By the time I got to Woodstock

In General by Barry Strauss4 Comments

Friday evening, August 15, 1969, found me in the traffic jam to end all traffic jams. I was on the Garden State Parkway in Northern New Jersey. The cars lined up bumper-to-bumper all around me were headed for Woodstock. I was not. I was sitting on a commuter bus, heading home. I worked a summer job as a clerk in …

Barry StraussBy the time I got to Woodstock

Autostradivarius

In General by Barry Strauss4 Comments

There are worse places to drive than Italy. But for yours truly, a few thousand clicks up and down the roads of the boot, earlier this month, proved enough of a challenge to satisfy my urge for merit badges for a while. A search for Hannibal and Caesar took Marcia and me on a two-week driving trip from Milan to …

Barry StraussAutostradivarius

Fields and Dreams

In General by Barry Strauss2 Comments

Some battlefields state their message plainly, like Gettysburg. Others cry out their pain, like Verdun. But most, I suspect, say absolutely nothing. They are just fields or groves or shopping malls, silent about their bloody past. Cannae is one of those. The site of the greatest battlefield of the ancient world, the place where Hannibal slaughtered 50,000 Romans in an …

Barry StraussFields and Dreams

Declarations

In General by Barry Strauss3 Comments

My kids are past the age for family outings to the fireworks display. I’m not much for crowds myself, so this Fourth of July I stayed home and set off fireworks for the soul. I re-read the Declaration of Independence. I love the Declaration for many reasons, and not least because it declares. No “on the one hand, on the …

Barry StraussDeclarations

Freedoms

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss4 Comments

It takes physical courage to demonstrate against an oppressive regime that is willing to kill you, as brave Iranians have done this month. Moral courage is less necessary. When someone holds you in chains, it is obvious that you should break them. All honor, even so, to those who risk their lives.

Barry StraussFreedoms

Speeches

In Spartacus by Barry StraussLeave a Comment

In spring 196 B.C. the Roman proconsul Flamininus gave a speech. The scene was the Isthmian Games, near Corinth. Rome was the new master of Greece, after having smashed the Macedonian army the year before. The Greeks were used to being pushed around by great powers like Macedon. From Rome, they expected more of the same.

Barry StraussSpeeches

New Gladiators

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

In Spartacus’s day, gladiators advertised by parading through town, displaying their fierce physiques and touting their records of wins and losses. Nowadays, states advertise by testing missiles and nuclear bombs and then peddling the results to a global audience. So, Iran and North Korea in the past week. Their weapons make them winners; the implied loser is the United States, …

Barry StraussNew Gladiators

MemorialDay, 2009

In General by Barry StraussLeave a Comment

A spring afternoon several years ago found me in Volterra, Italy. I was following in giant footsteps by coming to this town. Located in the hills of western Tuscany, Volterra sits on a steep rise that commands the route between Pisa and Florence. The town’s strategic location and wealth, derived from alabaster and iron ore, have attracted conquerors ranging from …

Barry StraussMemorialDay, 2009

Core Values

In Rowing, Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

When I took up a rowing some years ago, I learned that things were not as they seemed. People speak of “pulling an oar,” but in fact, rowing is more about pressing than pulling. By pressing against the foot-stretcher, a rower’s legs do more to move the boat than his arms do by pulling the oars. If that seems counter-intuitive, …

Barry StraussCore Values

Friends

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss4 Comments

When American President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Washington, D.C. next week, the ghost of Rome will stalk the room. Although the Founders modeled themselves on the Roman Republic, Americans have long had an identity crisis: are they homebodies like Cincinnatus, who prefer the plow to politics, or tyrant-slayers like Brutus, who seek to strike …

Barry StraussFriends