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.

Continue reading

O Arquiteto Da Imaginação (Translation By Daniel Castro)

[The following is a Portuguese translation of my recent article The Architect of the Imagination, which was published here on July 1, 2018.  Mr. Daniel Castro, the translator, has done great work in capturing the spirit of the original, and for that I am grateful.  He can be found at his website, Nuvem de Giz.]

O homem foi feito para a ação. Mesmo que ele não saiba disso– especialmente se ele não souber disso– seu ser físico se revolta com longos períodos de inércia indolente, e anseia pela liberação física da disputa violenta. Isto é parte do seu sangue-espírito, seu Ser interior irreconciliável. Ele pode tentar negar isto, e ele pode tentar evitar as consequências desta realidade; mas no final esta simples verdade retorna para encará-lo. Mesmo o bicho preguiça corpulento irá se acender como uma bola de pinball quando levado a discutir tópicos de intenso interesse dele; ele irá pular de sua cadeira, gesticular selvagemente, e segurar firme naquele tópico para o qual todas suas energias são dirigidas…

[Para ler mais, clique aqui.]

On The Acceptance Of Disappointments

There is no man who can boast of having enjoyed an unbroken string of successes.  The variability of Fortune, a pervasive theme in these pages, is a force of nature that ensures success will be liberally interspersed by failure.  So it seems to me that we ought to spent just as much time–perhaps even more time–in equipping ourselves with the tools needed to deal with defeats and disappointments, than we do in preparing ourselves for short-lived victory parades.  The seasoned, mature mind will wave to the crowd, and enjoy his moment of reflected glory, remembering all the while that dejection is waiting for him just around the next corner.  I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said that, nearly as soon as man passes through the triumphal arches of his victory parade, the crowd will be ready to pelt him in the back with bricks.  And this is undoubtedly true.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The Pursuit Of Work, And The Quest For Ideals

In 1893 Leo Tolstoy published an essay whose title was rather clumsily translated into English as “Non-Acting.”  In it the great novelist compared the relative merits of two positions, one held by Emile Zola, and the other held by Alexandre Dumas.  Both Zola and Dumas had been asked to state their opinions on what they believed to be the basic forces that move, or should move, humanity.  Tolstoy, mystic that he was, saw these rival opinions in terms of a cosmic competition between “the force of routine, tending to keep humanity in its accustomed path,” and “the force of reason and love, drawing humanity towards the light.”

Continue reading

“The King Likes Only Empty Words” (Podcast)

The willingness to do what is necessary is an essential condition of success in any enterprise. There are those who are willing to do what is necessary, and those who are not.

We discuss an anecdote from Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” and several other historical examples, to bring these points into focus.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading