Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quo Vadis, America?

There's an echo of my "Good Night, America?" post in that title, but I offer a different perspective this time.  For those of you who are neither biblical scholars nor privileged, because of the public school system, to have had a decent literary education, the translation of that latin title means "Whither goest thou?" It comes from a New Testament verse (John 13:36):
...related in the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV), in which Saint Peter meets Jesus as Peter is fleeing from likely crucifixion in Rome. Peter asks Jesus the question; Jesus' answer, "I am going to Rome to be crucified again" (Eo Romam iterum crucifigi), prompts Peter to gain the courage to continue his ministry and eventually become a martyr.
From Wiki. In the classical literary tradition, it comes from the title of Sienkiewicz's 1896 historical novel--which I highly recommend--it's very powerful, for Christians or anyone else, especially if you take it allegorically, in relation to our times. Ayn Rand herself spoke of it as one of the truly great novels. From Amazon (,
Set in ancient Rome during the reign of the emperor Nero, Quo Vadis? tells the story of the love that develops between a young Christian woman and a Roman officer [Vinicius] who, after meeting her fellow Christians, converts to her religion. Underlying their relationship is the contrast between the worldly opulence of the Roman aristocracy and the poverty, simplicity, and spiritual power of the Christians. The novel has as a subtext the persecution and political subjugation of Poland by Russia.
The subtext was that Sienkiewicz didn't dare directly criticize his own rulers in Poland. Give us time. But till that happens, we have parallels.

As the Dow has slowly recovered from our own crisis, nibbling at 11,000 (and bouncing hard by 1000 points the other day), anyone who thinks we have a chance to avoid another major collapse should pay close attention to Greece, and now Portugal. News that their credit ratings have been downgraded should send shivers through all.  Anyone who thinks that the United States can embrace the same socialist policies as the Euro states should think again. Our own story was brought about by the contrast between the worldly opulences of the Washington aristocracy and the simplicity and spiritual power (in the best sense of that term) of American citizens who strive to work hard to be happy and free.

Back to Quo Vadis. It takes place in the reign of Nero, and though the famous story of him fiddling while Rome burned is merely allegorical, it fits: in Rome, the erosion of reason and morals among the citizenry paralleled rise of poverty and spiritual power among the slaves and barbarians who kept the Roman Empire alive. So it is in our own country. Unlike Sienkiewicz's novel, our own story has no subtext, however: anyone in this country who strives to make a living and achieve some measure of success and happiness is simply subject to political persecution and subjugation by our own ruling class. We are developing our own version

As I said, there are parallels to our own time that can be developed here -- many of them. For instance, who could the character of Lygia symbolize?
...the daughter of a deceased king of the Lygians, a barbarian tribe (hence her nickname). Lygia is technically a hostage of the Senate and people of Rome, and was forgotten years ago by her own people. A gorgeous beauty, 
Lygia has the role of America's founding tradition in this morality play, whom the Left regard as a "barbarian tribe" -- not unlike the role she played for Poland in Sienkiewicz's novel. Our own Lygia is a hostage of the Senate (Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and almost every other Democrat) and the people of Rome who want to vote themselves bread and circuses.

The character of Ursus is less complex: a barbarian of enormous size and strength who protects the princess Lygia, he is a convert to Christianity who struggles with it's teachings of non-violence. Here we have the productive power of every American who possesses great devotion to the country and struggles to preserve it, while lacking in the intellectual knowledge to lead the battle--your typical Tea Party type.

I would love to develop these parallels at length, especially that for Petronius, the "Arbiter of Excellence", an unapologetic Epicurean (lover of fine things) who serves the court of Nero. Let's say, every American who indulges his desires in the pursuit of happiness, while serving the court of Altruism, because that is really what Nero represents in this allegory. I will shortly make the connection more evident between Altruism and the debauched and worthless Nero, who is larger than life in the novel (and perhaps real life) -- but absolutely monumental compared to the pidgeon dropping called Barack Obama.

