First order of business was, as usual, Art history. Today, I finished with the Babylonians, and moved on to the Assyrians. Fun fact time:
The Towers of Babel were originally a ziggurat, a religious building.
Babylon kind of took a break for a couple hundred years, but came back strong during the neo-babylon period.
The lions, dragons, and ancient ox were shown on the Ishtar gate in order to show the king’s power.
One of the customs among the Assyrians was for the king to hunt lions, both out in the wild and in arenas. Nobody else was allowed to hunt lions, and by killing them the king showed that he protected his people from the danger of nature.
Next up, Marine Biology. Today, I learned about some of the history of marine biology from this handy webpage. It had some interesting stuff mentioned in it, like how Aristotle was the first person that referenced specific marine life. James Cook also did a lot of marine investigation in his explorations, and Charles Darwin himself was the resident naturalist on one scientific expedition, and spent years catching and studying marine life.
Closer to modern day, Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gangan created a regulator, so that divers could safely breath compressed air. Hans Hass was one of the first people to interact with a sperm whale, and he invented an underwater flash camera. Pretty useful, because the ocean can get really, really dark.
Lastly, Monkey. Today’s chapters can be summarized as follows: The group goes and rescues Tripitaka, or at least tries. They manage to lure the monster to the surface, but he retreats before they can finish him off. Monkey goes off to request help from Kuan-yin, and she comes back with him while carrying a basket. She lowers the basket into the water, recites a spell, and lifts the basket, to reveal that there is a golden fish in it. She then explains some things.
First of all, the fish was hers. And it’s not like the last time a pet left their divine master, this time the fish got out on it’s own. She takes it back, and leaves for her home. Monkey gets Tripitaka, and they end up crossing the channel on the back of a giant turtle whose home was taken by the fish. Since Monkey got Kuan-yin who got rid of the fish, the turtle felt indebted to him.
Anyways, they get across the channel, continue on the journey, and make it to the Buddha’s palace. They climb into heaven, Tripitaka sheds his mortal body and becomes divine, they try to get scriptures, are screwed out of it by some guys that were expecting tribute from those who were literally a bunch of beggars, and then get it properly after Tripitaka gives them his begging bowl.
After some conversations between the Deities, including Kuan-yin, they decide to have 8 Vajrapanis take the group back, with the journey back spanning 8 days. Why 8 days? Because they’re taking 5048 scrolls back to China, and the trip there was only a mere 5040 days. 8 days back, it’ll all match up. 10 years to get there, 8 days to get back.
You know, considering how much danger they went through and how long it took them, I’d expect them to be a little annoyed about it. I mean, Tripitaka was given a divine task, and risked life and limb, nearly dying multiple times over the course of the trip, I’m able to think of 5 times off the top of my head, and he spent ten years on this. If he’d known that he could’ve just been taken there in 8 days, and back in 8 more, I would’ve thought he’d been kind of angry.
Then again, maybe it’s for the best. The palace was really far away, it took him 10 years to get there… how would people react if he just showed up under 3 weeks later?
Tripitaka: “Hey, I’m back, got the scriptures. A LOT of them too.”
Emperor: “You must be lying! You’d need to spend, like, a decade getting there! I thought you were the man for the job…”
Tripitaka: “I swear, I actually went there! How else did I get 5048 scrolls?”
Emperor: “I mean, you could’ve written them yourself…”
Tripitaka: “With what paper? With what ink? I have no money, and even then there’s no way I could’ve written all this in 2 weeks!”
Emperor: “Well, alright… but I still find it a bit suspicious.”