The Dialogues of Snowdenophon: Democracy Lives

Persons of the Dialogue: Socrates; Snowdenophon; Callicles; Putinachus

Scene: The house of Putinachus

Socrates: Now must I take leave of you, friends, and return to my studies. I thank you, Putinachus, for the good fellowship, the generous libations and the sweaty practice in the manly arts of self-defense. If that’s what that was.

Callicles: Good fellowship indeed, dear Putinachus, and food for thought. Well might we ponder the troubling questions of our time, when men are lured by the siren song of Freedom, that seductress who breaks hearts with visions of happiness and brings only chimeras of Chaos and Rue. Now does the creak in my weary bones tell me the hour has come to quit these frosty chambers and walk abroad in the gentler night of Athens.

Socrates: What?

Callicles: I’m leaving, too.


News to Me


Socrates: Ah, good. Thus can Snowdenophon grow better acquainted with his new host, Putinachus. (To Snowdenophon, with a wink.) Look out for his thighlock, friend. It’s a Doozy.

Exeunt.

Socrates: What?

Callicles: We left.

Socrates: Ah.

Putinachus and Snowdenophon sit in silence for some time, shifting uncomfortably in their seats. At length, Putinachus refills Snowdenophon’s vessel with honey mead and rises to gaze upon the hills.

Putinachus (at the window): Tell me, young Snowdenophon, what are your thoughts on this day of days?

Snowdenophon: I am filled with wonder, dear Putinachus, at my narrow escape from tyranny, by your good graces.

Putinachus (turning to his interlocutor): Grace was but the mare that carried the burden, young friend. The burden rests upon all men who seek the good. It is the burden to do what is right rather than what is easy.

Snowdenophon: If by that you mean it is easy for a government to abandon its cherished principles of liberty in pursuit of a rapacious knowledge of all its citizens, master, I must needs agree. The risible illusion is that liberty was the government’s to abandon in the first place, when we know it belongs to the people.

Putinachus: You are brave, young Snowdenophon. Here in my house it is cold. You can see for yourself, there by the tapestry, the stone bin of mittens. You left behind a life in leafy paradise for the trials of honoring your conscience and the love of your people. (Settling back in his seat to take a drink of honey mead.) Do you miss them?

Snowdenophon: Does the merchant miss his wares upon their goodly purchase? The sailor the shore when once the Aegean is his home? The marmot his den on a bounteous nighttime prowl?

Putinachus: I see. The demos requires a strong hand, Snowdenophon, do you not agree?

Snowdenophon: Yours is strong, and fair, Putinachus.

Putinachus: Come, friend, let us stroll about the square and discuss our newfound comity. You the spiller of secrets, I the shepherd of wandering souls. Between us, Democracy is safe, and its cousin Freedom. (Rising to leave with Snowdenophon.) Mittens?
 


Write to Peter Jeffrey at pjeffrey@bloomberg.net

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