The novel is long and my memory grows weak, so  I will content myself with describing a scene from Chapter 7: a party by Emperor Nero for his favorites. The scene opens by introducing Acte, an Imperial slave and former mistress of Nero.
...Cæsar [ie, Nero] had loved her once... he had freed her, let her live in the palace, and gave her special apartments with a few servants. she too was invited at times to Cæsar's table. This was done perhaps because her beautiful form was a real ornament to a feast. [from the novel]
Who might Acte stand for? Let's say -- any businessmen who profess to be Democratic loyalists.  Acte was Greek, and
...It was known that she continued to love Nero with a sad and pained love, which lived not in hope, but only in memories of the time in which that Nero was not only younger and loving, but better.

Obama, of course, was never better, but as a historical symbol, the Dems may have been better.  Many of their supporters are not unlike Acte -- they love him while he defiles them.
Nero has grown tired of her and now mostly ignores her, but she still loves him. She studies the Christian faith, but does not consider herself worthy enough to convert fully." (Wiki)
"Christian Faith" in this allegory is devotion to the moral screed of altruism -- the creed of Christianity. Which gets back to the symbolism of Nero, who, as Caesar, not only represents a moral ideal, but the power altruism holds over people, both figuratively and politically.
...At his table the most varied medley of people of every position and calling found places. Among them were senators, but mainly those who were content to be jesters as well. There were patricians, old and young, eager for luxury, excess, and enjoyment.
All the sycophants lured to Washington by money and power.
There were women with great names, who did not hesitate to put on a yellow wig of an evening and seek adventures on dark streets for amusement's sake.
Everyone who loves a backroom deal done in the dead of night -- say, that lady of the night, Nancy Pelosi.
There were also high officials, and priests who at full goblets were willing to jeer at their own gods.
The "priests" we can think of a our intellectual and political leaders, and the "gods" they jeer at are GM, JP Morgan, IBM, and the rest of that pantheon.
At the side of these was a rabble of every sort: singers, mimes, musicians, dancers of both sexes; poets who, while declaiming, were thinking of the sesterces which might fall to them for praise of Cæsar's verses; hungry philosophers following the dishes with eager eyes;
The academics, media, and other rabble of that sort.
...finally, noted charioteers, tricksters, miracle-wrights, tale-tellers, jesters, and the most varied adventurers brought through fashion or folly to a few days' notoriety.
Al Gore, and his traveling troop of Global Warming clowns, let us say.
...The luxury of the court gilded everything, and covered all things with glitter. High and low, the descendants of great families, the needy from the pavements of the city, great artists and vile scrapings of talent, thronged to the palace to sate their dazzled eyes with a splendor almost surpassing human estimate, to approach the giver of every favor, wealth, and property--whose single glance might abase, it is true, but might also exalt beyond measure.
Anyone seeking introductions and alms from the court of D.C...
That day Lygia too had to take part in such a feast. Fear, uncertainty and a dazed feeling, not to be wondered at after the sudden change, were struggling in her with a wish to resist.
Let's give Lygia a little more specific role: Tea Partiers.
She feared Nero; she feared the people and the palace whose uproar deprived her of presence of mind; she feared the feasts of whose shamelessness she had heard from Aulus, Pomponia Græcina, and their friends. Though young, she was not without knowledge, for knowledge of evil in those times reached even children's ears early.
Young in spirit, let's say, cause the Tea Partiers have an upwardly shifted age demographic.
She knew, therefore, that ruin was threatening her in the palace.
Or any compromises in Washington.  Does it not threaten any American who believes that Washington is the narcotic solving all problems?
Pomponia ...had warned her of this at the moment of parting. But having a youthful spirit, unacquainted with corruption, and confessing a lofty faith implanted in her by her foster mother, she had promised to defend herself against that ruin; she had promised her mother, herself and also that Divine Teacher in whom she not only believed, but whom she had come to love with her half-childlike heart for the sweetness of his doctrine, the bitterness of his death, and the glory of his resurrection.
The "divine teacher" is the Founding principles of the United States, and the inalienable rights of the individual.  It is indeed a sweet doctrine, and though we may feel bitter about it's demise, there is the prospect of glory in its resurrection.
...On the one hand fear and alarm spoke audibly in her soul; on the other, the wish rose in her to show courage in suffering, in exposure to torture and death. The Divine Teacher had commanded to act thus. ...Pomponia had told her that the most earnest among the adherents desire with all their souls such a test, and pray for it.
That next Tea Party demonstration confronting the thugs of the SEIU, for instance.
...Lygia ...had seen herself as a martyr... But now, when opposition to Cæsar's will might draw after it some terrible punishment, and the martyrdom scene of imagination become a reality, there was added to the beautiful visions and to the delight a kind of curiosity mingled with dread, as to how they would punish her, and what kind of torments they would provide. And her soul, half childish yet, was hesitating on two sides.
As so many in our country hesitate...  If you defend yourself from physical assault by Obama's SEIU thugs, you can bet you'll be arrested, vilified, and the Left will excoriate you as a terrorist. 
