Advancing a Free Society

A Modern Greek Tragedy

Friday, May 7, 2010

Watching Greeks fire-bomb their banks, shut down their airports and ruin the tourist trade that is their economy's main prospect, I can't help but hear Virgil reprised. In that Roman poet's great narrative The Aeneid, survivors of the Trojan War seek a place to start anew, after much difficulty founding what will become the Roman Empire. It's rough going, and after much hard luck and stormy seas, the Trojan women burn the ships in order to prevent the men returning them all to sea.

They knew the Sybil (a rough approximation to an oracle for the Greeks) had prophesied that when they "quit at last of the sea's dangers / for whom still greater are in store on land... wars, vicious wars / I see ahead, and Tiber foaming in blood." Seeing the fleet in flames, Ascanius' reaction is "but your own hopes are what you burn!" And so it is with the Greeks -- they burn their own hopes by such unwillingness to do the unpleasant but necessary belt tightening.

Continue reading Kori Schake on Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government