John Ruskin Taught Victorian Readers and Travelers the Art of Cultivation

He was refined, very famous, and eccentric. Near the dawn of the twentieth century, a young Englishwoman named Lucy is visiting an ancient church in Florence, unsure of what she is looking at, or how, exactly, to see it. She doesn’t have her Baedeker, a popular travel guide, and is feeling lost without it. “She[…]

Psalms and Silence: The Soundtrack of John Williams’s Captivity, 1704-1706

Williams’s captivity narrative reinforces what we already know about religious life in colonial North America: mutual distrust pitted French Catholics against English Protestants. It is December 5, 1706, and John Williams, a minister of the frontier town of Deerfield, has not been among so many godly Christians in nearly two years. Cotton Mather’s usual 1,500-member[…]

Exploring the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo, Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, 1508-12, fresco (Vatican, Rome) Michelangelo began to work on the frescoes for Pope Julius II in 1508, replacing a blue ceiling dotted with stars. Visiting the Chapel To any visitor of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, two features become immediately and undeniably apparent: 1) the ceiling is really high up, and[…]

The Book of Kells: 9th-Century Irish Monks and Ogham Script

The Irish monks combined the letters of the Roman alphabet with their own Ogham script. Introduction The Book of Kells (c. 800 CE) is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the Christian New Testament, currently housed at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. The work is the most famous of the medieval illuminated manuscripts for the intricacy, detail, and majesty[…]

Culture and Society in Classical Athens

Athenian prominence in the story of Classical Greece is no accident. Introduction As mentioned in the previous chapter, the prosperity and cultural achievements of Athens in the mid-fifth century B.C. have led to this period being called a Golden Age in the city-state’s history. The state of the surviving ancient evidence, which consistently comes more[…]

Religion in Ancient Greece

The religious practices of the Greeks extended beyond mainland Greece. Introduction Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or “cults” in the[…]