Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pearl Harbor Anniversary Leads Meckler to Discuss Combatants' Uses of Classical Antiquity

Michael Meckler, a scholar of Classical Antiquity, has a fascinating piece on how several of the combatant nations, including our own, drew on Classical history and traditions to explain, inform, and in some instances, justify, their actions. He presented it on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, on the sixty-fifth anniversary of the attack by the Japanese Imperial Air Force on US territory.

I found this fascinating:
Fascism drew much of its inspiration from classical antiquity. The name itself deliberately recalled the fasces, the bundle of rods carried by the lictors attending a Roman consul. Both German and Italian fascists saw the military successes of the ancient Greeks and Romans as models for their own modes of governance.
Meckler goes on to explain:
...the Allies also saw the ancients as models, both for good and for ill. The New Zealand-born Oxford scholar Ronald Syme wrote The Roman Revolution -- his famous study about the collapse of the Roman republic and the establishment of the empire under Augustus -- in 1939, with an eye to parallels with the rise of fascism in Europe. Americans frequently drew their own connections between Athenian democracy and the society and government of the United States.
Read the whole thing.

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