Thursday, April 30, 2015

More Lawyers Than Doctors

The lawyer told the doctor, “I have no money but I’ll pay you out of the malpractice suit.” What can a doctor say nowadays? He asked the lawyer what caused him to be such a know-it-all. The lawyer said, “I’ve consulted a fortune-teller, a palm reader, Tarot cards, and a faith healer.” “And what dumb advice did those quacks give you?” “They told me to go see you.” When he checked with his malpractice insurance, he enrolled in law school. It was just as well. He only became a MD in the first place because he screwed up his earlier job as a kidnapper. His handwriting was so bad that nobody could read his ransom notes. At the time, doctoring seemed to be the next logical switch. He wasn’t such a good lawyer, either. He chased an ambulance 10 blocks only to find the patient inside was another lawyer. – Yet another malpractice suit to add to his collection. He finally settled. He ended up owing an arm and a leg – one set to the lawyer he had doctored and the other to the lawyer he represented in the ambulance. Now he's quadriplegic but he still owes the lawyer who settled the cases. Nobody likes a crooked lawyer until he needs one. But now what? He's gone back to kidnapping - pharmacists.

Based on material from this book by Milton Berle. Buy it because you will want to keep it as a reference book.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Flanders Wins Independence for a Price

Featuring an excerpt from History of France (5 volumes) by Eyre Evans Crowe last volume published in 1868.

Previously in War of The Flemings with Philip the Fair of France. And now Eyre Evans Crowe

Time: 1302
Place: Bruges, Flanders (modern Belgium)

Inside Bruges
CC BY-SA 3.0 image from Wikipedia.

Philip had been long involved in a controversy with Pope Boniface VIII, and the quarrel still continued. It was not till some time after the battle of Courtrai that the King at last, delivered from the menacing hostility of Rome, had leisure to turn his mind and efforts again toward Flanders. During the year 1303 he had sought to keep the Flemings at bay by bodies of Lombard and Tuscan infantry, whom his Florentine banker persuaded him to hire, and by Amadeus V, Duke of Savoy, who brought soldiers of that country to his aid. Although the long lances and more perfect armor of these troops gave them some advantage over the Flemings, the latter took and burned Therouanne, overran Artois, and laid siege to Tournai. Amadeus of Savoy, unable to overcome the Flemings by arms, recommended Philip to do so by treaty, and the King accordingly concluded a pacification, one condition of which was that the Count of Flanders should be released from prison to negotiate terms of fresh accommodation. The Flemings received the aged Count with respect; but he brought no terms which they were willing to accept; and he returned, as he had pledged his word, to captivity at Compiègne, where he soon after died.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What Herodotus Learned of the Orient

Previously in Herodotus

GNU image from Wikipedia.

16. Now of the land about which this account has been begun, no one knows precisely what lies beyond it: for I am not able to hear of any one who alleges that he knows as an eye-witness; and even Aristeas, the man of whom I was making mention just now, even he, I say, did not allege, although he was composing verse, that he went further than the Issedonians; but that which is beyond them he spoke of by hearsay, and reported that it was the Issedonians who said these things. So far however as we were able to arrive at certainty by hearsay, carrying inquiries as far as possible, all this shall be told.

Monday, April 27, 2015

French Respond to Bruges Massacre

Introduction to our series War of The Flemings with Philip the Fair of France:
Eyre Evans Crowe (1799-1868) was a newspaper editor who wrote a history of France in 5 volumes.

By the 13th. century the people of modern Belgium whose country had been for centuries a feudal dependency of France, were considerably advanced in wealth and importance. They revolted, massacring thousands of French in Bruges on May 18, 1302. This is what happened next.

Time: 1302
Place: Bruges, Flanders (modern Belgium)

Inside Bruges
CC BY-SA 3.0 image from Wikipedia.

