July 27, 2021
As Aeneus becomes increasingly comfortable building Carthage with Queen Dido, the god Mercury appears to him. “You, so now you lay foundation stones for the soaring walls of Carthage! Building her gorgeous city, doting on your wife. Blind to your own realm, oblivious to your fate!” Aeneus is supposed to be headed for Italy to build Rome. Carthago delenda est--Carthage must be destroyed.
The final presentation at The Wyoming School of Catholic Thought this past June focused on the story of Aeneas and Dido from Virgil’s Aeneid, the great founding myth of Rome. The parallel with Antony and Cleopatra is obvious and was probably intended.
But there’s a most important difference: where Antony stayed in Egypt forsaking Rome, Aeneas fled Carthage for the sake of Rome.
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Tiffany Schubert offered this presentation about the two couples and the relationship of politics and eros.
July 20, 2021
The story of King David’s tryst with Bathsheba begins with these ominous words, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel…. But David remained at Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11:1).
Just as David remained in Jerusalem “when kings go forth to battle,” the great Roman general, Mark Antony, remained in Egypt, captivated by Queen Cleopatra. “Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch/Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space,” he tells her.
The result as Shakespeare explains in the title of the play is “The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra.”
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought in June, Wyoming Catholic College professor Dr. Adam Cooper introduced Shakespeare’s play and its themes.
July 13, 2021
“Let me have men about me that are fat;
“Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.”
So said Julius Caesar to Mark Antony in Shakespeare's "Tragedy of Julius Caesar." Cassius was indeed dangerous as Caesar discovered on the Ides of March when a group of Senators led by Cassius stabed him to death.
They, for their part, believed their action represented the height of patriotism. Caesar would be king—an abomination in the Roman Republic. “Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!” they shouted as Caesar’s blood dripped from their knives and hands.
Were Cassius, Brutus, and the rest patriots or treasonous monsters? Dante put Cassius and Brutus in the frozen bottom of Hell endlessly chewed by Satan chews along with Judas Iscariot. What was Shakespeare’s judgment on these men and their plot? And how should we look at the conspirators and their attempt to defend the republic from what they perceived as tyranny?
At the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, the college’s adult learning week, in June, most of those conversations took place in seminar sessions, but Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos started the discussion with this introduction.
July 6, 2021
You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
The quote is from William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Coriolanus.” Coriolanus was a great war hero during the fifth century BC, the early years of the Roman Republic. After returning from a great victory, the Roman Senate would make him a consul—the highest office in the city. But the common people of Rome egged on by their leaders, the tribunes, believe him too proud and vote instead to banish him from the city. In anger Coriolanus cries, “I banish you,” leaves the city, and joins ranks with the enemy to revenge the insult by conquering Rome.
“Coriolanus” was the first of three plays we considered in June at the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought as we considered “’Shakespeare’s Rome.” Before we divided into seminar groups, Dr. Virginia Arbery delivered this introduction to the play, to the Roman Republic, and to questions concerning our own republic.
May 18, 2021
“Men cannot improve a society by setting fire to it,” wrote conservative political theorist Russell Kirk, “they must seek out its old virtues, and bring them back into the light.”
The twentieth century, in contrast with what Kirk wrote, witnessed various attempts to improve society by setting them on fire. And the twenty-first century has the nasty feel of more of the same.
Our final guest lecturer here at Wyoming Catholic College was historian Dr. Susan Hanssen from the University of Dallas. The day before her lecture, she addressed the student St. Boethius Society about Russell Kirk and the history and current state of American conservatism.
January 19, 2021
Regarding the civilizations of ancient Rome and Greece, Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges wrote in 1864, “What we have received from them leads us to believe that we resemble them. We have some difficulty in considering them as foreign nations; it is almost always ourselves that we see in them. Hence spring many errors.”
The ancient city, writes Coulanges, was in essence a religious association. The gods of each city, the soil of each city, and the people of each city were unique. Thus the only civic conceivable was the city.
