Gibbon, Part 6: The Rise of the Franks, and Assessing the Decline of the West

The Establishment of the Frankish Kingdom Clovis was the illegitimate son of Childeric and the queen of the Thuringians. After his father died, he became chief of the Salian tribe. Clovis came to attract the different tribes of the Franks to unite under his banner through a combination of military genius and keen prudence. He then defeated … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 6: The Rise of the Franks, and Assessing the Decline of the West”

Gibbon, Part 5: Attila and the End of the Western Empire

From last time, we saw that the reign of Honorius resulted with the loss of Britain and all of the territory beyond the Alps. For the first time in its history, Rome was besieged, defeated and sacked. Here we continue examining Gibbon’s narrative of the Eastern Empire under Arcadius and the Western Empire after the death … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 5: Attila and the End of the Western Empire”

Gibbon, Part 4: Theodosius and the Last Roman General

In the last two posts, we reflected on the latter half of Volume I of Gibbon. Struggling under its immense size and the frequent civil strife of the 3rd century (including a period so tumultuous that it is known as the Crisis of the Third Century), the empire finally found some long-term stability during the reign of … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 4: Theodosius and the Last Roman General”

Gibbon, Part 3: The Rise of Christianity

Here we shall continue with the second half of Volume I, but focusing on Gibbon’s chapters on the progress of religion in the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s General Reflections on Christian Persecution Chapters 15 and 16 of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall have historically been denounced for their critical attitude towards Christianity, and Gibbon in general was infamous for his … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 3: The Rise of Christianity”

Gibbon, Part 2: Constantine and His Sons

Having covered Rome’s Golden Age and the chaotic succession of short-lived or tyrannical emperors during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD in Part 1 (chapters 1-14), we now continue in Part 2 with the remainder of Volume I of Decline and Fall (chapters 15-26), describing the reign of Constantine the Great and his descendants, and the increasing importance of … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 2: Constantine and His Sons”

Gibbon, Part 1: Golden Age and First Signs of Decline

The time has finally come for the last part of the trio of Great Books volumes in our 5-year reading schedule for this semester: Edward Gibbon’s massive The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s tome is a monumental work in the history of historical writing. Although its scholarship might be outdated … Continue reading “Gibbon, Part 1: Golden Age and First Signs of Decline”

Aristophanes: The Thesmophoriazusae, The Frogs

Finally we encounter the last two plays in Aristophanes’ surviving body of works. I’ve chosen to group these two together because both have prominent references to Greek tragedians and literature in general. We have already seen several instances of reference to Euripedes, for example in The Acharnians, where the playwright is enlisted to help the main … Continue reading “Aristophanes: The Thesmophoriazusae, The Frogs”

Aristophanes: Peace, The Acharnians

Continuing right where we left off, we move away from alternate visions of economic systems and back into anti-war territory as first explored by Lysistrata. Both of these plays feature the idea of a lone protagonist single-handedly procuring peace for Athens, but greeted with wildly different responses. The Acharnians Let’s first briefly talk about The Acharnians, a play … Continue reading “Aristophanes: Peace, The Acharnians”

Aristophanes: Lysistrata, The Ecclesiazusae, Plutus

In the first post about Aristophanes, we learned about four plays named after the type of chorus. We commented upon their important role in channeling the plays’ political aspects. In these four plays, the political satire is as strong as ever. In fact, this is what defines Aristophanes as being a playwright of the Old Comedy, as opposed … Continue reading “Aristophanes: Lysistrata, The Ecclesiazusae, Plutus”

Aristophanes: The Clouds, The Wasps, The Birds, The Knights

I’ve finally finished all 11 of Aristophanes’ plays in the Great Books collection in the last 3 weeks. It took longer because of finals week, which is finally over! Aristophanes is unique compared to the three previous Greek dramatists that we have read through, as he is a comedian, not a tragedian. Aristophanes’ dramas are … Continue reading “Aristophanes: The Clouds, The Wasps, The Birds, The Knights”