Hoisted from Comments: John from Cappadocia Emails About Victor Davis Hanson, Procopius of Caesarea, and Maureen Dowd
Hoisted from Comments: John from Cappadocia:
It does strike me that there are powerful similarities between Procopius of Caesarea and one New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd. Consider the most famous passage that Procopius ever wrote, from his History of the Campaigns of Belisarius:
The emperor and his remaining loyalists were quarreling over whether their chances were better if they stayed in the city or fled for their lives in the still-loyal navy. The debate was all over the place. And then the Empress Theodora spoke:
My belief is that now, more than other times, is not the time to fly even though it saves our lives.... Once you have been an emperor it is unendurable to be a fugitive. May I never be separated from this purple robe! May I die before that day on which people who meet me fail to call me 'Mistress'! If, now, it is your wish to save yourself, O Emperor, there is no problem. We have much money. There is the sea. Here the boats. However, consider well whether after you have saved your skin you will look back and wish that you had exchanged that safety for death. As for myself, I recall that ancient maxim: 'An imperial purple robe makes a good burial-shroud'
After the queen had spoken, all were filled with boldness. They turned their thoughts to how to fight and began to consider how to defend themselves against any attacking hostile force.... The Emperor placed all his hopes on Belisarius and Mundus. The former, Belisarius, had just returned from the Persian front, bringing with him his personal following which was both powerful and imposing, in particular a great number of experienced combat veteran spearmen and horseguards...
We read this passage as one in praise of Theodora: gutsy empress saves the dynasty when all seems lost. Procopius wrote it with a different intention: We are supposed to focus on the unnatural gender roles--on the cowardly girly-man who is the Emperor Justinian and on the unnatural manly-girl who is the Empress Theodora.
This is Maurenn Dowd's standard line on Democratic office-holders: the men (like "Obambi") are all unnatural because they are effeminate, and the women (like HRC) are all unnatural because they re too assertive.
And Procopius's misogyny has powerful echoes in V.D. Hanson. Reread his last paragraph--the one about Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, and Dianne Feinstein--and think about it.
If I had more time, I would talk about the similarities between Procopius and Victor Davis Hanson on public finance; Remember Hanson:
lower income taxes from 10% to 5% to attract businesses back; cut sales taxes to 7%... build 3-4 nuclear power plants on the coast... tax breaks to private trade and business schools... build a new all weather east-west state freeway over the Sierra; and on and on...
Procopius, similarly, loves all the services that Justinian's empire provides and all the buildings that it builds, but thinks Justinian should lower taxes. Two fools, alike in dignity...