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  • Man vs Horse: Pheidippides and his Missing Mount April 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Man vs Horse: Pheidippides and his Missing Mount

    ***Inspired by Little Miss Beach and Tacitus at Empire*** http://detritusofempire.blogspot.it/ When Beach recently described, at table, Pheidippides’ heroic 300 mile round trip from Athens to Sparta little Miss Beach looked at her father contemptuously and asked ‘why didn’t he just get on a horse?’ Beach prepared to gently put his daughter down, not wanting to crush her […]

    Pheidippides: The Greek Who Met A God April 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pheidippides: The Greek Who Met A God

    Pheidippides enters the history book because he could run fast and far, and because in 490 BC, with angry Persian immortals just outside their walls, the Athenians decided that they needed help. They looked for assistance in the most violent of all Greek polis, the Spartans to the south. Sparta, though, stood 150 miles from Athens […]

    Pheidippides and the Myth of the Marathon April 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pheidippides and the Myth of the Marathon

    Pheidippides is a bit player in history. A fifth-century Greek who allegedly ran the original marathon. First, though some background to help situate one of the fastest men in the ancient world. In 490, perhaps in early September, Athens found itself in trouble. The Persian Emperor, Darius, resented the fact that Athens had helped the Ionian city states […]

    Three Forgotten Democratic Tools from History November 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Three Forgotten Democratic Tools from History

    Western democracies run on a fairly limited model with relatively little variety from country to country. There follow three features that have disappeared from our contemporary democracies but that worked (and worked well) in the three most significant strands of historical democracies: ancient Greece, the medieval Italian communes and Viking ‘controlled anarchy’. Ostracisim Ancient Athens […]

    How To Create A Golden Age: Instructions for Use January 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    How To Create A Golden Age: Instructions for Use

    There are grey moments in history and there are black moments and, then, every so often there are wonderful conflagarations as the very paper that the past is written upon catches fire. Think the sheer brilliant evenescence of Athens in the fifth-century B.C.; Baghdad in the ninth century; or, indeed, Florence in the fourteenth and […]

    Water Thief Watcher January 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Water Thief Watcher

    In distant days I opened a tag on WCIH, ‘the worst careers in history’ and, before things fizzled out, I made the case for precolumbian sacrificial victims and the Galeotti. Here today is a new one to reopen the series, the Water Thief Watcher. Now for those without a degree in timekeeping the water thief […]

    Athens and Ghosts May 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Athens and Ghosts

      A month ago Beach published a story of a legal case between Irish tenant and landlord over a haunting. While typing the account out, while reading the emails about it and generally in that week, Beach had this strange déjà vu, nothing new under the sun feeling. He’d come across something similar before. Finally, his memory […]

    Capital Problems March 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    Capital Problems

    Capital cities should represent a country. They should be the head that directs and controls: unless you live in a properly federal society and there are none of those left. But what happens when capitals come to outweigh and dominate the country that they stand in? Take an example from close to this blogger’s home. […]

    Human Sacrifice and the Athenians January 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Human Sacrifice and the Athenians

      Human sacrifice does survive in literate cultures – the Aztecs, various medieval Indian states… But in Europe, at least, it melted away at about the time of the first extensive surviving texts. The result is that Greeks or Romans or Gaels or Germanic types rarely end up putting a knife into a sacrificial victim: […]