More Plutarch Online (3)

30 June 2008

Plutarch, bust from the museum of Delphi.

Plutarch‘s essay On Having Many Friends (Περὶ πολυφιλίας) may possibly have been offered on some occasion as a lecture, but there is nothing to prove or disprove this assumption. From what we know of Plutarch’s relations to his friends we can well believe that he was singularly happy in his friendships, and hence well fitted to speak on the subject. He was familiar, too, with the literature dealing with friendship, and the result is an essay well worth reading. Cicero’s essay De amicitia may profitably be compared with Plutarch’s.

500 Ancient Sites on Google Earth

29 June 2008
Bu Njem

Bu Njem

What you are looking for, is here.

More Plutarch Online (2)

27 June 2008

Plutarch, bust from the museum of Delphi.

Several other texts from Plutarch’s Moralia were added to LacusCurtius:

As the editor of the third text dryly notes, “The modern bride will undoubtedly turn up her nose and shake her independent head in disapproval of Plutarch’s suggestions about subordinating herself to her husband”. Having seen that Sex and the City movie recently, I’m not so certain about the modern bride: the girls’ only aims appear to be finding & keeping a man. So much for independence, these days. Maybe uncle Plutarch was right, after all.


27 June 2008

Halicarnassus, modern Bodrum in southwestern Turkey, is probably best known for one man and one building: the Greek researcher Herodotus (c.480-c.429) was born in this city and the Mausoleum was built there. The town (satellite photo) is still worth a visit: it has a nice theater, parts of the ancient walls are still standing, there is a splendid museum, but the Mausoleum is a bit of a disappointment: most stones were reused to build the castle and most sculptures of this Wonder of the Ancient World are now in the British Museum.

The Black Pharaohs

26 June 2008

Taharqo; sphinx from the Louvre.It is impossible to call the period of the Nubian pharaohs an unknown chapter from Egyptian history; I guess every three years, a book is written about them (e.g., R.G. Morkot, The Black Pharaohs. Egypt’s Nubian Rulers [2000]), and I have seen two major exhibitions about them in my small country.

Perhaps, the importance of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty is overestimated. By the mid-eighth century, it seemed that divided Egypt was slowly reuniting again, although it was unclear who was to do this. In the north, Tefnakht of Sais (Twenty-fourth Dynasty) was increasingly powerful, and from the south, king Kashta seized control over Thebes. The collision between the two powers is documented on Piye’s Victory Stela: when Tefnakht started to gain control of Upper Egypt, Piye of Nubia defeated Tefnakht’s armies, captured Memphis, and subdued the princes of Lower Egypt.

His successors, Shabaqo, Shebitqo, and Taharqo (photo), ruled over both kingdoms, and found themselves entangled in the conflict between Assyria and the city states of Palestina. In 701, Egyptian armies were defeated, but they prevented the Assyrian king Sennacherib from seizing all of Palestine; as is well-known, Jerusalem kept its independence.

Thirty years later, Sennacherib’s successor Esarhaddon invaded Egypt and expelled the Nubians in 671. King Taharqo managed to get back, but was defeated again by Esarhaddon’s successor Aššurbanipal. When he found himself caught in a civil war, he recalled his troops from Egypt, and the country was reunited by Psamettichus, a descendant of Tefnakht, who founded the Twenty-sixth Dynasty.

Plutarch, Consolation to his Wife

24 June 2008

Plutarch, bust from the museum of Delphi.

A list of ancient Greek texts that have been read throughout the ages will probably include Homer’s Iliad, the New Testament, philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, Euclid’s Elements, the classic Athenian tragedians, HerodotusHistories, and Plutarch‘s Consolation to his Wife (Consolatio ad uxorem). It was written after a daughter of two years old had died – a shocking event in any age.

This famous text is now online at LacusCurtius, with an excellent introduction that shows that the text contains all traditional motifs that were supposed to be in a text of this kind, and that Plutarch was able to treat these ideas with great freedom. It is this mastery that makes the text a classic.

The Battle of Cynoscephalae (197 BCE)

24 June 2008

FlamininusThe Battle of Cynoscephalae (June 197) became famous because Roman legions, commanded by Titus Quinctius Flamininus (the portrait is from the museum of Delphi) defeated king Philip V‘s Macedonian phalanx. The army that had once been the best in the world and had defeated Persian kings, Indian raja’s, and Sogdian nomads, now had to recognize that the legions were better. The key to the Roman victory, however, was that the site of the battle was extremely hilly, hardly the place where a phalanx could be employed.

The site was identified by the famous military historian N.G.L. Hammond, who published his theory in 1988. I visited the place some fifteen years ago and made several slides. A kind Albanian shepherd helped me find the well near the remains of one of the Roman camps, and kept the dogs away. Your satellite photo is here and Polybius’ famous analysis of the battle – a military classic – is here.


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