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On the phrase "Molon Labe"

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by cnorman18, Sep 7, 2007.

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  1. cnorman18

    cnorman18 Member

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    I got curious about this phrase and looked it up. Here's the Wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molon_labe

    On examination, it might not be the best phrase for pro-gun Americans to use.

    From the referenced article:

    "The difference in meaning [between English and Greek] is subtle but significant: the English speaker is inviting his enemy to begin a process with two distinct acts or parts—coming and taking; the Greek speaker is telling his enemy that only after the act of coming is completed will he be able to take."

    Here's the important part:

    "In addition there is a subtle implication: in English "come and take it" implies that the enemy might not win the struggle—the outcome is uncertain; in Greek, the implication is that the outcome is certain—"after you have come here and defeated me, then it will be yours to take." For comparison, these elements happen to be present in the previously-noted English phrase, "over my dead body"."

    As someone here observes in his signature, another often-used phrase has two things wrong with it: "I end up dead and they get my gun." The same appears to be the case here.

    King Leonidas and the 300 were among history's greatest heroes; of that there is no doubt. But with these words, in his own language he was acknowledging that he and his men would eventually be defeated and killed. Noble and heroic, and their sacrifice saved Greek democracy and was therefore one of the turning points in Western history; still, it occurs to me that maybe we ought to consider using a phrase that doesn't contain the implicit admission that the other side is going to win.

    (wait a minute--this Nomex flamesuit is hard to put on--There. Ready.)

    So what do you think?
     
  2. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    You're over-analyzing. Leonidas and his 300 died, yes ... but the Greeks ultimatly turned back the invaders since Leonidas had bought time to rally an army.
    "Molon Labe" means come and take mine; maybe you'll get me but others will triumph over you in the end.
     
  3. Gator

    Gator Member

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    ???

    I don't think Wikipedia, which can be authored by anybody, is a good place for "looking up" anything. But, in any case, I fail to see the difference. It is still a powerful expression of defiance.

    MWLWN LABE
     
  4. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    At the cost of a possible thread derailment, I'm going to defend wikipedia here.

    The reason Wikipedia is so vast and informative is because it can be edited by anyone. For the most part, vandalism is rare and where it does occur, it's almost always swiftly corrected. Small price to pay for the world's most comprehensive, up-to-date encyclopedia.
     
  5. DoubleTapDrew

    DoubleTapDrew Member

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    +1. The phrase implies that we will not give up without a fight. The anti's frequently bring up the "you can't possibly expect to win a fight with the US military" if the purpose of the 2nd amendment comes up. By implying that the American people can and will fight with everything we have and in doing so, inflict heavy casualties on the enemy (in this sense, a gov't hellbent on disarming the population and thus, making them totally dependent on the gov't).
    The 300 spartains did fall, but they took so many of the enemy in the process the army wasn't strong enough to continue it's rampage for long. The phrase Molon Labe is to remind the government that we won't give up without a fight and although we acknowledge many will fall, they'll be fighting the whole country. That's a helluva thing for a politician to consider or initiate if the subject of a citizen disarmament were proposed by them.
    I'd like to think that since the military swore to defend the constitution, and not the flavor of the week in DC, they'd tell the politicians to shove it if this ever came up, but who knows. Being prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom is part of being an American. That's how we became a country in the first place.
     
  6. Sharps-shooter

    Sharps-shooter Member

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    I'll not speak too much for general quality, but in this analysis I think the wikipedia article is pretty much right. I translate molon labe as "Having come, do take". I was puzzled by what people meant by this, until I asked on here and found out that it was supposed to be from the battle of Thermopylae.
     
  7. cnorman18

    cnorman18 Member

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    point taken

    Good points, all. I hadn't really formed an opinion on this yet--I was just "thinking out loud', so to speak.

    On balance, I like it. Defiant, direct and to the point. In any case, we speak English, not Greek.

    One of the flags associated with the Texas Revolution featured a drawing of a cannon with the phrase, "Come And Take It.'

    Rather than admitting defeat, the phrase in English has the implication, "Try it and see what happens." I like that better. I suspect most of you do, too.

    Just so we're all on the same page.

    I don't expect defeat; I think we're winning. 20 years ago there was barely such a thing as CCW. Now it's in 40 states. If that's not progress, what would progress look like?
     
