The world according to Augustine: medicine

Did ancient medicine work? It's a question I've seen come up sometimes on the internet, but I don't think I've ever seen a definitive answer. More precisely, I've seen people ask at what point medicine became a net good: when did your chances of recovering under a doctor's care exceed your chances of dying at … Continue reading The world according to Augustine: medicine

Intro: the world according to Augustine

There are things that everyone just knows, there are things that "everyone knows" but few actually understand, and there are things that "everyone knows," but some don't believe. Let me state a few propositions, by way of example: Britain is currently under partial lockdown, Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom, and Boris Johnson … Continue reading Intro: the world according to Augustine

Getting into Augustine, 1: Manuscripts and the Retractationes

Five million is a lot of words. It’s also the standard estimate for the length of works, actually written by Augustine, that come down to us. If we throw in the various wrongly attributed (“pseudo-Augustinian”) writings, they’re much longer yet, but, like most people who work on Augustine, I’ve hardly touched on those. The first, … Continue reading Getting into Augustine, 1: Manuscripts and the Retractationes

Thoughts on late antiquity, 2: disciplines and their uses

Imagine a forest in a park. It’s a big forest, full of old and young trees. Big trees, small trees, fruit trees, evergreen trees, weird, gnarly, twisted trees, bushes that aren’t quite trees. The ground is covered with undergrowth—creeping charley, sparse grass and wildflowers that are thicker in open patches, brambles—and of course with old … Continue reading Thoughts on late antiquity, 2: disciplines and their uses

Thoughts on late antiquity: an introduction

The ancient Greco-Roman world is a big place. Classics, the discipline that focuses, on Greek and Latin literature and history, customarily runs in two main streams. One starts with the prehistory of Greece and Crete, where the civilizations we name “Minoan” (pre-Greek) and “Mycenaean” (earliest Greek) rose and fell in the second millennium B.C. It … Continue reading Thoughts on late antiquity: an introduction