'Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted'



Everything changes yet nothing changes. Readers of the Alice Springs News Online might smile at these lines written about 2,500 years ago  by a Mr Thucydides, commenting on the state of politics in the  territories of  his time.

“War was a stern teacher… To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a ‘thoughtless act of aggression’ was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action.
“Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense.
“Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect.
“To plot successfully was a sign of intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching… Family relations were a weaker tie than party membership, since party members were more ready to go to any extreme for any reason whatever… ”
Dr Craig San Roque
Alice Springs
Source: Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War, translated by  R Warner 1956,  reprinted 1971.  Book 111 82 pp208-09.  Referenced by  Marianne McDonald in her  commentary on  “Cacoyannis and Euripides – Ipheginia as modern political commentary”,  20 October 2010,  Instituto Nazionale del Drama Antico Foundation  Siracusa, Prometeus on line magazine.


  1. “To plot successfully was a sign of intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching.”
    Indeed but I believe that Thucydides following statement describes nearly 100% the politics of our days: “Some legislators only wish to vengeance against a particular enemy. Others only look out for themselves. They devote very little time on the consideration of any public issue. They think that no harm will come from their neglect. They act as if it is always the business of somebody else to look after this or that. When this selfish notion is entertained by all, the commonwealth slowly begins to decay.”

  2. Thanks Evelyne for adding the next lines from Mt Thucydides observations on political behaviours.


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