I. Anacharsis to the Athenians (p. 37)
Anacharsis beings with an extended argument, showing how the Greeks profess something which is biased and unsubstantiated. They are hung up on the manner of speech (particularly of foreigners), rather than paying attention to what is said. He shows the hypocrisy in this, as they use foreign doctors, captains, merchants, etc.
Yet, they still maintain this … for lack of a better term… linguistic nationalism or ethnocentric focus. I’m reminded of Diogenes’ quip about where in Greece good men might be found, and his response is something like, “In Greece? Nowhere. But there are good boys in Sparta.”
Anacharsis also uses the Spartans as an example, citing the commendable way in which they run their affairs coupled with crude Attic. Anacharsis is challenging the νόμος regarding a Hellenocentric view of progress and society; specific a focus on Athens as Greece-per-se.
It’s funny to note how in latter times, the hallmarks of Greek philosophy were not of the same demos nor ethnos as Athens, coming from Cyprus, Turkey, and Asia minor. It’s a good reminder that we might fight value elsewhere than the little plot of dirt on which we were born.
II. Anacharsis to Solon (p. 39)
The same theme as above is referenced, in this case in relation to hospitality. I don’t know enough about the Greek culture of the time, but in the West hospitality is often taken very seriously. Guest-right, and the obligations of a host are usually traditionally formed and social enforced ideas.
The pseudo-pun about a “Spartan dog” coming from the Scythian Dog… err… Cynic, caused me to chuckle.
This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.