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All You NEED to Know About the Ancient Olympics

by on August 5, 2020

Written by Divya Gupta, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
The first Olympic games were held in Athens, Greece in 1896. Around 280 participants from 13 nations competed in 43 sporting games. Since 1994, the famous Game has been held separately as the Winter and Summer Olympics every two years.
But did you know these modern games are inspired by the ancient Olympics in Greece which originated around 3000 years ago! From the 8th century B.C. until the 4th century A.D. these Games were held every four years, between July and September, during the religious festival honoring Zeus.
The Origin of the Olympics

The Banishment of Julia Augusti (PART 2)

by on August 4, 2020

Written by Mary Naples, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Because the mere hint of sovereignty had dispatched his dear Uncle Julius into the hereafter, he never called himself emperor, preferring to use the term Princeps, or first citizen, instead. Regardless of his title, a de facto monarchy is what his regime—the principate—would become. But like all successful monarchies, Augustus needed heirs. And in ancient Rome only males would do.
With two sons already borne to the twenty-year old Livia, the newlyweds must have had high hopes for a long line of offspring of their own. But with the passing of each year, it would become all too obvious that the “troublesome” Scribonia had succeeded where the ever-imposing Livia would most acutely fail. As a consequence of the first couple’s sterility, the fate of the Julio-Claudian dynasty rested solely on the fertility of its female kin, three of whom played key roles in early dynasty-building.
Representing the Claudian contingency was Livia, with her two sons (Tiberius and Drusus) in tow. Dating back to the foundation of the Roman Republic, the Claudians might have been royalty if monarchy were possible in the Republic. Moreover, Livia was a Claudian by birth as well as by marriage. Typical in patrician families, Livia’s first husband and the father of her two sons was also her cousin.

What is it to be Happy?

by on August 3, 2020

Time to stretch out the old noggin today, dear reader. We’ve got a philosophical inquiry on our hands proposed by our senior editor Alex Barrientos… one that I think we can all agree is probably the most important question we can ask.
As such, I’ll get straight into it.
“As for a topic I’d like to discuss in a future mailbag, I’ve definitely been obsessing over what the good life consists of. What is it to be happy? Is it to experience many pleasures? Is it to experience a certain kind of higher intellectual pleasure? Does it consist of abstaining from pleasures altogether or limiting them? Or is it simply about finding some meaning between the two and living virtuously?”
You can see its importance, no doubt. Such an inquiry needs to be asked by every individual for both themselves and their immediate community at one point in their life. Without this moment of reflection, one could argue it is impossible to ever be truly happy…

Solon: Great Lawmaker and First Democrat

by on July 31, 2020

Written by Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Solon (640-560 BC) was one of the most important men in the Classical world. He was in part responsible for setting Athens on its road to greatness. He helped to stabilize the city-state and laid the foundations for the future Athenian Empire. Most importantly of all, he laid the foundations for Athenian democracy, which continues to influence modern-day democracies.
The early years of Solon
Solon was believed to be the son of Execestides, who was a member of the nobility. The family was distinguished but they had fallen on hard financial times. His family circumstances gave Solon a unique insight into Athenian society.

Ares: The Greek God of War

by on July 29, 2020

Written by Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
In the Ancient World, the most powerful forces that shaped human destiny were personified by polytheistic religions in the form of Gods. In this way, the ancients believed that they could influence impersonal forces and powers. One of these was war. In the past, conflict was a constant fact of everyday life, and peace was rare. This is what made the Greek God of War, Ares, so influential in mythology and religion.
The origin of the myth of Ares
Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, was regarded as one of the Twelve Olympians, and was one of the major deities of the Greek world. The etymology of the name Ares means curse or ruin. Unlike many other religions, such as Roman mythology, the Greeks did not worship war. They were very ambivalent about the God who personified for them the power and bravery needed for victory in war. For the Greeks, he represented the worse in war and conflict.

The Banishment of Julia Augusti (PART 1)

by on July 28, 2020

Written by Mary Naples, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

“I would certainly not describe as mercy, what was actually the exhaustion of cruelty.”

~ Seneca, On Mercy (referring to the deified Augustus)

“Let her be banished for life,” Augustus is recorded as saying about the harsh exile of his only biological child, Julia, to the barren and windswept penal-island of Pandateria (present-day Ventotene). Banishment from Rome, however, was not enough for the wayward princess. The emperor had further decreed that aside from the guards who kept watch, no men were allowed on the island. The thinking was that because she was a woman of loose virtue, being deprived of male companionship would make for a more exacting punishment. To that end, wine was forbidden on that stygian enclave and food provisions were at a mere minimum. In other words, Julia was in prison.