Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Friends and Influences on and of His ‘Social Contract’

Some of the people he has influenced don’t even realize it. When I was finishing a biography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau some years ago, I was struck by the comment of someone who had known him: “the friends of Rousseau are as though related to each other through his soul, which has joined them across countries,[…]

Jan Baptist Van Helmont: Toxicology in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Van Helmont was an heir of Paracelsus’s thought and movement who went to lengths in later years to distinguish himself. Introduction This article discusses Jan Baptist Van Helmont’s (1579-1644) views on poison in light of his medical alchemy. First, it argues that his approach was fundamentally influenced by the theories of ‘universal poison’ and ‘potent[…]

Achilles: Pride and Reckless Rage in the Story of the Trojan War

Achilles was too proud and bad-tempered for his own good, and his reckless rage would cost both his countrymen and the enemy dearly. Introduction Leader of the fearsome Myrmidons, sacker of cities, and slayer of Hector, godlike Achilles was quite simply invincible in battle, and only the divine intervention of Apollo finally put an end[…]

Telling the Story of the Trojan War in Ancient Greece and Rome

Exploring how manuscripts reveal the evolution of the tale of Troy in ancient Greek and Latin traditions. For over 3000 years, people have told legends of a long and bloody war between the Greeks and the Trojans, sparked by the abduction of the beautiful Queen Helen of Sparta by Paris, the Trojan prince. In response,[…]