What Was It That Allowed Odysseus To Return Home?

Oliver Stone’s memoir Chasing the Light, which I began reading two weeks ago, relates an interesting anecdote.  After returning from military service in Vietnam, the future director enrolled in film school at New York University; one of the classes he attended, taught by a professor named Tim Leahy, dealt with classical drama. 

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The “Tusculan Disputations” Audiobook Is Now Available

The audiobook of my translation of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations is now available. Narrated smoothly and beautifully by Saethon Williams (the same narrator of my other translations), this audiobook is a complete and unabridged version of the print edition published in August 2021. Mr. Williams has brought his own authority, sparkle and polish to the dialogues, and I am confident that readers and listeners will find the audiobook to be a source of both enjoyment and understanding.

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All Opportunity For The Good, Yet None For The Unworthy

Philo of Alexandria wrote a relatively obscure essay entitled On the Prayers And Curses Uttered by Noah When He Became Sober.  His translator has fortunately shortened this unwieldy title to the compact De Sobrietate, or On Sobriety.  It contains the following passage of importance:

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The Almond, The Virtues, And Liberty Of Conscience

The philosopher Philo of Alexandria relates the following anecdote in his short treatise On the Life of Moses (II.23.178).  The prophet Moses, we are told, had appointed his brother to the office of high priest.  His decision had been based on his brother’s merits, but there was inevitably some grumbling by people who believed that the appointment was the result of familial favoritism. 

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Tusculan Disputations: What It Is About, And Why It Is Important (Podcast)

In this podcast I discuss my new translation of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations. The work deals with five critical problems that face all of us: the fear of death, how to endure pain, how to alleviate mental distress, the various disorders of the mind, and why virtue is important for living a happy life. (A review of the book can be found in the October 2021 issue of The New Criterion). What questions could be more essential and fundamental than these?

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Coming August 2021: A New Translation Of “Tusculan Disputations”

In August 2021, a new and original translation of the full text of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations will be published by Fortress of the Mind Publications. Nearly two years in the making, this is the first complete translation of Tusculan Disputations to appear in English since the 1920s, and the only one that is fully annotated and illustrated. It is ideal for the student, general reader, and scholar who needs a clear, cogent, and modern edition of this timeless classic.

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The Gravitation Of Noble Souls

In one of his letters to his brother Quintus, Marcus Tullius Cicero makes the following observation:

The more virtuous a man is, the less he considers others to be evil.  [Letters to Quintus I.4.12]

The idea is the same as that expressed in an old Korean proverb, which I remember from my residence in that country many years ago:  “In the eyes of a Buddha, everything is Buddha-like; but to a pig’s eyes, everything appears piggish.”  The proverb sounds much more beautiful, of course, in the original Korean; but the point remains valid.  A great spirit—a soul imbued with a certain nobility—finds it difficult to comprehend, or accept, venality and baseness displayed by others.  Such a man can be trained to recognize and avoid these things, but they will always retain an air of incomprehensibility to him, as if they were fundamentally anathema to his soul.  Why is this?

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The Shortness Of Life, And The Second Death


There is a passage in Cicero’s treatise Tusculan Disputations I was thinking about today while driving home from work.  The passage begins as a parable, then closes with a glorious invocation to action.  Cicero makes an analogy from nature observed near the River Hypanis, then draws some conclusions from that analogy.  He says:

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