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‘Except through the Medium of Heralds’
Red-Face-Island #6
BOOK II: CHAPTER VI: Beginning of the Peloponnesian War—First Invasion of Attica—Funeral Oration of Pericles
“The war between the Athenians and Peloponnesians and the allies on either side now really begins. For now all intercourse except through the medium of heralds ceased, and hostilities were commenced and prosecuted without intermission. The history follows the chronological order of events by summers and winters.”
The use of heralds cited above indicates that this remained a war of cultural and racial cousins, and was not a pure interracial or industrial hunt, as both those types of warfare dehumanized the enemy into either a beast or a cipher.
Below is a passage which gives the culturally hyper-precise yet anachronistically unwieldy methods of ancient dating, with the folks of a small peninsula using various means of noting the passage of time.
“In the fifteenth, in the forty-eighth year of the priestess-ship of Chrysis at Argos, [1] in the ephorate of Aenesias at Sparta, in the last month but two of the archonship of Pythodorus at Athens, and six months after the battle of Potidaea, just at the beginning of spring…”
The first battle of the war was a boondoggle of mixed intrigue and honor, with honorable behavior being severely punished by intrigue, with notes that women and slaves pelted enemy soldiers from roof tops. This was often done with roof tiles of masonry and would a century and a half later account for the death of one of the great captains of antiquity, Phyrus, the man who had defeated Rome in three battles done to death by a tile hurled by a hooker, if my imagination serves me true...
Sparta’s alliance with the smaller naval powers of Italy was cunningly maintained by directing them to build up rather than commit their peacetime forces early much as America did during WWII. This foresight hinted at total, coalition warfare to come.
"This day will be the beginning of great misfortunes to the Hellenes." Spoke the first Spartan emissary to Athens after hostilities had commenced, when his embassy was refused. He proved prophetic.
“…they had twelve hundred horse including mounted archers, with sixteen hundred archers unmounted…” So the Athenians had a significant barbarian police force of about 2,000 archers which was charged with policing a city of less than a third the population of Baltimore, Maryland, in 2018, which had the same number of police, mostly aliens and not citizens of the city. 400 of these Scythian archers were sent out with the navy to raid enemy Greek settlements on Red-face-island.
It is thought that the common ancient practice of ethnic displacement has only been practiced on a single ancient folk and of Amerindians, but:
“During the summer the Athenians also expelled the Aeginetans with their wives and children from Aegina…”
The following passage is an admission of the glory and peril of Athens, as the man who lorded it over that teaming city declared it, much like the New York of pandemic 2020, to be the center of the economic world, not knowing that that made it the center of the epidemiological world and that he would perish from the plague brought by his own outsourcing policy of inter-ethnic domination of his neighbors:
“We celebrate games and sacrifices all the year round, and the elegance of our private establishments forms a daily source of pleasure and helps to banish the spleen; while the magnitude of our city draws the produce of the world into our harbour, so that to the Athenian the fruits of other countries are as familiar a luxury as those of his own.”
Pericles further goes on to declare cultural superiority in much the way of every president of the United States during my life time, leading up to the present: “I say that as a city we are the school of Hellas, while I doubt if the world can produce a man who, where he has only himself to depend upon, is equal to so many emergencies, and graced by so happy a versatility, as the Athenian.”
He went on to brag that the Athenians would require no Homer to immortalize them, not knowing that it would be their arrogant folly, rather than their quality, that would earn them a place in our distant consciousness.
Notes
-1. Where the cult of Hera’s shield was kept.
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Add Comment
Yeti WatersJuly 16, 2020 5:58 PM UTC

All throughout Thucydides history, you read the heralds would invoke the "traditions of our ancestors", when bargaining for this or that before or after a battle, usually in regards to retrieving the dead or ratifying a truce. After the Athenians were routed by the Boetians at the temple of Apollo, the arguments about whether it was a greater crime to drink and wash at the temple or to deny the retrieval of the dead seemed to have a very lawyer like character, rotting corpses in the field and these guys are bickering over loopholes in the "tradition of our ancestors". It all seems very alien to a modern reader. It's a wonder they didn't have referees in black and white stripes blowing whistles and throwing flags on the field of battle.
responds:July 17, 2020 9:40 AM UTC

It was really, the death of an age with its attendant strangeness. Nice observations.