The trouble with Socrates, is that he never wrote anything. We have mainly learned about Socrates through Plato’s Dialogues. However, do we really know if that was the real Socrates or one Plato created? Paul Johnson tries to tackle this problem with his new book . Victor Davis Hanson of The Washington Times reviews Johnson’s book and explains the value he found in book.
Paul Johnson has written several concise biographies for general audiences about a wide array of landmark historic figures such as Churchill, Jesus, Napoleon and George Washington. In these minibiographies, he certainly has demonstrated a proven knack for distilling complex biographical issues into accessible stories of about 200 pages. And his latest successful biography, of the philosopher Socrates, is a further example of his narrative talents in bringing alive a rather obscure figure whom we all recognize but little understand from more than 2,400 years in the past.
The so-called Socratic “problem” is a paradox. From firsthand accounts in the dialogues of Plato and Xenophon, caricatures in Aristophanes’ contemporary comedy “Clouds” and anecdotes in fragments of lost essays, plays and later compendia, we know the rough contours of Socrates’ life and thought.
Or at least we should – except that his brilliant and wily student Plato used Socrates as his chief interrogator in about 36 extant dialogues. They probably were written over three decades, and the result is that we are never quite sure whether a particular dialogue represents a young Plato’s account of what Socrates actually said or what a maturing Plato thought his mentor should have said or what an aged Plato put into the mouth of his long-dead prop, Socrates – a literary device Mr. Johnson in melodramatic fashion sneers at as “the murder and quasi-diabolical possession of a famous brain.”
Read more of the review at BOOK REVIEW: ‘Socrates’ – Washington Times.
The Greek Reporter provides details of a 2,000 year old road uncovered in Ancient Troy.
Professor Davut Kaplan, the leader of the excavations, stated that the discovery of this excavation was not too surprising, adding: “If we had carried out the excavation work with limited resources, we would have discovered only 5-10 meters of the whole road. Nevertheless, we have unearthed 45 meters of the road, before the excavations come to an end. We wish that the excavations would uncover the whole road.
Read the rest of the article at 2000-Year-Old Road Unearthed in Ancient Troy | Greek Reporter Europe.
Historical clothing design of the day is from the miscellaneous section, for the Ionic Order. Each day a new design is chosen and an article is posted to highlight the historical significance of the design.
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian. (There are two lesser orders, the stocky Tuscan order and the rich variant of Corinthian, the Composite order, added by 16th century Italian architectural theory and practice.)
The Ionic order originated in the mid-6th century BC in Ionia, the southwestern coastland and islands of Asia Minor settled by Ionian Greeks, where an Ionian dialect was spoken. The Ionic order column was being practiced in mainland Greece in the 5th century BC. The first of the great Ionic temples was the Temple of Hera on Samos, built about 570 BC–560 BC by the architect Rhoikos. It stood for only a decade before it was leveled by an earthquake. It was in the great sanctuary of the goddess: it could scarcely have been in a more prominent location for its brief lifetime. A longer-lasting 6th century Ionic temple was the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The Ionic columns normally stand on a base which separates the shaft of the column from the stylobate or platform; The cap is usually enriched with egg-and-dart. Originally the volutes lay in a single plane; then it was seen that they could be angled out on the corners. This feature of the Ionic order made it more pliant and satisfactory than the Doric to critical eyes in the 4th century BC: angling the volutes on the corner columns, ensured that they “read” equally when seen from either front or side facade. The 16th-century Renaissance architect and theorist Vincenzo Scamozzi designed a version of such a perfectly four-sided Ionic capital; Scamozzi’s version became so much the standard, that when a Greek Ionic order was eventually reintroduced, in the later 18th century Greek Revival, it conveyed an air of archaic freshness and primitive, perhaps even republican, vitality.
Below the volutes, the Ionic column may have a wide collar or banding separating the capital from the fluted shaft, as at Castle Coole. Or a swag of fruit and flowers may swing from the clefts formed by the volutes, or from their “eyes.” After a little early experimentation, the number of hollow flutes in the shaft settled at 24. This standardization kept the fluting in a familiar proportion to the diameter of the column at any scale, even when the height of the column was exaggerated. Roman fluting leaves a little of the column surface between each hollow; Greek fluting runs out to a knife edge that was easily scarred.
The Ionic column is always more slender than the Doric: Ionic columns are eight and nine column-diameters tall, and even more in the Antebellum colonnades of late American Greek revival plantation houses. Ionic columns are most often fluted: Inigo Jones introduced a note of sobriety with plain Ionic columns on his Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace, London, and when Beaux-Arts architect John Russell Pope wanted to convey the manly stamina combined with intellect of Theodore Roosevelt, he left colossal Ionic columns unfluted on the Roosevelt memorial at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, for an unusual impression of strength and stature.
The major features of the Ionic order are the volutes of its capital, which have been the subject of much theoretical and practical discourse, based on a brief and obscure passage in Vitruvius. The only tools required were a straight-edge, a right angle, string (to establish half-lengths) and a compass.
The entablature resting on the columns has three parts: a plain architrave divided into two, or more generally three, bands, with a frieze resting on it that may be richly sculptural, and a cornice built up with dentils (like the closely-spaced ends of joists), with a corona (“crown”) and cyma (“ogee”) molding to support the projecting roof. Pictorial often narrative bas-relief frieze carving provides a characteristic feature of the Ionic order, in the area where the Doric order is articulated with triglyphs. Roman and Renaissance practice condensed the height of the entablature by reducing the proportions of the architrave, which made the frieze more prominent.
Read More about Classical Orders on Wikipedia.
A marble statue of Hercules from the second century CE was uncovered in excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting at Horvat Tarbenet, within the framework of the Jezreel Valley Railway project, directed by the Israel National Roads Company. According to Dr. Walid Atrash of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is a rare discovery. The statue, which probably stood in a niche, was part of the decoration of a bathhouse pool that was exposed during the course of the excavations. It is c. 0.5 m tall, is made of smoothed white marble and is of exceptional artistic quality. Hercules is depicted in three dimension, as a naked figure standing on a base. His bulging muscles stand out prominently, he is leaning on a club to his left, on the upper part of which hangs the skin of the Nemean lion, which according to Greek mythology Hercules slew as the first of his twelve labors”.
Photo courtesy of Israel Antiques Authority
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin traveled to the Taman Peninsula on Wednesday to perform yet another of his trademark adventure activities and scuba dive at a site known as the Russian Atlantis.
Putin made the dive to publicize archeological restoration work on the submerged part of the ancient Greek city of Phanagoria.
“By scale and value, this monument can be compared to a rich oil deposit. Archeology is not measured in money but Phanagoria’s ‘capitalization’ is simply astronomical,” archeological expedition head Vladimir Kuznetsov said.
Read More at Putin dives to ‘Russian Atlantis’ | Russia | RIA Novosti.