A New Perspective on the Sword of Damocles

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Thu, 06 Apr 2006 12:03:19 GMT  <== Politics ==> 

Tim Case at LewRockwell.com - a student of ancient history reminds us of times past when those who made war actually made personal sacrifices. [lew]

This legend tells us how Damocles, as courtier to Dionysius the Elder (AKA the Tyrant of Syracuse), was always declaring his admiration at the power, wealth, and contentment of the king. However after a time, Dionysius became weary of the constant flattery and decided to hold a lavish banquet for Damocles.

When Damocles arrived at the feast he was given the seat of honor over which a sword was suspended from the ceiling by a single hair -- signifying the precariousness of a king's fortunes.


The delegates to the Continental Congress were not in total agreement with each other, their divisions and disagreements laid along cultural, religious and traditional lines, as did the disagreements among their respective colonies. Each representative's signature on the Declaration of Independence did not bind a colony to support it; rather the signatures proved only the Declaration of Independence's authenticity.

Yet, in the end fifty-four (two delegates signed at a later date) men moved forward and in turn, signed their name to a document, which declared their independence from and contained a litany of grievances against their government and king.

This simple act of signing their names labeled each in turn as "terrorist," "traitor," "subversive," "rabble-rouser," "criminal," and "malefactor." The consequences of this act would include hanging, the deaths of many of their wives and children, imprisonment, and loss of personal wealth and properties. Few of the original signers of this "Declaration of Independence" would ever reap the rewards of their actions.


Now here is the fact pertinent to our discussion. Agamemnon (whose name mean "very resolute") is informed that if he truly wants to go to war with Troy he must appease the goddess' wrath and that the only means by which this can be done is with the blood sacrifice of his oldest daughter, Iphigeneia.

Can you imagine the dilemma this put Agamemnon in? Suddenly, he has to decide what he loves most: his first-born daughter or his brother and war.

Agamemnon's decision is in favor of war and so the first weeping over a death in the Trojan War doesn't come from the combatant's families; it comes from the lips of the family who has the power and means to start the war.

I am under no delusion, nor do I wish the reader to be deluded, into thinking this is likely to be a reality in the "modern" world, especially among those in the halls of power within the US Federal government. This would require that the membership in both houses, along with the executive branch, have a skeletal structure with a greater consistency then phlegm.

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