The Tomb Of The Scipios

When one considers the veneration that the ancient Romans had for their ancestors, it seems incredible that the tomb of the Scipios—one of the city’s most illustrious families—should be shrouded in such neglect and mystery.  And yet this is precisely the case.  One senses that the family and the city endured a bitter divorce, from which each emerged with an implacable hostility to the other; Rome never forgave the family’s recalcitrance, and punished it with a sullen historical silence.

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A Terrible Storm Destroys Octavian’s Fleet

In the modern era we tend to minimize or downplay the influence of weather and geography on human activity.  In earlier periods of history, armies and fleets had a much more intimate relation with the inconstancy of the natural world.  Ancient man could not insulate himself from the ocean’s surges, the sky’s furies, or the impediments of geography; and perhaps for this reason our ancestors had a healthier respect for Nature’s capabilities.

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On Obedience And Disobedience

We spend most of lives in obedience to one form of authority or another.  Rarely, if ever, is it counted as a virtue worthy of discussion by us moderns.  On the contrary:  we are expected to applaud disobedience, disorder, and challenges to authority, as if such disobedience were automatically exempt from scrutiny.

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The Positivism Of Benjamin Constant

I made an effort today to visit the house and museum of Benjamin Constant in the Santa Teresa neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro.  I had visited it some years ago and thought it would be a good idea to see it again to gain some perspective.  The site was closed for renovations, unfortunately, so I had to content myself with a few photographs of the surrounding area.  These can be found below.

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Selection And Supervision Are Critical In Any Great Enterprise

I have lately been rereading Candace Millard’s excellent River of Doubt, a narrative of Theodore Roosevelt’s ill-fated sojourn through the Amazon in 1914.  As is well known, the expedition was plagued by a lack of adequate food supplies and equipment.   This fact nearly caused the entire project to unravel once it was deep in the Amazon.

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Three Embalming Techniques Used In Ancient Egypt

Herodotus spends more time discussing Egypt than any other nation in his Histories.  One gets the feeling that he very much enjoyed himself there.  The amiable and curious Greek had a talent for getting along with nearly everyone; he seems to have fallen into conversation with priests and merchants in every country he visited.

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Angelo Poliziano’s 1484 Description Of A Planetary Clock

In studying the writings of scholars of ages past, one often begins to suspect that they were aware of more things than we generally give them credit for.  We begin to understand that the progress of knowledge is not always “upwards” in a steadily sloping straight line; there are periods of setbacks, stagnation, and decay.  And very often we perceive that men of great ability can be trapped in environments that are hostile to the development of their talents.

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