Washington and “The Iliad”

This is hilarious: Swift-Footed W. by Nicholas D. Kristof, Editorials/Op-Ed from today (10/22/2003)’s NYT.

“The Iliad” is the greatest war story ever told, but it’s not fundamentally about war … [snap] …but rather about how great men confront tragedy, learn moderation and become wise.

In case “The Iliad” isn’t lying around the Oval Office, let me recap for our warriors in Washington. Achilles is both the mightiest warrior and a petulant, self-righteous, arrogant figure. A unilateralist, he refuses to consult with allies; he dismisses intelligence about his own vulnerability; he never reads the newspapers.


It is a funny little article, not very long either. So read it and enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Washington and “The Iliad”

  1. Hi Jean, I was wondering after my drawing class the other day about how much have society and people progressed. My drawing teacher talks about various innovations in drawing that started about 500 years ago and likes to claim that our ancestors were not as stupid as we often think.

    In many types of science and technology it seems we are more advanced. In the arts I’m not sure.

    One area that I never thought about in relation to history is political skill.

    Are political leaders today more advanced than 100, 200, 500, 1000, etc years ago? Not exactly sure what I mean by ‘advanced’. Maybe, more skillful at defining their goals and accomplishing them. There should also be a relative element to this measure too.

  2. Interesting, I was thinking in a similar line just yesterday. One BBC reporter was saying on the radio that the US government was nortorious for focusing on short term gains rather than long term visions.

    Then I thought of a little book i read many years ago where a French guy exclaimed that in democratic society there is no more heros, no more giants, just a large group of tiny fish pretending grandness.

    My thought ended up in the years of Peter the Great and Alexander the Great. These are people who had vision and the capacity for greatness. They have their entire life time to achieve something, versus the current elected officials who has four and maybe eight years.

    I wonder in employing the art of compromise, whether we have treated greatness and possible great disasters for stability and mediocrity?

    Back to your question, what is “advance” when it comes to political skills? Is common people’s stable lives the final measure? In a way democracy ensures a stable economy, and less chance for war. In that sense, it is advancement, isn’t it? When more people have things to lose, there will be less chance for devastating conflicts?

  3. Linda, thanks for the suggestion. I will give it a try after Iliad. 🙂
    I browsed a few of your blogs. It is amazing that you could manage being a mom of three and a grad student all at the same time! Awesome! Salute!

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