November 25, 2023

“A prophet foretells the future,” as Marjorie Reeves says. “He can also create it” (135). Her statement on Joachim’s influence remains apt. He did, of course, create the future, in more ways than one. His realization that history is a process, ever evolving, developing, and changing, introduced a revolution in human thought that transformed the medieval world into the modern one. His dream of a different and better future gave birth to countless other dreams of future improvement and progress.... Read more

November 12, 2023

  Among Joachim of Fiore’s many remarkable ideas, his unique understanding of the Antichrist has, from his own times until now, never failed to excite interest. This can be succinctly demonstrated by the fact that, on the day my previous article on Joachim went live, I happened across a slideshow article from the website Stars Insider entitled “What do we know about the Antichrist?” Joachim is featured prominently but his world-transforming idea of the Three Ages goes completely unmentioned. Rather,... Read more

September 12, 2023

    Everything you believe about the world can be traced back to an apocalyptic prophet who lived in the twelfth century. Everything. I’m well-aware that this is a bold statement to make. I do not, after all, know who you are or what you believe. But I do know that your beliefs about the world, as well as my own, and those of everyone living today have been shaped by our shared experience of the thing we call modernity.... Read more

August 22, 2023

There are a number of things in the historical record that suggest that Shu-Han possessed millennialist proclivities. One of the less certain ones deals with a topic from a previous entry, Liu Bei’s relations with Zhang Lu. While Liu Bei in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms is generally indifferent to Zhang Lu’s fate, in history he was deeply interested in bringing Zhang Lu over to his side. This was especially true after Cao Cao captured Hanzhong, despite Liu Bei... Read more

August 21, 2023

As noted previously. Liu Bei’s realm was centered in the region of Sichuan and has become so identified with it that the two are often treated as contiguous, despite the fact that Shu-Han contained areas such as Hanzhong that are beyond the bounds of the modern province. But by the time Liu Bei settled in Sichuan and made the provincial seat of Chengdu his capital, both the city and the wider region had long been a hotbed of millennialist activity.... Read more

August 20, 2023

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms establishes a clear dividing line between its heroic protagonists and their opponents. Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang, and the other heroes of Shu-Han are seeking to restore the Han Dynasty, teetering on the brink of collapse, to its former glory. Their quest is to restore the “good old days” that supposedly existed during the Han’s height of power. Cao Cao, Sun Quan, and most of the other warlords seek to replace the Han with their... Read more

July 26, 2023

Millennialism has a long history in China. Though millennialist thinking spans the globe, rarely has it showed so much diversity or had such an influence as in Chinese history. Millennialist movements, large, popular, and sometimes capable of remaking the country’s balance of power, are a constant feature of the last two-thousand years of Chinese history. Indeed, two of the nation’s most well-known dynasties, the Tang and the Ming, began as millennialist movements and maintained aspects of their messianic ideology even... Read more

July 14, 2023

Recently, I have found myself turning back to that great monument of Chinese literature, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This novel, which has served as the national epic of the Chinese people for seven hundred years and is based on a story tradition dating back even further, is a fictionalized retelling of historical events from the second and third centuries of the common era. It is best known in the Western world for inspiring a number of video games,... Read more

June 27, 2023

Among the various Arthurian texts in my possession is a 1987 edition of Geoffrey Ashe’s The Discovery of King Arthur, a seminal book in which Ashe (who passed away early last year) advanced his argument that the historical Arthur was a fifth-century king known as Riothamus. The back cover of the 1987 edition includes an excerpt from a Los Angeles Times review that I had always found rather curious. It reads: As Ashe eloquently illustrates…the true importance of Arthur (and... Read more

June 26, 2023

Despite the claim of Scott Morris Jr. in Confederate Poets that “[t]he poet-physician [Ticknor] never bothered to collect his verses in one volume … once they were published in magazines or journals they were forgotten” (Morris 16), there is reason to think that Ticknor viewed the “War Poems” as parts of a unified work and arranged them in something like their current order. They are prefaced by a dedication he himself wrote, “To the Women of the South … I... Read more

Browse Our Archives