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TOP 10

Amazing lists of incredible things!

New theory of Dinosaurus extincion

The popular theory that dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid 65million years ago has been challenged.

It was believed the Chicxulub crater in Mexico was the 'smoking gun' of the mass extinction event.

Molten droplets from the ancient asteroid impact were found just below the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary - a geological layer of sediment linked with the extinction.

But soil samples from the 112-mile wide crater show the impact predates the disappearance of the dinosaurs by about 300,000 years.

The latest research has been published in the Journal of the Geological Society.

Study author Professor Gerta Keller from Princeton University suggested that the massive volcanic eruptions at the Deccan Traps in India may be responsible for the extinction, releasing huge amounts of dust and gases that could have blocked out sunlight and brought about a significant greenhouse effect.

Supporters of the Chicxulub impact theory suggest the impact crater and the mass extinction event only appear far apart in the sedimentary record because of earthquake or tsunami disturbance that resulted from the impact of the asteroid.

But Professor Keller said: 'The problem with the tsunami interpretation is that this sandstone complex was not deposited over hours or days by a tsunami.

'Deposition occurred over a very long time period.'

The scientists also found evidence that the Chicxulub impact didn't have the dramatic impact on species diversity that has been suggested.

At one site at El Penon, the researchers found 52 species present in sediments below the impact spherule layer, and counted all 52 still present in layers above the molten droplets or spherules.

'We found that not a single species went extinct as a result of the Chicxulub impact,' said Professor Keller.

This conclusion should not come as too great a surprise, she says.

None of the other great mass extinctions are associated with an impact, and no other large craters are known to have caused a significant extinction event.

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The Channel Creature

‘Association of Maritime Research’ was created in 1901 in order to promote a better understanding of deep-sea life and the curious and unknown phenomena that occur in the depth of the oceans and on the sea- bed. Their approach to research is to gather testimonials and question scientists specialising in marine research in an attempt to find a scientific explanation for the various sightings.

The AMR’s intention is to communicate their findings to the general public and enable them to participate interactively in the continuing research.


On 20th April 2009 Thierry and Sophie were enjoying a walk at the Boulogne Harbour. They are both passionate about boats and sea-life and intended filming the variety of boats sailing out of the harbour. As Thierry was filming, his eye glued to the lens, he suddenly became aware of a large shape which appeared on the horizon. Intrigued, he zoomed the camera in to focus more clearly and saw a huge, dark, rapidly moving object, which disappeared within a matter of seconds. Something of an amateur expert about the sea and marine life, he knew this was not simply the outline of a whale or any similar creature and was convinced that he had sighted some phenomenon as yet unseen by man. He decided to contact the AMR who are pursuing further investigations.

Subsequently the AMR has collected a substantial number of testimonials from different areas. The strong similarities between the descriptions seem to confirm the existence of a ‘gigantic’ and extremely ‘fast-moving’ creature off our shores.

Calling for Witnesses

The AMR’s success in identifying this marine phenomenon is dependent upon the participation of the general public. As the first report came from Dover they have put in place a multimedia campaign calling for witnesses to come forward. This will include the distribution of flyers, radio, press and online communications.

We are calling for all witnesses of sightings of any strange phenomena in the English Channel to contact the AMR immediately via our website

A reward is being offered for evidence leading directly to proof of this creature’s existence.

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2012 - The Year of Apocalypse

For scary speculation about the end of civilization in 2012, people usually turn to followers of cryptic Mayan prophecy, not scientists. But that’s exactly what a group of NASA-assembled researchers described in a chilling report issued earlier this year on the destructive potential of solar storms.

Entitled "Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts," it describes the consequences of solar flares unleashing waves of energy that could disrupt Earth’s magnetic field, overwhelming high-voltage transformers with vast electrical currents and short-circuiting energy grids. Such a catastrophe would cost the United States "$1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year," concluded the panel, and "full recovery could take 4 to 10 years." That would, of course, be just a fraction of global damages.

Good-bye, civilization.

Worse yet, the next period of intense solar activity is expected in 2012, and coincides with the presence of an unusually large hole in Earth’s geomagnetic shield. But the report received relatively little attention, perhaps because of 2012’s supernatural connotations. Mayan astronomers supposedly predicted that 2012 would mark the calamitous "birth of a new era."

Whether the Mayans were on to something, or this is all just a chilling coincidence, won’t be known for several years. But according to Lawrence Joseph, author of "Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization’s End," "I’ve been following this topic for almost five years, and it wasn’t until the report came out that this really began to freak me out."

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Ancestor of T rex

Fossils found in China may give clues to the evolution of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Uncovered near the city of Jiayuguan, the fossil finds come from a novel tyrannosaur dubbed Xiongguanlong baimoensis.

