The Wisdom And Character Of Athanasios Of Athos

Of all the great and sanctified names of Mount Athos, few inspire more veneration than that of Athanasios.  He lived from about A.D. 925 to 1001, and occupies a central place in the development of the monasticism there.  As a young man he was a teacher and scholar in Constantinople, and mixed with the upper classes of that great city; he knew personally the Byzantine emperor Nicephoras II Phocas and served as his spiritual advisor.  But at some point he underwent some kind of conversion experience, and abandoned his old life to pursue the road of religion.  This pattern is not unknown among great holy men; we find it often repeated in the histories of the world’s great faiths.

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The Hardcover Edition Of “On Moral Ends” Is Now Available

The hardcover version of the groundbreaking new translation of Cicero’s On Moral Ends is now available.  It can be found on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble, and will be available from other retailers as well (click on the links in this sentence).  Some people prefer hardcover for important literary works, so I wanted to accommodate these requests.

This first edition (editio prima) is a beautiful book, bound in cloth and with a descriptive dust jacket.

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The Wise Sayings Of Al Muhallab

The Arab military commander Al Muhallab Ibn Abi Sufra (المهلّب بن أبي صفرة الأزدي) was born around A.D. 632, but not much is known of his early life beyond anecdotes.  His biographer Ibn Khallikan tells us on good authority that “His surnames al-Azdi, al-Ataki, [and] al-Basri indicate that he descended from al-Atik, member of the tribe of al-Azd, and that he was a native of Basra.”  We are also told that he was distinguished for his generosity and graciousness.  His military prowess was beyond question; he defended the city of Basra so effectively from its enemies that some took to calling the city “The Basra of Al Muhallab.”

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How Were Ancient Books Made And Stored?

There has been surprisingly little information published on how books were made, edited, distributed, and stored in ancient times.  Yet the subject holds real interest for many of us today.  My goal in this short essay will be to summarize how books were made and stored during the Greco-Roman period.  I am confident that readers will quickly appreciate just how much more convenient our access to written information is in comparison to what our remote ancestors had to contend with.

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Whether It Is Advisable To Change Religions, Or Remain With An Inherited Faith

It is well-known that there is great variability in religious practices across the world.  Climate, geography, and historical memory shape the outlook of man; and what may be routine and normal for one, may be seen as anathema to another.  Yet this variability in practices does not mean that morals, or beliefs, are irrelevant; it only means that man has proven himself infinitely creative in adapting customs to environment.

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“On Moral Ends” Lectures: Part 3 (Podcast)

This podcast is the third and final lecture in a series of three on my translation of Cicero’s On Moral Ends. In this lecture, we focus on the fifth and final book of On Moral Ends, which deals with the somewhat eclectic philosophy of Antiochus of Ascalon.

The speakers in book V, Cicero and Marcus Piso, debate Antiochus’s views and tussle over whether his conception of the Ultimate Good is better, or worse, than the Ultimate Good proposed by the Stoics and Epicureans. Can wisdom and virtue stand alone, or do other “goods” matter too? What do we really need for a happy life?

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