Posts Tagged ‘alt-right’

“The best are those who are raised in the severest school.” To the best of my knowledge, my grandmother never read Thucydides (whence that quote comes; Archidamus at 1.84), or Herodotus, or Plutarch’s life of Lycurgus, or any of the other ancient accounts of Sparta and its values, but she didn’t have to; she could draw on a substantial popular tradition of images of Spartan life and attitudes, including her favourite admonitory story of the Spartan boy and the fox. As a child I was never sure what the lesson was supposed to be – don’t get caught? if you get caught, never confess? – but in retrospect I think it was more a kind of mood music: big boys don’t cry, that’s just a scratch, a family of starving Bangladeshis could live on that for a week (on failing to eat one’s crusts), and in my day we’d have been sent to bed without any supper for less than that. The Spartans tell you why you shouldn’t ever have more than one slice of cake. (more…)

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A new, and particularly useless, Thucydides misattribution; last night, a Twitter account largely dedicated to retweeting hard-line anti-Islamic and anti-climate change remarks from people like Richard Spencer and Paul Joseph Watson offered its own wannabe meme on the OneLove concert in Manchester: “THUCYDIDES said “while your houses are on fire, you sing.” Well, no, of course he didn’t, and there is precisely zero indication on the internet that anyone has ever suggested that he did – it’s actually taken from Aesop (no.54 in Perry’s index) – so this seems a clear-cut case of fake Thucydideana actually being created; Aesop much too fuzzy and associated with childhood to legitimise such a denunciation of modern liberalism, so let’s turn to the authoritative, hard-nosed Realist Thucydides. Thankfully the account has only 74 followers, and this tweet has been liked and retweeted only once each, so with a bit of luck it’s the last as well as the first we’ll be seeing of it…

Update: yes, I think we’ve nipped this in the bud. The account in question initially came back with an “indeed the quote is from Aesop but said to be quoted by Thucydides for the stupidity of the Athenians but nevertheless fits the British well”; on being asked for a reference, he blocked the Thucydiocy Bot (and described it as a “Jihadi-loving cuck”) – but corrected the quote. Victory!

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