The Flemings prepared to resist the storm. They chose Guy of Juliers, grandson of the Count of Flanders, to be their commander. Though a cleric, he did not hesitate to obey the call, in order to avenge his family, so cruelly betrayed by the French King. His brother, made prisoner at Furnes by the Count d'Artois, had perished in that rude Prince's keeping. His first attempt was to induce the people of Ghent to join the insurrection, but its rich burgesses preferred French rule to that of the Count of Flanders. Bruges, however, was supported by all the lesser and maritime towns of Flanders. Guy of Namur, a son of the Count, who had escaped to Germany, also returned with a body of soldiers from that country, and reassured the Flemings. These surprised one of the ducal manors, in which were five hundred French, and then took Courtrai, occupying the town, but not the castle. It was immediately besieged, as well as that of Cassel, the people of Ypres rallying to the French cause. The French garrison of the town of Courtrai sent pressing messengers for aid, and Robert of Artois marched with seven thousand knights and forty thousand foot, of which one-fourth were archers. The Flemish were but twenty thousand, of which none but the chiefs had horses. Neither was their armor nor their weapons of a perfect kind, the latter being a lance like a boar-spear, or a knotted stick pointed with iron, and called in Flemish a "good day." The princes of Juliers and Namur posted their combatants on the road which leads from Courtrai to Ghent, behind a canal that communicated with the river Lys. A priest came with the host, but, there being no time to receive the communion, each man took some earth in his mouth. The counts then knighted Pierre Konig and the chiefs of bands, and took their station on foot with the rest.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

First Actor to Play Hamlet

Featuring an excerpt from an unfinished work by James Halliwell-Phillipps written before his death in 1889.

Previously in Hamlet, Drama’s Apex. And now James Halliwell-Phillipps.

Time: 1601
Place: London, Globe Theater

Assorted Shakespeare characters.  Public domain image from Wikipedia.
It may, however, be safely asserted that the simpler explanations are, and the less they are biased by the subtleties of the philosophical critics, the more likely they are to be in unison with the intentions of the author. Take, for instance, the well-established fact that immodesty of expression, the recollection derived, it may often be, accidentally and unwillingly from oral sources during the previous life, is one of the numerous phases of insanity; and not only are the song-fragments chanted by Ophelia, but even the ribaldry addressed to her by Hamlet, in the play-scene, vindicated, there being little doubt that Shakespeare intended the simulated madness of the latter through his intellectual supremacy to be equally true to nature, the manners of his age permitting the delineation in a form which is now repulsive and inadmissible.

The present favorite idea is that in Hamlet the great dramatist intended to delineate an irresolute mind depressed by the weight of a mission which it is unable to accomplish. This is the opinion of Goethe following, if I have noted rightly, an English writer in the Mirror of 1780. A careful examination of the tragedy will hardly sustain this hypothesis. So far from Hamlet being indecisive, although the active principle in his character is strongly influenced by the meditative, he is really a man of singular determination, and, excepting in occasional paroxsyms, one of powerful self-control. His rapidity of decision is strikingly exhibited after his first interview with the Ghost. Perceiving at once how important it was that Marcellus, at all events, should not suspect the grave revelations that had been made, although they had been sufficient to have paralyzed one of less courage and resolution than himself, he outwits his companions by banter, treating the apparition with intentional and grotesque disrespect and jocularity at a moment when an irresolute mind would have been terrified and prostrated.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Protestant Non-Jurors

by Jack Le Moine

Who might well be the most important Anglo-American religious movement you have never heard of? From the latest happenings in things historical. The two part series of articles The Non-Jurors and Somewhere Beyond the Sea concluded 8 days ago in Patheos Blog. The article’s author is Philip Jenkins.

They were a High Church movement within the Church of England, who refused to take oaths to the new regime after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. While reading about the King of England as the head of their Church, the split seems both remote and yet important.

