3. WHO'S THE MAN? ALCIBIADES OR SOCRATES?
I'll begin with a sketch of Alcibiades' life, and then turn to Bronze Age Pervert's strange call for a new Alcibiades to transform the political world.
Alcibiades was stunningly beautiful. Plutarch said that his beauty "bloomed with him in all the ages of his life, in his infancy, in his youth, and in his manhood; and, in the peculiar character becoming to each of these periods, gave him, in every one of them, a grace and a charm." He had a reputation for sexual voracity, extended to both men and women. One ancient commentator captured this in one good sentence: "As a boy, he enticed husbands from their wives; as a young man, wives from their husbands."
People were charmed not only by his physical beauty but also by his talents as a persuasive orator and as a military leader. He was a man of strong passions, of which the most powerful was his ambitious desire for superiority. He was known as an arrogant and violent man who enjoyed shocking people.
He became friends with Socrates, and they felt a mutual attraction to one another. Alcibiades was above all a seducer who wanted to pull the whole world under his seductive dominance. His ambitious self-promotion in his public life and his intemperate self-indulgence in his private life created many enemies among the Athenian citizens who suspected that he aspired to tyranny, and thus that he was a threat to Athenian democracy.
When the battle was over, and the generals were deciding whom to honor with the award for bravery, Socrates refused the honor and argued that this should go to Alcibiades. In a ceremony before the assembled soldiers, Alcibiades was given a suit of armor and a wreath as his award for outstanding courage.
In 424, in the battle of Delium, when the Athenians were defeated, Socrates fighting as a hoplite was forced to retreat on foot, while being pursued by Boeotian horsemen; Alcibiades, who was riding for the Athenian cavalry, stayed behind to protect Socrates from attack. So it is possible that Alcibiades saved Socrates' life.
"It is of you I sing, you, son of Cleinias! Victory is wonderful. But the most wonderful of all, won by no other Greek, is to run home with the winning chariot, the second, too, and then the third, to walk unwearied, crowned with Zeus' olive leaves, to hear your name proclaimed loud by the herald."
"Imagine a Mitt Romney, but different . . . a Romney who actually was capable of acting like he looks, and was worthy of his looks. Imagine a younger Romney who rouses the nation to a new war, against India, through power of charisma and speech alone. Then he leave on ship to head the armies conquering India. But then come rumors that Mitt ran a Black Mass Satanist dinner in New York. Also, people awaken one day and find that someone defaced the Holocaust Museum and the Lincoln Memorial . . . rumors spread that it is Mitt and his friends, in preparation to overthrow the government. So he is recalled from his command to stand trial. Instead of returning, Mitts runs to Russia where he becomes a major advisor to Putin. Soon though, he finally has to leave in a great hurry when it is discovered he's been banging Putin's wife in secret. He runs to China where, again, he miraculously becomes a major political force and advisor, adopting Chinese customs and language with ease. After some time he leaves China and ends up living in Afghanistan with the tribesmen as one of them, in one of their mud fortresses, where he is finally found by American special forces and he goes out fighting, charging them repeatedly with machine gun in his glorious black-and-gold armor and Dune-like headset. Exactly such, and more, was the life of the ancient Alcibiades from Athens. How inconceivable! Even as versatile and flashy a man as Trump is very far from this possibility in our time, though he at least makes such a type somehow believable. There's nothing like it in almost any other era of history. Someone like Talleyrand is famous for switching from the monarchy, to the republic, to Napoleon, and back, being somewhat successful under different forms of government, and that's rare enough to make him famous. But that was all within one country. Alcibiades' achievement is made all the more amazing by the fact that different cultures at that time were actually different, their ways of life entirely alien to one another, and yet he excelled everywhere. I believe this is because in Athens, where he grew up, he picked the god of erotic passion as his patron. He was very beautiful youth, admired and pursued by all the men and women. He rejected the advances of the Pelasgian pedo-pervert Socrates, a story that Plato inverted and twisted like the lying cunt and Phoenician-asskisser that he was. Alcibiades excelled in athletics and at skrewl he refused to play the flute because it made your cheeks look puffed up and ridiculous. Other boys followed him, considering that the harp is noble, but playing the flute is something for slaves and cocksuckers. As he grew in power, his shield had Eros with a thunderbolt on it, and this scandalized the older men. In such way he showed that he was a disciple of the irrepressible life force, a devotee of the young god of sexual passion and total destruction; he showed that no law or world of man would stand in his way! In the beginning was the word?? NO! In the beginning was the demonic fire that bursts out in men like Alcibiades and lays low the cities of men and exposes all their nonsense! Such men asre sent by nature to chastise us and be our Nemesis. They are the great cleansing. His story is told by Thucydides and Plutarch, though you must know that latter is a famous liar. But I think there must be someone as colorful as Alcibiades among you" (115).Although BAP's view of Alcibiades might come from his reading of Thucydides and Plutarch, much of his language here and elsewhere in his book echoes the language of David Stuttard's book Nemesis: Alcibiades and the Fall of Athens, which was published early in 2018 a few months before the publication of Bronze Age Mindset. BAP's reference to Nemesis is one indication that he was influenced by his reading of Studdard's book (see Studdard, 9, 17, 30-31, 34-36, 50, 55, 135-39, 273, 319 [n. 9]).
