An ancient manuscript has fortuitously fallen into my hands. It appears to be a translation into Linear B of some now-lost clay tablets that were written in an still-more-antique language. The inscriptions on the original tablets are dedicated to a hitherto-unknown goddess --- named Atheses --- who is referred to variously as "Destroyer of Trees", "Scourge of the Untenured", and "Delayer of Graduation". She is depicted in a few surviving line drawings with a disheveled hair style, inky black fingers, and a vacant stare.

I have thus deduced that Atheses was the patroness of unfinished dissertations.

TopicHumor - Datetag20021012

At the foot of the Euganean hills, we find a region inhabited since the Neolithic Age by the Adige river (the old name being, significantly, Athesis), which flew there past the old town of Este until the flood of 589 AD (the so-called Rotta della Cucca). In ancient times, it was an important civil and religious center of the Palaeovenetians, who had there the sanctuary of the goddess Reitia and an important writing school, at the boundary with the Etruscan and Celtic territories, which favoured lively commercial and cultural exchanges.

We may hypothesize that the original manuscript fragment in clay-tablet form (unfinished as it was, in honor of the Patroness) was written here in Neolithic times, though of course of that we cannot be certain, the cataloguing effort of the later school being sadly and typically unfinished, leaving just the tantalizing hint that the manuscript had been seen and put on the to-do list of the time. However, it seems clear that partial copies and translations into different target languages were made here at later times, because the clay-tablet originals are subsequently never referenced directly elsewhere.

When the Romans later arrived in the Po Valley, the Venetians formed an alliance with them and against the Celts, thus giving way to their progressive romanization, interestingly enough also unfinished. In this time too we see vague references to the Codex Athesis in both Greek and Latin, and a variant spelling "Atheses" appears to have become common. Contemporary travel accounts note that a popular idiomatic saying ("vulgata") of the region translated roughly as "to be continued" and was used in much the same way as we today dismiss pending tasks with "Not now!", or "Later!".

Este became an important distraction-place along the Via Aemilia minor (that linked together Bologna and Altino), and later a Roman municipium and a military colony. Other unfinished business led to a progressive decline after about the 2nd C, accelerated by the barbarian invasions, the Hun sack and fire in 451-3, the flood in 589 -- all lending some credence to the lingering influence of the Patroness as manifested by the original manuscript remaining there over the centuries, awaiting that final reading and classification. It's however likely that the clay tablet version was finally lost in the flood of 589, which marks the ending of what's known as the "strong unfinished period". After this follows the "weak unfinished period" due to the lesser influence of the partially translated copies that survived.

The town's eventual recovery and secure placement in a cultural context, after about the 18th C, suggests that this period is when the manuscript disappeared completely from the region -- all copies eventually misplaced and inadvertantly carried off to somewhere else. The later circumstantial trail is hopelessly muddled due to the enormous amount of unfinished dissertations we find throughout Europe at the time; multiple copies spreading at random, each going to some center of learning and there working its particular form of havoc.

Future research is required to determine when and how copies of the manuscript reached the New World, but we make the preliminary assumption that it was in the mid or late 1800s, not earlier. (An earlier time frame would assuredly have led, for example, to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution never having been finished. There is strong supporting evidence that several copies existed in London, including in possession by the Royal family, during critical periods when England would otherwise have received a proper Constitutional framework.)

-- from an unfinished dissertation -- Bo Leuf

(correlates: HistoricTexasDessert, BovineMind, 1 Comment on Steely Eyed Missile Man, ...)