...To oppose Cæsar's will, expose oneself from the first moment to his anger? ...From Lygia's own words it appears that she is, properly speaking, not really a hostage, but a maiden forgotten by her own people.
Let's underline that:  The meaning of our own Constitution has been forgotten by many people, even many in the Tea Party.
No law of nations protects her; and even if it did, Cæsar is powerful enough to trample on it [the law] in a moment of anger. It has pleased Cæsar to take her, and he will dispose of her. Thenceforth she is at his will, above which there is not another on earth.
"So it is," continued Acte.
...with everyone in Washington, these days.  As someone in Congress said recently during the Health Care putsch, "the law is what we make it." 
...Think of this, Lygia. ...when it comes to a choice between shame and death, it is permitted to choose only death. But canst thou say that death awaits thee and not shame too? ...Lygia, Lygia, do not irritate Cæsar. If the decisive moment comes when thou must choose between disgrace and death, thou wilt act as thy faith commands; but seek not destruction thyself, and do not irritate for a trivial cause an earthly and at the same time a cruel divinity."
Isn't this the droning message to America from Caesar (Obama), his polital hacks (the Czars) and our media (AP, NY Times, Reuters, etc)?  Think of Obama's recent calls for "civility" at the University of Michigan -- ie, his call to stop all criticism of him.
...Her eyelids filled with tears. Lygia followed her for some time with her blue eyes, and asked at last--"Art thou sorry for him, Acte?"
How do our better Democrats feel about what is happening to the country under Comrade Barack and his merry band of Bolsheviks?
"I am sorry for him!" answered the Grecian, with a low voice. And again she began to walk, her hands clinched as if in pain, and her face without hope.
"Dost thou love him yet, Acte?" asked Lygia, timidly.
"I love him."
And after a while she added, "No one loves him but me."
Warren Buffett maybe a little less these days -- he's sent his gladiator Ben Nelson into the Arena to stop Obama's new financial regulations (the Lions in our allegory) from destroying him and the rest of the banking and investment industry.
"Let us speak of thee, Lygia. Do not even think of opposing Cæsar; that would be madness. And be calm. I know this house well, and I judge that on Cæsar's part nothing threatens thee.
Or not. Stuff it, NYTimes, AP, Reuters, Washpost.
...Nero gave command, it is true, that thou shouldst be at the feast, but he has not seen thee yet; he has not inquired about thee, hence he does not care about thee.
Oh, so true. To our leaders, you, Lygia, are but a flag pin on their lapel, which even Comrade Barack now wears out of expediency.
The party guests now arrive:
...people passed in greater and greater numbers under the lofty arch of the entrance... crowds of people flowed past... Acte showed Lygia senators in wide-bordered togas, in colored tunics, in sandals with crescents on them, and knights, and famed artists; she showed her Roman ladies, in Roman, in Grecian, in fantastic Oriental costume...which pierced Lygia with fear, amazement, and wonder. For her this was a strange world....
For any sane person it is.  Washington is a place of many hidden mysteries and crimes:
...the low voice of Acte disclosed, time after time, a new and dreadful secret of that palace... See, there at a distance is the covered portico on whose columns and floor are still visible red stains from the blood with which Caligula sprinkled the white marble when he fell beneath the knife of Cassius Chærea; there his wife was slain; there his child was dashed against a stone; under that wing is the dungeon in which the younger Drusus gnawed his hands from hunger; there the elder Drusus was poisoned; there Gemellus quivered in terror, and Claudius in convulsions; there Germanicus suffered--everywhere those walls had heard the groans and death-rattle of the dying; and those people hurrying now to the feast in togas, in colored tunics, in flowers, and in jewels, may be the condemned of to-morrow...
Isn't it so in today's Washington?  We have passed from a government of objective laws, as originally conceived, to one where your life's work, your future well-being, even your physical safety has been left to the whim of Czars.
...Lygia's frightened thoughts could not keep pace with Acte's words; ...her heart contracted within her from fear, and in her soul she struggled with an immense, inexpressible yearning for the beloved Pomponia Græcina, and the calm house of Aulus, in which love, and not crime, was the ruling power.
The beloved house of reason, rights and reality.
...As in a dream, she ...heard the shout with which the guests greeted Cæsar; as
through a mist, she saw Cæsar himself. ...
Obama steps up to his Roman stage.  Did you see it at the Democratic National Convention?
The sound of the music, the odor of flowers and of Arabian perfumes, began to daze her. In Rome it was the custom to recline at banquets, but Vinicius was reclining near her, youthful, immense, in love, burning; and she, feeling the heat that issued from him, felt both delight and shame. A kind of sweet weakness, a kind of faintness and forgetfulness seized her; it was as if drowsiness tortured her.
Vinicius was a Roman officer, a symbol of power devoted to the beauty of his country. Think the American military.
...he seemed to her ever nearer, ever dearer, altogether true, and devoted with his whole soul. He pacified her; he promised to rescue her from the house of Cæsar; he promised not to desert her, and said that he would serve her. he said directly that he loved her, and that she was dear and most precious to him. Lygia heard such words from a man's lips for the first time; and as she heard them it seemed to her that something was wakening in her as from a sleep, that some species of happiness was embracing her in which immense delight was mingled with immense alarm. Her cheeks began to burn, her heart to beat, her mouth opened as in wonder. She was seized with fear because she was listening to such things, still she did not wish for any cause on earth to lose one word.
