Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sipping wine & swapping wisdom at the Melita Insula Library

Sipping wine with Rholes and Anaitis
"Philoxenia is one of the virtues we care for most." said Rholes as he touched his chest.  I looked down at the bowl of Falernian wine in my hands, glanced up at Anaitis' kind eyes, then mirrored her smile and thought to myself, 'yes, philoxenia- this ancient institution of gracious hospitality toward strangers - is indeed very much alive here in this wondrous and welcoming land.'

Melita Insula is a role play sim, reminiscent of the island of Malta "somewhere between 14 and 68 AD, in the days of the early Roman Empire." It was created two years ago by a group of friends who enjoyed role-playing with each other in other ancient sims before they finally decided to build their own.  Eager to learn more after a brief but enchanting self-guided tour, I sent out a few IMs and quickly found myself with a generous invitation to join two of the "locals" for a drink at their seaside taverna.

Resting at the entrance to the library
Rholes, a big, burly fella with warm brown eyes and a sturdy Thracian name, is one of the current administrators of Melita Insula, as well as one of its founders.  Anaitis Ceriaptrix, who bears the name of a goddess meaning "the immaculate", is also a current administrator and has chosen to play the role of a slave in Rholes' modest household.   After telling me a bit about their beginnings, both in Second Life and in Melita Insula, I inquired a bit about the library which, while unassuming, hinted at a sort of subtle sophistication that I'd  found intriguing.
Enjoying the solitude

Rholes informed me that the library has been there since the very beginning.  Arachne, another founder, is very passionate about classical culture so a library was always a part of the original plan.  Anaitis, Rholes' "slave", is a RL scholar in classics and is fluent in Latin and Ancient Greek - pursuits that are clearly articulated through the library's collections.  Rholes, an RL book editor, guffawed when I asked him specific questions about the scrolls in the library.  Reminding me of their dedication to the historical authenticity of the sim, he claimed that he himself "could barely read the signs at the library" much less any of the scrolls.  He prefers, instead, to listen to heroic poems or histories about heroes and wars when they are recited or told in public.  Although events are not held with regularity, Anaitis
Trying to decide which to unroll first
does try to organize recitations and host philosophical discussions.  Rholes mentioned that in the future, they would like to arrange gladiatorial games and ancient plays, perhaps at their outdoor theatre.  Both agreed that the library and it's events are attended by both locals and visitors alike, and see it as an invaluable resource for all who seek it.

After swapping stories late into the wee morning hours (not to mention several bowls of truly excellent Falernian wine - these ancients sure know how to make a girl feel welcome!), it was with much reluctance that I bid my new friends farewell.  As I stumbled home, I thought about a passing comment that was made about the library's collections - their devotion to historical accuracy means that nothing is offered outside of their chosen period...allowing group members and visitors alike the opportunity to immerse themselves in a genuine experience of what an information center would have been like back in those ancient times.  Thus, my visit was a kind of history lesson in itself, presented in a way that was unique and completely different than anything I've ever experienced in a traditional RL library setting.  Hmmm...interesting.   Deep thoughts...or drunken thoughts?  It's always such a thin line, isn't it?  *wink, hiccup*

~ 'Til our next adventure,
   Zoe

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