Living in dark times

No other historical age has suffered more at the hands of historians than the so-called Dark Ages, the period between the 5th and 15th century AD. The medieval period as a dark age has been one of the most enduring legacies of past historiography, while scholars – medievalists, but not exclusively – have tried hardContinue reading “Living in dark times”

One state, many tongues

According to the 1st-century CE biographer Plutarch, the last few seconds of Julius Caesar’s life were a snapshot of bilingualism. When Publius Casca, one of the conspirators, raised the first dagger in the Senate, Caesar stopped him, shouting in Latin: ‘What are you doing?’ Terrified, Casca is said to have exclaimed in Greek: ‘Brothers, help!’.Continue reading “One state, many tongues”

Twitter and the ancient epigram

Whether we know it or not, we love epigrams. Whether we like it or not, the ancient epigram has never left us, although we may have left the term ‘epigram’ behind, except when scholars talk about it. The epigrammatic style has always been one of the most popular: concise, funny, incisive. Not anyone can doContinue reading “Twitter and the ancient epigram”

Dea Febris

Every age and every culture has its own way to respond to viral diseases, plagues and epidemics. While we have medicine, technology and social services, the ancient Romans had Dea Febris, the goddess of fever, the protector against malaria and other infectious diseases, though by no means the only one. According to one theory, FebrisContinue reading “Dea Febris”

Language and myths

When we look back over the last thousand years, we see the formative stage of our European culture today, just like seedlings caught in the process of becoming full plants.  In particular, we see two things: we see European languages developing and becoming fully-fledged idioms of communication and literacy, and we see proliferating stories germinatingContinue reading “Language and myths”

The ancient lover of laughter

There are few better ways to die than by and through laughter. People have been dying of laughter since at least the 5th century BC, when the Greek painter Zeuxis reportedly died laughing at his Portrait of Aphrodite As a Crone. There is no reason to doubt that humans have been telling jokes since theContinue reading “The ancient lover of laughter”

Fake news in history

Not every piece of disinformation is fake news. Not every falsehood qualifies as fake news. Deception deserves its independence, and so does fake news. The number one tautology is this: the age of fake news is upon us. We smell fake everywhere around us, we see a fake story everywhere we look. And why wouldn’tContinue reading “Fake news in history”