  8. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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  9. Euclidean

    Euclidean Member

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    Regardless of its literal translation or ancient meaning, Molon Labe now expresses a sentiment and belief that a handful of us have chosen to embrace.

    Words and phrases are often not applied literally in the use of language, and meaning depends on context. We cannot ignore such a wide consensus when discussing what Molon Labe means in the modern era.

    Also, Leonidas and his Spartans were doomed to fail, that is true, but their stand is what rallied the Greeks to stand for what they knew to be right. I've no desire to be a martyr, but the harsh truth is that the inevitable is coming somewhere, at some point in time, due to creeping incrementalism.

    Lest I be accused of tinfoil hattery, there are already places where the RKBA does not exist, places where no one bothered to defy it. I won't stand for the loss of the most basic of human dignities should it ever come to pass.
     
  10. cnorman18

    cnorman18 Member

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    did they fail?

    Again: On reflection, did Leonidas and the 300 really "fail"?

    They were killed, yes; but that is not the same thing. Because of their sacrifice, Greek liberty survived its infancy to influence the development of all of Western history; I'd call that a success, not a failure.

    It reminds me of a story I heard about a minister greeting a young man on the church steps after a service; the man had one sleeve pinned up, and the minister asked, "Did you lose your arm in the war?"

    He replied, "No, Reverend, I did not. I GAVE it. For the United States of America."

    Most of all: We still remember Thermopylae and what those men did there, and we still tell their story to our sons. Even after 2,500 years, they remain the preeminent example of courage, honor, and loyalty, and the very definition of "a glorious death."

    I think that the King and his men would be pleased by that. I doubt that they would call it "defeat".

    I retract my earlier comments. It makes a man feel braver and more determined just to remember that time and place, doesn't it?

    (For the record: I haven't seen the movie. I remember the old one, with Richard Egan as Leonidas--"The 300 Spartans", 1962.)
     
  11. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

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    Tangental

    Not exactly gun-related, but given the civility with which this is being conducted, I'll leave it for now.

    On a related note, for those of you who don't mind a little digging, there's a fellow I know who remarked that there were those who believed they would take his guns, but "they are wrong; I'll have guns all my life."

    Subtle.
     
  12. Ford Prefect

    Ford Prefect Member

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    Actually I had always understood it meant to be defeated. The better analogy would be "take them, from my cold-dead hands". You will have to kill me, then you can have them, but not before.

    It's not JUST an ackknowlegement that defeat is likely, but that the agressor will be required to defeat and kill, it will not be surrendered without a fight.

    Just as in Thermopylae. The Spartans would not allow them to pass, until the 300 had been killed.
     
  13. MaterDei

    MaterDei Member

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    This IS absolutely gun related.

    Whatever happened to that Molon Labe hat I bought on THR? I need another. Are they still available?
     
  14. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    the nuance described in wikipedia is not only correct grammatically, but it's more appropriate
     
  15. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    I shall not surrender my arms to you. You must come and defeat me. To defeat me you must kill all of us before you can take them. This is the depth of my resolve. Consider this before you act.
     
  16. lacoochee

    lacoochee Member

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    I was wondering about that flag it was on a wall in Glenn Becks TV studio during his show Thursday night. A white flag with a star above a cannon above the "Come and Take it"
     
  17. cnorman18

    cnorman18 Member

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    The cannon flag

    The "Come And Take It" flag was flown over the DeWitt Colony at Gonzales, Texas, during the Battle of Gonzales of early October of 1835, the first battle of the Texas revolution. It is also the first Texas flag to display the Lone Star.

    It referred to an actual cannon, which the Mexican army had demanded that the Texans turn over to them. The complete story is here:

    http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/batgon.htm

    Here's an updated version of the flag that some of you might like:

    http://images-partners-tbn.google.com/images?q=tbn:6GdbXG203q0DIM:www.comeandtakeit.com/doofis.gif
     
  18. LaEscopeta

    LaEscopeta Member

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    Not to be a spoil sport, but a few points that you all can verify with a quick history search:

    1. The first historian who claims the phrase “molon labe” was uttered just before the battle of Thermopylae lived several hundred years after the battle. No previous commentaries mention the phrase.

    2. It was not 300 Spartans against the invading Persians. There were several thousands Greeks at the battle, from about a dozen different city-states.

    3. The Greeks were fighting to win; they did not think they were doomed in a lost cause. (OK the Spartans were figuring they would die in the battle, but I guessing they believed the rest of the Spartan army back home would win in the end.)

