The Center for Hellenic Studies

“An Athenian in the American Civil War” [1] : Looking Back on The Tyrant Slayers, A Memoir and Reflection after 37 Years

Michael W. Taylor
How much of the fatal policy of states, and of the miseries and degradations of social man, have been occasioned by the false notions of honor inspired by the works of Homer, it is not easy to ascertain … My veneration for his genius is equal to that of his most idolatrous readers; but my reflections on the history of human errors have forced upon me the opinion that his existence has really proved one of the signal misfortunes of mankind.
Joel Barlow, Preface to The Columbiad (1809)
In the cold and somewhat troubled winter of 1974–1975 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a group of young scholars including Gregory Nagy, Douglas Frame, Steven Lowenstam and myself met one evening a week to discuss Homer and to read our current work aloud to each other. It was a great privilege, and it was in that setting that my 1975 Ph.D. thesis, The Tyrant Slayers: The Heroic Image in Fifth Century B.C. Athenian Art and Politics evolved. We styled ourselves the Homer Club, and, mainly, it was a lot of fun. That always seemed to be one of Greg’s main goals, to make sure we enjoyed the study of Homer and Homeric language. I learned this about Greg at the first graduate student party I attended at his apartment when he told us how much he liked the movie, “Jason and the Argonauts.”
That winter of 1974–1975 was a period of political uncertainty following the resignation of Richard Nixon. There were severe economic troubles that followed in the wake of the Yom Kippur War and the Arab oil embargo. The final tragic chapter of the war in South Vietnam and Cambodia — in which I had served as a naval officer — was taking place. The Turks had overrun the excavation site at which I had worked as a field archaeologist with Emily Vermeule in the previous summer, and there had been looting of the dig finds (over which members of the excavation team including myself had labored many hours) that were stored in the apotheke of Agios Mammas Church in Morphou. The academic job market seemed almost non-existent. But despite the prevailing troubled atmosphere, Greg Nagy kept our attention focused on the language of Homer and kept asking about the transcendent meaning of the words. And he never discouraged, but instead encouraged and urged on the thinking processes and ideas of a lowly graduate student.
I came to my subject after spending the 1973–1974 school year as the Charles Eliot Norton Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. It was my good fortune that one of the resident scholars that year was Evelyn Harrison of New York University who generously gave her time in discussing with me my nascent ideas about the context of late Archaic and early Classical Athenian sculpture. Her comments on the Athena Parthenos as we stood before the small copy in the Patras Museum on a School trip helped me formulate my ideas about the iconography of the Athenian state.
In recent years, I have gained the insight that my ideas about the religious usage of the tyrant slayers as founding heroes of the Athenian democracy were influenced by my childhood spent as the son of Southern Baptist missionaries living amongst the Yoruba in what was then the Western Region of the British Protectorate of Nigeria. My father, a Duke University Ph.D. in Southern History, taught history at Iwo Baptist College (now Bowen University in Iwo, Nigeria). He often reminded me of the parallels between the Greeks and the Yoruba, both living in city-states and both worshipping a pantheon of deities. As a child, I sometimes came upon a dish of food set before a painted rock as I explored the bush around our mission station and often saw women of the town praying for fertility before a giant baobab tree around which strips of cloth were tied. From these experiences, I came to understand how a propitiatory religion works, and in retrospect looking back years later, I can see that I applied that understanding to the tyrant slayers.
My desire to be an archaeologist was greatly influenced by my historian father, but I did not need much pushing in that direction after visiting the ancient ruins of Africa, the Middle East and Europe in my childhood and early teenage years. I owe a great debt to my parents, Orville W. Taylor and Evelyn B. Taylor, for the gift of a love of learning and the opportunity to explore our past.
My interest in the Athenian democracy was triggered while I was still in high school by a lecture that I attended at UNC-Chapel Hill in the early 1960s given by Anthony Raubitschek on Athenian ostracism. And my understanding of the threats that democracy could face and the citizen efforts that could be undertaken to oppose those threats was informed by the fight against the Speaker Ban Law at Chapel Hill during my undergraduate years and by the events of the Watergate scandal.
Certainly, my visceral and partially negative reaction to the reckless daring of the tyrant slayers and its destructive possibilities was influenced by my military service in the Vietnam War. The insouciance of youth could not survive sights such as the bodies of massacre victims I saw floating down the Mekong River when I rode a Swift Boat upriver into Cambodia during President Nixon’s May 1970 incursion.
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Lt.(j.g.) Michael W. Taylor on Swift Boat going up the Mekong River in Cambodia, May 1970.
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1998 political campaign use of photograph above.
But my presence in Athens, Greece, on November 17, 1973, when the Junta crushed the student demonstration at the Polytechnion gave me a renewed admiration for opponents of tyranny when I witnessed uniformed officers knocking a bearded young man to the pavement and savagely beating and kicking him as the crowd began to run up Kolonaki, heard from my room at the American School the rumbling of tank treads on the streets and machine gun fire echoing across Athens during the night, and then saw the destruction at the Polytechnion and its environs the next day.
I began my research in the summer of 1974 in the library of the Fogg Art Museum in trying to understand why Theseus was being depicted in the tyrannicide poses. I collected all of the vase paintings of Theseus that I could find and lined them up chronologically. This is the research work that produced Chapter 4 of my book. As it became clear to me that the dating of the shift in the portrayal of Theseus to the tyrannicide pose coincided approximately with the reforms of Ephialtes in the late 460s and the ascent of Pericles to power, I realized that I had found what I was looking for, a nexus of evidence for understanding the spirit of the Athenian democracy at its high summer. Because of the course in Greek Lyric Poetry that I had taken from Gregory Nagy, I was able to grasp early on that my basic theme had a Homeric and Nagy-ian quality to it, and was at essence about the Athenian quest for kleos aphthiton — undying fame. This is a perilous matter, it turns out. Great things can be accomplished with immense self-confidence, but reckless daring also to leads to destruction.
An enticing aspect of the subject of Harmodios and Aristogeiton was the wide variety of the evidence, literary, historical, epigraphical, numismatic, sculptural and pictoral. When I was writing my Ph.D. thesis in 1974–1975, I could find precedent for neither the multidisciplinary approach I was using perforce, due to the nature of the evidence, nor for my ideas about the tyrant slayers playing a religious role in formulating a refoundation of the Athenian state. Alan Shapiro’s review in Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 113 (1993), pp. 211–213, complimented that approach, and I have always been grateful for that review.
As I did my research back then, I came to visualize scholars in a variety of walled-off enclosures working in his or her own field — philology, ancient history, political philosophy, archaeology, art — and his or her own set of evidence — the statues, the drinking songs and the references to them in Aristophanes, the laws about the descendants, the passages in Herodotus and Thucydides — with each scholar laboring on his or her own projects in isolation, almost as if they saw themselves as not being allowed to proceed to find the overarching meaning of their work, perhaps through a too-zealous application of time-honored narrow and restrictive customs of Classical scholarship, put in place long ago to assure the focus on detail and accuracy required for excellence in this field.
As a graduate student, I was always encouraged to view German scholarship as a great model for emulation, so when I found only a short article on the tyrant slayers in the Pauly, I realized that I might have stumbled on a piece of Greek history that had not yet been thoroughly studied, and I was off and running.  It seemed to me that all of the evidence about the tyrant slayers — historical, literary, epigraphic, numismatic, sculptural and pictorial — cried out for a multidisciplinary interpretation. I felt at the very least I could make a contribution (modeled on Brunsåker’s most useful compilation of fragments of copies of the tyrannicide statue group) by collecting together in one volume citations to every historical, literary, epigraphic and visual art reference to Harmodios and Aristogeiton that I could find. And I also set out to collect vase paintings of the Labors of Theseus in an effort to understand the phenomenon of a mythological king being refigured to imitate historical democratic heroes in red figure Athenian vase painting depicting Theseus standing in the poses of the tyrannicides. My book, The Tyrant Slayers, was basically the result of asking a question — Why did Theseus appear as a tyrannicide in Athenian vase painting? — and collecting evidence to attempt to answer that question.
Before The Tyrant Slayers, scholarship on the Athenian tyrannicides remained fragmented. The Tyrant Slayers collocated historical, epigraphical, archaeological, art historical, and literary sources, [2] crossing disciplinary boundaries in order to achieve a fuller understanding of how and why Harmodios and Aristogeiton came to be regarded as tyrannicides in the first place, [3] and what their commemoration signified to ancient Athenians; as my 1991 introduction puts it, “[H]ow did the Athenians imagine their democracy?” [4] This question has captured the interest of subsequent scholars, who rely upon The Tyrant Slayers when discussing the tyrannicide tradition in particular and Athenian democracy in general. [5] The Tyrant Slayers’ primary theses have been incorporated into detailed and focused discussions of various aspects of Athenian democratic culture, and have gained the support of fruitful application. [6]
Where do we go from here with Harmodios and Aristogeiton? What more does the phenomenon of the tyrant slayers have to tell us about Athens — and about ourselves, about our own 21st century concepts of democracy and the state? What has been missed?
In writing this, I have the advantage of returning to Classical scholarship after an absence of more than three and a half decades while I have practiced law, been engaged in politics and, as an avocation, read the Classics and American and English history on the side along with writing and publishing books and articles about the American Civil War. I am now able to look at my work and the scholarship that uses it with a fresh perspective. The main issue that needs to be further studied, I believe, is a point I attempted to make in the original 1975 Introduction to my Ph.D. thesis that became a part of the 1981 edition of The Tyrant Slayers: the central significance of the religious (civil religious, if you will) aspect of the commemoration of Harmodios and Aristogeiton.

Future Work to Be Done on the Tyrannicides? It’s Time to “Get” Religion and Understand Propaganda

We live in a time when propaganda, much of it of religious and particularly civil religious in nature, permeates our lives through the airwaves. I fully believe that the power and effect of the propaganda being directed at us cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of the impact of its religious component. From only brief recent observation of the current academic scene, but also from my knowledge of the society surrounding it, I have come to postulate that we live in a time when it is very difficult for scholars with standing within the Academy to acknowledge and accept the power of the religious experience without at the same time belittling that power as mere superstition. Some scholars, very understandably, tired of being attacked as God-less secular humanists, tend to react by discounting and even disdaining the genuine impact and emotional power of religion, giving little credence to the religious instinct. [7]
As an antidote to such scholarly thinking I believe it is time to renew an acquaintance with the critique of unbelief set forth in William James’ 1896 lecture, “The Will to Believe” in which James mocks atheism and agnosticism as “the queerest idol ever manufactured in the philosophic cave”:
Were we scholastic absolutists, there might be more excuse. If we had an infallible intellect with its objective certitudes, we might feel ourselves disloyal to such a perfect organ of knowledge in not trusting to it exclusively, in not waiting for its releasing word. But if we are empiricists [pragmatists], if we believe that no bell in us tolls to let us know for certain when truth is in our grasp, then it seems a piece of idle fantasticality to preach so solemnly our duty of waiting for the bell. [8]
During my first semester at Harvard in the fall of 1971, Professor Edith Porada was a visiting scholar from Columbia University. After hearing her lecture on cylinder seals, I asked her one of those first year graduate student questions, “What is the origin of art?” She proved herself to be a very kind person and answered me without scorn or irony, “Oh, art comes from religion.” (Or words to that effect, as best I can remember.) So, once again, the power of the religious experience manifests itself not just in emotions but in tangible ways through art which in turn has emotive power.
It is now approaching 150 years since Matthew Arnold recorded the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of the “Sea of Faith” in his poem, “Dover Beach,” and that withdrawal seems to have accelerated. We may not be as adrift religiously as much as a character in a Douglas Coupland story in Life After God (Pocket Books, 1994), but the Coupland stories are on target enough to make many Amazon.com reviewers confess to the stories’ accuracy. In the present secular environment, it difficult for us to understand the Athenians’ religion, even 60 years after the publication of E.R. Dodds’ seminal work, The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951).
It is not very surprising, then, that scholarship touching upon the tyrant slayers over the past 37 years has given little attention to the religious aspect of Harmodios and Aristogeiton, too little in my opinion. It is critically important to remember that the Athenians of the classical period were a very religious people, even when beginning to address the sometimes apparent dichotomies of faith and reason.
Robert Parker in his study of Athenian religion points out that even Socrates and Plato were bested by traditional religion, or at least, in Plato’s case, accommodated it. Parker highlights Plutarch’s story of Dion’s entourage, graduates of Plato’s Academy, being unalarmed by an eclipse but offering an encouraging explanation to the troops through the seer, Melitas, and Parker notes, “The formal victor was certainly traditional religion.” [9] But while noting that I stress in my book “the Athenian tendency to assimilate tyrannicides to war-dead,” Parker does not go much further in discussing what this might mean. [10] One might have hoped for much more from such a learned scholar in such a magisterial work. [11]
It may be that civil religion is in a category all by itself when it comes to producing emotions of a violent nature, perhaps because the machinery of the State is available to those so emoted so that they can sometimes wreak vast swathes of destruction. One has only to think of film footage of torchlit Nazi rallies at Nuremburg to understand the extremes to which those emotions can be taken. The images of civil religion, like those of Harmodios and Aristogeiton, can seem to elevate when they actually serve to soften and even falsify our understanding and memory of the horrors of war and violence.
A central postulate of my 1975 Harvard Ph.D. thesis on the tyrant slayers was that it was Pericles who seized upon Harmodios and Aristogeiton as a central symbol of the radical Athenian democracy that he led in putting forward, beginning around 460 B.C.E. It seems that Pericles, as a brilliant politician, understood the importance of propaganda in a democracy.
The very term, “propaganda,” has pejorative connotations of manipulation, deceit, and inequality. [12] We commonly reserve the word for cultural products and social meanings that we find problematic. [13] However, it is essential that we come to understand how and why propaganda is so important in a democracy and how it can be destructive of the essential character of the democracy in stifling dissent, particularly when the propaganda takes on religious overtones implying that true adherents of a particular religious orientation must vote a certain way, regardless of what their reasoned judgment might tell them.
The power of propaganda is frequently underestimated by idealists who fail to see, until too late, the ways it can be used to manipulate the public. [14] Clearly, modern American and European history offers many examples of the power of propaganda. By looking back at the experience of the Periclean democracy and then forward at examples in our more recent history, we can gain a deeper understanding of propaganda and see that its use from ancient times to modern forms one continuum of the same phenomenon. Jacques Ellul has pointed out that when a democracy has appeared, propaganda has historically established itself alongside it. “This is inevitable, as democracy depends on public opinion and competition between parties to gain power. In order to come to power, parties make propaganda to gain voters.” [15] But Ellul, who fought with the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation of France, makes a cautionary observation:
… [I]t is evident that a conflict exists between the principles of democracy — particularly the concept of the individual — and the principles of propaganda. The notion of rational man, capable of thinking and living according to reason, of controlling his passions and living according to scientific patterns, of choosing freely between good and evil – all this seems opposed to the secret influences, the mobilizations of myth, the swift appeals to the irrational, so characteristic of propaganda. [16]
In an incisive analysis very pertinent to the Athenian democracy’s symbolic uses of Harmodios and Aristogeiton, Ellul says:
[A]ny operation that transforms democracy into a myth transforms the democratic ideal. Democracy was not meant to be a myth … [D]emocracy cannot be an object of faith, of belief: It is an expression of opinion. There is a fundamental difference between regimes based on opinion and regimes based on belief. To make a myth of democracy is to present the opposite of democracy. One must clearly realize that the use of ancient myths and the creation of new ones is a regression toward primitive mentality, regardless of material progress … [T]he objects of propaganda tend to become totalitarian because propaganda itself is totalitarian … [S]uch propaganda can be effective as a weapon of war but we must realize when using it we simultaneously destroy the possibility of building true democracy. [17] (Emphasis added)
Within Athens and as an adjunct to compulsion within the Athenian Empire, propaganda was critically important to the execution of the policies of Pericles. In Harmodios and Aristogeiton, I would contend, Pericles found an ideal focus for his propaganda. The question must be whether Pericles used this propaganda for democratic or anti-democratic purposes.
How can we gain an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon of the Harmodios and Aristogeiton as powerful symbols of the radical Athenian democracy? Useful analogies can be found in modern American and European history. The power of propaganda to influence the citizens of a democracy to make an about face and go in a direction chosen by the state has been taken to possibly unimagined new levels in the modern age, and propaganda’s power is illustrated by several well-known events of the past two centuries of modern history. [18]

