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2,400 Year Old Book Sees Our Era Clearly

From Plato’s Republic (emphasis added):

“[The citizens] contemptuously rejected temperance as unmanliness… Insolence they term breeding, and anarchy liberty, and waste magnificence, and impudence courage… The father gets accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son to be on a level with his father, having no shame or fear of his parentsThe teacher fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutorsThe old do not like to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they imitate the young… Nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other… The citizens chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority, and at length…. They cease to care even for the laws, written or unwritten… And this is the fair and glorious beginning out of which springs dictatorship… The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction;… dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty.”

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  • Casey Klahn April 13, 2022, 6:52 PM

    Notice how color intensity and contrast add weight to the painting. Lovely. The Greeks held intensity of pigment above gray scale.

    Yes, we suck at civilization now.

  • Fweedom Fwies April 13, 2022, 8:52 PM

    Plato is a construct of the white male patriarchy.

    • Casey Klahn April 13, 2022, 9:40 PM

      And…a colored children’s clay. Although those usually can’t afford it.

      • Lance de Boyle April 15, 2022, 3:27 PM

        We were so poor that we couldn’t afford colors. We would push in on our eye balls to get color sensations.
        Sure we went blind.
        But we liked it.
        Not like color titty babies of today.
        “Oy I’m blind!”
        I blame oedipus.

  • Francis W. Porretto April 14, 2022, 1:19 AM

    I have occasionally wondered, “What would the classical philosophers’ works have looked like if they’d had a rudimentary knowledge of HTML?” Now I know. Thank you, Gerard. (:-)

  • james wilson April 14, 2022, 2:50 AM

    Victor Hanson believes that all human actions can be found played out within the seventy years of the Peloponnesian War.

    • Mike Austin April 14, 2022, 3:18 AM

      Hanson wrote a great deal about the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 BC), all of it worth reading. On my bookshelf sits his “A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War”.

    • ThisIsNotNutella April 14, 2022, 4:43 AM

      If that includes a degree of trimming in order to keep Hoover gig… oops… I mean if that includes Aristotle sucking up to the House of Macedon then yes. Agree.

      • Mike Austin April 14, 2022, 6:20 AM

        You have to admit that Aristotle had a nice gig teaching Alexander for 3 years in Pella. But then, he himself was taught by Plato, who was taught by Socrates. And by the way, I go back and forth on the trial of Socrates. Sometimes I believe that it was right that he was put to death.

        Hanson’s essays these days are pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff. Nothing that would really upset anyone. Yep, a trimmer. Not quite the boldness and in-your-face attitude of Socrates.

        • ThisIsNotNutella April 14, 2022, 4:07 PM

          There’s no doubting Socrates’ personal courage in battle and loyalty to his friends during the rule of the Thirty. And a guy like Alcibiades… couldn’t think of a better fellow to have a (very) Platonic drink with.

          That said, the one was doubtless a Spreader of Doubts, and the other a High Class Bill Clinton.

          Both got bum (sic) deals from the Demos, but looked at from the medium sweep of history, yes, it’s a bit of a wash. And in there lurks echoes of another ass-bandit, Peter Thiel and his fascination with Rene Girard –> the need to find scapegoats (regardless of actual guilt) is baked into human societies. We’ve gone awry in the West since the Designated Scapegoats took over.

          • Mike Austin April 14, 2022, 4:40 PM

            Socrates saved the life of Alcibiades at Delium. Oops. But of course they knew each other very well indeed. We have no equivalent to Alcibiades. Our own traitors are so cut-rate that they scarcely rate any mention.

  • Mike Austin April 14, 2022, 3:29 AM

    Those who study only Modern History—since the French Revolution in 1789— build their intellectual house without a solid foundation. All those Old White Guys—Plato, Thucydides, Polybius, Plutarch, Herodotus, Dio, Tacitus, Livy, Sophocles, Aeschylus and so very many more—have much to teach if we would but listen. There is not one issue under the sun that bedevils modern man that the Ancients have not dealt with and solved.

    For those who really and truly want to start at the beginning read “The Epic of Gilgamesh”. It was written 4100 years ago.

