The Dream Of Maxen: A Celtic Myth Of “The Mabinogion”

The Mabinigion is a name given to a collection of medieval Welsh tales drawn from the rich mythology of Celtic Britain.  The earliest manuscripts date from around 1325, but it is certain that the tales on which they were based have roots that go back centuries before this time to an age in which Welsh and Roman elements blended to form a unique oral tradition.  I have recently begun reading these tales, and it has been a refreshing experience in the literal sense of the word:  they are unlike any other myths I have encountered.  They conjure up a strange, almost hallucinatory dream-world, where heroism and great deeds exist alongside magic and surreal alternative realities.  Consider this strange yet transfixing passage from a tale called Peredur Son of Evrawg:

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Edgar Allan Poe’s Sinister Inspiration For “The Cask Of Amontillado”

Most readers will be familiar with Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre tale The Cask of Amontillado.  It is a dark tale of revenge, in which one man deliberately intoxicates a hated enemy and then walls him up alive in a crypt.  Like most writers, Poe took his inspiration from his life experiences, and then mixed those with the creative power of his imagination.  Was The Cask of Amontillado based on an actual incident?  The answer appears to be yes, at least in part.

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Using Your Ingenuity To Accomplish Your Goals

Those who are resourceful will find ways of carrying out their purposes.  They will not be deterred by momentary setbacks or obstacles.  The lazy man or the dullard will take refuge behind the natural obstructions that life places in his path and, using such problems as excuses to avoid work, take comfort in his failures.  In his mind, failure was inevitable.  This way of thinking can be found in many people; they never advance far in life because they are not willing to hunt for creative solutions to problems.  Obstacles must be bypassed, smashed through, vaulted over, or avoided altogether.

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Why Men Should Read Sallust

Men read historical works for many reasons.  Sometimes they want to be instructed; at other times, they prefer entertainment.  But when a work can combine both of these things in a compelling and evocative style, the reward is that much greater.  Caius Sallustius Crispus, known simply as Sallust, is one of those rare historians whose works have achieved a timeless relevance through their matchless balance of entertainment and instruction.

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The Life And Work Of Horror Writer H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft is now recognized as perhaps the most influential horror writer of the twentieth century.  Yet this recognition was a long time in coming.  During his life he labored away in near complete obscurity, his work appearing only in obscure pulp horror magazines, to be consumed by only the most ardent fans of the genre.  His death at the age of 46 was nearly unnoticed; but his devoted fans kept alive the spirit of his works, and he would eventually be recognized as a titan of horror.

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How Al Fadl Al-Barmaki Learned Bluntness And Generosity

Al Fadl Ibn Yahya al-Barmaki (A.D. 766—808) was a government official who served the most famous of all the Abbasid caliphs, the great but mercurial Harun al-Rashid.  Besides serving in several administrative posts (such as governor of Khurasan), he was also trusted enough to tutor Harun’s young son and heir al-Amin.  Although he later fell out of favor with the caliph, many stories are told of his generosity and kindness.

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It Only Takes A Few Men To Change History

With the proper motivation and preparation, small numbers of men can do great things.  Numeric limitation is but one part of the equation.  This fact will be illustrated by a story that appears in Cornelius Nepos’s brief biography of a Theban commander named Pelopidas.

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My new book, Sallust:  The Conspiracy Of Catiline And The War Of Jugurtha, is now available.  Find out more by clicking here.