The current splits in the Episcopal Church in the USA on the other hand involves matters that go far beyond mere theory to the very essence of Christianity. It is interesting to read current events with the perspective of the past.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Knowing Everything

Isaac Asimov by Rowena Morrill
GNU image from Wikipedia.
Those people who claim to know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

- Isaac Asimov

More on Isaac Asimov.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

If Another Author, It Must Be Shakespeare

Featuring an excerpt from an unfinished work by James Halliwell-Phillipps written before his death in 1889.

Previously in Hamlet, Drama’s Apex. And now James Halliwell-Phillipps.

Time: 1601
Place: London, Globe Theater

Assorted Shakespeare characters.  Public domain image from Wikipedia.
There was once in existence a copy of Speght's edition of Chaucer, 1598, with manuscript notes by Gabriel Harvey, one of those notes being in the following terms: "The younger sort take much delight in Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, but his Lucrece and his tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, have it in them to please the wiser sort." This note was first printed in 1766 by Steevens, who gives the year 1598 as the date of its insertion in the volume, but, observed Dr. Ingleby, "we are unable to verify Steevens' note or collate his copy, for the book which contained Harvey's note passed into the collection of Bishop Percy, and his library was burned in the fire at Northumberland House." Under these circumstances one can only add the opinions of those who have had the opportunity of inspecting the volume. Firstly, from the letter of Percy to Malone, 1803: "In the passage which extols Shakespeare's tragedy, Spenser is quoted by name among our flourishing metricians. Now this edition of Chaucer was published in 1598, and Spenser's death is ascertained to have been in January, 1598-1599, so that these passages were all written in 1598, and prove that Hamlet was written before that year, as you have fixed it." Secondly, from a letter from Malone to Percy, written also in 1803, in which he gives reasons for controverting this opinion: "When I was in Dublin I remember you thought that, though Harvey had written 1598 in his book, it did not follow from thence that his remarks were then written; whilst, on the other hand, I contended that, from the mention of Spenser, they should seem to have been written in that year; so that, like the two Reynoldses, we have changed sides and each converted the other; for I have now no doubt that these observations were written in a subsequent year. The words that deceive are 'our now flourishing metricians,' by which Harvey does not mean 'now living,' but now admired or in vogue; and what proves this is that in his catalogue he mixes the living and the dead, for Thomas Watson was dead before 1593. With respect to Axio Philus, I think you will agree with me hereafter that not Spenser, but another person, was meant. Having more than once named Spenser, there could surely be no occasion to use any mysterious appellation with respect to that poet. My theory is that Harvey bought the book in 1598 on its publication, and then sat down to read it, and that his observations were afterward inserted at various times. That passage, which is at the very end, and subjoined to Lydgate's catalogue, one may reasonably suppose was not written till after he had perused the whole volume."

The tragedy of Hamlet is familiarly alluded to more than once in the play of Eastward Hoe, printed in 1605, in a manner which indicates that the former drama was very well established in the memories of the audience. There is a parody on one of Ophelia's songs which is of some interest in regard to the question of the critical value of the quarto of 1604; the occurrence of the word "all" before "flaxen" showing that the former word was incorrectly omitted in all the early quartos excepting in that of 1603. One of the subordinate characters in Eastward Hoe is a running-footman of the name of Hamlet, who enters in great haste to tell the coachman to be ready for his mistress, whereupon Potkin, a tankard-bearer, says: "Sfoote, Hamlet, are you madde? Whether run you nowe? You should brushe up my olde mistresse."

There is an unsupported statement by Oldys to the effect that Shakespeare received but five pounds for his tragedy of Hamlet, but whether from the company who first acted it or from the publisher is not mentioned. This is the only information that has reached us respecting the exact emolument received by Shakespeare for any of his writings, but it cannot be accepted merely on such an authority. It is, however, worthy of remark that Greene parted with his Orlando to the Queen's Players for twenty nobles; so the sum named appears to have been about the usual amount given for a play sold direct from the author to a company, but in all probability, when Hamlet was produced, Shakespeare was playing at the Globe Theatre on shares.

