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Feeling a Sense of Doom? Time to turn to the Ancients

by August 11, 2021

by Sean Kelly, Managing Editor, Classical Wisdom
It’s easy these days to feel overwhelmed by a sense of catastrophe. Whether it’s the on-going pandemic, worries about floods, wildfires and other natural disasters, or just the normal concerns of our daily lives… the world seems filled with doom. 

It is in these trying times that we should turn to the ancients. 

This is because such concerns are nothing new: People, centuries and millennia ago, confronted catastrophes that resonate with us still today. The Iliad starts with a plague. So does Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, another of the most celebrated works of ancient literature… and of course Thucydides’ description of the plague of Athens during the Peloponnesian War, with its subsequent moral decay, carries a heavy, but important message to those willing to learn it. 

Likewise there were natural disasters from Pompeii to the Theran Eruption and the famous flood of ancient myths; pivotal moments in our collective history.  

The ancients confronted disasters like these and emerged the other side with wisdom to share with us all.

But where can we find this knowledge? How can we glean these essential lessons in a time when it’s so necessary? 

Fortunately for us, one of the most celebrated historians active today is on the case. 

Niall Ferguson, ‘the most brilliant British historian of his generation’, takes us on a journey through these disasters and what we can learn from them in his most recent book Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe.
Niall Ferguson applies the thoroughness and attention to detail he’s known for in a book that will have a resonance with anyone who has looked at the problems assailing the world and wondered to themselves “How am I meant to deal with this?”

Recently published, Doom has been described as, “Insightful, productively provocative and downright brilliant.” by none other than the New York Times Book Review
When disaster hits, we should be better prepared than the Romans when Vesuvius erupted… but are we? And if we aren’t, what do we need to learn? 
Make sure to read Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe for this important lesson. 
Get your own copy HERE
Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe by Niall Ferguson
But wait! There’s more… 
You can see Niall Ferguson LIVE this August at Classical Wisdom’s Symposium 2021: The End of Empires and the Fall of Nations. 
A senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, an award-making filmmaker,  as well as a New York Times best selling author of numerous books, including The Square and the Tower and The Ascent of Money, Niall’s speech on The Politics of Catastrophe in the Ancient and Modern Worlds is not to be missed. 
This is an opportunity of a lifetime to hear one of the world’s most celebrated intellectuals discuss the greatest issues facing our world today…
Not only that, but Niall will be joining our keynote panel discussion on Saturday night with famed philosopher Angie Hobbs and Harvard Professor of classics, James Hankins. They will address whether States and Empires Die Differently. And what can their deaths teach us today?
Reserve your tickets HERE!
(Please note – if you can’t afford the tickets, feel free to email us at [email protected] and we will help you out. We think this topic is too important to preclude anyone.)

The Lost City of Thebes

by July 19, 2021

By Sean Kelly, Managing Editor, Classical Wisdom
I’m sure like many of you, I’m a huge fan of Greek tragedy. For many people Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex can be their first exposure to the world of Ancient Greek literature, and the Classical world in general. More than two and a half millennia since its first performance, the play itself and its reputation endure undiminished. More than a masterpiece, the play can be an entry point into one of the most compelling branches of Greek myth: the Theban cycle. 
These stories tell the tale of Oedipus and the Riddle of the Sphinx, his warring sons locked in bloody civil war and, of course, his headstrong, rebellious daughter (and half-sister!) Antigone. All these myths center around the ancient city of Thebes, one of the most prominent and important in Greek myth. The city itself was a real place. One of power and might too: the city defeated Sparta, founded cities, and was a key player in ancient politics. 
Yet, the city vanished. What happened? How can a city so important simply disappear? Like the Riddle of the Sphinx, perhaps we can untie this mystery… 
Fortunately for us, acclaimed classicist and historian Paul Cartledge has delved into this fantastic tale in his most recent book –Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece. This sensational work brings the city vividly to life and argues that it is central to our understanding of the ancient Greeks’ achievements—whether politically or culturally—and thus to the wider politico-cultural traditions of western Europe, the Americas, and indeed the world.
From its role as an ancient political power, to its destruction at the hands of Alexander the Great as punishment for a failed revolt, to its eventual restoration by Alexander’s successor, Cartledge deftly chronicles the rise and fall of the ancient city. He recounts the history with deep clarity and mastery for the subject and makes clear both the differences and the interconnections between the Thebes of myth and the Thebes of history. Written in clear prose and illustrated with images in two color inserts, Thebes is a gripping read for students of ancient history and those looking to experience the real city behind the myths of Cadmus, Hercules, and Oedipus.
Make sure to get your own fantastic edition of Paul’s book, Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece, HERE.
You can also catch Professor Cartledge LIVE at our Symposium 2021: The End of Empires and the Fall of Nations.
One of the world’s foremost Classicists and the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of more than 30 books, Professor Cartledge illuminates the truth about the Forgotten City of Thebes. This is your opportunity to see Paul Cartledge LIVE – and join in on the Q&A – as he tells us how a city can be outlived by its myths…. 
We hope to see you in August!