It is unprecedented in corporate takeover practice for white knights to beg to pay more for the privilege of rescuing those who appeal for help; and positively quixotic for them to accept less for their chivalry.

However, Russian steelmaker Alexei Mordashov appears so keen to sell out his assets, and ride his rapidly thinning charger out of the Russian steel sector, he has agreed to give Arcelor, Europe’s largest steelmaker, another Eur2.5 billion in asset value, in return for a smaller shareholding stake in the company.

Since January, Arcelor has been facing a hostile takeover from Mittal Steel, controlled by Lakshmi Mittal. Last month, just after Mittal raised ‘ the price of his offer, Arcelor and Severstal announced a merger of their companies on terms that, if accepted by Arcelor shareholders, will defeat the Mittal bid.

Expert valuations differ, but the Severstal offer of May 26 promised to hand over steelmaking assets in Russia, the US, Italy, and the UK, worth ., (to Mordashov) an estimated Eur9.5 billion, plus Eurl.25 billion in cash. In return, he agreed to accept Arcelor shares which the market valued, on the day before the deal announcement, at Eur7.3 billion.

Late Tuesday evening, Severstal, Russia’s third largest steelmaker and Mordashov’s property, offered to sweeten these terms. The new deal will add to the underlying value of Arcelor’s shares, and shorten ‘Mordashov’s stake in the company. Under the revised proposal, Alexei Mordashov, Severstal’s majority owner, would reduce his equity stake in the combined company from 32% to 25%, the Russian steelmaker said.

In a statement posted on the website of Severstal Group, it is reported that, according to the new terms, Mordashov “will now receive 210 million new Arcelor shares (previously 295 million), representing approximately 25% of the enlarged company (previously 32%).”[Mordashov’s post as chairman of] The Strategic Committee will be eliminated. In return, Mr Mordashov will be free to vote his shares in line with normal shareholder practice and the standstill and lockup provisions will be eliminated. The cash contribution from Mr. Mordashov of €1.25 billion will no longer be included. In all other respects, the merger agreement will remain unchanged.”

At the new reference price of Eur44 per share, which Mordashov and Arcelor agreed to last month, this means he is foregoing Eur3.74 billion in value. Since he will keep Eurl.25 billion in cash he proposed to hand over, but the asset transfer remains the same, the new offer is thus Eur2.49 billion more costly for Mordashov, or that much more valuable for Arcelor.

Mordashov holds 89.5% of Severstal’s shares, and so in its announcement of the new offer, Severstal’s website announcement avoids the embarrassment of explaining to minority shareholders why the boss has accepted the devaluation of his own shares. Instead, addressing Arcelor’s shareholders, Severstal claims that “based on yesterday’s closing price for Arcelor shares of €34.70, the revised terms represent an acquisition multiple of 3.6x 2005 EBITDA for the e contributed businesses, and a value enhancement of €2 billion for Arcelor shareholders.”

According to a report by Moscow brokerage Alfa Equities, Severstal has been obliged to swallow a devaluation of its assets by between 16% and 25%. “Overall,” reports Alfa, ” the improved terms of the offer for Arcelor imply a reduction in Severstal’s valuation of approximately $2-$3 per share, which we see as negative.” There is no explanation of why Mordashov would do that. More sensitively, noone in Moscow has thought to ask, at least not yet and not loudly,, whether the permission Mordashov received from the Kremlin to sell his Russian assets to the Luxembourg corporation at one price might be reconsidered, now that he’s proposed to take a much lower one.

Such behaviour on Mordashov’s part is unprecedented among Russian oligarchs and corporate proprietors, whose novel grip on capitalism has persuaded them never to buy minority stakes in companies without seeking control for the money; and never to spend more than a billion dollars of their own money on acquisitions (if other people’s money can be used just as well).

According to the revised offer, Mordashov has offered the assurance that he has no intention of attempting a takeover of Arcelor. “Mr. Mordashov confirms,” says the Severstal statement, “his intention not to increase, either actively or passively, his shareholding in Arcelor above 33.3% without making a mandatory tender offer to all shareholders in accordance with Luxembourg law.”

The move reverses several statements Mordashov has made since the Severstal merger was first disclosed on May 26. At first, Mordashov claimed he was interested in taking his stake up to 45% of Arcelor. To comply with Luxembourg corporate regulations, however, that would require an offer to buy out all minority shareholders, and Mordashov withdrew his claim. It has also been reported that the terms of the Arcelor share buy-back would result in Mordashov’s stake rising from g 32% to 38%. This also appears to have been withdrawn.

In return, the small print of the May 26 deal, locking Mordashov into holding his newly minted Arcelor shares for five years, has been erased. He would now be free to sell his stake whenever he wishes. That Arcelor’s share price is unlikely to remain as high as Eur44, once the takeover conflict is settled, suggests that Mordashov is staring a huge Jk loss risk in the face. Between buying in at Eur44, and selling out at today’s Paris price for Arcelor of Eur35.02, there is a difference for Mordashov of Eur 1.7 billion.

