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Location of Julius Caesar’s Assassination to be Open to the Public!

by on March 15, 2019

Move Aside Feral Cats! The ruins in the Largo di Torre Argentina are about to get a fashion make-over.
The location of the murder of Julius Caesar will soon be renovated, it has been recently announced. It was over 2,000 years ago on this day, The Ides of March, also known as March 15th, that famous Roman politician, General and historian was assassinated in the Theater of Pompey. Caesar was brutally stabbed to death 23 times by 60 members of the senate as a consequence of his growing power and influence. It was thought that he was a threat to the Republic itself, and yet, it was only after his death that the empire took hold.
Death of Caesar

Assassination of Caesar by William Holmes Sullivan, c. 1888, Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Now, the very interesting thing is that the location of this assassination is not where you might automatically think. Indeed, it was very ironic that Caesar died on the portico of a public work done by Pompey. (You may remember that Pompey, once Rome’s most accomplished general had, notably, been defeated by Caesar in a civil war and then murdered in Egypt by Caesar’s allies.)
You see, the Roman senate did not usually meet at Pompey’s Theater. Instead they had for centuries congregated at the Curia, or meeting house on the Comitium. Despite numerous fires, restorations and rebrandings, this was always Rome’s primary open air meeting location.

Marcus Aurelius, Stoicism and Pain

by on March 15, 2019

By Donald Robertson, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, discusses strategies for coping with pain derived from the ancient wisdom of Stoicism.

The physical frailty of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was notorious, and of great concern to his subjects.  Around 174-175 AD, he was in such poor health that false rumours that he was dying, or already dead, actually spread throughout the empire. These were taken seriously enough for his most senior general in the eastern provinces, Avidius Cassius, to have himself acclaimed emperor, leading to a short-lived civil war in which Marcus and his loyalist army were victorious.

We know that Marcus suffered from chronic chest and stomach pains, problems sleeping, and poor appetite, among other symptoms. While it’s not clear what illness he suffered from, modern scholars have speculated he may have been describing the symptoms of stomach ulcers, among other things. Curiously, the historian Cassius Dio praises Marcus Aurelius for the remarkable physical resilience that he showed despite being “extremely frail in body”.


It’s Pi Time!

by on March 14, 2019

The history of pie is both storied and interesting in and of itself. Did you know, for instance, that the Ancient Greeks are thought to have originated the pie pastry, as can be seen in Aristophanes’ plays (5th century BC), where there are mentions of sweetmeats including small pastries filled with fruit? Neither did I until today.
But that’s not what we are talking about, delicious as it sounds.
Instead, we are delving into a different pi, though it also shares some of its origins in Ancient Greece.
Yes, dear reader, we are investigating the captivating phenomena of a mathematical constant, the algorithm of which was devised by the brilliant (and perhaps evil) Archimedes around 250 BC.

Pliny the Elder

by on March 12, 2019

By Jocelyn Hitchcock, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Pliny the Elder was an author, philosopher, and commander in the Roman Empire in the 1st century CE. Throughout his life, Pliny the Elder wrote an encyclopedic work, the “Natural History,” that was often referred to even up to the modern period…indeed, it became the editorial model for encyclopedias. He cultivated a friendship with the Roman Emperor Vespasian, reached social prominence throughout Rome, and was remembered by his nephew’s, Pliny the Younger, letters and writings.

Pliny the Elder Portrait

Pliny the Elder’s Early life
He was born to a prosperous family circa 23 CE in Novum Comum, a colony founded in 59 BC by Caesar. Although we don’t know much about his family life, we do know he had a sister (Pliny the Younger’s mother) and that his father possessed enough wealth to be a part of the equestrian class. This relative wealth allowed Pliny to attend school throughout his youth and eventually live in Rome by his 30s. He was possibly educated in lawmaking and certainly took to literature and observation.

Top 11 Most Famous People Who Studied the Classics

by on March 11, 2019

For those who say an education in the Classics is worthless and won’t lead anywhere, we here at Classical Wisdom retort that clearly they are lacking in imagination!
Indeed, there are many examples of individuals who studied the words of Homer, Cicero and Plato and more… and yet did not end up living under a bridge, ala Diogenes the Dog. Instead, they have contributed significantly to society, whether through literature, music, politics or psychology. Here is a short top eleven list of the most famous people who studied the classics:

1. Thomas Jefferson
Arguably one of the most famous student of the classics, this founding father and 3rd president of the United States studied Greek at the College of William and Mary. He loved Roman literature and founded the University of Virginia, a school that encourages the classics.

Thomas Jefferson

2. J.R.R. Tolkien
This British writer studied Classics at Exeter College, Oxford before penning his famous series, “Lord of the Rings.”

Healthy Skepticism for Better Debates

by on March 8, 2019

One would have thought that in this age of information, logical fallacies would cease to exist. But, amazingly, the exact opposite has happened despite our incredible access to information. After all, we can open up an internet browser and within a few minutes we have thousands of pages filled with data and arguments for some position or the other. The problem is, we can find thousands of pages of data and arguments in support of the opposing view, too.
A healthy dose of skepticism might do us some good…
The ancient skeptics varied in their particular doctrines, but they converged on the idea that it is a good thing to question both our beliefs and our ability to gain knowledge of the world. Much of Greek philosophy contains skeptical elements, but the term ancient skeptic generally refers to a follower of Pyrrho, who lived from 365 to 270 B.C.E., or to a member of Plato’s Academy during its skeptical period, which began sometime around 273 B.C.E., and began to fade around the 1st century B.C.E.

The ancient skeptic Pyrrho.

The term “skeptic” is derived from the Greek word skepsis, which means examination, inquiry, and consideration. Ancient skepticism included two fundamental starting points: