Thomas Hodgkin’s thoughts on Hungarian history and Attila are invalid

…and need to be removed from pertinent Wikipedia pages ASAP. Why? Because he has a clear anti-Hungarian bias and agenda.

Let me explain.

Tonight, while I was lost in a Wikipedia hole about Hungarian history,  I came across some of Thomas Hodgkin’s thoughts on Hungarian language and anthropology from 1892, printed as gospel on the Wikipedia page. Not the famous British scientist mind you, but his nephew, who was a Quaker minister and banker. Just like his uncle, Hodgkin’s hobby was also that of an armchair historian. The writings of both Hodgkins were trusted, printed and widely circulated.

The thoughts of his that enraged me, in his book “Italy and her Invaders,” are as follows:

“The Hungarian traditions no more fully illustrate the history of Attila than the Book of Mormon illustrates the history of the Jews.”

Besides being outright offensive, this is a false equivalence. The Hungarian traditions Hodgkin writes of were written by Hungarian scholars and writers living in Hungary, in the Carpathian Basin, where Atilla the Hun had a capital city. One of the texts in question, the medieval Gesta Hungarorum, was written in the 12th century, incorporated oral history motifs and made mention of minstrels rhymes and tales from peasants. The book of Mormon claiming ancestry with the Jews was written in the late 1800’s, in America, by a wealthy man who had visions in his backyard. They are not the same thing.

Hodgkin dismisses Hungarian traditions in his book because, he says, most were written 500+ years after Attila existed. His reasoning is people could have embellished stories, and this makes their tales problematic and unfit to be used. Fine. I understand this. The same argument can be used on Christianity too but whatever.

However, reading further, Hodgkin was more keen to entertain stories of Attila, also written 500 years later, if they came from countries that were not Hungary, but say France or Norway.

The Hungarian texts cannot be trusted though, he writes, because there is no evidence that these Hungarian scholars actually bothered to go outside, interview village-folk and write down tales of Attila and the Huns. Rather, Hodgkins argues, these Hungarian propagandists  were making it up because they wanted a “pedigree.”  To quote Hodgkin, “all this invented history should be sternly disregarded…”

Wait, so Hodgkin thinks texts written about a person by people living where said person lived are not to be trusted or considered, at all?

Attila the Hun’s empire, from Wikipedia

As if that wasn’t enough to convince you of Hodgkin’s anti-Hungarian bias, there are more blatant examples in the passages where he writes about Priscus, the Roman diplomat who actually met Attila. Hodgkin calls Priscus’ writings on the nomadic king the “true historic Attila.” (As well he should, because they are first hand accounts.)

He summarizes Priscus’ detailed account of ambassadors from Constantinople traveling to meet Attila. They have to go through what Hodgkin calls the “recesses of Hungary,” to “meeting in a dingy little village in Hungary” to get to Attila’s palace.

Hodgkin continues to display his seemingly random hatred of Hungary with this next line: “students have discussed whether this Hunnish capital is… the modern city of Pesth, by Tokay [Pesth is old spelling of Pest, as in Budapest the capital of Hungary] … but we may dismiss with absolute indifference the inquiry in what particular part of a dreary and treeless plain a barbarian reared his log-huts…”

Yes, according to Hodgkin, whatever city in Hungary was Attila the Hun’s capital is irrelevant, as is the writings of the people that lived there. The “dreary and treeless plain” Hodgkin describes is the Great Hungarian Plain, which has been the subject of numerous paintings depicting its size and beauty. Of the Great Hungarian Plain, the BBC calls it Europe’s “cowboy country” and writes in its first slideshow image caption:

For more than 2,000 years, the Great Hungarian Plain (known as the Alföld in Hungarian) has been home to a rich cultural tradition of pastoral living and animal husbandry techniques – from ancient nomadic tribes who left behind stone burial mounds known as kurgans, to the fierce Magyar warriors who arrived in the late 9th Century and founded a network of settlements along the Tisza River.

TL;DR: Historian Thomas Hodgkin clearly hates Hungary, as evident by how he describes the country, and dismisses all texts written by Hungarians. Maybe a Hungarian woman was mean to him once?

2 posts have been made private….

as I would like to use snippets from the last two, as they relate to health care, elsewhere. For money. 

If you were linked here, well, you’re out of luck. 


Rancor is adorable too!

Rancor is adorable too!

Adorable tribute to the rancor from Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi” – Reddit

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now write for RWW… (and my infamous “reply girls” series in one location!)

If you didn’t notice from when I changed my Twitter bio, I’ve been writing (freelance) at RWW for a couple weeks now. I got my first paycheck a couple of days ago, so that mean it’s official at RWW, right!? Right.

I am still adjusting to the new place and their new way of doing things, and I realize it will take time given RWW is also going through a transition/SAY Media acquisition, so again, I am not worried. xoJane is also catching my eye, if you catch my drift.

While I make this new job transition, I thought it would be helpful to look back at my time at the Daily Dot, the first start-up I’ve worked for (if you don’t count True/Slant and various Patch sites).

Many folks will claim to have “discovered me,” this I know, but I can credit the Daily Dot with landing me my first radio appearance, on NPR’s On The Media.

OTM contacted me over my reply girl series, a series of YouTube community articles about women who were using their cleavage to exploit the site’s algorithm, and the backlash against them revealed a level of sexism and misogyny I wasn’t expecting. After I broke the story, Gawker’s Max Read brought my series national attention, and Fox News even decided to do their own bastardized version of my stories. It was very clear they didn’t understand the subject matter.

The Daily Dot doesn’t have a way to group the stories together, but for those of you that are interested, here you go: Read the rest of this entry »

“He-man Sings” continues to inspire additional artwork.

From Raincoaster’s daily column, The Morning GIF.


Cosmic Panda is a catastrophe!?

Have you heard of Cosmic Panda?

You know, that new YouTube layout Google railroaded through the YouTube website, despite months of protests by the video-sharing community?

Well, it’s been six months now, and the consequences of Cosmic Panda are coming to light. Because, Cosmic Panda wasn’t just a layout, it’s a brand new business model for web entertainment.

YouTube’s economy was built on clicks and was that way since its inception. YouTubers developed full-time jobs on the site based on this click economy, and some even had six figure salaries, for years.

Cosmic Panda, however, is no longer about clicks, but user engagement, and now thousands of YouTubers are finding their traffic dropping anywhere from 30 – 90%, because of the new layout.

I wrote about the traffic and revenue losses here for the Daily Dot, but what I really wanted to write was a more opinionated piece about this rewriting of a digital economy, with insider-y explanations… and more colorful language.

Some choice quotes/sentences that were not included but I feel need to be on the Internet:  Read the rest of this entry »

Lauren Orsini & I at the official Daily Dot party

On Thursday night at the official Daily Dot party, trying so hard not to do my troll face…

Daily Dot Summit 2011 (San Francisco):

The lovely Lauren Orsini at my side. Polaroid taken by Fernando Alfonso, also a fellow Daily Dot writer.



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