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Dr. Rebecca Futo Kennedy @kataplexis
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I’ll be tweeting my reading of Chapoutot’s Greeks, Romans, and Germans. Starting with the intro. #classics
How is racism being defined in the book. Recall the author is not US. Which means a slightly different configuration.
Just to finish from the previous page. FYI: book was originally written in 2008. English translation was 2016.
Nazism creates its own ideologically driven histories with complicit academics, academics who value access to power and often know their histories are false. Lies in the service of their opportunism.
And now into Part 1.
Ch 1 (of part 1) begins with origin myths. “Questions if identity are iften linked to origins.” The latter get embellished to enhance the former. (17) Thus purity seems a requirement. Pure descent from the noblest of starts.
I’ve blogged about this particular relationship before:…
Starting back into Ch 1 on the formation of the Aryan myth. The I’ve always puzzled over the place of India in Germanic origin stories.
It also seems his use of “west” denotes a specific type of European tradition. Enlightenment based, perhaps? i should probably look at the original french.
I’m also still more than a little suspicious of the whole indo-european studies thing. Some of the links are pushing it. Though I know there are some I-E types in my follow list.
Identity anxiety, crises, uncertainty. The search for origins. Identity firmed by whitening the past to fortify a white present. Aryan leaves India to become Nordic to make modern Germans into ancient ones.
And here it begins in earnest. The Nazis didnt start it, of course. They just mainstreamed it.
Oh, look! Hitler was an environmental determinist from very early in his career. I suspected, but didn’t have a citation. Autochthonous peoples almost always have an ED theory lurking somewhere.
End of the quotation, in case you were wondering.
And now we are going to meet the “evangelized of the Nordicist racial gospel”, Hans Friedrich Karl Günther.

Side note:I just learned how to type an umlaut on my iPad.
@rogueclassicist here is the answer to your question yesterday. Günther’s idea:
That last sentence seems to still be tge strategy.
Back to reading Chapoutot. Here we see the binding if cukture to biology as a way if usurping the cultural achievements of India and Persia for Germany.
End of the quotation. Last sentence summarizes his point.
Ok. There is something here, I think, tonkearn about how fringe tgeories get mainstreamed and how opposition (within a party and generally) can be eliminated and overcome.
FYI: Chapoutot is not some snowflake SJW writing for @eidolon_journal (like the rest if us), but he gets it. FN is the Ch 3, which will provide the evidence.
This chspter very accessibly lays out the way the various strands of the Aryan/Dorian/Nordic connections merged and were revised by the Nazis.
Really wished I’d managed to somehow getva Nazi Prometheus chapter into the Arschylus reception book, but their reception wasn’t really of Aeschylus but earlier German receptions (which are discussed).
The typos in this thread are awesome. My thumbs are clearly too big for the iphone keypad.
This sub-chapter heading is everything. #whitewash #nordicwashing
p 32 with a great use of Caesarian rhetoric.
Spartans. Always the Spartans with these Nazis.
p 33. this is interesting to ponder. for those invested in a concept if progress, the terminus is superior, the origin inferior. But at various points, we have turns to origin as the source of superiority, so that history is a process of decline that must be stopped. at any cost?
I should title my next blog post “Non ex Septentrione Lux”. That way I can mess with the Nazis, Latin only accounts, and parody Lefkowitz. All at the same time.
Rosenburg 1935 speech in Lübeck. (p 34 of Chapoutot)
p 35. Tell uswhat you really think of Rosenburg, Chapoutot...
It’s Monday. Back to Chapoutot. Next section discusses use if textbooks and school curriculum to spread the Nazi version if German history. A more “patriotic” history, if you will. A playbook familiar to anyone whose been paying attention to school board battles over US History.
The ability to understand art...
We are reminded repeatedly while miving through the Nazi propaganda that blonde hair was viewed as a mark of being Germanic. The online arguments over Achilles and his zanthus hair come to mind. Those pretending to be textual literalists have something else lurking behind.
A world that is racially determined...
pg 41. cultural appropriation is always a prelude to, justification for, or premised upon military and political conquest/oppression.
Claiming the swastika in ancient art as evidence for Nordic descent.