But her nearness to him began to act on Vinicius also. His nostrils dilated, like those of an Eastern steed. ...he felt a flame in his veins which he tried in vain to quench with wine. ...her maiden breast heaving under the golden tunic, and her form hidden in the white folds of the peplus, intoxicated him more and more. Finally, he seized her arm... and drawing her toward him whispered, with trembling lips,--"I love thee ...divine one!"
The Republicans love the Tea Party, but... that moment was heard the voice of Acte, who was reclining on the other side of Lygia.
"Cæsar is looking at you both."
Isn't he? Anyone who professes too strong a devotion to the ideals of this country in this day and age will surely have the eye of Caesar upon him -- the DIA, the FBI, the Secret Service.
Everything that Nero did roused attention, even in those nearest him; hence Vinicius was alarmed. He regained self-control, and began imperceptibly to look toward Cæsar. Lygia ...turned to him eyes at once curious and terrified.
Cæsar had bent over the table, half-closed one eye, and holding before the other a round polished emerald, which he used, was looking at them. For a moment his glance met Lygia's eyes, and the heart of the maiden was straitened with terror.
The emerald was a beautiful touch by Sienkewicz -- it fully captures the essence of a looter obsessed with power.
When still a child... an old Egyptian slave had told her of dragons which occupied dens in the mountains, and it seemed to her now that all at once the greenish eye of such a monster was gazing at her. ...Was not that he, the terrible, the all-powerful?
So it is with everyone when the gaze of Washington turns it's eyes toward them. Obama? Yes. But also anyone in D.C. who feeds on sores and clubs people with handouts and "good intentions".
She had not seen him hitherto, and she thought that he looked differently... almost ridiculous, for from a distance it resembled the head of a child.
This so accurately captures the essence of the altruists: they are like children who believe that goodness and wealth can be achieved by commandments and a gun.
He had no beard, because he had sacrificed it recently to Jove--for which all Rome gave him thanks,
Token sacrifices always placate the masses. Why, I believe Comrade Barack may have even left a few of his entourage behind on that last European vacation.
...though people whispered to each other that he had sacrificed it because his beard, like that of his whole family, was red.
Well, I'm sure about that one. Red, for sure.
In his forehead, projecting strongly above his brows, there remained something Olympian. In his contracted brows the consciousness of supreme power was evident; but under that forehead of a demigod was the face of a monkey, a drunkard, and a comedian--vain, full of changing desires, swollen with fat, notwithstanding his youth; besides, it was sickly and foul. To Lygia he seemed ominous, but above all repulsive.
Yeah, that's him alright, though the 'fat' part is figurative.
After a while he laid down the emerald and ceased to look at her. Then she saw his prominent ...eyes, blinking before the excess of light, glassy... resembling the eyes of the dead.
The eyes of those who loot for a living, with legislation as a gun.
"Is that the hostage with whom Vinicius is in love?" asked Nero, turning to Petronius.
"That is she," answered Petronius.
"What are her people called?"
"The Lygians."
"Does Vinicius think her beautiful?"
"Array a rotten olive trunk in the peplus of a woman, and Vinicius will declare it beautiful. But on thy countenance, incomparable judge, I read her sentence already. ...'Too narrow in the hips.'"
The powers-that-be do want to believe the Tea Party types are insignificant.
"Too narrow in the hips," answered Nero, blinking.
Let's keep in mind that appreciation of beauty and virtue isn't what rapists are about. So it is with our friends now running D.C.
..."Last night I dreamt that I had become a vestal virgin," said Calvia Crispinilla, bending over the table.
I have a dream of a free Republic... but not one provided by the Democrats and Republicans.
At this Nero clapped his hands, other followed, and in a moment clapping of hands was heard all around,--for Crispinilla had been divorced a number of times, and was known throughout Rome for her fabulous debauchery.
..."But admit, purest Calvia," said Petronius, "that thou couldst become a vestal only in dreams."
"But if Cæsar commanded?"
"I should believe that even the most impossible dreams might come true."
Some years ago people in Congress were wearing buttons that said "Reality is negotiable."  But only for awhile.
"But they do come true," said Vestinius. "I understand those who do not believe in the gods, but how is it possible not to believe in dreams?"
"But predictions?" inquired Nero. "It was predicted once to me, that Rome would cease to exist..."
"Predictions and dreams are connected," said Vestinius. "Once a certain proconsul, a great disbeliever, sent a slave to the temple of Mopsus with a sealed letter which he would not let any one open; he did this to see if the god could answer the question contained in the letter. The slave slept a night in the temple and had a prophetic dream; he returned then and said: 'I saw a youth in my dreams; he was as bright as the sun, and spoke only one word, "Black."'
The proconsul... grew pale, and turning to his guests, disbelievers like himself, said: 'Do ye know what was in the letter?'" Here Vestinius stopped, and, raising his goblet with wine, began to drink.
"What was in the letter?" asked Senecio.
"In the letter was the question: 'What is the color of the bull which I am to sacrifice: white or black?'"
There's a message there.
