End of Athens
The Peloponnesian War was the most defining event of the Hellenic community. A Vietnam-styled conflict, it caused social, economic, and political strife for every Greek Polis. Lasting well over two decades it finally concluded with the devastating loss of Athens. Two military debacles followed by an oppressive oligarchy provide a backdrop to understanding Socrates’ death. Included are several contemporary accounts of the events leading to the end of Athens as a dominate power. Read Article

Suetonius' Nero
Though there were centuries of history still to be written for the emerging Empire, Nero stands as one of the distinct icons of the cultural rot that begins to overtake Rome and some of its leaders. By only age 31 when he finally met his death, Nero had managed to garner the hatred of most of Rome. His military preparations were mainly concerned with transporting stage equipment (he fancied himself quite the singer) and for making arrangements that his concubines receive male haircuts. Public resentment reached an apex with his profiteering from grain prices. All this aside, reading The Twelve Caesars does remind us that as long as writers like Suetonius - gossip that he was - exist, political leaders will find it difficult to segregate their "public" and "private" lives from the probing eyes of history. Read Article

The Art of Love
Keep in mind as you read the following passage the context in which Ovid was writing. Though he seems rough on the woman, his subject isn’t her but rather the man who has – as the Romans so greatly feared – lost his power to the amours. This "illness" which causes him to become a slave must be rectified through tough "medicine," which Ovid administers mostly by convincing him that she isn't as desirable as he has come to thinks she is. So in actuality, what Ovid presents isn’t a method for how to break off a relationship, but rather the self deluding tricks needed to want to end it. Read Article

Sexuality in the Roman Empire
When it comes to history, things are often not as they seem. This seems particularly true regarding the perceived libertine nature of the ancients when it came to sexuality. The sexual morality of Rome, so the assumption goes, was freer and less restrained being unfettered by the later Christian morality. The writings of Ovid and other chroniclers are often read with an eye filtered through a modern sensibility. The result is a conclusion more fitting to our desired fantasy of what Rome should have been, than any resemblance to how things really were. The great arts and monuments of a society may give us a feel for the public life of an age, but it’s in the private lives – where the glare of the public light is dimmed – that we begin to fully understand the people who gave us these master works. What better way to come to terms with a society of humanists than to address their notion of sexuality. A History of Private Life edited by Aries and Duby provided a wealth of information which I freely drew on in formulating this original profile, but any incorrect conclusions I reach are of course completely my own. Read Article

Fall of Rome
Historians may have an expert's interest, but everyone is fascinated with the fall of the Roman Empire. How is it that such a successful political structure would implode upon itself without addressing the problems that are - at least to historians - self-evident. Like watching a slow motion train-wreck, years of Roman leadership would deny, defer, or ignore the financial crisis altogether. This is an excerpt from an extensive footnoted essay on the topic posted at the Cato Journal. In his essay, Bruce Bartlett takes on the financial collapse of a once great empire and puts in perspective the gradual erosion of freedom and prosperity that society must deal with as an every growing state begins to eclipse its own citizen's ability to produce. A must read for students seeking to put the Medieval Period which rises on the ashes of Rome in perspective, and of course anyone who has every asked themselves... where is Washington getting all that money they keep spending.