The fossils date from the middle of the Cretaceous period, and may be a "missing link", tying the familiar big T rex to its much smaller ancestors.

The fossils show early signs of the features that became pronounced with later tyrannosaurs.

Paleontological knowledge about the family of dinosaurs known as tyrannosaurs is based around two distinct groups of fossils from different parts of the Cretaceous period, which ran from approximately 145 to 65 million years ago.

One group dates from an early part of the period, the Barremian, and the other is from tens of millions of years later.

Physical form

Before now it has been hard for palaeontologists to trace the lineage from one group to the other.

"We've got a 40-50 million year gap in which we have very little fossil record," said Peter Makovicky, associate curator at the Field Museum in Chicago, who helped to lead the US/Chinese team that uncovered the fossil.

But, he said, X baimoensis was a "nice link" between those two groups.

"We're filling in that part of the fossil record," he said.

Writing in the Royal Society's journal Proceedings B, Dr Makovicky and colleagues suggest that X baimoensis is a "phylogenetic, morphological, and temporal link" between the two distinct groups of tyrannosaurs.

The fossil has some hallmarks of large tyrannosaurs such as a boxy skull, reinforced temple bones to support large jaw muscles, modified front nipping teeth and a stronger spine to support a large head.

But it also shows features absent from older tyrannosaurs, such as a long thin snout.

An adult would have stood about 1.5m tall at the hip and weighed about 270kg. By contrast, an adult T rex was about 4m tall at the hip and weighed more than 5 tonnes.

Wider net

The same edition of Proceedings B features papers about two other sets of dinosaur fossils.

One discovery was made in China by many of the palaeontologists who found the tyrannosaur. The samples found in the Yujingzi Basin came from a dinosaur that resembled the modern ostrich.

While many of these ornithomimosaurs have been found before, analysis of the bones of the new species, dubbed Beishanlong grandis, suggest it was one of the biggest.

The specimen found by the palaeontologists was thought to be 6m tall and weigh about 626kg.

Alongside in Proceedings B was work on the remains of a duck-billed dinosaur found in Uzbekistan called Levnesovia transoxiana.

Analysis of the fossils, by Hans-Dieter Sues of the Smithsonian in Washington and Alexander Averianov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, may shed light on the waves of expansion hadrosaurs undertook during the late Cretaceous.

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Did Dinosaurs Lived in the Arctic?

You know the scenario: 65 million years ago, a big meteor crash sets off volcanoes galore, dust and smoke fill the air, dinosaurs go belly up.

One theory holds that cold, brought on by the Sun's concealment, is what did them in, but a team of paleontologists led by Pascal Godefroit, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, argues otherwise. Some dinosaurs (warm-blooded, perhaps) were surprisingly good at withstanding near-freezing temperatures, they say.

Witness the team's latest find, a diverse stash of dinosaur fossils laid down just a few million years before the big impact, along what's now the Kakanaut River of northeastern Russia. Even accounting for continental drift, the dinos lived at more than 70 degrees of latitude north, well above the Arctic Circle.

And they weren't lost wanderers, either. The fossils include dinosaur eggshells — a first at high latitudes, and evidence of a settled, breeding population.

It's true the Arctic was much warmer back then, but it wasn't any picnic. The size and shape of fossilized leaves found with the bones enabled Godefroit's team to estimate a mean annual temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with wintertime lows at freezing.

Yet there is more than one way to skin a dino. All that dust in the atmosphere must have curtailed photosynthesis everywhere, weakening the base of the food chain and inflicting starvation, and finally extinction, upon the dinosaurs.

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The Trojan War

Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, but on one occasion she did a
very foolish thing; she entered into competition with Juno and
Venus for the prize of beauty. It happened thus. At the
nuptials of Peleus and Thetis all the gods were invited with the
exception of Eris, or Discord. Enraged at her exclusion, the
goddess threw a golden apple among the guests with the
inscription, "For the most beautiful." Thereupon Juno, Venus,
and Minerva, each claimed the apple. Jupiter not willing to
decide in so delicate a matter, sent the goddesses to Mount Ida,
where the beautiful shepherd Paris was tending his flocks, and to
him was committed the decision. The goddesses accordingly
appeared before him. Juno promised him power and riches, Minerva
glory and renown in war, and Venus the fairest of women for his
wife, each attempting to bias his decision in her own favor.
Paris decided in favor of Venus and gave her the golden apple,
thus making the two other goddesses his enemies. Under the
protection of Venus, Paris sailed to Greece, and was hospitably
received by Menelaus, king of Sparta. Now Helen, the wife of
Menelaus, was the very woman whom Venus had destined for Paris,
the fairest of her sex. She had been sought as a bride by
numerous suitors, and before her decision was made known, they
all, at the suggestion of Ulysses, one of their number, took an
oath that they would defend her from all injury and avenge her
cause if necessary. She chose Menelaus, and was living with him
happily when Paris became their guest. Paris, aided by Venus,
persuaded her to slope with him, and carried her to Troy, whence
arose the famous Trojan war, the theme of the greatest poems of
antiquity, those of Homer and Virgil.

