He had gone again and, emboldened by his first successful trip, had chosen a different sort of world to enter, that of THE MONK. He had studied the book with great care and finally selected a passage that was purely descriptive.The result was the same. The instant he closed the top of the showcase, he was transported to the world described in the open pages. He found himself standing - and shivering - in a dank corridor that, he knew, was far underground. Feeble candlelight flickered in the distance, off to his left. Water dripped down the gleaming walls and startled rats scurried past his feet. The air was stale and unpleasant. Down the corridor to his left, he could hear singing but could not make out the words. Then suddenly, from his right, he heard a woman's high-pitched scream, its sound caroming off the wet, stone walls of the passageway. He jumped, his skin crawling at the back of his neck.And found himself back in his warm and familiar room.("I Shall Not Leave England Now")
There was no politics in Persia because the great king was the master of slaves, not rulers of citizens. The point is beautifully made by Herodotus, the father of history and our own starting point. The exiled Spartan king, Demaratus, had taken refuge at the court of the great king of Persia, Darius I, in 491 BCE. Darius made him the ruler of Pergamum and some other cities. In 480 Darius's son and successor, Xerxes, took him to see the enormous army he had assembled to avenge his father's humiliation by the Athenians in an earlier attempt to conquer Greece. 'Surely,' he said to Demaratus, "the Greeks will not fight against such odds.' He was displeased when Demaratus assured him that they certainly would. 'How is it possible that a thousand men-- or ten thousand, or fifty thousand should stand up to an army as big as mine, especially if they were not under a single master but all perfectly free to do as they pleased?' He could understand that they might feign courage if they were whipped into battle as his Persian troops would be, but it was absurd to suppose that they would fight against such odds. Not a bit of it, said Demaratus. THey would fight and die to preserve their freedom. He added, 'They are free--yes--but they are not wholly free; for they have a master, and that master is Law, which they fear much more than your subjects fear you. Whatever this master commands they do; and his command never varies: it is never to retreat in battle, however great the odds, but always to remain in formation and to conquer or die.' They were Citizens, not subjects, and free men, not slaves; they were disciplined but self-disciplined. Free men were not whipped into battle.