I saw this fantastic meme on Facebook:
I love it because what he says is brilliant and because he said it some 1900 years ago. But as with many of these graphics, there are a few problems.
The guy in the image is not Aurelius. It’s Caracalla. Wrong emperor.
Even worse is that the quote doesn’t belong to Aurelius at all. According to Wikiquote,
No printed sources exist for this prior to 2009, and this seems to have been an attribution which arose on the internet, as indicated by web searches and rationales provided at “Marcus Aurelius and source checking” at Three Shouts on a Hilltop (14 June 2011)
It’s so disappointing, but I’d rather know than spread incorrect information.
I’m reading a terrific book about ancient Rome. I hope to discuss it more in the future, once I’m finished reading it. In the meantime, this nicely self-contained passage astonished me.
The style of this imperium is vividly summed up in the story of the last encounter between Antiochus Epiphanes and the Romans. The king was invading Egypt for the second time, and the Egyptians had asked the Romans for help. A Roman envoy, Gaius Popilius Laenas, was dispatched and met Antiochus outside Alexandria. After his long familiarity with the Romans, the king no doubt expected a rather civil meeting. Instead, Laenas handed him a decree of the senate instructing him to withdraw from Egypt immediately. When Antiochus asked for time to consult his advisors, Laenas picked up a stick and drew a circle in the dust around him. There was to be no stepping out of that circle before he had given his answer. Stunned, Antiochus meekly agreed to the senate’s demands. This was an empire of obedience.
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, 2015
Rome had an empire and an army of such size and efficiency that the mere written demand, delivered by a no-nonsense envoy, that this Greek king and his army go home succeeded with no fuss. And having occurred in 168 BCE, Rome was still a republic. There was not yet a single leader with a Caesar-sized personality and reputation to cow Epiphanes.
A tourist still in Iceland wanted to mail a letter, but he didn’t know the address. You’d think that would nix the concept of mailing the letter, but no!
The sender wrote the Country, the name of the village, added “A horse farm with an Icelandic/Danish couple and three kids and a lot of sheep,”1 and then drew a map on the front of the envelope. The letter was delivered to the intended recipient.
I especially like the note explaining that the wife works in a supermarket.
- Xeni Jardin, “Letter sent to Iceland farm with hand-drawn map instead of address gets there anyway,” Boing Boing, 2016-08-30
- Photo by Skessuhornið/Steina Matt
You’ll recall that earlier this year, I had the misfortune of receiving a call from people impersonating Canada Revenue.
Since that time, I’ve seen a number of news stories about this scam. One even detailed the case of a woman who they tricked into buying $12 000 worth of iTunes gift cards! They had her read the numbers on the cards to them over the phone. By the time she realized that she’d been had, the cards were redeemed.
The other day my mother received a call from these jokers. I was downstairs but I heard her side of it. She later filled me in on the other half of the conversation. The call went like this:
Guy: This is Canada Revenue and you are under surveillance.
Mom: You’re bullshit.
Guy: Excuse me?
Mom: You’re a big bullshit, go away!
And then she hung up.
Mom makes me proud!
In April, Tennessee Governor Bill Hallam vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the official state book of Tennessee.
Even though he believes in the Bible, Hallam gave a number of reasons for his veto:
- Official endorsement of the Bible would violate state and federal constitutions, according to the governor and Attorney General Herbert Slatery.
- The governor worries that passage of the bill “trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text.”1
- He also said, “If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance.”2
That last item is particularly poignant as supporters of the bill have “tried to argue the move would highlight the economic and historical impact the Bible has had on Tennessee, saying printing the Bible is a ‘multimillion-dollar industry’ for the state.”3 Talk about trivializing the Holy!
In my opinion, the first issue invalidates consideration of the next two.
Of course, with a story of this nature, it was all over Facebook, both the facts from news outlets and opinion from individuals. Among those opinions is this gem:
What a mess. Who cares about civil liberties, indeed. Religious fundamentalism concerns me a great deal, and I make no distinction between Islamic and Christian fundamentalists, the latter of which certainly includes Ms. Snider.
Replace every instance of God with Allah, and Jesus Christ with Mohammad, and the message reads true, like some screed in which ISIL is taking credit for a bombing.
- Joshua Barajas, “Tennessee governor vetoes bill to make Bible the official state book,” The Rundown (PBS Newshour blog), 2016-04-15.
- Dave Boucher, Holly Meyer and Joel Ebert, “Gov. Bill Haslam vetoes Bible bill,” The Tennessean, 2016-04-14.