Category Archives: Ancient History

AHMAD IBN FADLAN
(fl. 920s)

from The Risala: By the River Volga, 922: Viking Ship-Burial

  Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a Muslim diplomat and secretary to an ambassador for the Caliph of Baghdad, was sent in 921 to the Khaganate of Bulgars along the Middle Volga. His account of his travels with the embassy, The Risala, … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ancient History, Ibn Fadlan, Ahmad, Islam, Middle East, Selections

YA’QUB AL-QIRQISANI
(c. 890-c. 960)

from The Book of Lighthouses and Watchtowers

  Ya’qub al-Qirqisani was a biblical scholar and a recorder of religious and secular law, writing during a period in which Jewish life had been heavily influenced by the rise of Islam and the centralization of Muslim rule in the … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under al-Qirqisani, Ya'qub, Ancient History, Judaism, Middle Ages, Selections

AUGUSTINE
(354–430)

from The City of God
from On Free Choice of the Will

  Born to a small landholder, Patricius, and a pious Christian, Monica, in the small town of Thagaste in the Roman province of Numidia (modern Souk-Ahras, Algeria), Augustine of Hippo was of profound influence on the history of Western thought. … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Africa, Ancient History, Augustine, Christianity, Europe, Selections, Stoicism

AMBROSE
(337/340-397)

from Of Virgins: Letter to Marcellina

  Born in the city of Trier (modern Germany), Ambrose of Milan became a noted theologian, biblical critic, and hymnist, later canonized as a saint and considered the father of liturgical music. He is also known as the spiritual teacher … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ambrose, Ancient History, Christianity, Europe, Martyrdom, Selections, Stoicism

EUSEBIUS
(c. 260-339)

from Ecclesiastical History

  Eusebius, referred to as Eusebius of Caesarea, was the first and most prominent historian of early Christianity. He lived most of his life in Caesarea Maritima. He was also known as Eusebius Pamphili, taking the surname from his friend … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ancient History, Christianity, Eusebius, Martyrdom, Middle East, Selections

LACTANTIUS
(c. 240–c. 320)

from The Divine Institutes

  Born sometime between 230 and 260 in proconsular North Africa to a non-Christian family who lived at Carthage, Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius became a rhetorician and professor of oratory in Nicomedia, in northwest Asia Minor. Known for his Latin … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Africa, Afterlife, Ancient History, Christianity, Europe, Lactantius, Selections

PLOTINUS
(204–270)

from The Enneads
   On Happiness
   On the Primal Good and Secondary       Forms of Good
   ‘The Reasoned Dismissal’

  Plotinus, the founder and principal exponent of the philosophical school known as Neoplatonism, was born in Egypt; it is not clear whether he was Greek, Roman, or a Hellenized Egyptian. He had a Greek education. He studied for 11 … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Africa, Ancient History, Europe, Plotinus, Selections

GENESIS RABBAH
(compiled 3rd-5th century)

Commentary on Genesis 9:5

  Because of its age and significance, the expository commentary on the book of Genesis [q.v., under Hebrew Bible] Bereshit Rabbah, commonly known in English as Genesis Rabbah, is considered to be of primary position in the Midrash, a collection … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ancient History, Genesis Rabbah, Judaism, Middle East, Selections

BHAGAVAD-GITA
(3rd century)

from The Way to Eternal Brahman

  The Bhagavad-Gita, perhaps the best-loved of the Hindu religious texts, was probably composed in the 3rd century A.D. and later inserted into the great work of the Hindu epic period, the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata, a poem of some 100,000 … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Ancient History, Asia, Bhagavad-Gita, Hinduism, Selections

TERTULLIAN
(c. 160-c. 220)

from To the Martyrs
from The Crown of Martyrdom

  Tertullian, born a Roman citizen at or near Carthage, was originally a pagan, the son of a Roman centurion. He was educated in rhetoric and law, the standard education of a well-to-do Roman, and converted to Christianity before the … Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Africa, Ancient History, Christianity, Europe, Martyrdom, Selections, Tertullian