Friday, 20 August 2010

What is it all about?

The power of inspiration and its ability to influence the lives of men and the course of nations has always been my greatest passion to discover. Look at the Iliad of Homer, which shaped the common identity of the entire Greek race, infusing a common identity in a world of constant strife. Or the Gospels of the New Testament, whose words spurred on both Lord and peasant alike to leave the squalor and desolation of medieval Europe to raise the banner of Christ over the Sepulchre of Jerusalem on the First Crusade. Or the tales of Arthur, King of the Britons, whose legend would foster the ideas of chivalry and fill young boys with a desire to one day be a great knight.

Everything in existence is in the past. The first sentence of this post is in the past to those who have read it.  Is it any less important than the last because of this? The same applies to mankind. Should we fool ourselves into thinking our ancestors were not directly related to us, to absolve us from their experience and what we would call wrongdoing? The Greeks realised two thousand years ago that the Earth is round, an idea ridiculed by the Heliocentric astronomers of the Middle Ages. The Earth was then flat, anything else was laughable. Now who do we think was ridiculous? Less than eighty years ago, a very famous scientist said that the computer would never be smaller than the size of a room, yet here I am writing this on a computer I can fit in a bag and carry with me. To assume that the present ideas are the best is the enemy of progress. It is in this spirit that I turn to the words of our ancestors. I do not claim to profess that old is perfect. It is not. But it can be used, and our insight employed, to create perfection. After all, all it takes is one well phrased sentence which can fire inspiration in us.

I read every day. A day in which nothing is learned is a day wasted. Yet not all of us possess the time to indulge this. Since the Classics are my profession as well as my passion, I thought I would share what I have found with you, here, on this blog. On the Wednesday of each week, I will look at a new passage or book which I think you may be interested to read about. Who knows, you too might be inspired to pick up what before seemed like an old tome, and engage with the minds of those who lived hundreds if not thousands of years ago!


  1. This looks promising - it will be interesting to see how the blog develops.

  2. Thank you, I hope you will find something affecting in the posts to come also!

  3. I agree with Lucian when he says:
    "Men interested in athletics and in the care of their bodies think not only of condition and exercise but also of relaxation in season; in fact, they consider this the principal part of training. In like manner students, I think, after much reading of serious works may profitably relax their minds and put them in better trim for future labour."
    Don't get me wrong: I do not consider your blog to be one of Lucian's frivolous true stories. I would rather define it the kind of relaxation I would like my students to turn to when they are surfing the internet looking for some distraction after their own athletics/homework.

  4. Thank you indeed Eefje, kind words they are. If someone can read my words and enjoy them, and perhaps even find something inspiring, then that is a great reward. Look out for the coming posts!

  5. Dear James,

    My good man, how excited I was to locate your blogs! I rather agree with you, a day in which nothing is learned is indeed a day wasted. I myself love nothing more than spending an evening invigorating my mind through the perusing of The Greats, and cogitating upon the questions of humanity posed therein.

    I applaud you for your dedication to educating the hoi polloi, who often have so little time, inclination or indeed the capacity to really appreciate those great works which speak so rousingly to men like us. I do hope you continue your musings on the illustrious oeuvres of the ancients, which will no doubt send all of us into, if not delight, then at least paroxysms of appreciation each and every week. I, for one, will be checking back eagerly.

    Yours aye,
    John Brown

  6. John,

    Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement! It is a great pleasure to read that you appreciate it so, and express such clear enthusiasm for the great creations of man.

    It is always rewarding to ever be shown evidence that though time withers and dies, though Empires rise and fall and though science never ceases its relentless march, for all their influence they change nothing in the character of man.

    How easily the endless cycle of age old failures could be broken if all of us were enlightened about the collective story of man. For that is surely the ultimate reward of "knowing thyself", as the insciption above the Oracle at Delphi's door proclaims.

    Continue my musings? But of course! As long as they find an eager audience, I shall continue! Who knows? There may be, and I hope, more than words and pictures that some may find.