Once — a few years back, I blogged about — of all things — Greece. What? Greece? Why am I, an American Indian Romance author, talking about Greece? Truth is, in my studies, I found much to admire in what today is known to us as the Age of to Pericles. And what struck me then and what keeps my attention now is that there are some striking similarties to the Age of Pericles and Native America. Let me go back and explain a little.
While I was writing the books, Black Eagle and Seneca Surrender I was studying the Iroquois Confederacy. In studying it, I became fascinated by its history — not just history of tribes and such, but a history of a people who freed themselves and their neighbors of war, who lived truly Of the people, By the people and For the people. Long ago the Iroquois Confederacy was founded by Hiawatha (the real one) and a man called the Peacemaker. Not only did they found this Confederacy, they set into motion a wish for an entire Nation and a people — a wish that all men would live in freedom, that all men would have a voice in their government and they founded it to bring peace to the land they called Turtle Island (North America). So what does this have to do with Greece? Bear with me.
Pericles lived around 495? – 429 BC. And he did much the same for Greece and Rome and England, France and the United States, as Hiwatha and the Peacemaker did for the Iroquois Confederation. Here are some of his famous quotes from the man:
Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.
If Athens shall appear great to you, consider then that her glories were purchased by valiant men, and by men who learned their duty.
Instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all.
Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.
Make up your mind that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.
Wow! Words of wisdom from our past. Now, it wasn’t that Pericles was a successful politician. In fact, pretty much the opposite. What he did do, however, is this: he influenced and sparked freedom in not only Greece, but in Rome, England, France and the United States. Those men and women who read Pericles learned not only a little of Greek history, but of how valuable freedom is. It was Pericles who said,
”Every man may have a voice and my express his opinion in his government and the actions of his culture. Men are entitled to that voice. And the culture itself should contribute to them the availability of information so that they can know what the culture consists of.”
Not only did he say that all men should have a voice in their government, he said that all men WILL have a voice in their government, forever. Now that’s a pretty brave thing to say, considering that time could find him to be wrong. It sounds to me like it comes straight out of the mouth of Thomas Jefferson.
At the time , this idea — that all men should be free — that all men should have a voice in their government — that all men should be allowed to understand and contribute to their government — was a new idea. Republics and freedom are not the average form of government on this planet I’m afraid. There seem to be men who seek power in order to enslave — and they seem to hide their intentions so well that often they come to power before anyone can do anything about it.
Now, prior to Pericles, tyrants ruled. But after Pericles, and since that time, those tyrants who have sought to raise their heads have perished and some not so prettily. Sure they might succeeded for a number of years,but their demise is almost always forewarned, foretold and often accomplished messily. Interestingly, it has been so since the Age of Pericles.
Our Founding Fathers were more than aware of the Age of Pericles and were educated in practically nothing but the Golden Age of Greece, an interesting thing to ponder, since it says that Pericles influenced people 2000 years after his life.
Now, I’m not saying that the Peacemaker and Hiawatha were as influencial as Pericles or that the American Indians had a sort of Republic of Greece established here in America. What they did have was a government that was set up to be governed by the people. Every man and woman was free, free to speak and to utter their opinions freely without consequence. That the Iroquois Confederacy lost its power was not due to its inadequacy, for it influenced a people for well over 600 years and brought prosperity and peace to an entire people. Their power was lost in duplicity, land grabs, lies, dishonesty — plus half of their people being on the wrong side of the Revolutionary War — the Mohawk sided with England mostly — due to their pledge to the English. They were also conquered by a division of the Mohawk, which was accomplished shortly before the French and Indian war, when the Mohawk were influenced by the “Black Robes” and found that they couldn’t agree on religion.
But what the Peacemaker and Hiawatha did that was so similar to Pericles in my consideration was that they set into motion an ideal for the future. They said that all people will have an interest in their government, that all people have a right to speak their ideas and opinions, and that Turtle Island would lead the world to peace — they wished for freedom for all people and hoped to include all people of Turtle Island in their prosperity — North America.
There have been many great people who have lived on this planet. I thought I’d mention these three, who have so captured my admiration.
I’d love to talk with you today, so please come on in and tell me what you think of all this. Please tell me, did any of you learn this in school? About the Iroquois or about Pericles? I didn’t, which is why I thought I’d bring it to your attention once again.
I’ll be doing a drawing at the end of the day and will be giving away a book to one lucky blogger. So come on in and leave a comment. And if you haven’t already put it on your list, please pick up a copy of SENECA SURRENDER or BLACK EAGLE today!