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Global Hubris and Arrogance Will Bring On a Great Humbling

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We have observed that one of the themes of ancient literature is the concept of Fate or Fortune.  We find it first expressed in the plays and heroic poems of the Greeks; the idea then seeped into the writing of history and biography. 

Closely associated with this concept is the idea of divine retribution for offending the gods. 

Those who showed contempt for the divine or human law would be humbled by the harsh blows of Fate:  no man could expect to thumb his nose at the laws of the universe and get away with it.

So Sallust reminds us that Catiline and Jugurtha went down to ruin because their blind hubris caused them to scorn the laws of decency and human society. 

Livy and Polybius practically endorse the idea that Rome rose from nothing to rule the world because the gods had fated that it should be so. 

Tacitus and Suetonius chronicle every pernicious vice of the Julio-Claudian emperors to make the point that they deserved to go down in ignominious destruction. 

Cicero’s philosophical writings are occasionally flavored by this idea as well. 

The idea of Fortune or Fate as the arbiter of human destiny persisted for many centuries; we could even argue that the Catholic Church, through the writings of early Church fathers like Augustine, Jerome, Tertullian, simply substituted or imposed a new model on what had already existed before. 

In the Renaissance, the humanists (especially Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Guicciardini) enthusiastically endorsed the idea of Fortune.

Yet for some reason modern man is uncomfortable with this idea.  He likes to believe that he is in total control of his fate. 

He wants to believe his destiny is in his hands.  More importantly, he recoils from any attempt to impose limits on his arrogance, greed, and desires. 

Anyone writing about the dangers of hubris today is not likely to find himself wildly popular.  We live in an age of braggarts, big mouths, preening fools, and arrogant idiots; it is an age where ignorance is lauded and celebrated as wisdom, and the gutter is displayed to the public as something to be emulated.  The price for all of this will inevitably be paid.

And this will be the cause of our undoing, if it has not already happened.  One cannot just do whatever one wants in life.  You do not make your own rules

You are not an emperor unto yourself; you are not an island of your own, isolated from the mainland of humanity. 

The Greeks of late antiquity had a goddess they called Nemesis, and her function was to deliver punishment to those who were guilty of hubris.  She was the punisher of undeserved good fortune, and the chastiser of those who overreached themselves. 

Her name in Latin was Adrastia.  You have probably never heard of her, and this very fact goes a long way to proving my point about the narcissistic streak of our modern culture.

The best description of Adrastia is found in the late Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus.  Writing in the fourth century A.D., he interrupts his narrative to remind us who really has the final say in human affairs:

These and many other similar examples are often the operation of Adrastia, the punisher of wicked deeds and the patron of good deeds (and let us hope it is always so!).  We may call Her by her secondary name, Nemesis.  She is the subtle law of an inexorable higher power; as some men believe, She is located above the orbit of the Moon.  Others maintain that She is a kind of general guardian over the fates of individuals.  The ancient theologians have pictured Her as the daughter of Justice; and from a far-off eternity She looks down all earthly affairs.

As the queen of causes [regina causarum] and the arbiter and decider of human affairs, She handles the urn [for choosing lots] with its probabilities and causes fortunes to change, sometimes producing for us results that were very different from what we had originally intended.  Many acts She twists into something very different.  Restraining the always-expanding mortal arrogance with the chains of fate, and tilting the scales of gain and loss (as she knows how to do), She undermines and lowers the haughty necks of the arrogant.  She elevates good men from the lowest rung of society to a blessed station in life.  Tradition has provided Her with wings so that She might be able to visit anyone with all deliberate speed; and it gave Her a helm to grasp and a wheel under Her, so that as She runs through the elements, no one will ever forget that She commands the fate of the universe.  [Res Gestae XIV.11.  Translation mine.]

These are powerful words.  For Ammianus, there was no doubt about who was really in charge of events.  It was not man, with his pathetic, puny schemes that existed to feed his own ego.  It was Adrastia, or Nemesis, who would decide who was rewarded and who was punished.  Unearned good fortune would be punished; arrogance would be punished; hubris would be punished.  Adrastia was the great equalizer, the dispenser of divine justice to those who would prefer to forget the laws of nature.

It seems to me that we have forgotten this lesson, much to our society’s detriment. 

One of the benefits of classical studies is their ability to provide moral instruction and guidance; we learn to humble our pride, to live according to rules, to respect the rights of others, and to discipline ourselves to put our passion and greed in check. 

Yet much of this seems to be ignored today. 

