Friday, March 20, 2015


The Egyptian god Amun was depicted with ram horns. The ram was revered in ancient Egypt in matters of fertility and war. Rams were considered a symbol of virility due to their rutting behavior. The horns of Amun may have also represented the East and West of the Earth, and one of the titles of Amun was "the two-horned." Alexander was depicted with the horns of Amun as a result of his conquest of ancient Egypt in 332 BC, where the priesthood received him as the son of the god Amun, who was identified by the ancient Greeks with Zeus, the King of the Gods.
The Temple of the Oracle (Temple of Amun) at the Siwa Oasis in Egypt

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Lost Eye

When I was a young child living in Kijabe Kenya we had a drought in the valley below which caused the African Buffalo to migrate up to our mountain where our little town was.
It was a good thing in the beginning because President Moi had recently released a lot of criminals from Prison and some of them had formed gangs that came to our area and broke into some houses terrorizing the community. When the African Buffalo came in to the neighborhood the criminals went away.
The African Buffalo are known to be strong and aggressive animals in Kenya. Even to some Masai Warriors it is more honorable to take down a Buffalo than a Lion.
As a child at night we made sure to get in our cars because of the Buffalo out at night. You could see their eyes at night light up. My Father would take me around in the car at night searching for Buffalo in Kijabe. As a child it was exciting for me and I loved seeing them up close.
One Buffalo you could always spot because he had only one eye. We called him “The Lost Eye.” He was an old Bull and the rumor was that his eye was knocked out by a spear from a Masai warrior. He was alone, wounded and aggressive. For me he was bigger than life. He captured my imagination.
I remember at night in Kijabe(which means place of the wind) the wind howling and the deep darkness of the night outside my window. As I lay in my bed I imagined the Lost Eye out there standing in the darkest corner of the darkest night unfazed.
Think about the elemental drama that has gone on in Nature that Humans have never seen. The drama, the courage, the heroes, and the tragedy that is experienced by wild animals that have never been seen by human eyes.
One day after school I heard that the Army had been called to take out The Lost Eye. It took heavy weapons. I ran down to the lower part of Kijabe where they had killed him. The locals were cutting him up to share his meat around. His massive and noble head was sitting on a tree stump.
I approached it slowly and stared at his head in awe. He died in a blaze of bullets. A worthy death for a warrior animal such as The Lost Eye. Life for this beast had been brutal and tough and here alone in the historic Rift Valley he fell. Against the world and nature he was brought down but not without a fight.
After that I grew up being enamored with the African Buffalo. It happened to be our school mascot in Kijabe as well. The African Buffalo fighting off the mighty Lions till the very end even when outnumbered.
A Stoic and tough animal that looked its enemies and death face to face every day.
Protecting the weak among you and fighting till the very end in a world without mercy.
Montaigne was right animals have something to teach humans about this world we live in.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Obama ignores the Assad Factor in the Rise of ISIS

