Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Before I introduce the fellow above who happens to be today's hero, I must toot my own horn for a second. This post is number 500. 500 posts is a lot for a lazy, unmotivated slob like myself. Still 500 posts in slightly less than four years could be considered to be an achievement. Both for the number of posts (if not their content), and for the fact I have been doing this for almost four years. I had really hoped for a super, duper, dynamic hero to be the subject of my 500th post, but instead I got the fellow above. His name is Giambattista Vico, and he was born this day 1668 in Naples, Italy. He was born the son of a bookseller, and maybe that is what inspired his life long love of books. He eventually rose to the position of royal historiographer to Charles III, the King of Naples, and apparently got paid the big bucks. His hero status rests on his theory of history. A theory that I once knew a lot more about than I do today. In my previous life as a history graduate student, I had to read a bit of Vico, and I had a mentor who was quite a fan of his. If your mentor is a fan of a historian, you become a fan to, whether you want to or not. Luckily for me, I became a fan all on my own. Being forced to read him helped, but I did like what I read. His major idea, and the one I was forced to recite like a good boy was that civilization go through recurring cycles of three ages. These ages, are the divine, the heroic, and the human. These three cycles follow one upon the other throughout history, and to Vico this constitutes his idea of an ideal eternal history. Of course, his idea is much more complicated than that, and I lack the skill to simplify it for you. After all, no one dumbed it down for me, I had to sort it out on my own, and in front of a class room full of fellow bored history students under the baleful glare of my mentor. Life is hard for a historian, or for those that aspire to be historians, and I figure if you want to know bad enough, you can look him up, and read his works for yourself. Or you can remain in the dark about his idea, but realize that a great deal of what he says makes sense, and we as a society would do well to heed his words. So, for showing me, all those years ago, that the history of the world is just one big cycle (kind of like laundry) Giambattista Vico (June 23rd, 1668-January 23rd, 1744, at the age of 75), you are my (302nd) hero of the day.

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