I wonder if the evidence un Nazi histories for the conquest of India from Greece are the myths of Dionysos and Herakles.
Also, reading the Nazi’s describing why their Nordic ancient Greece faded explains why they treated the Greek population so horrifyingly during the WW2 occupation. They were deemed inferior & not inheritors of their antiquity. how any Greek today can be neo-nazi is beyond me.
p 43. Wow. a lot to unpack here wrt contemporary discourses on EU, globalism, communism, etc.
p 44. we come to something that has been troubling me. the idea that race mixture led to the fall of rome and squaring that with germanic invasions of rome in following centuries, which, by nazi logic, should have renewed the population. ideologically consistent, nazis are not.
an empire linked by descent vs universalism.
This, this, and this. When academics surrender their ethical obligations in the name of supporting hateful ideologies...
p 46 Note that he yokes “theory” with aiding in preventing “compromising itself with the contingent and sectarian” contrary to current conservative grumblings...
p 46. importantly, the narrative current scholars have be working to dismantle is tgat constructed by the nazis, which made it way into US unis through the cold war “western civ” core. attempts to decinstruct nazi ideas is labeled revisionist & indoctrination.
p 47. hmmm. new project for someone?
I really think Chapoutot and I will have to agree to disagree of tve idea of “truth”, the “universal” and “rational”.
“history” is not stable.
p 49. conclusions
ch 2
p 52. Always beware the “I’m no experts, but...”
Whatever issues the later volumes had, it is worth people going back and reevaluating Bernal’s BA arguments on the history of the field. Classicist response 30 years ago was more defensive than it shoukd have been and we are currently reaping the “rewards”.
Though, we should note that the methods of Bernal and Gunther in their use if myths to prove origins is not very different.
OMG. Eye color. Again.
Starting up again in page 54. Remember this when talking with people about color terms. And remember that our dictionaries were written by people invested in whiteness.
Ah! p 56 begins the section we have been waiting for.
Review article by Herrmann from 1935.
Ha Ha.
p 61. Although C is showing how all of this is being put to the service of Nazism, it all—especially the stereotypes/-dates back to the previous century.
p 63. The Romans don’t fare as well with Gunther and co.
Ah, now we get to something of particukar interest to me—Hitler’s sdsptation of environmental determinism theory. The German creative spirit in antiquity was thearted by hostile climes, thus the waves of migration south. p 67
Well well well. Maybe some grounding for atcleadt some right wing rejection of attempting to stop climate change? This merged with 19th century US technogeography theory makes perfect sense as a basis for ideological rejection of it. Change brought by superior civ is good!
Hitler credits deforestation with the warmer and “improved” climate of midern Germany. Helps prop up idea of industrialization at all costs. p 69
And now at last (after walking the dog) is the launch of getman national archaeology. p 70
But on this, Hitler and Himmler agree to disagree.
this slso gets to something that has been troubling me: the same people who promote the Nordic origins of Greece and Rome also follow the idea that hoards of “immigrants” destroyed it. Hitler saw that as a renewal of the germanic spirit of Rome.
Enter Il Duce...p 74
The humanist ideal is a fundamental equality if all. To embrace race huerarchies and biological determinism is to reject humanism. Or, of course, requires dehumanization. But universalizing ancient Greece & Rome also erases pasts (including Germany’s own). p 76
The alliance between Germany and Italy made possible German excavations of “their history” in Italy. Himmler, however, never trusted the Italians, whom he declared defective “in blood and race”. except Il Duce himself.
Himmler did earm to the idea of appropriating greece and italy: p 79
This was actually laying the groundwork for the “repatriation” of Greek and Roman artworks back to Germany. No surprise. p 80
I’ve still got 4 pages to go before we get to the 1941 wave of nordic invasion into Greece. But I need to nake dinner. That section, though, is going to break my heart.
The thread continues. If you want to know why Nazi ideas on antiquity are still so prevalent, look know further than their public outreach team.
From Walther Gehl’s 1938 college textbook:
Now we get to the flashy public shows.
p 91. The next physical conquest to go with the intellectual.
I knew this section would make me angry.
here they reject even ancient Athens as “mongrel”. so much for Pericles.
Of course, a visit to the Spartan museum gives a lie to this “nordic” “truth”.