SHANE SMITH, VICE NEWS: "One of the biggest questions that I had was how did they become so popular so fast? How did they get so many foreign fighters from America, from the U.K., from Scandinavia, from all over the world, go there, outstrip al Qaeda, almost overnight. So, a, how did they become so popular out of nowhere? And then, b, how do we stop them?"
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "ISIL is direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq which grew out of our invasion which is an example of unintended consequences which is why we should generally aim before we shoot."
What about Assad? Maliki? Takfiri ideology being financed and spread in communities? These are important factors in the rise of ISIS as well and to ignore them is intellectually weak.
Taking aim at Bush and shooting down the whole complex story is not being honest with the evolution of ISIS.
President Obama's desire to be completely absent from the narrative for the growth and rise of ISIS has led him to turn away from complexity and nuance and embrace a simplistic narrative. He turned to the very simplicity he and his administration often accuse his critics of. He shot down a holistic and nuanced view out of political expediency.
To be sure the invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration was an important factor and variable in the development of ISIS. However it was not the only factor or variable. Assad's response to the Arab uprising in his own country was vicious and brutal. The sectarian corruption of Maliki in Iraq was also a factor.
Assad even used chemical weapons on his own people with no effective response from President Obama or the international community. Assad bled Syria red and President Obama and the international community did nothing of consequence. Assad's violent response to his people and the World's lack of response was an important variable in the rise of ISIS.
There are unintended consequences to invading Iraq but there also unintended consequences to Assad's blood bath in Syria.
Tyrants and Terrorists have a symbiotic relationship. There are many examples of this in history. The most recent being Assad and ISIS. Assad in the beginning enabled ISIS because it would strengthen his position on the need for security as well as discredit the opposition. Terrorists groups use the Tyrant as an example of the corrupt and unjust regime or ruler who must be confronted with religious zeal and extremism. The death and destruction from Assad was also an important factor in the rise of ISIS and ignoring this is to ignore the full weight of Assad's crimes against humanity.
There are many factors that go back even farther than the US invasion of Iraq. The ideology of Islamism, Salafism, and Takfirism, which is often ignored as a factor has been growing and has been supported by countries like Saudi Arabia for many years and that is a factor as well that should not be ignored. There are geopolitical and proxy wars many years back that helped set the stage as well.
See previous post here.
Geopolitics, invasion, ideology, Assad's violence, Maliki's corruption are all part of the complex causation of the rise of ISIS and to turn to a simplistic narrative by President Obama is disappointing and partisan.
Vox has a good article explaining the many factors in the rise of ISIS. See here.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Irony is the weapon of the minority and less powerful in society

"Irony is the glory of the slave."
"Woe unto the defeated, whom history treads into the dust." ~Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon
Those in Power like to make sacred that which supports their power. To be beyond criticism.
Religion whether polytheistic religion or monotheistic has often been used as a tool to power and to protect from criticism once in power. The Divine right of Kings for example.
The expression and freedom of humor, irony, satire, and criticism is important in confronting power whether that power is religious or state power.
Can one Faith be critical of another Faith? What about the Prejudice and bigotry against polytheists and disbelievers? It is ok to insult polytheists, humanists, atheists, and animists? Is it a one way street where the dominant faiths get to have protection from insult and criticism but minority beliefs do not?
As judgmental as religion can be and the bigotry it can produce it is rather ironic that the major religions are asking not to be judged or criticized.
It is precisely because religion is axiomatically given privilege in much of soceity that groups like ISIS have been able to rise so quickly and why it is tempting for them to attach themselves to religious language and its status.
That is the tragic irony that the Obama administration never has understood or confronted. Religion like all ideologies must be able to be criticized and welcome challenges and not given a special place of privilege. Otherwise you give groups who seek power the temptation to attach themselves to religion because of its privileged place.
The more privilege they give religion the more the zealots will want that privilege and power.
When you think of the crushing of other faiths in history... It is like a company getting to the top of the mountain and creating a monopoly destroying the path to the top for others. At the top it decides to destroy the path up the mountain so no other faith or idea can climb where it is. Changing the rules once your idea or faith is at the top of the mountain is the way power tries to crush dissent and competition.

