Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part II: Big Farms

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

Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part I: Farmers!

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!

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: The Fremen Mirage Part IIIa: …by the Princess Irulan

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

Collections: A Trip Through Cicero (Natural Law)

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)

Collections: Practical Polytheism, Part III: Polling the Gods

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

Collections: Practical Polytheism, Part I: Knowledge

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

Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School

This is Part I of a seven part series (I, 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 … Continue reading Collections: This. Isn’t. Sparta. Part I: Spartan School