Showing posts with label Quotes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quotes. Show all posts

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Quote: The Carthaginian Who Said No to War

from Livy's Ab Urbe Condita. Book 21.

Translation by Bruce J. Butterfield

21.3 ... The soldiers led the way by bringing the young Hannibal forthwith to the palace and proclaiming him their commander-in-chief amidst universal applause. Their action was followed by the plebs. Whilst little more than a boy, Hasdrubal had written to invite Hannibal to come to him in Spain, and the matter had actually been discussed in the senate. The Barcines wanted Hannibal to become familiar with military service; Hanno, the leader of the opposite party, resisted this. "Hasdrubal's request," he said, "appears a reasonable one, and yet I do not think we ought to grant it" This paradoxical utterance aroused the attention of the whole senate. 

He continued: "The youthful beauty which Hasdrubal surrendered to Hannibal's father he considers he has a fair claim to ask for in return from the son. It ill becomes us, however, to habituate our youths to the lust of our commanders, by way of military training. Are we afraid that it will be too long before Hamilcar's son surveys the extravagant power and the pageant of royalty which his father assumed, and that there will be undue delay in our becoming the slaves of the despot to whose son-in-law our armies have been bequeathed as though they were his patrimony? I, for my part, consider that this youth ought to be kept at home and taught to live in obedience to the laws and the magistrates on an equality with his fellow-citizens; if not, this small fire will some day or other kindle a vast conflagration." 

21.4 Hanno's proposal received but slight support, though almost all the best men in the council were with him, but as usual, numbers carried the day against reason. 

21.10 The result was that, beyond being received and heard by the Carthaginian senate, the embassy found its mission a failure. Hanno alone, against the whole senate, spoke in favour of observing the treaty, and his speech was listened to in silence out of respect to his personal authority, not because his hearers approved of his sentiments. He appealed to them in the name of the gods, who are the witnesses and arbiters of treaties, not to provoke a war with Rome in addition to the one with Saguntum. "I urged you," he said, "and warned you not to send Hamilcar's son to the army. That man's spirit, that man's offspring cannot rest; as long as any single representative of the blood and name of Barca survives our treaty with Rome will never remain unimperilled.

You have sent to the army, as though supplying fuel to the fire, a young man who is consumed with a passion for sovereign power, and who recognises that the only way to it lies in passing his life surrounded by armed legions and perpetually stirring up fresh wars. It is you, therefore, who have fed this fire which is now scorching you. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Quote: Vox Populi, Vox Dei

from Our Culture, What's Left of It, by Theodore Dalrymple

The crudity of which I complain results form the poisonous combination of an ideologically inspired (and therefore insincere) admiration for all that is demotic, on the one hand, and intellectual snobbery, on the other. In a democratic age, vox populi, vox dei: the multitude can do no wrong; and to suggest that there is or ought to be cultural activity from which large numbers of people might be excluded by virtue of their lack of mental cultivation is deemed elitist and, by definition, reprehensible. Coarseness is the tribute that intellectuals pay, if not to the proletariat, exactly, then to their own schematic, inaccurate, and condescending idea of the proletariat. Intellectuals prove the purity of their political sentiment by the foulness of their productions.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quote: A Roman Military Blunder

Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Ayrault Dodge (1842-1909), military historian and United States Army officer of the Union during the American Civil War, describes in his 1889 study of Hannibal Barca the first major engagement between the Romans and the Carthaginians under Hannibal in the Second Punic War at the Battle of the Trebia River, December 218 BC:

The day was raw; snow was falling; the [Roman] troops had not yet eaten their morning meal; yet, though they had been under arms for several hours, [Roman General Tiberius Sempronius Longus] pushed them across the fords of the Trebia, with the water breast-high and icy-cold. Arrived on the farther side, the Roman soldiers were so chilled that they could scarcely hold their weapons. 
Hannibal was ready to receive them. His men had eaten, rubbed themselves with oil before their camp-fires, and prepared their weapons. He might have attacked the Roman army when half of it was across, with even greater chances of success. But when he saw his ruse succeeding, he bethought him that he could produce a vastly greater moral effect on the new Gallic allies, as well as win a more decisive victory, by engaging the whole army on his own terms.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Quote: A Poet In Your Pocket