Periclean Athens and American Democracy

It should be noted at the outset that the power of propaganda in the form of demagoguery in a pure democracy was much feared by the American Founders. It is clear that they looked with horror and revulsion on the example of the Athenian democracy as a recipe for mob rule and cataclysm. [19] The example of the Roman Republic was looked upon favorably, but the skepticism in the early American Republic toward things Greeks is illustrated by a statement made by Joel Barlow, author of the American epic poem “The Columbiad” (1809), who expressed his belief that the survival of the text of Homer was “one of the signal misfortunes of mankind” because of "the false notions of honor inspired by Homer." [20]
Jennifer T. Roberts in a useful and fascinating article traces the rising and falling fortunes of the contrasting portraits of Pericles by Thucydides and Plutarch in America (and in England). A review of the views of Pericles tracked by Roberts shows not only how those opinions changed in America from the early Republic to the Civil War, but also reveals the conflicting truths about one of the greatest democratic heroes in history, a true “traitor to his class” [21] who was a champion of the people and of pure democracy but also the leader whose aggressive foreign policies led to overextension and ultimately to defeat.
In the 18th century, culminating in Alexander Hamilton's attack in the Federalist Paper no. 6, Pericles was seen as a greedy, corrupt and power-hungry leader who plunged Athens into a disastrous war with Sparta in order to distract the Demos from seeking to prosecute him. This changed in the 19th century as early as 1803 when Hamilton, under the pseudonym "Pericles,” urged America to become an imperial power. Such a shift may have been seen as possible once the basic structure of the American constitutional government had been established on the basis of a divided balance of power. [22]
The 19th century rise in popularity of a beneficent view of the Greek polis was reflected in Greek Revival architecture and the establishment of the first professorial chair in Greek at Harvard in 1817, filled by Edward Everett in 1819, followed by Yale's chair in Greek established in 1831 and filled by Theodore Woolsey. Both Everett and Woolsey later became President of their respective universities.
William Mitford's eight volume History of Greece, published between 1784 and 1818, espoused a negative view of Pericles and of Athens: "[T]he Athenian people were the despotic sovereign; Pericles the favourite and minister, whose business it was to indulge the sovereign's caprices that he might direct their measures; and he had the skill often to direct their caprices." [23]
Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote a scathing review of Mitford's history and called for a new history of Greece that would "celebrate Athens as the cradle of philosophy and the arts,” according to Roberts. Macaulay showed his true colors by displaying an intense enthusiasm for Athens in an essay entitled, "On the Athenian Orators" that, according to Roberts, "glorified Pericles and his age in a rapture of ecstasy":
We enter the public space; there is a ring of youths, all leaning forward, with sparkling eyes, and gestures of expectation. Socrates is pitted against the famous atheists of Ionia, and has just brought him to a contradiction in terms. Pericles is mounting the stand. Then for a play of Sophocles, and away to sup with Aspasia.
Macaulay concluded that he knew of no modern university that had "so excellent a system of education." Roberts comments dryly, "One cannot help wondering exactly how Aspasia fit the Athenian demos at her table. . ." [24] And yet, as one stops for a moment to smile at Macaulay’s 19th century expression of English enthusiasm for Athens, one cannot help but note that there is something of validity in Macaulay’s admiration for debate in the public space which lies at the beating heart of true democracy. [25]
Harvard Greek Professor and President Edward Everett was influential in several areas including the American movement that began in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts to make cemeteries into something like parks or nature preserves. Everett's most famous moment came in November 1863 at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, where he referred to Pericles’ Funeral Oration and spoke for two hours before Lincoln gave his immortal "brief remarks,” known to history as the Gettysburg Address.
Everett's two hour speech at Gettysburg has not been treated very kindly and is hardly ever mentioned except for its great length. But it was in fact in many ways a homage to Pericles' Funeral Oration in Thucydides, albeit with words for bereaved women that Pericles refused to give. While Everett’s Gettysburg address is often compared unfavorably to Lincoln’s, Jennifer Roberts kindly takes note of Everett’s concern for women in his address (so unlike that of Pericles) and notes, “Everett’s Civil War appropriation of his Periclean/Thucydidean material, then, was thoughtful and creative, ringing important variations on the classical text.” [26]
From the Southern point of view, Confederate soldier and scholar Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve in his famous article, "A Southerner in the Peloponnesian War" Atlantic Monthly September 1897, 330–341, dismissed Plutarch's negative portrait of Pericles as of little value: “The Southerner resented Northern dictation as Pericles resented Lacedaemonian dictation, and our Peloponnesian War began.” [27]
Although the image of Pericles shifted to a more beneficent one as the 18th century wore into the 19th, the history of the American Civil War and subsequent conflicts shows that propaganda — which I believe Pericles wielded very effectively — has become only more prevalent, with its practitioners more skilled and, as a result, propaganda is even more dangerous than it ever was. Modern events, especially wars which call for especially intensive propaganda efforts, offer useful historical analogies for the study of the Classical period in Athens in general and of the motivating emotions offered by the tyrant slayers in particular.
The tyrant slayers offer a fruitful subject for understanding the uses and abuses of propaganda, particularly with civil religious overtones, and the striking parallels with modern American and European history can inform our understanding of both periods of history and of our own present situation, besieged as we are with propagandizing messages pouring in over the air waves.
It is often difficult to believe that modern soldiers have been willing to sacrifice themselves voluntarily in scenes of such great carnage as presented by warfare waged by modern industrial states. The motivating factors must be understood, and paramount among those factors is propaganda. At the same time, it is extremely interesting and encouraging to see that poets and other artists have chosen at critical moments both before, during and after wars to question and speak out against the prevailing national tides of propaganda that unleashed such violence, even though, as World War I English war poet Wilfred Owen, who died in the fighting only a week before Armistice Day 1918, observed, all a poet can do today is warn. [28]

Democratic propaganda and the battlefields of the American Civil War

The American Civil War was a cataclysm of extreme violence and loss that brought freedom to the slaves and along the way also forged the modern American state, introducing such measures as military conscription, the income tax, huge prison camps in which inmates perished by the thousands, suspension of habeas corpus, trench warfare, and industrial slaughter of soldiers on a scale so massive that the true total of losses are even now mere estimates and historians have yet to write comprehensive scholarly histories of some entire campaigns. [29] In the years of fighting and those that followed, poets such as Walt Whitman and Herman Melville spoke about the true cost of the War. Visual images were created in media new and old, from paintings and drawings to photographs which portrayed the War’s true appearance, causing uneasiness on the home front, just as the televised images of fighting in Vietnam disturbed American civilians 100 years later.
As Daniel Webster had predicted in an 1850 speech replying to those who argued that secession could be peaceable, the American Civil War was a climactic and very nearly apocalyptic event:
Peaceable secession! Sir, your eyes and mine are never destined to see that miracle. The dismemberment of this vast country without convulsion? The breaking up of the fountains of the great deep without ruffling the surface? Who is so foolish … Sir, I see as plainly as I see the sun in heaven … that disruption … must produce war, and such a war as I will not describe. [30]
The events of 1861–1865 are replete with examples of uses, abuses, and means of deployment of plastic and verbal imagery as propaganda through which the harsh medicine of modern statehood was made palatable and, if necessary, force fed to the citizenry, just as the imagery of the tyrant slayers was used to inspire the citizens of the Athens with a love of their polis to attempt — and sometimes fail at — great things. As Herman Melville put it in his poem, “On the Slain Collegians”:
… what troops
Of generous boys in happiness thus bred--/
Saturnians through life's Tempe led,
Went from the North and came from the South,
With golden mottoes in the mouth,
To lie down midway on a bloody bed.
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The State with a sword summons to war a student who drops his books. Bronze bas relief on the base of “Silent Sam,” the University of North Carolina’s Confederate statue, memorial to the 321 UNC students who died in the Civil War. Photo by the author.
Those “golden mottoes” of the American Civil War included a Southern conviction that the fight was for liberty, despite the South’s “Peculiar Institution.” The result was the sight of a chorus of young women in South Carolina celebrating secession by singing the “Marseillaise.” [31] In the North, young men fought and died for the Union, but the shock of the horrors they encountered on the battlefield is evident in their letters and diaries. [32]
Antietam, Md. Confederate dead by a fence on the Hagerstown road. Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Civil War photographs, 1861-1865, LC-DIG-cwpb-01097.
Perhaps only the 170,000 African-American soldiers of the United States Colored Troops fought with such self-evident self-interest that they did not need to be inveigled into fighting by “golden mottoes.” In any event, the U.S.C.T. are credited by recent historians as having been a key factor in the final defeat of the Confederacy. Lee found his way out blocked by regiment upon regiment of black troops at Appomattox. [33]
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Confederate memorial statue "Gloria Victis" in Salisbury, NC, depicting Fame lifting up a dying Confederate soldier, by sculptor Frederic Wellington Ruckstuhl, created 1891, dedicated 1909. Photograph by the author.
The strength and influence of civil religion, which is the true focus of the tyrant slayers’ phenomenon, is more easily appreciated and understood, perhaps, by a native of the American South, such as myself, who even at a remove of 150 years from the Civil War can still sense the impact upon my home region of the so-called “Lost Cause Religion” that permeated the Southern states for 50 years and more following the American Civil War. [34] In some ways, the Athenian fascination with the tyrant slayers and, by extension, with the Marathonomachoi and the heroes of the Persian Wars and the Trojan War, was paralleled by the self-identification of Southerners before, during, and after the American Civil War with the knightly heroes of chivalry. Mark Twain, who mocked the late 19th century obsession with chivalry in A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court, even went so far as to lay blame for the Civil War upon the writings of Sir Walter Scott in Life on the Mississippi. The Southern fascination with medieval chivalry was so great that an edition of Jamison’s Life & Times of Bertrand du Guesclin (c.1320–1380), the Constable of France and “the most renowned captain of the Hundred Years War” [35] was published in Charleston, SC, in 1864 on wall paper. [36]
The American Civil War start to finish was a great arena for overheated rhetoric and a ferocious attachment to images and idealized leaders. The international campaign to abolish slavery involved a massive propaganda effort that was sped on its way by iconic works such as J.M.W. Turner’s painting, The Slave Ship, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin under charismatic leaders like William Wilberforce, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass — and, of course, John Brown. [37]
The South was well known for its pro-slavery fire eaters like South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks who caned Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the U.S. Senate and Virginia’s Edmund Ruffin who fired the first shot at Ft. Sumter and committed suicide when he received word of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. [38] But it is easy at this remove to fail to understand the reaction sparked in the South by John Brown’s Raid and the radical abolitionist’s extreme violence in “Bleeding Kansas” hewing their pro-slavery neighbors into pieces with swords. The 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson in which the narrator recounts some of the history of his preacher grandfather who rode with John Brown in Kansas contains a fictional 4th of July speech by the grandfather in which he encapsulates the feelings of his generation that fought against slavery — and his words are not peaceable. The Grandfather recalls his vision as a young man of the Lord putting his hand on his right shoulder and giving him Jesus’ message of liberation preached in Luke 4:18 and taken from Isaiah 61:1. The Grandfather also goes on to castigate those who live around him in modern times, saying the young men no longer dream dreams and bemoans the present condition of the State of Iowa which Grant had once been called “the shining star of radicalism.” [39]
Others, with deeper insight, grasped the painful consequences of putting into action laudable ideals with “passionate enthusiasm,” as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., described it in a second 1895 Memorial Day speech [40] that was said to have inspired Theodore Roosevelt.
Holmes makes an interesting case because his wartime letters clearly show disillusionment with the fighting, perfectly understandable given his three severe wounds. [41] After being severely wounded at the September 1862 battle of Antietam, Maryland, Holmes wrote home to his sister that “I have pretty much made up my mind that the South have achieved their independence.  … I think before long the majority will say we are working to effect what never happens, the subjugation of a great civilized nation.” However, 20 years after leaving the Army he could describe his war service in an 1884 Memorial Day address in words that seem far from the harsh realities of combat:
[T]he generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. [42]
What is so amazing about Holmes’ words in his famous 1884 and 1896 Memorial Day addresses is that along with William James, Charles Peirce, John Dewey and others at Harvard, Holmes worked to avoid the horrific consequences of fanaticism and the heated rhetoric that accompanies it.
It took one of America’s greatest poets, Walt Whitman, to see the truth that lay behind the talk of glory. In his post-Civil War poem, “The Return of the Heroes,” Whitman wrote of seeing a vast military parade, a vision very likely based on the May 24–25, 1865, Grand Review of Grant’s and Sherman’s armies in Washington, D.C. [43] The New York Times of May 25, 1865, opined:
The last great scene of the war has closed. It has been everything that could impress the senses and stir the imagination. Every American who has seen it, or even read of it, has rejoiced in its "pride, and pomp, and circumstance." His pulse has been quickened by all its heroic associations, and by all its suggestions of the might and majesty of the republic … We may declare almost positively that this American Republic will never again see such another array of armed men. That in itself would make this parade an occasion of transcendent mark. And yet how tame is the mere circumstance of numbers in this case. Who gives a thought to the bare fact that two hundred thousand soldiers have been reviewed in the National Capital? The thought that fills the mind is not how many soldiers; but what soldiers. Who would not rather see the three hundred of Thermopylae than all the millions of Xerxes?
Walt Whitman’s vision expressed in “The Return of the Heroes” went beyond the triumphant Grand Review to the reality he had seen as a Civil War hospital orderly, a pallid bleeding army of the conflict’s detritus:
But now I sing not war,
Nor the measur'd march of soldiers, nor the tents of camps,
Nor the regiments hastily coming up deploying in line of battle;
No more the sad, unnatural shows of war.
Ask'd room those flush'd immortal ranks, the first forth-stepping armies?
Ask room alas the ghastly ranks, the armies dread that follow'd.
(Pass, pass, ye proud brigades, with your tramping sinewy legs,
With your shoulders young and strong, with your knapsacks and your muskets;
How elate I stood and watch'd you, where starting off you march'd.
Pass--then rattle drums again,
For an army heaves in sight, O another gathering army,
Swarming, trailing on the rear, O you dread accruing army,
O you regiments so piteous, with your mortal diarrhoea, with your fever,
O my land's maim'd darlings, with the plenteous bloody bandage and the crutch,
Lo, your pallid army follows.) [44]
The Tyrant Slayer statues in the Agora upon their base inscribed with the short poem about a “great light” being produced for Athens [45] might seem far removed from the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C., with its enormous seated marble image of the Great Emancipator and the lengthy inscribed quotations from the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address on either side. However, both monuments contain imagery meant to rally the democratic state to loyalty and action. The “great light” that the tyrannicide epigram proclaimed “was born for the Athenians” was precursor to “the new birth of freedom” resolved by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. The “new birth of freedom” that Lincoln saw actually took another hundred years and a Second Reconstruction to realize. And as the Civil War ended, the veterans who had borne the battle, to use Lincoln’s words in his Second Inaugural, were left to return home and put the war behind them. [46]

Democratic Propaganda and World War I

In the 20th century, the deployment of mythologized propaganda to inspire the democratic masses to fight reached a height in the First World War. The use of myth as propaganda played an important role in mobilizing the British, French and American democracies for war — in much the same way as Pericles’ use of propaganda did nearly 2400 years earlier
At the Great War’s beginning in 1914, the naiveté of those rushing off to war is heart breaking. There are many examples that can be cited, but none more telling than the British soldiers who charged into German machine gun fire at the battles of Loos and the Somme kicking a football. [47]
The psychic need of the British public for mythic inspiration and identification is shown by the birth of the legend of the “Angels of Mons” from a fictional newspaper account of the appearance of English bowmen from the battle of Agincourt appearing at the August 1914 battle of Mons to strike down the advancing German hordes.
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The British public chose to believe this was true, even though the author took the pains to publish a book explaining that it was a work of fiction. [48]
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The Bowmen of Mons come to the aid of the British and cause havoc among their enemies. Image courtesy of the Mary Evans Picture Library (no. 10024251).
Massive propaganda efforts were made by the belligerent powers to encourage their citizenry to stay in the fight while the slaughter continued month after month. The fighting in the trenches along the Western Front was almost indescribable and truthful descriptions of its horrors were actively suppressed. [49] It is self-evident that governmental efforts to keep the populace in the war were successful because none of the Western Allied powers (unlike Russia) were forced by popular revolt to withdraw from the fighting — although France came the closest to doing so after the Nivelle Offensive of 1917.
A problem was that the horrors encountered at the Front in World War I and the actions that soldiers were compelled to undertake for survival did not comport with the Christian ethic. Struggling to make older religious and literary traditions work in the new age, artists and poets of World War I often portrayed the soldier of World War I as a type of Christ who brought redemption through suffering and death. This portrayal was an obvious attempt to find meaning in the midst of almost apocalyptic destruction. [50] Those who survived the fighting remained haunted by it for their entire lives. [51]
The problem with the portrayal of the soldier as a “type of Christ” is that the experience of the trenches did not fit in with any traditional Christian framework.
The English soldier poet Wilfred Owen wrote of his internal conflict: “Christ is literally in no man's land. There men often hear his voice. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life — for a friend." Owen found himself "more and more Christian as I walk the unchristian ways of Christendom" and told his mother:
This practice of selective ignorance is, as I have pointed out, one cause of the war. Christians have deliberately cut some of the main teachings of their code. [52]
For 14 hours yesterday I was at work — teaching Christ to lift his cross by numbers, and how to adjust his crown … With a piece of silver I buy him every day, and with maps I make him familiar with the topography of Golgotha. [53]
France was secular by official policy in 1914–1918, and the masses fighting at the Front, along with their families back home, were left to struggle to find a mythic consolatory framework sufficient to bear the weight of hundreds of thousands of dead. In secular France, some Catholics persisted in a strong commitment to traditional Christian beliefs, which required tortured logic to support the fighting in the trenches and to find meaning in wounds and death there. A young Catholic seminarian serving in an infantry unit, later killed in action in 1918, expressed this sort of sentiment in a January 1, 1915, letter, characterizing his wounds as a joyful sacrifice for the rechristianization of France.
Derville wrote in a letter dated January 1, 1915:
I have been wounded twice within fifteen days, and the shock was so violent and the part of my body struck so crucial, that both times I believed I was only a few moments from death. And, you see, I keep an ineffaceable memory of these moments. In full conscience, I have made the sacrifice of my life, with joy, for the rechristianization of our country, for the greater love of God on the part of my parents and my friends, and I do not feel the least bitterness. This sacrifice will be even more easy and joyful now, because I have reflected a great deal on it since then. [54]
However, into the secular void of France came not rechristianization but a legend that outdid the Bowmen of Mons: The story of “Debout, les Morts!” (“Stand up, you Dead!”) was originally published as fact by right-wing politician and journalist Maurice Barrès who claimed simply to be recounting the story of an April 18, 1915, battle told by a participant, Lt. Jacques Péricard. According to Péricard, Barrès, when the Germans were about to overrun his position, Péricard shouted, “Debout, les Morts!” to the corpses of dead French soldiers around him who rose to their feet in a scene reminiscent of that in the Valley of Dry Bones in the Book of Ezekiel, took up the machine guns, grenades and other weapons lying about and drove back the Germans. These were not apparitions from the sky but resurrected individual soldiers, supposedly known personally by Lt. Péricard. [55]
A French departure trench just before zero hour. Image Credit:Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Stereograph Cards, LC-USZ62-93510.
Maurice Barrès became so committed to the story of “Debout les Morts” that he proposed that dead soldiers be allowed to vote, a suffrage des morts, in which widows could vote in place of their deceased husbands. This proposition was not accepted. Leonard V. Smith notes that, “Political opinion in a country that did not permit women to vote until 1944 did not welcome the prospect of women casting ballots, on behalf of their deceased husbands or otherwise.” [56]
Nowhere was propaganda used to greater effect to mobilize the citizenry during World War I than in the United States of America. President Woodrow Wilson had a major problem with consistency on his hands when the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917 because he had run for President in the fall of 1916 on a peace platform of keeping America out of the war in Europe. Wilson turned immediately to one of his chief strategists from the 1916 campaign, George Creel, crusading editor of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. Creel almost overnight created the so-called Creel Committee (officially named the Committee for Public Information) to propagandize the war effort and described the challenge he faced as follows (with the commentary of Allen Axelrod):
“While America’s summons was answered without question by the citizenship as a whole,” Creel wrote after the war, ‘“it is to be remembered that during the three and a half years of our neutrality the land had been torn by a thousand divisive prejudices, stunned by the voices of anger and confusion, and muddled by the pull and haul of opposed interests.” Torn, stunned, muddled . Such are all too often the adjectives associated with a democratic people, a people free to think for themselves rather than simply obey a king or dictator. Creel continued: “These were conditions that could not be permitted to endure. What we had to have was no mere surface unity, but a passionate belief in the justice of America’s cause that should weld the people of the United States into one white-hot mass instinct with fraternity, devotion, courage, and deathless determination.” One white-hot mass . Was this a concept and a state of being compatible with democracy? It was a question Creel clearly asked himself. Then he offered an answer: “The war-will , the will-to-win, of a democracy depends upon the degree to which each one of all the people of that democracy can concentrate and consecrate body and soul and spirit in the supreme effort of service and sacrifice. What had to be driven home was that all business was the nation’s business, and every task a common task for a single purpose.’” [57]
Creel seems to have been given almost plenary powers by President Wilson and totally overshadowed the other two members of his Committee, who happened to be the Secretaries of the Army and Navy. Although subject to harsh criticism from members of Congress such as North Carolina’s Representative Claude Kitchin, Creel successfully organized one of the most significant and massive propaganda efforts in history, enlisting top artists, filmmakers, and others to devote their efforts to propagandizing the War. Among his most significant innovations were the “Four Minute Men,” teams of local citizens who gave four minute speeches in movie houses supporting the war effort. Modern propaganda of the scope and scale we know today was created by George Creel to support the American effort in World War I, and it has been often noted how the all encompassing propaganda efforts to create and control public opinion were ironically at odds with the notion that this was the war to make the world “safe for democracy.” It is clear that Hitler and his minister of propaganda Josef Goebbels greatly admired and copied George Creel’s Committee for Public Information. [58]
The art of the poster had reached its height in the years before 1914, and the talent of the top poster artists was put to use by all the major combatants, including the United States through the Creel Commission to produce a stunning art as propaganda for recruiting for the sale of war bonds, to encourage home war gardens, to urge support for the YMCA, to raise money for the Red Cross and other Allied causes. [59]
on you to comradeship with the Red CrossAre you in this
Image Credits: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-621 and LC-USZC4-1281.
There are many poster images of heroic soldiers and Marines charging into battle and the phrase Pro Patria is used without irony. [60]
Pro Patria - Join Army for the WarPershing's Crusaders
Image Credits: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-7566 and LC-USZC4-1539.
Allied posters depict Germans as brutish Huns, hands and bayonets dripping with blood or as a “Mad Brute” of a gigantic snarling King Kong-like ape wearing a helmet labeled “Militarism,” carrying a club labeled “Kultur,” and clutching in its arms a woman from whose breasts her gown has slipped. [61]

