The Roman Ceremony Of Deification

We read about how certain Roman emperors were “deified” after their deaths.  Unfortunately it is not easy to learn the details about how this process was actually undertaken.  I was fortunate to come across a rare description of how the deification (deificatio) ceremony took place in the humanist Biondo Flavio’s Roma Triumphans (Rome in Triumph).  This Renaissance Latin work, published in 1459, contains a wealth of information on Roman religion and ceremonies, compiled from a painstaking review of  the Latin sources available to him.

Continue reading

Hunting For A Rare Bird In The Colombian Jungle: The Cock-Of-The-Rock

The naturalist Leo E. Miller was a participant in the famed Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition of 1913–1914 that explored Brazil’s unknown Rio da Duvida.  He also had a distinguished career exploring the wilds of many different South American countries and cataloging various species of animal life; he would later record these experiences with the publication in 1918 of In the Wilds of South America.  

Continue reading

The Tale Of The Two Foxes

Ibn Zafar’s well of wisdom provides us with another fable to ponder.  How the reader relates it to his or her own life experience, or to the world’s current events, will be up to him or her to decide.  While the narrative below is my own, I have also included some of Ibn Zafar’s quotes (as translated by J. Kechichian and R. Dekmejian–with minor variations by me–in their excellent edition of the Sulwan Al-Muta’) as they appear at relevant points in the story.

Continue reading

The Tale Of Firuz, A King Of Persia

The following story is told by the political theorist Ibn Zafar (1104–1172?) in his treatise on the art of government.  We have encountered him several times previously in these pages, and have discussed many of his ideas on leadership, governance, and the conduct of foreign affairs.  There are times when anecdotes can bring certain principles into sharp focus.

Continue reading

The Final Act Of All Is Never Considered Late

It is a feature of human nature to try to control our environment.  We wish to exert some kind of influence over the outcome of events, and thereby enhance our own feelings of security and comfort.  Yet there are many times when human labor will fall short; it will prove itself to be incapable of dealing with a situation, or unable to weigh the nuances of an evenly balanced pattern of fact.  When these situations come about, we must step back from the work-shop; we must move away from the work-table, the field of conflict, or the courtroom, and Fortune take over the guidance of events.

Continue reading

Some Advice To A Recruit (Podcast)

I recently received an email from a man who is about to ship off to USMC boot camp. He wanted to know if I had any pieces of advice for him before he goes. This is a subject I could talk about for hours, so I had to force myself to boil things down to the absolute essentials.  I offer ten points that I found to be useful from my own experience.  You’ll do fine.  You will rise to the occasion, and will be surprised at the progress you have made by the final week.

Continue reading

The Tale Of The Two Ministers: Redemption Through Patience And Faith

The following tale is told by Ibn Zafar al-Siqilli (“The Sicilian”) in his political and ethical treatise سلوان المطاع في عدوان الأتباع (The Consolation of the Ruler in Dealing with His Subjects’ Hostility).  The story’s purpose is to emphasize the importance that faith and endurance play in the fates of princes.  We should note that Ibn Zafar does not advocate a passive resignation or inaction in the face of hardship.  Instead he counsels us to do all we can to resolve our problems; but once one has exhausted his actionable remedies, he must submit himself to the workings of Fate.  In this he is very much like the Stoic sages who preceded him by so many centuries.

Continue reading