Horatius at the Bridge

History Lesson Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post Future History Lesson, a  passing quote in the science-fiction novel “Starship Troopers” by Robert Heinlein piqued my interest on two events in real history: ‘Horatius at the Bridge‘ and ‘The Death of the Bon Homme Richard‘. What I discovered in both cases I found so rich in story, that I had to explore them further. Below is what I discovered about Haratius. The surprising story of Bonhomme Richard can be found in Part 3 (coming soon).

Horatius at the Bridge

Publius Horatius Cocles and Two Companions Defend Tiber Bridge by Augustyn Mirys (mid 1700’s Polish painter)

When first digging I could not find a specific work with this title, but there was a lot of information to be found on the person and the event. I eventually discovered that “Horatius at the Bridge” was the title of some editions of the narrative poem Horatius by the Victorian Era historian Baron Thomas Abington Macaulay which was published in his book Lays of Ancient Rome in 1842. It was very popular in England at the time, memorized and recited avidly, and taught in schools. Even close to a hundred years later Winston Churchill recalled memorizing it. You can download a free public domain digital ebook of the entire Lays of Ancient Rome” via Project Gutenberg, available in multiple file formats. Continue reading Horatius at the Bridge

Future History Lesson

History Lesson Part 1:
Roman Soldiers & American Revolution Sailors as seen by Starship Troopers

 

Starship Troopers book cover
Starship Troopers book cover

I started readingStarship Troopers by Robert Heinlein today and it inspired me to investigate a little real history.

First, I’ve been a big fan of Heinlein for awhile, but strangely had never read this novel which many regard so highly. I had seen the crappy movie supposedly based on it, but let me say that movie really holds no similarities to the novel except for some characters’ and alien species’ names. Worse the movie turns some of the deeper but controversial aspects of the novel on their head, and turns the entire story into a farce. For example Heinlein’s novel portrays a democratic society in which suffrage is earned by a term of government service – in the case of the main characters this happened to be military service. The movie version portrays a fascist society where the only road to citizenship was through the military — kind of like non-citizen inhabitants of the early to mid Roman empire who could earn citizenship only after serving 25 years in the Roman legions.

I’m getting off the topic, which isn’t so much about the future the novel portrays, but about detailing some things I learned from a “future history lesson” today’s reading inspired me to take. Continue reading Future History Lesson