LLR Books

Spartacus


"Spartacus, who was born north of Greece, in Thrace, received training in the Roman army as a barbarian 'auxiliary' (ally) before becoming a slave in 73 BCE. It's not clear why he was enslaved after serving Rome. However, his combat skills made him a natural candidate for the gladiator school at Capua, about one hundred miles from Rome.

"Here Spartacus and his fellow slaves learned how to entertain a Roman audience with dramatic hand-to-hand combat. Knowing they were going to their certain deaths, however, about eighty gladiators followed Spartacus into rebellion - using kitchen utensils as weapons. Before long they armed themselves with real weapons, slaughtering Roman soldiers who tried to stop them. Then they escaped to the countryside, where Spartacus incited a general slave uprising, attracting thousands of field workers to his cause. He led the rebel slaves to a mountaintop, where they built a fortified encampment.
"At first the Roman Senate viewed the uprising as a minor threat, but they soon learned better, and dispatched two commanders (praetors) to besiege the mountain and starve the slave army into submission. Spartacus launched a daring counterattack, ordering his soldiers to use vines to rappel down the side of the mountain
"Of course the Roman Senate couldn't allow the slave rebellion to succeed, as the Roman economy was increasingly based on slavery. So they dispatched a new commander, Crassus, with twelve legions - a huge force - only to have the advance force of two legions annihilated by the slave army. "Spartacus now led the rebels south, to Sicily, where he planned to rendezvous with pirates he'd hired to take them to safety. But the pirates never showed, and the slaves found themselves trapped on a narrow peninsula. ... Desperate, Spartacus decided he had no choice but to fight the Romans head on. Here the Romans finally defeated the rebel army, showing no mercy as they butchered sixty thousand runaway slaves, including women and children. Sixty-six hundred survivors were crucified along the Appian Way connecting Capua to Rome. However, the body of Spartacus was never found."
Erik Sass and Steve Wiegand, The Mental Floss History of the World




Roman Water


"Although not famed for their technological originality, Romans did use water to make one transformational innovation - concrete - around 200 BC that helped galvanize their rise as a great power. Light, strong, and waterproof, concrete was derived from a process that exploited water's catalytic properties at several stages by adding it to highly heated limestone. When skillfully produced, the end process yielded a putty adhesive strong enough to bind sand, stone chips, brick dust, and volcanic ash. Before hardening, inexpensive concrete could be poured into molds to produce Rome's hallmark giant construction projects. One peerless application was the extensive network of aqueducts that enabled Rome to access, convey, and manage prodigious supplies of wholesome freshwater for drinking, bathing, cleaning, and sanitation on a scale exceeding anything realized before in history and without which its giant metropolis would not have been possible. ...
"Yet nowhere was Rome's public water system more influential than in Rome itself. Indeed, Rome's rapid growth to a grand, astonishingly clean imperial metropolis corresponded closely with its building its 11 aqueducts over five centuries to AD 226, extending 306 miles in total length and delivering a continuous, abundant flow of fresh countryside water from as far away as 57 miles. The aqueducts funneled their mostly spring-fed water through purifying settling and distribution tanks to sustain an urban water network that included 1,352 fountains and basins for drinking, cooking and cleaning, 11 huge imperial baths, 856 free or inexpensive public baths plus numerous, variously priced private ones, and ultimately to underground sewers that constantly flushed the wastewater into the Tiber. ...
"Sustaining and housing a population of I million may not seem like much of an accomplishment from the vantage point of the twenty-first century with its megacities. Yet for most of human history cities were unsanitary human death traps of inadequate sewerage and fetid water that bred germs and disease-carrying insects. Athens at its peak was about one-fifth the size of Rome, and heaped with filth and refus at its perimeter. In 1800, only six cities in the world had more than half a million people - London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Istanbul, Canton. Despite Rome's hygienic shortcomings - incomplete urban waste disposal, overcrowded and unsanitary tenements, malaria-infested, surrounding lowlands - the city's provision of copious amounts of fresh, clean public water washed away so much filth and disease as to constitute an urban sanitary breakthrough unsurpassed until the nineteenth century's great sanitary awakening in the industrialized West.
"Although there are no precise figures in ancient records on how much freshwater was delivered daily, it is widely believed that Roman water availability was stunning by ancient standards and even compared favorably with leading urban centers until modern times - perhaps as much as an average of 150 to 200 gallons per day for each Roman. Moreover, the high quality of the water - the Roman countryside offered some of the best water quality in all Europe, and still does so today - was an easily overlooked historical factor in explaining Rome's rise and endurance."


Author: Steven Solomon
Water, Publihsed by Harper

Ambrosial

Ambrosial (IE Worthy of the gods; divine/.Exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell; especially delicious or fragrant.) comes from the Greek ambrosios, "of the Gods." Ambrosia refers to the food or drink consumed by the Greek pantheon

Spartans,

"Spartans, ... the Dorian invaders who conquered the southern Greek city of Messenia in the eighth century BCE, set up a rigid class system separating a tiny group of 'citizens' from a giant population of native 'helots' who worked

in slavery-like conditions. The system became even more brutal after the helots tried to revolt in the seventh century BCE. By the fifth century BCE, there were about ten thousand citizens versus perhaps two hundred thousand helots. The Spartan hierarchy was incredibly strict: helots had no political rights or freedom of movement, and gave up half of every harvest to the Spartan overlords.


"The Spartans were equally hard on themselves, creating a military society with one goal: training invincible soldiers to control the helots. Spartan life centered on military preparation. Weak and deformed newborn children were exposed to the elements and left to die by order of the state. Boys entered military school at the age of seven, where their first task was to weave a mat of coarse river reeds they would sleep on for the rest of their lives. They were forced to run for miles while older boys flogged them, sometimes during of exhaustion, and were encouraged to kill helots as part of a rite of passage. At age twenty, after thirteen years of training, the surviving young men finally became soldiers. They served in the Spartan army until age sixty, living in communal barracks, where they shared meals and bunked together.

"They were allowed to marry bur rarely saw their wives until they 'graduated' to 'equals,' at age thirty. Ironically, this gender separation helped Spartan women accumulate property and power. Women are believed to have owned about 40 percent of Sparta's agricultural land and were at least sometimes responsible for managing the labor of helots, making them far more 'liberated' than other Greek women.

"The Spartans created one of history's more unusual governments. Somewhat like in Athens, all male citizens age thirty and up formed an assembly. But that's where the similarities ended. In Sparta, the assembly picked a council of twenty-eight nobles, all over the age of sixty, to advise not one but two kings. This dual-kingship was hereditary, but if the rulers were incompetent, they, could be deposed by the real bosses of Sparta - a group of five powerful men called ephors, who were elected annually by the assembly, leading it in wartime, when the kings were away"


Erik Sass and Steve Wiegand, Mental Floss History of the World

Horace

Not the owner of many possessions will you be right to call happy: he more rightly deserves the name of happy who knows how to use the Gods' gifts wisely and to put up with rough poverty, and who fears dishonor more than death. -- Horace (65-8 BC) Roman Poet

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, (December 8, 65 BC - November 27, 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading lyric poet in Latin, the son of a freedman, but himself born free. His father, though poor, spent considerable money on Horace's education, accompanying him first to Rome for his primary education, and then to Athens to study Greek and philosophy. Horace never took for granted his father's care and sacrifice, and his relationship with his father remains one of the most endearing personal episodes to survive from the classical period.


After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Horace joined the army, serving under the generalship of Brutus. He was in the Battle of Philippi, and saved himself by fleeing. When an amnesty was declared for those who had fought against the victorious Augustus, he returned to Italy, only to find his father dead, and his estate confiscated. Horace was reduced to poverty. He was, however, able to purchase a clerkship in the quaestor's office, which allowed him to get by and practice his poetic art.

Horace was a member of a literary circle that included Virgil and Lucius Varius Rufus; they introduced him to Maecenas, friend and confidant of Augustus. Maecenas became his patron and close friend, and presented Horace with an estate near Tibur, contemporary Tivoli.

Perhaps the finest translator of Horace was John Dryden, who successfully adapted most of the Odes into English verse for readers of his own age. These translations are favored by many scholars despite some textual variations. Others favor unrhymed translations.


Horace's surviving work includes:


Four books of Odes (or Carmina), longer poems, usually on mythological subjects;

A book of Epodes, containing shorter poems;

Two books of Satires

Two books of Letters or Epistles, andThe Carmen Saeculare

One of the Epistles is often referred to as a separate work in itself, the Ars Poetica. In this work, Horace forwards a theory of poetry. His most important tenets are that poetry must be carefully and skillfully worked out on the semantic and formal, and that poetry should be wholesome as well as pleasant. This latter issue is often referred to as the dulce et utile, which is Latin for the sweet and useful. (This work was first translated into English by Queen Elizabeth I).
Horace is generally considered by classicists to be, along with Virgil, the greatest of the Latin poets. He wrote many Latin phrases that remain in use, in Latin or in translation, including carpe diem, "seize the day," and aurea mediocritas, the "golden mean." His works are highly derivative of Greek models, and written exclusively in Greek metres, from the hexameter, which was relatively easy to adapt to Latin, to the more complex measures used in the Odes, like alcaics and sapphics, which were sometimes a difficult fit for Latin structure and syntax. No Latin writer handles these metres with such grace, precision and lightness of touch, although Catullus comes close. The Satires and Epistles are his most personal works, and perhaps the most accessible to contemporary readers unable to appreciate the verbal magic of the Odes.