Notwithstanding the extreme length of the tragedy of Hamlet, there is such a marvelously concentrative power displayed in much of the construction and dialogue that, in respect to a large number of the incidents and speeches, a wide latitude of interpretation is admissible, the selection in those cases from possible explanations depending upon the judgment and temperament of each actor or reader. Hence it may be confidently predicted that no esthetic criticisms upon this drama will ever be entirely and universally accepted, and as certainly that there will remain problems in connection with it which will be subjects for discussion to the end of literary time. Among the latter the reason or reasons which induced Hamlet to defer the fulfillment of his revenge may perhaps continue to hold a prominent situation, although the solution of that special mystery does not seem to be attended with difficulties equal to those surrounding other cognate inquiries which arise in the study of the tragedy.

In respect to this drama, as to many others by the same author, the prophetic words of Leonard Digges may be usefully remembered--"Some second Shakespeare must of Shakespeare write." Until this miracle occurs, it is not likely that any esthetic criticism on the tragedy will be successful; and certainly at present, notwithstanding the numbers of persons of high talent and genius who have discussed the subject, nothing has been, nor is likely to be, produced which is altogether satisfactory. The cause of this may perhaps to some extent arise from the latitude of interpretation the dramatic form of composition allows, to the appreciation of the minor details of a character, and the various plausible reasons that can often be assigned for the same line of action; something also may be due to the unconscious influence exercised by individual temperament upon the exposition of that character, and again much to the defective state of the text; but the reason of the general failure in Hamlet criticism is no doubt chiefly to be traced to the want of ability to enter fully into the inspiration of the poet's genius.

Continued on Sunday, April 26th.

Text of play here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Scythia and the Kimmerians

Previously in Herodotus

11. There is however also another story, which is as follows, and to this I am most inclined myself. It is to the effect that the nomad Scythians dwelling in Asia, being hard pressed in war by the Massagetai, left their abode and crossing the river Araxes came towards the Kimmerian land (for the land which now is occupied by the Scythians is said to have been in former times the land of the Kimmerians); and the Kimmerians, when the Scythians were coming against them, took counsel together, seeing that a great host was coming to fight against them; and it proved that their opinions were divided, both opinions being vehemently maintained, but the better being that of their kings: for the opinion of the people was that it was necessary to depart and that they ought not to run the risk of fighting against so many, but that of the kings was to fight for their land with those who came against them: and as neither the people were willing by means to agree to the counsel of the kings nor the kings to that of the people, the people planned to depart without fighting and to deliver up the land to the invaders, while the kings resolved to die and to be laid in their own land, and not to flee with the mass of the people, considering the many goods of fortune which they had enjoyed, and the many evils which it might be supposed would come upon them, if they fled from their native land. Having resolved upon this, they parted into two bodies, and making their numbers equal they fought with one another: and when these had all been killed by one another's hands, then the people of the Kimmerians buried them by the bank of the river Tyras (where their burial-place is still to be seen), and having buried them, then they made their way out from the land, and the Scythians when they came upon it found the land deserted of its inhabitants.

12. And there are at the present time in the land of Scythia Kimmerian walls, and a Kimmerian ferry; and there is also a region which is called Kimmeria, and the so-called Kimmerian Bosphorus. It is known moreover that the Kimmerians, in their flight to Asia from the Scythians, also made a settlement on that peninsula on which now stands the Hellenic city of Sinope; and it is known too that the Scythians pursued them and invaded the land of Media, having missed their way; for while the Kimmerians kept ever along by the sea in their flight, the Scythians pursued them keeping Caucasus on their right hand, until at last they invaded Media, directing their course inland. This then which has been told is another story, and it is common both to Hellenes and Barbarians.

