Sunday, October 11, 2009

Barack Obama's Nobel prize; Emperor Nero and the Olympics

By now, all of you are aware that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. And all of you are aware that the prize is a joke. I found a writing of historian Will Durant, in which he described a similar "honor" bestowed upon Emperor Nero:
. . . Nero left in 66 [A.D.] to compete in the Olympic games and make a concert tour of Greece . . . . At Olympia he drove a quadriga in the races; he was thrown from the car and was nearly crushed to death; restored to his chariot he continued the contest for a while, but gave up before the end of the course. The judges, however, knew an emperor from an athlete and awarded him the crown of victory. Overcome with happiness when the crowd applauded him, he announced that thereafter not only Athens and Sparta but all Greece should be free - i.e., exempt from any tribute to Rome. The Greek cities accommodated him by running the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games in one year; he responded by taking part in all of them as singer, harpist, actor, or athlete. He obeyed the rules of the various competitions carefully, was all courtesy to his opponents, and gave them Roman citizenship as consolation for his invariable victories. . . . . When he sang in a theater, says Suetonius, "no one was allowed to leave, even for the most urgent reasons. And so it was that some women gave birth there, while some feigned death to be carried out." . . . . Alarmed by further reports of uprisings and plots, Nero returned to Italy (67 [A.D.]), entered Rome in a formal triumph, and showed, as trophies, the 1,808 prizes he had won in Greece.
Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, 1944, pp. 282-283 (emphasis added)

Just as the Greek Olympic judges knew an emperor from an athlete, the Nobel committee knows an emperor wannabe from a truly deserving recipient.
Mark Steyn points out:
Barack Obama will have history’s most crowded trophy room, but his presidency is shaping up as a tragedy — for America and the world.

Obama has a ways to go before he equals Nero's 1,808 prizes, but give him time. Obama may yet achieve true "tragedy" faster than Nero did. We should be mindful of the lasting consequences from this administration even as we laugh at the seeming idiocy. As Durant wrote of the period immediately following Nero's accumulation of the 1,808 prizes:
Tragedy was rapidly catching up with his comedy.
p. 283

Rome would spend the next several years in alternating periods of revolt and bloody civil war, during which time Nero was deposed and assisted in suicide [Durant, p. 284]:
Many of the populace rejoiced at his death and ran about Rome with liberty caps on their heads. But many more mourned him, for he had been as generous to the poor as he had been recklessly cruel to the great. They lent eager hearing to the rumor that he was not really dead but was fighting his way back to Rome; and when they had reconciled themselves to his passing they came for many months to strew flowers before his tomb.
Durant, p. 284

Every bloated windbag of a tyrant has his sycophants and leaves a bloody legacy.


What will Obama's coin look like?

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