Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

This is coolbert: This blog entry is somewhat related to a previous entry.

According to Joseph Campbell, here is what Pericles, the famous Athenian orator, had to say when comparing the societies of Athens and Sparta, the latter of which Athens was at war with at the time:

"then again, our military training is in many respects superior to that our adversaries. Our city is thrown open to the world, and we never expel a foreigner or prevent him from seeing or learning anything of which the secret if revealed to an enemy might profit him. We rely not upon management or trickery, but upon our own hearts and hands. And in the manner of education, whereas they from the early youth are always undergoing laborious exercises which are to make them brave, we live at ease, and yet are equally ready to face the perils that they face . . . "

Pericles is of course talking about the Spartans, their austere regimen of life based upon the military ideal. Every Spartan was a potential warrior who trained for the military life from the earliest age. Women too were obligated to learn the military "arts". The Spartan society was a complete military society, Athens was not.

Pericles is also making a point of the open society as compared to the closed society. We can find parallels between the Cold War duel of the U.S. and the western powers against the communist world. The closed societies of the communist world classified almost everything as a state secret. Our open society contrasted so markedly to the communist model. Just as the contrast between Athens and Sparta.

[Personal note. Democracy as practiced in Athens during the "Golden Age" lasted about 175 years. In American, we have managed over 200 years of democracy and counting. This should be counted as a good sign].

Of course, in the end the Spartans did triumph over the Athenians, but this was primarily to Athenian incompetence and not to Spartan toughness.



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