On the Election

Glen Bowersock weighs in on the 2016 Election with a reflection on Cleon, the Donald Trump of fifth century B.C. Athens. Cleon’s fiery rhetoric made him exceptionally persuasive to the people, Bowersock writes:

Cleon's wealth, bluster, ignorance, and polemic are well known to us from the historian Thucydides as well as from the comic playwright Aristophanes, who mercilessly derided him. . . . But a demagogue like Cleon, even if he fails, poisons the polity by breeding other politicians like him, and this is a sobering lesson. . . . A vicious xenophobe cannot be considered a onetime menace, but a harbinger of fanaticism to come. The world’s first democracy still has something to teach us about where danger lies in trying to rely upon the will of the people. It lies precisely with a demagogue who has the ability to make a connection with those who respond to his pernicious views.

Read more in the New York Review of Books: http://bit.ly/2eFcWXV


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