Notes on Jorge Luis Borges,
"The Immortal"

as published in "The Aleph and Other Stories", translated by Andrew Hurley

Jorge Luis Borges
Alexandria, Egypt
Al Fayyum
Arabian Gulf
Bacon, Francis
Borges, Jorge Luis
Caius Plinius Secundus
Cartaphilus, Joseph
Les Champs Elysees
Chanut, Hector Pierre
El Cid
City of Brass
A Coat of Many Colors
A Coat of Many Colours
Cordover, Nahum
Cornelius Agrippa
De Quincey, Thomas
Descartes, Rene
El Cid
El Faiyum
Eliot, T.S.
Flavius, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, Emperor of Rome
Flavius, Getulian proconsul
Francis Bacon
Gaius Aurelius
Gaius Plinius Secundis
Godwinson, Harold
The Grottoes of Ethiopia
Harald Hardrada, King of Norway
Hardrada, King of Norway
Harold II, King Of England
Harold Godwinson
Chanut, Hector Pierre
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim
Johnson (Ben Jonson)
Jonson, Ben
Joseph Cartaphilus
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Marcus Flaminius Rufus
Medinet Al Haras
Moore, George
Nahum Cordover
Persian Gulf
Pliny the Elder
Pope, Alexander
Red Sea
Ross, Alexander
Rufus, Marcus Flaminius
Seneca the Elder
Seneca the Rhetorician
Seneca the Younger
Shaw, Bernard
Stamford Bridge
Titus Flavius Vespasianus, Emperor of Rome
Valerius Diocletianus
Vico, Giambattista
Wandering Jew
The War between the Frogs and the Rats
Solomon (c. 970 B.C.), a.k.a. Sulayman, Suleiman, Schlomo, Salomoh, Salomo. King of Israel for about 40 years, beginning in 970 BC. Son of David and Bathsheba. Husband of 700 wives and 300 concubines. In a biblical story illustrating Solomon's reputation for wisdom, and depicted by countless artists, two women disputed who should raise a child. Solomon resolved the matter by ordering a soldier to cut the child in half. o0o o0o o0o index
Plato (c. 427 - c. 347 BC), a.k.a. Platon. Influential Greek philosopher. Author of the Socratic dialogs. o0o index
Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626). Philosophical advocate of the scientific method. His authorship of some Shakespearean plays is unproven. o0o index
Joseph Cartaphilus a.k.a. Longinus, the Wandering Jew. Per legend, a Roman soldier who struck Jesus, or thrust a spear in Jesusís side, or insulted Jesus, depending on the version of the legend. Jesus told Cartaphilus he would wait until Jesusís return, and so Cartaphilus lives, immortal, waiting. The legend has no biblical basis. The name "Cartaphilus" resembles a neogrecolatinate aggregation of "carta" ("map" or "chart") and "phil" ("like" or "love") and adjectival suffix "-us". index
Smyrna. a.k.a. Izmir, the 3rd most populous city in modern Turkey. a.k.a. Ionia in the golden age of ancient Greece. The city dates from the 3rd millenium, B.C. o0o index
Lucinge. An old name of French aristocracy. The family survives. Princesse Jean-Louis de Faucigny-Lucinge o0o index
Alexander Pope (1688-1744). English poet. Translated Homerís "Iliad" and "Odyssey". o0o index
Salonika, a.k.a. Thessaloniki, Thessaly. A city in Macedonia, founded in 315 B.C. by Kasander, named after the wife of Alexander the Great. o0o index
Macao. From 1557 until 1999 a colony of Portugal in South China. Geographical extent: 27 sq km. Now a part of China. o0o index
Thebes. Capital of Egypt during the Eleventh Dynasty (Middle Kingdom) 2063 to 1985 B.C. o0o index
Diocletian (245? - 312?), a.k.a. Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, Emperor of Rome. o0o index
Berenice, a.k.a. Medinet al-Haras. A seaport of Egypt on the Red Sea, founded circa 250 B.C. by Ptolemy II, King of Egypt, who named the town after his wife. o0o index
Mauritania. A modern nation state in West Africa. In ancient times, the name referred to regions we now call Algeria and Morocco. o0o index
Pluto. Roman god of wealth and of the underworld, the abode of the dead. o0o index
Alexandria. City on the north coast of Egypt, founded circa 334 B.C. by Alexander the Great. Now, the 2nd largest city in Egypt. o0o o0o index
Mars. Roman god of war and lover of Venus, the wife of Vulcan. o0o index
Ganges River, a.k.a. Ganga. Originates in the Gangotri glacier in the Himalayas, and flows southeast to the Bay of Bengal. o0o index
Elysium. In Greek mythology, the Elysian plains (Fr.: Les Champs Elysees), or the fields of Elysium are the final resting place for heroes. The fields lay at the far western margin of the world by the stream Oceanus. Progeny of the gods lived in Elysium without death. o0o index
Pactolus River. Flows through the town of Sart, a.k.a. Sardis, in western Turkey. This small stream is known for dust of gold and silver found in it, and was the source of wealth for Croesus. o0o index
Flavius (9 - 79 AD). Better known as Vespasian, a.k.a. Titus Flavius Vespasianus, Emperor of Rome who served as proconsul of Africa under Nero. Compare with Flavius. o0o o0o index
Getulia. Region of Africa on the southern border of Mauritania.
