The Romantic Nature of Men

I’ve sometimes been criticized by my female friends for suggesting that men might be more romantic than women. Women have to remind their boyfriends or husbands to do the little things like remembering an anniversary or Valentines Day, they remind me. Most men don’t want to go for walks along the beach at sunset, and they aren’t interested in dancing or flowers. But that’s not really what I mean by “romantic.”

The history of the term reveals something curious. From about the beginning of the 14th century, at least, “romance” referred to a story about a knight and his heroic deeds. Only from the 17th century did the term begin to refer to the “love story,” and only in the early 20th century was “a romance” used to describe a love affair.   Continue reading “The Romantic Nature of Men”

Athens, Sparta, And The Division And Decline of The West

The West has long been split into two. “While Athens is justly credited with phenomenal achievements in visual art, architecture, theater, philosophy and democratic politics,” writes Paul Cartledge in The Spartans, “the ideals and traditions of its greatest rival, Sparta, are equally potent and enduring: duty, discipline, the nobility of arms in a cause worth dying for, the sacrifice of the individual for the greater good of the community and the triumph of will over seeming insuperable obstacles.”

Cartledge believes that the ethos of ancient Greece influenced, and to some degree came to reside in the Roman and British empires. Yet these too have gone. Rome remains, and Britain remains, though the latter is still battling to have relevance in the world — especially, perhaps, moral relevance. With the traditional religion of the country collapsed, its politicians — like the politicians of most Western European nations — believe less in representing the public than in educating and molding them morally, as priests would once have attempted. Continue reading “Athens, Sparta, And The Division And Decline of The West”

Myth, Catharsis, and The Riddle of The Sphinx

A macroscopic view of myth (Gr: Μύθος) as logos (usually translated as “word”) reveals important associations, insights, and interpretations, all which deserve our attention and can assist us in our exploration of the human soul and its journey towards freedom. During the 9th – 8th century BC, Homer (in his poems the Iliad and the Odyssey) equates myth with speech and conversation, but also with advice, opinion, and promise. During classical times (5th and 4th century BC), myth continues to be treated as a story, as evident by the dramatic works of Sophocles and Euripides.

In the context of philosophy, myth becomes a powerful pedagogical and initiatory device, especially as it appears in the dialogues of Plato. In works such as Phaedo and Phaedrus, the philosopher employs myths to structure his arguments in order to equate knowledge with memory – not simply as remembrance, but also as a recollection from a previous incarnation. Continue reading “Myth, Catharsis, and The Riddle of The Sphinx”