Vol. 2, Issue 14
July 4, 2007
The month of July is named after Julius Caesar, whose astronomer, an Egyptian named Sosigines, completely overhauled the horribly inaccurate and inefficient old Roman calendar and created the one used ever since throughout the world (with some minor corrections in the 16th century). As you're driving your family down the road on vacation, or lying in your hammock with a glass of lemonade after mowing the lawn, or sipping iced tea with your neighbors on the deck, consider how essential an accurate and widely accepted calendar is for modern international culture and business, and then reflect yet again on how much we owe to the ancient Romans.
Due to my travel and other busy-ness, the rest of this issue will consist only of a couple of quotes from Edward Gibbon's _The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, which is my summer reading. I hope you will slowly read and carefully reflect on these -- they're well worth it -- and I hope you enjoy this bouquet of musings.
COGITEM -- A Thought For the 4th of July
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
"The use of letters is the principal circumstance that distinguishes a civilized people from a herd of savages incapable of knowledge or reflection. Without that artificial help, the human memory soon dissipates or corrupts the ideas intrusted to her charge; and the nobler faculties of the mind, no longer supplied with models or with materials, gradually forget their powers; the judgment becomes feeble and lethargic, the imagination languid or irregular. Fully to apprehend this important truth, let us attempt, in an improved society, to calculate the immense distance between the man of learning and the illiterate peasant. The former, by reading and reflection, multiplies his own experience, and lives in distant ages and remote countries; whilst the latter, rooted to a single spot, and confined to a few years of existence, surpasses, but very little, his fellow-labourer the ox in the exercise of his mental faculties."