We head now into Ch 3.
Innnterestingggg. To disdain abstract (theoretical?) thought and privilege utilitarian knowledge is anti-“western”?! Anti-intellectualism is Nazi?
This sounds familiar...
Another familiar refrain. Add in the critique of the abstract...
Another day, anither round of Chapoutot. We are currently in Ch 3 Mens Sana (for those of you keeping track).
Probably not the person you want to quote in your recruitment posters for History majors, but...
historical thinking unshackked from facts.
What has classics tended to do whenever threatened? Emphasize the “foundations of western civ” narrative—formed from the rubble of WW2 against the threat if communism. “Wester Civl” simply took the place of “Germany”.
The oxymoron of a Nazi humanism.
pg 111. Important.
Dehumanization is not restricted to Nazism. It is part of US race science and race thinking from their inception just as thry are part if any colonialist enterprise or slave system.
More anti-theory classics.
Time for some more...

The tital man or the whole student? Echoes of Nazi paideia in the mantras of educational institutions today...
And just to finish that sentence... the Hellenistic era as a period of “racial decadence”.
Ah, yes. this is shy Achilles must be blonde, blue eyed, and white. Also, why the study of non-Greeks and Romans is rejected—“too exotic”.
So, I’m guessing he was not a fan of Philo.
Its like letting W/P/OC and working class study classics. How dare those “degenerate Levantines” (ie the Ptolemies and Antigonids etc).
In ither words, “Study classics, not because it has value for understanding humanity, but because it is the foundation of the white race.” Or, you know, “western civilization”. Frightening how familiar all this sounds.
And just to finish that sentence....
Greeks, not Latins. Germans, not Gauls. Nordics, not Alpines. From a 1935 article by Walter Eberhardt.
Poor Hitler. Il Duce was so mean to him. p 127
Thankfully, they sorted it all out by p 128.
I knew there was a reason I’m not a huge fan of Horace...
This is how Classics has historically “saved” itself. Its how the rhetoric of “foundations of western civ” was intended to work.
The complicity of the classicist...
How did the canon form? When was it decided who were the “proper” authors to read? The canon if 1950s US unis was different from the 1890s.
Here is a list of approved Latin texts with some Greek as well.
p 139-40
Enter Heidegger.
Sad gor Heidegger that his dreams of a Nazi-led metaphysics renewal didn’t work out.
Sad tgat the sentence is cut across pages. But here is is.
TFW you agree w Heidegger for once. Once.
Onto Ch 4 (pt 2).
This is the first chapter I’m assigning my students, though I’m thinking if making Ch 2 recommended.
Something important to remember—police depts around the world still use and train people in physiognomics. no surprise certain bodies and faces are crimilalized On the ancient relationship to race/eth, see M. Goldman (2015) in Identity & Enviro in Classical & Medieval worlds.
PS. It wasn’t a “new” science. we have physiognomica texts going back to the 4th centuryCE.
Some ideas endure and endure (p 158).
p 159. i need toread faster.
We are actually watching Olympia for class.
“...that the Oltmpic Games themselves were a German creation.”
Archaeology as tool for political propaganda by foreign school.
Here is the poster as didplayed at the Olympic museum in Athens.
There is a really good article on the performance by Erika Fischer-Lichte 2008.
Back to work. p 167
Regular Reminder: the torch relay was invented as Nazi propaganda.
Finishing the paragraph.
Prometheus, again.
Again, finishing the paragraph. Nazi Germany as legitimate heir of ancient Greece. @SarahEBond has written in the significance of the torch in relation to Charlottesville, too.
The connection between spirt and fascism should not be underestimated. We live in a hypermasculinized sports culture that links w/ militarism/nationalism and conservatism. Protesting during such patriotic displays undermines them.
Time to devote another hour to getting Chapoutot read. We are starting part way through Ch 4.
Enter the sculptural canon. Here is also a short article on n this topic and sculpture specifically by @SarahEBond…
One of the things tgat stands out again and again in this book is the Nazi emphasis in the “original” as pure and best in race thinking. It’s the opposite of the notion of progress and evolution. Eugenics as a way to get *back* to perfection.