One wonders what Ammianus would have made of this quote, attributed to Karl Rove, the advisor to president George Bush, in which he gave his views of how the United States should its foreign policy:

That’s not the way the world really works anymore.  We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

In Rove’s view, a president should be able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it, and the consequences be damned.  He “creates his own reality” and then the world just has to deal with that reality.  It is a disturbing picture of hubris and incredible arrogance that can only end in tragedy and ruin. 

It goes without saying, of course, that people like Rove never have to deal with the direct consequences of their policies.  Neither they nor their children serve in the military. 

They do not visit the places they destroy, or the communities they decimate.  It’s simply a matter of being able to do whatever one wants, without fear of repercussions or consequences.

There are many national leaders today who have forgotten the ever-present reality of Adrastia (if they ever knew it in the first place, which is more likely).  These leaders strut around on the world stage, beating their chests and talking loudly, creating havoc and consternation among their fellow-men. 

Coddled and nurtured from birth as spoiled children, they care nothing for their duties of office, or for their responsibilities as citizens.  But in a larger sense they are the leaders we deserve, for they reflect the state of the culture. A great humbling is unavoidable. The universe has a way of leveling things out, of imposing limits on greed, arrogance, and hubris.  Either you fix the problem yourself, or Adrastia will fix it for you.

Adrastia, would that thou comest, and that right soon.  


Source: Quintus Curtius

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Picturesque site with ties to Lermontov

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This article is from a series by the invaluable William Brumfield, (Wikipedia), Professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University, New Orleans, USA.

Brumfield is the world’s leading historian of Russian architecture.  He makes frequent trips to Russia, often to her remote regions, and records the most unusual examples of surviving architecture with detailed, professional photography.  

His most recent book is a real treasure, Architecture At The End Of The Earth, Photographing The Russian North (2015). (Amazon).  This truly beautiful book was made possible by the support of a US philanthropist, and its true cost is 3 times its retail price, and we can’t recommend it highly enough.  Here is our 2015 review of it.

Bravo to RBTH for making Brumfield’s work possible, and providing such a great platform for his beautiful photography.  We recommend visiting the RBTH page, which has a slide show for each article with many more pictures than we can fit in here.

Don’t believe in miracles?  Well, we can assure you, Brumfield’s work is undoubtedly just that.  You can find a complete list of his articles on RI here.

The original headline for this article was: St. Avraam Gorodetsky Monastery: Picturesque site with ties to Lermontov


On the way to Soligalich in the northern part of Kostroma Region lies one of Russia’s most picturesque monasteries, located on a steep bluff overlooking the deep blue Lake Chukhloma. The monastery is dedicated both to the Intercession of the Virgin and to its founder, St. Avraamy of Gorodets. Also known as Avraamy of Galich and Avraamy of Chukhloma, this venerable sage led a monastic existence for much of the 14th century until his death in July 1375.

Avraamy was tonsured at the Nizhny Novgorod Cave Monastery, but he soon moved to the renowned Trinity Monastery to the north of Moscow. Like other Russian monastic pioneers in the 14th century, Avraamy was a disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh (1322?-1392), founder of the Trinity Monastery and the avatar of Muscovite monasticism.

At some point in the middle of the century, Sergius gave his blessing to Avraamy’s departure for the Galich principality, far to the northeast of Moscow. In the area of Lake Galich and its nearby town, Avraamy established three monasteries, all of which would be reduced to simple parishes during the monastic reforms of Catherine the Great.

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Seeking greater isolation, Avraamy moved to the north shore of Lake Chukhloma, where he built a log chapel at the water’s edge. As other monks asked to join him, Avraamy gave his blessing to a community to be established on the bluff above his hermitag and a wooden church dedicated to the Intercession of the Virgin was built there. Sensing his impending death in the summer of 1375, Avraamy moved a short distance from the monastic community and passed away. His remains were interred at the Intercession Church.

During the 15th century, the monastery received donations from the region’s nobility, and from the princes of Galich and Moscow. Much of its income came from salt refining derived from the area’s many brine pools. Grand Prince Ivan III (the Great) also gave the monastery exclusive fishing rights in the late 15th century.

By 1553, Avraamy was locally venerated at what had become known as the Intercession-Avraamy Gorodetsky Monastery. (The Russian Orthodox Church has a system of locally venerated saints in addition to those whose sainthood is venerated throughout the Church.) In 1981, his sainthood was acknowledged by the church as a whole.