Menelaus called upon his brother chieftains of Greece to fulfil
their pledge, and join him in his efforts to recover his wife.
They generally came forward, but Ulysses, who had married
Penelope and was very happy in his wife and child, had no
disposition to embark in such a troublesome affair. He therefore
hung back and Palamedes was sent to urge him. When Palamedes
arrived at Ithaca, Ulysses pretended to be mad. He yoked an ass
and an ox together to the plough and began to sow salt.
Palamedes, to try him, placed the infant Telemachus before the
plough, whereupon the father turned the plough aside, showing
plainly that he was no madman, and after that could no longer
refuse to fulfil his promise. Being now himself gained for the
undertaking, he lent his aid to bring in other reluctant chiefs,
especially Achilles. This hero was the son of that Thetis at
whose marriage the apple of Discord had been thrown among the
goddesses. Thetis was herself one of the immortals, a sea-nymph,
and knowing that her son was fated to perish before Troy if he
went on the expedition, she endeavored to prevent his going. She
sent him away to the court of king Lycomedes, and induced him to
conceal himself in the disguise of a maiden among the daughters
of the king. Ulysses, hearing he was there, went disguised as a
merchant to the palace and offered for sale female ornaments,
among which he had placed some arms. While the king's daughters
were engrossed with the other contents of the merchant's pack,
Achilles handled the weapons and thereby betrayed himself to the
keen eye of Ulysses, who found no great difficulty in persuading
him to disregard his mother's prudent counsels and join his
countrymen in the war.

Priam was king of Troy, and Paris, the shepherd and seducer of
Helen, was his son. Paris had been brought up in obscurity,
because there were certain ominous forebodings connected with him
from his infancy that he would be the ruin of the state. These
forebodings seemed at length likely to be realized, for the
Grecian armament now in preparation was the greatest that had
ever been fitted out. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, and brother of
the injured Menelaus, was chosen commander-in-chief. Achilles
was their most illustrious warrior. After him ranked Ajax,
gigantic in size and of great courage, but dull of intellect,
Diomedes, second only to Achilles in all the qualities of a hero,
Ulysses, famous for his sagacity, and Nestor, the oldest of the
Grecian chiefs, and one to whom they all looked up for counsel.
But Troy was no feeble enemy. Priam, the king, was now old, but
he had been a wise prince and had strengthened his state by good
government at home and numerous alliances with his neighbors.
But the principal stay and support of his throne was his son
Hector, one of the noblest characters painted by heathen
antiquity. Hector felt, from the first, a presentiment of the
fall of his country, but still persevered in his heroic
resistance, yet by no means justified the wrong which brought
this danger upon her. He was united in marriage with Andromache,
and as a husband and father his character was not less admirable
than as a warrior. The principal leaders on the side of the
Trojans, besides Hector, were Aeneas and Deiphobus, Glaucus and

After two years of preparation the Greek fleet and army assembled
in the port of Aulis in Boeotia. Here Agamemnon in hunting
killed a stag which was sacred to Diana, and the goddess in
return visited the army with pestilence, and produced a calm
which prevented the ships from leaving the port. Calchas the
soothsayer thereupon announced that the wrath of the virgin
goddess could only be appeased by the sacrifice of a virgin on
her altar, and that none other but the daughter of the offender
would be acceptable. Agamemnon, however reluctant, yielded his
consent, and the maiden Iphigenia was sent for under the pretence
that she was to be married to Achilles. When she was about to be
sacrificed the goddess relented and snatched her away, leaving a
hind in her place, and Iphigenia enveloped in a cloud was carried
to Tauris, where Diana made her priestess of her temple.

Tennyson, in his Dream of Fair women, makes Iphigenia thus
describe her feelings at the moment of sacrifice, the moment
represented in our engraving:

"I was cut off from hope in that sad place,
Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears;
My father held his hand upon his face;
I, blinded by my tears,

"Still strove to speak; my voice was thick with sighs,
As in a dream. Dimly I could descry
The stern black-bearded kings, with wolfish eyes,
Waiting to see me die.

"The tall masts quivered as they lay afloat,
The temples and the people and the shore;
One drew a sharp knife through my tender throat
Slowly, and nothing more."

The wind now proving fair the fleet made sail and brought the
forces to the coast of Troy. The Trojans came to oppose their
landing, and at the first onset Protesilaus fell by the hand of
Hector. Protesilaus had left at home his wife Laodamia, who was
most tenderly attached to him. When the news of his death
reached her she implored the gods to be allowed to converse with
him only three hours. The request was granted. Mercury led
Protesilaus back to the upper world, and when he died a second
time Laodamia died with him. There was a story that the nymphs
panted elm trees round his grave which grew very well till they
were high enough to command a view of Troy, and then withered
away, while fresh branches sprang from the roots.

