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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Cartledge’

In the aftermath of the onset of BRAGNARÖK, a number of people have been talking somewhat wistfully of the Mytilene Debate in Thucydides (3.36-48), when the Athenians changed their minds about massacring the entire population of a rebellious allied city. I think the first reference I saw to Mytilene on Twitter was from Angie Hobbs (@drangiehobbs) on 25th June (given how rapidly events are developing at the moment, I think it’s important to keep the chronology clear…), offering it as an exemplum rather than an analogy, but in recent days there’s been a blog post by Caitlin Harris, an MA student at Swansea (https://projects.swan.ac.uk/ancient-world/?p=386), arguing that it would be fundamentally undemocratic to deny people the right to vote again with a different perspective; a letter in the Grauniad from one Shoshana Goldhill in Cambridge (now there’s a famous classical surname…) arguing that it shows the ability for democracy to self-correct its own excesses; and an article in the Frankfürter Allgemeine Zeitung from Uwe Walter (Professor of Ancient History at Bielefeld, for anyone who doesn’t know his work), ‘Man müsste bloß wieder zurückrudern’, drawing on the work of Egon Flaig to explore in detail the circumstances of the second Mytilene debate and concluding by wondering whether the fateful Article 50 trireme that’s been dispatched will be over-hauled by a new Parliament, a courageous government or the obdurate Scots. (more…)

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As readers of my Twitter feed will have been unable to ignore, I’ve spent the last two days at a conference in Cambridge in honour of Paul Cartledge, How to Do Things with History: a fantastic occasion with a glittering line-up of speakers – just a small selection of all Paul’s former students, colleagues and friends (overlapping categories, obviously) – engaging with a range of topics that reflected different aspects of his work, from Sparta and Marxism to Athenian political thought and practice, always with a hefty dose of theoretical sophistication. I was very flattered to be asked to chair a session, and so able to feel that I was in a very small way contributing to the event – including, once it became obvious that all the sessions were going to over-run even when the discussion was policed as rigorously as possible, being very self-restrained in not abusing chair’s privilege to trot out my own anecdotes and personal tribute. Then, during Paul’s speech after dinner, it was time for the discreet use of a handkerchief when he actually alluded to one of these incidents; and, as it does add a little to the wealth of examples of his extraordinary generosity to pretty well everyone he ever taught, I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell a fuller version of the story here… (more…)

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