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Doing Justice to the Classics

Banner image: Bronze Age Pervert has thousands of followers on Twitter and a banner showing part of Cellini's "Perseus with the head of Medusa"

Bronze Age Greeks Inspire Violent White Masculinity

Bronze Age Mindset is a book published in 2018 by someone using the pseudonym “Bronze Age Pervert” (abbreviated BAP in this article). Written in the ironic style characteristic of what used to be called the “alt right” but which is more properly recognized as the evolution of white supremacy, this self-described “exhortation” decries modernity as “the most debased of ages” (113). For inspiration about how to survive in “our trash world” (164) it looks to mythological and historical figures from Greek antiquity that provide models for how to defy and ultimately overthrow “the great and suffocating shadow of our time, that smothers all higher life out” (67). The book, which has attracted the admiration of mainstream politicians, is said to have “lit the online right on fire” because it “understands the fundamental draw of right-wing traditionalist ideology…by providing adherents with a sense of their own ‘specialiness’ in a mythic narrative created for them.” It’s a narrative that depends on a toxic blend of misogyny and white supremacy, with the ancient world as its archetype and source of prestige.

Bronze Age Pervert has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and a banner showing part of Cellini’s “Perseus with the head of Medusa”

The primary impression that Bronze Age Mindset gives is of the misogynist and homophobic worldview that is familiar from other misogynist sites that Pharos has documented. BAP claims that true masculinity has withered: “The modern effeminate homosexual” reveals the “history of modern brokenness” (63). Men have become enslaved to women: “The defeated male that is turned into a peon and a neutered beast for women and hidden masters is a terrible thing to see” (65). Feminism has alienated women from their “natural” role: “most specimens [of women] are botched…they’ve been taught to hate their own natures and instincts…so that they can become neurotic copies of gay desk-workers” (119). And “gynocracy” has done irreparable damage to humanity: “It took one hundred years of women in public life for them to almost totally destroy a civilization” (166). The bronze sculpture of Perseus with the decapitated head of Medusa that Bronze Age Pervert uses for his Twitter banner is the same one shown on the cover of the most recent book by Paul Elam, the most prominent misogynist on the internet, Men, Women, Relationships: Surviving the Plague of Modern Masculinity.

This is a racialized masculinity, one that assumes that whiteness is a prerequisite

Much of the book is thus dedicated to nostalgia for the (in his view) lost warrior ethos of ancient men. “We are in every way their inferiors,” he writes. “Physically, spiritually, and in intellect they exceed us in every way…the free man is a warrior, and only the man of war is a real man” (112).  The objects of Bronze Age Pervert’s veneration include:

