Sparta Report

I, Trumpius

The always spot-on Victor Davis Hanson has an absolute tour-de-force post over at the Hoover Institution blog.

Hanson is professor of classical history and has his finger on the pulse of the ancient world as it plays itself out contemporarily like no one else.

His take: Trump is Our Claudius.

The parallels are downright stunning.

The link is here.

A taste:

The stereotyped impression of Claudius was that of a simpleton not to be taken seriously—and so no one did. Claudius himself claimed that he feigned acting differently in part so that he would not be targeted by enemies before he assumed power, and to unnerve them afterwards.

Contemporary critics laughed at his apparent lack of eloquence and rhetorical mastery, leading some scholars to conjecture that he may have suffered from Tourette syndrome or a form of autism. The court biographer Suetonius wrote that Claudius “was now careful and shrewd, sometimes hasty and inconsiderate, occasionally silly and like a crazy man.”

Sound familiar?

Roman intellectuals hated Claudius, who hit back blow-for-blow at them for their slights and snark, and showed no mercy to plotters and conspiracists.

And a nibble:

Talking heads cringe after watching network interviews of Trump (who unlike former President Obama will talk off-the-cuff to almost anyone at any time anywhere about anything). Smug authors pen long exposes of Trump’s buffoonery in Washington and New York magazines. Yet we should no more believe that their satires of Trump, the man, are an accurate window into the Trump agenda or record than was Seneca’s Apocolyncotosis a reliable account of the reign of Claudius.

From what we can tell, the more Rome prospered under Claudius, the more the imperial court grew to despise him—as if his odd mannerisms and the even odder way he came to power could not be squared with the able administration of a far-flung empire over the 13 years of his reign.

In the end, Claudius was likely murdered by dynastic rivals and relatives who thought that a young, glib, handsome, intellectual, and artistic Nero would be a pleasant relief from the awkwardness, bluntness, and weirdness of Claudius. What followed was the triumph of artists, intellectuals, stylish aristocrats, obsequious dynastic insiders, and flatterers—many of them eventually to be consumed by the reign of terror they so eagerly helped to usher in.


Read the whole thing.

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