Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Oh botheration.

I had a perfectly good little pile of books beside my bed. Cees Noteboom's Omweg naar Santiago, Detour to Santiago, about the old pilgrim's route, The Hobbit, because, well, because, and Orwell's Burma Days. On Audible, I have Brideshead Revisited, as read by Jeremy Irons, and the sequel to Swordspoint. A nice varied, sensible collection. Well-rounded.

It was too much to expect that I might actually read any of it, and now I'm researching Roman military history and the life of Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar is interesting, friend, really a fascinating man, but that is not the point. The point is that I have the attention span of a...**

This much the humanists who long ago thought Latin should be a big part of the secondary ed curriculum were right about* - Rome is the blueprint for western civilisation***, so we had better pay attention. It's no wonder I keep coming back to it. And Caesar was the end and beginning of it, a sort of perfect encapsulation of all that was best and most brilliant and most megalomaniac and omnivorous about the empire he made it into. A man more dangerous and unforgiving dead than alive.

*Clearly they succeeded in indoctrinating me. Well, they had six years.
**Some days I just wish I could spend six months in a convent in the Pyrenees to read my backlog of books. Only I'd probably just get side-tracked by local history 
***Which is why we should do battle re-enactments. In person or by simulation. I wonder if there's groups. It would be a great excuse for some armour 

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