Then something changed. Or rather multiple things changed.
Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos uses Coulanges book The Ancient City as a way of bridging how citizenship was understood in the ancient world of Plato’s Athens or Coriolanus’s Rome and how citizenship came to be understood beginning with Augustine’s City of God. Dr. Papadopoulos is our guest this week.
November 17, 2020
“First of all, then,” St. Paul wrote in 1Timothy 2:1-4, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.”
We might have expected St. Paul to tell Timothy to pray “for kings and all who are in high position, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” But he goes beyond that, urging that thanksgivings “for kings and all who are in high position.” That seems a bit peculiar or at least unexpected given that in AD 64, when St. Paul wrote this epistle, the Roman emperor was Nero who, among other violent and perverse behavior, ruthlessly persecuted Christians. Give thanks for him?
Here at the college there have been discussions with political philosopher, Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos about thanksgiving as a civic virtue—something incumbent on us not only as Christians, but as citizens. With our annual national celebration of Thanksgiving coming up, we continued the conversation as a podcast.
September 29, 2020
In an op-ed column in USAToday last week, Wyoming Catholic College senior Anthony Jones wrote: “I gathered with the entire student body of Wyoming Catholic College on Sept. 17, 2019, for a mandatory celebration of Constitution Day. We began with the Pledge of Allegiance, witnessed a lively panel discussion between professors on the history and modern relevance of America’s founding principles, and concluded by singing patriotic songs.”
Anthony Jones went on, “If you are a student at a typical American university, that description probably sounds foreign to anything you have experienced. Anti-Americanism has spread across college campuses like a wildfire, igniting rage and resentment against anything perceived as oppressive — even the American flag. As a result, most universities would likely shy away from a celebration of our nation’s founding in favor of more ‘inclusive’ events.”
On September 17 of this year, Anthony along with the rest of the student body of Wyoming Catholic College as well as faculty and staff gathered to celebrate Constitution Day 2020.
This year we heard from retired federal judge, Dr. Leon Holmes. Judge Holmes received his PhD in political science from Duke University and his JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He served sixteen years on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Retiring from the court earlier this year, Judge Holmes is a visiting professor this fall at Wyoming Catholic College.
July 7, 2020
The Greeks finally defeated the Persian Empire in about 448 BC. When that war ended, the Athenians began to build an empire leading to a new war this one with their former allies. Central to the empire building and beginnings of the Peloponnesian War was the statesman Pericles.
During the first of our two two-week-long PEAK programs for high school students, Dr. Pavlos Papadopoulos taught a course about Pericles. His story is told by Thucydides in The Peloponnesian War and by Plutarch in Lives.
In the last of the speeches Pericles delivers in Thucydides’ account, Pericles tells an angry crowd, “And yet if you are angry with me, it is with one who, as I believe, is second to no man either in knowledge of the proper policy, or in the ability to expound it, and who is moreover not only a patriot but an honest one.” Was he really as good as all that? Was the age of Pericles truly the golden age of Athens?
February 11, 2020
There’s been a great deal of concern about religious freedom over the past ten or so years and for good reason. Religious freedom is central to all human freedom. But the conversation about religious freedom involves two highly controversial words. Those words are “religious” and “freedom.”
In January Dr. Jim Tonkowich had the privilege of speaking about religious freedom to the Wyoming Pastors’ Network as they met on the day before the March for Life in Cheyenne. They are concerned about the future of religious freedom in our country particularly as the culture’s understanding and our laws concerning human sexuality, marriage, and morality continue to veer away from and even be at odds with biblical and Church teachings.
After covering the history of religious freedom, Dr. Tonkowich moved on to those two controversial words: Religion and Freedom.
Recordings of Dr. Tonkowich's three lectures can be found at The Wyoming Pastors' Network website.
"Religious Freedom in America," Wyoming Catholic College's 12-part distance learning course can be found at the college website.