  • Hercules, who “puts the power of Nemesis on his shoulders [and] becomes hero who makes the world tame and safe for cities of real men,” making “Nemesis” cognate with “Nemea,” where Hercules “went into deepest wild to fight great cave lion.” (8, Bronze Age Pervert often omits articles and other linking words from his prose).
  • The heroes of the Homeric epics, “demigods and superhumans like Achilles or Diomedes of Odysseus” (59). According to BAP, whose analysis agrees with that found in a standard ancient lexicon, the ancient Greek word for these “men of power” was “aner, [which] was different from the other word used, anthropos, which referred just to some shadow-being, indistinct, some kind of humanoid shape. The real man was rare, and most males were not and are not real men!”
  • Achilles receives special praise because “the end of Achilles’ mission was the total destruction of the city of Troy, the fire melting the brick of its alleys, its men killed, its women and children sold into slavery…thus this most humane and refined of ancient peoples found it absolutely necessary nevertheless to have this out for the wolfish and predatory instinct in man. War alone brought rejuvenation of their nature…this is the Bronze Age way! And you can learn to cultivate this exalted psychosis inside you also” (142–143). This glorification of violence, which recurs throughout BAP’s book, is especially disturbing given the number of mass shootings motivated by misogyny in recent years.
  • Odysseus, too, is emblematic of “the piratical race” that BAP hopes will “inhabit us again and give us strength to purify this world of refuse” (8–9). He quotes Odysseus saying (without noting that in this passage Odysseus is pretending to be someone else) that “work was never pleasure for me, nor homekeeping thrift…but to me oared ships were pleasure, and war, and well-glinted spears and arrow” and praises him for “playing the pirate,” asking “what is the pirate but the original form of the free man and of all ascending life?…the predator is always the more intelligent animal” (122). A similar admiration for piracy is to be found in the author’s belief that “the life on Jason’s Argo can be reclaimed” (129).
  • From the historical period BAP idolizes the Athenian soldiers at the Battle of Marathon, whose physical heroism he describes with awe: “The entire army ranged on the beach in heavy bronze armor, facing the enemy. After the Persians landed, the Greeks charged them from more than a mile away…these men ran a mile in very heavy armor and also carried six-foot-plus ashen spear-spike. They drove the invaders into the sea. And right after this great effort they marched, still in armor, all the way back to Athens to prevent the Persians from making an opportune landing there. I don’t think any special military units would be able to equal this feat today, and these were the average citizens of Athens” (111–112). It’s a reverence similar to that which is more commonly expressed by white supremacists for the Spartan force that opposed the Persians at Thermopylae.
  • And of course the Spartans, too, figure prominently in Bronze Age Mindset.  He writes that the drinking song attributed to Hybrias encapsulates “the spirit of the Bronze Age…at the mess halls of Crete and Sparta.” He praises the Spartan military officers Clearchus, Lysander, and Brasidas as “men who really didn’t have any hangups, who weren’t repressed at all” and who were “possessed by the passion for war and adventure” (120) and says that “it’s not a surprise that you see men of this type come out of Sparta: the place that made the sternest demands on itself produced also the most brilliant men” (141).
  • In the story of Hippocleides BAP locates another archetype of the “unrepressed” man. Herodotus describes how at his own wedding this Athenian prince offended his bride’s father by exposing himself while dancing and, when the father told him “Hippocelides, you have just danced yourself out of a marriage” he responded “Hippocleides doesn’t care!” Most readers of Herodotus find this story funny but BAP equates Hippocleides’ care-free attitude to an imperialist drive: “In this one phrase,” he waxes, “you have the whole attitude of this beautiful, reckless, piratical aristocracy that colonized and conquered the known world” (118).
  • The figure that BAP seems to admire most is Alcibiades, whom he calls a “super-pirate” (122) and about whose reckless and mercenary career he enthuses “there is nothing like it in almost any other era of history” (114). For BAP, Alcibiades is the proof that the mythological warrior ethos of Achilles and Odysseus is possible in a historical figure: “He showed that he was a disciple of the irrepressible life force, a devotee of the young god of sexual passion and total destruction: he showed that no law or word of man would stand in the way…the demonic fire that bursts out in men like Alcibiades and lays low the cities of men and exposes all their nonsense.”
  • Another candidate for his extreme admiration is Periander of Corinth, who’s name, BAP observes, “means literally ‘superman’” (137). The example of Periander proves, he asserts, that modern values are corrupt and wrongheaded, because “at no point in his life as king of Corinth did [Periander] restrain his lust for the darkest paths: it is said he copulated with his mother, that he violated his wife’s corpse, and much worse. He had all the boys on the island Corcyra castrated. And, having done all this, he was memorialized as one of the Sages, or Geniuses of the ancient world” (137).
  • Violence is inseparable from this “totally uninhibited and unencumbered” masculinity. BAP praises Agathocles for the way he “invited the full senate and all the notables [of Syracuse] to a meeting, where his soldiers killed them all…he ruled securely and in great glory” and calls him one of the very few men who “really knew how to enjoy their freedom” and “weren’t limited by the opinions of others.” He contrasts this to modern wealthy people who, he says, “are entirely dependent men” who may have money but not “true wealth” which is “[to] just kill a man and take his wife” (121–122).
  • Regarding the fact that most of the ancient men he admires, both those listed above and others he mentions such as Epaminondas and Pelopidas, or Harmodius and Aristogeiton, are known to have engaged in erotic relationships with other men, BAP joins other white supremacists in ignoring overwhelming ancient evidence: “Yes, I know the rumors that these friendships were sexual…[but] it is only out of the poverty of our imagination that we think it was, because we can’t conceive of such intense love between friends without some carnal or material benefit in play” (131).

That a misogynist would find inspiration in ancient warriors and tyrants should come as no surprise. A closer look, however, reveals that this is a racialized masculinity, one that assumes that whiteness is a prerequisite for the freewheeling masculinity that Bronze Age Mindset idealizes. It is no accident that the book locates this masculinity in the Bronze Age, the period when many white supremacists believe white invaders replaced non-white indigenous people throughout Europe, and especially in Greece. “I’m sure that Europe prior to the Bronze Age, before the coming of the Aryans, was similar to modern Europe,” writes Bronze Age Pervert. “People lived in communal longhouses and were likely browbeaten and ruled by obese mammies who instilled in them socialism and feminism” (192). “Aryan” of course is the term favored by the Nazis for the Indo-Europeans, whose language forms the basis for many European languages (as well as those of places not considered “European”), and whom racist historians have insisted were racially white.