Beat Back the Hun with Liberty Bonds

Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-2950.
Boy Scouts handed a sword inscribed “Be Prepared” to Lady Liberty who was usually portrayed as a Gibson Girl in a flowing gown that graced her figure to full effect. [62]
Boy Scouts of America - Weapons for liberty
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-1127.
Even women on the home front were encouraged to save their country by buying war savings stamps just as Joan of Arc saved France. [63]
Joan of Arc Saved France - --Women of America, save your country--Buy War Savings Stamps
Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-9551.
The American counter-narrative began during World War I with massive draft resistance, particularly in the South where former Populist Party leader turned white supremacist Tom Watson of Georgia stirred up anti-draft sentiment with his newspaper, the Jeffersonian. [64] The federal government struck back against those who would preach resistance to conscription with the Espionage Act, one of the greatest violations of civil liberties in American history. Socialist leader Eugene Debs was convicted and imprisoned under the Espionage Act for giving a speech in Canton, Ohio, in July 1918 that questioned the America’s war effort but did not even mention conscription:
[T]he working class who fight the battles, the working class who make the sacrifices, the working class who shed the blood, the working class who furnish the corpses, the working class has never yet had a voice in declaring war. [65]
Eugene V. Debs’ conviction was upheld in a unanimous opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court written by none other than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [66]
Despite the federal government’s efforts, there was massive draft resistance in the United States during World War I, with desertion rates of 11.8% in Massachusetts, 12.7% in California, and 13.1% in New York. The lowest desertion rate in the country was Iowa’s 4.4% and in the South North Carolina’s 7%, but it was 12.2% in Mississippi, 13.5% in Alabama and 20.4% in Florida. More than 60% of all deserters in the South were black. Clearly, the patriotic narrative promulgated by the Creel Commission failed to persuade many people. In 1920 in Georgia, Tom Watson won a seat in the U.S. Senate by defeating the sitting Governor and U.S. Senator in a campaign in which he criticized Wilson’s conduct of the war, attacked the American Legion, and opposed U.S. entry into the League of Nations. [67]
Nonetheless, mythic glorification has staying power. And that staying power of the mythologization of war manifests itself especially in the commemoration of war dead. [68] World War I’s most famous poem, “In Flanders Fields” was written in 1915 by Canadian physician John McCrae. Far from expressing anti-war sentiment, “In Flanders Fields” portrays the dead urging the reader to “[t]ake up our quarrel with the foe.” The red poppy became the preeminent symbol of the war dead. In Canada after World War I, the war dead were spoken of as having risen from the dead in a resurrection that is depicted in the National War Memorial in Ottawa in which statutes of a group of soldiers walk through an Arch in a scene representing the resurrection from death to life. [69]
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National War Memorial, Ottawa, Canada, (sculpted and built, 1926-1938, dedicated 1939), designed by Vernon March. Photo by Jcart1534, published under a creative commons license (CC-BY-SA-3.0), and made available via Wikimedia Commons.
“Dulce et decorum est” might have been discredited by Wilfred Owen, but it was inscribed on a host of World War I Canadian memorials and often appeared in the unveiling program along with another staple, Pericles’ Funeral Oration. [70]
At the end of World War I, film director Abel Gance, with the help of amputee veteran of the trenches and avant garde poet Blaise Cendrars, translated the concept of the redemptive return of the dead from the battlefield to their home village in the film J’accuse which concludes with the ghosts of dead soldiers returning to home to cry J’accuse! at the villagers, reminding them “of their venality and weakness, and meant to shock them into a decent life, worthy of the men bleeding for them.” [71]
In post-World War I Germany, painters worked with the theme of redemption through suffering and resurrection of soldiers. However, “Der Krieg,” the 1929/31 triptych with predella by Otto Dix provides little comfort with its realistic portrayal of ghastly horrors of the trenches in the triptych and the corpse of a soldier stretched out horizontally in the predella in the chilling manner of Hans Holbein the Younger’s “Der Leichnam Christi im Grabe” (1521). [72]
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A feeling of hopelessness is the result.
The horrors of the trenches ultimately led some to question and debunk the romanticization of military violence. [73] Post-war memorial ceremonies for the dead came to be limited to the simple laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown or at the Cenotaph. Steven Trout has traced the see-saw battle for control of the memory of war represented by the Unknown Soldier buried at Arlington, Virginia, as poets, novelists and preachers increasingly through the 1920s and 1930s questioned whether the Tomb of the Unknown might be monument to militarism and even raised the possibility that the Unknown Soldier might be a black man in order to mock traditional patriotic sensibilities. [74] Perhaps the most famous work debunking all the glory and honor that the Tomb of the Unknown was supposed to represent was John Dos Passos’ poem, “The Body of an American,” the conclusion of Dos Passos’ novel, 1919. [75] It was published in 1932 as post-World War I anti-war sentiment was peaking. Calling the Unknown Soldier “John Doe,” the poem focuses the reader’s attention on the gruesome reality of war, while the term hundred per cent refers to being 100% American, an obviously nationalistic concept:
How did they pick John Doe? . . .
how can you tell a guy’s a hundredpercent when all you’ve got’s a gunnysack
full of bones, bronze buttons stamped with the screaming eagle and a pair of roll puttees?
… and the gagging chloride and the puky dirtstench of the yearold dead
busboy harveststiff hogcaller boyscout champeen cornshucker of Western Kansas bellhop at the United States Hotel at Saratoga Springs office boy callboy fruiter telephone lineman longshoreman lumberjack plumber’s helper,
worked for an exterminating company in Union City, filled pipes in an opium joint in Trenton, N.J.
Y.M.C.A. secretary, express agent, truckdriver, fordmechanic, sold books in Denver Colorado: Madam would you be willing to help a young man work his way through college?
The shell had his number on it.
* * * * *
The blood ran into the ground
. . .
The identification tag was in the bottom of the Marne.
The blood ran into the ground, the brains oozed out of the cracked skull and were licked up by the trenchrats, the belly swelled and raised a generation of blue-bottle flies.
Remembering the war dead became a massive endeavor in the United States in the years after the First World War as it did after the American Civil War. The simple and unadorned biographies of Harvard’s Union dead in the Civil War, and its dead in the First World War are remarkable tributes. [76] After World War I, Harvard remembered its 373 war dead in Memorials of the Harvard Dead in the War against Germany with an article devoted to each of the dead written by a friend or family member. [77] My own copy of the Civil War Harvard Memorial Biographies is inscribed by William Dwight, a Union brigadier general, the book containing memorial biographies of two of his brothers, Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight, class of 1853, and Capt. Howard Dwight, class of 1857. Although the Harvard biographies are touchingly simple, they often make an ideological argument. The point is repeatedly made in Harvard’s World War I memorial volumes is that Harvard armed was Democracy armed. Pericles said, "Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy." (Thucydides 2.37)
Nothing illustrated this most cherished point than Harvard’s most prominent loss of all, the death in France on Bastille Day 1918 of the aviator Quentin Roosevelt ‘19, son of President Theodore Roosevelt and the sacrificial exemplar of America’s Age of Innocence. In a letter home from France, he mentioned that his books with him included Kenneth Grahame’s "The Wind in the Willows." Quentin Roosevelt was killed in an aerial dogfight a few days after downing his first German airplane in combat. It was related after the war by a returning American POW, according to his memorial biography, that the death of Quentin Roosevelt, son of President Roosevelt, made a tremendous impression upon the German Army: "[I]t gave the soldiers a vision of the democracy of America." [78] It would be easy for us to look back on these men who died in the War to End all Wars as hopelessly naïve. But it is important to grasp what they understood they were fighting for by contemplating writings such as the closing lines of the poem that Edgar Lee Masters wrote on the death of Paul Cody Bentley, Harvard class of 1917, the first member of the American Expeditionary Force to fall in France:
"And now I know why he rose so early/And hasted to school,/And hasted through life./ His eyes were fixed upon Democracy/And upon Immortality."
Many copies of a statue named “The Spirit of the American Doughboy” by E. M. Viquesney were erected on courthouse squares and in other public places. [79] Oddly, for our purposes here, the Doughboy of the World War I memorial statue carried a rifle in horizontal position with his left hand and held a grenade in his raised right hand — neither in the exact pose of Harmodios’ sword raised for the “Harmodios blow” or the leveled sword of Aristogeiton, but close enough to make one think.
Ultimately, the memorialization of the American dead of World War I became a battlefield upon which the conflicting ideologies of national pride and anti-war revulsion fought. [80]
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John Steuart Curry, The Return of Private Davis from the Argonne, 1928-1940. Image credit: Estate of John Steuart Curry and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum purchase with funds provided by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund.
Fifty years later, in a similar conflict of ideologies, the lack of statues at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., was controversial at the time, and the perceived gap was filled after some controversy by statues of three male soldiers, stopping to listen and look at the jungle around them, and a statue of a female soldier. However, standing in contrast are the stark black marble walls of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., inscribed only with the names of the dead, without a single word of comfort or patriotic exhortation. The Vietnam Memorial with its long list of names of the war dead stands in sharp contrast to the stirring words of Pericles’ Funeral Oration and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in which the war dead being commemorated are completely anonymous. [81] This dark gash in American earth is perhaps the most democratic war monument of all. With no words of praise or blame, no reference to glory or honor, to victory or defeat, the Vietnam Memorial is an eloquent silent tribute to the Americans whose lives were cut short in the War. And yet each time I go there, I am forced to think back on those bodies I saw floating in the Mekong River in May 1970 and to reflect that hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians who died in the war and have no memorial. And, on the other hand, I am also forced to consider whether this reflective Memorial Wall will be sufficient inspiration for champions of democracy to take up the fight to defend it, when the need comes, as surely it must, if history be any guide. [82]
This little survey of poetry and propaganda of war and its memorials comes to a conclusion without any mention of the significant war poetry of World War II. That awaits review on another day. Suffice it to say that, like Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, many of the best British poets of the Second World War such as Keith Douglas (1920–1944), Alun Lewis (1915–1944) and Sidney Keyes (1922–1943) perished in the War. The simple and direct violence of Keith Douglas’ “How to Kill,” written in North Africa in 1943 expresses a literary ethic shorn of attempts to revive older traditions.
In World War I poetry, soldiers die, being sacrificed as a type of Christ, which gives redemptive meaning to their deaths. In World War II poetry, this is no longer true. War is death and violence without redemptive purpose, resulting in horrible deaths like that of Randall Jarrell's ball turret gunner who is poured out of the ball turret a dead wet mess — born again dead, as it were, in a new and terrible age — and the death of the German or Italian at the other end of Keith Douglas's rifle shot in "How to Kill,” written by a soldier who must have known his own death might be so described by an enemy shooter.
No longer can we find a Wilfred Owen “with his decadent aestheticism and Evangelical upbringing” looking back to “the strength and sweetness of the Romantic-Decadent lyric tradition, being brought to bear witness to the horrors of industrial modernity and pouring forth as an aria for the death of the European bourgeois consciousness” [83] nor an Isaac Rosenberg who “reaches beyond Romanticism to the Metaphysical Poets and tries to forge a radical modernist aesthetic” [84] in which he inverts the elegiac tradition of pastoral poetry into a terrifying soliloquy on a trench rat in “Break of Day in the Trenches” which Paul Fussell calls “in my view, the greatest poem of the War.” [85] In America, Randall Jarrell (1914—1965), who wrote “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” stepped in front of a car in Chapel Hill in 1965 during my sophomore year there. It was left to Cecil Day-Lewis to speak the truth in his poem “Where Are the War Poets?”:
They who in folly or mere greed
Enslaved religion, markets, laws,
Borrow our language now and bid
Us to speak up in freedom’s cause.

It is the logic of our times,
No subject for immortal verse —
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse. [86]
By the time of the Vietnam War, 50 years of warfare produced scorching anti-war poetry that reserved the elegiac tradition to describe the supposed enemy and not friends, such as Philip Appleman’s poem, “Waiting for the Fire.” [87]

Pericles: What does all this mythmaking and propagandizing have to teach us about the Tyrant Slayers, Pericles and Athens during the Pentecontaetia?

There are stunning parallels between Athens’ situation after the Persian Wars and America’s own situation after WW II: [88]
  1. Each took a leading role in a coalition of allies that defeated a mortal threat, Persia in the case of Athens and Germany and Japan in that of the USA.
  2. Athens led in forming the Delian League while the U.S.A. led in forming the United Nations.
  3. For Athens, alliance turned into hegemony, but for the U.S.A., alliance evolved into the Pax Americana with American troops stationed throughout the world and large subsidies being paid to many foreign nations.
  4. The Delian League treasury became an Athenian war chest which was replenished thereafter by payments of tribute by the states of the Athenian Empire, but the American taxpayer became a major funder of the United Nations and many foreign military forces.
  5. Proxy wars were fought by both Athens and America and both were major naval powers.
  6. Pericles reacted to the forces arrayed against the Athenian democratic polis by taking steps that seem eerily similar to those measures pushed not by liberals but by conservatives in present day American politics.
  7. Curtailment of the citizenship. [89]
  8. Physical isolation of Athens as if it were an island with the building Long Walls from the City of Athens down to the port of the Piraeus.
  9. Abandonment of agriculture for finance and trade.
  10. Obsession with autochthony — see, the Cyzikene electrum staters with Athenian symbols such as Erichthonios, the cicada and Harmodios and Aristogeiton.
Edith Foster calls attention to Pericles' almost impious rhetoric about Athens ruling the sea, .” . . in his effort to convince the Athenians to continue to fight the war, Pericles rejects Athens' actual natural surroundings in Attica and employs the endless and symbolic elements of nature to create, in speech, a glorious, but impossible, even unreal, naval empire for Athens. Pericles is the poet of the empire, as he himself partly admits ( … 2.42.2) … and therefore 'adorns things to make them seem greater', just as Thucydides says poets will do (1.10.3, 1.21.1)" [90] A review of the history of ethnic cleansing and genocide over the past 500 years from the British in Ireland to the Nazi Holocaust to Cambodia and Rwanda reveals that repeatedly a precursor of ethnic cleansing and genocide has been mass persuasion utilizing certain persistent themes including “race, antiquity, agriculture and expansion.” [91]
The parallels of the blood-drenched recent past with the influence and control that Pericles exercised over the Athenian polis are chilling, even for one like myself who has been enthralled with the Golden Age of Athens since I was a small child and astounded by Athens’ many and varied intellectual, scientific, political, artistic and literary accomplishments of multi-millennial importance. I must conclude that the dekatos autos, as the Athenian mastermind in the last 20 years or so of the Penteconaetia, became more and more dominant by carrying out an effective propaganda campaign in order to motivate his fellow Athenians for the tasks of hegemony over an empire. And he was successful. The comic poets criticized Athenian leaders for imperial mismanagement but the evidence is insubstantial for their outright questioning of the justification for the Empire. [92]
And, yet … who cannot be dazzled by the loftiness of Pericles concepts, except those who were subjugated and had to pay the bills. In the Congress Decree and the Funeral Oration, we see an idealized vision of Athens, the School of Hellas, and indeed of the world that continues to inspire and enthrall. [93] But that does not mean that it should not be questioned. Nietzsche wrote that Pericles’ Funeral Oration was “like a transfiguring evening glow in whose light the evil day that preceded it could be forgotten.” [94] Hannah Arendt, perhaps surprisingly, took a tack similar to Nietzsche, in her view of the Funeral Oration:
The words of Pericles, as Thucydides reports them, are perhaps unique in their supreme confidence that men can enact and save their greatness at the same time and, as it were, by one and the same gesture. [95]
Arendt’s approach is perhaps explicable by an almost desperate search for that which was hopeful and good in human affairs following the Holocaust and her great admiration for the public space of the Greek polis.
Nearly 600 years after the Age of Pericles, during the reign of that Philhellenic lover of Athens, the Emperor Hadrian, the Orator Aelius Aristeides in Panathenaicus presented a vision of Athens, stripped of her political power, as the head of an empire, not political, but one of philanthropia and wisdom; in Nicole Loraux’s words:
[W]hereas the “true” empire, the humanist empire whose advent is lauded by Aelius Aristides, has always existed in potential, the military, political power which for the Athenians of the classical period constituted reality itself, is interpreted after the event as a stage in the educational process and becomes an epiphenomenon, at most a premonitory sign. [96]

What does the historical example of Pericles and Athens during the Pentecontaetia teach us about the present and future of America?

