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Posts Tagged ‘Xenophon’

There is one crucial question about Graham Allison’s ‘Thucydides’s Trap’ model of power transition and the confrontation of rising and ruling powers* that has not yet, so far as I’m aware, been asked: what sort of trap did Thucydides have in mind? Mouse? Elephant? Bear? Rat? Lobster? Honey? Because clearly this must affect how we imagine the process of being captured and the possibility, if any, of escape – and indeed the likelihood of realising that one is in a trap in the first place, before it’s too late. A basic starting assumption for such an analysis is that the idea must be based on ancient Greek hunting technology, and so, in the absence of any comment on the subject from Thucydides himself – we can safely assume his familiarity, as an Athenian aristocrat, with the basic techniques – we turn to a comparable figure in the next generation, Xenophon, and his treatise Cynegeticus, or Hunting with Dogs. (more…)

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Evocations of classical parallels and examples in current discussions of migration and its consequences in Europe have been pretty well uniformly unhelpful and polemical, designed above all to evoke the image of civilisation under threat from hordes of savage barbarians massing on the frontiers and threatening to swamp “our way of life”. It’s a little disconcerting; for so many years, following the general trend of the scholarship, I’ve been encouraging students in my Late Antiquity unit to shift their conception of the period from “barbarian invasions” to “migrations”, emphasising the fact that the majority of the Visigoths et al were seeking to join the Roman Empire, not sack or overthrow it, refugees from war and probably environmental crisis and climate change – and now it seems that this has become the prevalent view, but with all the fear and hostility associated with the “invasions” thesis now transferred across to migrants. Whereas once theĀ manner in which these (relatively small numbers of) non-Romans entered the Empire was the crucial historical question, it now appears thatĀ any incursion of The Other from Outside is regarded as a threat unless proven otherwise. (more…)

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