As was usual in Russia, the Gorodetsky Monastery for the first centuries of its existence was built entirely of wood. The monastery’s original masonry structure, the modest Church (Cathedral) of the Intercession, was begun in 1607 and consecrated in 1632. It is one of the few churches initiated during the brief reign (1606-1610) of Tsar Vasily Shuisky, who had the misfortune to rule during the dynastic crisis known as the Time of Troubles and died in 1612 as a prisoner of Polish King Sigismund III Vasa.

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The Intercession Cathedral also contained a chapel dedicated to the Prophet Elijah, as well as the remains of the venerable Avraamy. Vandalized during the Soviet period, the church itself survived, and its interior has been sensitively restored both with wall paintings and with a new icon screen.

By the mid 17th century, the monastery gained another brick church, dedicated to St. Nicholas and built over the Holy Gates, or main entrance, on the west side of the monastic compound. This church, with an additional altar to St. Paraskeva-Pyatnitsa, has also been restored.

During the reign of Catherine the Great, the Avraamy Gorodetsky Monastery was stripped of its landholdings, but continued to survive on local donations. In the 19th century, it further benefited from the large trading fairs (the Avraamy Fairs) that were held near the monastery several times each year.

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Indeed, the monastery’s regional prominence and favored location led to a surge of construction in the latter half of the 19th century. The first phase began in 1857 with the dismantling of the Chapel of the Prophet Elijah attached to the north wall of the Intercession Cathedral. In its place, a large cathedral dedicated to the locally revered Tenderness Icon of the Virgin was built during the decade from 1857 to 1867. Fortunately, the 17th-century Intercession Cathedral was preserved, and the two structures were connected by a passage.

The design of the new cathedral followed the Russo-Byzantine style developed by the prominent architect Constatine Thon, author of the original Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The structure, crowned with four large cupolas, has extensive paintings on its white facade. The interior is well illuminated and has a new icon screen.

After the completion of the Tenderness Icon Cathedral, work began in the 1870s on a grand four-tiered bell tower over the North Gate. Together with new cloisters, the 19th-century buildings transformed the monastery’s appearance.

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Following the Russian revolution, the monastery was subject to harassment throughout the 1920s and closed in 1929. During the Soviet period, the buildings were used for various purposes, including as a village school, but vandalism and lack of maintenance took their toll. The monastery walls and part of the St.Nicholas Gate Church were dismantled for brick by local villagers. An attempt to conserve the monastery in the early 1970s had only limited effect. Under these circumstances, it is something of a miracle that the historic structures were preserved at all.

A sustained revival of the Avraamy Gorodetsky Monastery began in 1990, and in 1991, the first liturgy was held. Since then, the monastery has regained its active status and attracts numerous pilgrims. Its three churches have been beautifully restored and the cloisters refurbished. Parts of the monastery cemetery, which was desecrated during the Soviet period, have also been reclaimed.

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One of the most interesting discoveries in the cemetery is a wooden chapel consecrated in 1997 to honor the 400thanniversary of the birth of George Learmonth, a Scottish mercenary who entered the service of Polish King Sigismund III Vasa during the Polish-Muscovite War (1609-1618). Captured by Prince Dmitry Pozharsky at the siege of the Bely Fortress in 1613, George Learmonth decided to enter Russian service, and after years of loyalty, was granted land in the Chukhloma area. Killed in battle against Polish forces in 1633, he was buried at the Avraamy Gorodetsky Monastery.

George Learmonth’s most famous descendant was one of Russia’s greatest writers, Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841). There is no evidence that the young poetic genius and author of the psychological masterpiece A Hero of Our Time (1838-1840) visited the monastery, yet its connection to his courageous Scottish forefather is now commemorated.         

Thanks to the efforts of the “Lermontov Heritage” Association (which includes Lermontov family descendants in the United States) as well as the support of the Diocese of Kostroma and Galich, a chapel-monument to the Lermontovs now stands on the sacred territory of the Intercession-Avraamy Gorodetsky Monastery.

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Porterhouse group loses trademark row over ‘Port House’ name for tapas chain

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The Porterhouse group has expressed confidence that it can continue to use “The Port House” as the name for its chain of tapas bars, despite losing a legal row to register it as a trademark within the EU after running foul of a body established to protect the reputation of Port wines.

The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled that the use of the name The Port House by the Irish brewing and bar/restaurant group could cause confusion among consumers who might think the tapas bars were associated with the famous sweet fortified wine.

EUIPO upheld a challenge by a Portuguese public institute established to certify and protect the use of the name “Port” for wine products made in the Douro Valley in Portugal.

The Porterhouse group’s business development director, Elliot Hughes, said the ruling was disappointing but added that further legal advice was being sought to see if it would be appealed.

