Austeritos - inspiration for austerity born in Ancient Greece
by our secret columnist in Brussels
After some archaic research, our resident satirist Schadenfreude has unearthed some interesting points made by Austeritos in Ancient Greece. How relevant are his points to today's eurozone crisis? We will let you decide on that
A fragment of a scroll was recently found in the bowels of a Greek temple. It tells of the hitherto unknown Stoic philosopher Austeritos, who was inspired when he read in one of St Paul's circulars (Acts 16, v. 21) that the men of Athens liked to hear and talk of some new thing. Having something to get off his mind, he made his way to the Areaopagus to test the story.
According to the legible parts of the scroll, standing on his barrel he declaimed: "Hearken unto me, ye Athenians. You are not living in a real world. For too long your leaders have bought your favour by their largess. You have idled - your crops have not grown, your vines have not ripened, your animals have not fattened. When you have grown old, you have begged for help and it has been given to you lest you rise up against your rulers.
"But I say to you that the days of honey and roses are over. There are barbarians in a far north who will give you no more in exchange for the great thoughts, which are your only means of exchange because they think that you are idle dreamers. It is time for you to show that there is more to your life than the buildings of your city, which they come to wonder at, and the golden beaches on which they prostrate themselves in worship of the great god Helios. You must make sacrifice, not to the false gods but in your own lives.
"Let every man work longer and ask for less 'anona' (translation - distribution of corn). Let the demos realise that the choice is between some hardship and as your Attic language warns - successively crisis, catastrophe and chaos. It is only so that you will be able to help to rebuild the world." The scroll does not record the reaction of the audience before Austeritos. Perhaps, significantly, he was not heard of again. .