The Bricklayer Of Granada: A Tale Of The Alhambra

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.

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The Final Act Of All Is Never Considered Late

It is a feature of human nature to try to control our environment.  We wish to exert some kind of influence over the outcome of events, and thereby enhance our own feelings of security and comfort.  Yet there are many times when human labor will fall short; it will prove itself to be incapable of dealing with a situation, or unable to weigh the nuances of an evenly balanced pattern of fact.  When these situations come about, we must step back from the work-shop; we must move away from the work-table, the field of conflict, or the courtroom, and Fortune take over the guidance of events.

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Reversal Of Fortune: The Fate Of Al-Mu’tamid Ibn Abbad, Ruler Of Seville

Al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbad (المعتمد بن عباد) lived from 1040 to 1095 and was the last ruler of the Abbadid kingdom of Seville.  He was raised under the fold of royalty, and enjoyed the pleasures and good fortunes that come to young princes.  In 1069, upon the death of his father Abbad al-Mu’tadid, he inherited the dominion of Seville; his domain included a large part of southern Spain.

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The Wrath Of Least Persistence

Everyone has heard the tired phrase, “path of least resistance.”  It represents a principle that I have no objection to.  Of course there is no reason to make more work for oneself without good reason.  No one is arguing with this idea.  All things being equal, the shortest path to a goal is usually the best.  But it occurred to me today to take this phrase and modify it a bit to create another principle, one perhaps equally valid, yet one far less frequently discussed.  Let us consider this new phrase:  the wrath of least persistence.  What do I mean by this?

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Machiavelli’s Three Key Concepts


If a political scientist were asked who might be the most misunderstood writer of political theory, he would probably have the name of Machiavelli high on his list.  To his name have been ascribed sinister motivations and calculated duplicity; and unscrupulous cherry-picking of his quotes has fashioned him into an ogre in the popular mind.

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No One Can Be Assured Of Having Tomorrow


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.

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