Welcome to October, the tenth month, the beautiful Autumn month in our beautiful northern hemisphere, and likewise the beautiful Spring month in the Southern Hemisphere -where I heard everybody walks around upside down. I suppose they get used to it after a bit.
Once again, just like our situation in August, we again have a month named after that Octavius/Augustus guy! It doesn”t seem fair that anyone, even a Roman emporor, should have two months named after him. But what can you do? It’s because we use the Gregorian calendar, which was originally named after Julius Caesar, the head honcho himself. If you remember, Julius Caesar was the fellow who ended the young Roman democracy, and who started that whole Roman empire thing. Glorious Caesar. Hail Caesar! Yikes! What heroes! What history! Yikes again.
I confess I don’t know much about Caesar except that they named a salad after him. I have no idea what they named the salad before him, unless it was appetizers. I also confess that most of what I know about Roman emperors (and nearly everything else) comes from movies, and most of those were based on Shakespeare’s plays, which in turn were probably based on very little. The Robert Graves I, Claudius books, though, are, I believe, fairly accurate. Graves was not only an excellent writer, but a historian to boot. I remember getting hooked back in the day by the wonderful BBC series of I, Claudius. (Yeah, the BBC used to do some tremendous stuff) Anyhow, regarding old Octavius, I can’t say I know very much at all. So I won’t.
Ten completes the number count. After ten the same numerals are used again. Again and again – and in groups of ten! It’s our decimal system! Over the years, different cultures have used a variety of counting systems – the twenty, and the sixty work just fine. The ten is not the only way to do it. Computers count by twos, the binary system. But counting by tens is the predominant system, the decimal system. After all, we humans have ten fingers, so it’s kind of a natural. Logarithms are expressed in powers of ten. The decimal number system seems to work pretty good. It’s taken us to the moons of Saturn and beyond. Now wasn’t/isn’t that something amazing? All by using a base-ten number system. The math and the science go hand in hand, and take us to some beautiful places.
Anyway, getting back to Pele, I did see Pele play at Randall’s Island when he came out of retirement to play with the New York Cosmos. Pele scored a goal, a header, that night. He had already lost much of his speed, but he was still a superior player, clearly the best on the field.
Speaking of sports, October used to be the time of the World Series, but now we have the division playoffs – which usually are terrific. Personally, I’m looking forward to some excellent baseball. Baseball, of course, respects the nine. Nine innings, nine players. Ten in baseball would be extra innings.
Ten years ago on a cold dark night
Someone was killed ‘neath the town hall light
Thus begins one of Maybanks’ and Bumba’s favorite songs. As you can see the first word of the song is ten. So, there you go.
OK. More about the ten. A regular ten-sided figure is a decagon. To inscribe a regular decagon in a circle, the golden proportion is used.
The tetractys, the triangle of ten formed by the first 4 numbers, was considered holy by the Pythagoreans. Numbers were sacred to them, since whole numbers, they thought and fervently believed, could describe everything under Creation. Everything, that’s to say the underlying reality that underlies the visible, physical world, Pythagoras said, was numbers and the “rational” relationships or proportions between those numbers. Anything else was ….irrational. Those early mathematicians and philosophers were very interesting fellows. Not clear why, but the Pythagorean Brotherhood soon became a secret society that guarded their precious knowledge. Kinda like the Masons or Knights of Pythias, but without the fancy handshakes. Anyhow, they used the tetractys, that construction of ten pebbles in the sand, in their swearing-in ceremony. Ten was the holy of holies for the Pythagoreans, a tradition pre-dated by the Hebrews who still enjoy ten High Holy Days (And a Happy New Year!) as well as Ten Commandments. Ten is double the five books of the Torah. The Kabbalists later lionized the ten as well. Bowlers also lionize the ten pins. It’s a pleasure to knock ’em all down, ain’t it?
Not to put too rosy a cast on the ten, ten was also the number of years that poor Odysseus, brave and resourceful Odysseus, or Ulysses if you like, had to endure before returning home to Ithaca from the Trojan Wars. There were also ten plagues, don’t forget, and ten little Indians, a rascist nursery rhyme that we recited to learn our numbers when we didn’t know any better. Ten Years After was a fine blues band featuring Alvin Lee. And Elvis himself sung “Love Me Ten Dear”. Or was that “Loan Me Ten, Dear”?
Anywaze…..There’s a lot to do this October. We have to Dump Trump! Let’s get going. Happy October!