Last Modified: Friday, July 06, 2012 7:22 PM
When did sailors start naming vessels, and why did they start doing it?
The practice of naming ships dates from ancient times, when sailors — knowing that nothing is certain on the sea — invoked the gods in prelaunch rites and petitioned for divine protection. That evolved to include the dedication of vessels to particular gods and then to the assigning of the divine names to the ships.
“Egyptian records offer proof — if proof is needed — of how very old is the custom of giving names to ships,” Lionel Casson writes in “Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World.” “We know over three dozen borne by galleys in Egypt’s navy, the earliest going back to the first ruler of the New Kingdom, Ahmose, who ascended the throne in 1567 B.C.”
The tradition of christening vessels — just one of many ceremonies arranged to mark maiden voyages — arose among these same gods-fearing mariners, whose rituals involved the pouring of libations on newly crafted ships.
“Ship launching participants in ancient Greece wreathed their heads with olive branches, drank wine to honor the gods, and poured water on the new vessel as a symbol of blessing. Shrines were carried on board Greek and Roman ships, and this practice extended into the Middle Ages. ...,” John C. Reilly, a specialist in ship history, writes on the Naval Historical Center’s website.
“Different peoples and cultures shaped the religious ceremonies surrounding a ship launching. Jews and Christians alike customarily used wine and water as they called upon God to safeguard them at sea. Intercession of the saints and the blessing of the church were asked by Christians.”
He says Ottoman seafarers likewise prayed to Allah — and sacrificed sheep — and that the Vikings “are said to have offered human sacrifice to appease the angry gods of the northern seas.”
On Interstate 10, approximately at mile marker 62, is an overpass that is like no other I’ve seen. It appears to be for private use only, to access property on both sides. How did this come to be?
“The overpass on I-10 around milepost 62 west of Jennings is for the crossing of cattle from one side of the roadway to the other,” Steve Jiles, regional administrator for the state highway department, wrote in an email.
“The cattle overpasses at this and several other locations were incorporated into the original design for I-10 before its construction more than 50 years ago. In general, overpasses were considered when large cattle farms were bisected by the planned interstate roadway and the movement of cattle between pastures was considered important.”
What is the law in Lake Charles concerning junk cars? There is a car next door with its tag expired, just sitting in the yard, collecting dust. It makes the neighborhood look bad. Who can I contact about this?
“It shall be unlawful for any person or business to allow storage of any junk or inoperable vehicle on any private property,” reads the city code.
To report violations, call the city’s Permit Center, which enforces the ordinance, at 491-1294.
The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email email@example.com