catholic teach- ing" of a fiat Earth. Irving even throws in a threat of that favorite bugaboo of anti- Catholic bigots, the Spanish Inquisition. Today we are beyond that sort of blatant prejudice, how- ever, lies about Columbus continue. Last year a public school principal in Somer- ville wrote of, "atrocities that Christopher Columbus com- mitted against the indig- enous peoples." Some repu- table historians, when con- tacted by the press, set the record straight, basically saying that the school ad- ministrator didn't know what she was talking about. Still, ignorant lies about Colum- bus come out and are widely publicized every October. When you hear someone disparage the Italian discov- erer of America, ask your- self, who benefits from the spreading of this calumny? For it is sure that lies are not spread unless someone benefits from them. LAW OFFICES OF FRANK J. CIA O GENERAL PRACTICE OF LAW DIVORCE * WILLS * ESTATE PLANNING * TRUSTS CRIMINAL PERSONAL INJURY * WORKERS CAMP. 617-354-9400 Si Parla Italiano 230 MSGR. O'BRIEN HIGHWAY , CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS 02141 ~ "l"homas M. 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