“Decline was a choice…to idle and to lounge…”

by Ryan Streeter on July 7, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 10.42.10 AMI took Victor Davis Hanson’s The End of Sparta on my summer vacation. The following passage toward the beginning – as MĂȘlon, the celebrated warrior, makes his way to join the Boiotians and their general, Epaminondas, in their battle against the Spartans – stood out:

MĂȘlon sensed…that decay was not fated. Decline was a choice, a wish even, to idle and to lounge and willingly to become lesser folk, rust that appeared to feed on the hard iron of what their parents had wrought.

Rust or wrought iron. The question of whether a generation chooses to be either, or whether it is forced into one or the other by macro forces, seems very much alive to me today.