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Canto XIX of the Inferno  


Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) was a Florentine poet who bridged the artistic cultures of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance. Dante’s approach to his poetry foreshadowed the Renaissance ... More

Constantine the Great  


Constantine the Great (272–337 BCE) became Roman emperor in 306; by 312 he had defeated his most powerful rival for power. Secure in his political power, Constantine quickly turned to ... More

The Decameron, “Putting the Devil Back in Hell”  

Giovanni Boccaccio

A Latin scholar, poet, and biographer, Boccaccio (1313–1375) is most famous today as the author of the Decameron. This compilation of 100 tales, by turns serious, bawdy, and irreverent, ... More

A Discourse on the Method  

Renee Descartes

René Descartes (1596–1650) has been called the Father of Modern Philosophy because of his work in philosophy, metaphysics, theology, and mathematics. Perhaps best known for the ... More

Humanae Vitae  

Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI (1897–1978) took office at a time of reform in the Catholic Church. In the wake of Vatican II (1962–1965), he extended the reforming spirit of John XXIII. Nonetheless, in the ... More

Letter to Don Benedetto Castelli  

Gallileo Galilei

An Italian astronomer, physicist, and mathematician, Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) made many significant contributions to science—such as improvements to the telescope and work with ... More

“Letter to Posterity”  


This letter, which Petrarca (1304–1374) never finished, represents something of an autobiographical obituary. In it he offers a summary of his life and achievements, which, interestingly, ... More

1 Maccabees  


Just before his death in Babylon in June 323 BCE, Alexander the Great was the unrivalled conqueror of an enormous portion of the known world, counting modern Greece, Egypt, the Middle East, ... More

The New Testament  


The eastern Mediterranean around the beginning of the first century CE was a world of religious ferment. In addition to the civic and emerging imperial cults of the ruling Roman Empire, ... More

Shell Bead Jewelry from the Grotte Des Pigeons, Taforalt, Morocco  


The discovery of 13 shells in a cave in eastern Morocco in 2007 has led to a discussion about the oldest known form of human ornamentation. Because each shell contains a pierced hole and ... More

“The Fall of Constantinople”  

Thomas the Eparch and Joshua Diplovatatzes

The siege and conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks under Mehmet II (r. 1451–1481) was one of the turning points of world history. Unfolding over two months between April 5 and ... More