Barbarism Begins At Home: Escobar
Barbarism Begins At Home: Escobar via UNZ Review
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Greece invented the concept of barbaros. Imperial Rome inherited it as barbarus.
The original meaning of barbaros is rooted in language: an onomatopoeia meaning “unintelligible speech” as people go “bar bar bar” when they talk.
Homer does not refer to barbaros, but to barbarophonos (“of unintelligible speech”), as in those who don’t speak Greek or speak very badly. Comic poet Aristophanes suggested that Gorgias was a barbarian because he spoke a strong Sicilian dialect.
Barbaru meant “foreigner” in Babylonian-Sumerian. Those of us who studied Latin in school remember balbutio (“stammer”, “stutter”, babble”).
So it was speech that defined the barbarian compared to the Greek. Thucydides thought that Homer did not use “barbarians” because in his time Greeks “hadn’t yet been divided off so as to have a single common name by way of contrast”. The point is clear: the barbarian was defined as in opposition to the Greek.
The Greeks invented the barbarian concept after the Persian invasions by Darius I and Xerxes I in 490 and 480-479 BC. After all they had to clearly separate themselves from the non-Greek. Aeschylus staged The Persians in 472 BC. That was the turning point; after that “barbarian” was everyone who was not Greek – Persians, Phoenicians, Phrygians, Thracians.
Adding to the schism, all these barbarians were monarchists. Athens, a new democracy, considered that to be the equivalent of slavery. Athens extolled “freedom” – which ideally developed reason, self-control, courage, generosity. In contrast, barbarians – and slaves – were childish, effeminate, irrational, undisciplined, cruel, cowardly, selfish, greedy, luxurious, pusillanimous.
From all of the above two conclusions are inevitable.
- Barbarism and slavery was a natural match.
- Greeks thought it was morally uplifting to help friends and repel enemies, and in the latter case Greeks had to enslave them. So Greeks should by definition rule barbarians.
History has shown that this worldview not only migrated to Rome but afterwards, via Christianity post-Constantine, to the “superior” West, and finally to the West’s supposed “end of history”: imperial America.