Which Byzantine Ruler Are You?

From Mike Aquilina’s The Way of the Fathers blog, the Which Byzantie Ruler Are You? quiz.

Which am I? Why, Saint Justinian, of course! (He was in mind as I giggled my way through answering the questions!) Here’s Mike’s blurb on this undeniably great emperor:

In the sixth century, Justinian accomplished the brief recovery of the empire’s old territory in the east, in Africa, and in the west. His victories, however, were hard won over the course of decades, and they came at a great cost in human life, not to mention taxation. Paradoxically, Justinian’s military successes probably contributed to the empire’s subsequent decline. The conquered lands were hardly secure, and many were lost in the years after his death. During his reign there was a great flowering of Byzantine culture, whose monuments remain in Istanbul (e.g., Hagia Sophia) and Ravenna. His reconstitution of Roman law, the so-called Justinian Code, is still the basis of civil law in some modern states. Justinian is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church.

Next to Justinian’s law code, we have several important different works on this period from a man very close to the Emperor, the consiliarius of the great general Belisarius, Procopius of Caesarea, who wrote the extraordinary Wars in eight books (Loeb edition: Books 1-2, Books 3-4, Books 5-6.15, Books 6.16-7.35, Books 7.36-8) chronicling Justinian’s reign and Belisarius’ remarkably successful campaigns, and the Buildings (in a volume with a general index to all the Loeb Procopius volumes), describing Justinian’s magnificent building program which included the Great Church, the Hagia Sophia. He also wrote the unfortunate Anekdota, often called The Secret History (Loeb volume), an embittered attack on Justinian, Theodora, the Church, the State and apparently anything else that entered Procopius’ sight. Ostensibly a continuation or supplement to the Wars, the work is marred by the bitterness of its invective, and sometimes outright viciousness. This makes it, owing to the delight in gossipy trash so reflective of popular culture, the most well-known of his works. Of course.

Tag, I’m it!

I’ve been tagged as a Thinking Blogger by Darrell Pursiful at his delightfully named Dr Platypus blog. Now I have to pass it on, or suffer the blogospheric equivalent of the dread curse of the unmailed chain letter, no doubt.

Though every blog I read makes me think, even if only “Why am I reading this dreck?”, the following five blogs were still a tough pick out of those I regularly read, all of which are quality stuff, I think. These, however, have been those to most consistently move my mental ship of state into deeper waters over the last few weeks.

1.) Energetic Procession is the blog of Perry Robinson, an Eastern Orthodox Christian. His blog is heavy on Orthodox theology, well-expressed. He regularly comments on other blogs, and writes commentary entries on various ecumenical and theological subjects. If you’re unfamiliar with Eastern Orthodox theology, reading through his archives would be a good way to immerse yourself and to learn the differences of such theology from others. This can be heady stuff.

2.) Glory to God for All Things is the blog of Father Stephen Freeman, an Eastern Orthodox priest in East Tennessee. If Perry Robinson’s site above can be described as more intellectually theological, Fr Freeman’s can be described as much more pastorally theological. This is the blog of a man who appears to be a fine priest, man, husband and father who shares with us lessons learned while wearing every one of those hats.

3.) The Scrivener is the blog of D. Ian Dalrymple in Alta, California, another Eastern Orthodox Christian (can you spot a trend here?). Ian is exceedingly well-read and an excellent writer, with an eclectic blog of delightful subjects, such as The Fabulous Imposter, about the mysterious fake George Psalmanazar, Feathered Friend of Christ, in which we learn that Science killed the Phoenix (or did it . . . ?), and Cappadocian Follies, in which we read St Gregory Nazianzen teasing the too-serious St Basil the Great about their ascetic hijinks! There are many more posts of like quality, all well-written.

4.) This is Life!: Revolutions Around the Cruciform Axis is the blog of an Eastern Orthodox catechumen, Clifton, or Benedict Seraphim after his patron Saints, a PhD student in ancient philosophy and ethics, writing on a wide variety of subjects. I’ve only just discovered his blog, and have been dipping into the archives bit by bit. There’s a wealth there, but perhaps one of the greatest delights is one of his own, in reading, “I am a father of two of the prettiest daughters any man could wish for, and live for those moments when I get home from work and hear the loud cries of “Daddy! Daddy!” while two little urchins run into me full speed with hugs and kisses.” Big heart and big brain is the combination of the day here.

5.) What Does The Prayer Really Say? is the blog of Father John Zuhlsdorf, an American Roman Catholic priest living and working in Rome. “Fr Z” is regularly referenced at such Roman Catholic blogs as Amy Wellborn’s Open Book and Mike Aquilina’s The Way of the Fathers, as he not only works in Vatican City, with a fantastic view of St Peter’s Basilica from the office, but hears all kinds of interesting Roman Catholic news that doesn’t really hit the press in America. Fr Z has numerous posts on the subject of his blog’s name, critiquing the atrocious “translations” into English done of Latin prayers in the 1960s and 1970s. I’ve learned alot from his discussions of the nuance of various Latin words and phrases, and I recommend his blog to anyone learning Ecclesiastical Latin for precisely that input, which is something one doesn’t get from the lexicons, but from extensive exposure through reading. In addition to the language lessons, he critques news reports on Catholic issues, and often puts up photos (check out the view from his computer!) and short historical entries on life in Rome. He has podcasts, too.

Well, I enjoyed that! I hope you will enjoy them!

Talpiotische Schadenfreude

Succinct and memorable commentary is such a treasure:

“. . . archaeo-porn . . .”
          –Jonathan Reed, The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Critical Look.

“. . . pimping off the Bible . . .”
          –Joe Zias, Newsweek

giggle giggle giggle

Very Enjoyable Heroes

So, because of a brief mention by Chris Heard at Higgaion of the new television show Heroes, I by chance saw that it was coming on last night, so I watched the first episode, by the end of which I was hooked. NBC actually showed a “marathon” of the first three episodes, I suppose for the benefit of people like me who’d thought upon first hearing of it that it was just some


I’m sure some may have noticed the absolutely perfect Pirate Wench cover illustration over there under my Currently Reading heading. Alas, I am not reading Pirate Wench, undoubtedly a scintillating tale of swashbuckling with a touch of the gamine. The image links to the book I’m actually reading: editor William H. Hallo’s Scripture in Context III: The Bible in the Light of Cuneiform Literature.

I’ve used the Pirate Wench cover because my copy of Scripture in Context III is an old review copy and thus just has a white softback cover, and I couldn’t find an image of the cover online, nor is there a copy locally available for a scan. And, of course, the cover is hysterically funny. Is she a giantess about to grab the head of the man with the strange ribcage? Is it maybe because he’s about as smart as mud, judging by that look on his face and by him wearing his belt over his shoulder and a scarf around his waist? Maybe he’s so dumb because of all the concussions he’s gotten from Giantess Pirate Wench? Why is the little pirate to the left seeming to flee her sash? Is it maybe the color combination that horrifies him, as it does any sane and civilized person? Why does her sword look like a giant toothpick? If this is a “complete and unabridged” edition, does that mean that there was an “incomplete and abridged” edition? And lastly, what self-respecting lady pirate captain would have allowed herself to be called a wench? I think this maybe isn’t the historical novel and accurate period illustration we might have first thought….

So there we are! Instead of an image of a boring white cover stamped with “Review Copy,” you are herewith presented with a larger size version of Pirate Wench! Arrrrrrr!

Continue reading “Arrrrr!”