Flavius. The Getulian proconsul, seems fictional. Compare with Flavius.
Arsinoe, a.k.a. Crocodilopolis, Al Fayyum, El Faiyum, Fayum, Fayoum. Town of ancient Egypt. o0o o0o index
Troglodytes. Cave dwellers. There is linguistic confusion between this word and "trogodytes", synonymous with "taureg", the name of a people of North Africa. o0o index
Garamantas, a.k.a. Fezzan, Garamantes. A kingdom in the interior of North Africa, in the region of modern Libya, which existed for about 1000 years, from 600 B.C. to 400 AD Supplied by an underground irrigation system filled not with river water, but with groundwater o0o index
Augiles. Inhabitants of Augila, described by Greek writer Herodotus, a region located in modern Libya just east of Garamantas. Famed for its abundant date harvest and lurid marital customs. Custom required the first bride of a man (men often had several wives), on her wedding night, to grant her favors to all guests, each of which would leave a present for the husband. o0o o0o index
Tartarus. In Greek mythology, the lowest part of the underworld and the Titan who ruled there, the final resting place of villians, a wretched darkness where the punishment fits the crime. Zeus and the gods of Olympus conquered the Titans, who they cast into Tartarus. o0o index
Euphorbia. A botanical family of vastly many varieties that includes a succulent known to Mediterranean inhabitants of the Roman Empire. o0o o0o index
Satyr. In Greek mythology, a creature with the body of a man, the legs and horns of a ram, ears of a horse or mule, and unquenchable appetite for strong drink and sex. o0o o0o o0o index
Crete. Part of modern Greece, an island in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. o0o index
Persian Gulf, a.k.a. Arabian Gulf. Body of water between Arabia and Iran (Persia). o0o index
Ethiopia. A region of East Africa, and a modern nation state. o0o index
Grottoes of Ethiopia. o0o index
Zeleia. "Those from Zeleia, wealthy Trojans, who drink the water of dark Aisepos..." a quotation from Homer, "Iliad". The location is near modern Dubrovnik and Sarajevo. o0o o0o o0o index
Trojans. Inhabitants of the ancient city of Troy, a.k.a. Ilium, and the surrounding region Troas, on the western shores of modern Turkey. o0o index
Marcus Flaminius Rufus. Fictional character.
Rome, a.k.a. Roma. Capital of modern Italy, surviving since ancient times, at one time an empire of provinces extending from Arabia to Scotland. o0o index
Argos. Symbol of faith and loyalty. Odysseusís dog who waited 20 years for Odysseusís return, described in Homerís "Odyssey". The dog was the only member of the household to recognize his master, who was disguised as a beggar. On seeing Odysseus, the old dog wagged his tail and then died. o0o index
"Odyssey". Among the most widely read works of literature. An epic poem attributed to Homer, the story of the many yearsí adventurous journey of deposed King Odysseus, his recapture of his throne, and his reunion with his faithful wife Penelope.
Ulysses, a.k.a. Odysseus. See "Odyssey".
