Wednesday, May 30, 2007

“...Fear was quite as strong an element as love in the formation of the confederate expedition”

Cato sent this dispatch from the past.

He says:

PericlesI ran across an interesting speech by Pericles to the Athenian Assembly (according to Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian war) which includes the quote below.

I wouldn’t take this too far as a parallel with today’s circumstances; after all, the Athenians lost, and they did some really stupid and sometimes criminal things (like the expedition to Sicily and various massacres).

If Pericles hadn’t died of the plague, they would have lynched him. Nonetheless, the quote seems apposite:

“I know that the spirit which inspires men while they are being persuaded to make war is not always retained in action; that as circumstances change, resolutions change. Yet I see that now as before the same, almost literally the same, counsel is demanded of me; and I put it to those of you who are allowing yourselves to be persuaded, to support the national resolves even in the case of reverses, or to forfeit all credit for their wisdom in the event of success. For sometimes the course of things is as arbitrary as the plans of man; indeed this is why we usually blame chance for whatever does not happen as we expected.”



Profitsbeard said...

The Greeks proved the folly of dividing among themselves when threatened by an enemy from without.

Thucydides' work is a tragedy of what short-sightedness reaps.

As Josephus's "History of the Jewish Revolt" tells the same story a few centuries later.

Houses dived always fall prey to more single-minded predagtors.

Persians or Macedonians or Romans or Mohammedans.

Profitsbeard said...

"divided", not "dived" (although take a dive is what they all did.)

Profitsbeard said...

"predators", not "predagtors"...

(Getting used to a new laptop keyboard... and finding that guitar-finger callouses can pop the little keys out of kilter by catching under their plastic edges on the digit upswing... a flaw I'll have to email HP about.)

Dymphna said...

Hmm...America's house is certainly divided...I walk softly among my liberal friends and I hide my stick, for they are peace-loving spirits, as they've so ably demonstrated.