Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part I: Bargaining for Goods at Helm’s Gate

This is the long-awaited first part of a series taking a historian's look at the Battle of Helm's Deep from both J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers (1954) and Peter Jackson's 2002 film of the same name. We're going to discuss how historically plausible each sequence of events is and, in the process, talk a fair … Continue reading Collections: The Battle of Helm’s Deep, Part I: Bargaining for Goods at Helm’s Gate

Collections: A Trip Through Bertran de Born (Martial Values in the 12th Century Occitan Nobility)

This week we are taking another trip through a medieval author, this time the Occitan noble and troubadour Bertran de Born. This trip ought to be read closely with our trip through, Dhuoda of Uzès, as both exemplify the values and thinking of the medieval European aristocracy (though note that Dhuoda writes some 350 years … Continue reading Collections: A Trip Through Bertran de Born (Martial Values in the 12th Century Occitan Nobility)

Collections: A Trip Through ‘Antarah Ibn Shaddad (Victory Songs)

This week we are taking another trip through a medieval author, but quite a bit earlier - the end of the sixth century - and quite a bit further east: the Ethiopian-Arab warrior-poet 'Antarah ibn Shaddad. This trip ought to be ready closely with the one that is going to follow it (Bertran de Born, … Continue reading Collections: A Trip Through ‘Antarah Ibn Shaddad (Victory Songs)

Collections: A Trip Through Dhuoda of Uzès (Carolingian Values)

This week, we're taking another trip, this time through a medieval author, in this case looking at a selection of passages from Dhuoda of Uzès, Duchess of Septimania's Liber Manualis ("Handbook") for her son William and discussing the model of noble relationships it presents. Dhuoda is a fascinating figure both for the ways she is … Continue reading Collections: A Trip Through Dhuoda of Uzès (Carolingian Values)

Collections: Why Don’t We Use Chemical Weapons Anymore?

This week, we're going to talk briefly about why 'we' - and by 'we' here, I mean the top-tier of modern militaries - have generally eschewed the systematic or widespread use of chemical weapons after the First World War. And before you begin writing your comment, please note that the mountain of caveats that statement … Continue reading Collections: Why Don’t We Use Chemical Weapons Anymore?

New Acquisitions: Hoplite-Style Disease Control (March 17, 2020)

This is going to be a bit of an unusual post, but with things moving so rapidly, it didn't seem to make sense to wait for a break in the normal schedule. Don't worry, this Friday's normal post (a Collections on chemical warfare and doctrine) will appear on Friday as scheduled. But it felt irresponsible … Continue reading New Acquisitions: Hoplite-Style Disease Control (March 17, 2020)

Fireside Friday: March 13, 2020

Welcome! Fireside again this week (but Collections next week!). Pull up a chair. The Classicist in his natural environment: hiding behind a small mountain of Loebs, OCTs, Teubners and Cambridge Green-and-Yellows. I actually don't own any Budés, which are much like the Loebs, but in French (published by Les Belles Lettres), but they're also very … Continue reading Fireside Friday: March 13, 2020