“For my part, as I went away, I reasoned with regard to myself: ‘I am wiser than this human being. For probably neither of us knows anything noble and good, but he supposes he knows something when he does not know, while I, just as I do not know, do not even suppose that I do. I am likely to be a little bit wiser than he in this very thing: that whatever I do not know, I do not even suppose I know.’” – Plato, Apology 21d-e
By Brendan M.P. Heard, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
The maxim, know thyself, inscribed over the opening to the very ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi, was a traditional credo of much speculation. This call to know thyself is inextricably tied to Socrates’ belief that “the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being” (Plato, Apology). Indeed it was the Oracle of Delphi who reportedly told Socrates that there was no one wiser than he, since he knew the limits of his own knowledge.
By Brendan M.P. Heard, contributing writer, Classical Wisdom
Ethics: the ambitious discipline of determining nothing less than what is good and what is bad, or the analysis and administration of the obligation of moral duty.
One might say it is the judicial branch of philosophy, or the point at which the philosopher, after establishing whether or not a thing exists, and whether it should be considered good or bad, and whether or not we are equipped to sufficiently understand it – tries to establish how we should react to it. But the road to prudent action is not to be undertaken without firmly establishing what is best, and so ethical inquiry becomes the penultimate stage of philosophical determination, the final self-evaluation before the plunge into manifest action. Invariably in classical thought, with the exception of the Sophists, this discussion leads to the topic of virtue, but virtue alone is only an aspect of the mechanics of ethics.
“Remember our words, then, and whatever is your aim let virtue be the condition of the attainment of your aim, and know that without this all possessions and pursuits are dishonourable and evil.”
Written by Alex Barrientos, Senior Editor, Classical Wisdom
What is the best, the highest, the happiest kind of life for human beings? Does it consist of sensual pleasure, the attainment of money, or finding a meaningful job?
This is just one of the many questions that the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle concerned himself with.
What was his answer to this perennial question? Well, to put it simply, that the happy life is one devoted to contemplation.
By Danielle Alexander, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Even to the modern mind, the starry abyss above us encourages a sense of awe and wonder. In the ancient times, they linked their mythos to the heavens and told tales of how the star clusters, or constellations, came to be.
One of these constellations of the Northern Hemisphere, Boötes, can be seen culminating in the midnight sky around May 1st. It is easily identifiable due to the housing fourth brightest star in the sky, Arcturus, located at the mans’ knee. This star was observed from the time of Hesiod (8th century BC) and was so called due to its constant pursuing of the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations. Naturally, this is not the only story connected to this set of stars.
Ancient Greek Astronomy
Written by Alex Barrientos, Associate Editor, Classical Wisdom
Stoicism, as a philosophy of life, has become increasingly popular amongst the general public.
With practical lessons on how to control our temper, how to have good friendships, prioritizing what’s important, facing death, avoiding the pitfalls of consumer culture, and how to live the good life, it is no surprise that Stoicism would have much to offer those of us living in the 21st century.
I myself have improved much in my life due to my readings of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius.
Written by Katherine Kennedy, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
There’s more to this goddess than her Amazon-like reputation. Artemis, daughter of Zeus, twin-sister of Apollo, and with a host of temples dedicated to her, was once part of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. More than just the goddess of the hunt, her influence can be seen in pop-culture as a reinvented feminist icon.
A Helpful Birth
When Leto, Artemis’ mother, was pregnant with her divine twins, her arch-nemesis was furious. Hera was so enraged, over Zeus’ philandering, that she forbade Leto to give birth on either mainland Greece or any island. This caused something of a predicament for the heavily pregnant Titan.
However, the island of Delos disobeyed Hera and offered the mother-to-be sanctuary on the island. It is here that Artemis made her arrival, or at least one version of events has it so. According to the Homeric Hymn, Artemis was born on Ortygia. But, as Leto was also worshipped at Phaistos, Cretan mythology says the twins were born on the island of Paximadia (as it is known today).