Category Archives: literature

A Bishop Chickens Out. Would You?

“The incense is in that bowl, Basílides,” said the Roman official. “When you are finished making your offering to the emperor, I will give you this certificate with my signature. Keep it with you and show it to any Roman … Continue reading

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Cervantes Leaves His Pretty Wife and Looks for a Job

A few days after his wedding Cervantes must already have suspected that he had made a mistake. His wife was cheerful and  pretty and passably wealthy but he couldn’t stand her little town. How was he going to spend the … Continue reading

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How Xenophon Saved His Army

“So—is this the end?” Xenophon asked himself. “You asked for it and now you got it.” He was lying in a tent in the middle of the Persian Empire. He was with a batallion of Greek mercenaries, though he was … Continue reading

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A Legendary Speaker by Mark Twain

This is Mark Twain’s unforgettable description of an Iowa “erratic genius” and the legendary speech he gave to an audience in Keokuk.  It begins: Keokuk, a long time ago, was an occasional loafing place of that erratic genius, Henry Clay … Continue reading

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Early Christians and a Conscientious Roman Governor

Pliny the Younger didn’t know what to do with the Christians. Bust of Trajan (reign 98–117 ), in the Glyptothek, Munich (public domain photo by User:Bibi Saint-Pol) The Emperor Trajan had appointed him governor and sent him to Bithynia in … Continue reading

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Cervantes’ House Restored

Miguel de Cervantes is considered the greatest Spanish author—the Shakespeare of Spanish letters. People who go to England make the excursion, the pilgrimage, to Stratford-on-Avon, to see Shakespeare’s house. Who goes to see Cervantes’? Few. Where is it? Not far … Continue reading

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The Legend of Sparta

The little state of Sparta always fascinated the Greeks—it was one of their strangest experiments. Plato imagined the perfect state in his dialog called The Republic, but that was only a theory. Sparta really existed—it was a working state—and even … Continue reading

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