    4. Sparta, and most other Greeks states, were not democracies and they were not fighting for democracy.

    5. Most of the thousands of Persian causalities were on the first 3 days of the battle.

    6. After the Persians found the high pass around the Thermopylae pass, and the Greeks knew they had to retreat or be surrounded, King Leonidas dissmissed the army except for his 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians and maybe 900 Theban & Laconian Helots serf soilders. Leonidas led them in a rear guard action to delay the Persians to allow the rest of the Greek time to escape and prepare for another defense further south.

    7. Although this was the militarily correct course of action, it did not work. The Persians slaughtered the Greeks (except for some serfs who immediately surrendered) very quickly on the morning of the fourth day.

    8. What did slow down the Persians enough to allow the rest of the Greek army to escape was the Persian Emperor’s order to bury all his dead, to avoid demoralizing the rest of the army with the sight of their dead as they marched through the opened pass.

    9. The cannon on the Texas “Come and Take it” flag was lent to some Americans living in Mexico by the commander of a near by Mexican Army fort. When he asked for it back the Americans (but soon-to-be Texans) refused.

    I better stop at 9, before someone thinks I’m being uncivil.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2007
  19. Thumper

    Thumper Member

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    LaEscopeta, none of those are exactly a news flash to anyone here. I wasn't aware of number nine, but that one sounds about right; Us Texans have a habit of making our enemies look like dolts.
     
  20. Nolo

    Nolo Member

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    For pronunciation, it is Mo-LONE LA-bay, right?
    Omegas are pronounced as a long "O", but I was wondering about the end.
    I don't think Greek has silent "E"s, but I don't speak Greek, either.
    Also, is it an "E" or an Epsilon as the end of the phrase?
     
  21. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

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    I avoid use of the phrase. The whole Spartan way of life was the very antithesis what we as Americans would consider free; I find them repugnant. If in fact their king did say it, parroting it now strikes me as rather like using a catchy soundbite from a Nazi general or Soviet commissar who did something militarily heroic for the regime he served.
     
  22. Nolo

    Nolo Member

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    I don't care who it is, anybody who would stand 2,000 men against (possibly) 2 and a half million deserves my respect. Quite frankly, you could say the same about the Marines. Should we abolish the Marines? Heck no! Anyway, "Molon Labe", as it is uttered now is an embodiment of the power and tenacity that those warriors showed in that battle. I find it a worthy statement to make, and I write it on my history teacher's board every day (along with "IRA", the original Irish Republican Army mind you, not the terrorist organization). :evil:
     
  23. cnorman18

    cnorman18 Member

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    A detailed history of the Gonzales cannon is in the link that I posted, including the fact (which IS a fact) that you mentioned. As in most matters of history, there is much more to the story.

    The Greek city-states may not have been democracies in the modern sense, but they DID rule themselves, as opposed to bring ruled by a distant "High King". Self-government of any variety was rare in the ancient world, and it remains true that the Spartans (and the others you noted) were fighting for what we can still call "liberty".

    The Greeks kept slaves, too; but that was universally accepted as a natural and proper fact of life in the ancient world. In either case, it's hardly fair to judge events in the 5th century B.C.E. by 20th or 21st century standards.
     
  24. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

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    How they performed in that battle may deserve some respect. I, however, choose not to consider that in isolation. The society for which they were fighting is not one I admire nor would I care to live in one that emulates it. If you know anything about it, I suspect you would not either.
    ...and HELL NO you could not say the same thing about the US Marines and I think you should apologize and retract what you just said about them. Do you honestly believe that the US Marines fight for a brutal, repressive, slave-holding, anti-family, anti-freedom, anti-capitalistic society?
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2007
  25. JKimball

    JKimball Member

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    I'm that someone.

    Just to clarify, the point of my signature line is not to denigrate the Molon Labe sentiment. The point is simply to say let's not sit by and let it come to that. Let's do something today so that it doesn't come to that tomorrow. Instead of loading up on guns and ammo and waiting for the government to come knocking, we should load up on guns and ammo and then do everything we can to strengthen and preserve our second amendment rights so the government won't come knocking. Because in reality, if the government does come knocking, I might put up a good fight, but chances are really good that they will get my guns and I will end up dead. And that is an unacceptable goal for me.
     
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