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Pharos

Doing Justice to the Classics

Athens and Sparta (Pharos Surveys of Appropriations)

This page collects examples of articles on prominent white supremacist websites that invoke the ancient city states of Athens and Sparta in support of hateful politics. In connection with the recommendations and discussion questions on our “How to use Pharos in the Classroom” page, they are intended to spark discussion and further research about the ways that white supremacists use the prestige of Greco-Roman antiquity to legitimize their racist views, and about the historical and ongoing complicity in white supremacy of the discipline of Classics discipline of Classics in providing the basis for these beliefs through the promotion of an idealized and/or sanitized version of that past. We have provided links to PDFs of the articles extracted from the sites on which they appeared. Links to archived versions of these articles are available to instructors upon request at pharsoclassics@vassar.edu.

Content Warning: The links below lead to articles with explicit and harmful messages of white supremacy, homophobia, sexism, and other hateful content. Such material can be triggering, especially for those against whom this hateful rhetoric is directed. Please be advised and view at your own discretion.

American Renaissance

American Renaissance originated as a print magazine in 1990 and moved fully online in 2012. A senior advisor to President Trump promoted its content, which includes racist interpretations of crime data and collected news stories from mainstream sources that supposedly validate its politics: stories about widespread anti-whiteness, about the impossibility of white and Black people coexisting in peace, and about the biological reality of racial categories. It sponsors an annual in-person conference of white supremacists.

“What Race Were the Greek and Romans?” argues that the ancient Greeks and Romans should be considered “white” because there is evidence, particularly for Classical Sparta, that some ancient Greeks and Romans had blonde/red hair and/or light colored eyes and attributed these features to some of their gods and mythological heroes. This essay is just one articulation of the pervasive idea that the ancient Greeks and Romans were “white,” which Spencer McDaniel has refuted in detail.

Types of Hate: White Supremacy, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism
Key Topics: 
Greek History, Sparta, Fall of Rome, Ovid, Classical Sculpture, Dorian Invasion

  • “Today, an interest in the race of the ancients seems to be taken as an unhealthy sign, and any evidence of their Nordic origins discounted for fear it might give rise to dangerous sentiments. A hundred years ago, however, Europeans took it for granted that many Greeks and Romans were the same race as themselves.”
  • “What became of the Nordic Greeks and Romans? Their numbers were reduced and thinned through war, imperialism, immigration, and slavery. Protracted internecine war was devastating…. Viewed in a historical context, it is almost as if today’s northern Europeans have set out perfectly to imitate the ways in which the Greeks and Romans destroyed themselves.”

PDF text: “What Race Were the Greek and Romans?”

Pharos documented the racist claims in the first section of this article.


A Voice for Men

A Voice for Men is one of the oldest, still-active, misogynist websites in the world. It’s founder, Paul Elam, has written “A man hitting you back after you have assaulted him does not make you a victim of domestic violence. It makes you a recipient of justice. Deal with it.” Fundamental to its philosophy is the belief that women in the contemporary world enjoy more rights, receive more respect, and wield more power than men.

“Mothers can help stop violence against men” uses ancient references to Spartan mothers encouraging their sons to die in battle to argue that female-dominated societies are harmful to men.

Types of Hate: Misogyny, Toxic Masculinity
Key Topics: 
Greece, Sparta

  • “Throughout history, women have incited men to violence against men. In the ancient world, Spartan mothers were particularly renowned for urging their sons to either succeed in killing other men, or be killed.”
  • “Gynocentric ideology, rather than social necessity, drives violence against men. Ancient Greek epigrams highlight mothers’ key role in enforcing gynocentric ideology.”

PDF text: “Mothers can help stop violence against men”

Pharos has documented another of AVFM’s articles about the ancient world.


Counter Currents

Counter-Currents, founded in 2010, is the website of the “North American New Right.” Its editor Greg Johnson has a PhD in Philosophy and has recorded many lectures on ancient Greek philosophy. The content of the site is eclectic but one major focus is the promotion of the work of European nationalists whose thought marks the evolution of fascism following World War II. According to their own statistics, more than 320,000 unique people visited Counter-Currents in August, 2020.

“Ethnic Cleansing in Ancient Attica and Lemnos” analyzes Herodotus’ account of Athenian violence against a group of people he identifies as “Pelasgians” to argue that forced deportations and even genocide should be considered appropriate ways to avoid conflict between different ethnic groups and races.

