History’s Beneficiary or Exemplar?

Are we adrift, or is there a grand design behind contemporaneous events?

Croesus vanquished, standing in front of Cyrus History’s Beneficiary or Exemplar
Croesus vanquished, standing in front of Cyrus

During a recent reading of Herodotus’ history, I was taken aback by the following narrative. The scene, a discussion between Cyrus (the Persian King) and Croesus (the former King of Lydia). Cyrus asked Croesus what he should do about the rebellious citizens of Sardis, a wealthy city on the Western Coast of what is modern-day Turkey. Cyrus recently conquered the region from the former Lydian King, Croesus, who became his slave and advisor.

Croesus possessed an uncanny appreciation for human nature. As he feared for the lives of his former subjects and wished to preserve the city, he preferred their obeisance to Cyrus rather than their death or enslavement. He offered Cyrus the following advice:

– Prohibit the citizens from possessing weapons of war.
– Command them to wear tunics under their cloaks and make them wear ‘bushkins’ (soft, raised, platform, sandals).
– Instruct them to play the lyre and harp.
– Educate them to be shopkeepers.

The fallen King followed up on this advice with the explanation; “You will soon see that they will become women instead of men and thus will pose no danger or threat to you in any future rebellion.” Times change. Today we would call Croesus a ‘Misogynist” for such words. Rather than disregarding this lesson, for the purposes of this narrative, we’ll replace the word “woman” with “sheep”, a docile, easily ruled beast, and adhere to contemporary “correctness”.

Croesus understood how to neuter a people and subject them to tyrannical rule.

Contemporaneous Events

That brings us to contemporaneous events. It is not hard to find parallels with today’s prevailing culture and governmental edicts.

Weapons of War – self preservation

– We are restricted from the means of war, and self-preservation through infringed second amendment rights legislation, measures de-funding policing activities and criminal early release programs that populate our streets with hardened malefactors.

– We are now urged to belong to victimized identity groups, subjected, and obliged, to adhere to the dogma of the self-appointed representatives of that group.

Wearing Tunics and Bushkins

– We confound our children by playing to their natural awkwardness and pre-pubescent fears by indulging them in being something other than what nature nurtured them to be.

– We’re bewildered by what bathroom to enter and who or what we’ll meet in there and suffer consequences for using the wrong pronoun.

– We are chided that thought, ideas and speech, contrary to those dictated to us, are wrong (racist, homophobic, misogynist, contrary to the ‘science’, (select your own invective)……) and our voices should be shut down as we are reprogrammed.

– The inducements of our populace and divisive culture confuse us and encourage us to deny our fundamental nature as unique, sovereign entities entitled to life and rights given by a maker. Rights preserved by societal relationships of our making, shepherded by representatives our choosing.

Playing the Lyre

– We are enticed away from healthy outdoor, competitive, ‘character building’ endeavors to ‘stream’ and binge watch TV, enmesh our personalities into computer games, or develop an entirely new existence in new ‘meta’ universe. We are taught that it is preferable to live in a made-believe existence rather than learning to live and cultivate the communities we inhabit.

– We are encouraged to dine on an unhealthy diet and admonished when feeling shamed by the consequences of an equally sick, obese body, plagued with medical problems and an inevitable medical dependence on unelected agencies, and early death.


– Our young are taught self-loathing for our nation as we open the gates to a flood of others who seem to hold the opportunities and values the nation represents in higher esteem.

– Many know not how to balance a checkbook, the names of the oceans that lap our shores, our form of governance, or knowledge about whom we elected to represent the view with which we, ourselves, are so confused.

– Our educational institutions reap financial benefits redistributed from the ‘Masses’ while educating a generation with only sufficient knowledge to bow to the dictates of an equally confused, professional, bureaucratic class.

Our Future?

Croesus had a fatherly fear (misguided perhaps) for his former subjects and believed they were better off as neutered subjects to a new king rather than enslaved or put to death.

Cyrus’ wanted to limit the drain of resources caused by the rebellions thoughts in the walls of Sardis, such as freedom and liberty. His aim was to concentrate his power by conquering more peoples further south, ostensibly because he thought his rule over the people of the land was better than their own self rule.

It’s easy to quibble over the details about how today’s reality aligns with Croesus’s advice on subjugating people or turning a population into a confused group of “sheep” who pose no danger or threat to their rulers. However, the analogy is clearly evident to any discerning viewer. The real questions in our contemporaneous environment are: who is playing the role of Cyrus, what are his real aims, and are we content with those designs on our lives and futures?

Will this generation of Americans learn from history or provide another valuable lesson to future historians?


If you enjoyed ‘History’s Beneficiary or Exemplar’, link to our other ‘screeds’, personal observations or stories at Darren’s Musings.

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