When people ask me about the Salvator Mundi, just like Google, I can predict the questions they will “also ask.”
From Octavian’s victory at Actium to its traditional endpoint in the West, the Roman Empire lasted a solid 500 years—one-fifth of all recorded history. Embark on your own journey through the past with this informative timeline detailing major events within the Roman Empire.
There are a lot of peculiar phrases in Moby-Dick. My new introduction to the second Oxford World’s Classics edition of Herman Melville’s novel highlights the startling weirdness of the book, both in its literary form and its language.
When do we have a scientific fact? Scientists, policymakers, and laypersons could all use an answer to this question. But despite its obvious importance, humanity lacks a good answer.
European state-formation would have looked very different if rulers did not constantly have to negotiate with a strong clergy, independent townsmen, and the nobility over, inter alia, the wherewithal for warfare, succession and public peace. But the medieval Church shaped European societies in other ways than this. It was the one institution of late antiquity that survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, and it carried the torch of the Roman world after the Empire collapsed.
Reactions to excommunication in thirteenth-century England varied considerably, but its consequences for society as well as individuals were significant. The fact that sentences needed to be publicised so that communities knew who to avoid made excommunication a valuable tool of mass communication. However, when the sanction was used unfairly or vengefully, this publicity shone a light on such abuses, with potentially damaging consequences for the church.
Science skepticism is a central threat to deliberative democracy. Generally speaking, scientific investigations based on collaboration between scientific experts are far more reliable than individual efforts when it comes to finding the truth about complex matters. So, since public deliberation is better off when it rests on science, deliberative democracy requires a reasonably high degree of public uptake of science communication.
In 1842, The US brig Somers, commanded by Alexander Slidell Mackenzie was the site of what may have been the only planned mutiny in the US Navy’s history. The repercussions of the Somers Affair had long felt effects, and inspired Herman Melville’s Billy Budd.
Boss Tweedborn—William Magear Tweed—and the “Tweed Ring” comprised of 20 aldermen and 20 assistant alderman in Tamanay Hall dominated New York politics for profit in the second half of the 1800s.
Discovering the provenance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi formed a significant part of the book that I co-authored with Margaret Dalivalle and Martin Kemp. Determining which records and references pertained to the original and which to the many copies and derivations of the painting required the unraveling of dozens of documentary threads, intertwined and occasionally knotted, stretching across the centuries.
For the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s death, Joshua Landy explores the existential questions posed by “In Search of Lost Time” to show how Proust’s novel connects to our contemporary lives.
In philosophy of language, as well as in many court opinions (e.g., Liversidge v. Anderson, 1942), Humpty Dumpty is held up as an example of how not to think about meaning. Contrary to his claim that the meaning of his words is determined solely by his intentions, there is broad agreement that what words mean is not solely up to us—we can change their meanings over time, but that requires a group effort, and something like consensus.
Over the last few decades “life-writing” started to be used as an umbrella term for an increasingly eclectic range of literary forms and invested with a new level of cultural importance.
There is little doubt that “Narnia” has effectively entered the English language and that references to a “wardrobe” or “wardrobe door” have been given additional meanings by C. S. Lewis: any reference to it requires no explanation simply because everyone knows.
Art has always been transformed from one form to another: books to films, plays to operas, even music to novels—Beethoven’s Eroica and Anthony Burgess’s Napoleon Symphony, for example. Within music, composers have been equally ready to adapt and modify.
One week before the 2022 US midterm elections, President Joseph Biden delivered a prime-time address at Union Station in Washington, DC. Biden suggested that something foundational, fundamental, was at stake. He reminded listeners of the definition of democracy.