September 2, 2011 11:30 AM Subscribe
First published in 1691 in London, The Athenian Mercury was the original supplier of answers to readers' questions, a format much imitated since. Queries on love, science, religion, literature and anything else people thought to ask about, were answered by The Athenian Society, members being publisher John Dunton and three of his friends. Athenian Mercury Project is a blog where Dr. Laura Miller publishes questions and answers from the The Athenian Mercury and The Awl has an occasional series where they trawl through the archive (1, 2, 3, 4). Both of these places are good places to start, but if they aren't enough, The Athenian Oracle: Being an Entire Collection of All the Valuable Questions and Answers in the Old Athenian Mercuries, is available on Google Books for free perusal, searching and download. Well, almost all, sadly enough volume one is nowhere to be found, but it does contain volumes two, three, four and a supplement (which includes a lengthy history of The Athenian Society). In addition to that, there is Athenian Sport, a collection of paradoxes debated by The Athenian Society. The questions asked by 17th Century Londoners should be familiar to those of us who read Ask MetaFilter.
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