Euripides


It is a good thing to be rich, it is a good thing to be strong, but it is a better thing to be beloved of many friends. -- Euripides (480-406 BC) Greek Playwright


Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, along with Aeschylus and Sophocles.


He is believed to have written over 90 plays, 18 of which are extant (it is now widely believed that a nineteenth, Rhesus, was written by someone else). Fragments of most of the other plays survive, some of them substantial.

More of his plays have survived than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because of the chance preservation of a manuscript that was probably part of a complete collection of his works.

Euripides is known primarily for having reshaped the formal structure of traditional Attic tragedy by showing strong women characters and smart slaves, and by satirizing many heroes of Greek mythology.



Private life

His mother's name was Cleito, and his father's either Mnesarchus or Mnesarchides. Evidence suggests that Euripides' family was comfortable financially. He had a wife named Melito, and together they had three sons. It is rumored that he also had a daughter, but she was killed after a rabid dog attacked her. Some call this rumor a joke that Aristophanes, a comic writer who often poked fun at Euripides, wrote about him. However, many historians fail to see the humor in this and believe it is indeed true.



Public life

The record of Euripides' public life, other than his involvement in dramatic competitions, is almost non-existent. There is no reason or historical evidence to believe that he travelled to Syracuse, Sicily or engaged himself in any other public or political activities during his lifetime, or left Athens at the invitation of king Archelaus II and stayed with him in Macedonia after 408 BC.



His Plays

Euripides first competed in the famous Athenian dramatic festival (the Dionysia) in 455 BC, one year after the death of Aeschylus. He came in third. It was not until 441 BC that he won first place, and over the course of his lifetime, Euripides claimed a mere four victories.

He was a frequent target of Aristophanes' humor. He appears as a character in The Acharnians, Thesmophoriazousae, and most memorably in The Frogs, where Dionysus travels to Hades to bring Euripides back from the dead. After a competition of poetry, Dionysus opts to bring Aeschylus instead.

Euripides' final competition in Athens was in 408 BC. Although there is a story that he left Athens embittered because of his defeats, there is no real evidence to support it. He died in 406 BC, probably in Athens or nearby, and not in Macedon, as some biographers repeatedly state. The Bacchae was performed after his death in 405 BC.

When compared with Aeschylus, who won thirteen times, and Sophocles, with eighteen victories, Euripides was the least honored, though not necessarily the least popular, of the three - at least in his lifetime.

Later, in the 4th century BC, the dramas of Euripides became more popular than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles. His works influenced New Comedy and Roman drama, and were later idolized by the French classicists; his influence on drama reaches modern times.

Euripides' greatest works are considered to be Alcestis, Medea, Electra and The Bacchae.

Classicists at Oxford University are, as of June 2005, employing infrared technology - previously used for satellite imaging - to detect previously unknown material by Euripides in fragments of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, a collection of ancient manuscripts held by the university.



List of Plays


Alcestis - written 438 B.C.E

Andromache - written 428-24

The Bacchantes - written 410 B.C.E

The Cyclops - written ca. 408 B.C.E

Electra - written 420-410 B.C.E

Hecuba - written 424 B.C.E

Helen - written 412 B.C.E

Heracleidae - written ca. 429 B.C.E

Heracles - written 421-416 B.C.E

Hippolytus - written 428 B.C.E

Ion - written 414-412 B.C.E

Iphigenia At Aulis - written 410 B.C.E

Iphegenia in Tauris - written 414-412 B.C.E

Medea - written 431 B.C.E

Orestes - written 408 B.C.E

The Phoenissae - written 411-409 B.C.E

Rhesus - written 450 B.C.E

The Suppliants - written 422 B.C.E

The Trojan Women - written 415 B.C.E

Euripides

Slight not what is near though aiming at what is far.-- Euripides (480-406 BC) Greek Playwright

Aristotle

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper. – Aristotle

Roman Empire's collapse

"What is most striking about [Rome's] history is the speed of the Roman Empire's collapse. In just five decades, the population of Rome itself fell by three-quarters. Archaeological evidence from the late fifth century - inferior housing, more primitive pottery, fewer coins, smaller cattle - hows that the benign influence of Rome diminished rapidly in the rest of western Europe. What [Oxford historian Brian] Ward-Perkins calls 'the end of civilization' came within the span of a single generation.


"Other great empires have suffered comparably swift collapses. The Ming dynasty in China began in 1368, when the warlord Zhu Yuanzhang renamed himself Emperor Hongwu, the word hongwu meaning 'vast military power.' For most of the next three centuries, Ming China was the world's most sophisticated civilization by almost any measure. Then, in the mid-seventeenth century, political factionalism, fiscal crisis, famine, and epidemic disease opened the door to rebellion within and incursions from without. In 1636, the Manchu leader Huang Taiji proclaimed the advent of the Qing dynasty. Just eight years later, Beijing, the magnificent Ming capital, fell to the rebel leader Li Zicheng, and the last Ming emperor hanged himself out of shame. The transition from Confucian equipoise to anarchy took little more than a decade.

"In much the same way, the Bourbon monarchy in France passed from triumph to terror with astonishing rapidity. French intervention on the side of the colonial rebels against British rule in North America in the 1770s seemed like a good idea at the time - a chance for revenge after Great Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War a decade earlier - but it served to tip French finances into a critical state. In May 1789, the summoning of the Estates-General, France's long-dormant representative assembly, unleashed a political chain reaction that led to a swift collapse of royal legitimacy in France. Only four years later, in January 1793, Louis XVI was decapitated by guillotine. ...

"The sun set on the British Empire almost as suddenly. In February 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was at Yalta, dividing up the world with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. As World War II was ending, he was swept from office in the July 1945 general election. Within a decade, the United Kingdom had conceded independence to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Madagascar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Suez crisis in 1956 proved that the United Kingdom could not act in defiance of the United States in the Middle East, setting the seal on the end of empire. Although it took until the 1960s for independence to reach sub-Saharan Africa and the remnants of colonial rule east of the Suez, the United Kingdom's [centuries old] age of hegemony was effectively over less than a dozen years after its victories over Germany and Japan.

"The most recent and familiar example of precipitous decline is, of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the benefit of hindsight, historians have traced all kinds of rot within the Soviet system back to the Brezhnev era and beyond. Perhaps, as the historian and political scientist Stephen Kotkin has argued, it was only the high oil prices of the 1970s that 'averted Armageddon.' But this did not seem to be the case at the time. In March 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, the CIA estimated the Soviet economy to be approximately 60 percent the size of the U.S. economy. This estimate is now known to have been wrong, but the Soviet nuclear arsenal was genuinely larger than the U.S. stockpile. And governments in what was then called the Third World, from Vietnam to Nicaragua, had been tilting in the Soviets' favor for most of the previous 20 years. Yet less than five years after Gorbachev took power, the Soviet imperium in central and Eastern Europe had fallen apart, followed by the Soviet Union itself in 1991. If ever an empire fell off a cliff - rather than gently declining - it was the one founded by Lenin."

Niall Ferguson, Complexity and Collapse, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2010, pp. 28-30

Gods heros and men

Hera, the Queen of the Gods

The wife of Zeus was the tall and beautiful goddess Hera. As Zeus was the king of all the gods, so she was their queen. She sat beside him in the council-hall of the gods, on a throne only a little less splendid than his own. She was the greatest of all the goddesses, and was extremely proud of her own strength and beauty.


Hera chose the peacock for her favorite bird, because its plumage was so beautiful. The goddess Iris was her servant and messenger, and flew swiftly through the air upon her errands. The rainbow, which seemed to join heaven and earth with its beautiful arch, was thought to be the road by which Iris traveled.

Here was not only proud of her own beauty, but she was also very jealous of the beauty of any one else. She would even punish women that she thought were too beautiful, as if they had done something very wrong; she often did this by changing them into animals or birds. There was one woman whom Hera changed into the form of a savage bear, and turned out to wander in the forest because she hated her beautiful face. The poor creature was terribly frightened among the fierce animals of the woods; for although she herself now had the form of a beast, her soul was still human. At last Zeus, who was kinder of heart than Hera, took pity upon her. He lifted her far above the earth, and placed her among the stars of heaven; and so, ever after that, the Greeks called one group of stars the Great Bear.


There was once a wood-nymph named Echo, who deceived Hera, and so made her very angry Echo was a merry, beautiful girl, whose tongue was always going, and who was never satisfied unless she could have the last word. As a punishment for her deception, Hera took away her voice, leaving her only the power to repeat the last word that should be spoken to her. Echo now no longer cared to join her companions in their merry games, and so wandered through the forests all alone. But she longed to talk, and would often hide in the woods, and repeat the words of hunters and others who passed that way. At last she learned to take delight in puzzling and mocking the people who listened to her.

"Who are you?" they would shout at her.

"You," would come her answer.

"Then, who am I?" they would ask, still more puzzled.

"I," Echo would answer in her sweet, teasing manner.

