Posts Tagged: The Athenian Mercury
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The Mouse That Crawled Up Inside A Man, And Other Urban Legends Of The 17th Century

The Internet, Preserver of Our Fleeting Shames, also resurrects the lovely (because distant) indignities of the past. Prominent among these is the Athenian Mercury, the semi-reputable 1690s London advice column—put out by a group of misfits who called themselves The Athenian Society—to which many a citizen turned when wondering why people swoon at the sight of cats or laugh in the presence of pork.

A column about familiar fears and off-kilter folklore, the stuff the embarrassed children of a generation decided to forget, is built on the backs of modern-day Bartlebys who scanned and transcribed reams of faded, brittle, near-illegible paper objects. Anyone [...]

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Dear Athenian Mercury: The Non-Reproductive Sex Issue

History steers clear of the masturbators. It sidesteps erectile dysfunction and abortions in favor of tidy genealogies whose bustling branches confirm the basically Darwinian principle that, when it comes to sexual habits, those who propagate leave better paper trails. The exceptions aren't exactly razed from the Book of Life, but their contributions are usually buried in cavernous parentheticals and shady marginalia. They don't pop up much in the main text.

Luckily for us, there's the Athenian Mercury, the wildly popular advice column to which many a nameless 17th-century Londoner turned with his or her burning questions. If the Mercury avoided mentioning the unmentionable, it made up for [...]

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Dear Athenian Mercury: Questions And Answers From The First Advice Column In English

I'm an advice column junkie. I've never submitted a question but I read them obsessively. I also enjoy eavesdropping in the comments sections below as "Willow07" and "Jim no avatar" wrangle over the thorny issue of whether the obsessive-compulsive should or should not apologize for reorganizing his mother-in-law's Ladies of the American Revolution tampon collection. And if my reading has taught me anything, it is this: The debate is never really about the tampon collection. It's actually about defining standards we can all agree to when we condemn people and how we prioritize them. This kind of extra-legal self-legislation is—let's be honest—the only form of democracy we can actually [...]