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We are on this earth for but one purpose. Let us preserve our lineage and defend the culture which birthed it; anything less is conspiring with the enemy. And who is the enemy? It is he who tells us that justice will conquer human nature…

human natureHomer’s Iliad is a work of transition, and in this way, it is a work of prophecy. Though the theme is subtle, one can trace through the narrative the thread linking two ages of man: the age of heroes and the age of (rationalistic) man.[1] Homer shows us the crossroads on which we stand; as with all prophecy, Homer’s work weaves together both our nascence and our future as a Western People. The composite now is the moment of decision.

When the Greek hero Achilles faced Hector, the greatest of all Trojan warriors, near the city’s walls, the two men negotiated the terms of the victor and the vanquished.

Hector, enlightened and presaging the rationalistic fate of Western man, recognized the equality of both their worldly rank and their spiritual rank as men; under the law of both gods and men they were of one kind; in this respect, Hector recognized what men call justice. Hector’s terms were that the victor will bury the vanquished; in this way, both men will have lived and died in honor.

Achilles, representing the bestial rearing and instincts of bygone days—Achilles, being born of a beautiful nymph and a powerful king—Achilles, a god among men, set the conditions of victory in stark contrast to those of the enlightened Hector: “When have men ever made pacts with lions? And when were wolves and lambs ever of one mind?” The great Achilles continued: “If I kill you, I will drag you naked, bound to my chariot, three days around the walls of Troy, and finally I will give your body to my hunting dogs to eat.”

When Hector fell, Achilles kept his promise to drag the defeated body. Thus, it is shown that “the weak want laws; the powerful withhold them.”[2]

Homer was the greatest of all Western poets, and his work has been emulated for millennia. In this way, Homer is immortal. Homer reached immortality because he spoke of that spirit which yet endures: human nature. Though the arc of time sits beyond the scope of men, we can yet glimpse its full story: The thread of human nature links beginning to end. Though man makes pretensions to enlightenment, this is but a fabricated piece of the whole—a whole bestially reared, a whole of instincts.

If we follow the thread of human nature into the future, we will see what Homer divined: the Enlightenment will have its time, and that time will be vanquished by man’s own primeval tether to irrationality, i.e. life.

We have been told of man’s capacity for infinite progress. This is a bedtime story we tell ourselves, that we tell our children. We should take care, however; for what lurks beyond our walls—what sits in the open dark is that which comes to conquer. When the enlightened one tries to reason with the snarling instinct, reason capitulates to power, honor submits to humiliation.

Achilles kept his promise: This is the promise of Homer. Achilles, like Homer, is immortal; Hector is known—if he is known at all—as the conquered prey of the Greek hero. Enlightened Troy, like its hero, fell. This is the fate of all the enlightened ones—because the tether of irrationality is wrapped too tightly.

When the enlightened one is so desperate to save the world, he loses the ability to save himself. This was the difference between Hector and Achilles. This is the arc that connects beginning to end.

According to legend, from the remnants of pillaged, enlightened Troy arose a new People; a People yet beholden to the bestial rearing that so swiftly struck down the enlightened ones; a People yet beholden to the primeval instincts their gods demanded of them: the Romans.

The Romans passed through their gods, their heroes, and finally through their dissolute men. Their Empire and influence was beyond measure, born of strength and violence. Yet when the rationalistic men arrived, dissipation followed, and the conquerors became the conquered. Constantinople, like Troy, fell with a violent whimper. And in its fall were scattered the seeds of our modern age.

In cultural pathology, the bedtime story of progress is as fantastical as the hopes of northern reinforcements whispered amongst the Byzantine nobility the night before Constantinople’s sacking. Under the arc of time, we do not see one large, ever-growing cultural tree; instead, we see a number of distinct plants—all separate cultures with their separate fruits and flowers. We see the birth, rise, decline, and fall of cultures. But, most importantly, we see a pattern inherent in this pathology: enlightenment comes before the fall.