One day Echo met in the woods a young man named Narcissus, and loved him. But he was very unkind, and would take no notice of her except to tease her for the loss of her voice. She became very unhappy, and began to waste away from grief, until at last there was nothing left of her but her beautiful mocking voice.

When the gods found what had happened to the lovely Echo they were very angry. To punish Narcissus for his unkindness, they changed him from a strong young man to a weak, delicate flower, which is now always called by his name.

Hades, the King of the Dead.

Hades, the god of the under-world, was also a brother of Zeus; but the Greeks did not think of him as being bright and beautiful like the other gods. They believed, indeed, that he helped make the seeds sprout and push their leaves above the surface of the earth, and that he gave men the gold and silver which they dug out of their mines. But more often they thought of him as the god of the gloomy world of the dead; so they imagined that he was dark and stern in appearance, and they feared him more than they did the other gods.




The Greeks thought that when any one died, his soul or shade went at once to the kingdom of Hades. The way to this under-world lay through a cave which was in the midst of a dark and gloomy forest, by the side of a still lake. When they had passed down through this cavern, the shades came to a broad, swift stream of black water. There they found a bent old man named Charon, whose duty it was to take the shades across the stream in a small, leaky boat. But only those spirits could cross whose bodies had been properly burned or buried in the world above; and those whose funerals had not been properly attended to were compelled to wander for a hundred years upon the river-bank before Charon would take them across.



When the shades had crossed the river, they came upon a terrible creature, which guarded the path so that no one who had once passed into the kingdom of the dead could ever come out again. This was the great dog Cerberus, who had three heads, and who barked so fiercely that he could be heard through all the lower world.



Beyond him the shades entered the judgment room, where they were judged for what they had done on earth. If they had lived good lives, they were allowed to enter the fields of the blessed, where flowers of gold bloomed in beautiful meadows; and there they walked and talked with other shades, who had led good lives in the world above. But the Greeks thought that even these spirits were always longing to see the light of day again, for they believed that no life was so happy as that which they lived on the face of the earth.



The shades who had lived bad lives in the world above were dreadfully punished in the world of the dead. There was once a king named Sisyphus, who had been cruel and wicked all his life. When he died, and his shade went down to the under-world, the judge told him that his punishment would be to roll a great stone up a steep hill and down the other side. At first Sisyphus thought that this would be an easy thing to do. But when he had got the stone almost to the top, and it seemed that one more push would send it over and end his task, it suddenly slipped from his hands, and rolled to the foot of the hill again. So it happened every time; and the Greeks believed that Sisyphus would have to keep working in this way as long as the world lasted, and that his task would never be done.



There was once another king, named Tantalus, who was wealthy and fortunate upon earth, and had been loved by the gods of heaven. Zeus had even invited him to sit at his table once, and had told him the secrets of the gods. But Tantalus had not proved worthy of all this honor. He had not been able to keep the secrets that had been trusted to him, but had told them to all the world. So when his shade came before the judge of the dead, he, too, was given a dreadful punishment. He was chained in the midst of a sparkling little lake where the water came up almost to his lips. He was always burning with thirst; but whenever he stooped to drink from the lake, the water sank into the ground before him. He was always hungry, and branches loaded with delicious fruits hung just over him. But whenever he raised his hand to gather them, the breeze swung them just out of his reach. In this way the Greeks thought that Tantalus was to be punished forever because he had told the secrets of the gods.

Poseidon, the God of the Sea.

Poseidon was the brother of Zeus, and just as Zeus ruled over the land and the sky, Poseidon ruled over the rivers and the seas. He was always represented as carrying a trident, or fish-spear with three points. When he struck the sea with this, fierce storms would arise; then with a word he could quiet the dashing waves, and make the surface of the water as smooth as that of a pond.


The palace of Poseidon was said to be at the bottom of the sea. It was made of shells and coral, fastened together with gold and silver. The floors were of pearl, and were ornamented with all kids of precious stones. Around the palace were great gardens filled with beautiful sea-plants and vines. The flowers were of the softest and most delicate tints, and were far more beautiful than those growing in the light of the sun. The leaves were not of the deep green which we see on land, but of a most lovely sea-green color. If you should ever go to the sea-coast, and look down through the water, perhaps you also might see the gardens of Poseidon lying among the rocks at the bottom of the sea.

Poseidon rode over the surface of the sea in a chariot made of a huge sea-shell, which was drawn by great sea-horses with golden hoofs and manes. At the approach of the god, the waves would grow quiet, and strange fishes and huge sea-serpents and sea-lions would come to the surface to play about his chariot. Wonderful creatures called Tritons went before and beside his chariot, blowing upon shells as trumpets These Tritons had green hair and eyes; their bodies were like those of men, but instead of legs they had tails like fishes.

Nymphs also swam along by the sea-god’s chariot. Some of these were like the Tritons, half human and half fish. Others were like lovely maidens, with fair faces and hair. Some lived so much in the depths of the sea that their soft blue eyes could not bear the light of day. So they never left the water except in the evening, when they would find some quiet place upon the shore, and dance to the music which they made upon delicate sea-shells.

Poseidon once had a quarrel with one of the goddesses over a piece of land which each one wished to own, and at last they asked the other gods to settle the dispute for them. So at a meeting on Mount Olympus the gods decided that the one who should make the most useful gift to the people should have the land.

When the trial came, Poseidon thought that a spring of water would be an excellent gift He struck a great blow with his trident upon a rocky hill that stood in that land, and a stream of water gushed forth. But Poseidon had lived so much in the sea that he had forgotten that men could drink only fresh water. The spring which he had made was as salt as salt could be, and it was of no use to the people at all. Then the goddess, in her turn, caused an olive-tree to spring up out of the ground. When the gods saw how much use men could make of its fruit and oil, they decided that the goddess had won. So Poseidon did not get the land; but ever afterward the people showed the salt spring and the olive-tree upon the hill-top as a proof that the trial had taken place.

Poseidon was worshiped most by the people who lived by the shore of the sea. Every city along the coast had a temple to Poseidon, where people came to pray to him for fair weather and happy voyages for themselves and for their friends.

Zeus, the King of the Gods

Zeus, the King of the Gods



In the northern part of Greece there was a very high mountain called Mount Olympus; so high that during almost all the year its top was covered with snow, and often, too, it was wrapped in clouds. Its sides were very steep, and covered with thick forests of oak and beech trees.

The Greeks thought that the palaces of their gods were above the top of this mountain, far out of the reach of men, and hidden from their sight by the clouds. Here they thought that the gods met together in a grand council hall, and held great feasts, at which they talked over the affairs of the whole world.

Zeus, who ruled over the land and the air, was the king of the gods, and was the greatest and strongest among them. The strength of all the other gods put together could not overcome him. It was he who caused the clouds to form, and who sent the rain to refresh the thirsty earth. His great weapon was the thunderbolt, which he carried in his right hand. But the thunderbolt was seldom used, for the frown and angry nod of Zeus were enough to shake the palaces of the gods themselves.

Although Zeus was so powerful, he was also king and generous to those who pleased him. The people who lived upon the earth loved as well as feared him, and called him father. He was the most just of all the gods. Once when there was a great war between the Greeks and another people, all the other gods took sides, and tried to help those whom they favored all they could. But Zeus did not. He tried to be just, and at last he gave the victory to the side which he thought deserved to have it.

The oak was thought to be sacred to Zeus because it was the strongest and grandest of all the trees. In one part of Greece there was a forest of these, which was called the forest of Dodona. It was so thick and that the sunbeams scarcely found their way through the leaves to the moss upon the ground. Here the wind made strange low sounds among the knotted branches, and people soon began to think that this was their great god Zeus speaking to men through the leaves of his favorite tree So they set this forest apart as sacred to him; and only his servants, who were called priests, were allowed to live in it. People came to this place from all parts of Greece to ask the advice of the god; and the priests would consult with him, and hear his answers in the murmuring of the wind among the branches.

The Greeks also built beautiful temples for their gods, as we build churches. To these temples they brought rich gifts of gold and silver and other precious things, to show how thankful they were for the help which the gods gave them. In each temple there was a great block of marble called the altar, and on this a small fire was often kept burning by the priests. If anyone wished to get the help of one of the gods, he would bring a dove, or a goat, or an ox to the temple, so that the priests might kill it, and burn part of its flesh as an offering. For they thought that the smell of the burning flesh pleased the gods.

Since Zeus was the greatest of the gods, many of the most beautiful temples in Greece were built in his honor. A part of one of these temples to Zeus is still standing, and you can see it if you ever go to Greece. It was made of the finest white marble, and was surrounded on all sides by rows of tall columns beautifully carved

In another temple there was a great statue of Zeus, made of ivory and gold. It was over sixty feet high, and showed the god seated on a great throne which was covered with carving The robe of the god was of solid gold. But it was the face of the statue which the Greeks though was most wonderful. It was so grand and beautiful that they said: "Either the sculptor must have gone up into heaven and seen Zeus upon his throne, or the god must have come down to earth and shown his face to the artist."