...Vitelius ...burst forth senseless laughter. "The ring of a knight has fallen from my finger...." ...Vitelius ...began to search for his ring in the peplus of Calvia Crispinilla.
...Vestinius ...said aloud -- "He is seeking what he has not lost."
"And which will be useless to him if he finds it," finished the poet Lucan.
There are no knights in Washington these days.
The feast grew more animated. Crowds of slaves bore around successive courses; from great vases filled with snow and garlanded with ivy, smaller vessels with various kinds of wine were brought forth unceasingly. All drank freely. On the guests, roses fell from the ceiling at intervals.
Kind of like TARP money.
Petronius entreated Nero to dignify the feast with his song before the guests drank too deeply.
Let's have another speech by Comrade Barack.
...Lucan implored him in the name of art and humanity. ..."Be not cruel, O Cæsar!"
...Nero spread his hands in sign that he had to yield. All faces assumed then an expression of gratitude, and all eyes were turned to him....
...Nero... raised his eyes; and for a moment silence reigned in the triclinium, broken only by a rustle, as roses fell from the ceiling. Then he began to chant, or rather to declaim, singingly and rhythmically, to the accompaniment of the two lutes, his own hymn to Venus.
"Hope and change, hope and change!" But toss me that sack of TARP money, too. I'm getting tired of loose change.
...the hymn, though glorifying the impure pagan Venus,
...the goddess of altruism,
seemed to her more than beautiful, and Cæsar himself, with a laurel crown on his head and uplifted eyes, nobler, much less terrible, and less repulsive than at the beginning of the feast.
A few bromides here and there, and almost anything seems palatable.
The guests answered with a thunder of applause. Cries of, "Oh, heavenly voice!" were heard round about; some of the women raised their hands, and held them thus, as a sign of delight, even after the end of the hymn; others wiped their tearful eyes; the whole hall was seething as in a beehive. Poppæa, bending her golden-haired head, raised Nero's hand to her lips, and held it long in silence. Pythagoras, a young Greek of marvellous beauty,--the same to whom later the half-insane Nero commanded the flamens to marry him, with the observance of all rites--knelt now at his feet.
This is how Barack Obama gets to sleep at night.
...Nero looked carefully at Petronius, whose praises were desired by him always before every other,
That is, Petronius symbolizes Comrade Barack's intellectual "handlers".
...Petronius, who had an amazing memory, began to repeat extracts from the hymn and cite single verses, exalt, and analyze the more beautiful expressions.
Pundits and academics can do this sort of thing endlessly. 
...On Nero's face were reflected delight and fathomless vanity, not only nearing stupidity, but reaching it perfectly.
I love that part.  It so perfectly captures the powerluster at heart.
...But from the golden net fastened to the ceiling only roses fell was far to the end of the feast yet. Slaves brought new courses, and filled the goblets unceasingly with wine;
The circus in D.C. goes on and on...
...two athletes [appeared to give the guests a spectacle of wrestling. They began the struggle at once, and the powerful bodies, shining from olive oil, formed one mass; bones cracked in their iron arms, and from their set jaws came an ominous gritting of teeth.
Doing battle in Congress, which has the role of the Coliseum in our allegory:
Roman eyes followed with delight the movement of tremendously exerted backs, thighs, and arms. But the struggle was not too prolonged; for Croton, a master, and the founder of a school of gladiators, did not pass in vain for the strongest man in the empire. His opponent began to breathe more and more quickly: next a rattle was heard in his throat; then his face grew blue; finally he threw blood from his mouth and fell.
I think I have to give Nancy Pelosi the role of Croton the Gladiator. Her opponent, of course, is the hapless Republicans.
A thunder of applause greeted the end of the struggle, and Croton, resting his foot on the breast of his opponent, crossed his gigantic arms on his breast, and cast the eyes of a victor around the hall.
Or walked through the Capitol Mall directly in the faces of Tea Party protesters.
...The feast passed by degrees into a drunken revel and a dissolute orgy.
A typical day in D.C., but it does seem worse lately, doesn't it?
...The air, filled with the odor of flowers and the perfume of oils with which beautiful boys had sprinkled the feet of the guests during the feast, permeated with saffron and the exhalations of people, became stifling; lamps burned with a dim flame; the wreaths dropped sidewise on the heads of guests; faces grew pale and were covered with sweat. Vitelius rolled under the table... But Domitius Afer, a hardened criminal and informer, was indignant at the discourse... He had always believed in the gods. People say that Rome will perish, and there are some even who contend that it is perishing already. And surely! But if that should come, it is because the youth are without faith, and without faith there can be no virtue.
Domitius takes the role of the Religious Right, don't you see?
..."People have abandoned also the strict habits of former days, and it never occurs to them that Epicureans will not stand against barbarians. "
The academics and media types rarely ever did.
...the consul Memmius Regulus laughed, and, raising his bald head with wreath awry, exclaimed,--"Who says that Rome is perishing? What folly! I, a consul, know better. Videant consules! Thirty legions are guarding our pax romana! ...from Britain to the Parthian boundaries!"
Or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Europe, or....
But the number of the legions guarding Roman peace did not pacify Domitius. "No, no! Rome must perish; for faith in the gods was lost, and so were strict habits! Rome must perish; and it was a pity, for still life was pleasant there. Cæsar was gracious, wine was good! Oh, what a pity!

