Wednesday, June 14, 2006


She was a princess of doomed Troy, possessed of the gift of prophecy. She saw through the ruse of the Trojan Horse, foretold the fall of her city, foresaw the murder of her paramour Agamemnon and saw with it her own death. But she was thought mad, and confined, and indeed was driven mad for a time. She possessed an onerous gift, of prophecy that would never be believed. A gift that is a curse. How … how Greek. What god had she offended to be so burdened? Bright Apollo, whose love changed into hatred when she did not match it. Dangerous thing, to be loved by a god.

Western Civilization dates from the fall of Troy. From there, under the black pall of burning towers, refugees scattered westward and became Etruscans and Latins, who would later work a belated revenge upon the Achaeans by subsuming the Greeks into Rome. Of course, the Byzantines returned the favor – but there is no profit in such score-keeping. After long enough, the family ties get so knotted that they should all just consider themselves siblings.

So when some half-informed demi-theorists suppose they possess the Key to History, we may smile at their earnestness, if their power for harm is slight. The order they think they find is only the cycle of waves rolling across the surface of some unsounded sea. To hear Islamists complain about Crusades finished two score generations ago is almost amusing, save that their fulminations are energized by oil and explosives. Likewise, to learn of the cult of Aztlan separatists - who suppose there is a “Chicano” blood claim on the American southwest - would make us shake our heads with a wry snort, except that their cause is rising on the swell of unbounded illegal immigration.

There is no stupid idea that cannot become dangerous. Marxism. The State will just whither away? When has that ever happened. But this philosophy dominated a fair part of the globe for a fair part of a century. Truth has no more power in the world than lies. There are more fools than wisemen. And prophets, if there are any prophets, are honored neither in their own country, nor elsewhere. Hardly ever.

The most we might hope for is that the Trojans and the Achaeans meet not on the battlefield, but in the marketplace, or the temple, or in the halls of law. We would hope that they meet at wedding feasts and Olympiads. For they are brethren, or at least they are the ancestors of those who will be kindred. To wage a decimating war over a runaway bride hardly seems prudent, eh? There are great issues to contend over. This is not one of them. History has lessons. We would hope that it teaches more that we are brothers, than enemies. Those who claim that God gave them land, usually haven’t been listening very closely. And it’s a dangerous thing, to be loved by God.

My point? I barely have one. Something about Cassandra. Something about futility. Something about standing above the affray and being powerless to affect its outcome. Calls to mind old Moses, holding out his hands as if in supplication, and while he does so, the battle turns his way. Perhaps that was Cassandra’s mistake. Perhaps she looked no further than to the gift she had already received, and thought her words alone would win the day.


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