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This chapter explores the dynamics of ancient cross-cultural interactions via a case study from the Severan period. Aelian’s brief narrative of the Mesopotamian hero Gilgamos is a story that connects four cultural traditions: Chaldean, Persian, Greek, and Roman. Included in Book 12 of the De natura animalium, the story tells how the Babylonian king’s fear of being usurped led him to imprison his daughter, who secretly gave birth to a son, Gilgamos, by a man of no distinction. Palace guards threw the baby from the acropolis of Babylon, whereupon the infant Gilgamos was rescued by an eagle. Ostensibly the story celebrates the eagle’s capacity for philanthropia, or devotion to humans, but Aelian is up to much more, as the Gilgamos tale opens up questions of cultural legitimacy, the need for evidentiary proof of belonging, and even the role of writing in the complex processes of cultural transformation. Aelian ultimately rejects legitimacy conferred by nature and opts instead for the adoption even of what is illegitimate, untrue, or unverifiable if it represents a valuable medium of cultural interconnectivity.
Although recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions respecting corporate religious liberty have been heavily criticized, this chapter argues that corporate religious freedom is not the novel or radical development that critics decry. What is new, rather, is an increasingly intense opposition to any special legal accommodation of religious commitments. Indeed, upon close examination, the familiar criticisms do not for the most part actually turn on anything peculiar to the corporate form. They are better understood as manifestations of an emerging, deep-seated opposition to the traditional American commitment to religious freedom as a distinctive legal right. And this opposition is itself part of a broader effort to repudiate the vestiges of an older religious or biblical conception of American community, as described in Robert Bellah’s influential scholarship on American “civil religion,” in favor of a different conception that we might describe as “secular” or “progressive.”
The science of studying diamond inclusions for understanding Earth history has developed significantly over the past decades, with new instrumentation and techniques applied to diamond sample archives revealing the stories contained within diamond inclusions. This chapter reviews what diamonds can tell us about the deep carbon cycle over the course of Earth’s history. It reviews how the geochemistry of diamonds and their inclusions inform us about the deep carbon cycle, the origin of the diamonds in Earth’s mantle, and the evolution of diamonds through time.
Sexy, scintillating, and sometimes scandalous, Greek epigrams from the age of the Emperor Justinian commemorate the survival of the sensual in a world transformed by Christianity. Around 567 CE, the poet and historian Agathias of Myrina published his Cycle, an anthology of epigrams by contemporary poets who wrote about what mattered to elite men in sixth-century Constantinople: harlots and dancing girls, chariot races in the hippodrome, and the luxuries of the Roman bath. But amid this banquet of worldly delights, ascetic Christianity - pervasive in early Byzantine thought - made sensual pleasure both more complicated and more compelling. In this book, Steven D. Smith explores how this miniature classical genre gave expression to lurid fantasies of domination and submission, constraint and release, and the relationship between masculine and feminine. The volume will appeal to literary scholars and historians interested in Greek poetry, Late Antiquity, Byzantine studies, early Christianity, gender, and sexuality.