Friday, February 27, 2015

ISIS and Takfiri Totalitarianism - The war on cultural diversity and history

"They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed." Al Razi 854 CE
By now it should be clear that ISIS and other extremist groups like them are not standard bearers of Eastern culture against the West but are at war with diversity in the East itself. They are destroying the rich history and diversity of the East. The Buddha statues blown up by the Taliban. The destruction and defacing of ancient Mesopotamian history. The war on Zoroastrian, Yazidi, Shiite, Sufi and Christian peoples in the East. They cannot tolerate the diversity of the present much less the diversity of the past. They cannot appreciate ancient Babylonian, Persian, Assyrian, Sumerian, Indian, Greek, and Egyptian culture because for them they are all pagans and ignorant polytheists.
They cannot appreciate the House of Wisdom in Baghdad during the Islamic golden age that studied Aristotle and other philosophers engaging in dialogue on diverse ideas.
As the great Muslim philospher Ibn Rushd stated,"After logic we must proceed to philosophy proper...we have to learn from our predecessors, just as in Mathematics and Law. Thus it is wrong to forbid the study of ancient philosophy."
Ibn Sina stated "I devoted myself in studying the texts - the original and the commentaries - in the natural sciences and metaphysics, and the gates of knowledge began opening for me."
The ideology of ISIS has some roots in Salafi and Wahhabi teaching which pulls from a narrow fundamentalist version of Islam which cannot tolerate diversity either in ideas or history. There is an outright hostility and bigotry towards those that are deemed Infidels, Pagans, Polytheists, Apostates, Disbelievers, Kafir. It is the bigotry against diversity and doubt. The hateful fear of the disbeliever. Infidelophobia.
The Islamic world must not only accept Christians and Jews, the people of the book. In the long term a robust human rights and liberty demands that infidels and apostates are also accepted as fellow human beings not threatened with intimidation and violence for having a different idea or opinion on metaphysics. There is a cognitive dissonance with some Western Liberals who are engaged with right wing reactionaries in the West who show bigotry towards those who are different including Muslim minority communities in the West. At the same time in Muslim majority countries there are right wing reactionaries who take hold of a narrow version of Islam that shows bigotry against infidels, disbelievers, and religious diversity.
Both of these challenges and attacks on diversity are going on in the global picture but some Western Liberals have a hard time with seeing both of these realities in their minds and being able to fight the Islamophobia in the West and at the same time fight the Infidelophobia in other parts of the Islamic world. To be pluralistic is to fight for Muslim minorities in the West who are being unfairly attacked and at the same time fight for religious minorities, disbelievers and liberal Muslims in Muslim majority countries who are being unfairly attacked. People must understand specific geopolitical realities around the world to get the big picture.
Can the world be consistent with enlightenment values in the West and the East at the same time? The answer to the excess of Western colonialism is not Theocracy and Monotheistic Totalitarianism but rather real self determination.
Malala Yousafza, who was shot by the Taliban in the head but still lives to fight for education for girls in Pakistan, stated, "This is Education. This is Knowledge. It can neither be Eastern nor Western."
There is also a cognitive dissonance with some Christian fundamentalists in the West who are against theocracy in the Muslim world but show some sympathy for theocratic movements in the Christian world. Theocracy whether it be Muslim or Christian is not a good way to govern human beings who often have different views and ideas on metaphysics. If there is going to be religious freedom and human rights it must include Christian, Muslim, Jew, Polytheists, and Disbelievers. Pluralism must be the umbrella ideal to allow for such diversity.
Pluralism accepts the reality that humans are going to have different beliefs and opinions and as long as it does not impede on your rights let a person believe and opine as they wish. Melville wrote in Moby Dick,"...and Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending."
This diversity and pluralism is hated by ISIS and other groups who think they can create a Utopia where their ideology reigns supreme with no dissent or doubt. To create a Utopia you must sacrifice the blood of those different than you and cleanse the world of cultural history and diversity. If the world does not stand up to Totalitarian Monotheism and the rhetoric and teaching coming out of Takfiri ideology that dehumanizes polytheists, religious minorities, and apostates then prepare for more cultural destruction and genocide. It took a World War to stop Totalitarian Nazi ideology, what will it take to stop the Totalitarian Takfiri ideology?
Anemic Post modernism and relativism will be no match for muscular, purposeful, and simplistic ideologies like Monotheistic Totalitarianism. It will take a return to the flexibility and virtue of the civilizations of antiquity and a return to the Enlightenment ideals and passion that has been covered over by the malaise of post modernism and nihilism in the West. If the modern world does not find a transcendent unifying ethic that allows for pluralism it will pay a heavy price in blood and further destruction.
If this does not happen I agree with the philosopher John Gray's cynical outlook when he stated, “In the long term, the Google generation, the liberals, will be swallowed up and erased from history.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Among the Ruins - Christian Sahner - Oxford University Press

Among the Ruins - Christian Sahner - Oxford University Press

Christian C. Sahner is an historian of the Middle East. He graduated from Princeton University and the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is completing his doctorate at Princeton, focusing on the role of non-Muslims in Islamic societies. Sahner's writing has been published in The Times Literary Supplement and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Rise of ISIS: A series of unfortunate events

