October 5, 2016; June 13, 2017; Friday morning, February 3, 2023
In Antiquity, the Greek city states,
the polis, victory in war meant everything;
it had to; the people's lives depended upon it.
Without victory there was no honor, no nobility,
no recognition, neither right nor wrong, no ethics,
no nothing. Only total victory sufficed. (Ask Socrates,
the hoplite, following the siege at Potidaea and other
battles; his response was not philosophical.) Consider
these important Greek cultural terms: 'thymos',
'demos', 'arete', 'sophrosyne', amongst others.
The ancient Greeks excelled on the battlefield,
and their heroes, Achilles the prototype, were
richly rewarded with prizes, fame, glory and fortune.
And yet, it was all for naught—Greek greed and
lust for power undid them. Today, now more
than two thousand years later, are we any different?
This need for recognition sleeps deep in our DNA,
and where has it gotten us? Mechanized destruction
of populations, battles in cyberspace, a Chinese spy
balloon now hovering over 'the deep Midwest'.
There exists little to no honor, no nobility,
no ethics, no humanity in us though we still
swear by these terms. It serves us to do so,
to pat ourselves on the back when no one else
will do so, to deceive our children to believe
in what doesn't exist. It is for posterity, theirs.
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem