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Plotinus and the Neoplatonists – Roman philosophy

By |2017-09-04T11:34:58+00:00September 4th, 2017|Philosophy, Romans|

Bust of Plotinus (Ostia, ca. 250 AD) Around the time of Jesus, philosophers (and regular people) in West Asia and the Roman Empire started to think a lot about what happened to you after you died. The afterlife was very important to the Christians and the Gnostics. But a little later on, Roman philosophers developed a new idea. They suggested that when [...]

Gnostics – Early Christianity – Roman religion

By |2017-08-21T22:51:25+00:00August 21st, 2017|Religion, Romans|

Books of Roman Gnostic writings from Nag Hammadi in Egypt (300s AD) About the time of Jesus, about 100 BC-100 AD, people living in the Eastern Mediterranean and West Asia were gradually beginning to think more about the afterlife than they had before. What happened to you after you died? Did you go to Heaven? How could you make [...]

Aladdin and the Lamp – Arabian Nights

By |2017-07-25T17:12:40+00:00July 25th, 2017|Islam, Literature|

An Islamic oil lamp from the University of Michigan This is one of the stories Scheherazade told the king: Even though he was only a boy, Aladdin got his food by begging on the streets. His father had died, and his mother was very poor. One day a man came to him and [...]

Cinderella in India – Mahabharata

By |2017-07-20T15:50:26+00:00July 20th, 2017|India, Literature|

Indian woman from the Mauryan period (ca. 200 BC) This story comes from the Sanskrit epic poem the Mahabharata. Story-tellers were probably telling this story at least by 500 BC, during the Vedic period, and somebody wrote it down by 300 BC or so. This is the earliest version of the Cinderella story that anybody knows. In this story, [...]

Pelias and Medea – After the Golden Fleece

By |2017-07-16T00:57:48+00:00July 16th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Medea makes the old ram young again (Athens, 400s BC) When Jason and Medea got home with the Golden Fleece, the bad king Pelias still didn't want to hand over power to his nephew. So Medea thought up a great magic plan to get rid of Pelias. She told Pelias' daughters she could make [...]