Types of Hate: White Supremacy, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism
Key Topics: 
Greece, Herodotus

  • “In The Histories, the Greek historian Herodotus relates an account of a conflict between (Greek) Athenians and a group identified as ‘Pelasgians.’ The story encodes ideas of racial/cultural difference, expulsion, miscegenation, mass murder, and, especially, racial (genetic) dominance that are still relevant today.”
  • “Hybridization (on Lemnos) is a major element in the story, illustrating how easy it is for racial cohesion to break down once the extremely fragile but all-important sexual/reproductive boundary essential for racial integrity and survival is breached.”

PDF text: “Ethnic Cleansing in Ancient Attica and Lemnos”

“Selection by Lot & its Ancient Greek Origin” is the first of a four-part series recommending sortition—the random selection of political officials—to white nationalists as an alternative to elections.  The fourth essay (not included here) articulates the series’ major claim, that “the adoption of sortition into the constitution of any majority-white nation can only help the cause of white survival as the anti-white movement is largely a top-down phenomenon pushed by our elites which have created a hegemony so powerful as to largely silence public opposition.”

Types of Hate: White Supremacy, Xenophobia
Key Topics: 
Greece, Athens, government

  • “Although electoral representation is a discredited system, White Nationalists should not give up on the idea or virtues of democratic representation but should seek alternative ways of achieving this through sortition—the selection of representatives through a randomized process like a national lottery.”
  • [In elections] “information is filtered through the lenses of the mainstream media, and here the political discourse is largely controlled by anti-whites who own the media. White Nationalist sentiment is demonized where not censored all together, and anti-white propaganda disseminated widely. Although the secret ballot allows the individual voter to cast a ballot according to his own judgment, his decision will be swayed by mass media and powerful interest groups. They give prominence to certain candidates and make other candidates recede into the background. These variables will be examined when we explore how sortition has been used throughout history.”

PDF text: “Selection by Lot & its Ancient Greek Origin”

“Thoughts on Debt Repudiation”, by Counter Currents editor Greg Johnson, uses Solon’s cancellation of debts in ancient Athens as a model for a white ethnonationalist economic policy intended to attract mainstream Americans to the white supremacist movement.

Types of Hate: White Supremacy, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism, Classism
Key Topics: 
Greece, Rome, Aristotle, Economics

  • “By the 6th century BC, serfdom and slavery had become so widespread in Athens that … Athens was in danger of losing the freedom guaranteed by its large, landed middle class, which was increasingly unable to resist the power of the rising plutocratic elite.”
  • “Aristotle argued that [a society with a large, powerful middle class] best equips the majority to resist the tyranny of elites, although Aristotle could not have imagined the ultimate in tyranny: an elite so wicked that it would work for the destruction and replacement of its own people.”
  • “Ask yourself: when a pregnant Mexican sneaks across the border to drop her ‘anchor baby,’ is she bringing America another taxpayer to assume $1.2 million in debts and liabilities run up by Gringo politicians? Or is she here to add to the burdens that must be borne by white children?”
  • “From a White Nationalist point of view, the most important thing is to accomplish debt repudiation with a minimum of interference in the real economy, particularly the core biological functions of the economy: the preservation and reproduction of our race.”

PDF text: “Thoughts on Debt Repudiation”

Pharos has documented several articles appearing on Counter-Currents.


Council of European Canadians

The Council of European Canadians is the website of Ricardo Duchesne, a recently retired Sociology professor from Canada whose book, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization, was published by Brill, one of the oldest publishers in the world. His xenophobic outlook is evident in the title of his more recent book, Canada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity, and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians. 

“The Myth Of Homosexuality In Ancient Greece” is a review of a book about sexuality in Ancient Greece by a former Greek politician known for his homophobic policies.

Types of Hate: Homophobia
Key Topics: Greece

  • “…the evidence demonstrates that homosexuality was not considered acceptable, let alone ‘ideal’, in ancient Greece.”
  • “The underlying assumption [in scholarship] appears to be that Greek society did not repress ‘natural’ tendencies to ‘polymorphous perversity’. This means that, for example, sexual relationships between older and younger men were thought normal. According to this view, the erastes-eromenos relationship was a sort of institutionalised pederastic cruising — at its core, merely an expression of the base sexual urges of individual men. The truth, however, is that the ancient polis was a collectivist entity which produced, for its size, a greater share of accomplished men than any other type of state in history.”

PDF text: “The Myth Of Homosexuality In Ancient Greece”

Pharos has documented Duchesne’s essay proclaiming that “The Greatest Philosophers are ALL European Men.”


Return of Kings

Return of Kings was one of the most prominent misogynist websites until Amazon, Paypal, and advertisers cut off its revenue streams in 2018. Its content remains available online.

