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Jean Racine

Jean Racine, baptismal name Jean-Baptiste Racine, was a French dramatist, one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France, along with Molière and Corneille, an important literary figure in the Western tradition. Racine was a tragedian, producing such "examples of neoclassical perfection" as Phèdre and Athalie, he did write one comedy, Les Plaideurs, a muted tragedy, Esther for the young. Racine's plays displayed his mastery of the dodecasyllabic French alexandrine, his writing is renowned for its elegance, purity and fury, for what American poet Robert Lowell described as a "diamond-edge", the "glory of its hard, electric rage". Racine's dramaturgy is marked by his psychological insight, the prevailing passion of his characters, the nakedness of both plot and stage; the linguistic effects of Racine's poetry are considered to be untranslatable, although many eminent poets have attempted to translate Racine's work into English, including Lowell, Richard Wilbur, Ted Hughes, Tony Harrison, Derek Mahon, Friedrich Schiller into German.

The latest translations of Racine's plays into English have been by Alan Hollinghurst, by RADA director Edward Kemp, Neil Bartlett, poet Geoffrey Alan Argent, who earned a 2011 American Book Award for the translating The Complete Plays of Jean Racine. Racine was born on 22 December 1639 in La Ferté-Milon, in the province of Picardy in northern France. Orphaned by the age of four, he came into the care of his grandparents. At the death of his grandfather in 1649, his grandmother, Marie des Moulins, went to live in the convent of Port-Royal and took her grandson with her, he received a classical education at the Petites écoles de Port-Royal, a religious institution which would influence other contemporary figures including Blaise Pascal. Port-Royal was run by followers of Jansenism, a theology condemned as heretical by the French bishops and the Pope. Racine's interactions with the Jansenists in his years at this academy would have great influence over him for the rest of his life. At Port-Royal, he excelled in his studies of the Classics and the themes of Greek and Roman mythology would play large roles in his future works.

He was expected to study law at the Collège d'Harcourt in Paris, but instead found himself drawn to a more artistic lifestyle. Experimenting with poetry drew high praise from France's greatest literary critic, Nicolas Boileau, with whom Racine would become great friends. Racine took up residence in Paris where he became involved in theatrical circles, his first play, never reached the stage. On 20 June 1664, Racine's tragedy La Thébaïde ou les frères ennemis was produced by Molière's troupe at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, in Paris; the following year, Molière put on Racine's second play, Alexandre le Grand. However, this play garnered such good feedback from the public that Racine secretly negotiated with a rival play company, the Hôtel de Bourgogne, to perform the play – since they had a better reputation for performing tragedies. Thus, Alexandre premiered for the second time, by a different acting troupe, eleven days after its first showing. Molière could never forgive Racine for this betrayal, Racine widened the rift between him and his former friend by seducing Molière's leading actress, Thérèse du Parc, into becoming his companion both professionally and personally.

From this point on the Hôtel de Bourgogne troupe performed all of Racine's secular plays. Though both La Thébaïde and its successor, had classical themes, Racine was entering into controversy and forced to field accusations that he was polluting the minds of his audiences, he broke all ties with Port-Royal, proceeded with Andromaque, which told the story of Andromache, widow of Hector, her fate following the Trojan War. Amongst his rivals were Pierre Corneille and his brother, Thomas Corneille. Tragedians competed with alternative versions of the same plot: for example, Michel le Clerc produced an Iphigénie in the same year as Racine, Jacques Pradon wrote a play about Phèdre; the success of Pradon's work was one of the events which caused Racine to renounce his work as a dramatist at that time though his career up to this point was so successful that he was the first French author to live entirely on the money he earned from his writings. Others, including the historian Warren Lewis, attribute his retirement from the theater to qualms of conscience.

