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Category Archives: Ancient History

Tangled Up in Thucydides.


The third piece I’ve written for Eidolon, this one about Bob Dylan’s apparent discovery of a new book by Pericles (or his general confusion about the Classics).

Double-Edged Swords.


A nice piece by Michael Goyette about the weapons of Hercules, and the ancient belief that the weapons themselves were both good and evil, and not in themselves – as many modern people view technology – a good.

End of the Republic Update.


One of the defining characteristics of ancient Rome’s late Republic was the saturation of domestic politics with international politics.  It began with Roman tribunes such as Lucius Apuleius Saturninus and Marcus Livius Drusus representing – whether out of principle or profit at this distance in time is hard to say – the interests not of […]

The Paideia Living Latin in New York Conference, 2015.


I think it was last year, at Rusticatio Virginiana, when I really felt that something was happening with the Classics. Something felt different: for so long, Classics had felt for me like a lone pursuit, and, fundamentally, a struggle: a struggle to learn, a struggle to teach, a struggle to find books and materials for, […]

Varro on Beyonce.


I’ve been reading Varro’s De Re Rustica in the midst of my daily labors (mostly cutting and carrying wood), and seeing new mother Beyonce looking rather fit at the Superbowl last night minded me of this passage: “Ut te audii dicere,” inquit, “cum in Liburniam venisses, te vidisse matres familias eorum affere ligna et simul pueros, […]

Ibn Ishaq, Herodotus of Early Arabia.


On the Wizard-of-Oz-like Chosroes, king of Persia: Now Chosroes used to sit in his audience chamber which contained his crown.  According to reports his crown was like a huge grain-measure with rubies, pearls, and topazes set in gold and silver, suspended by a golden chain from the top of the dome in his hall of […]

On the Constancy of Moral Behavior In Matters Human.


Cord Jefferson looks at some great Pompeian graffiti (where can we get the Latin for this, short of having a copy of the CIL in one’s study?) and comes to the (inescapable) conclusion that people are just as dumb, sex-obsessed, filthy-minded, and lowbrow as the worst television or rap music or brainless teenagers you can […]

The Appian Way, by Bob Kaster.


Robert Kaster’s The Appian Way, Ghost Road, Queen of Roads was my companion for a day here in the woods, in between spurts of gardening and writing. The book is short – 120 pages – and generally delightful.  It consists of some scattered historical anecdotes and observations coupled with a few bursts of travel writing. […]

Lucretius, Poggio, Greenblatt, Grafton.


A nice review, intelligently written as always, by Tony Grafton of Stephen Greenblatt’s book on the discovery of Lucretius by my favorite humanist Poggio Bracciolini.  Poggio struck me from the first time I encountered him in the form of his deeply sympathetic and humane letter describing the sadistic and dishonorable burning of Jerome of Prague […]

Plutarch on Lycurgus.


Human life used to be significantly more varied than it is now, as this little snapshot from Sparta shows.  Lycurgus was the lawgiver who gave Sparta its distinct character, which it maintained for centuries.  Now this is a truly radical program of reform: After the creation of the Senate, his next task, and indeed, the […]