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The Gregorian, Julian, Coptic, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Tibetan, Zoroastrian, and Mesoamerican calendars—and the Mayan, which predicts that the world will end just days after this issue reaches your hands—all are attempts to turn time’s relentless progress into a cycle, a human model both of the seasons and of the rotations and revolutions of the heavenly bodies. And so the weekly sabbaths and yearly holidays, the semicentennial jubilees and septennial sabbaticals, the fiscal quarters and workaday 9 to 5, which give us a hint of eternity on earth and keep us from a continuous contemplation of death. Greece was a …

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