Quotulatiousness

January 9, 2018

QotD: Moderation

Filed under: Humour, Quotations, Wine — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Three kraters [bowls used for wine] do I mix for the temperate: one to health, which they empty first, the second to love and pleasure, the third to sleep. When this bowl is drunk up, wise guests go home. The fourth bowl is ours no longer, but belongs to hubris, the fifth to uproar, the sixth to prancing about, the seventh to black eyes, the eighth brings the police, the ninth belongs to vomiting, and the tenth to insanity and the hurling of furniture.

Eubulus, attributing the words to the god Dionysus

November 27, 2017

Sea Peoples: The 1200 BC System Collapse

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Space And Intelligence
Published on 7 May 2017

In the 12th century B.C., after centuries of brilliance, the civilized and globalized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians. The thriving economies and cultures of the late second millennium B.C., which had stretched from Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia, suddenly ceased to exist, along with writing systems, technology, and monumental architecture. Could it happen again?

November 13, 2017

Epic Moments in History – Top 10 Spartan One Liners

Filed under: Europe, History, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Invicta
Published on 12 May 2017

The Spartans are remembered as famous warriors but their words could be every bit as biting as their spears! Here is a top 10 list of the most epic Spartan one liners in history! Bibliography and recommended reading below:

The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-Heroes of Ancient Greece by Paul Cartledge
Spartan Warrior 735–331 BC by Duncan B Campbell
The Spartan Army by Osprey Publishing
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Script: Oakley
Narration: Officially Devin (https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficiallyDevin)
Art: Oakley and T. Hopwood
Video Editing: Oakley

Music:
“Walls of Sparta” – Total War: Rome II OST
“The Sassanid Empire” – Total War: Attila OST
“Marathon” – Total War: Rome II OST

November 2, 2017

Misunderstood Moments in History – The Spartan Myth

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Invicta
Published on 27 Oct 2017

The Spartans are immortalized in history as super soldiers bred for war. However most of what we think we know about them is a lie. Today we will unmask the truth behind the Spartan Myth.

The Great Courses Plus is currently available to watch through a web browser to almost anyone in the world and optimized for the US market. The Great Courses Plus is currently working to both optimize the product globally and accept credit card payments globally.

Documentary Credits:
Research: Dr Roel Konijnendijk
Script: Invicta
Artwork: Milek J
Editing: Invicta
Music: Total War OST, Soundnote

Documentary Bibliography:
Paul Anthony Cartledge, The Spartans: The World of the Warrior-heroes of Ancient Greece
Nigel Kennell, Spartans: A New History (2010)
S. Hodkinson, Property and Wealth in Classical Sparta (2000)
J. Ducat, Spartan Education: Youth and Society in the Classical Period (2006)
S.M. Rusch, Sparta at War: Strategy, Tactics and Campaigns, 550-362 BC (2011)
E. Rawson, The Spartan Tradition in European Thought (1969)
S. Hodkinson & I.M. Morris (eds.), Sparta in Modern Thought (2012)

October 10, 2017

Crap archery in Helen of Troy

Filed under: History, Humour, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Lindybeige
Published on 9 Jan 2014

This film continues to be a mine of errors, and there were so many on archery, that I thought I could do a whole video on this one subject.

On the speed of arrows, I was assuming the belly of the horse to be 12 feet above the archers. The first arrow to arrive took 20 frames to get there, which is 4/5 second (PAL 25 frames per second), and 5/4 of 12 is 15, so they were travelling at about 15 feet per second.

On opposed landings, I could give the example of the British liberation of the Falkland Islands. Even though there were not vast numbers of Argentinians on the Islands, and the British had air and sea superiority, the British still chose to land unopposed the other side of the islands and walk all the way across, rather than risk an opposed landing. In the ancient world, I do not know of a successful attack on a fortified place from the sea. When the Romans cleared the Mediterranean of pirates, they did it by landing troops away from the pirate strongholds, and then marching to the strongholds overland.

www.LloydianAspects.co.uk

October 7, 2017

The Trojan War – A tale of Passion and Bloodshed! l HISTORY OF SEX

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

IT’S HISTORY
Published on 23 Sep 2015

The Trojan War is one of the most epic and passionate legends set in Greek Mythology. Legend has it, that Prince Paris fell in love with the beautiful Helena, wife of King Menelaos of Sparta. He took her to Troy, which sent all of the rest of Greece, including the famous warrior Achilles after the city. We’ll explain which incidents on the battles are actually proven and how sex, powerplay and love is interpreted to have led to blood shed more than once during Antiquity. Join Indy for our new episode of BATTLEFIELDS!

