Revel in the wisdom of the ancients
To be ignorant of the past is to be forever a child. For what is the time of man, lest it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age?Cicero
The first three books in the Ancient Wisdom series survey a thousand years of Western intellectual history, from the rise of the Greek city states to the peak height of the Roman Empire. This uniquely fertile period, which encompasses the Golden Age of Athens, began in mystical, mythological thought, and culminated in the hyper-rational, hyper-practical philosophy of the Stoics.
The incipient Christian religion absorbed and adapted, and for a long time occulted, many ancient doctrines, which is why, despite their remoteness, they can seem so strangely familiar. In the late Middle Ages, the rediscovery of Plato fuelled the humanistic Renaissance, which pushed back against the Church.
The Renaissance was a time of great hope and optimism, which, in many ways, proved premature. Faith provides a compelling reason to live, and a compelling reason to be good, which, for better or worse, many people have lost. For all our progress in science, technology, and education, more than one in five adults are now suffering from some form of depression. It’s almost as if we’ve come full circle, minus the philosophy.
Might it then be time to look afresh at these ancient ideas and find in them a happier way of living? Might it be time, in other words, for a new Renaissance?
Titles in the series
- The Meaning of Myth: With 12 Greek Myths Retold and Interpreted by a Psychiatrist
- The Gang of Three: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
- Stoic Stories: Stoicism by Its Best Stories
- Indian Mythology and Philosophy (Forthcoming)
Next page: The Ataraxia series