13. Aristeas however the son of Caÿstrobios, a man of Proconnesos, said in the verses which he composed, that he came to the land of the Issedonians being possessed by Phoebus, and that beyond the Issedonians dwelt Arimaspians, a one-eyed race, and beyond these the gold-guarding griffins, and beyond them the Hyperboreans extending as far as the sea: and all these except the Hyperboreans, beginning with the Arimaspians, were continually making war on their neighbors, and the Issedonians were gradually driven out of their country by the Arimaspians and the Scythians by the Issedonians, and so the Kimmerians, who dwelt on the Southern Sea, being pressed by the Scythians left their land. Thus neither does he agree in regard to this land with the report of the Scythians.

14. As to Aristeas who composed this, I have said already whence he was; and I will tell also the tale which I heard about him in Proconnesos and Kyzicos. They say that Aristeas, who was in birth inferior to none of the citizens, entered into a fuller's shop in Proconnesos and there died; and the fuller closed his workshop and went away to report the matter to those who were related to the dead man. And when the news had been spread abroad about the city that Aristeas was dead, a man of Kyzicos who had come from the town of Artake entered into controversy with those who said so, and declared that he had met him going towards Kyzicos and had spoken with him: and while he was vehement in dispute, those who were related to the dead man came to the fuller's shop with the things proper in order to take up the corpse for burial; and when the house was opened, Aristeas was not found there either dead or alive. In the seventh year after this he appeared at Proconnesos and composed those verses which are now called by the Hellenes the Arimaspeia, and having composed them he disappeared the second time.

15. So much is told by these cities; and what follows I know happened to the people of Metapontion in Italy two hundred and forty years after the second disappearance of Aristeas, as I found by putting together the evidence at Proconnesos and Metapontion. The people of Metapontion say that Aristeas himself appeared in their land and bade them set up an altar of Apollo and place by its side a statue bearing the name of Aristeas of Proconnesos; for he told them that to their land alone of all the Italiotes Apollo had come, and he, who now was Aristeas, was accompanying him, being then a raven when he accompanied the god. Having said this he disappeared; and the Metapontines say that they sent to Delphi and asked the god what the apparition of the man meant: and the Pythian prophetess bade them obey the command of the apparition, and told them that if they obeyed, it would be the better for them. They therefore accepted this answer and performed the commands; and there stands a statue now bearing the name of Aristeas close by the side of the altar dedicated to Apollo, and round it stand laurel trees; and the altar is set up in the market-place. Let this suffice which has been said about Aristeas.

- Herodotus, Book IV

More Information: from the New Yorker Magazine, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, April 20, 2015

When was Shakespeare’s Hamlet Produced?

Featuring an excerpt from an unfinished work by James Halliwell-Phillipps written before his death in 1889.

Previously in Hamlet, Drama’s Apex. And now James Halliwell-Phillipps.

Time: 1601
Place: London, Globe Theater

Assorted Shakespeare characters.  Public domain image from Wikipedia.
Mr. Collier, in his Farther Particulars, 1839, cites a very curious passage--"a trout, Hamlet, with four legs"--which is given as a proverbial line in Clarke's Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina (or Proverbs English and Latin), 1639. It is unnecessary to be too curious in searching for the exact meaning of the phrase, but, as Dr. Ingleby suggested to me, it is in all probability taken from the older play of Hamlet, which does not appear to have been entirely superseded at once by the new, or at least was long remembered by play-goers.

The preceding notices may fairly authorize us to infer that the ancient play of Hamlet--1. Was written by either an attorney or an attorney's clerk, who had not received a university education; 2. Was full of tragical, high-sounding speeches; 3. Contained the passage "There are things called whips in store," spoken by Hamlet; 4. Included a very telling brief speech by the Ghost in the two words "Hamlet, revenge!" 5. Was acted at the theatre in Shoreditch and at the playhouse at Newington Butts; 6. Had for its principal character a hero exhibiting more general violence than can be attributed to Shakespeare's creation of Hamlet.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shakespeare’s Masterpiece, Hamlet

Featuring an excerpt from an unfinished work by James Halliwell-Phillipps written before his death in 1889.

