montagnarde1793: (Maxime enfant)
Actually, here he's pretty unequivocal, as E. Hamel reports (Tome III, p. 16 of his Histoire de Robespierre, if anyone's curious):

I believe this is from the session of 17 June 1793. )

Oh, and I'm home now, by the way. My Greek History final was, as I expected, pretty brutal. The Hellenistic period is so dull and confusing. How was I supposed to remember that Antigonus the One-Eyed was one of the five or ten different people who invaded Greece on the pretext of "freeing" the Greek poleis? >.>

But that's all over now, thankfully. For those of you whom I promised to let read my paper, I'll post it as soon as I've gotten it back (I have a thing about showing ungraded papers to people for purposes other than editing. Blame my paranoia. -_-;) In the meantime, I can post a translation of Maxime's defense of Jewish civil rights (qualified by literally every source I read that mentioned it, both French and English, as "eloquent" XD) if anyone would be interested...

Oh, and I voted for the first time this morning. Pity it was such an uninspiring election. Oh well, I did my duty as a citizen, at least. XD


Wednesday, 15 April 2009 19:08
montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

I remember I had a lot of interesting things to comment on, but I can't remember any of them.

Except that it occurred to me how to make sense of the Revolutionaries' relation to the Roman Republicans. It all makes a lot more sense if you consider that what the former are really admiring in the latter is Republican Virtue Incarnate, rather than the actual flesh-and-blood historical figures. I suppose as long as I can remember that I can safely separate the fictitious 18th century version from the real thing. Which still leaves me with much the same problem, admittedly: I know it's safe to like the former, but I still haven't made up my mind about the latter. Oh, woe. I could always just go with the Progress of Ideas, I suppose. You know, like Victor Hugo's assertion that monasteries are wonderfully useful in the Middle Ages but are horriblly ridiculous in the 19th century? Surely we could come up with something similar for Romans... Oh, now I'm just making excuses.

In any case, enjoy the next bit with our fictional 18th century-style Romans from Brutus et Cassius:

Act I Scene II )Also, I'm almost done with Losurdo's book on revisionism. It is so wonderfully awesome. It's so frustrating that it was written in Italian, because I can't translate a book from French to English which has already been translated from Italian; I'm sure the result would be terrible. And I'm equally sure they'll never translate it into English. D:
montagnarde1793: (la douce melancolie)

I guess I'm not keeping up too well with this. Oh well. The most pressing news is, I suppose, that I've been expelled from my co-op. This was partially my fault, but since the immediate cause was my illness (I've had the flu for the past few days and therefore missed one of my jobs after missing two for I-forget-what-reason at the beginning of the semester) and since I don't have any friends in the co-op (they're all very clique-y since it's a big co-op--I feel like now I know what high school would have been like if we had had a cafeteria), I'm going to go with: yes, they had an above-board official reason for expelling me, but this wouldn't have happened if I weren't a) sick, and thus unable to plead my case properly (in addition to missing the job), and b) without co-op friends, who would have spoken up for me in the discussion.

I accept their decision because (apart from the fact that I have no choice in the matter), it was taken by a co-op wide vote. That said, if courts were run like that it would be a serious miscarriage of justice, considering in "appeals to the co-op" such as mine, the co-op takes the role of judge, prosecutor, and jury. Not to mention the fact that expusion for 3 missed jobs out of 61 total in a semester seems a bit excessive to me--a score like that in the classroom and you'd still have an A!

...Then again, as I said, I'm not entirely blameless in this. I did inconvenience two meals and neglect to do my extra crew for one of those. And everyone else gets sick and has lots of work to do and so on as well without this happening to them. Even if there are some unjust aspects to this appeal system, I can hardly claim to be innocent. I should have known better....

In other news:

Tell me what you think, f-list: Can I in good conscience like the Romans? That is to say, not necessarily in general, but any given Roman: Brutus, say, or Cicero, or Cato. I mean, sure our Revolutionaries liked them, but I feel that this isn't quite enough of a reason, since their information about them wasn't as up-to-date and there was a certain bias in their education (not to mention the fact that they didn't have many better role models).

Now, I have the general complaints about Roman society that one might expect:

Romans didn't see anything wrong with slavery. (Even in the case of slave revolts, the slaves were revolting not so much against the principle of slavery but more about not wanting to be slaves themselves). Can I write acceptance of slavery in a Roman individual off as a cultural prejudice, even though I would never do the same in the modern era? Isn't that hypocritical?

Roman society was aristocratic. I don't think I even need to elaborate on this.

Romans were generally corrupt. Some, like Cato, most famously, were exceptions to this rule, admittedly, but it remains a problem for almost everyone else.

Romans, universally, not only have no problem with conquest, but think it's great. Again, I don't really think I need to explain why this problematic.

And then there's the problem of the Optimates and the Populares. All the principled people, all the defenders of the Republic, are (to a greater or lesser degree) in the former group. This is something of a problem, considering they're very conservative and aristocratic and against extending citizenship rights. On the other hand, the Populares were for the most part opportunists who actually deserve - unlike certain other historical figures - to be called demagogues, in as much as they wanted to use the people to set up their own personal power and destroy the Republic.

If I had to choose between them, I'd have to choose the Optimates, who are certainly by far the best by Roman standards, but by the universal standards I'd apply to anyone else, there's not much to choose between them and the Populares.