Wordsworth has taken the story of Protesilaus and Laodamia for
the subject of a poem. It seems the oracle had declared that
victory should be the lot of that party from which should fall
the first victim to the war. The poet represents Protesilaus, on
his brief return to earth, as relating to Laodamia the story of
his fate:

"The wished-for wind was given; I then revolved
The oracle, upon the silent sea;
And if no worthier led the way, resolved
That of a thousand vessels mine should be
The foremost prow impressing to the strand,
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.

"Yet bitter, ofttimes bitter was the pang
When of thy loss I thought, beloved wife!
On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life,
The paths which we had trod, these fountains, flowers;
My new planned cities and unfinished towers.

"But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
'Behold they tremble! Haughty their array,
Yet of their number no one dares to die!'"
In soul I swept the indignity away;
Old frailties then recurred; but lofty thought
In act embodied my deliverance wrought.
. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .
Upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
>From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever when such stature they had gained
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view,
The trees' tall summits withered at the sight,
A constant interchange of growth and blight!"

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Apollo and Daphne

Daphne was Apollo's first love. It was not brought about by
accident, but by the malice of Cupid. Apollo saw the boy playing
with his bow and arrows; and being himself elated with his recent
victory over Python, he said to him, "What have you to do with
warlike weapons, saucy boy? Leave them for hands worthy of them.
Behold the conquest I have won by means of them over the vast
serpent who stretched his poisonous body over acres of the plain!
Be content with your torch, child, and kindle up your flames, as
you call them, where you will, but presume not to meddle with my

Venus's boy heard these words, and rejoined, ":Your arrows may
strike all things else, Apollo, but mine shall strike you.:" So
saying, he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus, and drew from
his quiver two arrows of different workmanship, one to excite
love, the other to repel it. The former was of gold and sharp-
pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead. With the leaden
shaft he struck the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river god
Peneus, and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart.
Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, and she
abhorred the thought of loving. Her delight was in woodland
sports and in the spoils of the chase. Many lovers sought her,
but she spurned them all, ranging the woods, and taking thought
neither of Cupid nor of Hymen. Her father often said to her,
"Daughter, you owe me a son-in-law; you owe me grandchildren."
She, hating the thought of marriage as a crime, with her
beautiful face tinged all over with blushes, threw her arms
around her father's neck, and said, "Dearest father, grant me
this favor, that I may always remain unmarried, like Diana." He
consented, but at the same time said, "Your own face will forbid

Apollo loved her, and longed to obtain her; and he who gives
oracles to all in the world was not wise enough to look into his
own fortunes. He saw her hair flung loose over her shoulders,
and said, "If so charming in disorder, what would it be if
arranged?" He saw her eyes bright as stars; he saw her lips, and
was not satisfied with only seeing them. He admired her hands
and arms bared to the shoulder, and whatever was hidden from view
he imagined more beautiful still. He followed her; she fled,
swifter than the wind, and delayed not a moment at his
entreaties. "Stay," said he, "daughter of Peneus; I am not a
foe. Do not fly me as a lamb flies the wolf, or a dove the hawk.
It is for love I pursue you. You make me miserable, for fear you
should fall and hurt yourself on these stones, and I should be
the cause. Pray run slower, and I will follow slower. I am no
clown, no rude peasant. Jupiter is my father, and I am lord of
Delphos and Tenedos, and know all things, present and future. I
am the god of song and the lyre. My arrows fly true to the mark;
but alas! An arrow more fatal than mine has pierced my heart! I
am the god of medicine, and know the virtues of all healing
plants. Alas! I suffer a malady that no balm can cure!"

The nymph continued her flight, and left his plea half uttered.
And even as she fled she charmed him. The wind blew her
garments, and her unbound hair streamed loose behind her. The
god grew impatient to find his wooings thrown away, and, sped by
Cupid, gained upon her in the race. It was like a hound pursuing
a hare, with open jaws ready to seize, while the feebler animal
darts forward, slipping from the very grasp. So flew the god and
the virgin he on the wings of love, and she on those of fear.
The pursuer is the more rapid, however, and gains upon her, and
his panting breath blows upon her hair. Now her strength begins
to fail, and, ready to sink, she calls upon her father, the river
god: "Help me, Peneus! Open the earth to enclose me, or change
my form, which has brought me into this danger!"

