Monday, August 26, 2013

Sebastian: American Antichrist (AKA Hannibal of Carthage)



Before Ranger School and Frogman classes, Marine Recon hit the books and went to school. Classes began at 0730. Tardy students didn’t face the same punishments as a grunt, and nothing close to the classrooms most remembered from adolescence. They merely endured the repetitious humiliations of Professor Clausewitz. The Nazi.


The professor was spare with his notes. Maybe he'd written a few academic terms on the blackboard.


Hannibal of Carthage (247 – 182 BCE)
Roman Republic
Second Punic War
Battle of Cannae
Scipio Africanus
Battle of Zama
Antiochus III


Everything else, a student either listened and wrote it down, or all was lost. Such was the depth of pedagogy in “Military History: Historiography and Theory."


Clausewitz always produced a miserable story from the depths of his knowledge about the men from antiquity and the bronzen ages of faded glories. The men who meant to become America's special warriors merely listened, tried to keep pace with the professor's droll about this god-king and that one who'd been cast from their kingdoms, and heard about the fates of fallen heroes, who at one time attempted to inflict terrible revenges on their enemies, until the energies of their own hate ran dry and the merciless blades of rivals caught up with their escape, and they were cast down to the dust, never to rise again.


Clausewitz was a poetic dude. Yet most of Recon longed to get out of the classroom. With fantasies of small arms fire and demolitions explosions, the classroom of Marines listened to the final hours of Hannibal of Carthage.


"The hostility which he had to fear was equally merciless to make his escape by way of the underground passage, but he encountered guards of the king, and therefore determined to take his own life. Some say that he wound his cloak about his neck and then ordered a servant to plant his knee in the small of his back, pull the rope towards him with all his might until it was twisted tight, and so to choke and kill him; some, too, say that he drank bull’s blood in imitation of Themistocles and Midas; but Livy says that he had poison which he ordered to be mixed, and took the cup with these words..."


By then Lieutenant Monroe found himself in a position where the room full of Marines needed some humor. When the professor finished his reenactment of the past's great tragedies...


"‘Let us now put an end to the great anxiety of the Romans, who have thought it too long and hard a task to wait for the death of a hated old man.’”


..."Bass" finished the story...


"I love it when a plan comes together!"


Clausewitz went into a fury of barely controlled spit. He tried to embarrass Lieutenant Monroe, and Bass found himself walking the gauntlet between historical dates. The Professor lined them up -- when did this battle or war happen? -- and Monroe knocked them down.


Miles later asked him during Air Combat Control class, if he'd ever seen that scene from the Damien: Omen II.


Cause it was like that Bass, it was just like that. How'd you know all that military history? Maybe you got a '666' under that hair of yours? Maybe you are the Devil's son?


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