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:
- Elizabeth W. Thill on classical architecture and the insurrection
- Yours truly on the insurrection and the Catilinarian conspiracy
- Serena S. Witzke on impeachment and the Roman Republic
- John F. Miller on inauguration rites in Rome and the USA
- Pharos on Vergil and the failed insurrectionists
- Dan-el Padilla Peralta on Classics’ complicity in “the tyranny of borders”
- Mathura Umachandran on white fragility in Classics
- Pria Jackson on the importance of actions, not statements
- Yung In Chae on epistemic injustice in Classics
- Donna Zuckerberg on being a good classicist under a bad emperor and the backlash thereto
Header image: The Death of Caesar, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1867. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.