Pliny the Elder

Lead: From the first century A.D. until the Renaissance one of the most influential writers in the world was the Roman naturalist Pliny.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Gaius Plinius Secundus was born in northern Italy of a prosperous family in A.D. 23. Educated in Rome, he served as a cavalry commander in legions assigned to border duty in Germany. He took early retirement and devoted most of his remaining years to writing and research. Seven works are ascribed to him, including a History of Rome, but only one survives, his greatest, an encyclopedia of the physical world, entitled Natural History.

 

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The Fall of Constantinople III

Lead: When the Ottoman forces of Sultan Mehmet II assaulted and then overcame the defenses of the city of Constantinople in 1453 it bought not only a bloodbath but also the end of an empire.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The magnificent and strategically important city of Constantinople, overlooking the vital Bosporus waterway, was the sole remaining important territorial vestige of the Roman Empire. Despite temporary setbacks the city's legacy went back 1000 years to the reign of the first Christian emperor, Constantine I. Yet, by the middle of the 1400s there was hardly anything left of the vaunted Byzantine Empire. The ruler of the city was another Constantine, Emperor Constantine XI. He would be the last. The city was beset by economic trouble, religious and political dispute between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic clergy, and soon faced the overwhelming forces of the increasingly irresistible Ottoman Empire. When Western governments finally responded to Constantine's plea for help it was too little, too late. His forces numbered only about 6000. In spring 1453 19-year-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II brought numerous modern cannon, elaborate siege engines and 80,000 troops to the party.

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The Fall of Constantinople II

Lead: When Sultan Mehmet II attacked the city of Constantinople in 1453 he was facing formidable odds. For over 1000 years that City behind those walls advisedly defended itself from all comers.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The defenses of Constantinople were legendary. Assaults on the city were frequent. Any temporary successes an enemy might have were quickly reversed and tended to strengthen the post-invasion metropolis. The main walls had three layers of defense. The inner wall, some 30 feet above the exterior approaches, was the strongest, the outer wall was the weakest. Each layer of defense was separated by a walkway which could be used to transport men and matériel but also to trap enemy soldiers and slow down any assault. The building materials were squared stone, brick and lime mortar supplemented by marble and other tough natural stones quarried nearby. The walls were punctuated with almost 100 defense towers guarding the approaches and public access roads. In the final assault in 1453 the fiercest fighting was on the outer walls and along the internal defenses of the so-called Golden Horn, a narrow waterway that protected the City's northern side.

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The Fall of Constantinople I

Lead: On Tuesday, May 29, 1453 the venerable City of Constantinople, after more than 1000 years as the Imperial capital of Byzantium, collapsed under the assault of the Ottoman forces of Sultan Mehmet II.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For 700 years the leaders of Islam had looked with longing at what seemed to be the impregnable Imperial capital of the Byzantine Empire. Their hopes were not idle. The City of Constantinople, the modern Istanbul, resides on the Western side of one of the most strategically significant waterways in the world. The Bosporus commands the passage between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. Commerce and travel both to and from Russia and the Asian heartland must negotiate this narrow passage.

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Archimedes – Pioneer Mathematician

Lead:  The Roman general Marcellus had met his match. Imagine, a Roman consul beaten back by a mathematician.
            Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: In 212 BC a Roman army under Marcus Claudius Marcellus moved to take the City-State of Syracuse established on Sicily by Greek settlers from Corinth in the eighth century BC. The City was an ally of Carthage, Rome's hated enemy. The King of Syracuse, Hieron II (High-e-rn) asked a seventy-five year old mathematician named Archimedes to organize the Syracuse's defense. This scholar had such a reputation for intensity that legends grew about how he allowed his work to distract him.  Once it is said he worked on a mathematical problem for so long that he neglected to bathe. His friends had to physically drag him to the public baths before he became a danger to the environment. Another legend had him discovering a way of determining the weight of gold and silver in a precious object. This intuition supposedly occurred while bathing. He ran naked through the streets shouting, "Heureka, I've found it." Whether these legends are true or not, Archimedes was a brilliant pioneer mathematician and mechanical genius. 

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