The Importance Of Thinking On One’s Feet: A Lucky Escape For Ibn Abi Muslim

We all know that the ability to think on one’s feet is an important skill.  There may even be times when this ability makes the difference between survival and execution.  The amusing anecdote that follows appears in Ibn Khallikan’s biographical sketch (IV.200) of a government official and administrator (مولى) named Yazid Ibn Abi Muslim, who served under an Umayyad governor of Iraq named Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf (c. 661—714 A.D.).

Continue reading

It’s Your Job To Set The Record Straight (Podcast)

After reading Charles Leerhsen’s excellent biography of baseball player Ty Cobb (Ty Cobb:  A Terrible Beauty), it’s clear that each of us is responsible for making sure that misinformation and lies do not go unanswered.  Even if you are not a baseball fan–maybe especially if you are not a baseball fan–there are very important life lessons to be learned here.

Continue reading

Hercules And The Apple Of Athena

One of the fables of Aesop concerns Hercules and Athena.  One day, Hercules was proceeding along a pathway in the mountains when he spotted an apple lying on the ground.  Irritated at its presence, he decided to smash it with his club; and when he tried to do so, the apple doubled in size.  Shocked, he swung his club at it again, this time determined to crush it completely.

Continue reading

Angelo Poliziano’s 1484 Description Of A Planetary Clock

In studying the writings of scholars of ages past, one often begins to suspect that they were aware of more things than we generally give them credit for.  We begin to understand that the progress of knowledge is not always “upwards” in a steadily sloping straight line; there are periods of setbacks, stagnation, and decay.  And very often we perceive that men of great ability can be trapped in environments that are hostile to the development of their talents.

Continue reading

The Illustrated, Annotated Translation Of Cornelius Nepos’s “Lives Of The Great Commanders” Is Now Available

My fully illustrated and annotated translation of Cornelius Nepos’s Lives of the Great Commanders has now been published.  It is now available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle editions.  There will be an audio book version, of course; it should be available at the end of October (my preferred reader, Saethon Williams, will be handling the job).

Continue reading