Besides building temples for their gods, the Greeks held great festivals in their honor also. The greatest of these festivals was the one which was held in honor of Zeus at a place called Olympia. Every four years messengers would go about from town to town to give notice of it. Then all wars would cease, and people from all over Greece would come to Olympia to worship the god. There they would find the swiftest runners racing for a wreath of olive leaves as a prize. There they would also find chariot races and wrestling matches and other games. The Greeks believed that Zeus and the other gods loved to see men using their strength and skill to do them honor at their festivals. So for months and months beforehand men practiced for these games; and the one who gained the victory in them was looked upon as ever after the favorite of gods and men.

Aegeus


Short film here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kIcSh4KG8A

In Greek mythology, Aegeus (Greek: Αἰγεύς), also Aigeus, Aegeas or Aigeas (Αιγέας), was an archaic figure in the founding myth of Athens. The "goat-man" who gave his name to the Aegean Sea was, next to Poseidon, the father of Theseus, the founder of Athenian institutions and one of the kings of Athens.
Upon the death of the king his father, Pandion II, Aegeus and his three brothers, Pallas, Nisos, and Lykos, took control of Athens from Metion, who had seized the throne from Pandion. They divided the government in four but Aegeas became king. His first wife was Meta and the second was Chalciope.
Still without a male heir, Aegeus asked the Oracle at Delphi for advice. Her cryptic words were "Do not loosen the bulging mouth of the wineskin until you have reached the height of Athens, lest you die of grief." Ignoring the oracle, Aegeus returned home by way of Troezen, where he was induced to father Theseus, perhaps drunkenly, and thus eventually did die of grief.
An ancient subjugation of Athens to Crete is explained by the myth that while visiting in Athens, King Minos' son, Androgeus "breeder of men", managed to defeat Aegeus in every contest during the Panathenaic Games. Out of jealousy, Aegeus sent him to conquer the Marathonian Bull, which killed him. Minos was angry and declared war on Athens. He offered the Athenians peace, however, under the condition that Athens would send seven young men and seven young women every nine years to Crete to be fed to the Minotaur, a vicious monster. This continued until Theseus killed the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, Minos' daughter.
Aegeus' first wife was Meta and the second was Chalciope. Still without a male heir, Aegeus asked the Oracle at Delphi for advice. Her cryptic words were "Do not loosen the bulging mouth of the wineskin until you have reached the height of Athens, lest you die of grief."Aegeus did not understand the prophecy and was disappointed.
Aegeus went to Troezen where he was the guest of Troezen's king Pittheus. Pittheus understood the prophecy and introduced Aegeas to his daughter, Aethra, when he was drunk. They slept with each other and then, in some versions, Aethra waded out to the sea to the island of Sphairia, and bedded also with Poseidon. When she fell pregnant, Aegeus decided to go back to Athens. Before leaving, he covered his sandals, shield and sword under a huge rock and told her that when their son grew up, he should move the rock and bring the weapons back, by which sign his father would acknowledge him. Upon his return to Athens, Aegeus married Medea who had fled from Corinth and the wrath of Jason. Aegeus and Medea had one son together named Medus.
In Troezen, Theseus grew up and became a brave young man. He managed to move the rock and took his father's arms. His mother then told him the identity of his father and that he should take the weapons back to him at Athens and be acknowledged. Theseus decided to go to Athens and had the choice of going by sea, which was the safe way, or by land, following a dangerous path with thieves and bandits all the way. Young, brave and ambitious, Theseus decided to go to Athens by land.
When Theseus arrived, he did not reveal his true identity. He was welcomed by Aegeas, who was suspicious about the stranger who came to Athens. Medea tried to have Theseus killed by encouraging Aegeas to ask him to capture the Marathonian Bull, but Theseus succeeded. She tried to poison him, but at the last second, Aegeas recognized his sword and knocked the poisoned cup out of Theseus' hand. Father and son were thus reunited, and Medea was sent away to Asia.
Theseus departed for Crete. Upon his departure, Aegeus told him to put up the white sails when returning if he was successful in killing the Minotaur. However, when Theseus returned he forgot these instructions. When Aegeus saw the black sails coming into Athens he jumped into the sea and drowned, mistaken in his belief that his son had been slain. Henceforth, this sea was known as the Aegean Sea.
Sophocles' tragedy Aegeus has been lost, but Aegeus features in Euripedes' Medea.
At Athens, the traveller Pausanias was informed in the second-century CE that the cult of Aphrodite Urania above the Kerameikos was so ancient that it had been established by Aegeas, whose sisters were barren, and he still childless himself

Amazon Women



Click the link for an entertaining tour of Delos Sacred Island Sun God Apollo




The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors in Classical and Greek mythology. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia (modern territory of Ukraine). Other historiographers place them in Asia Minor or Libya. Notable queens of the Amazons are Penthesilea, who participated in the Trojan War, and her sister Hippolyta, whose magical girdle was the object of one of the labours of Hercules.


Amazonian raiders were often depicted in battle with Greek warriors in amazonomachies in classical art. The Amazons become associated with various historical peoples throughout the Roman Empire period and Late Antiquity. In Roman historiography, there are various accounts of Amazon raids in Asia Minor. From the Early Modern period, their name has become a term for woman warriors in general.


The origin of the word is uncertain. It may be derived from an Iranian ethnonym *ha-mazan-, "warriors", a word attested as a denominal verb (formed with the Indo-Iranian root kar- "make" also in kar-ma) A Greek derivation from -m-gw-jon-es "manless, without husbands" (a- privative and a derivation of *man- also found in Slavic muzh) has been proposed, an explanation deemed "unlikely" by Hjalmar Frisk.19th century scholarship also connected the term to the ethnonym Amazigh.


Among Classical Greeks, amazon was given a popular etymology as from a-mazos, "without breast", connected with an etiological tradition that Amazons had their right breast cut off or burnt out, so they would be able to use a bow more freely and throw spears without the physical limitation and obstruction; there is no indication of such a practice in works of art, in which the Amazons are always represented with both breasts, although the right is frequently covered.
Amazons were said to have lived in Pontus, which is part of modern day Turkey near the shore of the Euxine Sea (the Black Sea).


There they formed an independent kingdom under the government of a queen named Hippolyta or Hippolyte ("loose, unbridled mare"). The Amazons were supposed to have founded many towns, amongst them Smyrna, Ephesus, Sinope, and Paphos. According to the dramatist Aeschylus, in the distant past they had lived in Scythia (modern Crimea), at the Palus Maeotis ("Lake Maeotis", the Sea of Azov), but later moved to Themiscyra on the River Thermodon (the Terme river in northern Turkey). Herodotus called them Androktones ("killers of men"), and he stated that in the Scythian language they were called Oiorpata, which he asserted had this meaning.


In some versions of the myth, no men were permitted to have sexual encounters or reside in Amazon country; but once a year, in order to prevent their race from dying out, they visited the Gargareans, a neighbouring tribe. The male children who were the result of these visits were either killed, or sent back to their fathers or exposed in the wilderness to fend for themselves; the females were kept and brought up by their mothers, and trained in agricultural pursuits, hunting, and the art of war. In other versions when the Amazons went to war they would not kill all the men. Some they would take as slaves, and once or twice a year they would have sex with their slaves.


In the Iliad, the Amazons were referred to as Antianeira ("those who fight like men"). The Amazons appear in Greek art of the Archaic period and in connection with several Greek legends. They invaded Lycia, but were defeated by Bellerophon, who was sent against them by Iobates, the king of that country, in the hope that he might meet his death at their hands (Iliad, vi. 186). The tomb of Myrine is mentioned in the Iliad; later interpretation made of her an Amazon: according to Diodorus Queen Myrine led her Amazons to victory against Libya and much of Gorgon.


They attacked the Phrygians, who were assisted by Priam, then a young man (Iliad, iii. 189). Although in his later years, towards the end of the Trojan War, his old opponents took his side again against the Greeks under their queen Penthesilea "of Thracian birth" (Quintus Smyrnaeus), who was slain by Achilles, in the Aethiopisthat continued the Iliad. (Quintus Smyrn. i.; Justin ii.4; Virgil, Aeneid i. 490).


One of the tasks imposed upon Heracles by Eurystheus was to obtain possession of the girdle of the Amazonian queen Hippolyta (Apollodorus ii. 5). He was accompanied by his friend Theseus, who carried off the princess Antiope, sister of Hippolyte, an incident which led to a retaliatory invasion of Attica, in which Antiope perished fighting by the side of Theseus. In some versions, however, Theseus marries Hippolyta and in others, he marries Antiope and she does not die. The battle between the Athenians and Amazons is often commemorated in an entire genre of art, amazonomachy, in marble bas-reliefs such as from the Parthenon or the sculptures of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.


The Amazons are also said to have undertaken an expedition against the island of Leuke, at the mouth of the Danube, where the ashes of Achilles had been deposited by Thetis. The ghost of the dead hero appeared and so terrified the horses, that they threw and trampled upon the invaders, who were forced to retire. Pompey is said to have found them in the army of Mithridates.


They are heard of in the time of Alexander, when some of the great king's biographers make mention of Amazon Queen Thalestris visiting him and becoming a mother by him. However, several other biographers of Alexander dispute the claim, including the highly regarded secondary source, Plutarch. In his writing he makes mention of a moment when Alexander's secondary naval commander, Onesicritus, was reading the Amazon passage of his Alexander history to King Lysimachus of Thrace who was on the original expedition: the king smiled at him and said "And where was I, then?"


