Legends Related To The Conquest Of Spain

Musa Ibn Nusair (موسى بن نصير) lived from 640 to 716 A.D. and served as the Umayyad governor-general of the province of Afriqiyya (North Africa).  It was he who planned and directed the Arab conquest of the Gothic kingdom of Spain.  The biographer Ibn Khallikan, writing in Baghdad in 1274, sketched the outline of his career and notable deeds.  Ibn Nusair’s full name was Abd al-Rahman Musa Ibn Nusair, and he was noted throughout his life, we are told, “for prudence, generosity, bravery, and piety.”  No army under his command was ever defeated.

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Xenophon’s Dream, And The Power Of Character

When a man is under the duress of extreme events, he sometimes finds himself wracked by indecision.  He will mull over various courses of action in his head; he will script out different scenarios in his imagination; and he will ponder his predicament from multiple perspectives.  And yet, when he has finished with these troublesome cogitations, he may find a course of action still eludes him; but at some point, a moment of inspiration will arrive to pierce the gloom, and confer on him the guidance he has desperately been seeking.  When this happens, he must unhesitatingly seize the present hour for action, and proceed with his rendezvous with Fate.

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Seeing The Platonic Academy

I walked to the ruins of the Platonic Academy in Athens this morning.  Founded by Plato himself around 387 B.C., it persisted through many generations under a variety of scholarchs (i.e., heads).  It finally came to an official end during the reign of the emperor Justinian in 529 A.D., who ordered the closure of all the pagan institutions of higher learning.

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Starvation On The High Seas: The Ordeal Of The “Saint Le Jacques”

Perhaps it is well that the modern traveler remains serenely unaware of the extraordinary hardships endured by his itinerant ancestors.  For if he knew what travel in the pre-modern era truly entailed, he would be rightfully consumed by a sense of shame and inadequacy.  His concerns are whether he will have the chicken or the pasta aboard Delta Flight XYZ bound for one city or another; his ancestors, however, were grateful just to get a few moldy biscuits and rum during some miserable transoceanic ordeal.  Perspective is everything, or nearly everything.

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The Justice Of Malik Shah, Son Of Alp Arslan

Malik Shah I lived from about 1053 to about 1092, and was the sultan of the Seljuk Turkish Empire from 1072 to 1092.  His name in Turkish is given as Melikşah; and he succeeded his father, the renowned Alp Arslan.  According to his biographer Ibn Khallikan, Malik Shah was famous for his sense of justice and equity; he was said to have been untiring in his efforts to correct wrongs that were in his power to cure.  So known was he for this trait that some Arabic historians took to calling him الملك العادل (al-malik al-a’adil), which means “the just king.”

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The Mystery Of Cicero’s Lost Work “On Glory”

Of the literary works of classical antiquity, only a fraction have survived to the present day.  What fraction this is, we do not know; one estimate places it at one-fourth, but the true figure will never be known.  The reader may wonder how it can be that literary masterpieces could have been permitted to fade into obscurity, and then oblivion; but, on further reflection, he will marvel more at the fact that anything at all survived from antiquity than rue the losses we have suffered.  Printing and the mass production of books are relatively new inventions.  For most of history (in Europe at least) books could only be reproduced as fast as a copyist could transcribe them.  Multiplicity was the only insurance against destruction:  the more copies in existence, the better the book’s chance of survival.

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The Corrupt Rule Of Walter VI Of Brienne, The “Duke Of Athens”

The citizens of a free republic should always be alert to threats to their liberty.  Such threats may come in a variety of forms; one of the most dangerous is that posed by a fraud or con artist who appears in the guise of a “people’s champion.”  Skilled at manipulation and demagoguery, such men know how to take the measure of a crowd, or the tenor of the times; they know how to cast their voices so as to appear sympathetic to the legitimate aspirations of their people; and they are practiced at dangling before their gullible audiences the enticements that could be theirs, if only they agree to throw in their lot with him.

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