"And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night." M. Arnold
The Rise of ISIS: A series of unfortunate events
WWI – Turkish empire broken up, Britain and France draw borders in Middle East with little regard to tribes and sects and self-determination.
WWII – After the European genocide of Jews the United Nations backs the State of Israel for the Jewish people in the Middle East. Palestinians are disenfranchised.
Arab leaders lose credibility with loses to Israel in the wars of the 60’s and 70’s.
Political Islam is looked to as an answer to failure of leadership.
Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.
The Islamic Revolution in Iran takes down the Shah of Iran.
Afghanistan becomes a haven for jihadists (including bin Laden) who are supported by Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Saudi Arabia financially backs the message of Wahhabi fundamentalism and Salafi teaching around the world.
Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait, International Community including United States pushes Saddam back.
US troops are stationed in Saudi Arabia offending Osama bin Laden and other jihadists.
Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda start attacks around the world in the 90’s.
September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda hits New York and DC with terror attacks.
United States invades Afghanistan.
United States invades Iraq.
Sunni groups and tribes are disenfranchised after the invasion in Iraq. Baghdad government becomes dominated by Shiite groups.
Al Qaeda suffers loses but is able to metastasize in other parts of world including Iraq itself.
United States pushes back Al Qaeda resistance in Iraq in the surge of 2007.
Former Baathists and Jihadists come together in resistance to new order. Baghdadi is part of the struggle.
Osama bin Laden is killed in 2011.
United States military forces leave Iraq in 2011.
Arab Spring hits the Middle East in 2011, popular uprisings against aging dictators and authoritarian regimes.
Authoritarian regimes fight for survival and start killing and imprisoning resistance leaving only the best organized resistance able to continue, Islamists and Jihadist groups or the Military of the regimes.
2013 Assad gasses his own people in Syria. Thousands continue dying in brutal Syrian civil war.
The world does nothing in Syria and the civil war continues. Jihadist groups fill the void like al Nusra and ISIS.
ISIS in 2014 goes on offense into Iraq taking Fallujah and eventually take Mosul in summer of 2014.
Now ISIS has enough territory and momentum to declare an Islamic State and Baghdadi its Caliph.
ISIS inspires others and seeks recruits across the world.
With ISIS on the march the international community slowly wakes out of its slumber as massacres and beheadings become spread over the internet and on the news.
2015 ISIS has been slowed down by the resistance of the Kurds and Shiite militias with support of US and coalition air power.
So you see there are many variables and ingredients to this soup. It is a mixture of geopolitics, religious extremism, dictators, wars, genocide, terrorism, invasions and a series of unfortunate events.
The confused story that is human history continues…

Monday, February 23, 2015

Voltaire archive quote

"Of all superstitions, that of hating our neighbor on account of his opinion is surely the most dangerous."
Voltaire, A Treatise On Tolerance

Khalil Gibran aphorisms

Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.
They dip their pens in our hearts and think they are inspired.
A poet is a dethroned king sitting among the ashes of his palace trying to fashion an image out of the ashes.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The fragile rope of human civilization

Human civilization resides in a space between the caves of dogmatic extremism and the cliffs of nihilistic despair.
Keeping that balance of the necessary consumption of myth and significance without it sending you to the caves of dogma is one task. The other task is not letting “it’s all bull shit and you die” taking civilization over the edge.
The times of civilization being able to strike that balance like the Classical period and the later renaissance and enlightenment led to culture and scientific breakthrough. Times where civilization retreated to the caves of dogma or to the edge of nihilism brought forth stagnation or destruction.
Aristotle's ethics where virtue is moderation.
Humans need some sort of transcendence to justify their existence but if it rocks towards dogmatic extremism it can be a vicious mistress.
"Man is a rope over an abyss." Nietzsche

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Giving tragedy a transcendent meaning

