The Corner

A Pagan Writes

“Moynihan’s comment is b.s. Read Tacitus on the pagans.

“The northern pagans’ moral standards, particularly in regard to monogamy and marriage, were in fact higher and more worthy of respect than the Romans’ standards. Expecting the empire that gave the world Caligula and the empress Theodora to raise one’s moral standards is like expecting fiscal prudence from the Bush administration.”

“Yours for the Pagan Anti-Defamation League,”

I must say, I am a bit skeptical about attributing cultural continuities across 2,000 years. The Swedes of a mere 1,200 years ago, after all, were the fierce and warlike Vikings — not the least bit like the mild-mannered pacifist Swedes of today.

And yes; having recently re-watched the BBC-TV production of “I, Claudius,”

Roman standards of sexual restraint and modesty did indeed leave something to be desired.

The missing data points here are the pre-welfare-state Scandinavians. My own knowledge is sketchy — vague recollections of Ibsen and Strindberg, and Stubhaug’s biography of Sophus Lie, which I read a few weeks ago; on that basis, though, they seem to have been pretty bourgeois and strait-laced.

Most Popular


Columbia 1968: Another Untold Story

Fifty years ago this week, Columbia students riding the combined wave of the civil-rights and anti-war movements went on strike, occupied buildings across campus, and shut the university down. As you revisit that episode of the larger drama that was the annus horribilis 1968, bear in mind that the past isn’t ... Read More

Only the Strident Survive

‘I am not prone to anxiety,” historian Niall Ferguson wrote in the Times of London on April 22. “Last week, however, for the first time since I went through the emotional trauma of divorce, I experienced an uncontrollable panic attack.” The cause? “A few intemperate emails, inadvertently forwarded ... Read More

Poll Finds Nevada Voters Support School-Choice Programs

According to an April poll, a large number of Nevada voters support school-choice programs. The poll, conducted by Nevada Independent/Mellman, found that 70 percent of voters support a proposal for a special-needs Education Savings Account and 59 percent support expanding the funding for the current tax-credit ... Read More

Microscopic Dots. Let’s Look at Them.

Stuart E. Eizenstat has written a big book on the Carter presidency. (Eizenstat was Carter’s chief domestic-policy adviser. He also had a substantial hand in foreign affairs.) I have reviewed the book for the forthcoming NR. Eizenstat tells the story of a meeting between President Carter and Andrei Gromyko, the ... Read More