The only reason a Russian oligarch behaves this way is if he is in fear of being bought out by the state at an even lower price. The only Russian precedent for such a large and risky portfolio play was Vladimir Potanin’s and Mikhail Prokhorov’s $1.16 billion purchase of a 20% stake in Gold Fields in March 2004. As became well known, their real intention was to build up to a takeover, and reverse their Norilsk Nickel ‘ gold assets into Gold Fields shares. When that failed (not least of all,because the Kremlin didn’t approve) — and after the Harmony Gold takeover bid collapsed — Potanin and Prokhorov sold out. The mark to market gain they earned at the end was $191 million.

Mordashov’s case is different. He appears to have been pressured by e> Luxembourg into paying more, and conceding less value, by Arcelor shareholder concerns that he is planning an eventual takeover of the company, despite public assurances from Arcelor that this will not jm/ occur, and private guarantees that it cannot.

A 38-page document issued by Arcelor on June 12, entitled “The Arcelor- Severstal Merger”, sets out in detail the terms and conditions already agreed between Mordashov and Arcelor in their so-called “Strategic Alliance Agreement”. These revealed the extraordinarily restricted executive status which Mordashov had accepted vis a vis the Arcelor management.

The one modest improvement Mordashov can now claim from his throwing more value at Arcelor is that he’s been permitted to say that he may “vote his shares in line with normal shareholder practice.” That’s a discreet way of saying that the previous conditions were far from normal. According to Arcelor, these included limitations on how Mordashov might appoint directors on the Arcelor board, and how they might not vote against “the consensus” of the other board directors. In short, before Mordashov was offering to accept voting power on the Arcelor board that was less than his shareholding would normally provide in such a corporation. Now he’s agreed to less shareholding, and less seats on the board, so that he couldn’t have the votes to challenge the Arcelor majority in any case.

Sources in Moscow told The Russia Journal that several weeks ago, while talking with Mordashov, Arcelor negotiated a parallel ‘merger’ agreement with Vladimir Lisin, Russia’s fourth largest steelmaker. But Lisin rejected the shareholding Arcelor offered — reportedly between 15% and 25% — as too little for his assets and cash.


Francois, the Duc de la Rochfoucauld, came to his famous book of maxims after a career in regular soldiering, and then in warfare between factions of the French court in the mid-17th century. He lost his home, his health, his love, and his fortune, but not his courage or wits. It is for those that he is remembered. Warring is different from posturing, the duke warned: “We are never so ridiculous through qualities we have, as through those we pretend to have.”

When the Turks kill Greek airmen and spy on Greece’s defences, Greek politicians pretend to peace-making with Turkey, deploying their paper missiles as if Greece’s voters cannot tell the difference between the ones that draw blood, and the ones that draw ridicule. This posturing invites the Turkish general staff to dispatch ever more aircraft to challenge and demoralize Greece’s defenders, in the confidence that the latter, and ) their superiors, have lost the will to fight; or will soon enough.

There was a time, almost twenty years ago, when the Turks learned differently, and stayed out of the Aegean for a long time afterwards.

For George Papandreou, the Pasok (Greek socialist party) leader whose idea it was in 1999 to pursue rapprochement with the enemy, his ‘forgetfulness of the lesson his father taught Ankara is even more ridiculous than his call following the May 23 clash near Karpathos.

In that incident, a Turkish spy plane and its escorts were intercepted by a Greek fighter. In circumstances that are not clear, there was an aerial collision, which downed Turkish and Greek fighter planes, and killed the Greek pilot. Papandreou said afterwards that “Turkey must operate “within the framework of good neighbourly relations”. George is not the man his father was, and so his ‘must’ has all the battle force of a drum-boy, compared to an artilleryman. In recent years, there have been dozens of Turkish incursions each year, and more than a dozen Greek pilots have been killed trying to intercept them. And yet it was in 1987 that George’s father, Andreas Papandreou, demonstrated how to win a war with the Turks without sounding either a drum or a cannon, without firing a single shot, or losing a single life. His victory in the Aegean War of that year ought to be a lesson for Greeks today.

What happened was that then, as now, the Turkish military and government in Ankara made all sorts of claims to the Aegean that defied international pacts, air, maritime, and territorial rules, navigation protocols, and the like. In their challenges to Greek sovereignty, it was understood in Athens that the Turks were encouraged by the Reagan Administration in Washington, with one special objective: the Americans had been trying for years to topple Prime Minister Papandreou. They thought that if he were humiliated by a show of Turkish power in the Aegean, and didn’t dare to fight it, he would discredit himself in front of the Greek electorate, and be voted out of office.