Enlightenment anticipates the fall because it is, fundamentally, a letting down of one’s guard: In it, all men are fundamentally good, capable and worthy of progress. An enlightened Achilles, if he wins, will bury his honorable foe. Yet this betrays the Homeric wisdom; the arc of time is linked by but one thread: the thread of human nature. To be sure, human nature is both Achilles and Hector; yet human nature is not driven by abstractions or any pretensions to enlightenment, but by power. Ultimately, it is the Achillean promise which will be fulfilled: the victor will not just reap the spoils, but will ignite the future, fertilize the fields with the blood of the fallen, and thus continue the thread divined by Homer so long ago.

Escape the tether of irrationality, we cannot. Meet our ever-present foes with the Achillean barbarism so near the successes of our ancestors, we can. Should we fail to meet this challenge narrated by the span of human existence, we will surely fall by the hands of others who are compelled to continue the Homeric thread: the ancestral heroes of future ages.

We are on this earth for such a brief moment; let us not be lulled to sleep by any bedtime story, no matter how pleasant. We are on this earth for but one purpose. Let us preserve our lineage and defend the culture which birthed it; anything less is conspiring with the enemy. And who is the enemy? It is he who tells us that justice will conquer human nature, for justice itself is defined and redefined by immortal human nature. No matter how many times the story is told, Hector always loses to Achilles. This is because the story does not change; and it is also because Achilles is immortal. It is Homer we should thank for chronicling our heroic past; and it is to Homer we are indebted for showing us our future. But now is our moment of decision, now we must decide which path to take: fallen Hector or victorious Achilles.

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Notes:

[1] Borrowing from Vico the successive ages from which “the nations will be seen to develop”: the ages of gods, heroes, and men. Giambattista Vico, The New Science of Giambattista Vico, unabridged., trans. Thomas Goddard and Max Fisch (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968), 335.

[2] Vico, 85.

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3 replies to this post
  1. Excellent essay. It is the essence of a conservative discourse. It is a return to the genuine Historicism: coming out from J.B. Vico, Herder, Nietzsche and G. Faye. I congratulate and thanks J. Summer for interpreting in such a manner the dialog between Hector and Achilles. Lets not forget that according to Homer Achilles was a demigod, Hector was a man. The ever present essence of the Greek tragedy is that in the long run both dies and went to Hades. What remains? The worst of the Romans? or the believe in the everlasting cycle of human history? At the end, What is the value added? a few days of life more, waiting the killing arrow of Paris? Weather Hector or Achilles pulvis et umbra sumus. Where is hope? Abandon all hope — Ye Who Enter Here.

  2. I am glad you quote Giambattista Vico, an Italian philosopher often underestimated by many Italians. Yet I do not agree with your main thesis. It is true that the idealistic belief in man’s infinite progress is groundless. But your faith in the inevitable triumph of bestiality is not better-founded. What history has until now showed is that using force is often unavoidable to make reason triumph; so the “enlightened” need always be ready to use it when necessary. However, Achilles did not keep his promise entirely: he didn’t give Hector’s body to his hunting dogs to eat. He gave back the body to Priam, and what made him behave like that was the thought of his own father, the thought that all men are equally subject to grief and fate. The Nazis were also absolutely sure of the superiority of brute force and they used it to the end. But they were defeated, in the end.

    • Antonio – you speak of “defeat.” Does defeat not imply the struggle? Does struggle not entail the clashing of opposing sides? Does each side not try to make its appeal through force? In the end, is it not the victors who determine what’s right?

      Yes, the Nationalsozialisten were forced to unconditional surrender. Were they forced by discussion? Perhaps the Allied Powers’ 75 & 105mm howitzers were charged with ‘liberty’ and not powder? Or maybe their 7.62 rounds persuaded intellectual reconsideration and didn’t strike down rank and file?

      When man is pressed does he not always bring to the fore what perpetually pulses through his reason? Are instruments of national power not projections of worldviews? Are worldviews not carved and advanced through force? If always our common denominator is force, is force not the bedfellow of our being, our human nature.

      You say that “Achilles did not keep his promise entirely” – of this I’m aware. Yet I say that Achilles kept his promise to drag Hector’s body. This alone proves my point. But our discussion matters little. Will you or I “win”? Regardless, great Nations and great Peoples will continue to rise and fall. And what tears them down or lifts them up will forever be the force of will, the ground of all being.

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