The Eight Qualities Of The Man Of Understanding

One of the first and greatest classics of Arabic prose is the Book of Kalila and Dimna.  It is a collection of fables told with an allegorical purpose, but it is presented with such wisdom, poetic eloquence, and engaging humor as to make it one of the treasures of world literature.  Its pedigree verifies its merit.  The stories it contains were originally derived from a Sanskrit classic called the Panchatantra, but a Persian scholar and translator named Ibn Muqaffa’ (ابن المقفع‎‎), writing around 740 A.D., reworked the stories into something that was entirely original.

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On His Deathbed, Johnson Celebrates Youth’s Vitality And Spirit

It is right that youth should celebrate its vigor.  We do it a grave injustice by shackling its natural ebullience, by attempting to douse its fires with an excess of admonitions and restrictives.  Let it, as far as health and safety will permit, taste the light of the open sky, the airs of unexplored mountains, and the swift currents swirling along tropical beaches.  For in our elder years we will recall these liberating sensations with an intensity that sustains life itself.

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Ibn Fadlan’s Unique Travels In Central Asia And Rus

The name of Ibn Fadlan (أحمد بن فضلان بن العباس بن راشد) has received some notoriety in recent years, primarily due to fictionalized accounts of his travels in print and film.  Enthusiasts of travel literature who have taken the time to read his work will find, however, that his actual travels have little to do with these sensationalized tales.  His book is of great value to modern ethnographers; for it remains the only first-hand account we have of the customs and habits of Viking communities in Russia during the medieval period.

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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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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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One Should Avoid Dangerous Places: The Rescue Of Euthymios And His Brethren

When considering tales from the lives of the great saints, we should be more mindful of the moral imparted by the story than strictly attentive to the accuracy of its details.  We must take into account the perspective of the writer, his proximity to the events he describes, and his moral purposes.  To do anything less would defeat the purpose of the anecdote.  Yet I am confident that many of the stories related by the biographer of Euthymios the Younger (823 A.D.?–898 A.D.) are based on actual events, and are not the idle speculations of the cloister.  One of these stories we will now relate.

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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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