    C. S. Lewis believed that a man should read one ancient text for every modern one. Good advice.

    • ThisIsNotNutella April 14, 2022, 4:51 AM

      “There is not one issue under the sun that bedevils modern man that the Ancients have not dealt with and solved.”

      Yup. Wasn’t a problem governing India with a few hundred administrators (plus keeping the Arty out of the hands of native troops.. always helps) — all they needed was a good grounding in the Classics. Everything good, bad, and indifferent humans are capable of being and doing has happened before over and over again. There truly is nothing new under the sun in human nature until we evolve (or as appears more likely, devolve).

      Today, there’s more likelihood of an edumacated Indian knowing the Mahabarata, a Chinese knowing who did what to whom and why in the Warring States Period, or a Japanese knowing the ins and outs of the Sengoku Period than there is of a Westerner knowing Jack about the Ten Thousand or what those sainted Athenian Democrats did at Melos. Mind you, I’d give better odds for a randomly-chosen Chinese or Japanese. Present day Indian Intelligentsia is becoming more and more prone to the poz and tends to talk a lot of big shiny words without really any connection to meaning or caring. But still even the yappiest airhead amongst them knows more of their history than Nancy Pelosi.

      • Mike Austin April 14, 2022, 6:46 AM

        I would even guess that none of our sainted solons and their acolytes know jack about much of anything save for pelt and pelf, with a few oceans of sexual depravity tossed into the mix. History, Literature, Philosophy, Languages—forget it. And how many of these degenerates could even find Ukraine on the map before this recent unpleasantness?

        I was never one to admire the Athenians. The machinations of weird-headed Pericles, and then The Melian Dialogue pretty much did it in for me. I actually prefer Cleon to Pericles. I once thought there was considerable historical convergence between the US and Republican Rome, say, after the killing of the Gracchi until Sulla. More and more it seems like the US is trying to became as Athens was right before the Sicilian Expedition.

        Not much of an admirer of Sparta either. Except for Thermopylae she did no good to anyone. But then, Brasidas and Lysander did their share.

        I have never been much for Asian History. Don’t really know why. Now I am starting to get involved with it, at least the last 150 years of it. My specialties are:

        1. Ancient Mesopotamia
        2. Assyria
        3. Achaemenid Persia
        4. Egypt
        5. Greece
        6. Rome
        7. Macedon
        8. The Hellenistic Age
        9. Medieval Europe
        10. Modern Europe
        11. Native American civilizations
        12. American colonial, revolutionary and expansionist history
        13. Modern America

        I need to catch up to you in Asian History. Right now I am a neophyte.

        • ThisIsNotNutella April 14, 2022, 4:25 PM

          The various South East and East Asian civilizations make interesting mirrors for us to hold up to ourselves once we get past just seeing them as ultra-conformist slanty-eyed rice robots (bit of a problem on the Boomercon and Dissident Rights). We can’t be them and shouldn’t try to be them, but there are things we can learn to do better, and also things we can appreciate more about ourselves by studying them.

          India is just weird. I follow the Duttonite / Woodley of Menie Bio Realist view that India is a gigantic human breeding experiment with the various castes/jatis living side-by-side for two plus millennia but not inter-breeding. Suffice it to say that 1,000 years, let alone more is plenty to breed humans with more of x characteristic and less of y traits… but to even think it is anathema in the West because of the similar thing happened in the Pale of Settlement, the results of which are much of what we now see around us.

          I’m totally ignorant about the really old stuff and am working my way through Moscati’s Face of the Ancient Orient. Have you seen Irving Finkel’s (British Museum) YouTube videos about Cuneiform and the Royal Game of Ur? He’s addictive and hilarious.

          • Mike Austin April 14, 2022, 4:49 PM

            I will give Irving Finkel a look-see in due course. I just put Sabatino Moscati on my book list. His book on the Phoenicians looks good as well.

            As for the East, Kipling laid it out for me: “…Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…” My first intro to India was when Alexander encountered the gymnosophists. Weird guys, weirder stuff. The problems of today’s India are insoluble. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “Horrible religions allow horrible nations.”