Monday, May 02, 2005

Thucydides and Thomas Cahill

Cahill, author of The Gifts of the Jews, How the Irish Saved Civilization and Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea Why the Greeks Matter quotes Thucydides in the Greeks book:

Practically the whole of the of the Hellenic world was convulsed, with rival parites in every state---democratic leaders trying to bring in the Athenians, and oligarchs trying to bring in the Spartans... To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disquise one's unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitmate self-defense. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect... As a result...there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world. The plain way of looking at things, which is so much the mark of a noble nature, was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist. Society became divided in to camps in which no man trusted his fellow. (Thucydides pg 191-2 Why the Greeks Matter, Thomas Cahill 2003 Nan Talese Doubleday)

What do you think about this?


Rev. Mike said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rev. Mike said...

I think you're on a fishing expedition for something you have already answered in your own mind. :)

Anonymous said...

What is always amazing is how our technology can exponentially expand, but human nature does not change. This is why we still understand the terrible motivations, fears, greed, arrogance, egotism, love and kindness in Biblical characters.

The quoted passage rings true today, when opposition is villified and when political-religious discussion often ends in one side being called evil--not illogical, unreasonable, impractical--but evil. This is what happens when there is a failure to accept that the other side has a valid and arguable point,even if one disagrees with it.


Anonymous said...

sparta had more than a passing resemblance to the red state ethos and athens the same as to blue state.