Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Dutch Win Independence

In 1573,Holland was part of the Spanish Netherlands,ruled by the King of Spain,Phillip II.The Dutch,a Protestant people,revolted against the Catholic Spanish.Phillip sent an army under the Duke of Alva to crush the little country.Alva laid siege to the Dutch city of Alkmaar,and after a period of indecisive skirmishes,on Sept. 18,after a steady cannonade of 12 hrs,Alva ordered an assault.Two regiments from Lombardy stormed the walls.Every living man in Alkmaar was on the walls defending.The Spanish were assailed with cannon,musketry,pistols,boiling water,pitch,boiling oil,molten lead,and unslaked lime.Hundreds of burning hoops were skilfully quoited around the necks of the Spanish,while as fast as any of the invaders planted foot on the breach they were confronted with sword and dagger.Three times the Spanish renewed their assault,three times they were thrown back.Finally the trumpet of recall was sounded,and the Spanish retired,leaving over 1,000 dead in the trenches.The Dutch lost 37 men.Then the vast sluices called the Zyp were opened and the surrounding land began to flood.The Spanish left.Though Holland was not effectively independent until 1609,the Spanish after Alkmaar did not have the stomach to try to continue to subdue the Dutch.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ancient Greece

If the Greek classics are to be read with any benefit by modern men,they must be read as the work of men like ourselves.What we lose in reverence we gain in sympathy for that group of troubled,uncertain,and very modern men.The Athenian writers were the first of modern men.They discussed questions we still discuss.Their writings are our dawn.The early psychologist Carl Jung wrote on the differences between pre-Athenian thought and modern thought.The former was a thinking in images,akin to dreaming;the latter a thinking in words.The pre-Athenian was a world of subjective fantasies like the world of children.Myths,says Jung,are the mass dreams of peoples,and dreams are the myths of individuals.The work of hard and disciplined thinking by means of carefully analyzed words and statements,which was begun by the Greek thinkers was a necessary preliminary to the development of modern thought and science.