Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Brief clarification to the previous brief thoughts

I must beg your pardon (all two of you); I was not entirely clear as to what I had in mind with regard to Cato. It is not that it is better to weep for a lost loved one or friend than to weep for lost virtue or liberty; rather, it is that imbuing a place, whether Rome or...anywhere else (bigger than one's own homestead), with the status of "immutable symbol of virtue and liberty" is merely setting one's self up for severe disappointment.

I also confess that having read Cato: A Tragedy after reading Caesar's Commentaries (courtesy of Caesar's team of traveling PR agents, as someone admirably said on some forum), I found myself wanting in knowledge of the Roman Civil War (that one, at any rate). Cato himself appears to have been all that reputation makes him, but I must (subject to further research as time allows) question whether throwing in with Pompey was really the way to defend republican ideals. At first blush, I find little to choose between Caesar and Pompey. I can say that my younger son's second grade history curriculum, while not bad, does implicitly back Caesar against Pompey...which may be no more than the instinctive collectivist love of centralizing power that Hayek notes in discussing Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and George Bernard Shaw in The Road to Serfdom (about which I shall have somewhat to say, one of these days).

As additional evidence of the preceding, I'll note that the curriculum explicitly waxes rhapsodic about the centralizing tendency of Byzantium. I'm sure it was just that the right people weren't in charge, and not anything inherent to the centralizing tendency, that made it end as it did. :)

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