It’s All Greek to Me!

 

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Physical representation of my writing discipline.

 

Gather around the hearth, my friends. I have a story to tell!

There was once a proud blogger who panicked when she realized that she was about to reach 100 published posts. This was a crowning achievement, she thought, and so she wanted to do something special to celebrate this momentous occasion. Perhaps I should do an extensive essay on my blog’s tagline and prove it do-able — 

Because even monkeys can write a paper on Misogyny, Aristotle, and Middle Age Europe.

Oops, yeah. That blogger is me.

I have a tendency to buckle under pressure, especially when it is self-imposed. I envisioned this research being something akin to an amateur thesis, the scope of it so grand! I was ramping up to it with my posts such as Illuminating the Dark Ages, and had another planned to cover the contentious Great Man Theory, and then to round out with a state of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages before I hit you with my epic take.

But, alas, I have failed to do so. Not because I can’t write it–but because I can’t commit to doing it. I don’t feel like it. History for me is a muse and he takes me through various phases of interest and right now, I must admit, my headspace is about nearly 2,000 years in the past from where I need to be in order to successfully pull off this ‘golden post’.

Yeah, I’m talking about Classical Greece.

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Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey came out and if you’ve been following my blog all these years (Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!) you know already that I’m versed primarily in Classical Antiquity. So for a role-playing video game with an open world concept functioning like a sandbox where the developers researched every painstaking detail to fill their map with as close to accurate representations of historical locations as it is possible for any of us to know–I’m all over that in a heartbeat.

The consequence being, however, that this is pretty much all I feel like writing about right now. Which brings me to the problem with this ‘Golden 100 Post’. I haven’t updated my blog in the past month, despite an interest in doing so (just not on the purposed topic I had planned!) because I’m literally 2 posts away from hitting 100. Well, now 1 away with this one. With my proposed celebratory essay, this didn’t leave room for me to dabble and post about anything else! So, to allow myself the freedom to again write about anything in History that I find fascinating (or humorous) enough to share with you–I’m going to let myself off the hook on the celebration post. I’ll get to it when I’m good and ready! I can certainly still clap for myself on reaching 100 with or without the sweating over a research essay I’m not earning a letter grade for!

So in the meantime, you can expect some Ancient/Classical Greek inspired posts from me as I continue to gallivant around in a video game and am reminded of things I’ve always wanted to touch on our look into deeper for myself. And the good news is, I’ll get to introduce you to Aristotle a bit more too before I start retroactively blaming him for a bunch of bullshit.

Thanks for sticking around with my general assholery and lack of a coherent update schedule–I’m about to get a little Greeky with it.

 

 

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Illuminating the Dark Ages

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Depiction of King Valdemar IV of Denmark in 1361. Painting by Carl Gustaf Hellqvist 1851-1890.

There are two ways people generally look upon the past, either with fondness and nostalgia or with scrutiny and disdain. That’s why we can never all quite agree on whether or not high school is the worst or best years of your life or if the 90’s really were all that and a bag of chips. Historically, it’s no different–was the Classical era a time of heightened scholarship and monuments or was it a barbaric time lacking of spiritual sense and with an inclination towards bloodshed? Many scholars during the Renaissance would certainly argue that point. So it was then, during The Enlightenment era of the 18th century in particular, that it seemed only fitting to look upon the time between history bookended by the fall of the Western Roman Empire to Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas as a period of considerable dimness. Both metaphorically and intellectually. A time in between two eras commonly thought of as periods of prosperity and culture. We know it as The Dark Ages and I’m calling bullshit on that conception.

What do you think of when your brain mulls over The Dark Ages? I’m sure squalor and peasantry comes immediately to mind, probably with a healthy dose of Bubonic plague coupled with high infant mortality rates for the helluva it. Not to mention self-flagellation, the burning of suspected practitioners of devil worship and witchcraft, and The Crusades. You’re probably picturing monks with tube-ring hairdos, Norsemen with burly beards and a fondness for pillaging monasteries, and a whole lot of chainmail. It’s easy to imagine this time being one of darkness since all of that does sound pretty bleak, I know, but is it a fair assessment to have? Is it not incorrect to view history through the lens of progress? After all, what will future civilizations think of us when they look back at our historical era?

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To Be or Not To Be Hanged, Drawn, & Quartered

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Er, do I have to?

Warning in advance, it’s about to get all morbid up in here! I’ve been reading The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones, a narrative romp in British History imploding into a shower of blood and political upheaval only to settle into a charred semblance of stability that George R.R. Martin saw and was like, you know, this would be a fun inspiration for a thing where I slaughter all of my characters for sheer entertainment.

One thing that struck me more than how often power changed hands like the casting of the doctor in Doctor Who was how frequently someone wound up Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered throughout this mess. Leading me to ask, DEAR GOD WHY? When I was young, this phrase came up often when associated with Ye Olde Medieval Times (“Ye Olde” is nonsense by the way, we here at Histastrophe use it ironically because we’re shallow and pedantic like that, ya dig?) and I never quite knew what it meant. The “hanged” part is pretty transparent, so I went on my merry little life assuming it was just a spiffy alternative take on the usual ritual execution on the scaffold. It wasn’t until I was old enough to watch R-rated Mel Gibson films did the horrific reality become a bit more clear.

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{Insert Mel Gibson joke about still being given a job and critical acclaim somehow here}

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Versatile Blogger Award!