However, one major incident which seems to have contributed to Racine's departure from public life was his implication in a court scandal of 1679. He got married at about this time to the pious Catherine de Romanet, his religious beliefs and devotion to the Jansenist sect were revived, he and his wife had two sons and five daughters. Around the time of his marriage and departure from the theater, Racine accepted a position as a royal historiographer in the court of King Louis XIV, alongside his friend Boileau, he kept this position in spite of the minor scandals he was involved in. In 1672, he was elected to the Académie française gaining much power over this organization. Two years he was given the title of "treasurer of France", he was distinguished as an "ordinary gentleman of the king", as a secretary of the king; because of Racine's flourishing career in the court, Louis XIV provided for his widow and children after his death. When at last h

Sergius of Reshaina

Sergius of Reshaina was a physician and priest during the 6th century. He is best known for translating medical works from Greek to Syriac, which were during the Abbasid Caliphate of the late 8th- & 9th century, translated into Arabic. Reshaina, where he lived, is located about midway between the intellectual centres of Edessa and Nisibis, in northern Mesopotamia; the ninth-century translator Hunain ibn Ishaq gives the names of twenty-six medical texts by Galen which Sergius translated into Syriac. Hunain is not always complimentary about Sergius's translations, though some he thinks are better, as Sergius became more experienced. Sergius translated various other works, including the Categories of Aristotle, Porphyry's Introduction to the Categories and theological works by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, he composed two works of his own, On the Influence of the Moon and The Movement on the Sun drawing on Greek sources. A palimpsest with an undertext of Galen, translated by Sergius from Greek to Syriac, gathered the attention of scientists.

It contains chapters of Galen's On Simple Drugs, lost. The manuscripts upper text dates from the 11th century and the undertext, which contains the translation from Sergius of Reshaina, has been dated to the 9th century; the imaging and reading of the text is considered crucial, as it will elucidate the role that Sergius played in the transmission of medical knowledge from Greek into Arabic. Sergius' translations of Galen were copied and recopied for centuries, became a bridge for moving the medical expertise of the ancient Greeks to Islamic societies. Syriac texts were much easier than Greek ones to translate into Arabic. Although Sergius kept in close contact with the Nestorian scholars nearby, he was himself a Monophysite Christian priest. In 535, he was sent to Rome by Ephrem, Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, escorted Pope Agapetus I to Constantinople. There he died, the following year. Marshall Clagett, Greek Science in Antiquity, pp. 180–181. New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1955. ISBN 0-486-41973-8 Catholic Encyclopedia, Syriac Language and Literature

1889 in Norway

Events in the year 1889 in Norway. Monarch – Oscar II Prime Minister: Johan Sverdrup Emil Stang The metric system was introduced in Norway; the Scandinavian mile was introduced in Norway. The local newspaper Farsunds avis was established; the local newspaper Lindesnes was established. 20 January – Tryggve Gran, aviator and author 2 February – Hartmann Bjørnsen and Olympic gold medallist 3 February – Andreas Strand and Olympic silver medallist 28 February – Hermann Helgesen and Olympic silver medallist 16 February – Kristian Mathias Fimland, politician 22 April – Jacob Pedersen and field athlete 27 April – Arnulf Øverland, author 2 May – Margit Schiøtt, politician 16 May – Johan Faye and Olympic silver medallist 20 May – Rolf Lie and Olympic gold medallist 4 June – Thor Jensen and Olympic bronze medallist 18 June – Per Krohg, artist 9 July – Nils Thomas and Olympic silver medallist 25 August – Aslaug Vaa and playwright 2 October – Ingolf Rød, sailor and Olympic gold medallist 24 October – Anders Kristian Orvin and explorer 5 November – Einar Staff, wholesaler.

20 November – Nils Fixdal, athlete 26 November – Olaf Ørvig and Olympic gold medallist 2 December – Harald Færstad and Olympic silver medallist 3 December – Edvin Paulsen and Olympic bronze medallist Kornelius Bergsvik, politician Thor Bjørklund and inventor of the cheese slicer Johan Cappelen and politician Gunnar Gunnarsson Helland, Hardanger fiddle maker Asbjørn Lindboe and Minister Henry Rudi and polar bear hunter G. Unger Vetlesen and philanthropist 10 January – Martin Andreas Udbye and organist 25 January – Johan Jeremiassen, ship-owner and politician Johan Lauritz Sundt, industrialist. 28 February – Gustava Kielland and missionary 10 April – Christian Collett Kjerschow, politician 24 June – August Thomle and politician 29 June – Gustav Christian Gjøs, politician 16 September – Iver Steen Thomle, jurist 19 October – Jacob Kielland, naval officer and politician 23 December – Johan Jørgen Lange Hanssen, politician Job Dischington Bødtker and politician Ole Jacob Broch and Minister Halvor Olsen Folkestad, councillor of state Ketil Motzfeldt and Minister