The etymologists tell us that the word conscience is derived from the Latin conscire, meaning to know well, or to have an intimate knowledge of something. This verb could be used in two contexts: conscire alii (to know something along with someone else), and conscire sibi (to know something with oneself only). Time and modern usage has given “conscience” the meaning of an internal conviction, a mental recognition of something.Continue reading
Most people never realize that good fortune can be suddenly and brutally replaced by bad fortune. What once seemed like heaven can quickly be transformed into a hell. The reverse is also true: a man can find himself in terrible straits, but can extricate himself through consistent efforts, and reach a kind of “heaven.”
This observation leads us to make five (5) important conclusions. We list and discuss them.Continue reading
By 1916, the year of his death, Lord Horatio Kitchener had for years been a venerated and legendary figure throughout the British Empire. The campaigns in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia had dimmed some of his luster, but his name remained a revered one. The official announcement of his death thus came as a deep shock; and even today, after more than a hundred years, the nebulous circumstances of his death continue to invite speculation as to whether some element of foul play was involved.Continue reading
In 1917 there was published in Germany a book entitled Deductions from the World War (Folgerungen aus dem Weltkriege). It was an analysis of lessons learned from the previous four years of intense fighting, and its author was a man named Baron Hugo Von Freytag-Loringhoven. At the time he was a lieutenant-general, and he was working as the deputy chief of the German Imperial Staff. An English translation of his book appeared in 1918.Continue reading
A nineteenth-century volume of nautical lore provides the following story of a strange incident at sea. In 1818 there was a ship—its name is not recorded by the tale’s author—on its homeward voyage from Jamaica to Whitehaven, England. One of the passengers was a young mother with her infant child, who was only several weeks old. One day, the ship’s captain saw something on the horizon, and offered his spyglass to the mother, so that she might for herself see what it was. She wrapped her child in her shawl and placed it carefully on the seat where she had been sitting.
It often happens that we are forced to accept what we wish to avoid. Avarice, for example, defeats itself; and the miser who in futility clings to every penny finds himself compelled to part with greater sums than he might otherwise have spent. The health fanatic who obsesses about every morsel of food that goes into his mouth, or cup that is pressed to his lips, finds himself harassed by ailments and bodily infirmity, while the moderate enjoyer of pleasure scarcely has a need to visit the physician. The athlete fixated on avoiding injury brings it down upon himself.
The world is a much smaller place than we are aware. Things we do, actions we take, can have far-reaching effects that come back to us in ways we can never imagine. While events, places, and the flowing rush of time are shifting and transitory, the power of virtue is such that it transcends time and place. I was reminded of this recently after reading the Second World War memoirs of Col. Hans von Luck, a German commander who fought in all the major theaters of the European war.
I was lucky enough today to find an old copy of Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra; the volume is lavishly illustrated and was actually published in Granada in the late 1940s. The following tale is found in this Andalusian collection; it reminds us of the influence of Fortune in the lives of mortals, a theme that we have explored frequently in these pages.
In this podcast, we discuss some questions about the role of “Adrastia” or “Nemesis,” the ancient goddess of retribution. We also talk about the redemptive power of struggle as the theme of the compelling 2011 film The Grey, which starred Liam Neeson.
I have finally finished the complete translation of Cicero’s On Duties. It has been an exhausting, laborious, maddening, and joyous experience. There still remains a lot of work to do before it is finally ready for publication: revising, editing, adding more textual notes, indices, explanatory essays, and a few other things. But the end is finally in sight.