For Bronze Age Pervert,  "the universal body, the correct type discovered by ancient Greek science and art" points to "the true hierarchy of biological types"

This is not, however, simply of a case of the word “Aryan” raising the specter of Nazi racial theory. BAP develops that theory throughout his book in order to make clear that his ideal man is a white man. In his discussion of the terminology used by the ancient Greeks for “man” he is careful to detail how “the idea was shared also by other Aryan cultures” whose languages possess similarly derived words (59), thus following earlier racist histories in linking shared language and shared racial identities. And among Aryans he makes sure to identify the Northern European branch as preeminent, quoting Aristotle’s comparison of “north Europeans” and “Orientals.” For Aristotle, “the Asian is civilized but slavish [and] the European barbarian is uncivilized, unlearned, but free…the Greeks valued and respected the free barbarian far more than the Asian” (77), before replaying the familiar white supremacist refrain that “Many of the Greek heroes and gods had fair hair and blue or gray eyes” and “many ancient poets refer to the Dorians [who supposedly invaded Greece] as a blond race” to prove that the “true” Greeks themselves were in fact descended from “white” northern Europeans (78).

And Bronze Age Pervert joins other white supremacists in claiming that the well-documented homoerotic cultural practices of ancient Greece were inflicted on the staunchly heterosexual northern European invaders by the indigenous “Pelasgians” or Semitic migrants: when his idol Alcibiades says in Plato’s Symposium that he attemped to seduce Socrates but was rebuffed, BAP claims that Plato “inverted and twisted [this story] like the lying cunt and Phoenician [=Semitic] asskisser that he was” and that in truth Alcibiades “rejected the advances of the Pelasgian pedo-pervert Socrates” (115).

According to BAP, it was ancient Greece’s "conquering aristocracy that really made Europe stand out from the morass that the rest of the world has always been stuck in"

Both White Supremacy and Misogyny depend on essentialism, the idea that categories like “race” or “gender” occur naturally, are well-defined regardless of historical period, and predict individual characteristics such as intelligence, morality, or self-control. Some ancient Greeks advocated such essentialism, as BAP is aware. For him, “the universal body, the correct type discovered by ancient Greek science and art” is “not something you will develop by nurturing your own ‘individual’ quirks, doxies, and faggotries,” and one senses that he longs for Greek thought as the kind of “science” that “can uncover for us…the true hierarchy of biological types” (42). Part of his admiration for Hippocleides, described above, is the way that he did not care whether he married the king’s daughter but only whether he got “to have a good time” and “to display and use his powers and excellences and biological superiority.” But for Bronze Age Pervert, the “Bronze Age Mindset” and “biological superiority” are inseparable: “these two things are the same!” (118)

It is true that Bronze Age Pervert shows some admiration for non-Aryan people when he writes that “there are many…peoples who choose death rather than slavery…in the world, not only among the Aryans but also the Comanche, many of the Polynesians, the Japanese and many others” (21). But even these choices align BAP with other white supremacists who hold up Japan as a thriving, modern ethnostate; the ancient historian and French white nationalist Dominique Venner’s last work was entitled The Samurai of the West. But ultimately for BAP the Aryans deserve special praise because it was ancient Greece’s “conquering aristocracy that really made Europe stand out from the morass that the rest of the world has always been stuck in” (133).

Bronze Age Mindset abounds with other white supremacist cliches, although they aren’t connected to Classical antiquity. It relentlessly refers to a group of malicious “lords of lies” and “hidden masters” at whose hands “the nations face extinction and an era of permanent civil war because this elite…wants to flood them with the shit of the world” (170). Bronze Age Pervert never defines this sinister cabal, but unlike many white supremacists he does not seem to believe they are Jewish people, whom he describes as “nerds dominated by women and fear” (134). And although he expresses contempt for neo-Nazis (“the clown of ZOG“, 171) and race pseudo-scientists (“dorks who fetishize IQ above all else”, 80), even his critique of white supremacy is racist. For example against those who worry that low birth rates will lead to white extinction, he scoffs “This isn’t a kind of struggle that civilized races, with a need for space and fresh air, can ever win. The idea that whites or Japanese should start vomiting out six or seven children to a vagina like the illiterate slave hordes of Bangladesh or Niger is absurd” (189).

You actually don’t need to read Bronze Age Mindset to know that it’s a white supremacist manifesto. The author is on record, in a much more legible and coherent way, in an essay he wrote responding to a review of his book by Michael Anton (known to many readers of Pharos as the racist author of an essay endorsing Donald Trump written under the Classical pseudonym “Publius Decius Mus“). There Bronze Age Pervert complains that “the anti-male and anti-white rhetoric of the new left…approaches exterminationist propaganda seen only in, e.g. the Hutu against the Tutsi in 1990s Rwanda…they want to destroy your country, instill a death wish in the white population [and] set majorities against market-dominant minorities, atomize everyone.” But if you want to see how Greco-Roman antiquity underpins his version of these paranoid and racist ideas, you’ll have to read the book.

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