But if you compare the two books, you will see that BAP disagrees with Studdard about applying the Greek idea of Nemesis to Alcibiades. Studdard invokes the Greek belief that hubris--the arrogant transgression of the limits of acceptable behavior that the gods place on humanity--will inevitably be punished by Nemesis, the goddess of retribution. To avoid this, one should practice the virtue of moderation--obeying the teaching inscribed over the entrance of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: "Nothing in excess." Alcibiades' flamboyant excesses ultimately brought disaster both to Athens and to himself. Athens fell to defeat by the Spartan-Persian coalition that Alcibiades had encouraged, and in Anatolia, Alcibiades was killed by assassins sent by his enemies.
Quite the opposite of this account is BAP's claim that Alcibiades was himself the Nemesis sent by nature to punish ancient Greece with "the great cleansing," and that there is someone among BAP's readers who can become the new Alcibiades who will punish us with a "great cleansing."
Notice that BAP gives us no explanation of what it means to have a "great cleansing." Nor does he give us any evidence that an Alcibiades can bring about that cleansing. It's hard to see any transformative improvement in political life as a result of anything done by Alcibiades--or by the imagined Romney-as-Alcibiades.
BAP says that in the "human cycle of civilization," there has always been "the emergence of brotherhoods of savage men who have decided to purify the earth and rid it of the infestation of the human-cockroach" (51). Is this what he means by "the great cleansing"--the extermination of those human beings who can be identified as subhuman vermin, the "bugmen"? If so, haven't we heard this before--the brutish language of fascist and Nazi tyranny? And what does this have to do with Alcibiades?
BAP's presentation of Alcibiades as "a disciple of the irrepressible life force" requires that he scorn Plato's presentation of Alcibiades as a lover of Socrates who was entranced by Socrates' philosophic discourses, but who then felt ashamed of himself when his love of the Athenian demos stirred his political ambition and pulled him away from living the intellectually erotic life of Socratic philosophy. When they were together on the campaign to Potidaea, Alcibiades saw Socrates' truly manly nature as combining the courage of the warrior and the contemplative life of the philosopher.
The deepest insult to Alcibiades came when he tried to sexually seduce Socrates, and Socrates spurned him and disdained his youthful charms. Alcibiades had failed to understand what Socrates had said to him in their very first conversation, when Alcibiades was 20, and Socrates was 37--that Socrates was the only true lover of Alcibiades because he loved Alcibiades' soul rather than his body (Plato, Alcibiades, 127d, 129e-132b, 135d; Symposium, 213e, 215d-221b, 222a-b).
BAP dismisses this as a lie when he says that Alcibiades "rejected the advances of the Pelasgian pedo-pervert Socrates, a story that Plato then inverted and twisted like the lying cunt and Phoenician-asskisser that he was." Remarkably, BAP gives us no reason to believe this claim. It is true, however, as Studdard indicates, that Plato does say that Socrates could sometimes "catch fire" and "could not contain himself" when he saw a young man's naked flesh under his tunic (Charmides, 155d). So we might wonder how he could resist the attraction of Alcibiades' physical beauty.
But then how does Trump fit into all of this? While the appearance of another Alcibiades today seems inconceivable, BAP observes, Trump does somehow point to that being possible: "Even as versatile and flashy a man as Trump is very far from this possibility in our time, though he at least makes such a type somehow believable." BAP doesn't explain this. Stuttard has written an essay on Alcibiades as "the Donald Trump of ancient Greece," but BAP sees Trump as falling short of Alcibiades, even if Trump somehow prefigures a new Alcibiades, who must be one of BAP's readers.