From John Adams, by David McCullough

[Adams] read Cicero, Tacitus, and others of his Roman heroes in Latin, and Plato and Thucydides in the original Greek, which he considered the supreme language. But in his need to fathom the "labyrinth" of human nature, as he said, he was drawn to Shakespeare and Swift, and likely to carry Cervantes or a volume of English poetry with him on his journeys. "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket," he would tell his son Johnny.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Quote: Joseph Campbell on 'The Magic of the Rite'

From Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By:

For it is the rite, the ritual and its imagery, that counts in religion, and where that is missing the words are mere carriers of concepts that may or may not make contemporary sense. A ritual is an organization of mythological symbols; and by participating in the drama of the rite one is brought directly in touch with these, not as verbal reports or historic events, either past, present or to be, but as revelations, here and now, of what is always and forever.
Where the synagogues and churches go wrong is by telling what their symbols "mean." The value of an effective rite is that it leaves everyone to his own thoughts, which dogma and definitions only confuse. Dogma and definitions rationally insisted upon are inevitably hindrances, not aids, to religious meditation, since no one's sense of the presence of God can be anything more than a function of his own spiritual capacity. 
Having your image of God–the most intimate, hidden mystery of your life–defined for you in terms contrived by some council of bishops back, say, in the fifth century or so: what good is that? But a contemplation of the crucifix works; the odor of incense works; so do, also, hieratic attires, the tones of well-sung Gregorian chants, intoned and mumbled Introits, Kyries, heard and unheard consecrations.
What has the "affect value" of wonders of this kind to do with the definitions of councils, or whether we quite catch the precise meaning of such words as 'Oramus te, Domine, per merita Sanctorum tuorum?' If we are curious for meanings, they are there, translated in the other column of the prayerbook. But if the magic of the rite is gone. . . .

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Quote: Three Theories on Postmodern Jargon

Jordan B. Peterson:

After explaining how the zebra's stripes camouflage it not against the foliage but against the herd, which confuses predators who, unable to distinguish one zebra from the other, constantly lose track of their
targeted prey, he continues:

One of the things that academics seem to do is congregate together in herd-like entities and then they share a language and the language unites them. And as long as they share the same set of linguistic tools among themselves they know that there isn't anybody in the coterie that's going to attack them or destabilize the entire herd.
And that seems to me to account for that impenetrable use of language. It's group-protection's the search for security within a system and not the desire to expand the system. [Link to Source]
Camille Paglia:

Instead of quoting Paglia's famous discursive style verbatim, permit me to paraphrase:

The inscrutable texts are, first, blatantly careerist attempts at grabbing power in academia: the postmodernists created an impenetrable language whose complex technicalities only they could understand. Second, that language was an, "absurd, absolutely ludicrous" imitation by "amateurs" of Lacan's attempt by to break up neoclassical French formulations, an attempt unnecessary for the vital English language. [Link to Source]

Roger Scruton:

It is an exercise in meaning Nothing, in presenting Nothing as something that can and should be meant, and as the true meaning of every text. . . Meaning is chased through the text from sign to sign, always vanishing as we seem to reach it. . . The effect of such cryptic ideas is to introduce not a critical reading of a text, but a series of spells, by which meaning is first imprisoned, and then extinguished. . .  
Deconstruction is neither a method nor an argument. It should be understood on the model of magic incantation. . . The deconstructionist critic is. . . the guardian and oracle of the text's sacred meaning. . . the god of deconstruction is not a 'real presence', in the Christian sense, but an absence. . . The revelation of the god is a revelation, so to speak, of a transcendental emptiness, an unmeaning, where meaning  should have been.
A 'substantified void' is the Real Presence of Nothing: and this is the content of this strange religion.
(Selections from pages 137-144 of Scruton's, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Culture. St. Augustine's Press. 2000)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Quote: The Humiliation of the Britons

1066 and All That. Chapter II: Britain Conquered Again.

The brutal Saxon invaders drove the Britons westward into Wales and compelled them to become Welsh; it is now considered doubtful whether this was a Good Thing. Memorable among the Saxon warriors were Hengist and his wife (? or horse), Horsa. Hengist made himself King in the South. Thus Hengist was the first English King and his wife (or horse), Horsa, the first English Queen (or horse). The country was now almost entirely inhabited by Saxons and was therefore renamed England, and thus (naturally) soon became C. of E. This was a Good Thing, because previously the Saxons had worshipped some dreadful gods of their own called Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Quote: Mises on Socialist Control of Industry

Mises, Ludwig von. Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis. Translated by J. Hakane. Liberty Fund, Inc. 1981. p. 187