There is an excellent letter in today’s Washington Post describing the striking similarities between the scene in Athens 2500 years ago as it was losing its greatness during the Peloponnesian War and the scene in the US today:
The following applies just as well to the Bush administration as it did to Greece when Thucydides wrote it 2,500 years ago. The passage was quoted by Thomas Cahill in his book published last year, “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter”:
“Practically the whole of the Hellenic world was convulsed . . . To fit in with the change of events, words too had to change their usual meaning. 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 disguise 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. . . . Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect. . . . Society was divided into camps in which no man trusted his fellow.”
PATRICIA H. VANDERSLICE
Cobb Island, Md.