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<   No. 4331   2020-08-31   >

Comic #4331

1 Prof. Jones: Alexandria was planned by the architect Dinocrates of Rhodes, using urban planning principles laid out by Hippodamus of Miletus.
2 Prof. Jones: Hippodamus himself was a man of many talents.
2 Monty: Very skilful?
3 Prof. Jones: No, rich. An Ancient Greek talent was 6000 drachmae!
4 Monty: How much does a Grecian urn?
4 Prof. Jones: Depends what he’s ode.

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When Alexander the Great decided to build a city at the mouth of the Nile[1] in 332 BC, he commissioned Dinocrates of Rhodes as the director of surveying the land and laying out the plans of the city. Dinocrates followed the principles laid down by Hippodamus of Miletus around a hundred years earlier. Hippodamus had laid down the plans for the port of Piraeus near Athens, for the Athenian leader Pericles, as well as designing the new city of Rhodes, built on the ruins of the previous city on the same site.

Hippodamus favoured an overall plan for a city, laid out in a grid pattern of streets intersecting at right angles. He is known as the father of European urban planning, and the pioneer of the grid plan layout of planned of modern cities[2].

As with most intellectuals of the time, Hippodamus had other skills, and also applied himself to politics, law, and philosophy. He was indeed a man of many talents. Apparently he had a reputation for being a bit of a skinflint when it came to his clothing and grooming, so it's not clear if he was or was not also a man of many talents[3].

[1] Just one of the many cities he founded that would become known as Alexandria.

[2] As opposed to cities that grow organically over a long period and end up with tangles of streets that preserve millennia-old goat tracks and alleyways that people used to empty chamberpots into.

[3] This particular joke is an homage to the English translation of Asterix and Cleopatra, by the way, which deserves credit for the original[4].

[4] EDIT: I've since learnt that this joke was in the original French version of Asterix and Cleopatra. The word "talent" is spelt the same way in French, and carries the same double meanings, so the joke works just as well in both French and English. I know the English translators often had to invent new English puns to replace French puns that don't work in English, and assumed this would have been one of them. Mais non!

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