The Word of the Month is RADISH.

I’ve long told my students that one really interesting thing about the Roman Empire is that nobody seemed to care much about what we call “race,” that is, a large group of people, not bound by ethnicity, who share a few physical characteristics held to be definitive and significant.

Let me illustrate. St. Augustine was born in north Africa, near Carthage, the “New City” founded by the seafaring Phoenicians—the “Purplers,” so-called by the Romans not for their complexion but for their most lucrative trade. They made purple dye, compounded from a certain shellfish. Augustine’s mother, Monica, had a Purple name; his father, Patricius, had a Roman name, but that proves nothing. Anybody might have a Roman or a Greek name. Among the apostles, Philip and Andrew had Greek names. Saul, a Roman citizen, also went by the Roman moniker Paulus—Shorty, as it were.

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