Homer (circa 1000 BC). Blind, illiterate Greek poet, legendary author of "Iliad" and "Odyssey", the earliest works of European literature. o0o index
"the war between the frogs and the rats". "Batrachomyomachia", a story attributed to Homer, parodies "Iliad", Homerís epic poem of the Trojan war. o0o o0o index
Chaos. In Greek mythology, the unformed, disordered void from which emerged the gods, Tartarus, Eros, Nyx, Erebus and the Cosmos. o0o index
Cosmos. Orderly arrangement of all things known and unknown. See Chaos.
Hindustan. a.k.a. India, Hindostan. o0o index
"El Cid" (circa 1150). Spanish epic poem, author unknown, about the heroic adventures of the chivalric protagonist of the same name. o0o o0o index
"Eclogues" (circa 37 BC). One of three major works by Latin poet Virgil. o0o index
Heraclitus (circa 540 BC). o0o index
Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535), a.k.a. Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim. Alchemist, physician, theologian, professor, soldier, entrepreneur, attorney, secret agent and counselor to monarchs throughout Europe. o0o index
Tangier, a.k.a. Tangiers, Tanger. City on the northwest coast of Africa, in Morocco, near Spain. o0o index
Stamford Bridge, England. Site of a battle in 1066 in which King Harold of England defended his succession to the throne of King Edward the Confessor by defeating the combined forces of his brother Tostig and ally King Harald III Hardraade of Norway. o0o o0o index
Harold (1022-1066), a.k.a. King Harold II of England, Harold Godwinson. Victorious at Stamford Bridge in 1066, but his weakened forces lost to invader William of Normandy at Hastings, where Harold died. o0o o0o index
Harald Hardrada (1015-1066), a.k.a. King Harald III Hardraade of Norway, Harald III Sigurdsson. Founder of Oslo. Harald in alliance with Tostig Godwinson conquered the town of York in northern England. Harald and Tostig soon lost York and their lives in the battle of Stamford Bridge. Before the battle, King Harold of England offered Tostig lands if Tostig would disarm. Tostig asked what his ally would get. Harold replied "Seven foot of good English soil, or as much as he needed as he was taller than other men." o0o o0o o0o index
Hegira, a.k.a. Hejira, Hijra, Hijrah. Mohammed's journey from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD o0o o0o index
Bulaq. There are many towns in the Middle East which have multiword names ending in Bulaq, including in northern modern Egypt, and including several in modern Iraq, where the stories of Sindbad may have been rewritten in the 14th century. o0o index
Sindbad, a.k.a. Sinbad. Legendary sailor. Subject of several stories in "The Thousand and One Arabian Nights", a.k.a. "Arabian Nights", "Thousand and One Nights". o0o o0o o0o index
"City of Brass". One of the stories from the "Arabian Nights". o0o o0o index
Samarkand, a.k.a. Samarqand, Marakanda. Founded circa 750 BC 2nd largest city in Uzbekistan. A historic trading center on the Silk Route between Persia and China. o0o o0o index
Bikanir, a.k.a. Bikaner. Capital city of an old princely Indian state of the same name. Founded on a trade route in 1488 AD by Bikaji. Known for camels and sand. o0o o0o o0o index
Bohemia. Prague and environs, today the western part of the modern Czech Republic. o0o o0o index
Kolszvar, a.k.a. Kolosvar, Cluj, Klausenburg. Capital of Transylvania, now a part of Romania. Inhabited since prehistoric times. In 1638, at the town of Dej in Cluj County, the Unitarians were accused of Sabbatarianism. The Unitarian sect began with a sermon Ferenc David delivered at St. Michael Church in 1565. o0o index
Leipzig. Town in Germany southwest of Berlin. In 1638 Johann Agricola's alchemical "Treatise on Gold" was published in Leipzig. o0o o0o index
Aberdeen. Town in southeast Scotland. William Elphinstone founded the University of Aberdeen in 1495. o0o index
Giambattista Vico (1668-1744). Professor of Rhetoric at the Univeristy of Naples. Vico wrote "The New Science" arguing that Cartesian principles provide incomplete understanding because they ignore that which cannot be measured. In the chapter "Discovery of the New Homer", Vico explains the Homeric poems as aggregates of ancient histories conveying the "poetic wisdom" of the civilization, and Homer as the legendary figure to whom the Greeks attributed the poems. o0o o0o index
