Magazine article The Spectator

ANCIENT AND MODERN - Pericles in Brussels

Magazine article The Spectator

ANCIENT AND MODERN - Pericles in Brussels

Article excerpt

The EU, cobbled together in Brussels for ideological purposes, is fast turning into a creaking alliance of rather disenchanted member states. Let us see if we can help little Herman Achille Van Rompuy, the EU's current president, to rally his besieged troops in Brussels with a Periclean speech.

In summer 430 bc Athens (Brussels) was having trouble with Sparta (its interest rate policy) and had just been struck by a murderous plague (collapse of the banks). Since it was Pericles (van Rompuy) who had insisted on this policy, which would enable it to keep a grip on its empire (the EU member states), Pericles came forward to remind the Athenians (Eurocrats in Brussels) that they must not falter.

The following is extracted from Thucydides' account of that speech.

Pericles makes three basic points.

First, he is cleverer than all of them.

That is why they agreed to his plan in the first place, about which some are now having doubts; and he could not be expected to have foreseen the plague (banking collapse). So no U-turns. …

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