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The lovely https://simplydeeindc.com/ nominated me for the versatile blogger award! Simply Dee is refreshingly honest and open about writing and pursuits of passion,  lives adventurously, and manages to keep a positive and motivating energy through it all! I love keeping up with and reading about her life and latest explorations, and I think all of you will too! She’s also the sweetest blogger I’ve come across on this site and if any of you need a little more light in your life, go visit her blog and hit that follow button! Now onto the rules–

The rules for the versatile bloggers award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you with a link to their blog
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Nominate bloggers for the award

I’m usually talking about dead people on this blog and not myself, so this should be fun!

  1. Believe it or not, I was absolutely terrible in high school. I know, I know, what I do here is basically glorified homework, so it might come as a shock to all of you that I hated doing it in actual school. Growing up, I was the perfect teacher’s pet version of Hermione Granger and enjoyed getting my straight A’s, but then Teenager Me happened. I got kicked out of AP American History because I refused to do the book report on Killer Angels. My European History teacher pleaded with me to do my homework because I was straddling a C in the class but was killing every test. It also bothered her that I wasn’t taking her AP course and my reason for not was, eh, homework. Once I got to college, however, I started to have a bit more fun with it and after I graduated, created this blog to help feed my need to continue researching and learning more!
  2. My favorite Historical Figure is Marcus Aurelius, yet I’ve never done a post. I’ve mentioned him off hand a few times, and his son Commodus is one of my most popular posts on here. But Marcus Aurelius was more than just a Roman Emperor and I really fell in love with him when I picked up a copy of his meditations at my local bookstore forever ago. He was thoughtful and considerate of himself at all times and detailed his journey with philosophy in his journals. He was raised on Stoic teachings and was incredibly humbled by them. I’d love nothing more than to sit down with him over coffee and pick his brain a bit!
  3. If I could go back in time to any era in history–I wouldn’t. People ask me this question often when they find out how much I love history, but I gotta say–I’m pretty firm in my content existing in this timeline. As a woman, I stand the best chance of having the freedom to chase my dreams now than I ever could at any time in history. Now, if I were able to go back in time as an invisible omnipresent being then we have ourselves a real thinker!
  4. I have seen Mad Men all the way through more times than I can recall. I can’t explain it other than this TV show is just perfection. I never thought I would particularly care to see an American 1960’s period piece, as you can see, I’m pretty much exclusively endowed with Classical-Medieval fare, but here we are. I’ve seen them so many times, you could name a particular quote or scene and I will know exactly where you are and will be able to immediately discuss with you. I don’t even particularly care for Don Draper but I love all of it, even when the characters break my heart.
  5. I have history blind spots and I’m not happy about it. My friends come to me a lot with history questions, and I love it, but there is so much that I don’t know! Entire periods of history I know only basics of, areas of the world where I couldn’t tell you heads or tails what happened there unless it had something to do with something I DO know. For example, I can’t cover much of anything Eastern Civilization unless we want to discuss The Golden Horde! I know it’ll take a lot of independent study, but I’d love to fill the gaps I have one day.
  6. I have over 5 books in various stages of completion and I’d love to finish one! One thing you should all know about me by now is that I’m a terrible procrastinator with plenty of lofty ideas I struggle to complete. So it’s probably not a complete shocker that I’ve got a handful of book ideas on the back burner. Since I was a kid, it was always a dream of mine to write one and have people read it–J.K. Rowling was my hero, after-all. I have a lot of work to do, but one day I hope to have one finished and ready to go!
  7.  I’m a rule-breaker. And always have been! So watch me leave and wave off this last fact with a…oh, crap, wait!

 

And now, for the blogs I nominate for this award:

http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/ 

https://lovetravellingblog.com/

https://stridetheearth.com/

https://nonwashablegamer.com/

http://brendaknowles.com/blog/

http://the-history-girls.blogspot.com/

https://ordinaryadventures44.wordpress.com/

 

Happy blogging, everyone!


Joan of Arc: Drunk on the Divine

 

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Comedy Central dropped a hilarious clip yesterday from Drunk History on Joan of Arc, which for the un-initiated, is a show where comedians get completely smashed and re-tell something that happened in History. Then their drunken stupor of history facts is dubbed over and re-enacted by other comedians. Basically, the perfect show for me.

Aaaand that’s pretty much the gist of what happened! Knowing me though, I felt like offering a bit more context for those who were smitten to know more about the raging Maiden of Arc.

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Aristotle on Pursuits of Good, the Nature of Political Science, & Happiness

 

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Aristotle – The Nicomachean Ethics

 

Chapter I: The Object of Life

I. Every rational activity aims at some end or good. One end (like one activity) may be subordinate to another.

Arts, sciences, etc. All of these strive for the outcome of a good or purpose (Aristotle defines good as ‘that at which all things are aimed’), some activities are thus directly linked to outcomes that are done for a particular end goal in mind. Some are done for their own sake, while others are done for a ‘supreme good’. Aristotle uses the example of horse trapping being subordinate to horsemanship which is related to military action with the intended outcome being of victory. It doesn’t matter what you are doing only that all outcomes are recognized to be generally achieved for the good. Does it not follow, then, that a knowledge of the good is of great importance to us for the conduct of our lives? Are we not more likely to achieve our aim if we have a target? This is why Aristotle believes it is important to outline the definition of what is ‘Good’ and how that is achieved by these (or specific) activities.

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A Touch of Classical Wisdom XI

Bamboo books, so much cooler than paper

So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

-Sun Tzu, The Art of War [1]

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