Patna. City in northeastern india on the banks of the Ganges River, founded in 490 BC Capital of the modern state of Bihar. o0o o0o index
Mumbai, a.k.a. Bombay. City on the west coast of India, founded circa 3rd century BC by emperor Ashok. In modern times, one of the world's most populous cities. o0o o0o index
Eritrea. Country of northwest Africa, on the Red Sea. o0o index
Red Sea. A great and narrow body of water connecting at the southeast end to the Gulf of Aden (a.k.a. Eden), the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean, and via the Suez Canal on the northwest end to the Mediterranean Sea. o0o index
"Iliad". Among the most widely read works of literature. An epic poem attributed to Homer featuring Achilles, the greatest of warriors, as the hero. The story of multiple jealousies among people and gods creating and continuing the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. o0o o0o index
Nahum Cordovero, "A Coat of Many Colours". The title refers to the robe of Joseph, a Jew raised in the royal house of Egypt, and who became a pharoah. The name, Nahum Cordover, seems an allusion to ancient rabbinical scholars. index
Ben Jonson (1572-1637). Playwright of Elizabethan England. Borges likely mispells "Jonson" as "Johnson", perhaps an indirection. According to the "Cambridge History of English and American Literature", "The passages on Shakespeare and Bacon were taken from what Seneca wrote of Haterius and Cassius Severus;..." in Jonson's "Timber". o0o o0o index
Seneca (4 BC - 65 AD), a.k.a. Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Seneca the Younger. Roman Stoic philosopher, satirist and dramatist. Tutor of Nero, who ordered Seneca to commit suicide. Likely inspiration of Jonson. o0o o0o o0o index
Seneca (54 BC - 39 AD), a.k.a. Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Seneca the Elder, Seneca the Rhetorician. Author of texts on rhetoric and legal controversies. o0o o0o index
Alexander Ross (1591-1654). A Scottish clergyman of Aberdeen who wrote a number of essays and discourses. "Virgilius evangelizans", a.k.a. "Virgilii Evangelisantis Christiados Libri xiii" was a cento, a reassemblage and interpretation of fragments of an earlier work or works, in this case of the Roman poet Virgil. Sometimes confused with the poet Alexander Ross (1699-1784), also of Aberdeen. o0o o0o index
George Moore (1852-1933). Irish novelist and playwright whose works included "The Making of an Immortal". o0o o0o index
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965). American poet. o0o index
Pliny the Elder (23-79), a.k.a. Caius Plinius Secundus, Gaius Plinius Secundis. Author of the grand encyclopedia "Naturalis Historiae". o0o o0o o0o index
Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859). Author of "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" and other works. o0o o0o index
Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Best known for developing mathematical theory uniting geometry and algebra, which gave foundation for subsequent development of the Calculus by Newton and Leibniz. Also wrote "Discours de la Methode" ("Discourse on Method"), an attempt to explain the logic of imaginative thought. The phrase falsely attributed to him, "Cogito Ergo Sum" ("I think, therefore I am") is a formulation by others of a thesis Descartes described in "Meditations": One can doubt one's knowledge, while having certainty that one thinks. Descartes also wrote on physics, optics, animals, cosmology, and several topics in philosophy. He withheld publication of his treatise "Le Monde" ("The World"), fearing the fate of his contemporary, Galileo, and only fragments of the work survive. o0o o0o o0o index
Hector Pierre Chanut (1604-1667). Acquaintance of Descartes and ambassador of France to the court of Queen Christina of Sweden. In a letter to Chanut, Descartes described his observations on passions. Chanut obtained an invitation from the queen for Descartes to tutor her in Stockholm. o0o index
Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). Influential playwright in the English language in the early 20th century. Author of "Pygmalion", "Major Barbara", "Back to Methuselah" and other works. o0o index
As Borges would fully appreciate, I'm not the first to construct a collage such as this. Consult Fishburn & Hughes, "A Dictionary of Borges" for additional relevant information.

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