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Cyrenaic Hedonism: A Life in Pursuit of Pleasure

by on June 25, 2020

Written by Van Bryan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom 

“If it were wrong to be extravagant, it would not be in vogue at the festivals of the gods.”

~ Aristippus (Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of Eminent Philosophers)

We have seen, through our examination of ethical egoism last week, that some philosophers believed that the best life consisted of getting whatever we want, so long as whatever we want is admirable or good. That then leaves us with a tricky question: what types of things are considered admirable and good? The ancient philosopher Aristippus had a rather controversial answer. 

The Mysterious Etruscan Language

by on June 24, 2020

Written by Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
The Etruscan civilization was a crucial influence on the development of the Romans. For example, they influenced their social practices such as the Triumph and Gladiators and even their religion. The Etruscan language was also an influence on the development of Latin. However, we are still not able to properly decipher the language, and this means that the contribution of the Etruscans to Classical Civilization has been little understood.
Who were the Etruscans?
The Etruscans were a mysterious people who dominated most of Northern Italy and Corsica from the 10th to the 4th century BC. They were not politically united and were a loose federation of city-states. They had a common culture and religion. Etruscan kings once ruled Rome, and some argue that the city was founded by Etruscans and not Latins. Etruria was later conquered and absorbed by the Romans. The Etruscans thus lost their cultural identity.

Do we need Police? The Ancient World of Policing…

by on June 22, 2020

It seems almost impossible to keep up! Each week comes with huge movements, unfolding events and new important questions to debate and philosophize.
This time, it is the question of the ‘police’ – and whether or not we need them?
The idea of the police is nothing new, though its form in the ancient world took very different shapes. We here at Classical Wisdom believe knowledge of past events can be helpful, at times instrumental, in understanding complex and nuisance issues. As such, we’d like to review the history of policing in the ancient world.
Let’s begin with Egypt.

Broken Down by Force: On Seneca and the Power of His Word

by on June 19, 2020

Written by Mariami Shanshashvili, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Not many historical events in the annals of our civilization are so universally well-known that they need no introduction. The death of Socrates is one such momentous event.
An unfading scene firmly entrenched in all our minds; for most of us, dictated by the iconic painting of Jacques-Louis David: grey-haired, bolt upright Socrates, ringed round with a circle of his closest disciples and friends, adamantly holding up the fatal Hemlock cup, and having his last words uttered, readily facing his death with phenomenal equanimity.
However, the Ancient World was witness to the suicide sentence of another great philosopher: a scene no less soul-stirring, but far less fixed in memory. 456 years after Socrates’ death, Emperor Nero ordered his aged tutor and advisor, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, to take his own life.

Ethical Egoism: Getting What You Want

by on June 18, 2020

Written by Van Bryan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
There are a few advantages we have going for us when we study moral philosophy. The first is that moral philosophy (also known as ethical philosophy) is immediately applicable to our lives. The second is that many of the suppositions seem to be rather easy to confirm.
For instance, Aristotle tells us that everything has a “final cause.” That is, there is some definitive end or goal towards which a being strives. Most people, I think it’s safe to say, take this sort of view when it comes to action. When we see someone driving or walking somewhere, we tend to assume that they have some end or purpose in mind, whether it’s taking care of their health or heading to the grocery store.
When we apply this teleological narrative to life itself, the following question inevitably arises:

Galen: The Father of Modern Medicine and Anatomy

by on June 17, 2020

Written by Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Graeco-Roman Civilization has shaped the modern world in many ways. Among these is the fact that it laid the foundations for modern medicine. Perhaps no single person did more for the development of medicine in the Ancient World than the physician Galen. His genius helped to establish medicine as a science, and he was the foremost authority in the field until the Renaissance.
The life of Galen
Galen (129-216 AD) was born in the rich city of Pergamum, which is now near Bergama in modern Turkey, during the zenith of the Roman Empire. He was a Greek speaker and the son of a wealthy architect. Galen received a typical liberal education for a member of the elite, studying literature and philosophy.