Tuesday, July 21, 2020


Street Names

John Kelly, The Great Mortality (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), pp. 16-17:
By the early fourteenth century so much filth had collected inside urban Europe that French and Italian cities were naming streets after human waste. In medieval Paris, several street names were inspired by merde, the French word for "shit." There were rue Merdeux, rue Merdelet, rue Merdusson, rue des Merdons, and rue Merdiere—as well as a rue du Pipi.
Maybe twenty-first century San Francisco should follow suit.

I noticed a misprint on p. 23 of Kelly's book:
In 1631, a historian named Johannes Isaacus Pontanus, perhaps thinking of Seneca's use of the Latin term for Black Death—Arta mors—to describe an outbreak of epidemic disease in Rome, claimed that the phrase had been current during the fourteenth-century mortality.
For Arta read Atra.

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