I think one of the powerful narratives of Christian theology is that it turns tragedy into triumph and suffering into salvation. It does not have to be true to be powerful. The crucifixion of a Jewish preacher and the destruction of the Jewish Temple were both tragic but the gospel writers were able to take that tragedy and that suffering and turn into a narrative of purpose, meaning, and salvation.
Christianity does a wonderful job in making the suffering of a Jewish preacher into a great transcendent triumph however all the suffering and tragedy before it seem to be glossed over and it makes one doubt the universal validity of that narrative. Christian theology traveled well for various reasons but one was the ability to reach the common man and woman at their point of suffering. Jesus is a god that not only suffered for you but can also suffer with you.
There are those who defend the previous millions of years of suffering and death as part of the story but it seems the response is either to ignore it, deny it, or justify it. All the answers seem like retro engineering based on a narrow unimaginative perspective, special pleading, and heartless doctrinal bureaucratic language that would impress Eichmann.
Assyrian art 650 B.C.E.
Jesus of Nazareth crucified around 30 AD

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Blaise Pascal - A Brilliant Christian Philosopher

“I’ll never forgive Christianity for what it did to Pascal.” Nietzsche
Blaise Pascal:
"The supreme function of reason is to show man that some things are beyond reason"
“The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.”
"In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t"
"Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed."
"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction"

