Persian Classical Values --

Persian Classical Values -- Coming Soon?

Don Watkins makes the following very prescient observation:

There's no telling how this particular protest will end, but one thing's for sure: it's only a matter of time before Iran's theocracy tumbles, and when it does, mark my words -- the new Iran will mark the beginning of the end for the remaining Middle East tyrannies. It's not an overstatement to say that we are witnessing the most important event since the American Revolution.

Don is right, of course (as are innumerable bloggers who support Iran) and his analyses of the Iranian situation (and the Mideast) are first rate.

People forget that unlike most of the Middle East, Iran is steeped in its own Classical Values. The Persian Empire was a contemporary and a competitor with both Greece and Rome for hundreds of years.

Iran is Persia, for God's sake! Persia is proud! Persia will not be kept down by medieval mullahs spouting psychotic gibberish. Persia has a long history of culture, civilization and religious tolerance. Not only did monotheism and polytheism lived side by side for centuries during Zoroastrian times, but later Shiite rulers (such as Shah Abbas) were quite tolerant of Christians who practiced their religion openly, building churches and missions.

The Bahai faith (which is to Shiite Islam as Unitarianism is to Puritan Christianity) was born there, during the rebellion which led to the martyrdom -- on July 9, 1850 -- of the Bab. During the Babi rebellion, religious pluralism was declared. The Koran was abrogated. Women were liberated. Veils were removed.

The significance of these events cannot be understated. As Karen Armstrong says in The Battle for God:

The Babi rebellion can be seen as one of the great revolutions of modernity. It set a pattern in Iran.
July 9 was a very BIG DAY in Persian history.

It promises to be a big one this year too. It is the day Iranian dissidents have called for their general strike.

Let's not let our Iranian friends down.

In the middle of this thought, I came across a tantalizing NEWS FLASHBACK from last year!

A truly excellent discussion of Classical Values occurred not on my blog, but on Instapundit, almost a whole year ago! Wish I'd seen it; what the heck was I doing? I should have been blogging, but I am delighted as hell to see it now.

Anyway, here's the one-and-only Reynolds on Ares versus Athena as alternative role models for the United States:

In Stephenson's characterization of Ares as representing war in terms of mindless destruction and the practice of glorying in that destruction (with additional measures of macho posturing and egotism blended with ineptitude thrown in) it's easy to see why someone would be against it. And if you think that the Ares version is the sum total of what war's all about, then it's easy to reject any claim that war might be called for, and to brand people who think it's time to resort to war as, well, Ares-like. Which seems to me to be the essence of the antiwar position among many of the techbloggers.

But, of course, there's more to it than that. (And, if you look at the other side in this war, it's pretty easy to see who's glorying in mindless destruction and engaging in macho posturing.) As Stephenson points out, there's another archetype of war -- one that is defensive, and that is based on cunning and technology. (And it's pretty easy to see which side fits the Athenean archetype, too).

Hey! I'm getting tired! Can Reynolds take over this blog for me? He's cooler than I am anyway, and would make far more people pay attention to the importance of Classical Values. He was, of course, very quick to spot the foolishness of Ares (the mindless destroyer in classical Greek mythology) as an appropriate role model for the United States. The Greeks did not like Ares (god of dumb wars) all that much, which made Athena (goddess of smart wars) the better choice.

If you have to choose between those two, at least as presented in Greek mythology, Athena beats Ares.

The Romans didn't go for the Greek version, however. They made Mars one of the most worshiped and revered gods, the father of Romulus and Remus, and the Conservator of Rome. Even Constantine the Great, though a Christian, put Mars on the back of his coins. (Hedging his bets, perhaps? Mars stayed on the coins until well after his conversion too.) The gods were more than a religion; they were a philosophy of life.

The Romans revised and reinvented their gods as needed, which makes sense.

Looks like the Iranians are getting ready to do the same thing.

Nothing new about that.

(And not all new ideas are good -- especially the idea of some of them crazy folks that everything you need to know about everything is written down in a single book.)

posted by Eric on 06.17.03 at 12:45 AM


why is greek gods did not make good role models?

tejas   ·  October 7, 2003 3:47 PM

what are the persian values regarding diversity and spreading their culture to others and learning about other cultures at the same time?

shannon   ·  November 6, 2003 2:34 PM

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits