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The First Philippic 2009

Updated on September 20, 2009
A history lesson.
A history lesson.

The Choice

A friend just this last evening, wrote to me a most inspirational message which I enclose here for you to see:

Title: If only we took our Republic seriously

A great greek quote...substitute America for Athens and it is America the Beautiful

Fix your eyes on the greatness of Athens as you have it before you day by day, fall in love with her, and when you feel her greatness, remember that this was won by men with courage, with knowledge of their duty, and with a sense of honor in action.... their story is not graven only on stone over their native earth, but lives on far away, without visible symbol, woven into the stuff of other mens's lives....


I fully agree with his sentiments embodied in the historical quote. However after the developments of the last four to five days I felt obligated to respond with a query which pertains even to you my dear reader. Please consider it deeply with thought and care. Take it home with you and set your hand upon the mantle as our country's founders once set theirs and think long upon the events and actions being taken around us. If you are not well versed in these things then I cannot express to you emphatically enough how imperative and quickly you must do so.

My reply to Doug,

With Truth in Spirit, do I echo your sentiments, but....

Once again the cry of warning rings out from that far distant land of which you speak, in the words of Demosthenes, whose speech after speech implored the Greeks in general and the Athenians in particular to fight to preserve the free institutions of the city-state from the menace of a military autocracy. The most famous of these speeches, the First Philippic, urged the Athenians to arouse themselves from apathy and prepare for a war which they little realized had already begun....351 BC. Demosthenes' impassioned appeal went unheeded for the time being, for the Macedonian danger as yet seemed unreal and far away.

"Athenians, when will you act as becomes you!"

"Your affairs are amiss because you do nothing!"

"First I say you must not despair, men of Athens, under your present circumstances, wretched as they are; for that which is worst in the days that are past provides the best hope for the future. What do I mean? That your affairs are amiss, men of Athens, because you do nothing that is needed; for surely if you came into your present predicament while doing all that you should do, we could not then hope for any improvement.

Consider next, what some of you know by report and others know from experience, how powerful the Spartans were not long ago, yet how nobly and patriotically you did what was worthy of Athens and undertook the war (378-371 BC) against them for the rights of Greece. Why do I remind you of this? To show and convince you, men of Athens, that nothing, if you are on your guard, is to be feared, nothing, if you are negligent, goes as you desire. Take for example, the strength of the Spartans then, which you overcame by attention to your duties, and the insolence of this man now, by which through neglect of our interests we are confounded. But if there are any among you, men of Athens,who think Philip hard to be conquered in view of the magnitude of his existing power and the loss by us of all our strongholds, they reason rightly. But they should remember that once we held Pydna and Potidaea and Methone and all the region round about [Macedonia] as our own, and that many of the tribes now leagued with him were then independent and free and preferred our friendship to his. Had Philip then concluded that it was difficult to contend with Athens, when she had so many strong outposts on his borders and he was destitute of allies, he would never have gained his recent successes nor acquired his present power. But he saw clearly, men of Athens, that all these outposts were the open prizes of war, that by natural right the possessions of the absent belong to those on the spot and the possessions of the negligent to those who will venture and toil. Acting on this principle, he has won these places and holds them, either by right of conquest or by means of friendship and alliance -- for all men will side with and respect those whom they see prepared and willing to take action.

Men of Athens, if you will adopt this principle now, though you did not do so before, and if each citizen who can and ought to give his service to the state is ready to give it without excuse, the rich to contribute, the able-bodied to enlist; if put bluntly, you will become your own masters and each cease expecting to do nothing himself while his neighbor does everything for him, then God willing, you will recover your own, get back what has been frittered away, and turn the tables on Philip. Do not imagine that his power is ever-lasting like that of a god. There are those who hate and fear and envy him, men of Athens, even among those who now seem most friendly. We can assume that all the feelings that are in other men belong also to his adherents. But now they are all cowed, having no refuge because of your apathy and indolence, which I urge you to abandon at once. For you see, men of Athens, to what pitch of arrogance the man has advanced: he leaves you not even the choice of action or inaction, he threatens and uses outrageious language, he cannot rest content in possession of his conquests but continually widens their circle, and while we dally and delay, he throws his net around us.

When, then, Athenians, when will you act as becomes you? What are you waiting for? When it is necessary, I suppose. And how should we regard what is happening now? Surely, to free men the strongest necessity is the disgrace of their condition. Or tell me, do you like walking about and asking one another, "Is there any news?" Could there be more startling news than that a Macedonian is subduing Athenians and directing the affairs of Greece? "Is Philip dead?" you ask. "No, but he is sick." What difference does it make? Should anything happen to this man, you will soon create a second Philip if that is the way you attend to affairs. For this Philip has grown great not so much by his own strength as by our (own) negligence...."

-- Demosthenes, 351 BC. Excerpt From Demosthenes VS Isocractes, Greek Civilization pgs 249 - 251, Readings In Ancient History: From Gilgamesh to Diocletian. Nels M. Bailkey DC Heath and Company, 1976.

There is more but if you imagine the un-elected international bankers & power elite who sit behind our current administration and certain other characters in the military, happily compliant to their denuding, as that of Philip in Ancient Macedonia, then all should see that we have been here before. It is remarkable how so many details mirror us today. In ancient Athens the defense was mounted too late. The cry of foul fell on deaf ears shuttered for the reluctance to leave their few remaining comforts. Like the old Athenians we too have had our honor shine beneath Grian (Sol), the sun, in pursuit of Just Cause, if only conscious of it within our history books rather than upon our tongues. So what shall be OUR STORY TODAY, my fellow Americans? How do you in this late hour choose?

Cyrellys Geibhendach


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