Introduction to our series Hamlet, Drama’s Apex:
The tragedy of Hamlet is generally regarded by critics as Shakespeare's masterpiece. Hence it is often referred to as the highest literary product of human genius. In the following discussion of the play, Mr. J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, the master and dean of later Shakespearean scholars, gives 1601 as the probable date of its first production. At that time Shakespeare was a London actor, and leading shareholder in the Globe Theatre, where his play was presumably produced. He had made his first big success some five years before with Romeo and Juliet, and was, so far as we can judge, on the high tide of financial prosperity. The profession of an actor carried with it in those days much discredit, but in his far-off home at Stratford, Shakespeare had in 1601 already begun to seek the repute of a country gentleman, and had purchased the finest house and estate in the little village. And now, James Halliwell-Phillipps

Time: 1601
Place: London, Globe Theater

Assorted Shakespeare characters.  Public domain image from Wikipedia.
The tragedy of Hamlet is unquestionably the highest effort of artistic literary power yet given to the world. There is nothing to be found in real competition with it excepting in the other works of Shakespeare, but all are inferior to this great masterpiece. There is hardly a speech in the whole play which may not fairly be made the subject of an elaborate discourse, especially when viewed in connection with its bearings, however occasionally remote, on the character of Hamlet, the development of which appears to have been the chief object of the author, not only in the management of the plot, but in the creation of the other personages who are introduced. There is contemporary evidence to this effect in the Stationers' Register of 1602 in the title there given--The Revenge of Hamlet.

There was an old English tragedy on the subject of Hamlet which was in existence at least as early as the year 1589, in the representation of which an exclamation of the Ghost--"Hamlet, revenge!"--was a striking and well-remembered feature. This production is alluded to in some prefatory matter by Nash in the edition of Greene's Menaphon, issued in that year, here given: "I'le turne backe to my first text, of studies of delight, and talke a little in friendship with a few of our triuiall translators. It is a common practise now a daies amongst a sort of shifting companions that run through euery arte and thriue by none, to leaue the trade of Nouerint whereto they were borne, and busie themselues with the indeuors of art, that could scarcelie latinize their necke-verse if they should haue neede; yet English Seneca read by candle light yeeldes manie good sentences, as Bloud is a beggar, and so foorth: and if you intreate him faire in a frostie morning, he will afoord you whole Hamlets, I should say hand-fulls of tragical speeches."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The History Behind Netanhayu's Big Speech to Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu Meets with 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, July 23, 2014.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
From the latest happenings in things historical. This article Historical Precedents to Netanyahu's Unusual Visit was published 46 days ago in RealClear Politics from the AP. The article’s author is Connie Glass.

Benjamin Netanhayu's March 3 speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress was controversial but in line with a long list of precedents going back to Marquis de Lafayette in 1824. This article puts the event in its historical context. What matters most, the diplomatic decorum of a such a speech or its substantive importance?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

From the Early Days of Baseball

Time: July 31, 1915
Place: The Offices of The Saturday Evening Post

Ring Lardner’s most famous story, Alabi Ike is published. Today we print the first part of the story.  The YouTube is a radio show.  This show from 1937 was based upon the whole thing.

 Radio version of the story.

 His right name was Frank X. Farrell, and I guess the X stood for "Excuse me." Because he never pulled a play, good or bad, on or off the field, without apologizin' for it.

"Alibi Ike" was the name Carey wished on him the first day he reported down South. O' course we all cut out the "Alibi" part of it right away for the fear he would overhear it and bust somebody. But we called him "Ike" right to his face and the rest of it was understood by everybody on the club except Ike himself.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Income Tax Day 2015

Page 4 of the return showing the income tax rates for 1862.
Public domain form from the Tax History Project.

The first income tax was adopted and signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 as a war measure. This links to the complete income tax package for that year. Forms, instructions, and tax tables brought the entire package to four (!) pages.

 There were two basic rates: 3% of those whose incomes were <$10,000 and 5% for incomes >$10,000. Interest from government bonds were taxed at 1.5%. The instructions' explained a standard deduction of $600 by saying that this was the average expenses of a family in 1862.

