I am currently re-reading Nibley’s The Ancient State, largely because of some novels I’m writing. This morning, I was just finishing up “The Hierocentric State” (published 1951) and found the following passage from the last paragraph strangely reminiscent of the current cult of personality on the Left (and I speak as a former lifelong Democrat):
Men seem unable to leave the dream of the hierocentric state alone. To recapitulate the sections given above, we cannot blame people if they yearn for (1) the grandeur, color, and unity of the great assembly, (2) the lofty and uncompromising certainty of universal kingship, (3) the sense of refuge and well-being in the holy shrine, (4) the high and independent life of a chivalrous aristocracy, (5) the luxury of hating all opposition with a holy hatred, and (6) the sheer authority of the institutions established and maintained by force.
Having finished that essay, I started on “Sparsiones” (published in 1945) and read the following, which called to mind the current insanity surrounding financial bailouts:
The Roman practice, best described as sparsio, of bestowing public donatives by throwing things among the multitude to be scrambled for in scenes of wild disorder has never received the attention which its strangeness solicits and its significance for the study of Roman politics and economics deserves.
A little later on, I ran into this passage from the same article:
It is impossible indeed to conceive of a system less compatible to the good order of the [Roman] Republic, or more plainly and fatally designed to beget corruption in it, than that of of the Roman collections and distributions, or any more blatant offense to every idea of order and decorum (so dear to the Republic) than a public scamble.
Food for thought.