Tusculan Disputations: What It Is About, And Why It Is Important (Podcast)

In this podcast I discuss my new translation of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations. The work deals with five critical problems that face all of us: the fear of death, how to endure pain, how to alleviate mental distress, the various disorders of the mind, and why virtue is important for living a happy life. (A review of the book can be found in the October 2021 issue of The New Criterion). What questions could be more essential and fundamental than these?

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Bertha’s Grave

The following tale appeared in an old volume of forgotten maritime lore.  Its author, the indefatigable historian Edward R. Snow, relates that he first heard in as a young man in Bristol, England.  He frankly notes the difficulty of substantiating its details, but suggests that, like many sea-yarns, it may contain the seeds of actual events.  The story remains, in any case, a powerful allegory of love, loss, and commitment.  The setting is the Isle of Wight.  The time is the end of the seventeenth century.

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Charlemagne Instructs On The Moral Requirements Of Leadership

We do not know the precise location of Charlemagne’s birthplace.  He donned the crown at the ripe age of twenty-nine in 771 A.D. upon the death of Carloman II.  From that moment he became embroiled in an almost ceaseless series of military campaigns designed both to expand his frontiers and safeguard them; in this turbulent age, kings needed to fight as well as administrate.  Historians tell us that he undertook around fifty-three campaigns, and personally commanded most of them. 

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Anecdotes From The Court Of Charlemagne

The chronicler known to posterity as Notker the Stammerer (“Notker Balbulus”) was born in what is now Switzerland around A.D. 840.  He seems to have come from a family that had the means to provide him with the best education his era could offer.  We find him in adulthood as a monk at the monastery at St. Gall, where he was able to exercise his considerable musical talents in composing verses and hymns. 

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Coping With The Loss Of A Child (Podcast)

In this podcast, we discuss a serious subject. A reader explains that his family has just lost a young child, and he is searching for advice on how to deal with this calamity. I offer some suggestions drawn from Plutarch’s letter of consolation to his wife on the death of his two-year-old daughter Timoxena. We also discuss anecdotes from other sources (e.g., Cicero’s views on grief, the life of P.T. Barnum, etc.), and my own personal experiences. Fiat voluntas tua.

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A Heinous And Remorseless Maritime Killer

I first learned of the following story in a long-forgotten book of maritime lore entitled Unsolved Mysteries of Sea and Shore.  Authored by Edward Snow, it was published in only one edition in 1963.  As it is a difficult volume to procure, it will be useful for me to retell the tale here in abbreviated form, so that readers can form their own conclusions on the purposes of an elusive and sinister figure named William Kellogg Thompson.

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Coming August 2021: A New Translation Of “Tusculan Disputations”

In August 2021, a new and original translation of the full text of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations will be published by Fortress of the Mind Publications. Nearly two years in the making, this is the first complete translation of Tusculan Disputations to appear in English since the 1920s, and the only one that is fully annotated and illustrated. It is ideal for the student, general reader, and scholar who needs a clear, cogent, and modern edition of this timeless classic.

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Breakout From Britain

Gunther Plüschow, Germany’s legendary escape artist of the First World War, was born to a  well-traveled family in Munich on February 8, 1886.  He was taken by his family to Rome at an early age, and was fortunate to have grown up amid the Eternal City’s bustle, ruins, and excitement; it was there that he acquired his facility with languages and adroitness in maneuvering his way out of trouble. 

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