Daily Archives: 24 August 2014

August 24, 1953 (a Monday)

Alfred Kinsey appears on Time magazine (1953-08-24).

On this date, the American biologist and professor of entomology and zoology Alfred Kinsey appeared on the cover of Time magazine. The article in the issue stated that:

Kinsey . . . has done for sex what Columbus did for geography.

Kinsey had published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male on 5 January 1948. His report had found that 10 percent of all American males are largely homosexual, and that half of all men in the United States have experienced homosexual arousal to the point of orgasm at least once since puberty. On 14 September 1953, Kinsey published Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Based on his research, Kinsey concluded that:

The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot [physically] perform.

At a time when any kind of human sexuality was rarely mentioned in public, and homosexuality was especially hidden, repressed, and punished, the Kinsey Reports came as a shocking revelation, with their statistical, scientific findings that homosexual behavior is more widespread than most people had suspected, and appears to be within the normal range of human behavior.

Suggested Reading:

August 24, 410 C.E.

Sack of Rome by Visigoths, 410 C.E., painting by Joseph-Noël Sylvestre (1890). [Naturally, being naked makes you a barbarian. - ed.]

Sack of Rome by Visigoths, 410 C.E., painting by Joseph-Noël Sylvestre (1890). [Naturally, being naked makes you a barbarian. – ed.]

On this date, Rome was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a paramount position as “the eternal city” and a spiritual center of the Empire.

This was the first time in almost 800 years that Rome had fallen to an enemy. The previous sack of Rome had been accomplished by the Gauls under their leader Brennus in 387 B.C.E. The sacking of 410 is seen as a major landmark in the fall of the Western Roman Empire. St. Jerome, living in Bethlehem at the time, wrote that “The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken.”

This sack of Rome is generally considered to mark the end of classical history and the beginning of the Middle Ages, characterized by the rise of small feudal regions rather than one unitary empire and Christian chivalry as opposed to secular investigation. In truth, of course, the matter is more complicated, as scientific inquiry continued to some degree during the Middle Ages and the Byzantine Empire (or Eastern Roman Empire) continued for a further 1000 years.