In this post we present and analyze an excerpt from Euripides the tragic dramatist.
Euripides, The Suppliants, v. 238-245
Ancient Greek: “τρεῖς γὰρ πολιτῶν μερίδες: οἳ μὲν ὄλβιοι ἀνωφελεῖς τε πλειόνων τ᾽ ἐρῶσ᾽ ἀεί: οἳ δ᾽ οὐκ ἔχοντες καὶ σπανίζοντες βίου δεινοί, νέμοντες τῷ φθόνῳ πλέον μέρος, ἐς τοὺς ἔχοντας κέντρ᾽ ἀφιᾶσιν κακά, γλώσσαις πονηρῶν προστατῶν φηλούμενοι: τριῶν δὲ μοιρῶν ἡ ‘ν μέσῳ σῴζει πόλεις, κόσμον φυλάσσουσ᾽ ὅντιν᾽ ἂν τάξῃ πόλις.”
English: “For there are three ranks of citizens; the rich, a useless set, that ever crave for more; the poor and destitute, fearful folk, that cherish envy more than is right, and shoot out grievous stings against the men who have anything, beguiled as they are by the eloquence of vicious leaders; while the class that is midmost of the three preserves cities, observing such order as the state ordains.”
(Source for the English translation)
NovoScriptorium: The class of the rich is described by the poet as ‘useless‘ (that is, without any useful contribution to the state / to the common good). It is also accused of unbridled greed. This, of course, has always been the rule – it seems that in every epoch, there was little room for its possible exceptions. Due to the timeless strong link between Power and Wealth, negative effects to the lives of the many because of the rich’s greed inside a (every) polity is a most expected event.
The class of the poor and needy, who find great difficulty in their daily lives, who are full of troubles and with great anxiety of survival, has a timeless inclination towards envy against those who have relative or great comfort in their daily lives. Because of this passion, and also because of the lack of proper education and spiritual cultivation (as a result of their financial hardship), they are the easy victims, who are exploited by competent demagogues. How many states and regimes have not been overthrown in this way! This seems like a pretty standard procedure in recorded Human History.
Spreading anxiety and fear among a population, while imposing financial pressure upon it, is a very clear sign that those who pull the strings aim towards some short of political change (beneficial for them) or even towards totalitarianism. From a point in History and onwards, along with the demagogues, the various, reinforcing, means of manipulating the masses were added. Cultivation and enforcement of propaganda had never been easier than in modern times. And while in the past centuries and millennia a capable demagogue (or a small group of them) could manipulate the envious masses to overturn the rich and powerful, so that…the poor and needy could satisfy themselves by ‘lowering’ the hated upper class (while, of course, the demagogues and some of the previous ‘poor and needy’ would become…the new ‘upper class’), in modern times those who manipulate and impose the various propagandas and agendas are the rich themselves. Therefore, they seem now to have found a way so that they rule ‘for ever’, without ever facing the danger (certainty in past centuries and millennia) of being overturned by angry and envious mobs.
The middle class, according to Euripides, is the one that ‘preserves cities’ and ‘guards the order established by the polity’. But, who are these people, that aren’t poor nor rich? They are those who do not face the daily survival troubles of the destitute, but, at the same time, they cannot be compared with the truly rich. Since the dawn of urban living, these had always been various small-scale entrepreneurs and merchants, various technicians, various employees, clerks, even artists.
Let’s focus on the axiom that ‘the middle class preserves cities (and polities)’. Then, if, for any reason, this class collapses, then the whole city (polity) is doomed to collapse. The phrase ‘The order established by the polity’ does not refer only to possible laws; it mainly refers to the very Traditions and Heritage of the polity. In other words, if the middle class collapses, then the polity, along with its Traditions and Heritage, collapses, too.
In conclusion of this short analysis, if we observe that the rich:
-have very strong ties with the Government(s)/Power, or even control them totally
-use the means at their disposal to enforce fear, envy and anxiety on the general population (while simultaneously cultivating the passions of every individual, or even the passions of each different people/nation, if we examine it in a wider scale)
-use the means at their disposal to preserve great numbers of ‘poor and needy’ masses, who, at the appropriate time, could be used – of course directed by the various means of manipulation – to achieve objectives or to create appropriate conditions, convenient for their pursuits
-use the means at their disposal to educate people in such a way as to serve their goals, while at the same time promoting a culture of devaluing spirituality, and virtues and values in general
-use the means at their disposal to cause the destruction of the middle class
-use the means at their disposal to impose an agenda that promotes the elimination of Traditions and Heritage,
then, we must be alarmed that their aim is not just a bit more control over the polity, but the complete transformation of the polity into something else, most likely with totalitarian characteristics.
Research-Analysis for NovoScriptorium: Isidoros Aggelos