Wednesday, May 02, 2007

From Athens to Caracas

I did take advantage of the May 1 holiday falling on a Tuesday and skipped work for a long weekend in the middle of nowhere, no Internet included. The mental rest has been wonderful even through a distant echo I heard that Chavez has again being hurling insults and taking credit for things he should not. So, what else is new? Did I really miss anything? Bozo in his usual vulgar splendor.

It was a good opportunity to catch up some with reading. In between long walks in the woods, dodging snakes and “bachacos”, and some rustic gastronomical activities I went for Thomas Cahill: “Sailing the wine-dark sea”. The book is subtitled “why the Greek matters” and indeed they do matter more today than they did perhaps a century ago. I will spare the reader an angry tirade on how is it possible that Cahill does not mention the naval battle of Salamis, equally ignored by the rather infamous movie “300”. However the book is perfect reading for a restful week end and even gave me the opportunity to write this post by quoting form page 112 of the soft cover edition in my hands. No comment will be needed for the enlightened reader.
Pisistratus [last tyrant of Athens] staged an attempt on his own life and in the ensuing chaos pushed the Assembly into voting him a bodyguard which he then used […] to seize the Acropolis, the lofty citadel that loomed over the city. Declaring himself tyrant, [a word without the same connotation then as today, milder, more like autocrat?] Pisistratus was subsequently driven out by a temporary alliance of Coastmen and Plainsmen [2 of the 3 sort of political parties of the time], an alliance that frayed soon enough, plunging Athens into tumult once more. Here was Pisitratus’s opportunity. He made a sensational return in a golden chariot accompanied by an extraordinary tall and beautiful young woman dressed in full battle armor, who he announced was the goddess Athena come to restore order to her city. Simple people knelt along Pisistratus’s parade, raised their arms, and gave thanks in the streets. Though only the most credulous members of the Assembly could be counted on to swallow such nonsense, there were, as there often are, quite enough of them to ensure initial political victory to an unscrupulous liar who piously invoked the powers of heaven. Only later, when the damage is done, do such dodos of democracy regret allowing themselves to be so easily taken in.

Jump a couple of millennia, do the necessary adjustments, and images of a certain country and its tyrannos will come to mind.

And chavistas think they have invented even sliced bread…


-The end-

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