The Roman writer Virgil's characterization of the Volscian warrior maiden Camilla in the Aeneid borrows heavily from the myth of the Amazons. According to ancient sources, (Plutarch Theseus,Pausanias), Amazon tombs could be found frequently throughout what was once known as the ancient Greek world. Some are found in Megara, Athens, Chaeronea, Chalcis, Thessaly at Scotussa, in Cynoscephalae and statues of Amazons are all over Greece. At both Chalcis and Athens Plutarch tells us that there was an Amazoneum or shrine of Amazons that implied the presence of both tombs and cult. On the day before the Thesea at Athens there were annual sacrifices to the Amazons. In historical times Greek maidens of Ephesus performed an annual circular dance with weapons and shields that had been established by Hippolyta and her Amazons. They had initially set up wooden statues of Artemis, a bretas, (Pausanias, (fl.c.160): Description of Greece, Book I: Attica.


Archaeological evidence seems to confirm the existence of Women-Warriors, as Sarmatian women's active role in military operation and social life. Burial of armed Sarmatian women comprise about 25 percent of the military burial in the group, and are usually buried with bows.
Russian archaeologist Vera Kovalevskaya points out that when Scythian men were away fighting or hunting, nomadic women would have to be able to defend themselves, their animals and pasture-grounds competently.


During the time that the Scythians advanced into Asia and achieved near-hegemony in the Near-East, there was a period of twenty-eight years when the men would have been away on campaigns for long periods. During this time the women would not only have had to defend themselves, but to reproduce and this could well be the origin of the idea that Amazons mated once a year with their neighbours, if Herodotus actually intended to base this on a factual base.Before modern archaeology uncovered some of the Scythian burials of warrior-maidens entombed under kurgans in the region of Altai Mountains and Sarmatia, giving concrete form at last to the Greek tales of mounted Amazons, the origin of the story of the Amazons has been the subject of speculation among classics scholars. In the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica speculation ranged along the following lines:


"While some regard the Amazons as a purely mythical people, others assume an historical foundation for them. The deities worshipped by them were Ares (who is consistently assigned to them as a god of war, and as a god of Thracian and generally northern origin) and Artemis, not the usual Greek goddess of that name, but an Asiatic deity in some respects her equivalent. It is conjectured that the Amazons were originally the temple-servants and priestesses (hierodulae) of this goddess; and that the removal of the breast corresponded with the self-mutilation of the god Attis and the galli, Roman priests of Rhea Cybele.


Another theory is that, as the knowledge of geography extended, travellers brought back reports of tribes ruled entirely by women, who carried out the duties which elsewhere were regarded as peculiar to man, in whom alone the rights of nobility and inheritance were vested, and who had the supreme control of affairs. Hence arose the belief in the Amazons as a nation of female warriors, organized and governed entirely by women. According to J. Viirtheim (De Ajacis origine, 1907), the Amazons were of Greek origin [...] It has been suggested that the fact of the conquest of the Amazons being assigned to the two famous heroes of Greek mythology, Heracles and Theseus [...] shows that they were mythical illustrations of the dangers which beset the Greeks on the coasts of Asia Minor; rather perhaps, it may be intended to represent the conflict between the Greek culture of the colonies on the Euxine and the barbarism of the native inhabitants."

The evolution of Greek philosophy

"...the evolution of Greek philosophy provided a base on which the concept of a limited and responsible state could develop.? Although their cities may have had virtually unlimited powers over their citizens, the Greeks saw themselves as radically different from the inhabitants east of the Hellespont.
Aristotle was reflecting the accepted Greek view when he wrote, 'Barbarians are more servile by nature than Greeks, and Asians are more servile than Europeans; hence they endure despotic rule without protest.'? Under the analysis of the philosophers, the state came to be seen as based on a compact between citizens.
The pivotal moment came during the Peloponnesian War, when the Sophists...developed a startling new analysis of the origins and purpose of society: 'So, when men do wrong and are wronged by one another and taste of both, those who lack the power to avoid the one and to take the other, determine that it is for their profit to make a compact with one another neither to commit nor to suffer injustice; this is the beginning of legislation and covenants between men.' Here we have the distant ancestor of the Enlightenment theories of the social contract."
James Macdonald, A Free Nation Deep in Debt,? Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, p. 41

Rome 1348

"A million people had dwelled in Rome during the height of the Empire, but now the city's population was less than that of Florence.
The Black Death of 1348 had reduced numbers to 20,000, from which, over the next fifty years, they rose only slightly. Rome had shrunk into a tiny area inside its ancient walls, retreating from the seven hills to huddle among a few streets on the bank of the Tiber across from St. Peter's, whose walls were in danger of collapse.
Foxes and beggars roamed the filthy streets. Livestock grazed in the Forum. The Temple of Jupiter was a dunghill...There was no trade or industry apart from the pilgrims who arrived from all over Europe, clutching copies of Mirabilia urbis romae (The Wonders of Rome), which told them which relics to see during their stay. This guidebook directed them to such holy sights as the finger bone of St. Thomas in Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the arm of St. Anne and the head of the Samaritan woman converted by Christ...The guidebook did not direct the attention of the pilgrims to the Roman remains that surrounded them. To such pious Christians these ancient ruins were so much heathen idolatry."
Ross King, Brunelleschi's Dome, Penguin, 2000, p. 22-3

TS Eliot on Aristotle

"Aristotle is a person who has suffered from the adherence of persons who must be regarded less as his disciples than as his sectaries. One must be firmly distrustful of accepting Aristotle in a canonical spirit; this is to lose the whole living force of him. He was primarily a man of not only remarkable but universal intelligence......in his short and broken treatise he provides an eternal example--not of laws, or even of method, for there is no method except to be very intelligent, but of intelligence itself swiftly operating the analysis of sensation to the point of principle and definition." T.S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood, University, 1920, pp. 10-1

Sicily, the ancient Trinacria

"Sicily, the ancient Trinacria (Three-cornered Land, so-called from its shape), is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean. When the Greeks...plant(ed) their settlements, dispossessing the native islanders, Sicily was heavily wooded and had extremely fertile soil...The struggle for the possession of Sicily (among the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans) was to rage for nearly five hundred years, from about 700 BC until 212 BC, when it was finally annexed as a province of Rome. Even stripped and denuded as it is today, it remains not only one of the richest, but also one of the most beautiful islands in the sea.

"The olive and the vine, both of which the Greeks assiduously cultivated in their new colonies, are as emblematic of Sicily as they are of Greece itself. Animal fat, especially in the form of butter, is difficult to get in typical Mediterranean Lands on account of the scarcity of summer pasturage...A digestible fat like olive oil is especially necessary to Mediterranean man since his diet typically includes little meat, especially butcher meat.

"...grapes swell with juice precisely at the period when (Mediterranean) rainfall is minimal or altogether absent. But the drying up of the streams makes it difficult for man to get pure drinking water at the time when thirst is greatest...the grape as plucked has a 'bloom' on its surface.? In that waxy bloom lives a kind of yeast, which, if mingled with the juice by the crushing process, causes 'spontaneous' fermentation, turning sugar into alcohol.? Wine-making in its origin is thus a purely natural process."

Ernle Bradford, Mediterranean, Penguin, 1971, pp. 91-6

Aristotle

"Aristotle is a person who has suffered from the adherence of persons who must be regarded less as his disciples than as his sectaries.? One must be firmly distrustful of accepting Aristotle in a canonical spirit; this is to lose the whole living force of him.?? He was primarily a man of not only remarkable but universal intelligence...
...in his short and broken treatise he provides an eternal example--not of laws, or even of method, for there is no method except to be very intelligent, but of intelligence itself swiftly operating the analysis of sensation to the point of principle and definition."
T.S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood, University, 1920, pp. 10-1

Mirabilia urbis romae

"A million people had dwelled in Rome during the height of the Empire, but now the city's population was less than that of Florence.? The Black Death of 1348 had reduced numbers to 20,000, from which, over the next fifty years, they rose only slightly.? Rome had shrunk into a tiny area inside its ancient walls, retreating from the seven hills to huddle among a few streets on the bank of the Tiber across from St. Peter's, whose walls were in danger of collapse.? Foxes and beggars roamed the filthy streets.? Livestock grazed in the Forum.? The Temple of Jupiter was a dunghill...
There was no trade or industry apart from the pilgrims who arrived from all over Europe, clutching copies of Mirabilia urbis romae (The Wonders of Rome), which told them which relics to see during their stay.? This guidebook directed them to such holy sights as the finger bone of St. Thomas in Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the arm of St. Anne and the head of the Samaritan woman converted by Christ...
The guidebook did not direct the attention of the pilgrims to the Roman remains that surrounded them.? To such pious Christians these ancient ruins were so much heathen idolatry."