And hiding his head on the arm of a Syrian bacchanal, he burst into tears. "What is a future life! Achilles was right,--better be a slave in the world beneath the sun than a king in Cimmerian regions. And still the question whether there are any gods--since it is unbelief--is destroying the youth."
Is this not where so many Republican's went over the years as they embraced big government and abandoned individual rights?  Exhibit A:  the Bush family.
...Nero, who drank little at first, ...emptied goblet after goblet ...and was drunk.
...with power, like Obama and the Democrats.
He wanted even to sing more of his verses, this time in Greek,--but he had forgotten them, and by mistake sang an ode of Anacreon.
...Vestinius, stretching his neck like a stork, whispered mysteriously,--"I do not believe in the gods; but I believe in spirits--Oi!"
Vestinius is a stand-in for the Democratic Party as a whole.
..."Thanks be to Cæsar, in the name of the city and the world!" cried Domitius Afer.
This is what's wrong in D.C. -- everyone is drunk on money and power, in both parties.
The uproar began anew. Lucan [Vinicius] ... rose and cried,--"I am not a man, but a faun! I dwell in the forest.
Eho-o-o-oo! ...Cæsar promised thee to me before he took thee. Thou must be mine! Give me thy
lips [Lygia]! I will not wait for to-morrow, give thy lips quickly."