September 19, 2017

In praise of ancient Greece

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In the latest Libertarian Enterprise, Sean Gabb explains why we owe so much today to ancient and classical Greek culture:

The Greeks gave us virtually all our philosophy, and the foundation of all our sciences. Their historians were the finest. Their poetry was second only to that of Homer – and it was they who put together all that we have of Homer, and Homer was himself an early Greek. They gave us ideals of beauty, the fading of which has always been a warning sign of decadence; and they gave us the technical means of recording that beauty. They had no examples to imitate. They did everything entirely by themselves. In a world that had always been at the midnight point of barbarism and superstition, they went off like a flashbulb; and everything good in our own world is part of their afterglow. Every renaissance and enlightenment we have had since then has begun with a rediscovery of the Ancient Greeks.

For the avoidance of doubt, I will not say that the Greeks were perfect. Though remarkable human beings – though the most remarkable human beings – they were still human beings, with all the vices and other failings that come with this. But, if you commit your life to staring into that flood of intense light that was Greece, you will not have lived in vain. And, though I do not despise translations, and would never discourage someone from approaching the Greeks only through translation, I will add that the light is most intense when seen directly, through the medium in which the Greeks themselves thought and spoke and wrote.

There are many reasons for learning Greek. A full discussion of them would amount to an advertisement for my services, and would take longer than I have available for this speech. But I will mention three.

The first is that Greek is inherently a beautiful language, and worth studying for itself alone. There is certainly a thrill to speaking it. Take this line from Homer:

    τὸν δ’ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς
    To him in answer spake the ever-resourceful Odysseus

For any number of reasons, my pronunciation is corrupt, and no Greek, ancient or modern, would think me other than a barbarian. But say these words, and you are making sounds that were first made when our own ancestors were tattooing their faces and smearing butter into their hair, before perhaps the building of Stonehenge, and when even Rome was no more than a collection of huts not far removed from the stone age.

The second main reason for learning Greek is that we know far less about the Greeks than we would like. So much has been carried away by the ravages of time. For the past six hundred years, a continuous line of scholars in Western Europe, and more recently in America, has laboured to gather and understand all that can be found about the Greeks. Every surviving Greek text has been pressed harder than olives for one of the supermarket chains to give up every possible meaning. Archaeology and all the natural sciences have been put to similar uses. In every century since the fourteenth, we have been able to say at its end that we knew more than at the beginning. But our knowledge remains imperfect. We look on the Greeks as we might on a landscape covered in mist. Here and there, the mist is absent or thinner, and we can be astonished by what we see; and we can hope to extrapolate from what we see to what remains covered.

If you come to the Greeks through translations, it is as if you are looking at that misty landscape though a sheet of coloured glass. Our word translate in Latin, and by extension in French, is traduco. This can mean translate. It can also mean dishonour, degrade or betray. Most translations, whether deliberately or by accident, do all these things to their original. Until very recently, English translators of the classics would labour to conceal the sexual tastes of the Ancients. Many translators labour still, though now to conceal the ancient taste for mood-altering substances. Even otherwise, a translation will not carry over the whole of the original meaning, but will impose on a reader the translator’s view of its meaning. Compare, if you like, my translation of Thucydides with other translations. The basic idea is the same: the choice of words and the balance and even the structure of the statement are different.

This brings me to my third main reason – and here I turn to Latin. If you take individual stories from Homer and put them into translation, they can sometimes work almost as well as they do in Greek. The story of Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus is wonderful in itself. So too the story of how Achilles tied the dead body of Hector to his chariot and dragged it about the walls of Troy, and how Priam came out to buy back the body. These stories thrilled me as a child, or moved me to tears. So they can in in any good retelling.

If we turn, however, to Vergil, any translation seems to involve a perceptible loss of impact. Last Easter, I taught some revision courses for A Level Classical Civilisation. One of the modules I covered was Vergil’s The Aeneid in several good English translations. Except for John Dryden’s version, this was my first experience of Vergil in translation. I have said that the translations used were good. They were made by men whose Latin was far better than mine. Compared with the original, however, they were disappointingly flat. Again and again, I would skim the text, looking for the equivalent of some line or phrase that had stamped itself into my memory. Again and again, I was disappointed by the mediocrity of what I made the students read aloud to me.

