zondag 26 april 2009

The beginning of all politics: les 1 voor elke burger

uit Pericles' funeral oration (431/0vC):

Our political system does not compete with institutions which are elsewhere in force. We do not copy our neighbours, but try to be an example. Our administration favours the many instead of the few: this is why it is called a democracy. The laws afford equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, but we do not ignore the claims of excellence. When a citizen distinguishes himself, then he will be called to serve the state, in preference to others, not as a matter of privelege, but as a reward of merit; and poverty is no bar... The freedom we enjoy extends also to ordinary life; we are not suspicious of one another, and do not nag our neighbour if he chooses to go his own way... But this freedom does not make us lawless. We are taught to respect the magistrates and laws, and never to forget that we must protect the injured. And we are also taught to observe those unwritten laws whose sanction lies only in the universal feeling of what is right...

Our city is thrown open to the world; we never expel a foreigner... We are free to live exactly as we please, and yet we are always ready to face any danger... We love beauty without indulging in fancies, and although we try to improve our intellect, this does not weaken our will... To admit one's poverty is no disgrace with us; but we consider it disgraceful not to make an effort to avoid it. An Athenian citizen does not neglect public affairs when attending to his private business... We consider a man who takes no intrest in the state not as harmless, but as useless; and although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it. We do not look upon discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of political action, but as an indispensable preliminary to acting wisely... We believe that happiness is the fruit of freedom and freedom that of valour, and we do not shrink from the dangers of war... To sum up, I claim that Athens is the School of Hellas, and that the individual Athenian grows up to develop a happy versatility, a readiness for emergencies, and self-reliance.

geciteerd uit: Karl Popper, The open society and its enemies. Volume one: the spell of Plato

zaterdag 18 april 2009

Moses I. Finley

"There's more to life than books, but not much more." (Morrissey/The Smiths)

Ik heb recent genoten van The Ancient Greeks: An Introduction to Their Life and Thought van Moses I. Finley.

"Our polity does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. It is called a democracy, because not the few but the many govern. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition."
(Pericles, Atheens staatsman, ca.495–429 vC)

In ons land werd het algemeen (meervoudig) stemrecht ingevoerd in 1893.

woensdag 1 april 2009

Marguerite Yourcenar: Memoires van Hadrianus

Om de zoveel tijd lees je een boek dat je doet twijfelen aan je eigen geletterdheid. Ook geloof ik dat een leven van lezen maar tien of twintig boeken oplevert die er werkelijk toe hebben gedaan. Wat Marguerite Yourcenar heeft klaargespeeld met Mémoires d'Hadrien is Olympisch.
De inspiratie voor deze fictieve autobiografie van de Romeinse keizer Hadrianus (bekend van de Pax Romana) vond zij in deze zin van Gustave Flaubert: Er is tussen Cicero en Marcus Aurelius, toen de goden er niet meer waren en Christus er nog niet was, een uniek moment geweest waarop alleen de mens bestond.
Vrienden, er is geen excuus om niet minstens van het eerste hoofdstuk ("Anima, vagula, blandula" - Zieltje, zwervertje, charmeurtje) te proeven. It's like attar of roses: almost too sweet and, once smelt, impossible to forget.

"Comme tout le monde, je n'ai à mon service que trois moyens d'évaluer l'existence humaine : l'étude de soi, la plus difficile et la plus dangereuse, mais aussi la plus féconde des méthodes ; l'observation des hommes, qui s'arrangent le plus souvent pour nous cacher leurs secrets ou pour nous faire croire qu'ils en ont ; les livres, avec les erreurs particulières de perspectives qui naissent entre leurs lignes."
(Mémoires d'Hadrien, p.30)