Monday, November 7, 2016

Arlene Corwin writes

November 8th, 2016

November eight; election date;
New president, old Arlene Faith
Who, on that date, doth celebrate
29,930 days, 718,320 hours since birth:
non-elected eighty-two.
Who wants to vote for 82 or -3 or -4,
And doesn’t want to ask for more,
Four more…and more,
For nothing’s better
Than the pancake batter
That is life & breath & health & strength,
And solving unsolved human wrath:
Wars, filth, child-death with all
That forms the aftermath.
And where and what is soul and truth!

It must be synchronicity
That Trump and Hilary
(chump/champ) compete
The day old grumpy me
Heads into grumpy eighty-three,
Hurling memories unpleasant
Into green and pleasant pastures,
Saying anything that pleases
With the breezy ease of Sophocles,
Eighty-two can’t be all bad.

Eight, November: situations:
(Discord outside, inside nations)
Eight, November, compensations.

Are there ever real changes,
Or just temporary re-arrangements --
Everything no more than fad?

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  1. Athens was governed by a council consisting of 50 men from each of the city's 10 tribes; each tribe served as an executive for 1/10 of the year; each day, one of the 50 was chosen by lot to act as chief executive (epistates), but no one was allowed to hold the office more than once (so probably more than half of all adult male Athenians held it at one time or another). In 406 BCE the Athenians defeated the Spartans n the Arginusae islands, east of Lesbos, but 25 Athenian ships were disabled or sunk; Theramenes and another commander were assigned the task of rescuing the survivors while the main fleet continued operations against the Spartans. A sudden storm allowed the Spartans to escape and prevented the rescue. The six commanders who had let the Spartans escape blamed the two who had failed in the rescue mission, but they were able to clear themselves of blame. The six were ordered to return home for judgment, but two of them fled. The remaining six were imprisoned and tried on the day that Sokrates was epistates, who refused to allow a vote on a motion to decide the case against them without further debate because he would "do nothing that was contrary to the law." (However, despite his efforts, the six were subsequently found guilty en masse and executed.) Sparta sent a delegation to Athens to seek peace but was rebuffed, and in 405 BCE Lysander defeated the Athenian fleet at Aegospotami and forced the city to capitulate the following year, thus ending the disastrous Peloponnesian War (which had begun in 431 BCE), and installed the Thirty Tyrants (oi triakonta tyrannoi) to govern it. They were led by the prominent oligarchs Theramenes (who had negotiated the surrender terms) and Kritias (a student of Sokrates and the first cousin of Platon's mother). In their 13 months in power, they executed 1,500 prominent democrats (5% of the city's population), hired 300 "lash-bearers" to intimidate the others, appointed a new council of 500 to exercise judicial functions, and generally weakened democratic institutions. Eventually Kritias accused the more moderate Theramenes of treason and forced him to execute himself by drinking hemlock. The Thirty tolerated Sokrates due to his connection with Kritias, but ordered him and three others to seize Leon of Salamis for execution; thother three men complied, but Sokrates refused. "I...made it clear ... that the attention I paid to death was zero ... but that I gave all my attention to avoiding doing anything unjust or unholy." Before the Thirty could retaliate against him, however, they were overthrown.

  2. In 399 BCE , 70-year-old Sokrates was tried by 500 citizens chosen by lot for "refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state" and "corrupting the youth." He had the opportunity to avoid trial, since his followers were prepared to bribe his guards, but he rejected the offer since he had knowingly agreed to live under the city's laws and his failure to continue doing so would be unprincipled. For decades he had been the city's leading gadfly, asking provocative questions of prominent citizens to examine their beliefs. He was notorious for asking questions but not answering them himself, claiming to lack sufficient wisdom; "what I do not know I do not think I know." But he knew how to determine whether others' ideas had value or were merely "wind eggs." Rather than being a teacher, he regarded himself as a matchmaker, since he matched the young men who saught his advice to the best philosopher for his particular mind, or a midwife, who needed experience and knowledge of birth in order to decide which newborns were healthy and which should be left on a hillside to be exposed. His assertion that the gods had singled him out as a divine emissary provoked irritation and ridicule. His occasional anti-democratic pronouncements and favorable comments about Sparta had alienated many, and his associations with Kritias and the traitor Alkibiades and Kritias were resented. At the trial, three accusers had three hours to present their case, and the philosopher the same amount of time to defend himself. One of them condemned his activities before 403 BCE, despite the reconcilitory agreement among factions that no further charges or recriminations associated with the Thirty could ever be raised. In his defense, Sokrates told the jurors that their moral values were wrong-headed in that they were concerned with their families, careers, and political responsibilities rather than the "welfare of their souls." After the presentations, the jury voted 280-220 on his guilt. Then his accusers argued for the death penalty; Sokrates first proposed that he be rewarded for his decades of service by a government subsidy and free meals for the rest of his life, just like victorious Olympic athletes, then suggested a fine of 100 drachmae (1/5 of his worth). Platon, Krito, and others agrred to guarantee a 3,000 drachmae fine, but the jury agreed that capital punishment was the appropriate punishment. Athenian law prescribed that he should kill himself by drinking poison hemlock. When the cupbearer arrived, Sokrates asked, "Now, good sir, you understand these things. What must I do?" He was told, "Just drink it and walk around until your legs begin to feel heavy, then lie down. It will soon act." "How say you, is it permissible to pledge this drink to anyone? May I?" "We allow reasonable time in which to drink it." "I understand. We can and must pray to the gods that our sojourn on earth will continue happy beyond the grave. This is my prayer, and may it come to pass." Then he drank the potion while his friends wept. Sokrates told the, "You are strange fellows; what is wrong with you? I sent the women away for this very purpose, to stop their creating such a scene. I have heard that one should die in silence. So please be quiet and keep control of yourselves."As the poison began to paralyze him, his final wordsw were, "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don't forget." As Sokrates' student Platon remarked, "This was the end of our friend, the best, wisest and most upright man of any that I have ever known."


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