Scarcely had she spoken, when a stiffness seized all her limbs;
her bosom began to be enclosed in a tender bark; her hair became
leaves; her arms became branches; her feet stuck fast in the
ground, as roots; her face became a tree-top, retaining nothing
of its former self but its beauty. Apollo stood amazed. He
touched the stem, and felt the flesh tremble under the new bark.
He embraced the branches, and lavished kisses on the wood. The
branches shrank from his lips. "Since you cannot be my wife,"
said he, "you shall assuredly be my tree. I will wear you for my
crown. With you I will decorate my harp and my quiver; and when
the great Roman conquerors lead up the triumphal pomp to the
Capitol, you shall be woven into wreaths for their brows. And,
as eternal youth is mine, you also shall be always green, and
your leaf know no decay." The nymph, now changed into a laurel
tree, bowed its head in grateful acknowledgment.

Apollo was god of music and of poetry and also of medicine. For,
as the poet Armstrong says, himself a physician:--

"Music exalts each joy, allays each grief,
Expels disease, softens every pain;
And hence the wise of ancient days adored
One power of physic, melody, and song."

The story of Apollo and Daphne is often alluded to by the poets.
Waller applies it to the case of one whose amatory verses, though
they did not soften the heart of his mistress, yet won for the
poet wide-spread fame.

"Yet what he sung in his immortal strain,
Though unsuccessful, was not sung in vain.
All but the nymph that should redress his wrong,
Attend his passion and approve his song.
Like Phoebus thus, acquiring unsought praise,
He caught at love and filled his arms with bays."

The following stanza from Shelley's Adonais alludes to Byron's
early quarrel with the reviewers:--

"The herded wolves, bold only to pursue;
The obscene ravens, clamorous o'er the dead;
The vultures, to the conqueror's banner true,
Who feed where Desolation first has fed.
And whose wings rain contagion; how they fled,
When like Apollo, from his golden bow,
The Pythian of the age one arrow sped
And smiled! The spoilers tempt no second blow;
They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them as they go."

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In order to understand the story of Ibycus which follows, it isnecessary to remember, first, that the theatres of the ancients were immense buildings providing seats for from ten to thirty thousand spectators, and as they were used only on festal occasions, and admission was free to all, they were usually filled. They were without roofs and open to the sky, and the performances were in the daytime. Secondly, the appalling representation of the Furies is not exaggerated in the story. It is recorded that AEschylus, the tragic poet, having on one occasion represented the Furies in a chorus of fifty performers, the terror of the spectators was such that many fainted and were thrown into convulsions, and the magistrates forbade a like representation for the future.

Ibycus, the pious poet, was on his way to the chariot races and musical competitions held at the Isthmus of Corinth, which attracted all of Grecian lineage. Apollo had bestowed on him the gift of song, the honeyed lips of the poet, and he pursued his way with lightsome step, full of the god. Already the towers of Corinth crowning the height appeared in view, and he had entered with pious awe the sacred grove of Neptune. No living object wasn sight, only a flock of cranes flew overhead, taking the same course as himself in their migration to a southern clime. "Good luck to you, ye friendly squadrons," he exclaimed, "my companions from across the sea. I take your company for a good omen. We come from far, and fly in search of hospitality. May both of us meet that kind reception which shields the stranger guest from harm!"

He paced briskly on, and soon was in the middle of the wood. There suddenly, at a narrow pass, two robbers stepped forth and barred his way. He must yield or fight. But his hand, accustomed to the lyre and not to the strife of arms, sank powerless. He called for help on men and gods, but his cry reached no defender's ear. "Then here must I die," said he, "in a strange land, unlamented, cut off by the hand of outlaws, and see none to avenge my cause." Sore wounded he sank to the earth, when hoarse screamed the cranes overhead. "Take up my cause, ye cranes," he said, "since no voice but yours answers to my cry." So saying, he closed his eyes in death.

The body, despoiled and mangled, was found, and though disfigured with wounds, was recognized by the friend in Corinth who had expected him as a guest. "Is it thus I find you restored to me?" he exclaimed; "I who hoped to entwine your temples with the
wreath of triumph in the strife of song!"

The guests assembled at the festival heard the tidings with dismay. All Greece felt the wound, every heart owned its loss. They crowded round the tribunal of the magistrates, and demanded vengeance on the murderers and expiation with their blood.

But what trace or mark shall point out the perpetrator from amidst the vast multitude attracted by the splendor of the feat? Did he fall by the hands of robbers, or did some private enemy slay him? The all-discerning sun alone can tell, for no other eye beheld it. Yet not improbably the murderer even now walks in the midst of the throng, and enjoys the fruits of his crime, while vengeance seeks for him in vain. Perhaps in their own temple's enclosure he defies the gods, mingling freely in this throng of men that now presses into the ampitheatre.

For now crowded together, row on row, the multitude fill the seats till it seems as if the very fabric would give way. The murmur of voices sounds like the roar of the sea, while the circles widening in their ascent rise, tier on tier, as if they would reach the sky.

