The short life of the nation-state: 1789 to 1918 (Peter Leithart) | Pro Patria Mori

The history of the modern nation-state, and the disillusionment with it, can be told as the story of changing responses to Roman-inspired patriotism, tinged with the rhetoric of Christian martyrdom and sacrifice. Simplifying to an extreme, the story of modern politics is about the resurgence (in France in 1789 or thereabouts) and the retreat (in France in 1918 or thereabouts) of Horace’s poetic claim, dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (Odes, Book 3, Ode 2).

In America, Horace lived from 1776 till 1965.

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