Gardens as Pleasurable Microcosms: Comparisons and Connections

Wealthy patrons, like kings and emperors, often commissioned prominent artists and architects to design their gardens. Introduction Art is designed for a great many purposes, but much art is also, if not exclusively, designed to provide and reflect a sense of pleasure. A palace might be intended to display the power and wealth of a[…]

The Complexity of Hieronymous Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’

This garden is so vast and rich as to enclose within it many forms of pleasure not generally associated with pleasant strolls in gardens. Introduction The Garden of Earthy Delights is Hieronymus Bosch’s most famous work, and justly so. It is massive (more than twelve feet wide), riddled with an almost impossible-seeming level of detail,[…]

Sparta and the Collapse of Ancient Greece

Neither the course nor the conclusion of the Peloponnesian War was foreseeable at its outset. Of the two most powerful states in classical Greece, Athens was a forward-looking democracy with a far-flung naval empire, Sparta a land-locked mixed government heading a league of nearby states.  In 431 BC, the long-simmering rivalry between them erupted into open[…]

Curses and Fines on Ancient Epitaphs

Examples of curse-fine epitaphs range all over the ancient world. Introduction The concept of a curse laid on a tomb or gravesite is best known from ancient Egypt but the practice was quite common in other civilizations of antiquity. The tomb or grave was the eternal home of the physical remains of the deceased to which his or her soul could[…]