 After years of court rulings and constitutional amendments, this little seedling grew into the monster tax package Americans struggle with today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What Pontus Says About the Scythians

Previously in Herodotus

7. Thus the Scythians say they were produced; and from the time of their origin, that is to say from the first king Targitaos, to the passing over of Darius against them, they say that there is a period of a thousand years and no more. Now this sacred gold is guarded by the kings with the utmost care, and they visit it every year with solemn sacrifices of propitiation: moreover if any one goes to sleep while watching in the open air over this gold during the festival, the Scythians say that he does not live out the year; and there is given him for this so much land as he shall ride round himself on his horse in one day. Now as the land was large, Colaxaïs, they say, established three kingdoms for his sons; and of these he made one larger than the rest, and in this the gold is kept. But as to the upper parts which lie on the North side of those who dwell above this land, they say one can neither see nor pass through any further by reason of feathers which are poured down; for both the earth and the air are full of feathers, and this is that which shuts off the view.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thus Dies Antony and Cleopatra

Featuring Henry George Liddell from his book A History of Rome from 1855.

Previously on Death of Antony and Cleopatra. And now Henry George Liddell.

Time: August 30 BC
Place: Alexandria, Egypt

When Antony and Cleopatra arrived off Alexandria they put a bold face upon the matter. Some time passed before the real state of the case was known; but it soon became plain that Egypt was at the mercy of the conqueror. The Queen formed all kinds of wild designs. One was to transport the ships that she had saved across the Isthmus of Suez and seek refuge in some distant land where the name of Rome was yet unknown. Some ships were actually drawn across, but they were destroyed by the Arabs, and the plan was abandoned. She now flattered herself that her powers of fascination, proved so potent over Caesar and Antony, might subdue Octavian. Secret messages passed between the conqueror and the Queen; nor were Octavian's answers such as to banish hope.

Antony, full of repentance and despair, shut himself up in Pharos, and there remained in gloomy isolation.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Battle of Actium

Featuring Henry George Liddell from his book A History of Rome from 1855.

Previously on Death of Antony and Cleopatra. And now Henry George Liddell.

Time: August 30 BC
Place: Alexandria, Egypt

In point of fidelity to his marriage vows Octavian was little better than Antony. He renounced his marriage with Clodia, the daughter of Fulvia, when her mother attempted to raise Italy against him. He divorced Scribonia, when it no longer suited him to court the favor of her kinsman. To replace this second wife, he forcibly took away Livia from her husband, T. Claudius Nero, though she was at that time pregnant of her second son. But in this and other less pardonable immoralities there was nothing to shock the feelings of Romans.

But Octavian never suffered pleasure to divert him from business. If he could not be a successful general, he resolved at least to show that he could be a hardy soldier. While Antony in his Egyptian palace was neglecting the Parthian War, his rival led his legions in more than one dangerous campaign against the barbarous Dalmatians and Pannonians, who had been for some time infesting the province of Illyricum. In the year B.C. 33 he announced that the limits of the empire had been extended northward to the banks of the Save.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The American Cowboy

Here is a documentary about the legendary cowboys of the old west in America.  It was uploaded just 36 days ago.

From the latest happenings in things historical. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Again: Birth of a Nation Rocks America

by Jack Le Moine

This film taught America 4 things: (1) people would line up for blocks to see a movie; (2) there was a civil rights movement in America with an organization called The NAACP; (3) film makers could make lots of money; and (4) D.W. Griffin was the greatest film maker in the world.

Every so often we like to resurrect an article from the blog’s past. This one is from December 9, 2008. – Just one of the gems buried in the blog’s archives.
This is a trailer to the famous movie that created Hollywood - the first full-length movie in American history.
Here’s the rest of the article. The original article was written by JL, too.

