Deus Ex Machina: Depicting Cranes and Pulleys in the Ancient World

Within ancient theater, the phrase ‘deus ex machina‘ actually referred to a crane called a μηχανή (the Greek term from whence we get our “machine”) used to suspend and then lower individuals onto the stage during performances of tragic plays, particularly those written by Sophocles and Euripides. In nine of his plays, an epiphanic deus was loweredContinue reading “Deus Ex Machina: Depicting Cranes and Pulleys in the Ancient World”

Teaching Ancient, Early Christian, And Medieval History in the Era of #MeToo: A Short Bibliography

I think we can all agree that sexual harassment and assault are not inventions of the 20th or 21st centuries. While the visibility of these issues have increased notably in the past 6 months, they have sadly been a part of the tapestry of history since the very beginning. The good news (and there hasContinue reading “Teaching Ancient, Early Christian, And Medieval History in the Era of #MeToo: A Short Bibliography”

Eating Nocturnal Fruits: A Round-Up Of My Favorite Ancient and Medieval Posts of 2017

One of my favorite reflections on the act of writing was written by a late Roman historian, poet, and rhetorician from modern-day Bordeaux named Decimius Magnus Ausonius. Among many other works, he penned a treatise called the Fasti. In a note to his son, the author reflected on the act of picking and choosing historical events, andContinue reading “Eating Nocturnal Fruits: A Round-Up Of My Favorite Ancient and Medieval Posts of 2017”

A Short Bibliography For The Study Of Eunuchs, Marginality & Gender in The Pre-Modern World

A number of people asked me to expand on my Forbes column from last week, which addressed the long history of eunuchs around the world and in Game of Thrones. This is a short reading list focused on scholarship in English for those wishing to begin to read about the subject. I am neither anContinue reading “A Short Bibliography For The Study Of Eunuchs, Marginality & Gender in The Pre-Modern World”

‘Pie Zeses’: Toasting To A New Year

Another year of blogging is almost in the proverbial books and I must say that while 2016 was a wretched year socio-politically, it was professionally quite satisfying. My first book, Trade and Taboo was published and I even began writing for Forbes regularly. There is no doubt that I have much to be thankful for asContinue reading “‘Pie Zeses’: Toasting To A New Year”

The Midas Touch: Alchemy in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras

It has been a splendid week doing talks and research in southern California (you can see all my slides for the talks here). One of the highlights of this trip was a special visit to the Getty in L.A. to see two adjacent exhibits (one at the Getty Museum and the other at the GettyContinue reading “The Midas Touch: Alchemy in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras”

A Short History of Demons, Exorcism, And Possessed Women

Since last’s week accusation by Alex Jones that Hillary Clinton and President Obama were demons that smelled of sulfur, I had begun to think about the role of demons, exorcism, and demoniacs in early Christian texts. Over on the Forbes blog, I discuss how the subject of demons has a rich past in the religion, butContinue reading “A Short History of Demons, Exorcism, And Possessed Women”