It really also should raise wuestions about how we treat athletics. our school curricula are still so similar to what the Nazis created. Under the influence of the US eugenics movement and classicism, of course. It’s the pairing that separates these from earlier classicisms.
The lack of pictures in this book is saddening.
Like an image of this.
So, mind and body in harmony means body in perfection butcmind just “good enough”. recipe for a domination of mediocre jock type.
This is not wrong. But it coopts all if ancient Greece into the “white” somatic norm, which ither parts of Nazi thought rejected. but, asking for consistency would be crazy.
Reading the sections on Nazi promotion of nudism brings to mind all the times I have encountered naked Germans on European beaches or in parks.
They blame the Christians.
Not just a nazi thing, of course. Or an ancient Greek thing. We use the language of battle and war all the time for sports.
Something I hope students get when we read this book is the discomfort that comes from recognizing things they believe to be true or right embedded in Bazi thought. White supremacism exists outside of Nazism and the KKK. They need to accept the truth of it.
Makes me think of the enduring popularity of the Rocky movies. Especially, the hyper patriotic IV.
Erasure of color from nude statues creates a “distance” that reduces eroticism. Another reason why white sculpture was fetishized: Whiteness as morally pure, color as contaminant.
Of course, women’s bodies were eroticized. Also, Reminds me of the Thuc. funeral oration, where an eros for the city is a necessity of patriotism.
And this brings to mind the decision of by the conservative classicist P Jones to add the Lucian version if this story, which eroticizes the goddesses (even asexual Athena) to the Reading Latin text book. Adds this directly followed by 2 Roman foundation myth/rape stories.
A grad student at Ohio State. who was required to teach this book, sent an email to the Cambridge editor (who sent it to Jones) questioning this inclusion. Jones then wrote a vicious op-ed about them in the Spectator and shared their personal info with the Daily Mail.
p 186. It isn’t about winning, its about beauty. And let’s not please forget the Nazi breeding programs and camps.
“It is impossible [for the artist] to emancipate himself from the limitations of his own body.” This is why representations in museum collections is so important. Museums need to stop perpetuating the idea that white bodies = better artists.
Finished Ch 4. Ch 5 tomorrow.
Despite never having read tgis work if Popper,I am apparently have been in n agreement with him on why to not read Plato.
Maybe a new reading in Germany at that time...
I wrote part of an article last spring on hiw Plato lends himself to theories of racial purity. Its there even if Plato lovers don’t like it.
These are still fan favorites of the right.
The Athenians certainly acted this way. In 403, they strengthened exclusions/restrictions on foreigners (esp women through whom foreign contaminants could most easily enter). We also see a steady stereotype emerge in courtroom speeches of the greedy, untrustworthy metic.
I think one of the hardest things for lovers of antiquity to accept is that these are modern adaptations of ancient ideas are not obvious misinterpretations. Ideas a racial purity and nationalism and ethnocentrism have roots in ancient texts.
Hans Günther’s take on the results of the Pelop war and Plato’s answer to them.
These German classicists were...I don’t even have the words.
Drama time.
Ha ha. Their ambution to build over 60 Greek style theaters failed. Also, I’d love to put Aristotle in purgatory.
p 206
oh, niw this is interesting. “the Oriental Socrates” as opposed to the “Nordic Plato”.
This one is interesting give neo-nazi love of stoicism.
Hmmm...who else rails against cosmopolitanism and universal rights?
Why do we continue to cling to a canon forged to represent white supremacist racial ideals? It wasn’t just the Nazis who did this. The “western civ” canon that emerged after WW2 in the US follows it. Why? If you aren’t asking that question, you are missing something impirtant.
They do not like Socrates. The proof of his awfulness is Antisthenes. He was a metic (birn of a foreign mother). We all know how awful foreigners are.
Ok. Stopping there before heading into Spartand and ancient eugenicism.
Back to Ch 5. The Myth of Sparta.
Spartan popularity has been directly connected to Aryanism since its inception.
The ancients should not be imitated. We are not them, they are not us. The past is sonetimes best left past.
It doesn’t seem over the top, but it’s wring in a very specific way.
Spartans as a model for eugenics.
Darre turns the Spartans into a community of Cincinnatuses.
A question I ask myself all the time about certain people’s interest in classics...
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