In Institutio Oratoria, Quintilian praises Homer as the ideal poet-orator, “Homer provides the model and inspiration for every department of eloquence.” If Quintilian is right, then we must be willing to pay attention not only to what Homer and his characters say and how they say it, but also when they fall silent.
I have been known to say things that (to put myself in the best light) lead people to ask me to clarify.
If my father was correct, mischief may be part of the problem. After all, Mercury, the god of rhetoric, was also the god of merchants and traders and thieves, and, furthermore, he was the lord of the clever. So maybe my dad was right and I just like to provoke people so I can appear clever.
As of late, I haven’t really thought much about the world right outside my door. In the summer months, Louisiana is hot, muggy, buggy, and wet. I recently heard a friend refer to summer in Louisiana with a particularly visceral simile: “like walking around inside the mouth of a golden retriever.” Accurate, yet grotesque. So rather than risk the humid clutches of Fido’s jaws, I generally hide next to my wall A/C and pray for winter (our second season - we only have two).
On July 3, 1941, German General Halder sat down to reflect in his diary on the invasion of Russia, launched on June 22, just two weeks earlier. "It is hardly too much to say," he wrote, "the Feldzug against Russia has been won in fourteen days."
Recently, I stumbled upon some helpful pedagogical advice. I was making my way through a collection of Early Church writings when I came to the Letters of Saint Ignatius, bishop of Antioch. Around the year 110, Ignatius composed several letters to churches and to Saint Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In this epistle, Ignatius offers his fellow overseer the following guidance: “It is no credit to you if you are fond of good pupils. Rather by your gentleness subdue those who are annoying.” I have been contemplating these words for weeks.
After testing positive for COVID last week, I entirely lost my sense of smell and my sense of taste. The symptoms which prompted me to get tested were too mild to even mention, but when I tasted my coffee the following morning and found it as odorless and tasteless as tap water, my first thought was, “Please, God, not that,” although I suspect my guardian angel’s first thought was, “Oh, he’s needed something like this for quite a while.” As usual, my guardian angel was right.
Developed from an actual conversation.
Camilla: What does the word “cosmopolitan” mean?
Gibbs: A cosmopolitan person is a person who has travelled, seen the world, and understands that people in other places do things differently. “Cosmopolitan” is the opposite of “provincial.” Provincial people have not traveled widely and don't have much first-hand experience of the way other people do things.
Camilla: Is it good to be cosmopolitan?
I won’t assume that you’ve ever met someone who thinks education's sole purpose is usefulness, but I have—me. Although I did not have a classical education in high school – it was closer to liberal arts – I grew to love literature, the Western Tradition, and ancient languages. My appetite to read widely became constant, and I began to pursue literary works out of a hunger for knowledge and an appreciation for the delight of the great books. Alongside a love of old literature, another hunger began to grow: knowledge for knowledge's sake.
Paul instructs the fathers in Ephesus not to “provoke [their] children to anger.” Rather, he says, they should “bring them up in the discipline and instruction [paideia] of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). “Paideia” is a Greek concept contingent upon what we might think of as a “culture.” To form one in the true faith, we need a good and beautiful culture.
From one year to the next, the only televised sporting event I watch is the Super Bowl. But every four years, I watch forty hours of the Olympics. While I find myself increasingly skeptical that high school sports can offer athletes one-tenth of what they claim (virtue, martyrdom), the Modern Olympics have both goals and means that are quite different from the garden-variety volleyball program.