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review 2017-03-26 12:11
A Story of a Man and his Barrel
Diogenes: An Anecdotal Biography of the World's Greatest Cynic - George Pavlu

When I was up at my parent's house I saw this book sitting in my Dad's workshop, so being somewhat intrigued I borrowed it. The thing is that I like the concept of the cynic, and I also liked the concept of Diogenes, who in some way is a homeless beggar, but he is also a philosopher. However, after reading a few pages of this book I also came to realise that despite him being a homeless beggar, he is also an exhibitionist. In a way he argues against the conventions of society, and the imprisoning nature of wealth and luxury, but he also lives and behaves as if he is an animal, which a part of me feels undermines that part of us by which we call ourselves human.

 

The thing with Diogenes is that, as I mentioned, he was a homeless beggar, but not by circumstance but rather by choice. Here is a painting of him sitting in his barrel:

 

http://nibiryukov.narod.ru/nb_pinacoteca/nb_pinacoteca_painting/nb_pinacoteca_waterhouse_diogenes.jpg

 

 

The interesting thing is the idea of him being a cynic. In my mind we have the optimist, who sees the glass half full, the pessimist who sees it as being half empty, and the cynic, who basically makes the statement that no matter how much water you drink you are only going to be thirsty again so you might as well just throw the water back into the river and simply remain thirsty. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an extreme, but in some ways taking the mind of a cynic is actually quite beneficial as it enables us to see through the fabrication that is society.

 

 

The interesting thing is that despite the fact that he was poor, and lived in a barrel, he was still a famous philosopher. I suspect that it had something to do not so much with the fact he was poor – there were lots of poor people in Athens – but rather that he was an exhibitionist. Also, he had some pretty harsh things to say about society, but despite the fact that he did say some pretty harsh things he still ended up building up a bit of a following. However, like a lot of people who build up a following, while what he says may sound good in principle, when it comes to putting things into practice then people will suddenly turn around and go back to doing what they were always doing.

 

 

In a sense there seems to be some similarities between Christ and Diogenes, in that both of them not only walked out of a comfortable life to become itinerant preachers, but they also have a lot to say about wealth, greed, and conforming with society. However Diogenes, unlike Christ, had a much more naturalistic approach. In a sense Diogenes saw us as little more than sophisticated animals, and the fact that despite our perceived civilisation we still basically behaved like animals, we might as well cast off our trappings of civilisation and simply become animals.

 

 

This book contains a series of anecdotes, that is sayings that have come down to us about Diogenes. The thing is that while Diogenes did actually write some stuff, we don't have anything remaining, so all we have are these anecdotes, sayings that are attributed to Diogenes, but not necessarily having any real truth about them. In fact all that we seem to have is a story about this guy that lived in a barrel in Athens, that eschewed wealth and comfort, and simply went around challenging people and their lifestyles. For instance it is said that he walked into a rich man's house, and because you couldn't spit on any surface in the house, he chose instead to spit into the face of the rich man.

 

 

These itinerant beggars are actually quite fascinating because we don't seem to actually have people like that these days. Okay, we might just do, with people who seem to drift from house to house, taking food and looking for a place to sleep, and then moving onto the next house and the next house, without actually paying their way. I remember a time when I was young that this Vietnam Vet appeared at our door looking for somebody who was no longer living there, stayed with us for a couple of days making all these promises, heading off with one of our friends, and then disappearing. My friends all referred to him as a conman, but he never took anything from us – he simply spent a couple of nights at our house and then moved onto the next one.

 

 

However I wander through the city and see all these homeless people sitting on the street with signs asking for money, yet none of them seems to stand on the corner sprouting philosophy. You do get people doing that, normally waving an issue of Red Flag (which is a communist newsletter) around, but they all look reasonably well groomed, and they are definitely not dressed like a beggar. Mind you, while we all talk about how Diogenes eschewed a wealthy lifestyle, and money and possessions, we still notice that he begs, and even asks for money off of his pupils. This makes me wonder if he actually has fully done away with money, or possessions. The fact that he owns clothes, and even owns a barrel, goes to show that he does have some possessions.

