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)
This is Part IIIa of our four-part series (I, II) looking at what I've termed the 'Fremen Mirage.' We defined the core tenets of this pop-historical notion in more detail in the first post, that hard times and hard lands lead to moral purity and combat effectiveness, while good times, wealth and luxury lead to … Continue reading Collections: The Fremen Mirage Part IIIa: …by the Princess Irulan
This week, we're taking another trip through an ancient author, in this case looking at a passage from Cicero's De legibus ("On the Laws") and discussing Cicero's vision of the origin of laws and how those ideas have found their way into current thinking. Cicero was a remarkably prolific author, and a tremendous amount of … Continue reading Collections: A Trip Through Cicero (Natural Law)
The last part of our four-part look at ancient polytheism, looking at the smallest of gods, and the biggest of humans.
Last week as part II of our four part look at ancient polytheistic religious practice (I, II, IV), we looked at some of the basic functions of polytheistic practice, centered on the concept of do ut des, striking a bargain with the god. This week, we're going to turn to another key set of rituals: … Continue reading Collections: Practical Polytheism, Part III: Polling the Gods
Part II of a series at the underpinnings of ancient polytheistic (Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, Norse, etc) religious practice.
Today we're going to start looking at one facet of how polytheistic religions function, their practicality. This is going to be a four-part series (II, III, IV) looking at some of the general facets of how ancient polytheistic religions work. And work is the operative word, more so than many religions and life philosophies you … Continue reading Collections: Practical Polytheism, Part I: Knowledge
This is Part I of a seven part series (II, III, IV, V, VI, VII) comparing the popular legacy of Sparta (embodied in films like 300) with the historical ancient state. Today, we're going to start by looking at the sources of our information on Sparta, and then begin at the beginning: the Spartan rearing … Continue reading Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School
Today, in Part III of our series of war elephants, we are going to look at the place war elephants held in society through two lenses: what war elephants meant to the societies that used them and what they often mean in popular culture - as we'll see, these are connected topics. Previously in this … Continue reading Collections: War Elephants, Part III: Elephant Memories
By popular request, today we're going to talk about oaths. Oaths appear a lot in fantasy fiction - and even in historical fiction - and they are frequently done wrong. I remarked on this in part II of my "How it Wasn't: Game of Thrones and the Middle Ages" that, "characters are forever being asked … Continue reading Collections: Oaths! How do they Work?