Cannot be ill, cannot be good: Bad Omens in Plutarch and Shakespeare

In one of the Shakespeare courses I took, we discussed The Great Chain of Being, a hierarchical organization of all life and matter that started with God at the top and went down through social classes to minerals. In many of the plays, particularly the tragedies, a disturbance to the order of things–which must be … Continue reading Cannot be ill, cannot be good: Bad Omens in Plutarch and Shakespeare

Verbing Nicias and Other Sundry from Plutarch’s Lives

In the ancient world, being a fierce warrior wasn’t enough. Nicias was known as a strong soldier, but a careful general, which was not smiled upon at the time. In fact, it earned him scorn. Aristophanes, who also famously lampooned Socrates, made him a verb. It’s awkwardly translated sometimes as “shilly-shally-niciasize” and more simply as … Continue reading Verbing Nicias and Other Sundry from Plutarch’s Lives

The Land of One-Eyed Men: More of Plutarch’s Life of Sertorius

I wrote earlier about Sertorius and his white fawn. Another aspect of Plutarch’s Sertorius that I find striking is the introduction that has correspondences to both Jung’s synchronicity and Freud’s uncanny. With Jung’s notion we get meaningful coincidence and pattern detection which are here in Plutarch’s opening. With Freud’s uncanny, we get doubling and doppelgängers, … Continue reading The Land of One-Eyed Men: More of Plutarch’s Life of Sertorius

The Shilling of a Sacred Deer: Plutarch’s Sertorius and The White Fawn

I’ve mentioned my current long-term reading project is Plutarch’s Parallel Lives and how enjoyable the passages on Archimedes were. Another favorite sequence is on Quintus Sertorius. If you’ve read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, then you’ve already got an idea of what kind of guy Sertorius was: a statesman, a member of the nobility, and a general. … Continue reading The Shilling of a Sacred Deer: Plutarch’s Sertorius and The White Fawn