June 20, 2016

THE MOST AMUSING THING ABOUT HIS NARCISSISM...:

I, Donald (Matthew Meyer JUNE 19, 2016, The Chronicle Review)

The ancient Greeks, however, were less ambivalent about the threat narcissism poses to democracy -- and one figure in particular deserves close comparison with Trump. In The History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides narrates the decline of Athenian democracy at the hands of Alcibiades, the Athenian general and playboy. In Plato's Republic, a regime ruled by benevolent philosopher kings undergoes a steady decline until democracy finally breeds a narcissistic tyrant -- left unnamed in the text, though the allusions throughout suggest that it is Alcibiades.

Robert Garland, a classicist at Colgate University, has recently argued that Trump and Alcibiades are a lot alike. Both were born into positions of privilege and power -- Trump the son of a wealthy businessman, Alcibiades the nephew and ward of Pericles, the ruler of Athens. As children, both loved to fight and win. As an adult, Alcibiades excelled as a military general, while Trump supposedly mastered the art of the deal. Both are known for boasting of their sexual exploits, and both show little loyalty to anything beyond themselves. Indeed, Alcibiades is said to have wanted his name and influence to extend to everything. The parallel to Trump -- with his Trump Plaza, Trump Tower, Trump Entertainment Resorts -- could not be more evident.

In his account of the Peloponnesian war, Thucydides contrasts the statesmanship of Pericles, which contributed to Athenian greatness, with the narcissism of Alcibiades, which led to Athenian demise. Thucydides, however, suggests that Pericles' regime planted the seeds for the emergence of a figure like Alcibiades. Just as Ronald Reagan arguably furthered American empire by unleashing the greed of the Gordon Gekko '80s, Pericles prudently excited and then channeled the private ambitions of the populace toward Athenian greatness. When it came time to rule, Alcibiades, animated by the same self-regard that characterized the people under Pericles, used politics not as a means to advance Athenian greatness but rather to further his own.

...is how much he's going to hate us all for rejecting him.

Posted by at June 20, 2016 1:24 PM

  

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