Effective use of propaganda by the leader of a democratic state might be viewed as simply the construction of a dike or levy to keep the stream of fortune within its banks, as recommended by Machiavelli in The Prince. However, propaganda, as Jacques Ellul so insightfully pointed out, turns into a totalitarian tool when it moves from opinion to myth making. Remember the key principle: A democracy is based on opinion, not belief. Once blind acceptance on faith of articles of a political creed is sold to the citizenry, as opposed to the responsibility of each citizen to develop his or her own opinion, democracy moves toward totalitarianism in the hands of those who dictate the beliefs.
Today in America, many are trying to sound the alarm, but vast tides of money pouring out propaganda over the airwaves are drowning out the alarms. Our mechanisms of propaganda are now under the control of the very rich after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010). The parallels with ancient Athens are shockingly similar. The Oligarchs now control the airwaves, a situation that would have been very familiar to Greeks in the archaic period. Although they knew nothing about airwaves and electronic propaganda, they would have recognized what is happening to us.
All who claim to love democracy need to pause and remember this: Winning can be losing. The political philosopher Hanna Arendt elucidated this in her writings which touched on ancient Athens. For Arendt, the most important political passion is courage whose essence was the willingness of the political actor “to risk his life.” “[T]oo great a love for life obstructed freedom” and “was a sure sign of slavishness.” [97] Other requisites for the political actor, according to Arendt, are the pursuit of public happiness, the taste of public freedom, and an ambition for excellence regardless of status or even reward. Arendt did not include the will to power, “the passion to rule or govern” which, contra Nietzche and Weber, Arendt thought had no role in authentic politics because of the desire for control that it evinced. [98]
Unlike the classical scholar’s quest to get to the bottom of what actually may have happened in Antiquity, Arendt’s interest in the ancient Athenian democracy is “in equal parts aspiration, remembrance and recognition” with a “tempered romanticism” for the “thought fragments” that can be pried up from the past. [99] She seeks to use the Greeks as a provocation, “to press the past into the service of establishing the strangeness of the present” so that we may see what we have lost in terms of being political actors — for we no longer know the meaning of the outworn clichés that we use and no longer understand the full meaning of words like freedom and politics. [100] According to Arendt, we can regain that understanding when we regain access to the idealized Greek polis, and that is possible because the polis “is not the city-state in its physical location; it is the organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together … no matter where they happen to be.” [101] Peter Euben characterizes Arendt’s totalitarian dystopia as “a world without politics”:
If we want a sense of what a world without politics … would be like we can look at Arendt’s portrait of totalitarianism. For her totalitarianism, which represents an extreme manifestation of developments present in modernity as a whole, fosters and responds to a radical loss of self, a cynical, bored indifference in the face of death or catastrophe, a penchant for historical abstractions as a guide to life, and a general contempt for the rules of common sense, along with a dogged adherence to traditions that have lost their point but not their hold. [102]
The purpose of winning in a democracy is to keep the democratic dialogue going at the center of the Classical Greek polis. And an all-out win that shuts down the dialogue with the losers insures ultimate defeat for the short-term winner. It is for this reason that Arendt comes face-to-face with the problem we have confronted here in the political and propaganda genius of Pericles. This is the problem of the hero in a democracy, of how to reconcile what Bernard Knox called “the heroic temper,” the “agonism” required for success in politics with the need for deliberation and fairness. How can the “associative, communal, democratic, deliberative Arendt” be “ ‘captured’ by the Greek model of greatness, heroism, agonism, and aethetisized politics”? [103] This is a question we have yet to fully answer — and yet Arendt provides the answer when she says that the most important political passion or virtue is courage and that the political actor who ventures out upon the public stage must be willing to risk his life to keep the political dialogue going. That is the true measure of a political hero.
I believe that Thucydides’ point of view about democracy is not that far from Arendt’s. The tyrannicide story was unpalatable to Thucydides because it enshrined reckless daring as an ideal — and that the reckless daring of heroes. It wasn’t given to Thucydides to understand the attraction of the emotional power of the “passionate enthusiasm” that Harmodios and Aristogeiton portrayed without which the Golden Age of Athens might never have occurred, but I believe that the example of the tyrant slayers had a powerful effect in classical Athens upon those who could and did understand the attraction of their example.
Harmodios and Aristogeiton had come to represent two contradictory aspects of the civil religious spirit by the late 5th century. Thucydides clearly lacked sympathy for Harmodios and Aristogeiton. Looking back across the years of Athens' Golden Age to the death of Hipparchus, Thucydides could see no positive influence, no beneficial effect on Athens produced by Harmodios and Aristogeiton and their story. I think it is important to take very seriously the analysis of the reporter on the scene who in this case is Thucydides. And Thucydides was right in some ways; he was right that national mythology must be taken with a large grain of salt, for a nation misunderstands — and misuses — its own history at its own peril. But he was also wrong, because he fails to recognize that the mythologization of national history may be inevitable in the creation of a civic religion that binds a nation together. Harmodios and Aristogeiton can be said to embody the spirit of 5th Century Athens, the essence, the reckless daring, of the whole classical enterprise. But at the same time, however, Harmodios and Aristogeiton represent something mighty dangerous: freedom. And freedom won with violence. An intoxicating and very dangerous elixir indeed. The outcome may be desirable, but the cost, it must be remembered, is very high: reckless daring may at one moment lead to a period of exciting advances in society, but to that society’s destruction at another.
All students at Harvard come to contemplate the fact that the University’s great research library, Widener, is named after a young man who died on the Titanic by his mother in her grief, a meditation on the brevity of life and on what wealth can and cannot accomplish. But it is perhaps more the grim paintings of the World War I dead in Widener Library’s central stairwell that caused me as a student climbing the steps to study there to stop and think about the two-edged power and peril of ideas. And this contemplation has relevance extending beyond the concerns of the Academy. Thucydides drew a parallel and even a causal connection between the two-edged peril of the tyrant slayers’ reckless daring, and the reckless daring of the imperially minded Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. The same parallel suggests itself between Athens and the United States. Just as it was only natural to believe in Athenian exceptionalism after the Persian Wars, it was only natural to believe in American exceptionalism, especially after we stood astride the world following World War II and then following the fall of the Soviet Union. The reckless daring of the tyrant slayers in 514 B.C.E. had eventually led to great things, and seemed worthy of emulation. And yet, it took only the leadership of the morally flawed Alcibiades and the reckless overreach of the Sicilian Expedition for Athens to be fatally weakened.
The Tyrant Slayers’ central theses have been increasingly integrated into the study of Athenian democracy, historiography, and art, and its interdisciplinary approach has had its own influence — political philosophers and social historians have employed interpretations of the sculptures and vase paintings, and art historians have discussed the implications of the democratic reforms. [104] At the same time, The Tyrant Slayers has remained the juncture point for the interdisciplinary conversation about the Athenian tyrant slayers over the years. It is my hope that future students of Harmodios and Aristogeiton and a future reader of The Tyrant Slayers and of this article will take up the study of Athenian civil religion, the tyrant slayers’ place in it, and the propaganda used to spread it with renewed focus and energy. The methods that need to be employed are those that I learned most especially from Greg Nagy: careful original study of the diachronic and synchronic connotations of the words of the ancient texts themselves.
I hope also to see a renewed interdisciplinary perspective reaching out to address the concerns democracies face today. The Classics needs a renewed sense of the importance of the role it has always played as a deep well of refreshing and instructive examples that can tell us about ourselves. And it is not all about the study of ideal examples in Plato’s Cave — a mistaken notion about the Classics that has been detrimental to the field. Carl J. Richard points out that just as the widespread study of the Classics in secondary and higher education in America went into precipitous decline shortly after the cataclysm of the Civil War convinced many observers of the failure of reason and the Classics as a guide for life just as the study of the Classics was similarly curtailed in Europe after the end of the First World War. But that is a false lesson. Now, more than ever, our society and political system in America needs a strong dose of the actual democracy, the reasoned debate, the voting based upon opinion rather than belief, as Jacques Ellul and Hannah Arendt described. The false gospel of “winner take all politics” is in full flood. [105]
… [T]he political life is a life of talk and argument, a life that takes place in public space … It is this space — and the institutions and laws that articulate it — that we have in common. Not our identity, not our “values,” not our religion, and not our material interests. … Plurality is the precondition of the political world. [106]
Close study of Antiquity richly repays the effort and can provide understanding and methodology as we grapple with seemingly new and unsolvable problems that are really only reprises of those our ancient forebears encountered. A final example reveals the need for absolute clarity on issues of propaganda and motivation:
At the entrance of the Stalingrad mausoleum stands a quotation of a German soldier who said of the Soviet defenders, "They are attacking us again; can they be mortal?" Inside the Mausoleum is emblazoned the answer of a Red Army soldier, “Yes, we were mortal indeed, and few of us survived, but we all carried out our patriotic duty before holy Mother Russia." This is a quotation from "In the Line of the Main Drive," an article first published by leading Soviet combat journalist, Vasily Grossman in Red Star and reprinted in Pravda. Grossman, who was Jewish and who lost family in the Ukraine in the Holocaust, is not acknowledged at the Stalingrad Mausoleum as the author. “There is also the vexed question of what motivated the defenders of Stalingrad … To say, as Grossman does, that ’the soul of wartime Stalingrad was freedom’ is a considerable simplification." [107]

A note of thanks

I want to thank University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill doctoral candidate in Classics Sarah Miller for her strenuous efforts as my research assistant over the past two years in preparing this article. She assembled the scholarship citing The Tyrant Slayers and has been extremely helpful in critiquing my writing and ideas. She is a very bright young scholar, and I predict great things for her. Sarah’s husband, John Esposito, likewise a UNC doctoral candidate in Classics has also been very helpful with useful suggestions. UNC doctoral candidate in Classical Archaeology Rebecca Worsham has also generously given her time in reading and discussing my manuscript, pointing out typographic errors and making suggestions. It has been a pleasure to work with these three fine young scholars. Donald Haggis, UNC Nicholas A. Cassas Term Professor of Greek Studies, Professor, Curriculum in Archaeology, and Emily Baragwanath, UNC Assistant Professor of Classics, each took the time to read my manuscript in much earlier stages and make suggestions. I am afraid that Professor Baragwanath will chide me a little for not discussing Herodotus, but I have to confess that I just ran out of time. And Douglas Frame also took time to read earlier versions of my manuscript and make suggestions for future directions as I went along. I owe a debt of thanks to Eric Ashley Hairston, Associate Professor of English and of Law and Humanities, and Director, Center for Law and Humanities, Elon University, for reading several drafts of this article, making useful suggestions, and helping me keep my eyes on important issues.  I also want to thank Brendan Boyle, Assistant Professor of Classics at UNC-Chapel Hill, for taking the time to read and comment on a draft of this article and to meet with me to talk about it. I must emphasize that all decisions about the direction my article has taken and all emphases in it are solely my own. Finally, I want to thank my wife, Susan, for her patience as I have spent many evenings and weekends researching and writing this article, not to mention living through with me for 35 years of marriage the experiences on which much of it is based.

An autobiographical note

The reader may better understand what I have written through learning some details of my own life and family background. I am proud to have served my country and proud of my family’s record of service. We are certainly not unique. There are many families like mine in our country with a long tradition of citizen military service. I stand seventh in a line of eldest sons, and my sole badge of that office is a straight razor, given to me by my father by family custom, that belonged to William Taylor who, by family tradition, served in the American Revolution. William Taylor’s son, Lorenzo J. Taylor died fighting Sherman as an officer of the Georgia Militia in 1864, and Lorenzo’s son, my great-great grandfather, Edwin J. Taylor, served in the Confederate Army, was wounded in the battle of Jerusalem Plank Road south of Petersburg, VA, in June 1864 and was surrendered at Appomattox Court House, VA, by General Robert E. Lee. In 1917 when the United States entered World War I, my paternal grandfather was a married Baptist preacher with a child and another on the way, but one of his brothers, my great uncle, R. Clarence Taylor, served in France with the A.E.F. My father served as a Signal Corps Officer attached to the headquarters of MacArthur’s 5th Air Force in New Guinea and the Philippines in World War II, surviving a Japanese kamikaze attack in November 1944 on the USS Alpine as it was anchored off Leyte Island in preparation for debarkation and a Japanese paratroop attack on the airfield at Burauen on Leyte in December 1944. I served in Vietnam, and two of my children, one a graduate of Harvard and the other a graduate of UNC served in the Iraq War.
My father taught me one simple lesson: If you live in this country and enjoy her benefits, you have a duty to serve her. I understand the motto of the Black Prince: Ich dien. From that commitment proceeds what my ancestor’s commander said in his farewell to his soldiers at Appomattox: “You take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from duty faithfully performed.” But wherein lies duty? Aye, there’s the rub, and it should be a matter of opinion and not of belief.
Five years ago, my wife, my youngest son, and I journeyed back to places where I had been in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam 37 years before. We returned to a spot on the bank of a river named Song Cai Be which American sailors called the Snake (due to its sinuosity) southeast of Rach Gia near the northern edge of the U Minh Forest. Thirty-seven years before, nearly to the day, as a field historian accompanying a PBR operation, I witnessed close up a very loud and violent encounter between the local Viet Cong, American personnel on the PBRs and American helicopters. Five years ago, when I returned, I sat down and drank a cup of chai with Mr. Lam Son who had been the local VC commander back in 1970. He was one year younger than me. He was reserved, but friendly after all these years. A few days before our 1970 mission, the American sailors had lost a PBR holed by a rocket. I asked Mr. Lam Son about that, and he said, "I fired the rocket." We were left to contemplate what those events of long ago and our respective places in them had meant to two young men, now not so young.

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George Kateb "Political action: its nature and advantages,” pp. 130–148, which has a good discussion of Arendt's ideas about "authentic politics" and the concept that political empowerment comes not from "gaining power" over others (an action that ultimately leads to disempowerment) but in taking part in the give and take of politics in the center of the polis with fellow citizens; and
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Scholarship Since The Tyrant Slayers

Works Citing The Tyrant Slayers

Ajootian, A. 1998. “A Day at the Races: the Tyrannicides in the Fifth-Century Agora” in Stephanos: studies in honor of Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, eds. Hartswick and Sturgeon. University of Pennsylvania.
Avramidou. A. 2011. The Codrus Painter: Iconography and Reception of Athenian Vases in the Age of Pericles. University of Wisconsin Press.
Anderson, G. 2007. “Why the Athenians Forgot Cleisthenes: Literacy and the Politics of Remembrance in Ancient Athens” in Politics of Orality, Orality and Literacy in Ancient Greece Vol. 6., ed. C. Cooper. Brill.
Balot, R. K. 2004. “The Dark Side of Democratic Courage” in Social Research 71.1
——–. 2009. “The Freedom to Rule: Athenian imperialism and democratic masculinity” in Enduring Empire: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics, eds. Tabachnick and Koivukoski. Toronto.
Bell. A. 2004. Spectacular power in the Greek and Roman city. Oxford.
Boedeker, D. 2009. “Athenian Religion in the Age of Pericles” in the Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles, Cambridge.
Braund, D. 2000. “Friends and Foes: Monarchs and Monarchy in Fifth-century Athenian Democracy.” in Alternatives to Athens: Varieties of Political Organization and Community in Ancient Greece, ed., Hodkinson, S. and R. Brock. Oxford: 103–118.
Carson, A. 1996. “Writing on the World: Simonides, Exactitude and Paul Celan.” Arion 4.2: 1–26.
Cartledge, P. A. 1993. The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others. Oxford.
Castriota, D. 1998. “Democracy and Art” in Democracy 2500?: Questions and Challenges, eds. Ian Morris, K. A. Raaflaub, and D. Castriota. Atlanta, Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co.
Clairmont, C. W. 1983. "Patrios Nomos: Public Burial in Athens during the Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C. The archaeological, epigraphic-literary and historical evidence" in Studi sul neolitico del Tavoliere della Puglia: indagine territoriale in un-area-campione. BAR International Series 161.i. Eds. Cassano, Manfredini.
Cummings, S, and J. Brocklesby. 1997. “Towards demokratia – myth and the management of organizational change in ancient Athens.” Journal of Organizational Change Management, 10.1: 71–95.
Currie, B. 2005. Pindar and the cult of heroes. Oxford.
Day, J. W. 1985. "Epigrams and History: The Athenian Tyrannicides, A Case in Point" in The Greek Historians: literature and history: papers presented to A.E. Raubitschek, ed. M. H. Jameson. Saratoga.
Dillon, S. 2006. Ancient Greek Portrait Sculpture: Contexts, Subjects, and Styles. Cambridge.
Ferrari, G. 2002. Figures of Speech: Men and Maidens in Ancient Greece. Chicago.
Forsdyke, S. 2005. Exile, Ostracism, and Democracy. Princeton.
Fredal, J. 2006. Rhetorical action in ancient Athens: persuasive artistry from Solon to Demosthenes. Carbondale, Illinois.
Goldhill, S. 2012. Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy. Oxford.
Grethlein, J. 2010. The Greeks and Their Past: Poetry, Oratory and History in the Fifth Century BCE . Cambridge.
Gruen, E. 2011. Rethinking the Other in Antiquity. Princeton.
Hall, J. M. 2010. “Autochthonous Autocrats: The tyranny of the Athenian democracy” in Private and Public Lies: the Discourse of Despotism and Deceit in the Graeco-Roman World, eds. Andrew Turner, James H. Kim On Chong-Gossard, and Frederik Juliaan Vervaet. Brill.
———. 2007. “Politics and Greek Myth” in The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology, ed. R. D. Woodard. Cambridge.
Herman, G. 2006. Morality and behaviour in democratic Athens: a social history. Cambridge.
Kalyvas, A. 2010. “The Democratic Narcissus: The Agonism of the Ancients Compared to that of the (Post)Moderns” in Law and Agonistic Politics, ed. A. Schaap. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
Landes, R. 2011. Heaven and Earth: the Varieties of the Millennial Experience. Oxford.
Lapatin, K. 2009. “Art and Architecture” in the Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles, ed. Loren J. Samons II. Cambridge.
Lavelle, B. M. 1993. The Sorrow and the Pity: a prolegomenon to a history of Athens under the Peisistratids, c. 560–510 B.C. Historia Einzelschriften 80 Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
Law, R. 2009. Terrorism: A History. Cambridge.
Lebedev 1996 “A new epigram for Harmodius and Aristogeiton.” ZPE 112: 263–268.
Lewis, S. 2010. "Tyrannicide." Encyclopedia of Political Theory, ed. Mark Bevir. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010. 1387–1388. SAGE Reference Online. Web. 11 May. 2012.
Liddel, P. 2007. Civic obligation and individual liberty in ancient Athens. Oxford.
Meyer, E. 2008. “Thucydides on Harmodius and Aristogeiton, Tyranny, and History.” CQ 58.1: 13–34.
* This article is the exception in this list, in that its focused analysis of Thucydides’ text does not cite or need to cite The Tyrant Slayers, but it has been included for its value and relevance.
Michelakis, P. 2002. Achilles in Greek tragedy. Cambridge.
Miller, M. C. 2000. “The Myth of Bousiris: Ethnicity and Art," in Not the Classical Ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art, ed. Beth Cohen. Brill.
Monoson, S. S. 2000. Plato's Democratic Entanglements: Athenian Politics and the Practice of Philosophy. Princeton.
Morris, S. P. 1995. Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art. Princeton.
Munn, M. H. 2000. The School of History: Athens in the Age of Socrates. Berkeley.
Neer, R. T. 2010. The Emergence of the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture. Chicago.
Ober, J. 2003. “Tyrant Killing as Therapeutic Stasis: A Political Debate in Images and Texts” in Popular Tyranny: Sovereignty and Its Discontents in Ancient Greece, ed. K. Morgan, 2003. Austin.
O’Sullivan, L. 2011. “Tyrannicides, Symposium and History: A Consideration of the Tyrannicide Law in Hyperides 2.3.” Australasian Society for Classical Studies 32: 1–9.
Raaflaub, K. A. 2000. “Zeus Eleutherios, Dionysos the Liberator, and the Athenian Tyrannicides. Anachronistic Uses of Fifth-Century Political Concepts.” in Polis & Politics: Studies in Ancient Greek History Presented to Mogens Herman Hansen on His Sixtieth Birthday, August 20, 2000, eds. Pernelle Flensted-Jensen, Thomas Heine Nielsen, and Lene Rubinstein. Copenhagen.
———. 2003. “Stick and Glue: The Function of Tyranny in Fifth-Century Athenian Democracy” in Popular Tyranny: Sovereignty and Its Discontents in Ancient Greece, ed. K. Morgan, 2003. Austin.
———. 2004. The discovery of freedom in ancient Greece. Chicago.
———. 2011. “From City-State to Empire: Rome in Comparative Perspective” in The Roman Empire in Context: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, eds. J.P. Arnason and K. Raaflaub. Wiley-Blackwell.
———. 1998. Political Dissent in Democratic Athens: Intellectual Critics of Popular Rule. Martin Classical Lectures, New Series: 3. Princeton.
Shapiro, H.A. 1994a. "Religion and Politics in Democratic Athens" in The Archaeology of Athens and Attica under the Democracy, eds. W.D.E. Coulson, F.J. Frost, O. Palagia, H.A. Shapiro, and T.K. Shear. Oxford.
———. 1994b. Myth into Art: Poet and Painter in Classical Greece. Routledge, New York 1994.
———. 2006. “Theseus in Kimonian Athens: The iconography of Empire.” Mediterranean Historical Review 7:29–49.
Shanske, D. 2007. Thucydides and the Philosophical Origins of History. Cambridge.
Shear, J. L. 2011. Polis and Revolution: Responding to Oligarchy in Classical Athens. Cambridge.
Smith, S. D. 2007. Greek Identity and the Athenian Past in Chariton: The Romance of Empire. Ancient Narrative Supplementum, 9. Groningen: Barkhuis & Groningen University Library.
Spawforth, A. J. S. 2012. Greece and the Augustan Cultural Revolution. Cambridge.
Stewart, A. F. 1997. Art, Desire, and the Body in Ancient Greece. Cambridge.
Tanner, J. 2006. The Invention of Art history in Ancient Greece: religion, society and artistic rationalisation. Cambridge.
Thomas, R. 1989. Oral tradition and written record in classical Athens. Cambridge.
Thompson, N. 2009. "Most favored status in Herodotus and Thucydides: Recasting the Athenian Tyrannicides through Solon and Pericles" in the Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Political Thought, ed. Stephen Salkever. Cambridge.
Versnel, H.S. 1990. Ter Unus. Isis, Dionysos, Hermes. Three Studies in Henotheism. Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion 1. Brill.
Walker, H. J. 1995. Theseus and Athens. Oxford.
Wohl, V. 2002. Love Among the Ruins: the Erotics of Democracy in Classical Athens. Princeton.

