Sound advice from Ancient Greece

Discussion in 'Strategic Defence & Spending Review (SDSR)' started by FORMER_FYRDMAN, Mar 2, 2011.

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    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    I came across this in the Telegraph comments section and thought it might strike a chord here. Over two thousand years later, Aesop is still relevant:

    ...'A Soldier gave his Horse a plentiful supply of oats in time of war, and tended him with the utmost care, for he wished him to be strong to endure the hardships of the field, and swift to bear his master, when need arose, out of the reach of danger. But when the war was over he employed him on all sorts of drudgery, bestowing but little attention upon him, and giving him, moreover, nothing but chaff to eat. The time came when war broke out again, and the Soldier saddled and bridled his Horse, and, having put on his heavy coat of mail, mounted him to ride off and take the field. But the poor half-starved beast sank down under his weight, and said to his rider, "You will have to go into battle on foot this time. Thanks to hard work and bad food, you have turned me from a Horse into an ass; and you cannot in a moment turn me back again into a Horse." ...
  2. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    " For they had learned that true safety was to be found in long previous training,
    And not in eloquent exhortations uttered when they were going into action"

    Thucydides 418 BC
    of the Spartans

    Mr Cameron please take note
  3. But didn't the Spartans think that shagging young boys and killing babies were good ideas too?
  4. Thucydides for strategy, Xenophon for tactics.

    "War is a matter not so much of arms as of money."
    — Thucydides (The History of the Peloponnesian War)

    "A nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its laws made by cowards and its wars fought by fools."
    — Thucydides

    "Think, too, of the great part that is played by the unpredictable in war: think of it now, before you are actually committed to war. The longer a war lasts, the more things tend to depend on accidents. Neither you nor we can see into them: we have to abide their outcome in the dark. And when people are entering upon a war they do things the wrong way round. Action comes first, and it is only when they have already suffered that they begin to think."
    — Thucydides (The Peloponnesian War )

    If the campaign is in summer the general must show himself greedy for his share of the sun and the heat, and in winter for the cold and the frost, and in all labours for toil and fatigue. This will help to make him beloved of his followers.

    There' s a reason classics aren't taught in state schools- It's too dangerous for the politicians. Tony Blair is so frighteningly similar to some of the 'demagogue' politicians that ruined Athens that if everyone had studied the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, no one would have voted for him. Thye would have spotted him for the snake-oil salesman he was in seconds.

    and Cameron and his Oligarchic followers are also strangely familiar...
  5. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    A definite case of Nail hit on head there
  6. Endless supplies of money form the sinews of war.
    2000 years after the Romans discovered the veracity of this statement, the only thing that has changed is the number of zeros after the one.

    And a lot of them are sitting in Parliament.
  7. So nothings changed in 3,000 years then.

    Generals plan for the last war, politicians budget for the one before that and the public don't give a stuff until the barbarian horde is beating down the door.

    Panem et circenses, it has always been thus.
  8. "If you wish for peace, prepare for war."
  9. You say that like it's a bad thing?
  10. If soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks.

    Frederick the Great.

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    Not necessarily. In Athens, generals were elected and had to give an account of their tenure at the end. Get it wrong and it was exile or worse (it's how Thucydides had time to write his book). I think we should bring that custom back and extend it to politicians and senior civil serpents.
  12. Isn't it frightening that NONE of our recent political leaders seem to have studied history!
  13. If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    When Churchill was asked how he had known Hitler would attack Russia, he replied: Becuase I have studied history."

    I think it's also relevent that he had studied the Enigma intercepts too but there's no doubt about the understanding that a bit of sound knowledge of humanity's past can bring. One can see why totalitarian states distort history or ban it altogether and one can certainly see why Tony hated it.
  15. Far too many of them moreover seem to have studied politics, before working in politics as an apparatcik then making the almost seamless transmission to political office. Even the Romans made their professional political class serve in a variety of other broadening roles before the senate and consulships beckoned!