Serbonian Bog


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Serbonian Bog

Egyptian morass, “where armies whole have sunk.” [Br. Lit.: Paradise Lost]
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He climbed and descended precipices on which vulgar mortals tremble to look; he passed marshes like the Serbonian bog,* where armies whole have sunk; he forded rivers where the current roared like the Egre or the Severn; or ventured himself on bridges that trembled under him, from which he looked down on foaming whirlpools, or dreadful abysses; he wandered over houseless heaths, amidst all the rage of the elements, with the snow driving in his face, and the tempest howling in his ears.
Beyond this flood a frozen Continent Lies dark and wilde, beat with perpetual storms Of Whirlwind and dire Hail, which on firm land Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice, A gulf profound as that SERBONIAN Bog Betwixt DAMIATA and mount CASIUS old, Where Armies whole have sunk: the parching Air Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of Fire.
The Serbonian Bog consisted in those institutions that swallow up intellect, morality, imagination, sound learning, beauty, humor, good books, true diversity, religion, academic freedom, wise teachers, and lively students.
The historian who wishes to advance a case about honor enters a Serbonian bog of interpretive difficulties.
There are good and valid arguments against these utopian approaches and they need to be made clearly and forcefully so that the country can avoid entry into that Serbonian bog.
Unfortunately, the price of all this has been descent into a Serbonian bog wherein judges are forced to don logical blinders and split the linguistic atom to decide even the most routine cases.
The Supreme Court must step in again to clear up the Serbonian bog it created in Miles before Congress develops less palatable options for recovery of damages in admiralty law.