September 18, 2017

QotD: …of (some of) the people, by (some of) the people…

Filed under: History, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… it IS possible to have a Res Publica – by the people – government, but only as long as it is by the ‘deserving’ few. The worst excesses of these proto-democracies can be undercut by an extreme limiting of the franchise – preferably to an effective oligarchy of voters narrow enough to be more self-interested in keeping control against the uneducated and undisciplined rule of the genuine majority, but this is hard to achieve. The Serene Republic of Venice achieved it for almost a thousand years by limiting the franchise to the great and the good families, and the early United States managed to hold it together for about 90 years by limiting it by racial profiling as well as property franchise… but note that both were, like all the Greek and Roman republics, slave based societies: so their claims to be genuine democracies are hopelessly confused to anyone with a consistent or comprehensible ideological viewpoint. In their case ‘the people’ simply meant, the deserving few that we will allow to vote.

This limiting of the franchise to the deserving actually continues in very successful – one could even say the ONLY successful – republics of the modern world. The ancient Greek and Roman franchises were honestly based on ‘those who contribute get a say’. Contribution a that time being buying the expensive armour yourself, putting in the training time, and taking the risk in the front lines of battle: to prove you put the good of the state and your fellow citizens above your own interests. (Though it is notable that their Republics almost instantly graduated to imperialistic and aggressive expansion, which pretty quickly made republican government unworkable, and inevitably led to such champions of democracy as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar.)

The only long term successful modern Republic – Switzerland – still has compulsory military service; as does Israel, the only successful democracy ever established in the Middle East.

The other ways to limit the franchise – Like the first (1770’s), second (1860’s) and third (1880’s) American attempts of a franchise limited by race/property; or the first (1790’s), second (1820’s) or third (1860’s) French attempts at a property based franchise (which often saw as few as 20% of people with a vote): were actually much less successful than the equivalent slow Westminster style expansions of the franchise under a developing constitutional monarchy. (No Western Westminster system state has ever had a coup, let alone a civil war.) France has had 5 republics, 3 monarchies and 2 emperors in less than 200 years; and the United States has similarly run through several major reformations of their race/property franchise system since their – 600,000 dead – little debate about their system.

(The American comparison with France is amusing. The first American republic was smashed by the Confederate Defection; the second was an anti-democratic imposition on the South – with no voting rights for Confederate ‘activists’ – after the Confederacy War of Independence was crushed; the third ‘republic’ was when the white southerners were re-enfranchised and promptly disenfranchised the blacks who had been the only voters in the south for the previous 20 years – and whose elected black representatives had not been allowed in the front door or the dining rooms of Congress; the fourth republic… well you get the idea. The US system, with all its defections, jumps and retreats, simply can’t be called a continuously expanding development the way Westminster systems are.)

Nigel Davies, “The ‘Arab Spring’, 1848, and the 30 Years War/s”, Rethinking History, 2015-09-19.

August 25, 2017

The End of the Bronze Age

Filed under: History, Middle East, Science — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 28 Sep 2015

Around 1200 BC, the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean went into major cultural decline: The Late Bronze Age came to a sudden end.

Kingdoms that had wielded immense power completely disappeared. For several centuries after this, agriculture was people’s only means of subsistence. These were pivotal changes in history. Explaining them remains one of the big challenges in Mediterranean archaeology.

In this video, the foundation Luwian Studies presents a comprehensive and plausible scenario of what might have happened.

August 24, 2017

The Story of Western Philosophy

Filed under: Education, Europe, History, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 26 May 2017

Relevant mystery link: https://youtu.be/myc7eHGg5y4
If you notice any factual errors in this week’s video, please just bear in mind that life is ultimately meaningless in the first place.

August 22, 2017

The Bronze Age Collapse – Lies – Extra History

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 12 Aug 2017

How did the Bronze Age Collapse affect civilizations other than the four discussed in our series? When trade fell apart, why didn’t those who relied on bronze switch to forging with other metals? James and Soraya look back on these questions on Lies!

August 20, 2017

Thucydides again

Filed under: History, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

David Warren found a dip into Thucydides was at least as informative on political issues today as any current “reporting”:

What a week it has been, at least in the yellow world of journalism and politics. I have had nothing new to say on anything — at least I hope to have said nothing new, for my intention in commenting on passing events is simply to repeat the old gnomes which they freshly illustrate. Thucydides, into whose works I privately dipped last Tuesday, was as up-to-date as anything I found “breaking” on the Internet.

Consider, for instance, the career of the Athenian general (then Spartan, then Persian, then Athenian again), Alcibiades — more sinned against than sinning, and more sinning than sinned against, by turns. A large man, persistently underridden by the mean and small; a hero and no saint. Loved to the point of worship by the crowds; hated by the umbrous, to the point of madness; and always “in the news.”

