A Reading From Jean de Joinville’s “Life Of Saint Louis” (Podcast)

Today was a difficult one to bear. We grieve, and feel dismay. I wanted to honor the spirit that created Notre Dame by reading some selections from Joinville’s Life of Saint Louis. He was the king of France known to history as Louis IX, and he lived from 1214 to 1270. The pious and selfless ethic he professed infused every stone, every brick, and every timber of Notre Dame.

France, do not forget your dead king.  Vive la France.

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The Alexandrian Library: Dissipation Through Neglect And Apathy

Nearly every scholar of classical antiquity seems to have an opinion about the destruction of the Great Library of the Ptolemies at Alexandria in Egypt.  It has become something of a symbol of the triumph of ignorance and superstition over knowledge.  There is much merit to this view; but the picture is a complex one, and it deserves serious consideration.  The ruin of the library–and of others like it in the ancient and medieval worlds–was not a discrete, single event.  It was the gradual outcome of a process that took place over generations.  And when I say “process,” I am referring to neglect, apathy, and negligence.

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Rehabilitation Or Retribution?

Investigative journalist Raphael Rowe’s new Netflix documentary series “Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons” provides a harrowing look at incarceration in different countries.  Mr. Rowe has gone into the belly of the beast to learn the truth behind the prison systems of the world.  It also prompts a larger, deeper question. What philosophy is better: rehabilitation, or retribution? We look at the arguments for both sides.

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What Did A Roman Triumph Actually Look Like?

Like the ceremony of deification, the Roman triumph (triumphus) is one of those rituals about which few readers may have a clear picture.  This is unfortunate, for the ceremonial triumph provides a very revealing window on certain aspects of Roman society.  Ancient writers mention it frequently, but almost always in passing; we are seldom offered a description of the event itself.  Fortunately, the Greek historian Appian has done just this in his writings (VIII.9.66), and it will be useful for us to relate the specifics here.

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Some Life Advice From Ibn Zafar Al-Siqilli (“The Sicilian”)

In this podcast we discuss some life advice offered by the medieval Arabic political theorist and philosopher Ibn Zafar in his treatise, Consolation of the Ruler Amid the Hostility of His Subjects.  I’ve written several articles before about him that can be found on this site (use the search box in the upper right corner), and wanted to do a podcast about some of his life advice.

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The Travels Of Dr. Thomas Shaw

He remains one of the most impressive of the forgotten European explorers of the Middle East.  He was born in Westmoreland in 1692, and entered Queen’s College at Oxford in 1711.  Graduating in 1716, he accepted a position with a British commercial post in Algiers; this gave him the opportunity for a meandering journey through Europe before commencing the assignment.

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