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Big Julie

James Boswell, who knew a thing or two about hero worship, called Julius Caesar “the greatest man of any age.” Alexander Hamilton told Thomas Jefferson that Caesar was “the greatest man who ever lived.” Theodor Mommsen, in his History of Rome, called Caesar “the sole creative genius . . . . Continue Reading »

A Failing Papacy

The current regime in Rome will damage the Catholic Church. Pope ­Francis combines laxity and ruthlessness. His style is casual and approachable; his church politics are cold and cunning. There are leading themes in this pontificate—­mercy, accompaniment, peripheries, and so forth—but . . . . Continue Reading »

Wonder Is Critical

I finished teaching a university course in faith and ideas a little while ago by administering individual oral exams to forty first-year students. The exams took place in a hotel bar overlooking a volcanic lake. The pope’s summer palace shone in the distance, and the Mediterranean gleamed . . . . Continue Reading »

Pagan Piety

Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion  by jörg rüpke  translated by david m. b. richardson  princeton, 576 pages, $39.95 In August of 410, for the first time in eight centuries, the city of Rome was sacked. While the fall of the ancient capital to an army of renegade Goths might . . . . Continue Reading »

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