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Blog: Six months in(surrection)

The Death of Caesar, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1867. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Today marks half a year since insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, occupied the Senate chamber, violently assaulted Capitol Police defending the building, and threatened to assassinate the then-Vice President and other elected officials. In recent days, the House of Representatives has approved a plan for a formal investigation — on partisan lines, after Senate Republicans previously blocked the passage of a bipartisan, 9/11-style commission approved by the House in a bipartisan vote.

We mustn’t forget the assault on the peaceful transition of power, on the foundations of American democracy itself. And we shouldn’t forget that the insurrection is tied up with racist receptions of ancient Greece and Rome. Some insurrectionists came in Greek or Roman-themed cosplay, after all, and the right has long had a dangerous fascination with Sparta.

Now, the ongoing American culture war is shifting from Electoral College certification fights and fake “vote audits” to pearl-clutching over critical race theory and “cancel culture.” Classics is implicated here, too: witness the tempest in a teapot over the Princeton Classics department’s decision to offer more paths to a degree in the field and the fiery debate over the role Classicists should take in pushing back on the field’s historical and ongoing complicity with white supremacy. Even in the lull of summer, the storm clouds of systemic injustice lurk.

So a few recommended reads (or re-reads), from the very political first month of the SCS Blog this year, and a number of throwbacks to the halcyon days of Eidolon:

Header image: The Death of Caesar, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1867. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

T. H. M. Gellar-Goad's picture

T. H. M. Gellar-Goad is Associate Professor of Classics and Zachary T. Smith Fellow at Wake Forest University. He specializes in Latin poetry, especially the funny stuff: Roman comedy, Roman erotic elegy, Roman satire, and — if you believe him — the allegedly philosophical poet Lucretius. He is author of Laughing Atoms, Laughing Matter: Lucretius' De Rerum Natura and Satire and Plautus: Curculio. He can be contacted at thmgg@wfu.edu.

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