Footnotes

[ back ] 1. The reader’s understanding is asked for the homage to my fellow Southerner, Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, see note 28 infra, but it is intentional.
[ back ] 2. Since the publication of The Tyrant Slayers, new scholarship on the primary sources has appeared. The epigrams require special attention: Day 1985 ("Epigrams and History: The Athenian Tyrannicides, A Case in Point" in M. H. Jameson ed., The Greek Historians: literature and history: papers presented to A.E. Raubitschek., Saratoga) argues that the Chian epigram is Athenian and early in date. Lebedev 1996 “A new epigram for Harmodius and Aristogeiton” (ZPE 112: 263–268) adds the Olbian epigram to the list of primary sources for the tyrannicides. See K. Raaflaub 2000 “Zeus Eleutherios, Dionysos the Liberator, and the Athenian Tyrannicides. Anachronistic Uses of Fifth-Century Political Concepts,” for a summary of the debate over the epigrams and their assignment to statue bases (pp. 263–265). [ back ] The statues themselves have received renewed interest. For example, Shapiro argues in “Religion and Politics in Democratic Athens” that the Panathenaic Festival became, thanks to the tyrannicides, associated with the foundation of democracy in Athens. Dillon 2006, Ancient Greek portrait sculpture: contexts, subjects, and styles, p. 200n16 provides a starting point for further scholarship on the tyrannicides statue group and its early contexts. [ back ] Important discussion over the relation of the literary to the oral and other sources has continued, especially since Thomas 1989, Oral tradition and written record in classical Athens. Raaflaub 2003 “Stick and Glue: The Function of Tyranny in Fifth-Century Athenian Democracy” discusses the remembrance of tyrannicides in particular.
[ back ] 3. Shapiro 2006 argues that these myths should be closely associated with Cimon (“Theseus in Kimonian Athens: The iconography of Empire”), as does Walker 1995, Theseus and Athens. Anderson 2007 argues that Cleisthenes and his supporters employed the tyrannicide myth to unite Athens by focusing attention away from factions (including Cleisthenes’ own). Central to Anderson’s argument is the idea that Harmodius and Aristogeiton were celebrated not as founders of democracy, but as its restorers (cf. Castriota 1998:211, who cites Taylor 1991:58). Cleisthenic reforms could be thus invested with a sense of tradition and heritage, and tyranny could be cast as an anomaly. (Impressed with the success of the Cleisthenic reforms, Cummings and Brocklesby 2007 discuss Cleisthenes’ innovative use of the tyrannicide myth with a view toward modern applications in organizational management.) Even when they highlight the role of propaganda, these arguments agree with The Tyrant Slayers that original enthusiasm over the tyrant slayers must be understood as sincere.
[ back ] 4. Ober 2003 is of special interest (“Tyrant Killing as Therapeutic Stasis: A Political Debate in Images and Texts,” reprinted in Ober 2005, Athenian Legacies: Essays on the Politics of Going On Together, Princeton.) Josh Ober causes us to confront the eternal questions: Who is the liberator? Who is the reactionary? Who is the tyrant? See pp. 212–247 about the Harmodios blow, the Dexileos monument and Aristophanes and Plato on demos as turannos. Ober points out that democratic governments are always going to have to confront self-serving traitors like Alcibiades.
[ back ] 5. The appendix Scholarship Since the Tyrant Slayers lists many more works citing The Tyrant Slayers, too numerous to summarize here. I am truly honored that so many scholars in a variety of disciplines have seen fit to rely on my work.
[ back ] 6. As noted above, the tyrannicides phenomenon is now seen as unifying and democratic, rather than divisive and factionalized. Ober 2003:216 summarizes: "Following a general scholarly consensus, elaborated by Burkhard Fehr, Michael Taylor, and others, I take the Critius and Nesiotes statue group as a self-consciously democratic monument, put up by the Athenians immediately after the Persian Wars to celebrate democratic Athenian unity and boldness in action." Thomas 1989:260 makes the same point more generally: “[The tyrannicides] were a convenient symbol for everyone in Athens as they stressed the Athenian role in the liberation. Indeed, Taylor has recently shown how powerful an heroic symbol they provided for Athenian democracy of implacable opposition to tyranny.” Monoson 2000, in a work that has initiated a vibrant new conversation about the tyrannicides and democratic ideology, reaffirms, "On the whole, scholarly efforts to fix the partisan origins of the cult of the Tyrannicides miss the great political significance of the myth. What is striking and in need of explanation is that the legend quickly became widely embraced among the Athenians and an enduring symbol not of aristocratic ideals or partisan divisions but of common aspirations" (Plato's Democratic Entanglements: Athenian Politics and the Practice of Philosophy, p. 24). [ back ] Scholars now seem to accept generally the idea that Thucydides’ Tyrannicide excursus plays a thematic role and is not simply the distracted pursuit of a red herring by Professor Thucydides, e.g., Thomas 1989:243, Thompson 2009, “Most favored status in Herodotus and Thucydides: Recasting the Athenian Tyrannicides through Solon and Pericles” (in The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Political Thought), and especially Meyer, E. A. 2008. “Thucydides on Harmodius and Aristogeiton, Tyranny, and History,” CQ 58, 1:13–34.
[ back ] 7. Apparently I am not the only one who sees this. As I have been writing this article, I have come across nearly identical expressions of concern in Eric Weiner “Americans and God” New York Times, December 11, 2011: [ back ] “We are more religiously polarized than ever. In my secular, urban and urbane world, God is rarely spoken of, except in mocking, derisive tones. It is acceptable to cite the latest academic study on, say, happiness or, even better, whip out a brain scan, but God? He is for suckers, and Republicans.” [ back ] Also, see, David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam “Crashing the Tea Party” New York Times, August 17, 2011, and David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010).
[ back ] 8. William James “The Will to Believe,” An Address to the Philosophical Clubs of Yale and Brown Universities. New World, (June, 1896). My views here have been influenced by Louis Men and The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (New York: Farrar, Giroux & Strauss, 2001), the Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the hugely influential American philosophy of positivism.
[ back ] 9. Robert Parker Athenian Religion: A History (Oxford U.P. 1995), p. 214
[ back ] 10. Parker, ibid., p. 136n55.
[ back ] 11. But Parker is certainly correct, in my view, in emphasizing the importance of autochthony to the Athenians self-image. Indeed, I would suggest that anyone who truly wishes to understand Classical Athens should list and study the Athenian patriotic symbols, among them Erichthonios and the tyrant slayers, that appear on the 5th Century B.C.E. Cyzikene gold staters and on the 2nd and 1st century B.C.E. Athenian silver tetradrachms.
[ back ] 12. “Propaganda is the management of collective attitudes by the manipulation of significant symbols…One propaganda group may flourish in secret and another may invite publicity…Democracy has proclaimed the dictatorship of palaver, and the technique of dictating to the dictator is named propaganda.” (Harold D. Lasswell. “The Theory of Political Propaganda.” American Political Science Review 21 [1927]; 627).
[ back ] 13. Harold D. Lasswell. “The Theory of Political Propaganda.” Political Science Review 21 [1927]; 627). “Propaganda may be defined as a technique of social control, or as a species of social movement. As technique, it is the manipulation of collective attitudes by the use of significant symbols (words, pictures, tunes) rather than violence, bribery or boycott. Propaganda differs from the technique of pedagogy in that propaganda is concerned with attitudes of love and hate, while pedagogy is devoted to the transmission of skill…The spread of controversial attitudes is propaganda, the spread of accepted attitudes and skills is education.” Harold D. Lasswell. “The Person: Subject and Object of Propaganda.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 179 [1927]: 189). Note that Lasswell restricts a concern with love and hate to propaganda, but education as defined by Aristotle and Plato concerns itself with love and hate (e.g., Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1104b); the Socratic legend in particular challenges the identification of propaganda with “controversial attitudes” vs. the “accepted attitudes” of education. The important point to note here is that the role of propaganda in a democracy is reflected in controversies over education, in the ancient world as today.
[ back ] 14. Anyone who does not believe that political advertising on television has an effect on public opinion has never sat and watched, as I have, the rise and fall poll numbers as television ads are being run. For summaries of my electoral campaigns for the U.S. Congress in the 8th District of North Carolina, see, Barone, Michael, and Ujifusa, Grant, The Almanac of American Politics 2000 (Crown Publishing Group, 1999); Barone, Michael, and Cohen, Richard E., The Almanac of American Politics 2002 (National Journal Publishing Group, 2001), and Glaser, James M., “Polis Polis” in The Hand of the Past in Contemporary Southern Politics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 121–150.
[ back ] 15. Ellul, Jacques, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, translated by Konrad Kellen and Jean Lerner (New York: Vintage Books, 1973; first American edition published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1968, from first French edition entitled Propagandes published by Librairie Armand Colin, 1962), p. 232.
[ back ] 16. Ellul, p. 233.
[ back ] 17. Ellul, pp. 214–215.
[ back ] 18. The validity of such comparisons is suggested by Kopytoff, I. 1993. “The Roman Frontier and the Uses of Comparison.” In P. Brun, S. van der Leeuw, C.R. Whittaker (eds.) Frontières D’Empire: Nature et signification des frontières romaines. Mémoires du Musée de Préhistoire d’Ile-de-France 5: 143–147. I am grateful to Elizabeth M. Greene, Assistant Professor of Roman Archaeology, the University of Western Ontario for this citation and for her use of historical analogy in her forthcoming article in the Theoretical Roman Archaeology 2012 volume “Sulpicia Lepidina and Elizabeth Custer: A Cross-cultural Analogy for the Social Role of Women on a Military Frontier.”
[ back ] 19. Richard, Carl J., The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome and the American Enlightenment, (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1994), pp. 94–95.
[ back ] 20. Rahe Paul A., “Cicero and the Classical Legacy in America” in Onuf, Peter S. and Cole, Nicholas P., Editors, Thomas Jefferson, the Classical World, and Early America, (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2011), p.254.
[ back ] 21. As a recent biographer termed Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Brands, H.W. Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2008).
[ back ] 22. Jennifer T. Roberts, "Pericles in America: The Founding Era and Beyond,” Onuf and Cole, pp. 265–299. It is not surprising that, contrary to many of his contemporaries, Thomas Paine, the radical democratic polemicist whose ideas helped spark and sustain the American and French Revolutions, was enamored of the Ahenian democracy. In Rights of Man (1792), Thomas Paine said, "Though the ancient governments present to us a miserable picture of the condition of man, there is one which above all others exempts itself from the general description. I mean the democracy of the Athenians. We see more to admire, and less to condemn, in that great, extraordinary people, than in anything which history affords." A field for further study is the use of Harmodios and Aristogeiton as inspiration for revolution in modern history. Writing in 1774 in the Connecticut Gazette, an anti-British polemicist styled himself "Hamonius & Aristogiton". T. H. Breen, Farrar, Straus and Giroux American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People (2010), pp. 138 and 151. In the early 19th century period of intellectual ferment before the Greek War of Independence among Greek expatriates in Europe, Harmodios and Aristogeiton were the subject of two plays by that name by Georgios Lassanis and Konstantinos Kyriakos Aristias, Anna Tabaki "The Long Century of the Enlightenment and the Revival of the Greek Theater" Journal of Modern Greek Studies 25 (2007) 281–294 (2007), http://users.uoa.gr/~atabaki/10_MGS-25-2_Tabaki.pdf. During the Greek War of Independence both Byron in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto III, Stanza 20, and Edgar Allen Poe in Hymn to Harmodius and Aristogiton (1827) wrote poems based upon translations of the skolia.
[ back ] 23. William Mitford, History of Greece, 8 vols. (London: 1784–1818), vol. 2, p. 292, quoted in Roberts “Pericles in America,” supra, p. 283. For an account of the role of George Grote in promoting a positive image of the Athenian democracy in Europe and America in the 19th century, see, Gabriel Hermans, Morality and Behavior in Democratic Athens: A Social History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 87-89.
[ back ] 24. Roberts, “Pericles in America,” supra, p. 284.
[ back ] 25. See discussion of Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy, infra.
[ back ] 26. Roberts, “Pericles in America,” supra, pp. 284–285. For the text of Edward Everett November 1863 Gettysburg address, see Wills, Gary, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), Appendix IIIA.
[ back ] 27. Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, “A Southerner in the Peloponnesian War” Atlantic Monthly September 1897, 330–341 published in Ward W. Briggs, Jr., editor, Soldier and Scholar: Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve and the Civil War, (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1998), p. 397, quoted in Roberts, “Pericles in America,” supra, pp. 287.
[ back ] 28. “All a poet can do today is warn.” The quotation is from Wilfred Owen’s draft Preface, viewable at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/item/4547?CISOBOX=1&REC=1, last accessed August 1, 2012.
[ back ] 29. For example, the indefatigable Robert K. Krick’s Gettysburg Death Roster: The Confederate Dead at Gettysburg, (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside Bookshop, 1981, 1985, 1993 and 2004) with Chris L. Ferguson as co-compiler of the 2004 edition, has been through four editions and still cannot claim to have yet made a full accounting of the Confederate dead at Gettysburg, numbered at 4,905 in the 2004 edition.
[ back ] 30. Daniel Webster’s Seventh of March (1850) speech is quoted in C.C. Goen Broken Churches, Broken Nation (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1985), p. 120.
[ back ] 31. Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth, and Genovese, Eugene. The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview (Cambridge U.P., 2005)
[ back ] 32. Wilkenson, Warren. 1990. Mother, May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen: The Fifty-Seventh Massachusetts Veteran Volunteers in the Army of the Potomac, 1864–1865. Harper & Row.
[ back ] 33. My great-great grandfather Edwin J. Taylor of the 10th Georgia Infantry Battalion was surrendered with Lee’s Army at Appomattox, Virginia.