A polarizing figure, as we’d say today; who, for his impieties, was finally run down by a mob. They set fire to the cottage where he’d retired with his mistress. (The Spartans commissioned the mob by one account; the young lady’s parents by another.) Boldly emerging from the flames to confront the whole tribe of his adversaries, he died in a hail of arrows. The gods let only Stalin die in his sleep. (Or so we thought until we got more information.)

August 15, 2017

QotD: Platonism versus Epicureanism

Filed under: History, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

It is all this that made Epicurus and his philosophy so scandalous in the ancient world and beyond. Plato never did get to create his perfect society. But his followers did manage to establish variants of Platonism as the dominant philosophy of later antiquity. And all the other main schools of philosophy were agreed that the world should be ruled by intellectuals. These should tell the civil authorities how to govern. They should provide the moral and spiritual justification for the rule of absolute and unaccountable systems of government — systems of which the Roman imperial system was only the most developed. They should have positions of honour within these systems.

Epicureanism was a standing challenge to these pretensions. We have no precise evidence for the spread of Epicureanism in the ancient world. But it does seem to have spread very widely. Why else should Cicero, Plutarch and many of the Christian Fathers have given so much effort to sustained attacks on it? Why else, in spite of his emphatic remarks on the nature of happiness, was Epicurus, even in his own lifetime, subjected to the most outrageous accusations?

We have one statement from Cicero, that Epicureanism in his own day was one of the dominant schools of philosophy in Italy. So far, he says, Greek philosophy had been available only in the original language. But writers such as Amafinius had translated several Epicurean works — on the publishing of whose writings the people were moved, and enlisted themselves chiefly under this sect, either because the doctrine was more easily understood, or because they were invited thereto by the pleasing thoughts of amusement, or that, because there was nothing better, they laid hold of what was offered them.

There is no doubt that it influenced the classical literature of Rome. Of course, there is the great poem by Lucretius. But there is also Catullus and Horace and even Virgil. Without citing them, their works are imbued with an Epicurean outlook on life, either directly from Epicurus or indirectly from Lucretius.

Another indication of popularity is that once converted to Epicureanism, people hardly ever switched to another philosophy. The philosopher Arcesilaus testifies to this fact even as he tries to explain it:

    You can turn a man into a eunuch, but you can’t turn a eunuch into a man.

Then there is the curious testimony of the Jews. During the three centuries around the birth of Christ, the main everyday language of many Jewish communities was Greek. The Gospels and Letters of Saint Paul were all directed at mainly Jewish audiences and are in Greek. One of the most important philosophers of the age, Philo of Alexandria, was a Jew. Many Jews took on Greek ways. Many, no doubt, stopped being Jews and made themselves into Greeks. The condemnation of these Hellenised Jews is Apikorsim, which may easily be taken as a Semitic version of Epicurean. The term survives in Jewish theological writing. According to one Internet source, Apikorsim are what Chasidim refer to as Jewish Goyim, or secular Jews. They seem to be the worst opposition for Hasidic Jewry.

A term of abuse so loaded with contempt is unlikely to have been taken from the doctrines of an insignificant philosophical tradition among ordinary people of the age. It is reasonable to suppose that many lapsed Jews became Epicureans. If so, Epicureanism must already have had large numbers of adherents among at least the semi-educated classes.

Sean Gabb, “Epicurus: Father of the Enlightenment”, speaking to the 6/20 Club in London, 2007-09-06.

August 5, 2017

History of Writing – The Alphabet – Extra History

Filed under: History, Middle East, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on Jul 29, 2017

Where did the alphabet come from? How did it develop, and why? The writing systems first developed in Sumer provided a basis for the written word, but their system of characters also inspired a shift to single phoneme systems where each letter represents a distinct sound.

July 28, 2017

1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Eric Cline, PhD)

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East, Science — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 11 Oct 2016

From about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society.

Considered for a Pulitzer Prize for his recent book 1177 BC, Dr. Eric H. Cline is Professor of Classics and Anthropology and the current Director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at The George Washington University. He is a National Geographic Explorer, a Fulbright scholar, an NEH Public Scholar, and an award-winning teacher and author. He has degrees in archaeology and ancient history from Dartmouth, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania; in May 2015, he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree (honoris causa) from Muhlenberg College. Dr. Cline is an active field archaeologist with 30 seasons of excavation and survey experience.

The views expressed in this video are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Capital Area Skeptics.

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