Ross King, Brunelleschi's Dome, Penguin, 2000, p. 22-3

Responsible state

"...the evolution of Greek philosophy provided a base on which the concept of a limited and responsible state could develop.? Although their cities may have had virtually unlimited powers over their citizens, the Greeks saw themselves as radically different from the inhabitants east of the Hellespont.? Aristotle was reflecting the accepted Greek view when he wrote, 'Barbarians are more servile by nature than Greeks, and Asians are more servile than Europeans; hence they endure despotic rule without protest.'? Under the analysis of the philosophers, the state came to be seen as based on a compact between citizens.? The pivotal moment came during the Peloponnesian War, when the Sophists...developed a startling new analysis of the origins and purpose of society:
'So, when men do wrong and are wronged by one another and taste of both, those who lack the power to avoid the one and to take the other, determine that it is for their profit to make a compact with one another neither to commit nor to suffer injustice; this is the beginning of legislation and covenants between men.'
Here we have the distant ancestor of the Enlightenment theories of the social contract."

James Macdonald, A Free Nation Deep in Debt,? Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003, p. 41

The Republic's power

"The vast sway of the Republic's power, won in the cause of the honor of Rome, stood nakedly revealed [after the rape of Pergamum] as a license to make money. ... In the east great cities were ransacked for treasure-but in the west it was the earth. The result was mining on a scale not to be witnessed again until the Industrial Revolution. Nowhere was the devastation more spectacular than in Spain.
Observer after observer bore stunned witness to what they saw. ...
"The mines that Rome had annexed from Carthage more than a century previously had been handed over to the publicani [private individuals and syndicates that typically bid for the rights to collect taxes], who had proceeded to exploit them with their customary gusto. A single network of tunnels might spread for more than a hundred square miles and provide up to forty thousand slaves with a living death.
Over the pockmarked landscape there would invariably hang a pall of smog, belched out from the smelting furnaces through giant chimneys, and so heavy with chemicals that it burned the naked skin and turned it white. Birds would die if they flew through the fumes.
As Roman power spread the gas clouds were never far behind. "Initially, large areas of Spain had been regarded as too remote and dangerous to exploit, the haunt of tribesman so irredeemably savage that they believed banditry to be an honorable profession and used urine to brush their teeth [a joke referring to their lack of hygiene].
By the last years of the second century BC, however, all except the the north of the peninsula had been opened up for business. Huge new mines were sunk across central and southwestern Spain. Measurements of lead in the ice of Greenland's glaciers, which show a staggering increase in concentration during this period, bear witness to the volumes of poisonous smoke the mines belched out. The ore being smelted was silver: it has been estimated that for every ton of silver extracted over ten thousand tons of rock had to be quarried. It has also been estimated that by the early first century BC, the Roman mint was using fifty tons of silver each year."
Tom Holland, Rubicon, Anchor Books, copyright 2003 by Tom Holland, pp. 40-42.

Roman ideal

"Hardness was a Roman ideal. The steel required to hunt out glory or endure disaster was the defining mark of a citizen. It was instilled in him from the moment of his birth. The primary response of Roman parent's to their babies appears to have been less tenderness than shock that anything could be quite so soft and helpless. ... To the Romans, such a condition verged on scandalous.
Children were certainly too weak to be idealized, and the highest praise a child could be given was to be compared to an adult. "A Roman did not become a citizen by right of birth. It was within the power of every father to reject a newborn child, to order unwanted sons, and especially daughters, to be exposed [to die]. Before the infant ... was breastfed, his father would first have had to hold him aloft, signaling that the boy had been accepted as his own and was therefore a Roman."The Romans lacked a specific word for 'baby,' reflecting their assumption that a child was never too young to be toughened up. Newborns were swaddled tightly to mold them into the form of adults, their features were kneaded and pummeled, and boys would have their foreskins yanked to make them stretch. Old-fashioned Republican morality and newfangled Greek medicine united to prescribe a savage regime of dieting and cold baths. The result of this harsh upbringing was to contribute further to an already devastating infant mortality rate. It has been estimated that only two out of three children survived their first year, and that under 50 percent went on to reach puberty.
The deaths of children were constant factors of family life. Parents were encouraged to respond to such losses with flinty calm. The younger the child, the less emotion would be shown, so that it was commonplace to argue that 'if an infant dies in its cradle, then its death ought not even be mourned.' Yet reserve did not necessarily spell indifference. There is plenty of evidence from tombstones, poetry and private correspondence to suggest the depth of love that Roman parents could feel.
The rigors imposed on a child were not the result of willful cruelty. Far from it: the sterner the parents, the more loving they were assumed to be."A boy trained his body for warfare, a girl for childbirth, but both were pushed to the point of exhaustion. ... No wonder that Roman children appear to have had little time for play. Far fewer toys have been found dating from the Republic than from the period that followed its collapse, when the pressure to raise good citizens had begun to decline."
Tom Holland, Rubicon, Anchor Books, Copyright 2003 by Tom Holland, 109-111.

The Roman Republic

"Back in the virtuous, homespun days of the early [Roman] Republic ... the cook 'had been the least valuable of slaves,' but no sooner had the Romans come into contact with the fleshpots of the East than 'he began to be highly prized, and what had been a mere function instead came to be regarded as high art.' In a city awash with new money and with no tradition of big spending, cookery had rapidly become an all-consuming craze. Not only cooks but ever more exotic ingredients had been brought into Rome on a ceaseless flood of gold. To those who upheld the traditional values of the Republic, this mania threatened a ruin that was as much moral as financial.
The Senate, alarmed, had accordingly attempted to restrain it. As early as 169 [BC] the serving of dormice at dinner parties had been banned, and later Sulla himself ... had rushed through similar laws in favor of cheap, homely fare. All mere dams of sand. Faddishness swept all before it. Increasingly, millionaires were tempted to join their cooks in the kitchens, trying out their own recipes, sampling ever more outlandish dishes. This was the crest of the [Roman oyster fad], but oysters did not lack for rivals in the culinary stakes. Scallops, fatted hares, the vulvas of sows, all came suddenly and wildly into vogue, and all for the same reason: for in the softness of a flesh that threatened rapid putrescence yet still retained its succulence the Roman food snob took an ecstatic joy. ..."A favorite affectation was to build couches in a villa's fruit store. ... Most treasured, most savored of all, were fish. So it had always been. The Romans had been stocking lakes with spawn for as long as their city had been standing. ... Freshwater fish, however, because so much easier to catch, were far less prized than species found only in the sea--and as Roman gastronomy grew ever more exotic, so these became the focus of intensest desire. Rather than remain dependent on tradesmen for their supply of turbot or eel, the super-rich began to construct saltwater ponds. Naturally, the prodigious expense required to maintain these only added to their appeal. ...
"The craze reached epidemic proportions. Hortensius ... as one of his friends commented wonderingly, 'Would sooner let you take his carriage-mules from his stable and keep them, than [let you] remove a bearded mullet from his fish- pond.' In pisciculture, as in every other form of extravagance, however, it was Lucullus who set the most dazzling standards of notoriety. His fishponds were universally acknowledged to be wonders, and scandals, of the age. To keep them supplied with saltwater, he had tunnels driven through mountains, and to regulate the cooling effect of the tides, groynes [sea walls] built far out into the sea. ... 'Piscinarii,' Cicero called Lucullus and Hortensius--'fish fanciers.' It was a word coined half in contempt and half in despair."

Tom Holland, Rubicon, Anchor Books, Copyright 2003 by Tom Holland, pp. 181-183.

Pirates

"Capture by pirates had recently become something of an occupational hazard for Roman aristocrats. ... However, kidnapping was only a sideline for the pirates. Calculated acts of intimidation ensured that they could extort and rob almost at will, inland as well as at sea. ... The shadowiness of the pirate's organization, and their diffuse operations, made them a foe like any other. 'The pirate is not bound by the rules of war, but is the common enemy of everyone,' Cicero complained. 'There can be no trusting him, no attempt to bind him with mutually agreed treaties.' How could such an adversary be pinned down, let alone eradicated? To make the attempt would be to fight against phantoms. 'It would be an unprecedented war, fought without rules, in a fog'; a war that appeared without promise of an end. ...
"Only once, in 102 BC, had the Romans been provoked into tackling the menace head on. The great orator Marcus Antonius, Cicero's hero, had been dispatched to Cilicia with an army and a fleet. The pirates had quickly fled their strongholds, Antonius had proclaimed a decisive victory, and the Senate had duly awarded him a triumph. But the pirates had merely regrouped on Crete, and they soon returned to their old haunts, as predatory as before. ... Bandits, like their prey, were most likely to be fugitives from the misery of the times, from extortion, warfare, and social breakdown. ..."The pirate's growing command of the sea enabled them to throttle the shipping lanes. The supply of everything, from slaves to grain, duly dried to a trickle, and Rome began to starve. ... The grip of famine tightened around Rome. Starving citizens took to the Forum, demanding action on the crises and the appointment of a proconsul to resolve it. ...
It was a tribune, in 67 BC, who proposed the people's hero [Pompey] be given a sweeping license to deal with the pirates. ... Pompey was granted an unprecedented force of 500 ships and 120,000 men together with the right to levy more, should he decide that they were needed. ..."As it proved, to sweep the seas clear of pirates, storm their last stronghold, and end a menace that had been tormenting the Republic for decades took the new proconsul a mere three months. It was a brilliant victory, a triumph for Pompey himself and an eye-opening demonstration of the reserves of force available to Rome.
Even the Romans themselves appear to have been a little stunned. ... Campaigns of terror were containable. Rome remained a superpower."Even though Pompey's victory had demonstrated once again that the Republic could pretty much as it pleased, there was none of the savagery that had been traditionally been used to drive that lesson home. In a display of clemency quite as startling as his victory, Pompey not merely refrained from crucifying his captives, but bought them plots of land and helped set them up as farmers. Brigandage, he had clearly recognized, was bred of rootlessness and social upheaval. For as long as the Republic was held responsible for these conditions, there would continue to be a hatred of Rome. Yet it hardly needs emphasizing that the rehabilitation of criminals was not standard policy. ... The town where [Pompey] settled them was titled Pompeiopolis: his mercy and munificence were to contribute eternally to the greatness of his name."