[ back ] 34. See, Charles Wilson Ragan, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980) and the discussion of subsequent scholarship in Lloyd A. Hunter, “The Immortal Confederacy: Another Look at the Lost Cause Religion” in Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan, Editors, The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000), pp. 209–211n3. C. Vann Woodward The Burden of Southern History, 3rd edition, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993), pp. 194–195, quoted my father’s teacher at Duke, Professor Charles W. Sydnor as saying of Southerners, “Fighting to defend their way of life, they had taken refuge in a dream world . . .” An excellent new review of Robert Penn Warren’s negative take on the Lost Cause tradition as the South’s “Great Alibi” in The Legacy of the Civil War (a book I quoted on at the beginning of The Tyrant Slavers) and C. Vann Woodward’s positive reaction to Robert Penn Warren’s book can be found in David W. Blight, American Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011), pp. 65–67 and 74–75. See also, David W. Blight Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004), pp. 255–299
[ back ] 35. “Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France” in Wagner, John A., Editor, Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War , (Westport, Ct., and London: Greenwood Press, 2006), pp. 141–142.
[ back ] 36. Jamison, David Flavel, The Life & Times of Bertrand Du Guesclin: A History of the Fourteenth Century, (Charleston, SC: John Russell, 1864) listed in Wright, John H., A Compendium of the Confederacy: An Annotated Bibliography (Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1989), vol. I, p. 551.
[ back ] 37. Cull, Nicholas J., “Abolitionism/Antislavery Movement” in Cull, Nicholas J., Culbert, David, and Welch, David, Propaganda and Mass Persuasion: A Historical Encyclopedia 1500 to the Present (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2003), pp. 1–3. See, the recent biography, Carton, Evan, Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America (University of Nebraska Press, 2009).
[ back ] 38. As for martial ardor, certainly the South had more than its fair share — for which it paid a heavy price Grady M. McWhiney and Perry D. Jamieson Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage (University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1982), passim. Confederate soldiers’ letters attest to the inspiration given by the sight of General Robert E. Lee and his leadership: Nineteen year old 3d Lt. Wesley Lewis Battle of Chapel Hill, serving in the 37th Regiment North Carolina Troops was a graduate of the University of North Carolina who came from one of North Carolina's most prominent families — his father, William Horne Battle, founded the University’s School of Law and his brother, Kemp Plummer Battle, would become president of the University. On May 29, 1863, Lt. Battle wrote in a letter about his reaction to the sight of Robert E. Lee raising his hat to acknowledge the cheers of the 37th Regiment at a review: [ back ] It is impossible for me to describe the emotions of my heart as the old silver headed hero acknowledged the salute by taking off his hat thereby exposing the most noble countenance I ever beheld. I felt proud that the Southern Confederacy could boast of such a man. In fact, I was almost too proud for the occasion for I could not open my mouth to give vent to the emotions that were struggling within. [ back ] Only five weeks later, Wesley Lewis Battle was to be mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg as he led his men in what is known to history as Pickett’s Charge. Letter of Wesley Lewis Battle to Brother, May 29, 1863, Battle Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC, quoted in William Kelsey McDaid "Four Years of Arduaous Service": The History of the Branch-Lane Brigade in the Civil War (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International, 1989), p. 194. Wesley Lewis Battle’s portrait hangs in the circular dining room in the Morehead Planetarium at UNC-Chapel Hill.
[ back ] 39. Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004)
[ back ] 40. In the 1895 address’ most famous line, Holmes told the Harvard graduating class, “We have shared the incommunicable experience of war; we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top.” From “The Soldier’s Faith,” Memorial Day Address, May 30, 1895, at a meeting called by the graduating class of Harvard University, The Essential Holmes: Selections From the Letters, Speeches, Judicial Opinions, and Other Writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Edited and With an Introduction by Richard A Posner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992) pp. 93.
[ back ] 41. Louis Menand The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001), p. 42, quoting Holmes letter to his sister, Amelia Holmes, dated November 16–19, 1862, quoting Mark De Wolfe Howe, editor, Touched with Fire: Civil War Letters and Diary of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946), p. 73; The Metaphysical Club, p. 52, quoting Holmes letter to Norton dated April 17, 1864, in Charles Eliot Norton Papers; Menand, p. 55, quoting Holmes letter to his parents, dated May 16, 1864, originally published in Touched with Fire, p. 116.
[ back ] 42. Excerpt from Speech Delivered on Memorial Day 1884 in Keene, NH, by then-Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. The Essential Holmes: Selections From the Letters, Speeches, Judicial Opinions, and Other Writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr ., Edited and With an Introduction by Richard A Posner (University of Chicago Press, 1992) pp. 86.
[ back ] 43. See, the watercolor by James E. Taylor, “The Grand Parade of General Sherman’s Army in Washington,” dated 1881, The Ohio Historical Society, image reproduced in Holzer, Harold and Neely, Jr., Mark E., Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Civil War in Art (New York: Orion Books, 1993), p. 316.
[ back ] 44. Walt Whitman’s poem, “The Return of the Heroes,” was brought to my attention by an excellent new study that draws its title from that poem. Marten, James, Sing Not War: The Lives of Union & Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011). Whitman’s poem brings to mind the monument to the victory of the Union in the Civil War on the grounds of the state capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. On opposite sides of the granite are two large scenes in bas-relief, one showing a battle. The other scene is a very compelling scene of the joyous return from war of Union soldiers. The victorious column of soldiers has just arrived is a village and out of every house pour women and children, cheering and embracing their loved ones. The inscription underneath is very direct in its sentiment: “Because God is God and right is right, we have won.”
[ back ] 45. Andrej Petrovic, Kommentar zu den simonideischen Versinschriften (Leiden: Brill, 2007), pp. 113–131, with citations to M.W. Taylor The Tyrant Slayers, 2nd edition on p. 113 et seq,
[ back ] 46. It took a great artist like Winslow Homer to portray this new stage of life for the veterans: See, Winslow Homer’s haunting painting, “The Veteran in a New Field” dated 1865 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, image reproduced in Holzer, Harold and Neely, Jr., Mark E., Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: The Civil War in Art (New York: Orion Books, 1993), p. 234. Some felt that the image of the veteran with his back turned to the viewer wielding a scythe in a wheatfield offered a needed contrast to fighting, perhaps in the same field, when the scythe had been swung by the Grim Reaper. The work was not immediately successful on the art market.
[ back ] 47. Harris, Ed, The Footballer of Loos: A Story of the 1st Battalion London Irish Rifles in the First World War (The History Press Ltd., 2009); Harris, Ruth Elwin, Billie: The Neville Letters: 1914–1916 (Random Century Group Ltd., 1991). Such now almost incredible incidents in the Great War are likely an outgrowth of the central role played by sport in Victorian life. Through sport, the Victorians found ways to connect themselves to the Greek heroes of the Persian Wars. For example, in Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown at Oxford (1861), the less well known sequel to Hughes' Tom Brown's School Days (1857), the sport of rowing is a major part of the story. A high level of Greek comprehension is assumed. One Oxford student in Hughes' novel pokes fun at a rowing companion by leaving out for reading the passage including Artistophanes Knights 785 about sitting on a cushion to avoid chafing a Salaminian posterior and a crewmate calls the crew, thranitai, the Greek word for rowers with heroic and democratic Athenian connotations. See, Richard Jenkyns, The Victorians and Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), p. 217.
[ back ] 48. The legend of the "Angels of Mons" was the fictional creation of Arthur Machen, a writer in a 1914 British newspaper published shortly after the battle, reporting that angels in the form of the English bowmen of Agincourt flew down to rescue the British army at the battle of Mons, Belgium, in 1914, driving the Germans back by shooting them full of heavenly arrows. The British public eagerly accepted the story as the truth and refused to believe it was fictional. Machen published a small book in which he reprinted the story but also included a preface in which he carefully explained that the story was fiction. Arthur Machen The Angels of Mons: The Bowmen and Other Legends of the War (New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1915). However, Machen’s explanation was not accepted and many continued to believe angelic bowmen had held back the Germans at Mons, see, Clark, David, The Angel of Mons: Phantom Soldiers and Ghostly Guardians (Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2004).
[ back ] 49. Phillip Knightley The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Iraq, 2004 Edition, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), p. 85, points out that correspondents “kept an inspired silence about the slaughter and allowed themselves to be absorbed by the propaganda machine … Sir Philip Gibbs (who was knighted for his service) was able to look back and attempt an explanation. "Nobody believed us. Through some of us wrote the truth from the first to the last — apart from the naked reality of horrors and losses, and criticism of the facts, which did not come within the liberty of our pen [emphasis added]." Leonard V. Smith, The Embattled Self: French Soldiers’ Testimony of the Great War (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2007), p. 79 notes, “[P]articularly at the sites of major battles, such as Verdun or the Somme, the mutilated dead regularly made their presence felt. The Cubist painter Fernand Léger, who knew something about fragmentation, served as a stretcher-bearer during the war. In October 1916, during the latter stages of the Battle of Verdun, he made a tour of the battlefields. In a private letter, not published until 1990, he told of bodies rising from the mud into which they had sunk. ¶ Human debris began to appear as soon as we left the zone where there was still a road. I saw excessively curious things. Almost mummified heads of men emerging from the mud. They were all small in this sea of earth. We thought they were children. The hands were most extraordinary. There were hands I would have wanted to photograph exactly. That’s what was most expressive. Several had fingers in their mouths, fingers bitten off with the teeth. I had already seen this on July 12 in the Argonne, a guy who was in so much pain he ate his own hands. FN 49 Fernand Léger to Louis Poughon, 30 October 1916, in Une correspondence de guerre a Louis Poughon, (Paris: Les Cahiers du Musée National d’Art Moderne, Hors Série/Archives, 1990), 66.
Siegfried Sassoon wrote of the impression made by seeing remains of the long dead in pools of water in shell craters on the Western Front: “There are still pools in the craters; they reflect the stars like any lovely waters, but nothing grows near them; snags of iron jut from their banks, tin cans and coils of wire, and other trench refuse. If you search carefully you may find a skull, eyeless, grotesquely matted with what was once hair; eyes once looked from these detestable holes, they made the fabric of a passionate life, they appealed for justice, they were lit with triumph, and beautiful with pity.” Siegfried Sassoo n Diaries, 1915–1918 (London: Faber, 1983), p. 48, entry for March 30, 1916, quoted in Jean Moorcroft Wilson, Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet, 1886–1918 (Gerald Duckworth & Co., Ltd., 1998), p. 246.
My own experience as a naval officer serving in the Vietnam War seeing corpses floating down the Mekong River while on a Swift Boat during the May 1970 Cambodian incursion left a similar impression. The impression made by the dead on the battlefields of war are nothing new but never without shock effect. When Alexander Gardner’s photographs of the dead on the September 1862 battlefield of Antietam, Maryland were displayed at Matthew Brady’s New York gallery on Broadway, the New York Times , October 20, 1862, said: “As it is, the dead of the battle-field come up to us very rarely, even in dreams. We see the list in the morning paper at breakfast, but dismiss its recollection with the coffee … Mr. BRADY has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it. “
[ back ] 50. Silkin, Jon, Out of Battle: The Poetry of the Great War, (London: Routledge & Keegan Paul, Ltd., 1972, ARK edition, 1987), pp. 328–329. See, e.g., Siegfried Sassoon’s poem from late 1915 in the early part of his first tour in the trenches with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, “The Redeemer,” which makes the connection explicit (twice saying of soldier stumbling along a communication trench under a heavy burden in the pouring rain “I say that He was Christ”) even though the poem ends with a soldier realistically exclaiming, “O Christ Almighty, now I’m stuck!”
[ back ] 51. Without citing the vast literature on “shell shock” or post traumatic stress disorder, one can look at many poems in support of this statement, e.g., Siegfried Sassoon, “Repression of War Experience,” The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, edited with an introduction by Jon Silkin, (London and New York: Penguin Books, 1979), pp. 133–134; “Repression of War Experience is discussed in Silkin, Out of Battle , supra , pp. 163–166.
[ back ] 52. Wilfred Owen to his mother, Susan Owen, [? 16] May, 1917, Letter no. 512 in Selected Letters , ed., John Bell (London: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 246–247.
[ back ] 53. Owen to Osbert Sitwell, July 1918, Letter no. 634 in Collected Letters , ed., Harold Owen and John Bell (London: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 336–337.
[ back ] 54. Etienne Derville, Correspondances et notes (août 1914–juin 1918) , ed. Abbé Eugène Evrard (Tourcoing: J. Duvivier, 1922), p. 63, quoted in Leonard V. Smith, The Embattled Self: French Soldiers’ Testimony of the Great War (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2007) , p. 65.
[ back ] 55. Winter, Jay, Sites of Memory and Mourning: The Great War in European cultural history (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 205–207; Smith, Leonard V. The Embattled Self: French Soldiers’ Testimony of the Great War (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2007) , p. 72–73n31, Maurice Barrès, preface to Face face: souvenirs et impressions d’un soldat de la grande guerre, by Jacques Péricard (Paris: Payot, 1917) 15, reprint of article by Barrès in L’Echo de Paris November 17,n 1915. Barrès claimed simply to be recounting the story of Péricard.
[ back ] 56. Smith, Leonard V. The Embattled Self, p. 74.
[ back ] 57. George Creel, How We Advertised America, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1920), p.5, quoted in Axelrod, Allen Selling the Great War: The Making of American Propaganda (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009), pp. 82–83.
