“Peace of some sort was overdue; for some years artists had trouble getting about at all, what with Spartans marching on Thebes, then Thebans marching on Sparta. Everyone was for Thebes in the early days. But since all her victories, the old neighborly jealousy had waked up in Athens; and we had an alliance with Sparta now. I suppose this was expedient, but it disgusted me; it is things like this that make a man like me leave politics to the demagogues. The one good thing was that those dour-faced bullies needing to ask our help proved they were down to third roles for good and would never play lead again. They had been thought invincible, only because they were in war training from the cradle to the grave; but the Great War went on so long that other Greeks too got this professional experience, though against their will. By the end of it a good many had borne arms since they were boys, and barely knew another calling. So, like actors short of work, they went on tour. There were still nearly as many wars going on as drama festivals, and all of them needed extras.”
From Mary Renault’s The Mask of Apollo. The main character is an actor looking back on his career. A career that started near the end of nearly two generations of civil wars in ancient Greece that ended what we call the Golden Age.
I chuckled when I read it the first time and it’s so well written. And then I thought about it and started making some comparisons, and then I wasn’t laughing.