The Fall of Rome

Edward Gibbon, who wrote the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, though the Christians might be to blame for the collapse of that ancient civilization.  He writes: " As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear, without surprise or scandal, that the introduction, or at least the abuse, of Christianity had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire." 

But there is more to the story.  Another historian, Arnold Toynbee, challenges Gibbon, "One hesitates to question Gibbon's authority, but I believe there is a fallacy in this view which vitiates the whole of it."  Toynbee suggests that Rome was already falling before Christianity even began.  Watch this video to find out more!

The Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven, but the world cannot understand what he means:

33So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Plato warns of radical Democracy

When desires storm the acropolis of the soul, then anarchy becomes "freedom."

Plato on the rise of "Democracy." (Book VIII of the Republic).

[In a democracy, they] dress up the exiled vices, and, crowning them with garlands, bring them back under new names. Insolence they call good breeding, anarchy freedom, waste magnificence, impudence courage. Such is the process by which the youth passes from the necessary pleasures to the unnecessary.. . . and if reason comes and tells him that some pleasures are good and honourable, and others bad and vile, he shakes his head and says that he can make no distinction between them. Thus he lives in the fancy of the hour...


Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Plato’s Cave:

Nature of Education = finding Truth and Reality

            *How does one define “truth” and “reality”?

“Action Item” = true and best leaders should be educated

Highest Understating, the GOOD (symbolized by the Sun) – the True, and Beautiful

            -Source of Reality

*How could Plato’s definition of the intelligible realm vs. material realm be edifying or beneficial to modern education? How does this fit with the study of Physical or Hard sciences?

Nous (νοῦς) – in the realm of reality

One is compelled to see

Philosophy of Education – The eye, the soul is able to know: turn around – “convert”

(i.e. Education is the act of leading one towards the truth.)

*What is the implication of this?

-Responsibility is on the student to open eyes to the light. Truth is not created or forced, but discovered. (Revealed)

Purpose of LIFE – θεωρία (Theoria)

            -Seeking the source of life.

Alexander the Great and Divine Kingship

“Alexander’s reign thus proved to be, as Tarn said it, ‘one of the supreme fertilizing forces of history.’  Narrow views of particularism had given way to universalism, and people of all nations began to search for a common unity in religion that had been divided by national barriers.  Once the borders between nations had been removed, borders between various cults faded as well.  This allowed an era of syncretism, one where beliefs from all over the world were mixed in one melting pot—or loving-cup.”

Alkibiades: The Chameleon of Athens

Alkibiades: Hero? Traitor? Champion? Lover? He was many things to many people, and came to be know as the Chameleon of Athens. However, his great power may have ultimately contributed to the downfall of the Athenian golden age.

For Alkibiades, among his other extraordinary qualities, had this especial art of captivating men by assimilating his own manners and habits to theirs, being able to change, more quickly than the chameleon, from one mode of life to another. The chameleon, indeed, cannot turn itself white; but Alkibiades never found anything, good or bad, which he could not imitate to the life. Thus at Sparta he was fond of exercise, frugal and severe; in Ionia, luxurious, frivolous, and lazy; in Thrace, he drank deep; in Thessaly he proved himself a good horseman; while, when he was consorting with the satrap Tissaphernes, he outdid even the Persian splendour and pomp. It was not his real character that he so often and so easily changed, but as he knew that if he appeared in his true colours, he would be universally disliked, he concealed his real self under an apparent adoption of the ways and fashions of whatever place he was in. In Lacedaemon you would say, looking at his appearance,

"'Tis not Achilles' son, 'tis he himself."

Listen to Derek and Ben discuss Alkibiades: was he a hero or tyrant? 

"His youthful beauty soon caused him to be surrounded with noble admirers, but the regard of Sokrates for him is a great proof of his natural goodness of disposition, which that philosopher could discern in him, but which he feared would wither away like a faded flower before the temptations of wealth and position, and the mass of sycophants by whom he was soon beset. For no one ever was so enclosed and enveloped in the good things of this life as Alkibiades, so that no breath of criticism or free speech could ever reach him. Yet, with all these flatterers about him, trying to prevent his ever hearing a word of wholesome advice or reproof, he was led by his own goodness of heart to pay special attention to Sokrates, to whom he attached himself in preference to all his rich and fashionable admirers."