Friday, August 17, 2007

Books I've Read(or am reading)-Five

I just completed Plato's The Trial and Death of Socrates. I really enjoyed it. Several things stuck out, including his argument with Crito on whether a thing is pious because the gods love it or if the gods love it because it is pious. I will not develop this any further at this point, unless, of course someone reading this is familiar with the work or this particular argument.
And his[Socrates'] line that "The unexamined life is not worth living" is beautiful.
All in all I was left with the beauty of Socrates' soul and the deepening realization that the times, although They be a changin' they be yet the same. The pursuit of the good, the good in and of itself is still noble, still transcends the pursuit of comfortability as God transcends His Creation.
Not that the Creation is not noble in and of itself, but that to stop at the Creation and not "travel through" it to its Creator is the challenge to sensual, fallen man. And to be comfortable is not evil in and of itself, but to seek comfort in exchange for living a life molded to Truth and not attempt to mold truth to one's life is perhaps the same challenge to sensual, fallen man.
My next read before getting to the(and the final one) is Constantinople City of the World's Desire 1453-1924 by Philip Mansel.
I don't remember why I printed this article out, but looking at it I just realized I have only one chapter of a larger work. As of this writing I have begun to read the first chapter and I am highly enjoying it.
I will reprint the beginning of this article and also post the link to where the rest may be found for any interested reader.
"Constantinople City of the World's Desire 1453-1924
By Philip Mansel

Chapter One: The Conqueror

'The seat of the Roman Empire is Constantinople ... Therefore you are the legitimate Emperor of the Romans ... And he who is and remains Emperor of the Romans is also Emperor of the whole earth.' -George Trapezuntios to Mehmed the Conqueror, 1466

On the afternoon of 29 May 1453 the Sultan entered the long-desired city. Riding a white horse, he advanced down an avenue of death. The city of Constantinople was being put to the sack by the triumphant Ottoman army. According to an observer from Venice, blood flowed through the streets like rainwater after a sudden storm; corpses floated out to sea like melons along a canal. An Ottoman official, Tursun Beg, wrote that the troops `took silver and gold vessels, precious stones, and all sorts of valuable goods and fabrics from the imperial palace and the houses of the rich. In this fashion many people were delivered from poverty and made rich. Every tent was filled with handsome boys and beautiful girls.' On rode the Sultan, until he reached the mother church of Eastern Christendom and seat of the Oecumenical Patriarch, the cathedral of the Holy Wisdom built 900 years earlier by the Emperor Justinian with the largest dome in Europe. He dismounted and bent down to pick up a handful of earth, which he poured over his turban as an act of humility before God.

Inside the shrine which Greeks considered `the earthly heaven, throne of God's glory, the vehicle of the cherubim', a Turk proclaimed: `There is no God but Allah: Muhammad is his Prophet.' The cathedral of Haghia Sophia had become the mosque of Aya Sofya. As the Sultan entered, hundreds of Greeks who had taken refuge in the cathedral hoping to be saved by a miracle, were being herded out by their captors. He stopped one of his soldiers hacking at the marble floor, saying, with a conqueror's pride: `Be satisfied with the booty and the captives; the buildings of the city belong to me.' Below golden mosaics of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, Orthodox saints and Byzantine emperors, he prayed to Allah. After receiving the congratulations of his retinue, he replied: `May the house of Osman there forever continue! May success on the stone of its seal be graven!'

Mehmed II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, known in Turkish as Fatih, the Conqueror, was only 20 in 1453..."

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