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Category Archives: the dumb ancients

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 […]

Plutarch on Augustus and the Man with the Ass.


Just before the Battle of Actium: Of Caesar they relate that, leaving his tent and going round, while it was yet dark, to visit the ships, he met a man driving an ass, and asked him his name.  He answered him that his own name was Fortunatus, “and my ass,” he said, “is called Conqueror.” […]

Plutarch on Timon of Athens.


From the Life of Antony.  Antony, at the end of his life, his hopes shattered, said that he just wanted to end his days living the life of Timon of Athens.  Plutarch thus digresses: This Timon was a citizen of Athens, and lived much about the Peloponnesian War, as may be seen by the comedies […]

Death Held at Bay.


Driving home from work the other day, I came up over the hill and down into the happy valley of the Neversink, a sight I always love.  I found myself staring as I drove at the green fields zipping past.  The Mr. Mister song “Broken Wings” came on the radio, with its simple atmospheric bass […]

Bellantibus amantibusque omnia permittuntur.


You can understand the reasoning behind some of these customs of the Sacae (according to Aelian): “The horses of the Sacae, when they lose their master, wait for him to jump on again.  If someone wishes to marry a girl, he fights her in single combat.  And if she proves the stronger she leads him […]

Byzantium, the New Orleans of the Roman Empire.


From the Stupid Ancients department.  The technique of Leonides, here, might inspire a gifted statesman to find a way to save New Orleans. “The inhabitants of Byzantium, who are formidable tipplers, are reported to live in bars, moving out of their own houses and dwellings, which they let to foreigners visiting the city.  They abandon […]