Tom Holland, Rubicon, Anchor Books, Copyright 2003 by Tom Holland, pp. 164-171.

Sparta

"Even the newest-born baby was subjected to the proddings of old men. Should an infant be judged too sickly or deformed to make a future contribution to the city, then the elders would order its immediate termination. ... A cleft beside the road which wound over the mountains to Messenia, the Apothetae, or 'Dumping Ground,' provided the setting for the infanticide. There, where they might no longer shame the city that had bred them, the weak and deformed would be slung into the depths of the chasm ...
"[I]t was the goal of instructors not merely to crush a boy's individuality, but to push him to startling extremes of endurance, discipline and impassivity, so that he might prove himself, supremely, as a being reforged of iron. ... Denied adequate rations, the young Spartan would be encouraged to forage from the farms of neighboring Lacedaemonians, stalking and stealing like a fox, refining his talent for stealth. Whether in the heat of summer or in the cold of winter, he would wear only one style of tunic, identical to that worn by his fellows, and nothing else, not even shoes. ..."
[A]t the age of twelve, he became legal game for cruising. Pederasty was widely practised elsewhere in Greece, but only in Sparta was it institutionalized-- even, it is said, with fines for boys who refused to take a lover."Just as boys were trained for warfare, so girls had to be reared for their future as breeders. The result--to foreign eyes, at any rate--was an inversion of just about every accepted norm. In Sparta, girls were fed at the expense of their brothers. To the bemusement of other Greeks, they were also taught to read, and to express themselves not modestly, as was becoming for women, but in an aggressively sententious manner, so that they might better instruct their own children in what it meant to be a Spartan. They exercised in public: running, throwing the javelin, even wrestling."

Tom Holland, Persian Fire, Abacus, 2005, pp. 81-85.

Galileo Galilei


"Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa on 15 February 1564--the same year that William Shakespeare was born and the same month that Michelangelo died. ... [Forty-five year old] Galileo first heard rumors of the invention of the telescope (strictly speaking a reinvention, but news of the Digges's telescopes never spread in the sixteenth century) in July 1609, on a visit to Venice. News had been rather slow to travel to Italy on this occasion, since Hans Lippershey, a spectacle maker based in Holland, had come up with the discovery by chance the previous autumn and in the spring of 1609 telescopes with a magnifying power of three times were being sold as toys in Paris. ...

Galileo immediately realized that an instrument that could make distant objects visible would be of enormous importance to Venice, where fortunes often depended on being first to identify which ships were approaching the port. He must have imagined that his own boat had at last come in, as he considered how best to turn the news to his advantage."But he was almost too late.

At the beginning of August, while Galileo was still in Venice, he heard that a Dutchman had arrived in Padua with one of the new instruments. Galileo rushed back to Padua, only to find that he had missed the stranger, who was now in Venice intending to sell the instrument to the Doge. Distraught at the possibility that he might lose the race, Galileo frantically set about building one of his own, knowing nothing more than that the instrument involved two lenses in a tube. One of the most impressive features of Galileo's entire career is that within 24 hours he had built a telescope better than anything else known at the time. Although the Dutch version used two concave lenses, giving an upside-down image, Galileo used one convex lens and one concave lens, giving an upright image. On 4 August, he sent a coded message to [his friend and adviser to the Doge Friar]

Sarpi in Venice telling him of his successes; Sarpi, as adviser to the Senate, delayed any decision on what to do with the Dutch visitor, giving Galileo time to build a telescope with a magnifying power of ten times, set in a tooled leather case. He was back in Venice before the end of August, where his demonstration of the telescope to the Senate was a sensation. Being an astute politician, Galileo then presented the telescope to the Doge as a gift. ..."He then took himself off to Florence to demonstrate another telescope to [Grand Duke] Cosimo II [de' Medici].

By December 1609, he had made a telescope with a magnifying power of twenty times. ... Using his best instrument, Galileo discovered the four brightest (and largest) moons of Jupiter in early 1610. The moons were named the 'Medician stars,' in honor of Cosimo, but are known to astronomers today as the Galilean satellites of Jupiter. With the same instrument, Galileo found that the Milky Way is made up of myriads of individual stars and that the surface of the moon is not a perfectly smooth sphere but is scarred by craters and has mountain ranges. ... All of these discoveries were presented in a little book, The Starry Messenger (Siderius Nuncius), in March 1610. ...

The author of The Starry Messenger became famous throughout the educated world (the book was translated into Chinese within five years of its publication)."John Gribbin, The Scientists, Random House, Copyright 2002 by John and Mary Gribbin, pp. 72, 85-88.

America and the Greeks

"America as a second Athens was an idea whose moment had come in the nineteenth century. This nation's founders first looked to Rome, not to Greece, for their model. Like most men of the eighteenth century, they thought Athens was ruled by mobs [through its democracy]. If any Greek city was admired, it was Sparta, whose discipline inspired the severe moralists of the early Roman republic. The 'mixed government' of Rome--not Athens' direct democracy--was the model invoked in debates over the proper constitution for the United States. The great republican of the new era, George Washington, was regularly referred to as a modern Cincinnatus, after the Roman who left the plow to serve the republic and then returned to his fields, relinquishing power. When Jefferson laid out his plan for the University of Virginia, he fashioned everything to Roman architectural standards. "All this changed very rapidly as the eighteenth turned to the nineteenth century. Archaeology in Greece brought the ancient democracy to mind just as modern Greece was beginning its struggle for freedom from the Turks. Greece would prove just as important to the romantic movement as Rome had been to the Augustan age. Byron died as a military participant in the war for Greek liberty. Shelley wrote a Prometheus. Keats rhapsodized on a Grecian urn. ... Architects looked to the Parthenon now, not the Pantheon. It is significant of this changed taste that Washington completed his inherited home (as Jefferson conceived his own house) in the form of a Roman villa, while Lincoln's additions to the house he purchased were in the Greek revival style. This was a 'democratic' style in the eyes of Lincoln's contemporaries. ... [America's] Greek Revival ... set it apart from the architecture of Europe in a way never before achieved ... [and] must be understood as America's first national style of architecture."

Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg, Simon and Schuster, Copyright 1992 by Literary Research, Inc., pp. 42-43.

Cicero]

"Nearly two thousand years after his time, [Cicero] became an unknowing architect of constitutions that still govern our lives. For the founding fathers of the United States and their political counterparts in Great Britain, the writings of [Cicero] were the foundation of their education.
John Adams's first book and proudest possession was his Cicero."Cicero wrote about how a state should best be organized and decisionmakers of the eighteenth century read and digested what he had to say. His big idea, which he tirelessly publicized, was that of a mixed or balanced constitution. He favored not monarchy nor oligarchy nor democracy, but a combination of all three. His model was Rome itself, but improved. Its executives had quasi-royal powers. It was restrained partly by widespread use of vetoes and partly by a Senate, dominated by great political families.

Politicians were elected to office by the people."This model is not so very distant from the original constitution of the United States with the careful balance it set between the executive and the legislature, and the constraints, now largely vanished, which it placed on pure, untrammeled democracy. When George Washington, meditating on the difficulty of ensuring stable government, said, 'What a triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious,' he could have been quoting Cicero."


Anthony Everitt, Cicero, Random House, Copyright 2001 by Anthony Everitt, pp. vii.

