Tim Bray posts today about reading the classics, and he leaves out the best justification for doing so, which is to find continued written proof that the more things change the more they stay the same, at least as regards human affairs. Take, for example, this Harpers piece by Lewis Lapham, which compares the justifications offered for the Iraq war to those given to justify the invasion of Syracuse by the city state of Athens back in the fifth century BC. The opportunity to look back 2500 years and see how a policy of “preemptive self defense” led to ruin is priceless. Coincidentally, Alcibiades, the original neo-con, is featured in both items I link to.
The synchronicity with recent events of the quotations from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War in the Lapham piece is so alarming that your jaw will drop.