And now the vast assemblage listens to the awful voice of the chorus personating the Furies, which in solemn guise advances with measured step, and moves around the circuit of the theatre. Can they be mortal women who compose that awful group, and can
that vast concourse of silent forms be living beings!

The choristers, clad in black, bore in their fleshless hands torches blazing with a pitchy flame. Their cheeks were bloodless, and in place of hair, writing and swelling serpents curled around their brows. Forming a circle, these awful beings sang their hymn, rending the hearts of the guilty, and enchaining all their faculties. It rose and swelled, overpowering the sound of the instruments, stealing the judgment, palsying the heart, curdling the blood.

"Happy the man who keeps his heart pure from guilt and crime! Him we avengers touch not; he treads the path of life secure from us. But woe! Woe! To him who has done the deed of secret murder. We, the fearful family of Night, fasten ourselves upon his whole being. Thinks he by flight to escape us? We fly still faster in pursuit, twine our snakes around his feet and bring him to the ground. Unwearied we pursue; no pity checks our course; still on and on to the end of life, we give him no peace nor rest." Thus the Eumenides sang, and moved in solemn cadence, while stillness like the stillness of death sat over the whole assembly as if in the presence of superhuman beings; and then in solemn march completing the circuit of the theatre, they passed
out at the back of the stage.

Every heart fluttered between illusion and reality, and every breast panted with undefined terror, quailing before the awful power that watches secret crimes and winds unseen the skein of
destiny. At that moment a cry burst forth from one of the uppermost benches "Look! Look! Comrade, yonder are the cranes of Ibycus!" And suddenly there appeared sailing across the sky a dark object which a moment's inspection showed to be a flock of cranes flying directly over the theatre. "Of Ibycus! did he say?" The beloved name revived the sorrow in every breast. As wave follows wave over the face of the sea, so ran from mouth to mouth the words, "Of Ibycus! Him whom we all lament, with some murderer's hand laid low! What have the cranes to do with him?" And louder grew the swell of voices, while like a lightning's flash the thought sped through every heart, "Observe the power of the Eumenides! The pious poet shall be avenged! The murderer has informed against himself. Seize the man who uttered that cry and the other to whom he spoke!"

The culprit would gladly have recalled his words, but it was too late. The faces of the murderers pale with terror betrayed their guilt. The people took them before the judge, they confessed their crime and suffered the punishment they deserved.

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The capital of the Philippines, a grouping of six cities and eighteen municipalities, is technically known as Metro Manila but usually referred to simply as MANILA, home to 10 million people. Manila will never be a serious tourist destination until the authorities deal with the evils of traffic and pollution; most tourists are in the capital because they have a day or two to kill either at the beginning or the end of a trip to the rest of the country. In its favour, Manila has friendly people, some excellent nightlife, a few historical sights that are worth the effort, plus some of the most cavernous shopping malls in Asia. At first sight, the city may seem clamorous, unkempt and rough around the edges, but what it lacks in architectural sophistication it makes up for with an accessible chaotic charm. The way to enjoy it is to step into the fray and go with the flow, which is exactly what Manileños have learned to do.

Manila started life as a tiny settlement around the banks of the Pasig River. The name comes from the words may ("there is") and nilad (a type of plant that grew near the Pasig). With Spanish colonization, it grew into an important port. King Philip II of Spain called Manila "Insigne y Siempre Leal Ciudad" ("Distinguished and Ever Loyal City"). Images of the city in the eighteenth century show grand merchants' houses and schooners moored in the Pasig. The area around Binondo, later to become Chinatown, was alive with mercantile activity. Nineteenth-century travellers arriving in Manila were enchanted. Manila's population was 150,000 and there had been one murder in five years.

But this Manila was a doomed city. At 7pm on June 3, 1863, an earthquake struck and Manila crumbled. The new Manila that grew in its stead was thoroughly modern, with streetcars, steam trains and American-style public architecture. This was one of the most elegant and cosmopolitan cities in the Orient, but when the smoke cleared at the end of Japanese occupation in March 1945, it was once again in ruins, having undergone relentless shelling from American howitzers and been set alight by retreating Japanese troops. The Battle of Manila lasted 29 days and claimed 100,000 civilian lives. Rebuilding was slow and plagued by corruption and government inertia. As a consequence, the city that greets visitors today is one of emotional counterpoints, with areas of extreme poverty encroaching on frothy mansions and soaring glass skyscrapers.

In the days of the Spanish Empire, Manila was Spain’s seat of power in Asia and the Pacific. Today, the city and its people are a mish-mash of the East and West. A string of harsh invasions (Spain, USA, Japan) and a history of hardships molded Filipinos into resilient, good-humored and resourceful people, traits that can be seen in their everyday life.