Socrates words

"We are blessed by having more extant words written about Socrates than any other man of his time, and cursed by the fact that we cannot tell which, if any, of these words are true. We can be certain that Plato and Xenophon were not committed to factual reporting. ... Socrates himself wrote nothing, and the work of his immediate followers, after his death, is not historically reliable."
Generations of classical scholars ... [have] chosen to privilege Plato's portrait over those Xenophon's or anyone else. And so the Socrates who is likely to be familiar is Plato's Socrates: the merciless interrogator, committed to nothing but the truth, and determined, by means of incisive argument, to lay his own and our moral lives on a foundation of knowledge rather than opinion; a specialist in moral philosophy and moral psychology; a man of immense moral integrity, who was unjustly put to death (by drinking a cup of poison hemlock), aged sixty-nine or seventy, by the classical Athenian democracy under which he lived.
"But the uncomfortable truth is that little or nothing of this picture of Socrates may be accurate. Plato's description of Socrates' philosophy was actually a clever way of outlining and introducing Plato's own philosophy."In the course of his speech 'Against Timarchus', the politician Aeschines referred to Socrates' trial, saying that the Athenian people condemned him for having been the teacher of Critias. Aeschines was speaking in 345 BC, fifty-four years after Socrates' trial. ... Critias was one of the leaders of the Thirty Tyrants, the oligarchic junta which Sparta imposed on the Athenians in 404 BC after defeating them in the Peloponnesian War. The Thirty aspired to turn Athens into a hierarchical, Spartan-style society. They restricted the number of citizens to 3,000, disarmed everyone else, awarded themselves the power of life or death over all non-citizens, and expelled all non-citizens from living within the city itself. Non- citizens were to be the farmers, manufacturers and merchants for the elite 3,000, while all political power was effectively vested in the Thirty and their henchmen. In order to see through their radical program of social reform, and in order to raise much needed cash (the city had been bankrupted by the war), they murdered about 1,500 people in a few weeks. Many more fled into exile. "The Thirty were soon defeated. Critias was killed and the rest fled or were allowed to leave. But Critias had long been a friend and student of Socrates, who had became tainted by the association. [Socrates] tolerated even the excesses of the Thirty because he was, at least to a degree, sympathetic to their aims ... of favouring a Spartan-style society over Athenian democracy.
"There can be no doubt, then, that Socrates' trial was politically motivated, and there can be no doubt that, from the point of view of the Athenian democracy, he was guilty as charged. He was no true citizen of the democracy. There can be no doubt, either, that attention to the historical facts surrounding the case must lead us to qualify the Platonic-Xenophontic portrait of Socrates. He was put on trial as a political undesirable, and his radical political vision was indeed anti-democratic. This is not the Socrates with whom we are comfortably familiar, but it is more likely to be closer to the truth than the fictions that permeate the literary evidence."

Robin Waterfield, "The Historical Socrates," History Today, January 09, pp. 26-29.

Greek arithmetic

"The Greeks did not know arithmetic, at least not in a form that is easy to work with. In Athens in the fifth century B.C., for instance, at the height of Greek civilization, a person who wanted to write down a number used a kind of alphabetic code. The first nine of the twenty-four letters in the Greek alphabet stood for the numbers we call 1 through 9. The next nine letters stood for the numbers we call 10, 20, 30, and so on. And the last six letters plus three additional symbols stood for the first nine hundreds (100, 200, and so on, to 900).
If you think you have trouble with arithmetic now, imagine trying to subtract ΔΓΘ from ΧΦΖ! To make matters worse, the order in which the ones, tens, and hundreds were written didn't really matter: sometimes the hundreds were written first, sometimes last, and sometimes all order was ignored. Finally, the Greeks had no zero.
"The concept of zero came to Greece when Alexander invaded the Babylonian Empire in 331 B.C. Even then, although the Alexandrians began to use the zero to denote the absence of a number, it wasn't employed as a number in its own right. In modern mathematics the number 0 has two key properties: in addition it is the number that, when added to any other number, leaves the other number unchanged, and in multiplication it is the number that, when multiplied by any other number, is itself unchanged. This concept wasn't introduced until the ninth century, by the Indian mathematician Mahavira."

Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard's Walk, How Randomness Rules Our Lives, Pantheon, Copyright 2008 by Leonard Mlodinow, p. 30.

Pygmalion

Pygmalion is a legendary figure of Cyprus. Though Pygmalion is the Greek version of the Phoenician royal name Pumayyaton he is most familiar from Ovid's Metamorphoses, X, in which Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he had carved.

In Ovid's narrative, Pygmalion was a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory. According to Ovid, after seeing the Propoetides prostituting themselves, he was 'not interested in women', but his statue was so realistic that he fell in love with it. He offered the statue gifts and eventually prayed to Venus (Aphrodite). She took pity on him and brought the statue to life. They married and had a son, Paphos:

"a lovely boy was born;
Paphos his name, who grown to manhood, wall'd
The city Paphos, from the founder call'd."

In some versions they also had a daughter, Metharme.

Ovid's mention of Paphos suggests that he was drawing on a more circumstantial account than the source for a passing mention of Pygmalion in Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheke, a Hellenic mythography of the second-century AD. Perhaps he drew on the lost narrative by Philostephanus that was paraphrased by Clement of Alexandria. Pygmalion is the Greek version of the Phoenician royal name Pumayyaton and figures in the founding legend of Paphos in Cyprus.

The story of the breath of life in a statue has parallels in the examples of Daedalus, who used quicksilver to install a voice in his statues; of Hephaestus, who created automata for his workshop; of Talos, an artificial man of bronze; and, according to Hesiod, Pandora, who was made from clay at the behest of Zeus.

The moral anecdote of the "Apega of Nabis", recounted by the historian Polybius, described a supposed mechanical simulacra of the tyrant's wife, that crushed victims in her embrace.
The discovery of the Antikythera mechanism suggests that such rumoured animated statues had some grounding in contemporary mechanical technology. The island of Rhodes was particularly known for its displays of mechanical engineering and automata - Pindar, one of the nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, said this of Rhodes in his seventh Olympic Ode:

"The animated figures stand
Adorning every public street
And seem to breathe in stone, or
move their marble feet."

The trope of a sculpture so lifelike it seemed about to move was a commonplace with writers on works of art in Antiquity that was inherited by writers on art after the Renaissance.
The basic Pygmalion story has been widely transmitted and re-presented in the arts through the centuries. At an unknown date, later authors give as the name of the statue that of the sea-nymph Galatea or Galathea. Goethe calls her Elise, based upon the variants in the story of Dido/Elissa.

In the Middle Ages Pygmalion was held up as an example of the excesses of idolatry, probably spurred by Clement of Alexandria's suggestion that Pygmalion had carved an image of Aphrodite herself. However, by the 18th century it was a highly influential love-story, seen as such in Rousseau's musical play of the story. By the 19th century, the story often becomes one in which the awakened beloved rejects Pygmalion; although she comes alive, she is initially cold and unattainable.

A twist on this theme can also be seen in the story of Pinocchio where a wooden puppet is transformed into a real boy, though in this case the puppet possesses sentience prior to its transformation; it is the puppet and not the woodcarver (sculptor) who beseeches the miracle.
William Shakespeare wrote a version of the legend in The Winter's Tale when Hermione is seen as a lifelike statue in the final scene.

George Bernard Shaw wrote a play titled "Pygmalion". In Shaw's play, the girl is brought to life by two men in speech — the goal for their masterpiece is for her to marry and become a duchess. It has an interesting spin on the original story and has a subtle hint of feminism.

A cunning Socrates

"We are blessed by having more extant words written about Socrates than any other man of his time, and cursed by the fact that we cannot tell which, if any, of these words are true. We can be certain that Plato and Xenophon were not committed to factual reporting. ... Socrates himself wrote nothing, and the work of his immediate followers, after his death, is not historically reliable."Generations of classical scholars ... [have] chosen to privilege Plato's portrait over those Xenophon's or anyone else. And so the Socrates who is likely to be familiar is Plato's Socrates: the merciless interrogator, committed to nothing but the truth, and determined, by means of incisive argument, to lay his own and our moral lives on a foundation of knowledge rather than opinion; a specialist in moral philosophy and moral psychology; a man of immense moral integrity, who was unjustly put to death (by drinking a cup of poison hemlock), aged sixty-nine or seventy, by the classical Athenian democracy under which he lived. "But the uncomfortable truth is that little or nothing of this picture of Socrates may be accurate. Plato's description of Socrates' philosophy was actually a clever way of outlining and introducing Plato's own philosophy."In the course of his speech 'Against Timarchus', the politician Aeschines referred to Socrates' trial, saying that the Athenian people condemned him for having been the teacher of Critias. Aeschines was speaking in 345 BC, fifty-four years after Socrates' trial. ... Critias was one of the leaders of the Thirty Tyrants, the oligarchic junta which Sparta imposed on the Athenians in 404 BC after defeating them in the Peloponnesian War. The Thirty aspired to turn Athens into a hierarchical, Spartan-style society. They restricted the number of citizens to 3,000, disarmed everyone else, awarded themselves the power of life or death over all non-citizens, and expelled all non-citizens from living within the city itself. Non- citizens were to be the farmers, manufacturers and merchants for the elite 3,000, while all political power was effectively vested in the Thirty and their henchmen. In order to see through their radical program of social reform, and in order to raise much needed cash (the city had been bankrupted by the war), they murdered about 1,500 people in a few weeks. Many more fled into exile. "The Thirty were soon defeated. Critias was killed and the rest fled or were allowed to leave. But Critias had long been a friend and student of Socrates, who had became tainted by the association. [Socrates] tolerated even the excesses of the Thirty because he was, at least to a degree, sympathetic to their aims ... of favouring a Spartan-style society over Athenian democracy."There can be no doubt, then, that Socrates' trial was politically motivated, and there can be no doubt that, from the point of view of the Athenian democracy, he was guilty as charged. He was no true citizen of the democracy. There can be no doubt, either, that attention to the historical facts surrounding the case must lead us to qualify the Platonic-Xenophontic portrait of Socrates. He was put on trial as a political undesirable, and his radical political vision was indeed anti-democratic. This is not the Socrates with whom we are comfortably familiar, but it is more likely to be closer to the truth than the fictions that permeate the literary evidence."

Robin Waterfield, "The Historical Socrates," History Today, January 09, pp. 26-29.