Friday, March 2, 2018

The answer of Clearchus

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In January of 2014, I published an essay on this blog entitled "The Warriors and the Ten Thousand."

That essay discusses the conscious parallels between the plot line of the classic 1979 film The Warriors and the ancient account of the "Persian Expedition" in the Anabasis of Xenophon (born around 430 BC).

According to Xenophon's account, a contingent of ten thousand Greek warriors who had ventured into the heart of the Persian empire in support of the Persian prince Cyrus (son of the previous King of Persia, Darius II, who died in 404 BC) against the new King of Persia, Artaxerxes II (Cyrus's elder brother) found themselves in a very tight spot when Cyrus was killed in the battle of Cunaxa (in 401 BC), near the place where the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers flow closest together (before eventually joining one another further south towards the Persian Gulf).

Although the Greek warriors (who had been positioned at the rightmost flank of the army of Cyrus) had decisively defeated the forces of the king (whose army was far larger than that of Cyrus) positioned on the far left edge of the king's own army, the death of Cyrus by a javelin wound to the head effectively ended the resistance against the accession of Artaxerxes.

With Cyrus dead, the Greeks were completely isolated and vastly outnumbered. When the king sent his heralds to speak to the Greek leaders, the heralds were accompanied by a Greek named Phalinus, who was in the service of the Persians. Xenophon explains:
These heralds rode up and asked to speak to the Greek commanders. They said that the King, since he had won the victory and killed Cyrus, commanded the Greeks to surrender their arms, to make an appearance at the Court, and to get for themselves, if they could, the royal favour. [Rex Warner translation, originally published in 1949; page 104]. 
Xenophon then explains the reaction of the Greeks to this demand, including that of their leader, Clearchus (who was later killed, after which Xenophon himself became the leader of the ten thousand).  Clearchus, being busy consulting the gods, tells the other Greek war chiefs to give their reply, and he will get back to see how it is going after he has finished his more important business. Xenophon relates the scene, just after the heralds (including Phalinus) have issued their order to surrender their weapons:
This was what the King's heralds said, and the Greeks were indignant when they heard it. Clearchus, however, said: 'It is not for the conquerors to surrender their arms. But,' he went on, 'you other generals must make what seems to you the best and most honourable reply to these men. I shall soon be back again.' This was because one of his officers had called him to inspect the entrails which had been taken out from the victim, as he happened to be in the middle of a sacrificial ceremony. 104.
As Xenophon's account makes clear, the Greeks found such a demand most inappropriate and insulting. The first of the Greeks to reply, Cleanor the Arcadian, the eldest of all those present, told the Persians (and their accomplice, Phalinus), "that they would die before they surrendered their arms" (104).

Phalinus replied that resistance to the king's demands would be futile, as Artaxerxes "can bring against you such masses of men that you could never kill them all, even if he gave you the chance of doing so" (105).

To this, an Athenian identified as Theopompus gives an admirable reply:
As you see, Phalinus, the only things of value which we have at present are our arms and our courage. So long as we keep our arms we fancy that we can make good use of our courage; but if we surrender our arms we shall lose our lives as well. So do not imagine that we are going to surrender to you our only valuables. On the contrary, with their aid we shall fight for what you value too.
Xenophon relates that:
Phalinus smiled when he heard this, and said: 'Quite like a philosopher, young man, and remarkably well expressed! All the same let me inform you that you are crazy if you think that your courage can get the better of the King's power.' 105.
Finally, Clearchus returns and asks if Phalinus has received an answer, and Phalinus says he has received a variety of answers, and would like to hear what Clearchus has to say. Clearchus tells Phalinus he is glad to be speaking to a fellow Greek, and asked Phalinus to give his advice, since (as Clearchus tells him), future generations will judge whether the recommendation of Phalinus was honorable or not.

Returning to his theme that resisting the king's orders would be futile, Phalinus replies:
My advice is not to surrender your arms, if you have one chance in ten thousand of saving yourselves by fighting against the King. But if there is not a single chance of safety in going against the King, then I advise you to take the only steps you can to save yourselves. 106.
Then Clearchus gives his answer to these threats:
Well, then, so much for your advice. Now you can take back our answer, which is that we consider that, if it is a case of becoming friends with the King, we shall be more valuable friends if we retain our arms than if we surrender them to someone else; and if it is a case of fighting, we shall fight better if we retain our arms than if they are in someone else's possession.
Thus the response of a warrior of the ancient Greeks, who believed in living with dignity and freedom, and who trusted in the gods to give victory, even when faced with seemingly overwhelming odds. As Xenophon himself says later in the story, during an assembly in which the Greeks are debating what course of action to take next:
You are well aware that it is not numbers or strength that bring the victories in war. No, it is when one side goes against the enemy with the gods' gift of a stronger morale that their adversaries, as a rule, cannot withstand them. I have noticed this point, too, my friends, that in soldiering the people whose one aim is to keep alive usually find a wretched and dishonourable death, while the people who, realizing that death is the common lot of all men, make it their endeavour to die with honour, somehow seem more often to reach old age and to have a happier life when they are alive. 146.
At this time, more than four years after my original post on the Ten Thousand, any mention of sentiments such as those expressed by Clearchus, Theopompus, and Xenophon will doubtless be tremendously unpopular with huge numbers of people, especially in light of the very well-coordinated and emotionally-charged campaign which appeared almost immediately following the news of the despicable criminal murder of students at a Florida high school on Valentine's Day this year. 

This kind of automatic response is completely understandable -- especially because the vast majority of people (against overwhelming evidence) believe the completely untenable stories given to them by the "news media" about critical events such as the murders of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the thousands of innocent victims killed on September 11, 2001 -- as well as uncritically believing the propaganda about the illegal wars launched by the government of the united states following September 11, 2001 which together have resulted in literally millions of additional deaths since then.