[ back ] 58. Axelrod, Selling the Great War: Mobilization of artists, pp.134–140; mobilization of film makers, pp. 150–154; Four Minute Men, pp. 113–134; Goebbels, pp. 218–219. .
[ back ] 59. There are a wealth of publications with many pictures of these WW I posters, but in-depth iconographic study waits to be done: Borkan, Gary A., Posters of World War I (Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2002); Daracott, Joseph, The First World War in Posters from the Imperial War Museum, London (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1974); Doll, Maurice F. V., The Poster War: Allied Propaganda Art of the First World War (Edmonton: Alberta Community Development, 1993); Rawls, Walton, World War I and the American Poster, foreword by Maurice Rickards (New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1988); Rickards, Maurice, Posters of the First World War: America Austria Britain Germany Italy Russia (London: Evelyn, Adams & MacKay Ltd, 1968).
[ back ] 60. Borkan, pp. 54, 61, 148.
[ back ] 61. Beat Back the Hun with Liberty Bonds, F. Strothman, Fourth Liberty Loan, no printer, in Borkan, p. 110.
[ back ] 62. U.S.A. Bonds, J.C. Leyendecker, Boy Scouts of America, American Lithographic Co., New York, Borkan, p. 103.
[ back ] 63. Joan of Arc Saved France, Haskell Collins, United States Printing and Litho Co., New York, in Borkan, p. 136. For the Home Front propaganda effort, see, Kingsbury, Celia Malone, For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front (Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press, 2010).
[ back ] 64. Keith, Jeannette, Rich Man’s War, Poor Man’s Fight: Race, Class, and Power in the Rural South during the First World War (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), pp. 101–110.
[ back ] 65. Freeberg, Ernest, Democracy’s Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2008), pp. 76–77.
[ back ] 66. Debs v. United States, 249 U.S. 211 (1919).
[ back ] 67. Keith, Rich Man’s War, Poor Man’s Fight, pp. 195–196.
[ back ] 68. See, e.g., the stained glass windows in the village church in Mattersey, Nottinghamshire, memorializing the deaths in the First World War of the three Huntriss brothers who are portrayed as medieval knights. Derek Boorman, A Century of Remembrance: One Hundred Outstanding British War Memorials (Barnsley, South Yorkshire, U.K.: Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2005), pp. 20–21 and Plate c. One must imagine the Huntriss family’s most understandable feelings of pride and grief that culminated in these beautiful windows. The stark simplicity of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., stands in contrast.
[ back ] 69. Vance, Jonathan R., Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War (Vancouver: University of British Columbia, Press, 1997), p. 44–49. The stained glass windows of Knox Memorial Presbyterian Church in Calgary mixes Christian and medieval imagery, depicting Christ carrying the banner of “Triumph over Death” accompanied by knights typifying virtues such as Patience and Fidelity, all standing above Canadian soldiers who look upward for inspiration. Vance, p. 45–46. Jonathan F. Vance, "Sacrifice in Stained Glass Memorial Windows of the Great War", Canadian Military History, Volume 5, Number 2, Autumn 1996, pp.16-24.
[ back ] 70. Vance, Death So Noble, p. 99.
[ back ] 71. Winter, Sites of Memory and Mourning, pp. 133–138.
[ back ] 72. Winter, Sites of Memory and Mourning, pp. 161–162. Otto Dix “Der Krieg” (Dresden: Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister/Sächsische Landesbiloiothek) appears in ill. 26, p. 162, and Hans Holbein the Younger, “Der Leichnam Christi im Grabe” (Öffentlicke Kunstsammlung, Basel Kunstmuseum) appears in ill. 19, p. 112.
[ back ] 73. The 19th and early 20th century fascination with notions of chivalry and the glories of war that largely ended in the trenches of the Western Front in World War I is delineated in The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981). The immense folly of World War I was in part precipitated and perpetuated by this misguided antimodern fascination which paradoxically made the soldiers of that era more willing to be fed into the maw of the industrial killing machine of the trenches. On this perverse effect of antimodernism, see, Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture 1880–1920, (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981), pp. 117–124. A remarkable example of the futility of the slaughter in the trenches on the Western Front is the loss to German machine gun fire in only a few minutes on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916, of nearly 700 soldiers of the Newfoundland Regiment before they even reached their own front line when they exposed themselves by climbing out of a support trench in an attempt to move forward more rapidly. Martin Middlebrook, The First Day on the Somme (London: Allen Lane, 1971; Penguin, 1984), p. 189; Martin & Mary Middlebrook The Somme Battlefields: A Comprehensive Guide from Crecy to the Two World Wars (London: Viking, 1991; Penguin, 1994), pp. 83–86; Richard Cramm, The First Five Hundred: Being a Historical Sketch of the Military Operations of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in Gallipoli and on the Western Front during the Great War (1914–1918) Together with the Individual Military Records and Photographs Where Obtainable of the Men of the First Contingent Known as “The First Five Hundred” or “The Blue Puttees.” (New York: C.F. Williams & Son, Inc.)
[ back ] 74. Trout, Steven On the Battlefield of Memory: The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919–1941 (Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 2010), pp. 125–156
[ back ] 75. Trout, On the Battlefield of Memory , pp. 147–150
[ back ] 76. Harvard Memorial Biographies, 2 volumes, edited by Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: Sever & Francis, 1866).
[ back ] 77. Memorials of the Harvard Dead in the War against Germany, edited by Mark De Wolfe Howe (5 vols., Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920–1924)
[ back ] 78. Memorials of the Harvard Dead in the War against Germany, vol. III (1922), pp. 348–373. For the post-war efforts to retain Quentin Roosevelt’s French grave as a site of memory for America’s involvement in World War I, see, Trout, Steven, On the Battlefield of Memory: The First World War and American Remembrance, 1919–1941 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010), pp. 222–240.
[ back ] 79. For “The Spirit of the American Doughboy” statue, see, Trout On the Battlefield of Memory, pp. 109–124. This statue can be seen on the courthouse lawns of Montgomery County and Rutherford County, North Carolina.
[ back ] 80. See, Steven Trout’s interpretation of the deep ironies in John Steuart Curry’s painting of a soldier’s interment in the midst of a vast Kansas prairie scene, “The Return of Private Davis from the Argonne” (1928–1940), oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, in Trout, On the Battlefield of Memory, pp. 211–218.
[ back ] 81. On the anonymity of the war dead in Pericles’ Funeral Oration, see, Simon Hornblower A Commentary on Thucydides, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991),Volume I, p. 310. The individual identities of the Vietnam War dead are ?tists, pp.134–140 an emphasis of the Vietnam Memorial. President Jimmy Carter, when signing into law the bill creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, quoted some apposite words of the novelist Philip Caputo speaking of the loss of a friend, Walter Levy, who died in Vietnam trying to save a fellow soldier: "So much was lost with you, so much talent and intelligence and decency … You embodied the best that was in us, and a part of us died with you, the small part that was still young, that had not grown cynical, grown bitter and old with death." President Carter’s use of the Caputo quotation echoes a remark that Pericles is said by Aristotle (Rhetoric 1365a) to have made, “that the spring had gone out of the year,” in an earlier funeral oration over Athenian youth, likely those who died at Samos in 440 B.C.E. Simon Hornblower A Commentary on Thucydides, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), Volume I, p. 313. Mark De Wolfe Howe, editor of Harvard Dead in the War Against Germany, wrote an elegy published in 1930, addressing the theme of the known and unknown soldier. The elegy is for the Unknown Soldier but entitled “The Known Soldier,” and was published in a volume of anti-war pieces entitled The Red Harvest: A Cry for Peace.
[ back ] 82. As a supporter of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Fund, I take the Wall as a constant reminder to our leaders in government to think very carefully before launching foreign expeditions. See, Philip Appleman’s poem, “Peace with Honor” in Carrying the Darkness: The Poetry of the Vietnam War, edited by W.D. Ehrhart, (Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 1989), pp. 3–5
[ back ] 83. Das, Santanu “War Poetry and the Realm of the Senses” in Kendall, Tim, Editor, The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 73–99 on p. 99.
[ back ] 84. Idem.
[ back ] 85. Fussell, Paul The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975; Illustrated edition: New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2009), p. 315. Rosenberg’s poem, “Break of Day in the Trenches” is particularly emblematic to many of us who served in Vietnam because of the ubiquity of large rats. I recall one night in January 1971 at Camp Holloway near Kontum in the Central Highlands that I spent on a cot in a sandbagged revetment covered by a blast shield at the base of the “Bikinis,” the 170th Assault Helicopter Company, a battle tested group of helicopter pilots who flew every day into incredible danger and who were blessed with these somewhat limited quarters. Being warned to tuck in my sleeping net tightly, I assumed there were large mosquitos about. Instead, upon turning off my flashlight, I heard a loud scratching on the ammo box next to my bed which served as the night table. Flicking the flashlight back on, I looked into the hungry eyes of one of the largest rats I ever saw. My mosquito net was tucked in tight, so I turned off the flashlight and went immediately to sleep.
[ back ] 86. "Where are all the War Poets" from Word over All by C. Day-Lewis, reprinted by permission of Peters Fraser & Dunlop (http://www.peters.fraserdunlop.com) on behalf of the Estate of C. Day-Lewis.
[ back ] 87. Quoted in Winn, James Anderson, The Poetry of War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), from Philip Appleman, Waiting for Fire” in Carrying the Darkness: The Poetry of the Vietnam War, edited by W.D. Ehrhart, (Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 1989), pp. 5–6.
[ back ] 88. For a review of soul-searching by British scholars looking at the British Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and comparing it to the Athenian empire, see Richard Jenkyns, The Victorians and Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), pp. 334-7.
[ back ] 89. Samons II, Loren J. “Conclusion: Pericles and Athens” in Loren J. Samons II, Editor, The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 282–307 at p. 288 "Since the [citizenship] law also effectively ended the Athenian aristocrats' practice of marrying into aristocratic non-Athenian families, it would tend to diminish any inter-polis aristocratic ties and/or feelings of ‘Panhellenism.’ We may assume that Pericles intended and welcomed both results."
[ back ] 90. Edith Foster, Thucydides, Pericles and Periclean Imperialism (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 190.
[ back ] 91. Ben Kiernan in Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2007) in findings summarized on pp.604–606.
[ back ] 92. Henderson, Jeffrey, “Drama and Democracy” in Loren J. Samons II, Editor, The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 179–195 at p. 191 states, the comic poets “criticized Athenian leaders for imperial mismanagement and corruption, but never questioned the justification for the empire.” However, Samons II, Loren J. “Conclusion: Pericles and Athens” in Loren J. Samons II, Editor, The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Pericles (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 282–307 at p. 289 and note 39, interprets the evidence in Schol. Ar. Arch. 67 = Fornara 111 of the adoption of a decree in 440/39, repealed in 437/6, banning certain comic abuse of Athenian leaders and some comic fragments in Plutarch Pericles 3–4, 13, 16, 24, and 33 as evidence of criticism of Pericles tyrannical rule not only of Athens but also of the Empire. We have nothing but speculation on evidence based comic fragments that suggest any criticism or questioning of the moral or philosophical basis of the Empire.
[ back ] 93. On the Congress Decree reported in Plutarch Pericles 17, see, Stadter, Philip A., A Commentary on Plutarch’s Pericles (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1989), pp. 209, with whom I agree on the Congress Decree’s authenticity. It makes too much sense. The idea of Pericles making a bid for Athenian leadership of all the Greeks fits in well with his overall foreign policy and his ideas about the preeminent position of Athens.
[ back ] 94. Nietzsche, Friederich, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, translated by J. Hollingdale, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 174, quoted in Dietz, Mary G. “Arendt and the Holocaust” in Villa, Dana, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Hannah Arendt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 86–109 at 91.
[ back ] 95. Arendt, Hanna The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 205.
[ back ] 96. Loraux, Nicole, The Invention of Athens: The Funeral Oration in the Classical City, translated by Alan Sheridan, (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1986), p. 259.
[ back ] 97. Arendt The Human Condition, p. 36 quoted in Kateb, George “Political Action: its nature and advantages” in Villa, Dana, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Hannah Arendt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 130–148 at 136.
[ back ] 98. Kateb “Political Action,” idem.
[ back ] 99. Euben, J. Peter, “Arendt’s Hellenism” in Villa, Dana, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Hannah Arendt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 151–164 at 162–163.
[ back ] 100. Kateb, George, Hannah Arendt: Politics, Conscience, Evil (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Allenheld, 1984), p. 149, quoted in Euben, “Arendt’s Hellenism,” p. 163 with the discussion of Arendt’s belief that we have lost our understanding of freedom and politics on pp. 162–163.
[ back ] 101. Arendt, Hannah The Human Condition, p. 98.
[ back ] 102. Euben “Arendt’s Hellenism,” p. 162.
[ back ] 103. Euben “Arendt’s Hellenism,” p. 161.
[ back ] 104. E.g., from list of works citing The Tyrant Slayers.
[ back ] 105. Hacker, Jacob S. & Pierson, Paul, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned its Back on the Middle Class (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2010), passim. We must not be naive and forget that the basic self interest at the heart of all politics is only held in check ultimately by constitutional separation of powers with a healthy system of checks and balances along lines envisioned and developed by Harrington,  John Locke, Montesquieu, and the American Founders.  For an incisive discussion of this point, see, Rahe, Paul, Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution (University of North Carolina Press, 1992), pp. 597-605.
[ back ] 106. Villa, Dana, Public Freedom (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 352.
[ back ] 107. Grossman, Vasily (1905–1964) Life and Fate, translated with Introduction by Robert Parker, (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), quotations are from the Introduction by Robert Parker, p. xv and pp. xxviii–xxix.