Cheese and witches: a potent combination.
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For hundreds of years, magicians believed cheese could help them foretell the future or identify a criminal.
Li Kui (李逵), one of the characters in The Water Margin, battles tigers after they killed his mother. Utagawa Kuniyoshi, between between 1845 and 1850.
In The Water Margin, first put to paper in the 14th century, local injustice is the rule, and defence against cruel local authority is a matter of vengeance, stratagem, and violence
Thomas Couture, The Romans and their Decadence, 1847.
Juvenal wrote 16 satires, divided into five books, each with their own target from decadent aristocrats to Egyptian cannibals.
In Ancient Greek texts, the king Lycaon is punished for misdeeds by being turned into a wolf.
The earliest surviving example of man-to-wolf transformation is found in The Epic of Gilgamesh, from around 2,100 BC. But the werewolf as we now know it first appeared in ancient Greece and Rome.
Giotto’s Last Judgment in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s vision of heaven and hell.
The gates to hell in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy tell us to “abandon all hope, yet who enter here”. Despite its unfunny premise, ‘La Commedia’ ends well, with its protagonist Dante reaching heaven.
Ishtar (on right) comes to Sargon, who would later become one of the great kings of Mesopotamia.
Edwin J. Prittie, The story of the greatest nations, 1913
Love, it is said, is a battlefield, and it was no more so than for the first goddess of love and war, Ishtar. Her legend has influenced cultural archetypes from Aphrodite to Wonder Woman.
The fall of the Athenian army in Sicily during the Peloponnesian War in 413 BC as depicted in an 1893 illustration by J.G.Vogt.
As populism reemerges, Thucydides’s insights into the power of words to influence public sentiments remain acutely up-to-date.
William Faulkner’s typewriter in Mississippi. The writing life may sound idyllic, but it was often a furious battle to make ends meet.
Writers have tried pretty much anything to make ends meet: advertising, journalism, butterfly collecting, working as a janitor or a postal clerk.
Gilgamesh explores what it means to be human, and questions the meaning of life and love.
From environmentalism to the meaning of life, the themes of the world’s most ancient epic are still remarkably relevant to modern readers.