From about 105 BC to 14 AD the Roman state experienced wars, revolts and invasions perilously close to the city of Rome. Invasions of German tribes, riots in the city, rebellion by Latin allies, the bloody dictatorship of Sulla, revolt of the gladiators, the conspiracy of Catiline, the takeover of political power by a triumvirate … More Lazarus

Phrases from stories

The famous science fiction writer, scientist and polymath Isaac Asimov wrote a little book in 1961 called Words from the Myths. When you read it you see how pervasive the influence of classical Greek and Roman literature has been on our culture. Today we think of ourselves as living in a scientific age, but the … More Phrases from stories


Have you ever noticed how all religions have a bias towards monarchism (and its excess, despotism)? Democracy is not an option in religion. God is the Lord, the King, and we his subjects, under the rule of his ministers. It’s a system that evolved in Europe under feudalism, and preserves feudal forms. That doesn’t seem … More Inspiration


The much lamented social commentator Christopher Hitchens, in his defence of atheism, was often countered by his interrogators with Pascal’s Wager. Hitchens usually confuted the suggestion in his urbane way. I thought I’d take a closer look at Pascal’s idea, as so many Christians seem to think it such a good one. ØØØ Blaise Pascal … More Paganism


A word meaning set aside for religious purposes, or arousing feelings of awe associated with the divine. Or coping with immanence. ’Sacred’ is related to the word ‘holy’, which carries the same meanings, and which is derived from the word ‘whole’ (OED). (’Sacré bleu’ BTW was originally ’sacré dieu’). The sacred is a useful concept. … More Sacred

The Saga of Atreus

The vendetta in the House of Atreus is a story set in the earliest period of Greek history, when Indo-European language speaking tribes began moving into the Balkan peninsula and Anatolia about 1400 BC-1200 BC from the Steppes region. The vendetta culminated in the attack by Greeks on Troy, written about by Homer in the … More The Saga of Atreus

Dangerous enchantment

I can still remember being enchanted when a child by fairy stories. Tales of the Brothers Grimm or of Charles Perrault, or Hans Christian Andersen or the One Thousand Nights and One Night, they include figures like Hansel and Gretel, Puss in Boots, Jack the Giant Killer and Aladdin. Associated with them are the stories … More Dangerous enchantment