Age Of Spectacle: Chariot Races, The Hippodrome, And The Four Factions

To understand fully the social environment in which the eastern Roman empire operated, we must have some grasp of the unique culture surrounding Constantinople’s Hippodrome in the centuries that followed the disappearance of the Roman empire in the west.  In Byzantium, sport and politics achieved a strange admixture that has no exact historical parallel anywhere else; sport influenced politics, and politics guided sport.  It was a peculiar world, but one that makes sense once we understand the conditions that existed at the time.  We begin with the arena itself.

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The Villa Of The Papyri: A Glimpse At A Roman Book Collection

Sometimes an accident of history can preserve records of great value.  As is well-known, Mount Vesuvius in Italy erupted in 79 A.D. entombing the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and ejecta.  In the eighteenth century, these sites began to be explored in a random and haphazard manner; one of the villas so discovered turned out to be the residence of a dedicated scholar.

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The Wise Sayings Of Al Muhallab

The Arab military commander Al Muhallab Ibn Abi Sufra (المهلّب بن أبي صفرة الأزدي) was born around A.D. 632, but not much is known of his early life beyond anecdotes.  His biographer Ibn Khallikan tells us on good authority that “His surnames al-Azdi, al-Ataki, [and] al-Basri indicate that he descended from al-Atik, member of the tribe of al-Azd, and that he was a native of Basra.”  We are also told that he was distinguished for his generosity and graciousness.  His military prowess was beyond question; he defended the city of Basra so effectively from its enemies that some took to calling the city “The Basra of Al Muhallab.”

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How Were Ancient Books Made And Stored?

There has been surprisingly little information published on how books were made, edited, distributed, and stored in ancient times.  Yet the subject holds real interest for many of us today.  My goal in this short essay will be to summarize how books were made and stored during the Greco-Roman period.  I am confident that readers will quickly appreciate just how much more convenient our access to written information is in comparison to what our remote ancestors had to contend with.

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Washington Crosses The Delaware And Attacks

Anyone who thinks the American Revolutionary War was a gentleman’s affair has been seriously misinformed.  We are sometimes given the impression that genteel types in powdered wigs maneuvered this way and that, and at the end of the day, everything was neatly wrapped up as almost a foregone conclusion.  This, however, was not the case, as D.H. Fischer’s Washington’s Crossing makes very clear.  War is war, and there is no way to sugar-coat its effects and costs.

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Dr. Johnson Makes An Eloquent Petition For Clemency

It is a noble thing to intercede on behalf of another’s worthy cause.  But the cause should be a worthy one; we must work to manage expectations; and, when every effort has been exerted, we must know when to let matters take their own course.  Advocating on behalf of another in this way could almost be viewed as a form of public service.  One of the law’s fundamental rules is the principle of proportionality:  a punishment should be reasonably proportional to the crime committed.  The reader examining the following anecdote should ask himself whether the punishment was, in fact, proportional to the committed offense.

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