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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The Travels Of John Bell In Persia and China

John Bell was born in 1690 in Antermony, Scotland.  He seems to have decided at an early age to study medicine, but was lured into the world of adventure and travel by hearing stories of Peter the Great of Russia, who was a famous figure in Europe in the early eighteenth century.  He resolved to visit Russia for himself, and set out to St. Petersburg in July 1714.  The czar was preparing a delegation under the command of Aremy Petrovich Valenskyto travel to Persia; and Bell, with his medical background, volunteered to join the party as an attendant.

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The Recruit In The Soviet Army

In 1982 a former Soviet officer using the pen name Viktor Suvorov published a book entitled Inside the Soviet Army.  The book discussed the doctrines, tactics, and organization of the Soviet Army.  Reading it today feels like opening a time capsule; we even begin to feel in its pages a trace of nostalgia for the old empire.  The author includes a section on the lot of the common soldier, describing in detail how he was called up, what he had to do, and what his training was like.  These details we will summarize here.

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