Saturday, December 13, 2014

America's Founders inspired by Classical Greece and Rome

The Birth of Classical Europe: Simon Price and Peter Thonemann:
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, authors of the Federalist Papers, advocating ratification of the new US Constitution, signed themselves jointly as 'Publius', recalling Publius Valerius Poplicola, first consul of the Roman Republic.
Universities in that era placed enormous emphasis on reading Latin and Greek authors.
Women read classical books, Abigail Adams wrote regular letters to her husband, John Adams, signing herself as Portia, wife of Brutus.
The dialogue with the history of Antiquity helped to separate the new republics, the bastions of liberty, from the old feudal and monarchic regimes of Europe.
The Lycian League, which brought together twenty-three Greek city-states, was held up as a model of an excellent republic model.
Jefferson stated in 1795 on the American experiment that 'we have seen no instance of this since the days of the Roman republic.'
Dr. Joe Wolverton:
Classical training usually began at age eight, whether in a school or at home under the guidance of a private tutor. One remarkable teacher who inculcated his students with a love of the classics was Scotsman Donald Robertson. Many future luminaries were enrolled in his school: James Madison, John Taylor of Caroline, John Tyler and George Rogers Clark, among others. Robertson and teachers like him nourished their charges with a healthy diet of Greek and Latin, and required that they learn to master Virgil, Horace, Justinian, Tacitus, Herodotus, Plutarch, Lucretius and Thucydides. Further along in their education, students were required to translate Cicero’s Orations and Virgil’s Aeneid. Fortunately for the young Founding Fathers, the teachers of the day exercised their students in Greek and Latin, so that their pupils could meet the rigorous entrance requirements of colonial colleges. Those colleges stipulated that entering freshmen be able to read, translate and expound the Greco-Roman classical works. Students were taught lessons in virtue and liberty from the works of Herodotus, Xenophon, Plutarch, Livy, Sallust, Tacitus and Polybius. Thomas Jefferson’s classmates recalled that he studied at least 15 hours a day and carried his Greek grammar book with him wherever he went. Because of the formidable classical curricula at colonial colleges, the classics became a well from which the Founders drank deeply. In the classics, the Founding Fathers found their heroes and villains, and they also detected warning signs along the road of statecraft on which they would tread.
The Founders’ principal Greco-Roman heroes were Roman statesmen: Cato the Younger, Brutus, Cassius and Cicero — all of whom sacrificed their lives in unsuccessful attempts to save the republic — as well as the celebrated Greek lawgivers Lycurgus and Solon.
Classical influences on the Founders:
Men like John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Dickinson and James Wilson were superb classicists — they could read both Latin and Greek fairly well and knew Greek and Roman literature, history and philosophy rather thoroughly. Just as importantly, from the time they went to school, they saw ancient Greek and Roman statesmen as models to be emulated in their own careers as lawmakers, civic-minded leaders, public figures of responsibility. Most of these Americans actually learned how to speak publicly by channeling Greek and Roman orators; in fact, while in college, many of our founders gave public speeches in Latin as well as in English, and they engaged in debates using the personae of famous Greek and Roman orators and politicians.
John Adams thought of himself as an American Cicero, the great Roman lawyer and civic leader. George Washington portrayed himself as Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer-turned-general; he made his soldiers at Valley Forge watch his favorite play, Cato, about the Roman patriot who fought against Caesar’s attempt to take over Rome. James Madison looked upon Solon and Lycurgus, two Greek lawgivers, as models for his Constitution-making. Alexander Hamilton regularly and pointedly used pertinent Greek and Roman pseudonyms in publishing pamphlets arguing policy positions — the outstanding case was, of course, his choice of “Publius” for the Federalist Papers; Publius being Publius Valerius Publicola, a founder of the Roman Republic.
How ancient Greeks influenced America’s founding fathers
Historian and professor Carl J. Richard
"As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurian. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, Oct. 31, 1819
Cincinnatus: George Washington and the Enlightenment by Gary Wills
Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers by Carl Richard
"He read Cicero, Tacitus, and others of his Roman heroes in Latin, and Plato and Thucydides in the original Greek, which he considered the supreme language. But in his need to fathom the "labyrinth" of human nature, as he said, he was drawn to Shakespeare and Swift, and likely to carry Cervantes or a volume of English poetry with him on his journeys. "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket," he would tell his son Johnny." DAVID McCULLOUGH on John Adams
"A successful physician and progressive thinker, Joseph Warren became an outspoken advocate of inoculations to battle the smallpox plague sweeping colonial America and vaccinated his most famous patient, John Adams. But medicine was not his only passion. As the colonies clashed with Mother England, Warren was drawn to the red-hot center of patriot firebrands. He became a propagandist, spymaster and orator who modeled himself on Cicero, occasionally donning a toga to deliver incendiary speeches. It was Warren who led the men to the “party” where they tossed a shipload of British tea into Boston Harbor. And he was the crucial link between Boston’s upper crust patriots –who got most of the glory– and the workingmen and artisans who did most of the dirty work. But Warren was left out of our poems. And our schoolbooks. And that’s too bad." Historian Kenneth C Davis
"What Athens was in miniature America will be in magnitude. The one was the wonder of the ancient world; the other is becoming the admiration of the present." Thomas Paine, Rights of Man
From the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers looked to classical history as a reliable guide to their successful experiment in building a lasting republic. Dr. Joe Wolverton II Cicero lived from approximately 106 B.C. to 43 B.C. John Adams, in his Defense of the Constitution, said of Cicero: “All of the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero…” First as a lawyer, then as a consul and senator, Cicero boldly defended the republic against the rise of dictators. John and Abigail Adams wrote over a thousand letters to each other during the months (sometimes years) that John was away from home helping found a new nation. As was the custom of the time, they adopted pen names: Abigail was Diana, after the Roman goddess of the moon and later she adopted the pen name, Portia, wife of the great Roman politician Brutus. John adopted the name, Lysander, after the Spartan war hero.
The Roman Classical Revival style was promoted and popularized by Thomas Jefferson, who found the impressively monumental architecture of ancient Rome a suitable model for the newly formed nation. This style was thus a political symbol as well, likening the young United States to the once powerful and influential Roman Republic. Jefferson designed his own home Monticello, the campus of the University of Virginia, and the Capitol of Virginia in this style, using ancient Roman temples as his guide. (Pennsylvania Historical Museum)
George Washington was sometimes called an American Cincinnatus because he too held his command only until the defeat of the British and, at a time when he could have chosen to exercise great political power, instead returned as soon as he could to cultivating his lands. After the end of the Revolutionary War, a group of former officers in the (now) American army formed The Society of the Cincinnati, taking the name from the Roman general. The city of Cincinnati was named after this organization, and a statue of Cincinnatus stands there today.
M.T. Cicero's Cato Major, Franklin's personal favorite from his press, is considered to be the finest example of the printing art in colonial America. Furthermore, this work by the Roman philosopher statesman Cicero is the first classic work translated and printed in North America.
Cicero and Franklin
There was one element of Antiquity that was not a good inspiration and that was slavery.
Thomas Paine stood tall among the founders in that he was against Slavery in the strongest terms, he wrote in 1774:
"To Americans: That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising; and still persist, though it has been so often proved contrary to the light of nature, to every principle of Justice and Humanity. How shameful are all attempts to excuse it!"