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Valentine’s Day Advice from Aristotle: Love Yourself

by on February 14, 2020

Written by Alex Barrientos, Senior Editor, Classical Wisdom
What does it mean to love yourself—to practice self-love (Philautia)? It’s not uncommon to see self-love being lumped in with selfishness: we see someone who is greedy, who only cares for his own advantage, often at the expense of those close to him, and we say, “He doesn’t love anyone but himself.” In this way and others self-love is used in a derogatory manner.
Aristotle, however, thought this needn’t be the case. He argued instead that “the good man should be a lover of self.” Perhaps you find such a claim rather shocking. After all, couldn’t the world use a little more selflessness? What need have we of more people loving themselves?
Well, hold onto those questions and hear me (well… Aristotle) out.

Asclepius: Modern Medicine in Ancient Times

by on February 12, 2020

Written by Jocelyn Hitchcock, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Medicine may often seem like a miracle. People are quick to praise god and marvel at the outcome of the doctor’s skill and training, with families often turning to hope of divine intervention of a higher power to save their loved one. This is not new to the modern age—nor should this come as a surprise.
Throughout history, the skill of doctors and their results have often been touted as the work of gods, or even magic depending on the healer and the time. And, just like today, entire cultures and regimes grew out of the notion of medicine and healing; just take a look at the ancient Greeks.
Asclepius, while not often depicted in common Greek receptions, is undoubtedly one of the more important of the gods and demigods. As the god of medicine, Greeks would find themselves lifting up sacrifice and prayer to him at one point or another. He was the son of Apollo and Coronis, with Apollo himself being the god of healing, plagues, and prophecy (amongst other things, of course).

The Exile of Ovid: Tragedy of a Great Poet

by on February 10, 2020

By Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Ovid (43 BC-17/18 AD) is one of the great poets of Rome and indeed of the classical world. He is still studied and read to this day and his works, especially the Metamorphoses has consistently maintained its popularity. While he is remembered as a poet of love and joy, Ovid was, in his real life, an exile who suffered greatly.
Statue of Ovid

Statue (1887) by Ettore Ferrari commemorating Ovid’s exile in Tomis (present-day Constanța, Romania)

The life and career of Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso was born in the provincial town of Sulmo, some 100 miles (140 km) from Rome, into an equestrian family. His father had the means to send Ovid and his brother to Rome to further their education. There, Ovid studied rhetoric but was more interested in verse. Based on his autobiographical poems, he travelled widely in Greece and Italy and later held a number of minor positions in the government. Soon though, he dedicated himself to poetry and rapidly became one of the leading lights of the Roman literary world.

The Mandalorian Way and Stoicism

by on February 7, 2020

Written by Adam Piercey, Co-Founder of Modern StoicismToronto 

The image of a lone warrior walking a barren wasteland is a captivating sight. Made popular by movies, television, and graphic arts, the single fighter following a path unyieldingly will always incite a sense of excitement in its viewers. Following an ancient practice, upholding the highest laws, or bringing some wrongdoer to justice, a solitary hero’s strict adherence to a long-held code, ethos or principle sets them apart from the rest of us and elevates them to the status of a champion.

The Mandalorian showed audiences a lone hunter, unyielding in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. “Mando” operates within the principles of the creed that he has chosen: The Mandalorian Way. Mando’s choice of this path means strictly adhering to his code regardless of the situation in which he finds himself. This has striking parallels with the path of Stoicism, as followers of that philosophy choose to remain unrelenting regardless of the obstacles to their practice.

“When one chooses to walk the way of the Mandalore, you are both Hunter, and Prey.” — The Armorer, The Mandalorian

Ovid’s Metamorphoses: How Love Transforms

by on February 5, 2020

Written by Katherine Kennedy, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
If there is one literary work that has inspired a legacy of artists, poets, and creators, it’s Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Comprising 250 myths and over nearly 1200 lines of poetry, it makes up an impressive 15 books of life-defining narration.
Ovid’s work doesn’t just offer a creation myth, it defines an entire belief system, and although his popularity has faded since the Renaissance, there is still much we can learn from and admire about his literary creation. But, how did Ovid produce this famous work, and what influenced him?

Ancient Beginnings

You might be surprised to know that Ovid’s defining work was actually influenced by Alexandrian poetry, which was written in Ancient Greek with the earliest texts dating to the Archaic period. The most notable contributions to Alexandrian poetry were, of course, the two epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Automation in the Ancient World: The Robots of Greece and Rome

by on January 31, 2020

Written by Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
A common topic of discussion these days is the growing automation of the world. Basically, automation means any machinery or self-operating machinery. They are designed to act in a predetermined way and according to instructions, the best example of this is perhaps a robot.
We think that automation and automatons are modern inventions. In fact, like so much else, we owe a debt to the Romans and Greeks, who were pioneers in automation.
Early automation