 

Anyway, I will finish off with another picture, and this time one of him speaking to Alexander the Great. It was said (as is the case with everything about Diogenes' life) that when Alexander asked who his king was, Diogenes says that he had no king because he was a citizen of the world, that is cosmopolitan. As such, Alexander realised that it was not enough to simply conquer Greece, but that he had to conquer the world, which is what he did. The other thing was that it was suggested that Alexander either takes everything, and thus becomes king, or takes nothing, and thus becomes Diogenes. In the end it would have been better that there were two Diogenes than two Alexanders, because to have two Alexanders would have not only been insufferable, but would have split the world asunder.

 

http://www.rebresearch.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/alexander-and-diogenes.jpg

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1950948381
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review 2017-03-14 15:51
The Midnight Sea
The Midnight Sea (The Fourth Element Book 1) - Kat Ross

FREE TODAY ON AMAZON 

 

Nazafareen's sister Ashraf was killed by the Druj (Undead things with iron swords and shadows whose touch meant death) when Nazafareen was twelve and Ashraf was seven. Now, all she lives for is revenge.

When the authorities-that-be discover she has the power to link with a daeva she willingly agrees to do so if this means that together she and the daeva will be a match for the Druj and able to hunt and destroy them. At first, she distrusts the daeva, whose name is Darius, thinking of him only as another kind of Druj but tamed and under her control – litle more than a sentient weapon. But living together, linked like that, she and Darius find themselves growing too close for her comfort in other ways.


This is an alternative version of ancient Persia and features a form of the dualistic Zoroastrian religion, in which two Gods fight an endless war, and people have to choose which side they are on, the Good or the Evil. (I have always found this form of dualism much more philosophically tenable than strict monotheism.) It also features both the prophet Zoroaster, the founder of this religion, and Alexander the Great, though here in this book they remain in the background; in Book 2, Blood of the Prophet, which I have already started reading, they both move into the foreground.

 

Extremely well written and highly recommended.

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review 2017-03-07 06:34
History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver
A History of Ancient Britain - Neil Oliver

A well-written, easy-going, entertaining book that covers the history of Ancient Britain from the earliest humans, the Ice Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and to the Roman occupation in broad strokes. There is not a great deal of technical language. The author discusses significant archaeological finds with passing mentions of such things as genetics and linguistics. I would have liked to read more about the languages, technological developments (other than the arrival of bronze and iron), changes in farming techniques, changes in human physiology over time etc. But, I suppose this type of information is rather difficult to glean from a small collection of bones and artifacts. The book includes two sections of colour photo inserts. It would have been helpful if the author had also included a map indicating the sites he discusses. None the less, I found the book to be interesting and informative.

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review 2017-03-01 10:15
It had all the ingredients...
Ancient Magic (Dragon's Gift: The Huntress) (Volume 1) - Linsey Hall

But none of the magic.

 

I was hoping for a good UF - or PNR. This was so run-of-the-mill with the rich, super-powerful Alpha-guy, who is honorable and decent, and kicks ass and is incredibly beautiful and immediately interested in the kick-ass, super-powerful, quirky heroine...

 

It was just so immensely boring.

 

I had to skim a lot.

 

The world-building was boring, the characters were boring, the story was...

well, you get it.

 

It was not an awful book. It was just not special in any way.

And I am disappointed.

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review 2017-02-22 07:11
Ancient Geography: The Discovery of the World in Classical Greece and Rome by Duane W. Roller
Ancient Geography: The Discovery of the World in Classical Greece and Rome (Library of Classical Studies) - Duane W. Roller

This book provides a summary and brief analysis of what the Classical Greeks and Romans knew or thought about the world around them in terms of geography and exploratory journeys.  The book basically does what it says on the cover, so there isn't much to comment  on.  This book would make a useful addition for someone researching geography during the Classical Greek & Roman age.  For the non-researcher this book may eventually get a bit tedious, even though it is interesting in parts.

 

 

SIMILAR RECOMMENDED BOOKS

 

*  The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek by Barry Cunliffe.

*  Europe Before Rome:  A Site-By-Wite Tour of the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages by T. Douglas Price.

*  In Search of the Immortals:  Discovering the World's Mummy Cultures by Howard Reid.

*  The Voyage of the Argo:  The Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes

*  The Vinland Sagas

 

 

   
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