This week, we're taking a break from the modern world to tackle the 'runner up' question from the first ACOUP Senate poll: How did the Roman dictatorship work and was it effective? This is one of those questions that seems very simple but isn't. After all, what most people know about the Roman dictatorship is … Continue reading Collections: The Roman Dictatorship: How Did It Work? Did It Work?
This week we're going to start tackling a complex and much debated question: 'how bad was the fall of Rome (in the West)?' This was the topic that won the vote among the patrons of the ACOUP Senate. The original questions here were 'what caused the loss of state capacity during the collapse of the … Continue reading Collections: Rome: Decline and Fall? Part I: Words
This is the third part (I, II, III, IV, V) of a series asking the question "Who were the Romans?' How did they understand themselves as a people and the idea of 'Roman' as an identity? Was this a homogeneous, ethnically defined group, as some versions of pop folk history would have it, or was … Continue reading Collections: The Queen’s Latin or Who Were the Romans? Part III: Bigotry and Diversity at Rome
Who were the Romans? How did they understand themselves as a people and 'Roman' as an identity? And what were the implications of that understanding - and perhaps more importantly the underlying reality - for Roman society and the success of the Roman Empire? This is the first part of a series (I, II, III, … Continue reading Collections: The Queen’s Latin or Who Were the Romans? Part I: Beginnings and Legends
This series is now available in audio format. You can find the playlist here. This is the third part of a four part (I, II, III, IV) look at the Dothraki from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO's Game of Thrones. We’re looking at, in particular, the degree to which … Continue reading Collections: That Dothraki Horde, Part III: Horse Fiddles
Thanks to our helpful volunteer narrator, this entire post series is now also available in audio format! This is the second part (I, II, III, IV, A) of our look at the basic structure of food production (particularly grains to make bread) in the pre-modern world. Last week, we began by looking at the great … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part II: Big Farms
Thanks to our helpful volunteer narrator, this entire post series is now also available in audio format! This essay will hopefully be the first post in a series (II, III, IV, A) covering some of the basics of how things in the past, particularly in the ancient world, were made. This isn't a how-to guide … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part I: Farmers!
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)