In message <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, Rosemary Grayston
<[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes
What is meant here by 'racism'? The scientific theories that were all
the rage (not least amongst progressive eugenicists) until the Second
World War and then dropped like a hot potato afterwards? Or simply the
belief that certain other peoples, especially those against whom one is
fighting, are inherently decadent or vicious, which is normal in all
wars? (Think of the stuff the British told each other about the Germans
in both World Wars; anyone who imagines the Second was fought only
against the Nazis needs to grow up fast.) Retrospective moral judgements
are for prigs, the kind of people who used to rebuke Martial for
obscenity and then when the fashion changed for obsequiousness; or else
for those who
What was the sentiment to which V appeals in the Shield passage of A8
when he accompanies mention of 'the Egyptian wife' of Antony with an
expostulation about the nefarious nature of the partnership? The racism
and fear of Caesarian 'tota Italia' propaganda, as advertised by Syme?
Compound for sins that they've a mind to
By damning those they're not inclin'd to.
Even if one happens to believe that some moral principle or other is
timeless, one can no more blame those who lived before its revelation
for not abiding by it than the most zealous Christian blames those who
lived before the Incarnation for not being Christians.
Augustus had declared war on Cleopatra, not on Antony, in order that the
conflict should be with a foreign enemy with whom (as could be foreseen)
Antony would treasonably ally himself, rather than a civil war against
someone whose right to power was no worse than his own. Once the war was
on, of course the enemy would be vilified: for the spirit in which
Cleopatra could be viewed see (in a poet who had seen the dark side of
Octavian at Perugia, and who sometimes plays at a dandyish sympathy for
his opponent) Propertius 3. 11, especially v. 41 'ausa Ioui nostro
latrantem opponere Anubim', even though in the previous verse he has
acknowledged that Cleopatra was of Macedonian blood, and therefore not a
native Egyptian (unlike Apion if you believe Josephus' defence of the
Jews against his *racial* attack). But in Vergil the point of Aegyptia
coniunx is surely less to tarnish her than to damn Antony, who (nefas!)
had taken a foreign wife and thrown in his lot with her; had committed
the crime, in fact, from which Aeneas had drawn back.
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