Andreas believed that Turkish incursions in the Aegean could be repelled, but only by a show of such force as to demonstrate to Ankara and Washington that, outnumbered and outgunned though the Greeks might be, they would exact such a price in blood that the outcome of the conflict could not be predicted confidently by Greece’s enemies. Accordingly, in secret, Andreas devised his plan of preemptive war. When the Turks dispatched a geological survey vessel into the Aegean to survey the seabed, the Greek seabed, for oil – despite dozens of prior warnings – Andreas moved swiftly. Fighter-bombers were rolled out of their revetments to takeoff position, fully armed, on three-minute warning. Greek tanks started to roll towards the Turkish border. The electricity supply to American intelligence posts in Greece was cut off. And, the biggest surprise of all, Todor Zhivkov, then the ruler of Communist Bulgaria, and member of the Warsaw Pact, started moving his armour and troops towards his frontier with Turkey, according to a personal agreement with Andreas. Never in the short, discreditable history of confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact had two armies of each allied themselves in a common military enterprise. It was a show that multiplied more force than the Turks or the Americans had imagined possible on four fronts. The survey vessel was ordered to turn about, and the Turkish prime minister was flown to Houston for emergency cardiological care.

It was Andreas’s strategy that won that war, and for the two years in which he remained in power, the Turks did not dare to challenge him militarily. The strategy was simple – Andreas believed that the only method that would persuade the Turks to stop their military adventuring against Greece is fear of force. To make that fear palpable, he thought it was also necessary to persuade their masters in Washington that Greeks can say “ohi”, and will kill and die, again, if they must. The last and most famous time a Greek prime minister said “ohi” was when Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, demanded that Athens allow his troops to occupy the country. In the alpine war which followed, the Italians were defeated, and had to call Hitler for rescue; the Germans then occupied Greece for the remainder of World War II.

Today Andreas’s son pretends that the Turks can be dissuaded from attacking Greece if they are offered the reward of accession to the European Union. President Karolos Papoulias, for whom the lesson of 1987 ought to be equally familiar, pontificated after the May 23 fight that “good neighbourly relations are not just a rhetorical turn of phrase or declaration of intent, but concrete acts.” He too imagines that Greece holds the key to accession. In fact, it has been the voters of France and the Netherlands who said “ohi”, before the Greeks dared by rejecting ratification of the proposed amendments to the EU Constitution. If Turkey is to listen seriously to the President of Greece or the Pasok leader, let them learn that after saying “ohi”, Greeks are ready to kill and to die.

Grim though that prescription is, Greeks don’t have the soft choices which the current government in Athens or its Pasok predecessor have offered them. But perhaps a strategic shift is coming, which may once again enable Greece and Cyprus to regain leverage against the Turkish alliance.

Russia has begun to signal that it may soon be ready to deploy a fleet at a new naval base to be constructed at Tartus, on the Mediterranean shore in Syria. Dredging at the port has already commenced, along with a range of dual-purpose developments along the coast to Latakia. Naturally, the return of a powerful Russian naval squadron to the o Mediterranean is intended for cooperative anti-terrorism operations with the NATO powers. Should the naval base eventuate, it would cast a protective shadow, though no longer a red shadow, over Syria, and possibly even Lebanon. On June 7, the Defence Ministry denied it intends to build up Tartus as a naval base. It did not deny that the Russian Navy will return to the Mediterranean, or that Tartus will serve as a supply point.

The return of Russian military power to the Mediterranean is also a return to the balance of power conditions in the region which, not only in the 20th century but earlier, have deterred Turkish expansionism, and sustained Greek freedom. Of course, Greece cannot make the mistake of counting on Russia to defend her from Turkish tactics; the Cretans learned that lesson almost three centuries ago. But the Greeks can count on the Russians to deter the Turks, and also the Americans. It is new world beckoning, but it is also an old one – one which the brief alliance between Andreas Papandreou and Todor Zhivkov foreshadowed in 1987.

* John Helmer, The Russia Journal columnist, was an advisor to Prime Minister Papandreou between 1982 and 1989, and participated in the planning for the Aegean events of 1987.


By John Helmer in Moscow

Francois, the Duc de la Rochfoucauld, came to his famous book of maxims after a career in regular soldiering, and then in warfare between factions of the French court in the mid-17th century. He lost his home, his health, his love, and his fortune, but not his courage or wits. It is for those that he is remembered. Warring is different from posturing, the duke warned: “We are never so ridiculous through qualities we have, as through those we pretend to have.”

When the Turks kill Greek airmen and spy on Greece’s defences, Greek politicians pretend to peace-making with Turkey, deploying their paper missiles as if Greece’s voters cannot tell the difference between the ones that draw blood, and the ones that draw ridicule. This posturing invites the Turkish general staff to dispatch ever more aircraft to challenge and demoralize Greece’s defenders, in the confidence that the latter, and their superiors, have lost the will to fight; or will soon enough.


By John Helmer, Moscow

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.



By John Helmer, Moscow

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.



By John Helmer, Moscow

In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.

Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.

The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other.  Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilification of society.



By John Helmer, Moscow

In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them.  It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.

When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.

While his wife and the Navy officer  who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion,  or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.  

The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.

What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States,  is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken;  and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase.  But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.  

Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”

In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.

With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”,  is just the ticket from now to then.


Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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