Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Opinions Vary

The other evening in 7 Greeks: Translations by Guy Davenport, I noticed Fragment 25 of Herakleitos:
War is the father of us all and our king. War discloses who is godlike and who but a man, who is a slave and who is freeman.
Certainly that was the common Greek understanding. But then in Thucydides, Book 4, Chapter 40, concerning the capture of the Spartans at Sphakteria, one finds
Nothing which happened during the war caused greater amazement in Hellas; for it was universally imagined that the Lacedaemonians would never give up their arms, either under the pressure of famine or in any other extremity, but would fight to the last and die sword in hand.No one would believe that those who surrendered were men of the same quality with those who perished. There is a story of a reply made by a captive taken in the island to one of the Athenian allies who had sneeringly asked 'Where were their brave men-all killed?'; He answered that 'The spindle' (meaning the arrow) 'would be indeed a valuable weapon if it picked out the brave.' He meant to say that the destruction caused by the arrows and stones was indiscriminate.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, war has a way of leading different people to different opinions. Only the insane, I think, actually like war. But, of course, I could be wrong in my opinion.