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‘The Goodness of the Spoil’
The Red-Face-Island War #1
© 2020 James LaFond
By Thucydides 431 BC, Translated by Richard Crawley
500 words of quotes extracted from 5,086 words of texts, with annotations.
The State of Greece from the earliest Times to the Commencement of the Peloponnesian War
“…it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning their homes under the pressure of superior numbers.”
The historian’s assertion is written such that the reader expects this to be a commonly held fact. Indeed, “the several tribes” had their wandering origins stories that would become imbedded in such myths as the Argonautica, with no belief in the Hellenic mind that Hellas was a homeland, the womb of a race, but was rather its destination place, its conquered patrimony, from whence it’s sons would colonize numerous places around the Middle and Black seas.
“The goodness of the land favoured the aggrandizement of particular individuals, and thus created faction which proved a fertile source of ruin. It also invited invasion. Accordingly Attica, from the poverty of its soil enjoying from a very remote period freedom from faction, never changed its inhabitants.”
So, once the Attic folk settled in that location they were the last to be attacked, with more fertile places home to more population replacement. Athens would also cultivate the olive as a perfect crop for poor soil and would become fortunate to discover silver ore deposits, where an army of slaves would suffer and toil unto death throughout much of its life. The historian keenly points to settled prosperity as the font of oligarchy, which has been the source of the ruling class’s power in Western Civilization from ancient times to the present.
“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.”
This status as a haven for refugees has a close parallel in the history of Great Britain and especially of its child, The United States of America.
“The Athenians were the first to lay aside their weapons, and to adopt an easier and more luxurious mode of life…”
The characterization of prosperity as an inducement to abandoning the autonomous lifeway of the warrior and to vest authority in a collective [either a prosperous oligarchy or a passive demos] with social will enforcement by proxy actors [Scythian slave police] is essentially the story of barbarism giving way to civilization, of agency bartered away in return for security, of the nomad herder consenting to the domestication he had previous foisted upon the herded beast.
The following concerns nakedness as an achievement of civilization and the belt as symbolic of the vigilant warrior of barbarism.
“Formerly, even in the Olympic contests, the athletes who contended wore belts across their middles; and it is but a few years since that the practice ceased. To this day among some of the barbarians, especially in Asia, when prizes for boxing and wrestling are offered, belts are worn by the combatants. And there are many other points in which a likeness might be shown between the life of the Hellenic world of old and the barbarian of to-day.”
Indictment of civilization as weakening.
“For the love of gain would reconcile the weaker to the dominion of the stronger…”
“…the earliest sea-fight in history was between the Corinthians and Corcyraeans; this was about two hundred and sixty years ago… seem to have been principally composed of the old fifty-oars and long-boats… They were the means by which the islands were reached and reduced, those of the smallest area falling the easiest prey. Wars by land there were none, none at least by which power was acquired; we have the usual border contests, but of distant expeditions with conquest for object we hear nothing among the Hellenes.”
The primacy of small ships of a single deck, essentially Viking-style craft covered a vast antiquity and only gave way to the double or triple deck war machines of Thucydides’ day in what he would have regarded as modern times. The single deck craft was a ship best suited for exploration, secondly for raiding and trading and only worthy as a war ship in terms of getting a man to a piece of land where he might fight. Thus such a ship like the Argo, was primarily a ship of migration, an extension of the warrior’s horse and chariot to journey the seas and certainly was of great antiquity. From at least 1200 B.C. and the siege of Troy, down to 600 B.C. the simple open-decked ship was at once a means of migration and a weapon of war, much as the “Swan” ships of the Aeneas and in a later age, of Beowulf, would journey the “whale roads” to new lands.
Below the author reminds us that our lie-infatuated and media-hypnotized mass of modern meat-puppets are not unique to history, as most domesticated humans are fit only to follow, submit or stampede as their shepherds and hunters see fit.
“So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth…”
Thucydides does not declare himself the first real historian, as modern academics would do, but wonders aloud if his experiment in placing analysis before entertainment will be well-received, admitting that more people would probably be educated by a more entertaining exploration, placing himself as a perfect and complimentary colleague to Herodotus.
“…but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content.”
The author here speaks of his age as a time when climate conditions changed from the usual, political institutions failed under stress, and disease took the stage unbidden, invoking the image of such re occurrences down through the ages, such as the Thirty Years War and Napoleonic Wars [largely encouraged by political failures in the face of climate change and famine and plague], WWI [caused by political failure to adjust to industrial realities] and perhaps the age we are now entering, featuring political failure to adjust to information technology, cultural failure to adjust to the information technology, our first visitation of plague since 1919 and perhaps the stress of future climatic change causing regular visitations of plague. For, as documented by Brian Fagan in The Little Ice Age, epidemic disease takes wing during planetary cooling cycles and we are now 2 years into the Eddie Minimum cycle of low sun spot activity. Most telling is the first line, in which he cites “banishing” which was the ancient version of doxing, which is an information age plague only a few years old.
“…never was there so much banishing and blood-shedding, now on the field of battle, now in the strife of faction. Old stories of occurrences handed down by tradition, but scantily confirmed by experience, suddenly ceased to be incredible; there were earthquakes of unparalleled extent and violence; eclipses of the sun occurred with a frequency unrecorded in previous history; there were great droughts in sundry places and consequent famines, and that most calamitous and awfully fatal visitation, the plague.”
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