• Tag Archives Persia
  • Natural Disasters on the rise in the United States

    Lughnasa                                                                         Waxing Honey Extraction Moon

    “This has been a devastating year,” National Weather Service director Jack Hayes said. “Natural disasters are on the rise in the United States,” he noted, including records for heat, tornadoes, floods and fires, and with the bulk of hurricane season still remaining.

    So.  The economy has tanked.  The climate has raised hell, at least that’s one explanation that the right wing might find congenial.  Much warmer in that theological realm.  And, it might well have come up first through Texas and Oklahoma, seems possible to me.

    Then.  Our political parties stumble over themselves in making ridiculous policy, then bending the knee to the most extreme right wing and  apologizing for not having made worse policy.

    If these are the end times, it will be because the Great Spirit got so distracted from laughing at our self-defeating ways that She forgot to run the universe.

    Consider that the natural disasters Jack Hayes refers to are probably caused or at least dramatically reinforced by human action.  Then, consider the all to0 human disasters in Washington, Rome and Athens.

    If shooting ourselves in our collective feet were an Olympic sport, we’d all be medal winners and hearing our national anthems over and over again.

    It is also human that our Asian brothers and sisters, especially the Chinese, see all this as evidence of the inevitability of their rise.  Well.  Probably not.  World history shows the rise and fall of great powers to be a rule, played out over and over again on continent after continent in era after era.  The Qin Dynasty.  Rome.  The Khmer.  The Mughals.  The Macedonians.  The Persians.  The Greeks.  The Maya.  The Aztecs.  At some point in world history others will add, the United States of America, Europe and, yes, even China and Japan and India.

    We need to step back, take a look from the long view.  These are neither the worst of times, look at the fate of Carthage, for example, nor are these the best of times, see the Song Dynasty or the Classical Mayan period or Persian culture.

    Yes, I find the politics of our time, of this millennium, disheartening in their mean-spiritedness, their lack of charity and compassion, their polarization, but, as Cicero said, “No reign lasts forever.”  It could be that our knuckle-headed policy directions will put paid to the human race, it’s possible, for sure, but history tells me that we’ll muddle through somehow, in spite of ourselves.

  • Heed The Oracle Well, Boy. Heed the Oracle Well.

    Samhain                                                 New Winter Solstice Moon

    Fourth week A.V.  No, not audio-visuals, but after Vikings.  I find my life just fine without the consummate misery of watching our various teams implode, year after year, often at the most heartbreaking moment.

    So, again, in the spirit of decline and fall, I will spend Sunday working on my translation of Ovid, using him and his work as a window through which to view Roman culture and life at the turn of the first millennium of the common era.  I hope to include more Roman reading in Latin, too, but my focus for now, and for the foreseeable future, lies with learning the language and the Metamorphosis.

    After several months of fiddling–hey, amateur here!–I have the TV, tivo, blu-ray and cd player all functional through the amplifier and therefore through all of our speakers.  That means I can read in my red leather chair while listening to jazz, beethoven or dvorak or whatever else we have on our increasingly antique cd collection.  Last night Beethoven’s late sonatas played while I read Herodotus, the story of Croesus.

    Croesus did an empirical study of the oracles available to him before deciding to go to war with Persia.  He sent messengers   throughout Asia and Greece, asking them to inquire of the oracles what he did on the one hundredth day after they left his capitol.  Only two, the oracle at Delphi and of Amphiaraus, saw that he took a tortoise and a hare, cut them up and cooked them in a brass pot with a brass lid.  He chose this combination for its unlikeliness.

    Upon learning of their accuracy he put together elaborate gifts and sent them to the Oracles, asking this time about a possible war with the Persians.  The reply from Amphiaraus is not known, but the one from Delphi stands as an example to future seekers.  When you go to war against Persia, a great empire will be destroyed.  That’s what the Oracle, the Pythoness, said.  And she was right.  Only it was Lydia, Croesus’s empire, that fell.  Oops.

    After I finished with Herodotus, I turned off the lights and listened to the music.  A calming transition to bed.  And I did not wake up again until morning.