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Hero, Master, Demagogue, Beast: The Classical Roots of Modern Fascism

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Marlene & Nathan Addlestone Library

205 Calhoun Street

Rm. 227

Charleston, SC 29401

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Fascism is having a revival.

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, join the Friends of the Library and author Nathan Crick for a classical interpretation of fascism through the lens of four Greek literary and philosophical works—through the heroic epic of Homer’s Iliad, the rhetorical mastery of Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen, the demagogue of Aristophanes’ Birds, and the superhuman beast of Aristotle’s Politics.

Taken together, these four different personas are brought together in modern fascism in a way that gives it its unique attractiveness, violence, and terror.

A Q&A will follow the discussion.

FREE and open to the public; Registration is required.



Fascism is having a revival. For instance, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright writes in Fascism: A Warning, that “Fascism and Fascist policies pose a more virulent threat to international freedom, prosperity, and peace than any time since World War II.”

Yet as Albright and others often remark, it is often difficult to identify the nature of this threat, particularly when it is simply used as a loose term of abuse for one's political opponents. Only one thing seems certain, that fascism is definitely a modern, 20th-century phenomena. This is certainly true if fascism is identified specifically with the specific technologies and strategies made possible by postindustrial science, society, and media.

Yet a careful reading of classical Greek history shows that fascism understood as a set of rhetorical strategies and attitudes is hardly new. This lecture provides a classical interpretation of fascism through the lens of four Greek literary and philosophical works—through the heroic epic of Homer’s Iliad, the rhetorical mastery of Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen, the demagogue of Aristophanes’ Birds, and the superhuman beast of Aristotle’s Politics. Taken together, these four different personas are brought together in modern Fascism in a way that gives it its unique attractiveness, violence, and terror.

ABOUT NATHAN CRICK

Dr. Crick’s work explores the relationship between and power throughout different periods of political and social change, focusing specifically on those factors which are result of conscious strategies of persuasion by individuals or groups. This goal requires research into a variety of diverse topics, roughly including classical rhetorical theory, social media, the structure of news, religious rhetoric, modern propaganda, the rhetoric of science and technology, the power of aesthetics, the dynamics of social movements, and the history of philosophy. His first book, Democracy and Rhetoric: John Dewey on the Arts of Becoming, uses Dewey’s philosophy to construct a view of rhetoric, logic, and aesthetics that is consistent with an ethics of democracy that promotes creative individuality. His second book, Rhetoric and Power: The Drama of Classical Greece, explores through the texts of canonical authors like Aeschylus, Gorgias, Thucydides, and Plato how rhetoric was conceptualized as a means of constituting and transforming power in Greek political culture. His third book, The Keys of Power: The Rhetoric and Politics of Transcendentalism, interprets the writing and thought of figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller as active rhetorical engagements with the political controversies of their time.

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Marlene & Nathan Addlestone Library

205 Calhoun Street

Rm. 227

Charleston, SC 29401

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