By: R.K. Fisher

Edited by: Martini Fisher

Contrary to popular belief, the oldest profession is not prostitution, it is gardening. Adam was a gardener. So was Sargon the Great, founder of the Akkadian empire around 2300 BC. Noah was a ship-builder, Jesus was a carpenter and Muhammad was a trader, but they are all known entirely for their non-economic activities.

Many famous people have been spies, including the English writers  Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Watson, Edmund Spenser, Andrew Marvell, Daniel Defoe, Somerset Maugham, Erskine Childers, Graham Greene, Rudyard Kipling, and Ian Fleming. The writer-spy T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was also an archaeologist, so when he was not spying he was robbing graves. Other famous spies include Casanova, who was also a lawyer, a violinist, a card sharp, a librarian and a clergyman – a very versatile fellow. Dr. John Dee  was the first person to develop and expound the concept of a British empire – he evidently thought it would be a good thing, but then he also thought that talking to Satan would be a good thing, so his judgement was not very reliable. He was the architect of the concept of the British navy too – “Britannia rules the waves” and all that kind of thing.

Mathematicians, astronomers and physicists include Albrecht Durer (the painter) and  Einstein (clerk in a patent office). Florence Nightingale was one of the founders of the field of medical statistics. Astronomers include Herschel, who was a musician, and Milton Humason, who was a wagon driver. (Daniel Boone also was a wagon driver.) Omar Kayyam, the poet who wrote the Rubaiyat, was also a great mathematician and astronomer – he developed a calendar that is more accurate than the Gregorian one we use now. Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, also was a mathematician. Pierre de Fermat (he of the Last Problem) was a magistrate, so after a busy day of sentencing people to death in unpleasant ways he went home and relaxed by doing mathematics. At the opposite end of the social scale was Reymers Bear who was a swineherd before he was appointed as mathematician to the Holy Roman Emperor. (The only other famous swineherd in history was Francisco Pizarro, who destroyed an empire.) Isaac Newton failed as a farmer and couldn’t support himself so he was made master of the royal mint, job qualifications apparently being rather different in those days.

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