The vast majority of people, who simply cannot take the rather drastic mental step of admitting that the so-called "news media" might be blatantly lying to them in certain critical instances, also continue to believe the mainstream narrative of other extremely suspicious, traumatic, criminal, and emotionally-charged recent events such as Sandy Hook / Newtown (December 2012), the Boston Marathon (April 2013), Orlando / Pulse (June 2016), Charlottesville (August 2017), and Las Vegas / Mandalay Bay (October 2017) -- among many others.

Abundant and compelling evidence compiled by numerous researchers make a very strong case that each one of the events listed above was carried out in a manner which is completely different from the narrative which is incessantly repeated in the news media and drummed into the popular consciousness, and accepted almost by default by those who refuse to believe that the media could be lying to them or covering up critical information in order to paint a false picture of reality. 

I myself have presented just a few pieces of evidence regarding serious problems with the official narrative of a few of the most-recent of the above-listed incidents, in a video here and a follow-up blog post here. Some of the evidence provided in that video is absolutely conclusive in demonstrating that something much more is going on in each of these incidents than what the captive news media is telling the public to believe.

Other researchers have published even more evidence which strongly suggests that the public is being lied to about these and other recent headline-grabbing, emotionally-charged, traumatic events. See for example this simple list of violent, traumatic, emotional incidents of the past several years which have taken place on or immediately after planned training drills at the same or nearby site for a nearly identical incident -- compiled back in 2015 by researcher Jon Rappoport. Or this 2015 interview about the analysis and research conducted by the tireless Ole Dammegard into similarly suspicious evidence.

Indeed, in the past several days, numerous independent media outlets have had their accounts suspended or even completely terminated by YouTube and other important social media outlets, over videos which contained discussion of some of the evidence that some of the recent traumatic events listed above might have much more to the story than the public is being led to believe. For example, below is an image from a tweet posted by independent podcast host Greg Carlwood of The Higherside Chats, regarding a "strike" against his account issued by YouTube, over an interview with a guest pointing out numerous inconsistencies with the official narrative of the Newtown / Sandy Hook events of December 2012:

As Greg pointed out when he published the above image in a tweet, it's very suspicious that this interview suddenly resulted in a "strike" against his account, given that (in Greg's words) "it's such an old ep, & not even the most damning Sandy Hook one" -- unless there is a concerted effort in the aftermath of the most recent traumatic event to chill discussion of the abundant evidence which suggests that the official narrative of other recent traumatic events might be built on deception.

As anyone who is familiar with Greg Carlwood and his show can attest (and I have not only met him in person but also appeared on his show more than once), he and his podcast cannot possibly be accused of being "a platform for things like predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment, bullying, or intimidation," all of which are listed in the warning above from YouTube.

The fact that his podcast is being cautioned by YouTube (in a message which threatens that the next such caution will result in temporary suspension of his ability to post more videos, and a third one will result in permanent termination of his account) regarding an old interview questioning an event which is used as one of the central supports for the same anti-firearm agenda that is currently flooding the mainstream media (as well as most of the big social media outlets) suggests that there might be something in those events which will not stand up to scrutiny, and which fears open discussion and critical analysis by media platforms (including popular podcasts) which are outside of the control which is obviously being exercised over the so-called mainstream news.

I personally am not a supporter of "the right," the republican party, libertarianism, or the forces of reaction most commonly associated with opposition to gun control and disarmament.

However, if some of the most traumatic and emotionally-charged violent incidents of the past several years (such as those events listed above, as well as others) have actually been perpetrated by forces completely different from those who have been blamed for them, and with tactics and methodologies completely different from what we are being told took place, then it is entirely possible that the knee-jerk reaction to these criminal events (and supported by a well-coordinated media blitz) is entirely misguided.

If there are serious efforts to chill discussion of these events outside of the official narrative, and to suppress critical analysis of evidence which contradicts the official narrative, then people who have never wanted to believe that the news media might be lying to them should start to wake up to the very real possibility that such lying is indeed going on, motivated by a specific agenda.

I continue to believe that the answer of Clearchus to the heralds of Artaxerxes II contains valuable lessons for us today. His message declared that if the king's intentions were truly friendly, he had nothing to fear from the Greeks and their weapons, and that they would be better friends to him if they retained their arms than if they gave them up. But, if the king's intentions were treacherous, which they indeed turned out to be, then the Greeks would have been foolish to surrender their arms.

It should also be pointed out that the collaborator Phalinus, who was acting on behalf of Artaxerxes, kept saying that the weapons of the Greeks were useless anyway, against the overwhelming force of the King of Persia. However, the fact that the king was so anxious that the Greeks give up their arms reveals that this argument is a lie -- and the calm confidence of Clearchus and the other Greeks in the face of the threats delivered by Phalinus shows that, as the Greeks believed, it is not numbers or strength which bring victory, but rather the gods' gift of morale, which derives from pursuing the honorable course rather than the seemingly expedient or even popular course.

The fact that even the act of repeating the words of Clearchus, and those of Theopompus and Xenophon quoted above, might be seen as heretical or immoral or insensitive or benighted by large portions of the population today (and certainly a majority of the voices on social media over the past two weeks) in nations supposedly descended from the freedom-loving civilization of ancient Greece, and supposedly devoted to many of their ideals and principles, and supposedly practicing forms of democratic governance inspired by some of their models, shows just how precarious our present situation has become, and how effective the propaganda outlets of the modern controlled media now prove themselves to be at drowning out independent thinking, critical analysis, and dissenting viewpoints.

It may be that the ghosts of the ancient Greeks are watching us now, and wondering what the fate of the heritage which they left to us will be.

image: Wikimedia commons (link).