The historian Ammianus Marcellinus, writing around A.D. 385, contrasts the indolence and effeminacy of the Romans with the vigor and truculence of the Gauls. He tells us (XV.11) that the average Gaul is tall, insolent, proud, and “enthusiastic about fighting” (avidi iurgiorum). His wife is even stronger than he is, and capable of landing punches on an enemy with such force that her fists “seem like catapult missiles launched from its twisted sinews (ut catapultas tortilibus nervis excussas).”Continue reading
The Terrors Of The God Pan
Those who have held leadership positions know that there are times when a group can become gripped by a sudden wave of panic or consternation. It can happen without warning; there may even be no readily discernible reason for this collective psychological seizure. Unless a leader takes stern and decisive measures without delay, such a panic can spiral out of control and plunge the group into disaster.Continue reading
Of Cowardice And Magnanimity
The philosopher and naturalist Theophrastus of Eresos succeeded Aristotle as head of the Peripatetic school; and while he may not have had his predecessor’s visionary profundity, he more than compensated for this with a genial manner, relentless curiosity, and a genius for organization. Like the Prussian naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt, there was nothing in the heavens or on the earth that escaped his attention; and his exhaustive botanical treatise, the Historia Plantarum (Study of Plants) remained an authority in the field until well beyond the medieval period.
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