And he moved to embrace her... she defended herself with the remnant of her strength, ...but in vain did she struggle with both hands to remove his hairless arm; in vain, with a voice in which terror and grief were quivering, did she implore him not to be what he was, and to have pity on her. Sated with wine, his breath blew around her nearer and nearer, and his face was there near her face.
Vinicius, it should be more clear now, represents another wing of the Republican Party -- actually, the Sarah Palin wing, if you can deal with the visual.  The kind of people who would endorse a creature like John McCain.  Do you have a clear image of how the people in Washington today embrace the Republic?
He was no longer the former kind Vinicius, almost dear to her soul; he was a drunken, wicked satyr, who filled her with repulsion and terror.

But at this instant a tremendous power removed his arms from her neck with as much ease as if they had been the arms of a child, and pushed him aside, like a dried limb or a withered leaf. What had happened? Vinicius rubbed his astonished eyes, and saw before him the gigantic figure of the Lygian called Ursus, whom he had seen at the house of Aulus.
The Tea Party.
Ursus stood calmly, but looked at Vinicius so strangely with his blue eyes that the blood stiffened in the veins of the young man; then the giant took his queen on his arm, and walked out of the triclinium with an even, quiet step.

...Vinicius sat for the twinkle of an eye as if petrified; then he sprang
up and ran toward the entrance crying,--"Lygia! Lygia!"
Do you see the Tea Party leaving the Republican's behind?
But desire, astonishment, rage, and wine cut the legs from under him.
Look who Sarah's been endorsing lately besides McCain -- and the reaction.
He staggered once and a second time, seized the naked arm of one of the bacchanals, and began to inquire, with blinking eyes, what had happened. She, taking a goblet of wine, gave it to him with a smile in her mist-covered eyes.
"Drink!" said she.
Vinicius drank, and fell to the floor.
That about sums up the Republican's, alright. The defenders of the Republic? Not.
The greater number of the guests were lying under the table; others were walking with tottering tread through the triclinium, while others were sleeping on couches at the table, snoring, or giving forth the excess of wine. Meanwhile, from the golden network, roses were dropping and dropping on those drunken consuls and senators, on those drunken knights, philosophers, and poets, on those drunken dancing damsels and patrician ladies, on that society all dominant as yet but with the soul gone from it, on that society garlanded and ungirdled but perishing.

Dawn had begun out of doors.
Roses of Federal largesse are dropping and dropping on those drunken sailors in D.C., on a society all dominant as yet but with the soul almost gone from it. Hopefully, our own dawn will dawn soon and we won't perish. Quo Vadis, America?

Postscript (September 3, 2012):

The preparations for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, are underway, and in the latest bizarre twist, a giant sand sculpture of Obama has been built (he built it, and no one else).   As I, and others have noted, this puts Obama's psychology firmly in the mold of dictators throughout history.  But you will note it was well-predicted by his Roman Forum from the first DNC convention in 2008, and consistent with my post last year (Nov. 26, 2011) on the psychology of such people ("A Post-script to Monument Builders"). Quoting one line from Sienkiewicz,

"...On Nero's face were reflected delight and fathomless vanity, not only nearing stupidity, but reaching it perfectly."

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