This is the third part (I, II) 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 ‘Roman’ always a … 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 looking at these … Continue reading Collections: The Queen’s Latin or Who Were the Romans? Part I: Beginnings and Legends
This is the third part of a four part (I, II, 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 George R.R. Martin’s claim that the Dothraki are “an amalgam of a number of steppe … Continue reading Collections: That Dothraki Horde, Part III: Horse Fiddles
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 majority of our rural population, the little farmers. Now I know everyone is eager to get to … Continue reading Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part II: Big Farms
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 (we're not going to go into that much depth) but instead intended as a window into the … 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)
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