“Ancient Sparta Showed that Women’s Rights are a Function of the Economy” uses the example of ancient Sparta to explain why women have been given rights historically and to warn readers about the dangers of feminism. The essay claims that women in ancient Sparta were given civic rights only out of self-interest on the part of Spartan men, and that giving women rights led to the decline of Sparta’s military power.

Types of Hate: Misogyny, Toxic Masculinity
Key Topics: 
Sparta, Women’s Rights

  • “Given how the manosphere, and by extension ROK, finds many laws related to feminism and the sexual revolution to be harmful to society, it is imperative that those involved in the manosphere understand how such laws came into practice in the first place. The implementation of laws supporting women’s rights is a function of the economy, and come into existence only through economic necessity. Spartan civilization provides a perfect example of this.”
  • “Clearly, women’s rights in ancient Sparta was self-defeating, as the reduction in population weakened the army that held up the economic system in the first place. Hopefully, we can learn from history and try to correct the mistakes of the past.”

PDF text: “Ancient Sparta Showed that Women’s Rights are a Function of the Economy”

Pharos has documented and responded to several articles on Return of Kings.


National Vanguard

National Vanguard is the website of one of the organizations that formed following the death of William L. Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries and perhaps the most influential American white supremacists of the second half of the 20th century. The site publishes a mix of new content and “Classic” white supremacist essays, including many by the Classics professor Revilo Oliver.

“Leonidas the Spartan” is a reprint of an article originally published by neo-Nazi David Lane’s “14 Words Press.” It presents an idealized description of the Battle of Thermopylae where Greek forces delayed the advance of the Persian army into Greece.  Many white supremacist make this battle is a model for their efforts to halt immigration to Europe and/or the United States, an analogy that casts immigrants as raically “other,” hostile invaders.

Types of Hate: White Supremacy, Xenophobia
Key Topics: History, Persia

  • “There are heroes, and there are super-heroes, just as there are warriors, and super-warriors…One such legend, which remains a model of heroism for White people everywhere, was the great battle at Thermopylae, which took place in the year 480 BC. The man of the hour was Leonidas of Sparta, a selfless warrior-hero, a strategist king and fearless commander.”

PDF text: “Leonidas the Spartan”


The Occidental Observer

The Occidental Observer is dedicated to “the themes of white identity, white interests, and the culture of the west.” It is edited by prominent Anti-Semite and former Psychology professor Kevin MacDonald.

“Ancient Athens: A Spirited and Nativist Democracy” argues that white ethnonationalists should take inspiration not just from ancient Sparta but from Athens as well, citing the elitist and exclusionary elements of Athenian democratic institutions and self-identity.

Types of Hate: White Supremacy, Xenophobia
Key Topics: 
Athens, Immigration

  • “The myth of autochthony justified exclusion or participation in the benefits of Athenian democracy, exhorted the citizens to be worthy of their lineage and forefathers, and demanded sacrifice for what was thought to be their literal motherland. Athens’ radical and unique experiment in direct democratic politics and citizenship was grounded in a strong racial identity and pride in one’s lineage.”
  • “Athenian power derived from the city’s particular combination of democratic dynamism and the wider communitarian, competitive, and spirited character of Greek society and culture. At Athens, individual freedom and direct democracy were embedded in a familial, religious, communal, martial, patriotic, and even racial ideal of citizenship which gave pride of place to parents and soldiers. In short, ancient Athens’ civic ideal was a decidedly spirited and biopolitical one.”

PDF text: “Ancient Athens: A Spirited and Nativist Democracy”

“The Wisdom of the Ancients, Part 1: Greek City-States as Ethnostates” makes Athens and Sparta models of racially pure ethnostates that white supremacist seek to form in the present.

Types of Hate: White Supremacy, Xenophobia, Misogyny
Key Topics: 
Greece, Iliad

  • “The Greek city-states were then not just citizen-states, as they have also been described, but were indeed among the first ethno-states.”
  • “For the ancient Greeks, political freedom was a holistic enterprise involving the entire community…Hence, Aristotle argued that “justice consists in what tends to promote the common interest” (Politics, 1282B14), rather than in the pursuit of some individualist or egalitarian ideal…The polis was unabashedly authoritarian and collectivist, the good lawmaker being he who could inspire good habits and morals in the citizenry.”

PDF text: “The Wisdom of the Ancients, Part 1: Greek City-States as Ethnostates”

Pharos has documented the essay on Athens as well as several other articles appearing on The Occidental Observer. We have also documented its sister publication, The Occidental Quarterly.

Have an idea of a theme for a survey that would be useful in your teaching? Propose it to us at pharosclassics@vassar.edu. Our catalog of surveys is available here.

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