The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary


Autodidact 6: Homer and the Political

Autodidact 6: Homer and the Political Thomas Fleming In speaking about the institutions that regulate revenge, we have entered into the realm of law and politics.  On the shield of Achilles, the city at peace was disturbed by a dispute over blood-money in the agora, the market and meeting-place.  Each party had his backers, and the kerukes—the heralds, who function as officers of the court—keep order as the gerontes, the elders, deliberate, and each one states his opinion.  Here we have the rudiments of the Greek polis.  The people, divided into factions, assemble in the agora or marketplace, where the...


From Under the Rubble: Put Out More Flags by Thomas Fleming

From Under the Rubble Put Out More Flags by Thomas Fleming The only good thing to come out of the controversy over the flag is that I cannot turn on radio or television, much less look at Google News.  It’s not so much that the chant of “Take it Down, Take it Down!” is particularly offensive.  Viewed from the right perspective, it is almost amusing.  Imagine a happily married man dragged to a strip show.  He is not interested in the homely painted hussies, but, if he is cruel enough, the spectacle of his buddies shouting “Take it off, Take...


Revisions: Coming Attraction

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You by Thomas Fleming Thursday evening, I am going to be watching one of my favorite westerns: Four Faces West, based on a novella by Eugene Manlove Rhodes.   Our friend Mark Kennedy will be joining us, and Ray Olson is willing to post some remarks.  If you have a chance, try to see the movie, and we can start a discussion either over the weekend or next week.  


A False Flag Operation by Robert Peters

I asked Robert Peters to share his thoughts on the renewed demand to take down the Battle Flag in South Carolina.   This is his response.  TJF A False Flag Operation by Robert Peters Since the advent of abolitionism we have been plagued by a false narrative about the South and things Southern.  This narrative has ebbed and flowed throughout American history from its advent to the present.  Since the late 1960’s there has been a resurgence of the narrative, with its now being at high tide and raging.  Within that narrative, particularly since the late 1980’s, the Confederate Battle Flag or...


Autodidact 5: Homer on Moral Values

The Code of the Aristocracy Achilles is far from being the only hero of the Iliad.  There are brilliant separate episodes involving other great heroes–Ajax, Diomedes, Odysseus, Amphilochus, Sarpedon, Aeneas, Hector, and Idomeneus, whose exploits I described in the previous section.  The name for these episodes is aristeia—from the Greek word meaning best—the moment of glory.  In these scenes we can get a glimpse of a basic principle of Greek morality that will last until the end of antiquity: the pursuit of excellence. In Book VI, as I have already mentioned, the young Lycian warrior Glaucus tells Diomedes, tells him...


Autodidact 4: Homer on Friendship

Friendship Kinship is one key element in Greek social life, from the time of Homer down to the present.  They other is friendship, a term (as I have indicated) that includes kin-relations.  Homer’s word generally translated friendship is “philotes.”  The adjective philos means dear or one’s own and may be related to filius/filia in Latin, son and daughter.  This should give us a clue that kinship and friendship are not entirely distinct. Greek does not have a common expression like friends and family, because there is no sharp distinction.  All close members of a family are philoi, and to the...


Reading For the Movies by Ray Olson 2

Reading After the Movies: William Wister Haines By Ray Olson Every so often, instead of reading a book before I see the movie made of it, I’ll read it afterward because I want to see whether it’s as good or better. Often the same kind of clue that gets me to read before—the writer’s reputation, the book’s, or even, in the case I’m going to present, a name—boosts my curiosity to read after. In Command Decision (1948), bomb group CO K. C. Dennis (Clark Gable) is sending his planes deep into Germany to destroy three separate facilities involved in producing jet aircraft....


From Under the Rubble 5: The Best Party That Dollars (Canadian or Brunei) Can Buy

The Best Party That Dollars (Canadian or Brunei)  Can Buy Thomas Fleming The Best Congress Money Can Buy is divided over President Obama’s demand for “fast-track” trade authorization, which maintains presidential authority to make trade deals without interference from a reluctant Congress that might be too sensitive to the needs of the American people.  The authorization bill is so complicated that members of Congress are voting on it without knowing, much less understanding the contents.  All we really do know is that the globalists are reaching out to Europe and the Pacific Rim in order to create “a more perfect union.”...


The Best Revenge 3: A Party for Boethius

The Best Revenge 3:  A Party for Boethius Thursday we held our first little get-together.  It was too modest to be called an “event.”  About 20 friends came for a glass or two of wine to our crumbling stuccoed shack on Highcrest Road.  We cannot afford expensive stuff for this many people, but we did serve a decent Merlot from Mirassou and a better Portuguese Douro  (Altano).   I don’t remember which pinot grigio we served, but one of the guests in a misguided gesture of friendship brought a bottle of E.B. (Ezra Brooks contribution to single barrel Bourbon).  After...


Autodidact: Homer 3

Kith and Kin By Thomas Fleming Athena’s intervention in the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles reminds us how powerful and terrifying the gods can be.  The gods are not, however, all-powerful or all-knowing, not even Zeus.  They are subject to the usual passions–love, hatred, envy, and revenge, and when they are not making war on human beings, they are fighting with each other.  Zeus is undoubtedly wise and powerful, a god of justice, but it is all he can do to keep his wife, brother, and children in line. Here is a question that has tormented scholars: Can we find...