An updated link to the full movie.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Give the Bible as History the Benefit of the Doubt

In its outlines, and barring supernatural incidents, the story of the Jews as unfolded in the Old Testament has stood the test of criticism and archeology; every year adds corroboration from documents, monuments, or excavations... We must accept the Biblical account provisionally until it is disproved.

- Will Durant

More on Will Durant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Antony Chooses Cleopatra; Deserts Wife

Featuring Henry George Liddell from his book A History of Rome from 1855.

Previously on Death of Antony and Cleopatra. And now Henry George Liddell.

Time: August 30 BC
Place: Alexandria, Egypt

Off Mylae, a place famous for having witnessed the first naval victory of the Romans, Agrippa encountered the fleet of Sext Pompeius; but Sextus, with the larger portion of his ships, gave Agrippa the slip, and sailing eastward fell suddenly upon Octavian's squadron off Tauromenium. A desperate conflict followed, which ended in the complete triumph of Sextus, and Octavian escaped to Italy with a few ships only. But Agrippa was soon upon the traces of the enemy. On the 3d of September Sextus was obliged once more to accept battle near the Straits of Messana, and suffered an irretrievable defeat. His troops on land were attacked and dispersed by an army which had been landed on the eastern coast by the indefatigable Octavian; and Sextus sailed off to Lesbos, where he had found refuge as a boy during the campaign of Pharsalia, to seek protection from the jealousy of Antony.

Lepidus had assisted in the campaign; but after the departure of Sextus he openly declared himself independent of his brother triumvirs. Octavian, with prompt and prudent boldness, entered the camp of Lepidus in person with a few attendants. The soldiers deserted in crowds, and in a few hours Lepidus was fain to sue for pardon, where he had hoped to rule. He was treated with contemptuous indifference, Africa was taken from him; but he was allowed to live and die at Rome in quiet enjoyment of the chief pontificate.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Persia Attacks Scythia

Previously in Herodotus

Today we begin Book IV.

1. After Babylon had been taken, the march of Darius himself against the Scythians took place: for now that Asia was flourishing in respect of population, and large sums were being gathered in as revenue, Darius formed the desire to take vengeance upon the Scythians, because they had first invaded the Median land and had overcome in fight those who opposed them; and thus they had been the beginners of wrong. The Scythians in truth, as I have before said, had ruled over Upper Asia for eight-and-twenty years; for they had invaded Asia in their pursuit of the Kimmerians, and they had deposed the Medes from their rule, who had rule over Asia before the Scythians came. Now when the Scythians had been absent from their own land for eight-and-twenty years, as they were returning to it after that interval of time, they were met by a contest not less severe than that which they had had with the Medes, since they found an army of no mean size opposing them. For the wives of the Scythians, because their husbands were absent from them for a long time, had associated with the slaves.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Octavian Consolidates His Rule

Featuring Henry George Liddell from his book A History of Rome from 1855.

Previously on Death of Antony and Cleopatra. And now Henry George Liddell.

Time: August 30 BC
Place: Alexandria, Egypt

Antony and Octavian renewed their professions of amity, and entered Rome together in joint ovation to celebrate the restoration of peace. They now made a third division of the provinces, by which Scodra (Scutari) in Illyricum was fixed as the boundary of the West and East; Lepidus was still left in possession of Africa. It was further agreed that Octavian was to drive Sext Pompeius, lately the ally of Antony, out of Sicily; while Antony renewed his pledges to recover the standards of Crassus from the Parthians. The new compact was sealed by the marriage of Antony with Octavia, his colleague's sister, a virtuous and beautiful lady, worthy of a better consort. These auspicious events were celebrated by the lofty verse of Vergil's Fourth Eclogue.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Napoleonic Grand Strategy

This article from just 5 days ago looks at power: how it is acquired and how it is used.  The professor is interested in how Napoleon came from nowhere to become master of most of Europe.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April to May to ?

CC BY-SA 3.0 image from Wikipedia.
Question: If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

Answer: Pilgrims