Tag: Ancient Rome

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Professor Bettany Hughes, award-winning historian, BBC broadcaster, and author of the best-selling books Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore; The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life; and Venus and Aphrodite: History of a Goddess.

Prof. Hughes shares insights from her most recent book about the ancient deity known as Venus to Romans and Aphrodite to the Greeks, and her impact on our understanding of the mythology and history of beauty, romance, and passion. She discusses Aphrodite’s mythical role in sparking the Trojan War, portrayals of her across Western culture, and enduring lessons. They then turn to the ancient Greeks’ contributions to the foundations of Western philosophy, poetry, and government, and why studying classics, including figures like Socrates, is vital for education in the 21st century. And they explore the timeless wisdom and cautionary lessons all of us can draw from studying ancient Athenian democracy, Sparta, and the civic life of Greek city-states, the West’s earliest models of self-government. She concludes with a reading from her book, Venus and Aphrodite.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Dr. Kathryn Tempest, a Reader in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Roehampton in London, UK, and author of Cicero: Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome and Brutus: The Noble Conspirator. They discuss the historical, civic, and moral lessons political leaders, educators, and schoolchildren today can learn by studying the Roman Republic and the lives of key figures from that era such as Cicero and Brutus.

Dr. Tempest reviews the legacy of Cicero, the distinguished statesman and orator, whose timeless works, influenced by Greek philosophy, have endeared him to extraordinary leaders through the ages, from St. Augustine to Churchill. She contrasts Cicero’s adherence to limited constitutionalism with the worldview of his nemesis, the colossal dictator Julius Caesar. She also delves into the complex relationship between Caesar and the enigmatic Brutus, whom Shakespeare called “the noblest Roman of them all” for his role in Caesar’s assassination on the “Ides of March.” Dr. Tempest traces the influence of these events on Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke and Montesquieu, and concepts such as the mixed constitution and separation of powers that are so fundamental to the American founding. She concludes with a reading from her biography of Brutus.

Fighting On Despite Desperate Odds

 

Why do men fight, and why are willing they willing to continue to fight to the last man, preferring death to surrender? T. E. Lawrence’s said men go to war “because the women were watching.” According to Michael Walsh, in his new book, Lawrence’s answer holds more truth than irony. Men fight for their families.

“Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All is Lost,” by Michael Walsh, investigates the last man phenomena. It explores why men fight, and why they are willing to continue fighting even when they know they will lose.

Walsh examines history through the lens of combat, starting with the Ancient Greek Battle of Thermopylae and continuing through the Marine retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in the Twentieth Century. In thirteen chapters he explores sixteen last-stand battles.  Some, including Thermopylae, Masada, and the Alamo, the defenders lost and dying almost to the last man. In others, like Rorke’s Drift and the Battle of Pavlov’s House at Stalingrad, defenders triumphed against terrible odds.

Boris Johnson Speaks, and It Isn’t All Greek to Me

 

On Christmas Eve, Powerline Blog pointed to Boris Johnson reciting a long passage from the Iliad, in ancient Greek, not as a schoolboy might, but as the great storyteller. This should not have been much of a surprise, given other appearances over the past few years by the man who is now Prime Minister. What follows is a Boris Johnson starter sampler.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson turned to reciting the Iliad in the course of a conversation with the Australian Broadcasting Company’s Annabel Crabb at the Melbourne Writers Festival this past July.

On Lawfare and Legend of Lucretia

 

The legends of ancient Rome tell the story of Lucretia. It tells how the age of the Roman Kingdom ended and the age of the Roman Republic began. It is the story of why the last Roman king, a true tyrant, named Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud, as in “the arrogant”), was finally overthrown. It also shows the powerful public outrage over the wrongful death of a virtuous woman.

The legend goes that, one night, a group of Roman nobles was getting drunk and bragging about whose wife was the most virtuous. To settle the argument, they rode to each of their houses so that the others could see just how their wives spent their idle time. All of the wives were found feasting or relaxing, except for Lucretia, the wife of Collatinus. When the nobles arrived at the house of Collatinus, Lucretia was found busily spinning wool. Her virtue and her beauty caught the drunken eye of Sextus, the son of King Tarquin.

On the next day, while Collatinus was away, Sextus returned. Since he was a cousin of Collatinus, Sextus was received by Lucretia as a relative and as a guest. Sextus then threatened, blackmailed, and raped Lucretia. Later, when Sextus had left and Collatinus had returned, Lucretia told her husband what Sextus had done, and then, to preserve her honor, she drew a knife and killed herself. Immediately afterward, Collatinus, Brutus, and others swore an oath that the evil Tarquin family could no longer be allowed to rule over Rome. They spread the news of the outrage of Lucretia’s death far and wide. Tarquinius Superbus and his family were soon exiled and the Roman Republic was born.

Victor Davis Hanson takes listeners on a behind-the-scenes look at his career, including his rise through academia, the decline of military history as a scholarly discipline, the importance of visiting battlefields, and why he felt compelled to write a new book on World War II.

Member Post

 

Filling glass of water from stainless steel kitchen faucet   A week or so ago @susanquinn wrote an excellent post regarding the purifying power of water. And it’s true that water does have the ability to cleanse, heal and sustain life. Indeed, it is essential to life. Such powers have been much discussed by both […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.