Mac Adam: who was he? *

John Loudon McAdam (1756 –  1836) was a Scottish engineer and road-builder who invented the macadam road surface, a smooth hard surface. Subsequent improvements introduced the use  of hot tar  or asphalt cement to bind the road surface’s stones together.

*Carneades! Who was he?”, said Don Abbondio to himself .

This line appears in “The Betrothed”,   (“I Promessi Sposi”) , 1827, an Italian historical novel written by Alessandro Manzoni (the most widely read Italian novel, studied also at school). Don Abbondio is a mediocre priest who, while reading a book,  meets  the name of that  Greek philosophers and wonders” Carneade! Chi era costui?”. Since then, in Italy,   Carneade and the related question  have  become  the symbol  of   an unknown or almost forgotten figure.

Renzo and Lucia, the betrothed




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