“The citizens themselves, through their foolish acts, are
to destroy the great city, yielding to their desire
and the leaders of the people have unjust minds, for
there will be many griefs to suffer as a result of their
For they do not know how to control their excess, nor to
their present good cheer in the peace of the feast
and they grow rich, prompted by their unjust acts,
and sparing neither sacred possessions nor public ones
they steal in violent seizure, one from one source one
and do not observe the solemn foundations of Justice.”
Wow—what a lucid, stinging indictment not only of what’s going on in America today, but indeed most of the developed world. Everything revolving around money; corrupt politicians willing to do anything, even legally questionable acts, in order to further their own selfish interests; the regular citizens having to pay the steep, steep price for their greed and arrogance. I wish I could say it was mine, but it comes from someone much smarter than me.
Where did I come across this gem? I’ve recently been reading the Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece and discovered it on page 78. It’s from the poem Eunomia or ‘Good Order’ by Athenian legislator Solon, circa 580 B.C. The ellipses mark the locations where the surviving text becomes fragmentary and part has been lost to history.
No wonder our modern educational system neglects teaching the classics—it wouldn’t do for us to see that we’re still repeating the same mistakes of 2,500 years ago.