...Which is a shame, because I really want to like the defenders of the Roman Republic. I'm just not sure that I should. D:

So help me f-list, if you know anything on the subject:

What do you think?

montagnarde1793: (maximebust)

I just finished reading Paule Becquaert's Le Jugement Secret, and I really don't know what to think of it. Naturally, it was incredibly depressing, but I knew that it would be just from the premise--it takes place during Thermidor, after all. There were some parts of it that were very moving, certainly, but it was more upsetting than I could have imagined. Here's why: the play is divided into three acts, one in which Robespierre is judged by the Ancient Greeks, one by the Romans, and one by the early Christians.

The first group, the Greeks, are made up of (as described in the character list):
Solon, Athenian politician
Agis, king of Sparta
Socrates, philosopher
Homer and Aristophanes, poets
Themistocles, Athenian statesman
Ariane, a young girl (this last doesn't get to give an official judgment, for obvious reasons)
Now, you might think, because this is a play written by a Robespierriste, that they would find Robespierre innocent. Not at all; only Homer and Agis find him not guilty; all the rest condemn him. 

The Romans (Brutus, politician; Fabricius Luscinus, consul; Sylla, dictator; Antonia, a young girl--who also doesn't get a judgment) also condemn him, this time unanimously.

The Christians break the pattern, because they don't really give an official judgment; the "old man" of the first scene of the third act doesn't give one at all, and "Juses, a young man" (who, I think, is supposed to represent Jesus, even if his name is a bit different) and "Blandine, a young girl" are both favorably disposed to him.

Now, perhaps it's just me, but it seems a bit unlikely that ancient Greeks and Romans, knowing only the basic facts of Robespierre's life and having listened to his defense rather than the calumnies of the Thermidorians, would all condemn him (Homer and Agis aside--and also Ariane, Antonia, and Blandine, who all find him both sincere in his defense and attractive). I was, admittedly, a bit upset when I read that. But I considered that the author must have had a reason for having them condemn him.

I think it may be that the play can be read on several levels. First of all, Becquaert leaves it somewhat ambiguous whether this judgment is really happening or whether it's a dream Robespierre is having when he's lying wounded on the table of the CSP. In the latter case, the reproaches of the figures from Antiquity might be meant to represent those that Robespierre might make to himself: especially given that many of them are rather unfair and we often judge ourselves more harshly than we deserve. Another version of that would be to say that they represent what he thinks (on a subconscious level, at least) those Greeks and Romans would think about him.

In the former case, Becquaert could be saying one of several things. The first is perhaps that the men of Antiquity were just human too, and thus they have their own prejudices and imperfections--maybe subtly implying by this that the Revolutionaries who used them as examples may have thought too highly of them. (Because whether they say Robespierre is guilty or not guilty, they all seem to measure him against themselves. For example, Agis judges him not guilty because he says he knows what it's like to be a reformer and have to deal with people who don't want whatever the present way of doing things is to be changed, whereas Socrates judges him guilty because according to him he did not do enough to educate the people--that is, he didn't go out among them, as Socrates is said to have done, and ask them uncomfortable and thought-provoking questions.)

She could also be commenting more generally on how it's impossible for a person to rightly judge another person, and whether that other person happens to be Robespierre or not is irrelevant. Or it's possible she's condemning the idea that 18th century people and events can be judged by Greek or Roman standards. From which I would assume a more general critique of trying to judge the 18th century by any standards but its own. And then there's the point of view of literary value: no one, as sad as this is, would think it plausible if they all, or even a majority of them, acquitted him. And it would remove most of the drama. Besides, Becquaert does seem to imply--and rather strongly, at that--that it is Robespierre's destiny to be misunderstood. And certainly, it's happened enough historically that it would feel like too much of an easy way out if his "judges" had acquitted him...

Still, I can't help but feel that some of the judgments either are some kind of misunderstanding or reflect the difference between the circumstances of Rome especially and of late 18th century France. I'll admit I was rather upset by the Romans' judgments especially (probably in part because, unlike the Greeks, they condemned Robespierre unanimously):

"BRUTUS: We have deliberated. Here is our judgment. Fabricius, your verdict.

FABRICIUS, to Robespierre: Virtue was only the instrument of your power over your fellow men. You made them your slaves. I vote for death.

SYLLA, advancing: Me too, for you did not find a way to stop the brutal course of your revolution, nor to retire forthrightly when you still had time.

BRUTUS: Death, because you deserve it.

ROBESPIERRE: You? But that's insane! How can a republican want the death of another republican?

BRUTUS: You were not a sincere republican and the republic, on your lips, was but a vain ornament with which you seasoned your speeches. You used it only to establish your authority."

Now, obviously, I don't think Becquaert is saying that these Romans have accurately characterized him, but the possibility that she finds those judgments inevitable on the surface is rather troubling. :/

I can't say I really understood the last act, with the early Christians, but perhaps if I reflect on it more it will come to me.

Other than that, the play did have a couple of moments I found amusing, though I'm not sure this was entirely intentional on Becquaert's part. For example, Robespierre mistakes both Ariane and Blandine for Éléonore (and doubtless, if he had found Antonia alone first, as he did with the other two, he would have thought the same of her XD). But that was about the only "light" part of the play, and I might even be the only one who finds it amusing.

All in all I found Le Jugement Secret to be upsetting and depressing, but also thought-provoking. I'm not sure I could claim to like it, per se, but it was interesting...


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