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Posts Tagged ‘Thucydides’

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One of the things I really like about formal gatherings in Germany (okay, extrapolating from a sample of two, plus the father’s birthday party in Goodbye Lenin!, but it’s 100% so far) is the fact that they always seem to feature a jazz combo noodling away in the background before the speeches start. (more…)

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The Original Shithole

Accordingly Attica, from the poverty of its soil enjoying from a very remote period freedom from faction, never changed its inhabitants. And here is no inconsiderable exemplification of my assertion, that the migrations were the cause of there being no correspondent growth in other parts. The most powerful victims of war or faction from the rest of Hellas took refuge with the Athenians as a safe retreat; and at an early period, becoming naturalized, swelled the already large population of the city to such a height that Attica became at last too small to hold them, and they had to send out colonies to Ionia. (Thucydides 1.2.5-6)

There’s a low-level but persistent Twitter meme that Thucydides shows the dangers of immigration and failure to assimilate. (more…)

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It’s been a bumper year for Thucydiocy: an assortment of new sightings (‘Don’t confuse meaning with truth’, ‘You shouldn’t feel sorry for the lifestyle you haven’t tasted, but for the one you are about to lose’, ‘Democracies are always at their best when things seem at their worst’, and ‘You should punish in the same manner those who commit crimes with those who accuse falsely’), and the results of my study of who exactly is responsible for the ‘Scholars and Warriors’ quote with the stupid graduation photo (answer: a deeply annoying Social Jukebox), which means I feel justified in responding to it with emojis rather than a properly considered response.

But this year’s William F. Butler Award for Egregious Misquotation of Thucydides can have only one winner: (more…)

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For all that I spend quite a lot of my time critically analysing the deficiencies of modern claims to ‘learn’ from Thucydides, or simply throwing rocks at them, I do firmly believe that his work has enormous potential as a source of insight into the way the world works, not only in the past but today. There are continuities as well as dramatic changes in human behaviour across time; we can draw from Thucydides’ account understanding of the ‘human thing’, the way that people think and behave. Yes, I tend to think of this in terms of tendencies and persistent mental habits rather than ‘laws’ of ‘human nature’, but it’s part of the same general project to read the work as Thucydides’ intended it, a ‘possession for ever’ from which readers can learn valuable things for the present. (more…)

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Listen, I don’t spend my time concocting spurious parallels between ancient history and contemporary events so that I can indoctrinate my students and subvert society under the guise of teaching. I open up my copy of Thucydides to prepare for this week’s seminar, the topic of which was set three months ago, and there parallels are…

mail (more…)

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Presumably there are people who specialising in studying the philosophy of the European far right, or even the more specific theme of their appropriation of classical antiquity, as Donna Zuckerberg and others are doing in the US. I wonder how they prevent their brains dribbling out of their ears on a regular basis. (more…)

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Brexit negotiations. Yes, we’re still replaying the Melian Dialogue, with the UK still stuck in the attitude of the Melians, offering the equivalent of “Surely there’s advantage to both of us in being friends rather than enemies?” and “Can’t you see that this will damage you as well as us?” as if these are knock-down arguments. My final-year Thucydides class has been having some really interesting discussions over the last couple of weeks about Pericles’ manipulative rhetoric and parallels to the Leave campaign – offered spontaneously by the students, before anyone puts me onto that government watch list – so I’m tempted to skip forward to the Melian Dialogue while these issues are still fresh. But, realistically, the negotiations aren’t likely to be going much better in February, when we’re scheduled to get to Book V, so the issues will still be fresh enough… (more…)

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