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The Undermined Valentine

by on February 12, 2021

Written by Nickolas Pappas, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

There’s a story about love in Plato’s Symposium that captures the feeling of romantic love superbly, like a Valentine to everyone who’s ever had that experience. This may be why the story is one of those pieces from a Platonic dialogue (like the Atlantis legend) that people know about even if they don’t know it’s from Plato.

Within the Symposium the story is told by Aristophanes, in real life a comic playwright, in this dialogue also someone relaxing at a dinner party with Socrates and others and wondering where love comes from. He says the first human beings were double creatures: a big head on each one, with two faces looking in opposite directions, and a spherical, four-legged, four-armed body.

These first people were contented things but they thought they could conquer heaven, and to punish them for their arrogance the gods decided to weaken them. Zeus and Apollo cut every happy four-legged double-faced human into a pair of single-faced bipeds—needless to say, unhappy ones. Misery defines existence for people like them, which is to say people like us. You have had half of you amputated. You’re all phantom pain.

The Vanishing Vulva: How the Ancient Greeks Wrote Women Out of Worship

by on February 10, 2021

Written by Lydia Serrant, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

Ancient female fertility symbols were scattered everywhere in the ancient world, from ancient goddesses such as Kali to the blue-skinned Hindu goddess of destruction to Izanami-no-Mikoto, the Japanese goddess of death and creation, to Tiamat, the Babylonian goddess of the ocean, chaos and creation.

Some of the earliest prehistoric figurines have been of women, with their vulvas on full display. Venus of Hohle Fels is the oldest known statue depicting a human. It dates to around 40,000 to 35,000 years ago and features exaggerated female breasts, hips, thighs and vulva. The statue was about sex and reproduction, but also hope for survival, nourishment, longevity and successful communities.

Female vulve statue known as Baubo, terracotta, from Priene, Asia Minor, 4th century BC.

Traditions of vulval veneration have been found in European and Australian Palaeolithic art. Carvings of vulvas were made in stone, ivory or bone, on walls or worn as jewelry.

Valentine’s Day Advice from Aristotle: Love Yourself

by on February 9, 2021

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.

Do Sports have Value?

by on February 9, 2021

The problem with being a perennial expat is that annual events up north can really catch you off guard.
Take Sunday, for instance… We were casually having a roast pork lunch which came out quite close to dinner, which resulted in a long ‘sobre mesa’ (the discussion that takes place after a meal)…
And before we knew it, we realised it was the superbowl!
Now, anyone who knows me (or has seen me run) knows I’m not exactly the athletic type. I am, however, a sucker for ritual and cherry picked traditions. It was thus this mind set that was quickly put to task: an order for chicken wings (KFC was all I could find last minute) and beer (only a domestic artesanal version from the Andes could be purchased – but no matter) and the arduous effort of finding live streaming available in our country.

Serpent in the Stars: Draco

by on February 5, 2021

Written by Danielle Alexander, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

There are certain mythical creatures that seem to exist in most cultures, and the dragon is one of them. The Greeks were no different and immortalized a serpentine shape in their sky situated between the two Bears (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor).

Draco constellation

Dragon to Snake: What happened to the wings?

In India, this star cluster is referred to as a crocodile or alligator, but in other regions, it has been identified as a Hippopotamus. In the classical world, this curling constellation is known as the serpentine Draco.

The End of the World: Trump, Pericles and the Land of Fire

by on February 3, 2021

You may have noticed, dear reader, that this week’s monday mailbag is coming out on wednesday…which is a little strange. However, this does mean two issues in one day, which is no doubt very exciting!
The reason for this is because I have just come back from the end of the world… literally.

I’m not exactly sure why we booked a last minute holiday to Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire, but I have a few suspicions.
Perhaps, in keeping with the epic themes of which we so often surround ourselves, I wished to improve my Kleos – my reputation or glory. Like Odysseus traveling to the underworld in the Nekyia, it is the journeys to the most extreme places that really get people talking.

A View of Beagle Chanel, Ushuaia, Argentina

Maybe it was because after all the doomsday talk of the last year, I decided that the best way to start 2021 was to journey to el fin del mundo, the end of the world. You know, to see what all the fuss is about.