The friendliness of Filipinos translates to good customer service in hotels, businesses and malls. Most residents speak English, so navigating the city is not a big problem. These, plus the added purchasing value of the foreign exchange rate, make Manila a great place for guests looking for luxury, pampering and bargains.

‘Manila’ really refers to two places: the City of Manila, founded by Spanish conquerors in 1571 by the side of Manila Bay, and the larger Metropolitan Manila (abbreviated to Metro Manila), which encompasses the City of Manila and 17 other cities. Filipinos use ‘Manila’ to mean Metro Manila, while the term Manileño is reserved exclusively for the City of Manila’s residents.

Manila’s history is intertwined with its geographic location. Manila Bay was an ideal port for Spanish ships bearing gold, spices, silk and ceramics (treasure hunters still seek sunken Manila galleons today). Unfortunately for Manileños, this also attracted a string of invaders.

Spain first conquered Manila in 1571. For 300 years, Spain successfully repelled a series of invasion attempts by the Chinese, Dutch and the British. A Filipino revolutionary force triumphed over the Spanish in 1896. But this was shortlived as the USA took over Manila in 1898. The city finally got its independence after WWII.

The city is mostly warm and humid, with an average temperature of 27°C (81°F). It gets cooler in the months of December to February (down to around 21°C/70°F), and warmer to hot during March to May (up to around 34°C/93°F). The rainy season used to be in June to September, but this has shifted towards September to October, with typhoons often arriving during these months.

Sightseeing Overview

Manila has many facets to satisfy different tastes. History buffs will enjoy the rich heritage of the old Manila city. The Spanish influence is still evident in the old quarters of the city and in local traditions.

Most Filipinos are Catholic and Manila has numerous old churches, some dating back 300 years. An exhibit at the National Museum displays sunken treasure from one of the Manila galleons dating back 1600, discovered by divers only in 1991.

Food lovers can feast on the diversity of local cuisine, which incorporates the good stuff from Spanish, Indian and Chinese cooking. For the politically inclined, Metro Manila is the site of the EDSA Revolution, where citizens marched on the streets, notably in EDSA, to end the reign of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his well-shod wife, Imelda. People Power Revolution, as it was later called around the world, inspired several other non-violent marches in Nicaragua, Berlin and the former Soviet Union.

Shopaholics will love the malls easily accessible within the metropolis.

Recommended destinations in City of Manila are Intramuros and Fort Santiago (the old Spanish settlement), Santa Cruz (notably Chinatown) and Malate (for its bars), the National Museum and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. For a quick, visual brush-up on Philippine history, the dioramas at the Ayala Museum are highly recommended.

Tourist Information Philippine Tourism Authority (DOT) Fifth Floor, DOT Building TM Kalaw Street Teodoro Valencia Circle Tel: (02) 524 2502. Website: Opening hours: Daily 0700-1800.

Key Attractions:

  • Rizal Park

A substantial open green area that showcases Manila at play, 58-hectare (143-acre) Rizal Park is one of the largest parks in South-East Asia. It is also known as Luneta, after the area it replaced. Its local significance can be gauged by the fact that it is named after Dr José Rizal, the great Philippine anti-colonial fighter and thinker. He is memorialised in the Diorama of the Martyrdom of Dr José Rizal, which becomes a son et lumière exhibit after sunset, and his remains were interred in the Rizal Monument in 1912. The many ornamental gardens include a re-creation of the entire Philippines archipelago in the eastern ponds. There is also a Japanese Garden, a Chinese Garden, an Orchidarium, a chess plaza and a skating rink. The museums and public buildings within its precincts include the Museum of the Pilipino People (see below). In the morning, residents assemble to practice tai chi, Philippine stick-fighting or sundry forms of martial arts, while on most Sundays, there is a free ‘Concert at the Park’ in an open-air auditorium.

Taft Avenue to Manila Bay
Free admission.

  • Intramuros

The original city, founded in 1571 by the Spanish, Intramuros is located on the southern bank of the Pasig River. Substantial sections of the encircling wall, which was begun in 1590, remain, including a number of decorated gates. In fact a poorly defensible site, Intramuros was the location of most major conflicts and invasions to befall the pre-independence Philippines, culminating in the devastating Battle for Manila between the Japanese and Americans in 1945, in which over 100,000 locals died. The surviving walls have been restored and many attractive historic buildings still remain within their precincts, while a walk beneath their ramparts gives a colonial experience hard to match in modern Asia.

