Sound advice from Ancient Greece

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
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." ...
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
" 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
 
#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.
-Xenophon


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...
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
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.
-Xenophon


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...
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.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
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.
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
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.
-Xenophon


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...
Isn't it frightening that NONE of our recent political leaders seem to have studied history!
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
Isn't it frightening that NONE of our recent political leaders seem to have studied history!
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
Isn't it frightening that NONE of our recent political leaders seem to have studied history!
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!
 
#17
Doc Brown has a PHD in history, there's not much of a future for him though. We'd be better off having a horse in Parliament than the current lot.

DC
Doc Brown used to let people think his Ph D was in economics and that he was the leading economist of his academic cohort. What he did not reveal was that his Ph D thesis concerned James Maxton, an independent Clydeside socialist from between the wars. Maxton was also involved in organizing strikes in the shipyards, engineering and munitions factories during WW1. Dismissed as a teacher he was arrested in 1916 and charged with sedition. Found guilty, he was imprisoned for a year. Later he was in favour of non-intervention in spain and appeasement of Hitler.

Doc Brown also doesn't make much of the fact he was rejected for the post of Chief Economist at the RBS in favour of another candidate, a certain Eck Salmond!
 
#18
Excuse me for being a bit of an ignoramu...egnora....bit thick.

Didnt one of the Greek city states operate a kind of lottery when selecting who would hold certain offices? Anyone could put there name down but they would only hold this office for a set time and the lottery would decide their replacement. This would ensure that whoever held the position would make decisions in the peoples best interest with the knowledge that it would directly effect them once they were out of office.

Please tell me I'm not talking out my hoop but I'm sure it was the Athenians?
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
Excuse me for being a bit of an ignoramu...egnora....bit thick.

Didnt one of the Greek city states operate a kind of lottery when selecting who would hold certain offices? Anyone could put there name down but they would only hold this office for a set time and the lottery would decide their replacement. This would ensure that whoever held the position would make decisions in the peoples best interest with the knowledge that it would directly effect them once they were out of office.

Please tell me I'm not talking out my hoop but I'm sure it was the Athenians?
Juries were chosen by lottery but I'm not aware of the practice for choosing any specific office holders. Still, it's a while since the study of Athens and Ancient Greece crossed my path. Herodotus describes a tribe, in what is now Turkey, who would decide on policy and then have a big piss up. If they still agreed it was a good idea, it was enacted, if not then no. These pioneers of responsible public stewardship were also flexible enough to apply the opposite approach. I suspect they were proto-Arrsers.
 
#20
I'd be in favor of the star-ship troopers approach if only because a certain % of would be ministers would get slotted before they could do any damage.
not sure the "professionalism" of politics brings much to the table raising the age to be an mp to 40 might though.
if you've got to wait 20 odd years for a safe seat you might go off and do something first. anything frankly than be a "researcher"
 

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