CategoryHistory

No More Heroes

Never did he go forth to the place of gathering, where men win glory, nor ever to war, but wasted away his own heart, as he tarried where he was; and he longed for the war-cry and the battle. In these verses of Homer we find the hero Achilles having what amounts to a temper tantrum. Agamemnon, having been forced by Achilles to return his bride to assuage a plague ravaging the Greeks, returns the...

The Mighty West

Following the breakup and decline of the Western Roman Empire, many contemporary writers described the subsequent rise to prominence of the Germanic powers (such as the Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Vandals) as nothing short of a ‘barbarian’ invasion. Despite the many disruptions that occurred- some more violent and protracted than others- a sort of tenuous equilibrium was eventually...

The Woman Who Saved the West

During the beginning of the so-called Dark Ages (of which I have written here) the Church faced a veritable crisis. While the paganism of the now defunct Roman Empire had nearly completely receded and Arianism had been roundly defeated both at the Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon, both still continued to plague the Church’s attempts at evangelizing Europe and building up a more markedly...

Silky Smooth: Industrial Espionage, Byzantine Style

Ever since the trade routes between the Mediterranean and the Far East had been established, silk was one of the most sought after commodities. Sericulture– silk production – was the domain of the Chinese, and they held a veritable monopoly on its production and distribution and had for thousands of years. Since silk production was time-consuming and as the Chinese initially...

Rhetorical Probability

I always find it amusing when I am sitting in a doctor’s office during the middle of the day how the only thing on the TV is a show involving some manner of litigation. I don’t know if Judge Judy is still doing her thing, but there always seems to be some ridiculous sort of court case being televised. Lest one think this to be something novel to our society, we have nothing on the...

The Light That Never Went Out

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the phrase The Dark Ages? Hordes of barbarians descending from the mountainside, laying waste to an enlightened and ordered society, leaving only violence and lawlessness in their wake? The utter disintegration of art, learning, science and culture for nearly 400 years? Unrelenting war, pestilence, savagery, ignorance and barbarity...

My Empire for a Pony!

It is a little known fact that the tide of the Peloponnesian War was turned by ponies. Ok, that is perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but as the Athenians would discover in their utterly disastrous invasion of Sicily, 1200 ponies would bring an invasion force of 45,000 to its ruin. The war with the Spartans had been going for seventeen grueling years. Despite losing a quarter of its population to...

300 (Or, Wearing a Breastplate Keeps You From Being Stabbed.)

As I have been reading through Victor Davis Hanson’s phenomenal work A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, I have been thinking back on the cultural connotations associated with Spartans and warfare in general. Perhaps none is more prominent in recent popular culture than the movie 300, which is a heavily stylized account of the Battle of...

Just Make Sure It Will Burn

Words can make things seem far more dramatic than they actually are. For example, what do you think of when you read the following: Ravaging and pillaging the countryside. Words like these call up images of massive destruction, of colossal armies leaving nothing but unfettered and unfeeling havoc and pestilence in their wake, a nearly immediate obliteration of rolling farmlands and pristine...

Pronunciation is Important!

The renowned Carthaginian general Hannibal is perhaps best known for his infamous crossing of the Alps to begin his invasion of Italy, but while reading Richard Miles’ Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization, I was made aware of an incident that is, in my opinion far more robust in demonstrating the aplomb of Hannibal. Hannibal had long been entrenched in...

Of Gods and Elephant Tusks

But though I see his point I disagree; For man, to me, is fabric of the gods, One stuff with them, potentially themselves; Less in degree, less purified, less free, But of their being, one at heart with them; Descended from them, seeking them up again To shed this close-constricting shell, and rise To the intensity and freedom of their power.[1. Pheidias, John Galen Howard, p. 150] Awhile ago I...

Jason Watson

Be Social

Subscribe to deviantmonk

Recent

Categories

Secret Archives