“We hope that we will be able to retain the name but it is not something we will be able to register as a trademark if the ruling stands,” Mr Hughes said.

He added: “The trademark has been refused. However, this makes no impact on the restaurants going forward. We don’t expect to have any negative consequences from the decision.”

The Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (IVDP) claimed the name “Port” and other variations including “Port wine” have protected status under EU regulations since December 1991.

Unfair advantage

It claimed the protection also applied to products not belonging to the wine sector when use of the word “Port”, without due cause, would take unfair advantage of the distinctive character of Port.

The IVDP said the protection provided by the EU was the result of a long history that dated back many centuries, with wine specialists recognising the superior quality of wines protected by the protected designation of origin (PDO) “Port”.

The IVDP said it had made continuous and significant efforts to promote the PDO “Port” throughout the world and had spent significant amounts of money in the promotion and advertising of wine protected by it.

It claimed the Porterhouse’s proposed use of “The Port House” was “confusingly similar both visually, aurally as well as conceptually”.

The IVDP said the average consumer who saw the sign would be left wondering if the establishment in question was related to wine protected by the PDO “Port”.

It claimed the sign would lead to the exploitation of the worldwide fame and reputation of the Portuguese wine.

“The contested sign aims to benefit from the image of quality and tradition of the good protected by the PDO,” the IVDP said.

The Porterhouse group, which applied in 2019 to register “The Port House” as a trademark, argued that the word “port” had several meanings including its most common understanding as a place where ships could take shelter from storms or where cargo from ships was unloaded.

It said such a meaning prevented the public from thinking of the Portuguese wine, and its proposed trademark was incapable of exploiting the reputation of Port wines.

Guarantee of quality

However, EUIPO said it was clear that EU regulations recognised “Port” under its protected designation of origin list and its protected geographical indication list, which offer a guarantee of quality due to their geographical provenance.

It also observed that the word “porthouse” was the name given to a facility where Port was produced.

EUIPO said the fact that the Irish company wanted to register a two-word mark “Port House” does not prevent the public from associating it with the meaning of “porthouse”.

It ruled that the contested sign would be perceived by some consumers as a reference to an establishment where Port was either manufactured, sold or served.

EUIPO agreed with the IVDP that the use of “The Port House” sign would allow the Porterhouse group to take undue advantage of and exploit the exceptional reputation enjoyed by the Portuguese wine among European consumers.

The Porterhouse group operates four tapas bars under The Port House brand in Dublin – South William Street, Temple Bar, Camden Street and Dundrum – as well as a branch on The Strand in London.

Mr Hughes said the group hopes to reopen all its outlets in Dublin soon as all its branches have outdoor dining facilities.

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The Queen’s Church Wants Trannies to Be Priests, Russian Church Suggests They Visit a Psychiatrist

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This article originally appeared on a new site about the Christian renaissance in Russia, called Russian Faith. Their introductory video is at end of this article.


One man’s mental health diagnosis may be another man’s ticket to the priesthood, according to recent developments in one of the world’s largest Protestant denominations. The Anglican Communion has 85 million members worldwide, all of whom have ties with the Church of England.

To support a new Diversity Drive, and to help fill vacant spots in English churches, leading Anglican bishops have invited transgender persons to serve as priests. The Daily Telegraph reports:

The guidance, titled “welcoming and honouring LGBT+ people”, warns that the church’s reputation as being unwelcoming towards gay and transgender people is stopping young people attending. 

“We very much hope that they, like everyone else, feel encouraged to serve on PCCs, or as churchwardens and worship leaders, for instance, and are supported in exploring vocations to licensed lay and ordained ministries,” the guidance says.

“Nobody should be told that their sexual or gender identity in itself makes them an unsuitable candidate for leadership in the Church.”

Queen Elizabeth, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, has not yet commented on this development. Historically, she has supported legislation which favors sexual deviants. Pink News gives the Queen credit for decriminalizing sodomy, allowing sodomites to adopt children, and reducing the age of consent for homosexual sex to age 16. Thus, it is plausible that she also approves of transgender priests in her church.

Meanwhile in Russia, the Orthodox Church influences society to accept a more traditional perspective on human sexuality. Marriage is only permitted between one man and one woman. Homosexual activity is forbidden.

And according to Metropolitan Hilarion, a top church leader and spokesperson for the Russian Orthodox Church, transgender people suffer from a mental disorder.

Presumably, this would make them unfit for the priesthood.


A video introducing Russian Faith

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