The Best Reliance Is Self-Reliance

The Roman writer Aelian makes an interesting comment in his Varia Historia (II.39) about the education of Cretan youths in ancient times.  He says that the children of citizens (presumably both boys and girls) would learn the laws of their island with musical accompaniment as an aid to memorization. 

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Ancient Greek Athleticism And The Idea Of Virtue

This morning my friend Dr. Michael Fontaine sent me an email that contained the following quote by the French Enlightenment thinker Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle.  When Fontenelle, at the age of 85, met Rousseau in 1742, he counseled him, “You must courageously offer your brow to laurel wreaths, and your nose to blows.” 

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The Greatest Horror Films Ever Made

Why horror?  What is it about this genre that exerts such a hold on our imagination?  What psychological need is served by the human desire to be frightened or unnerved?  Perhaps some residue of our prehistoric consciousness, in which our hominid ancestors were stalked by ancient predators on the African savannahs, demands to be recognized as an evolutionary survival sense; or perhaps the perception of fear awakens certain synapses in the brain, igniting the spark of creative impulses that demand some form of outward expression.  I do not know.

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Jean de La Bruyère’s Thoughts On Money, Wealth, And Fortune

The French essayist and philosopher Jean de La Bruyère achieved a degree of notoriety for his work Characters (Les Caractères ou les Mœurs de ce siècle), which he published in 1688.  He died young, at the age of 50 in 1696; perhaps his pen might have produced more marvels had fortune provided him more longevity. 

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What You Vote For, You Must Also Commit To

The Athenian statesman and general Phocion lived from about 402 to 318 B.C.  He was famous for his frugal and unassuming personal habits; and he always put the interests of his country first, in stark opposition to his careerist, opportunistic contemporaries. 

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Making Things Personal

I was walking today through some side-streets of Falmouth, Massachusetts and saw a lawn sign that caught my attention.  The sign said, “Drive As If Your Kids Live Here.”  What an effective message, I thought to myself.  The writer is making a direct appeal to the reader, asking him to put himself in the shoes of the people living in the neighborhood. 

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The Betrayal Of Günther Müller

The following story is taken from John Koehler’s masterfully researched Stasi:  The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police (1999).  It is just one of countless tales of tragedy, suffering, and betrayal that took place in East Germany between the years 1945 and 1989.  As the memory of communist oppression continues to recede in time, it becomes increasingly important to document, for the benefit of future generations, its fearsome scope and unrelenting cruelty. 

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General Jacob Bayley, Patriot And Man Of Character

General Jacob Bayley remains one of the most obscure figures of American Revolutionary War leadership.  Yet in our present age of debilitated moral strength, feeble character, and flexuous purposes, the details of his life and deeds are both instructive and edifying.

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