Free admission.
  • Fort Santiago

One of the oldest and most dramatic colonial buildings in the Philippines, Fort Santiago was built to guard the entrance to the Pasig River and dates back, in its oldest sections, to 1571. Its most famous prisoner was the national hero, José Rizal, who spent his last days here before his death at the hands of the Spanish in 1896. More recent memories of tyranny include the legacy of wartime Japanese occupation, when Philippine freedom fighters suffered and died here. In another cell block, American POWs were left to be drowned by the rising tide - this was one of the rumoured resting places for the legendary wartime trove of Yamashita’s Gold and the victims’ last resting place has been much disturbed by treasure seekers. The Japanese used Fort Santiago as their final redoubt against American forces and the fort was correspondingly damaged. It has been rebuilt as a park, with its own resident theater company. At its heart is the Rizal Shrine, which contains very crypto-Catholic relics of the hero - one of his vertebrae, the first draft of his novel Noli Me Tangere or Touch Me Not (1887) and the original of his death poem.

Entrance at end of General Luna Street, Intramuros
Tel: (02) 527 2889.
Admission charge.

  • San Agustin Church and Museum
One of the few buildings in Intramuros to survive the carnage of the Japanese invasion substantially intact, and Manila’s oldest stone church, San Agustin Church was completed in 1606. Its present interior murals post date earthquakes in 1863 and 1889, which brought down one of its towers. The adjoining Augustinian monastery houses the San Agustin Museum, which contains much colonial religious art, including altarpieces and screens salvaged whole from other houses of worship in 1945.

General Luna Street, Intramuros
Tel: (02) 527 4061.
Admission charge.

  • National Museum of the Philippines
Founded in 1901 as the Insular Museum of Ethnology, Natural History and Commerce, the National Museum of the Philippines houses the official national baseline collections in the sciences and humanities, with particular reference to the environment and history of the Philippines. Its holdings are divided into the National Museum itself, housed in the Old Congress Building of the Philippines, and the National Museum of the Filipino People (tel: (02) 527 0213).

The National Museum has many archaeological exhibits of the Philippines’ prehistory, including the skull of ‘Tabon Man’, the oldest human remains in the archipelago. The Museum of the Filipino People collection includes the preserved timbers and treasures of the San Diego, a Spanish galleon that sank in Philippine waters after a collision in 1600. Also visit the Juan Luna collection of paintings. Luna was a Filipino master painter known for Spoliarium, an awe-inspiring painting depicting dead Roman gladiators being dragged away after the famed games. Luna won several major awards in his time, beating painters from all over the world.

Padre Burgos Street, Rizal Park
Tel: (02) 527 1215.
Free admission to the National Museum; admission charge for the Museum of the Filipino People.

  • Malacañang Palace and Museum
Locally renowned as a historic building, the palace was formerly the summer residence of the Spanish governor general and is now the seat of government and the official residence of the head of state. Its museum houses mementoes of each successive president of the Philippines. Imelda Marcos’ famous shoe collection was once part of the holdings, although they have now been removed to leave more worthy exhibits.

Gate Six, JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Tel: (02) 733 3721.
Admission charge.

  • Chinese Cemetery
Founded in the 1850s, the Chinese Cemetery was designated as the resting place for the Chinese citizens who were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries. A memorial garden considerably more opulent and bizarre than most of its ilk elsewhere in Asia, Manila’s Chinese Cemetery houses very complete sets of grave goods - tombs outfitted with air conditioning, plumbing, flushing toilets, chandeliers and all other modern conveniences for the well-off corpse. Entire streets are laid out to honor the dead and the status of their surviving relatives. Guided tours around some of the more baroque excesses are available courtesy of the guards.

South Gate on Aurora Avenue, Blumentritt
Free admission.

  • Ayala Museum
Best known for its dioramas (3D miniatures) depicting vital points in Philippine history, Ayala Museum is the easiest Manila museum to access. It is a walk away from MRT3 and located right inside the Makati business center. The museum showcases artifacts like trinkets, antique religious statues and clothing from the various cultures of the Philippines. It has also added a light and sound exhibit that recreates the EDSA Revolution that led to the fall of the Marcoses. Tourists will also enjoy eating at the M Cafe, which offers a fusion of Filipino cooking with Western twists.

Greenbelt, Makati Avenue, Makati City
Tel: (02) 757 7117-21.
Admission charge.

Further Distractions:
  • Lopez Memorial Museum
This little-known museum contains a vast collection of ancient books and artifacts, including the first book ever printed in the country.

Ground floor, Benpres Building, Exchange Road, corner of Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Tel: (02) 631 2417.
Admission charge.

  • Sunset over Manila Bay
The Philippines’ high humidity creates superb cloud effects over the city’s great natural harbor, resulting in the famous Manila Bay sunsets. Some sceptics also say that the light show at least allows spectators to turn their backs on the squalor and chaos of the city itself. Rizal Park, Roxas Boulevard or the cultural complex around San Isidro all offer fine venues for watching the sun go down, as does the SV Carina, which sets sail from Rizal Park for a 45- to 60-minute cruise around Manila Bay.

SV Carina
Departures from Rizal Park
Admission charge.

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