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How to Be a Citizen of the World

by on November 1, 2019

The term ‘cosmopolitan’ is derived from the Greek kosmou politês, which roughly translates to ‘world citizen.’ 
The notion of what it means to be a cosmopolitan was probably best expressed in a response often attributed to Diogenes the Cynic who, when asked where he came from, responded, “I am a citizen of the world.”
Cosmopolitanism, a concept that finds its deepest roots in the arguments of the Stoic philosophers, conceives of the whole of mankind as citizens belonging to a single human community. Such a concept seems to be more and more relevant when we discuss the challenges that face us in the 21st century.
In this increasingly interconnected world of ours, the distinctions made between our responsibilities to fellow citizens and distant others are being blurred, and what properly falls within the scope of our moral concern seems in need of expansion. 

Perseus: The Original Hero

by on October 30, 2019

By Katherine Kennedy, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Of divine conception, saved from certain death, and raised to manhood by his mother, Perseus’ life was never destined to be boring. But just who is the man behind the myth, and how did he achieve such legendary status? Keep reading and you’ll discover just who this hero really is.
The Name Behind the Man
Scholars have discussed the origin of Perseus’ name for years. Some assert that it is of Proto-Indo-European origin, others that it is closely linked to the name of the Goddess of Death, Persephone. But why should a young man carry such association? Well, his name is fitting if Robert Graves’ theory is correct, that πέρθειν (pérthein) means “to waste, ravage, sack, destroy”. Meanwhile, Carl Darling Buck’s assertion that -eus is a suffix to create an agent noun, and thus Pers-eus becomes a sacker of cities…and Perseus definitely devastated the world around him as the classical world’s first recognizable warrior.

The History of the Rosetta Stone

by on October 29, 2019

By Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Ancient Egypt has fascinated people since ancient times. However, the history and knowledge of the land of the Pharaohs were lost for centuries because people were unable to read the ancient writings of the Ancient Egyptians…that was until the chance discovery of the Rosetta Stone. This remarkable artifact allowed the modern world to once again read the texts of the Ancient Egyptians.

The Rosetta Stone

Egyptian writing
Ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphs in their writing system, which are pictographs that represent some concept or idea and is very different from those based on alphabets. However, they also developed a demotic script that was similar to other writing systems, such as Greek and Latin. Following the Christianization of Egypt, knowledge of the ancient writing systems was lost because the Egyptian priests were persecuted, and their temples all destroyed. As a result, the world of the Pharaohs and their subjects remained a mystery.

Four Common(ly misunderstood) Latin Proverbs

by on October 25, 2019

The other day a student told me that, during her studies as an art student, she had to sculpt a small statue as an assignment for one of her courses. She did so without having put much thought into it. The professor approached her and started praising her work, giving it much more and much different meaning than the one she originally wanted to convey by making the statue.
My student did not say anything, as the situation was favorable to her, but there sure are situations in which misinterpreting a product of art can lead to misunderstanding and forming a wrong image of the author and the message he/she originally wanted to get across.
This is often the case with quotes from literature, especially the ancient ones that we regularly use for our own purposes—whether it is to express an attitude, to defend an opinion, show our feelings, or even just to sound smart.

Roman portraiture fresco of a young man with a papyrus scroll, from Herculaneum, 1st century AD

We write a sentence, wrap it into quotation marks and undersign an author to it as if it was his/her personal opinion. However, do we ever stop to wonder where these thoughts come from, and what the sentiment of the author originally was?

The Marvelous Avengers: Part Two

by on October 24, 2019

By Stella Samaras, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Orientalizing – Corinth (c. 720-535 BCE)
When the Dorians settled in the Attic Peninsula and the Peloponnese, many of the natives moved into the Aegean and across to Asia Minor. When they returned they brought back Eastern influences. Geometric pottery which incorporated simple human figures now began incorporating animals and mythical creatures in less symbolic and more realistic presentations e.g., chimeras and sphinxes.

The Marvelous Avengers, Ancient Greek Style: Part One

by on October 23, 2019

By Stella Samaras, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

And the 64 million drachma question is, “Did the Ancient Greeks read comic books?”
Er, I meant comic scrolls, er tablets, er…um…you know what I mean: did they read graphic novels about scantily clad heroes, whose pecs and six-packs were made for lycra; whose superhuman feats reached mythical heights; whose tales were told in rectangular registers that were read from left to right; where a limited color scheme and sharp lines defined their form; and the odd word here or there gave clarity to the story unfolding?

Well, yes, they did. But…they weren’t reading books or scrolls or tablets – they were reading vases, jugs, urns and goblets.

Black figure jug with ibex, lion and other animals. Probably Corinthian, c. 600 BC. Archaeological Museum of Syracuse.

Ancient Greek Pottery is a wonderful source of information about the periods from the 16th Century down to the 4th Century BCE. It speaks to us through the shape each complete vase takes and how that shape changed over the centuries due to numerous factors. For instance, the rise in technology allowed the invention of a faster wheel, which enabled more slender designs. Foreign influence on vases made for foreign markets affected the vase’s style as well as changing cultural needs and tastes, e.g. making a transport vase easier to carry.