Magazine article The Spectator

Aristophanes on Nigel Farage

Magazine article The Spectator

Aristophanes on Nigel Farage

Article excerpt

Ukip is on the march, and the F word on the lips of every ashen-faced MP in the House - or the NF word, to be exact. What should be NF's next step? Let the Athenian comic poet Aristophanes insert a tiny thought under his seething trilby.

Aristophanes' Men of Acharnae (425 BC), reflecting the feelings among ordinary, farming people during Athens' long war against Sparta (the Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC) , opens with the hero farmer Dikaiopolis waiting for the democratic Assembly (all citizen males over 18) to begin. The war has been going on for six years now, and like everyone else he is cooped up inside Athens' impregnable walls, his farm ravaged by Spartan troops. All he wants is for the war to end and peace to return: 'My heart's in the fields, out there. I'm fed up with the city. I just want peace.'

But when the Assembly eventually begins, no one is interested in peace, especially not the embassy newly returned from Persia with a (fraudulent) promise of money with which to continue the war. It had been dreadful, they explain: double expenses, luxury travel, drinking unmixed wine from glass-gold goblets and so on. …

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