Medieval cultural influencers

No one mentions notaries, secretaries and other such public functionaries and thinks of power and influence. It’s true, in countries subject to civil law, a notary is required to authenticate a power of attorney, write up a will or transfer property. But apart from that, notaries are not seen as agents of cultural innovation, but…

Classical anti-classicism

For the ancient Romans, the past was dominated by Greece and Greek classicism, just like the Renaissance and most of our modern period were dominated by classical antiquity. In fact, our modern love affair with the classical past and classical authors starts with the Paduan scholar and poet Lovato Lovati (1241–1309). He wrote: ‘Do you despise…

Dante, Virgil, Minos and the hall of mirrors

My developing interest in Dante led a few weeks ago to a reflection on his narrative powers of expression and the way he breaks the canons of storytelling in order to bring out new possibilities and new narrative angles of attack. This is noticeable in the way he programs (or better yet engineers) his own projection in the…

King John and Jugurtha

While reading Sallust’s ‘Bellum Iugurthinum’, I am struck at how similar England’s king John and Jugurtha often seem to be. Take for instance this passage: “To these words [of Nabdalsa, Numidian chieftain suspected of treason], the king made a courteous reply, disguising his real feelings. After putting to death Bomilcar and many others whom he…

omnes exeunt

All good things must inevitably come to a close, unless Jupiter decree otherwise. As much as we called upon the Muses to contrive ways for us to persuade Olympus to add days to these two last weeks, the answer was, in the end, a Sibyllic no. The King’s College summer school in classics had to…