An Ancient Decision-Making Technique for the New Year

Let Virgil’s “The Aeneid” guide you in 2022

Matthew McFarlane
Forge

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Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

One of the best things about being an English major was that after a few introductory classes, my books became pretty cheap. They were usually novels, poetry collections, or slim nonfiction volumes that I could get used for less than $10.

One of the worst things about being an English major was that at the end of the semester, when I took my books to the buyback tents around campus, I was usually offered $10 for the lot of them.

My reluctance to part with my books each semester — even for the price of a pitcher of beer — is how I came to have a copy of Virgil’s The Aeneid on my bookshelf. I bought it for a class on Roman poetry and decided to keep it because it looked like something a Smart Person would have and was worth something like $.50 to the buyback guys.

For a while, it appeared the book was destined to gather dust on my shelf, but it wasn’t long before I found a reason to regularly crack it open: Sortes Virgilianae.

I came across the concept of Sortes Virgilianae a few years ago in Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile, a tiresome and repetitive book that I did not finish (I have to believe even his most ardent fans can agree that things went a little sideways after Black

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Matthew McFarlane
Forge
Writer for

Reader, writer, content provider. Fan of hand-made guitars, racket-based sports, and houseplants. You can find me in St. Louie.