Saturday, December 03, 2005

Pericles' funeral oration

"We alone consider the man who refuses to take part in city affairs useless"

Now I'm not known for my role in public affairs. But Pericles, or at least Thucycides has a point. Athens was the vanguard of a form of 'demos' though slaves and women were not invited to the Agora.

In 431, shortly after the Peloponnesian War had broken out, Pericles delivered his Oration to commemorate troops fallen in battle. The historian Thucydides was the journalist present and his recording of the speech is our primary understanding of Athenian democracy.

He gave an idealised account of how Athenians are able to put aside their individual needs and strive for the greater good of the city. They submit to the rule of law not because they have to (like the military dictatorship of Athen's rival Sparta) but because it is in their common interest to do so.

Blanket Fears
I wake in pearly sweat of a stillborn night
From dreamshades of homeless turpish delight
and a hide and seek with a fleeing fear
neither hot nor cold, I’m nowhere near
Do I pig in ignorance or unclot in bliss
or surrender to a godless reign of uncharted kiss?
jolted by an infinite wrist with all the time in the world
brakes are screeched, anchors dropped and flags furled
I slowly retreat to a chamber of monotone echoes
and watch sparkling chameleons imitate pale geckoes
but no colour change can hide this vicious pain
its a pasty camouflage of the somewhat insane
fighting deja vu tensions as I partly realise
that these rhythmic blips are plaintive cries
and my self-defence mechanisms are meagre and crude
hopelessly ill equipped to deal with chronic solitude

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