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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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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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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The Patriotic Wisdom Of General John Stark

One of the most impressive names in the annals of American Revolutionary War leadership is that of General John Stark of New Hampshire.  Few of his peers equaled him in fighting prowess, tenacity, and strength of character; and while his name may be unfamiliar today, this is only because he was an apolitical animal who scrupulously refused to seek the garlands of notoriety and fame.

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The Captives Of The “Starry Crown”

The Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who lived from 1879 to 1962, changed his birth name when he was in college.  He was originally known as William Stephenson, and was born in Manitoba, Canada.  His biographers do not know exactly what prompted him to make such a startling reinvention of identity. 

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Apelles, The Greatest Painter Of Antiquity

Painting is a perishable art.  Pigment fades and flakes with the centuries; and the passage of millennia leaves us nothing of painting but dust and memories.  From antiquity have survived statues, tombs, mosaics, some murals here and there, artifacts of all kinds, and the sublime monuments of architecture; but of the great Greek and Roman painters, we have no original works.    

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Disaster And Heroism At Maiwand

On July 27, 1880, General George Burrows led just under 2,500 British and Indian troops into the field near Maiwand, Afghanistan, to intercept an Afghan force led by Ayub Khan.  Burrows, however, was not aware that he was confronting a force that numbered around 25,000 Afghan warriors.  The terrible engagement that followed, known to history as the Battle of Maiwand, was one of the major battles of the Second Anglo-Afghan War.     

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Escape From Libby Prison (Part II)

As February 10, 1864 dawned at Libby Prison, the remaining inmates awaited the inevitable hurricane of outrage and disbelief that they knew was coming.  All through the night, men had made their way through Col. Thomas Rose’s tunnel and out of Rat Hell to the dark streets of Richmond.  Now they would have to face the music once the morning count was conducted. 

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Escape From Libby Prison (Part I)

The greatest prison camp escape in American history took place at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, in February 1864.  On a cold winter night, 109 Union officers crawled through a suffocating, claustrophobic tunnel from a Confederate hell-hole to an empty lot near the building, and from there tried to make their way through hostile country to Union lines more than fifty miles away.  Many of them won their freedom, but many were recaptured and sent right back to prison. 

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