Reading the Classics with Prof. Bates

 

Summer’s the season for learning, people are less busy… so today I’m happy to introduce you to a friend, Prof. Clifford Bates, who has several series of videos interpreting the classics of political philosophy to benefit his fellow countrymen. Nothing’s more American than lifelong learning, so this is your opportunity to study one or more of the following, gratis:

This last has just finished and Prof. Bates is already announcing a project to start soon: Reading Thucydides’ famous history of the war between the Spartans and the Athenians. So if you ever wanted to read the most famous book of history with a serious scholar guiding you, this is your chance!

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  1. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    When is Professor Bates going to start Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War?
    I finished book one and up to the end of Pericles’ funeral oration in book two a few weeks ago. Then stalled out. For me, it would be very motivating for getting back into it if I knew when those lectures were starting. I want to get back to the book and finish it before the end of September.

    • #1
  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Glad to hear you’re interested–you should head out to his youtube page, see his brief announcement post, which includes some scheduling:

    • #2
  3. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Glad to hear you’re interested–you should head out to his youtube page, see his brief announcement post, which includes some scheduling:

    Thank you, Titus.

    • #3
  4. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    At what school did or does Professor Bates teach ?

    • #4
  5. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Intro:

    • #5
  6. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    This introduction is too rambling. Interesting—-even very interesting—- in places, but a mess. I’m pretty sure he put zero work into preparing to give it. Toward the end, when he tries to recall a name, spends time trying to recall it, then says, in effect, “never mind”, that was just so bad it was good.

    But, I looked briefly at some of Professor Bates other videos. From viewing them it seems to me likely to me he’ll be infinitely much better when he gets into the text. If he is, I still can’t afford to pay him anything for a while (Fall clothes for grandkids and nieces and nephew, etc) Am right now, at least, about to buy the Landmark Thucydides, in order to have the same text and maps, and am very much looking forward to P. Bates next, more prepared,  video.

    • #6
  7. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    I imagine Professor Bates will be just summarizing a lot of chapters in the books and really focusing on others, even putting the texts for the more honed-in-on chapters up on the screen. If that’s the case then, at the end of a lecture, if he could tell us what he’s going to be putting up on the screen in the next lecture, that would be a big help to me. That way I can maybe read what’s in between and, so, better understand his summary of it.

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    He may seem quirky, but he’s a sharp guy who’s studied & taught this for decades. Stay with it, & you don’t need to pay him. Some people can afford to & should support scholars with this much public spirit.

    Here’s the first session, the introduction: i.1-17

    • #8
  9. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    • #9
  10. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Okay now Professor Bates is cooking. I think I’m going to learn a lot.

    I wish he had said more on what he meant by “The translator is involved in 19 century notions.”

    He said that after reading this in the text…

    “Thus, for a long time everywhere in Hellas do we find causes which make the states alike incapable of combination for great and national ends, or of any vigorous action of their own.”

    I’m now curious about that passage from the text in other translations. Let’s see…It seems somebody by the name of Rex Warner (20th century) has…

    “So for a long time the state of affairs everywhere in Hellas was such that nothing very remarkable could be done by any combination of powers and that even the individual cities were lacking in enterprise.” (The book I have of Rex Warner’s translation doesn’t have commas in that sentence. So, I didn’t add them.)

    Benjamin Jowett has…

    “Thus for a long time everything conspired to prevent Hellas from uniting in any great action and to paralyse enterprise in the individual states.”(I just copied exactly what’s there. That’s how all words are spelled.)

    Thomas Hobbes (17th century) translates it this way…

    “Thus was Greece for a long time hindered, that neither jointly it could do anything remarkable, nor the cities singly be adventurous.”

    • #10
  11. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Hobbes is very good. He’s the translator I recommend.

    Prof. Bates means, the Greeks had no notion of state & of nation. They said city for city (another malapropism of political science or history is city-state, trying to split the difference), or they used other words for other political arrangements–hegemony, monarchy, kingship, tyranny, despotism. 

    • #11
  12. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Hobbes is very good. He’s the translator I recommend.

    Prof. Bates means, the Greeks had no notion of state & of nation. They said city for city (another malapropism of political science or history is city-state, trying to split the difference), or they used other words for other political arrangements–hegemony, monarchy, kingship, tyranny, despotism.

    The ancient Greeks, in other words, weren’t wondering if they should or shouldn’t be a “nation” as we understand that word. They were people living in or near different cities who spoke roughly the same language and worshipped a lot of the same gods ?

     

    So do you know if Professor Bates has a schedule for this course or if people should just check his You Tube channel,say, every other day to see if the next video is up ?

    I’m grateful he’s doing Thucydides. It’s hard to explain why. I think because although the book is tedious in places, and eye poppingly horrifying in other places, there’s also, frequently, something eerie about what Thucydides is saying across more than 2400 years.

    The eerie quality is probably due to the fact that what Thucydides observes about the way the people around him think and behave brings those people very near to you. His observations are clearly, shockingly, recognizable as either the way people think and behave now or the way people now would behave if they could be put back in that world. There’s something spooky about how recognizable the human thinking and behavior is.

    I want to read all of this book in the next six months, for some reason related to this haunting or eerie quality about it. Reading a chunk of chapters, and then going over them, or some of them, with someone more informed is very engaging. It’s motivating; it makes it much more likely that I’ll finish the book.

    • #12
  13. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    There is no writer on politics as noble, tinged by tragedy as Thucydides. There is much more to learn there than one can say briefly. If you consider that Sparta is an oligarchy & Athens a democracy, the one more interested in martial virtue, the other more in commerce, & that different virtues & opinions emerge in the two which seem necessary to civilization, you may find it easier to make your way through his teaching, which he calls a possession for all times, since human things don’t change.

    • #13
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