November Meeting

David Kelly


Adelina Granito Ferraro Lounge in University Hall

Attending this sixth annual fall meeting of the Emeriti Association were President Peter Macaluso and Mary Anne Macaluso, Vice-President Joe Attanasio and Marie Attanasio, Treasurer Tim Sullivan, Membership Chair David Kelly and

Hope Mann, Member-at-Large Maria Schantz, Ree Arnold, Linda Roberts Anderson, Jim Nash, Tom Devlin, Serpil Leveen, Mary Lou West, Al Rossetti and Lois Rossetti, Ludwik Kowalski and Unda Kowalski, Marcha Flint, Evan Maletsky.

After a period of socializing with former colleagues and a delicious luncheon the participants gathered in the lounge for the meeting.

A. Business Meeting:

The business meeting began with a moment of silence commemorating the memory of our Recording and Corresponding Secretary, Rosemarie McCauley, whose sudden and unexpected death shortly after the meeting of the Executive Committee which planned this meeting has been a great loss to the University, her family and community, and to the Emeriti Association. President Peter Macaluso, paid a prayerful tribute to Rosemarie for her friendship, loyalty, and outstanding contributions to our Association His sentiments were echoed by Al Rossetti, whose friendship with Rosemarie went back to the days when they were classmates at Trenton State, and by those members who came to know Rosemarie at Montclair State.

Officers' Reports:

President Peter Macaluso described how the Vice-President of Development Jack Shannon had resolved the serious parking problem for this meeting. Unknown to the Executive Committee when planning our fall meeting, the University had set November 10 for an Open House which would bring thousands of prospective students and their families (and their cars) onto the campus. Thanks to the Development Office our members found reserved parking for them when they arrived on campus.

Tim Sullivan's Treasurer Report indicated that the Association's finances are in good shape. The twenty dollar dues will remain unchanged for the near future. Some amusement resulted when a few members paid their dues after reading the Treasurer's report listing the paid-up members.

Member-at-Large Maria Schantz described the developing relationship between the Retirees Group which she directs and the Emeriti Association. Both groups are enthusiastically supported by Vice-President Jack Shannon and the Development Office. Maria described her suggestion to Vice-President Shannon that the Bond House be made available to the Retires Group, the Emeriti Association, and the Alumni. Financial considerations make this proposal difficult to implement at this time.

Dave Kelly, the Membership Committee Chair, described his efforts aided by Tim Sullivan's database of members to maintain an up-to-date mailing list. We found out during this discussion that Tim has been inducted into Cortland State University Athletic Hall of Fame. A round of enthusiastic applause greeted this news.

New Business:

1. The Executive Committee will meet in January to plan the spring meeting. Previous successful programs like attendance at a Metropolitan Opera dress rehearsal and a visit to the Yogi Berra Museum (and Yogi himself) provide a model and a challenge. The Association has often scheduled its meetings to coincide with a performance in the Kasser Theater. The schedule of Peak Performances for the spring semester will be scrutinized for an event that will appeal to our membership. In lieu of a Kasser program a panel discussion on the importance of the humanities in general education was suggested.

2. Should the university provide business cards to those emeriti who desire them?

3. A perennial topic for discussion is the inclusion on departmental websites of their emeriti, living and deceased. More and more departments are including them.

4. Can the Emeritus/a distinction be awarded posthumously? Yes, if the professor would have received this distinction were he/she still living.

5. How can the Emeriti Association be energized? A tiny group of emeriti is presently doing all the work of running the organization. New members are not volunteering to serve as officers. What will happen to the Association as the number of the few dedicated workers dwindles? A serious appeal to the membership should be made asking for volunteers to staff the committees and to serve as officers if the Association is to survive.

6. Should there be one organization, a merger of the Retirees Group and the Emeriti Association?

The Program:

Lecture by David Kelly, Department of Classics and General Humanities

Exceptionalism in the Ancient Greek World

The citizens of Athens believed that their state was unique and exceptional among all the Greek city-states. Thanks to the Athenian naval victory at Salamis (and the Spartan victory at Plataea) the Persian Empire had been defeated. Athens and Sparta had saved Greece.

The belief in Athenian exceptionalism is expressed most emphatically in the funeral oration of Pericles as reported by the Greek fifth century BC historian Thucydides. Pericles claimed that Athenian democracy had become the school for Greece.

When the Peloponnesian War broke out, the Athenians went to war against Sparta convinced they were invincible because of their exceptionalism (their unique democracy, their entertainments, their impregnable defenses, and their dominating naval power.

The Athenian navy projected power throughout the region. Athens demanded total loyalty from its allies. Questions of morality were subordinate to the supposed right of the powerful to control the weaker. Might made right. The debate with the inhabitants of the island of Melos, a Spartan ally, which wanted to remain neutral in the war shows the Athenians demanding unconditional acceptance of Athenian domination. After the final battles and the defeat of the Melians the Athenians slaughtered all the adult males of Melos and sold the women and children into slavery.

Unfortunately Athenian democracy, as the war progressed, had entered a period of decline and decay. Demagogues were able to persuade the people to make disastrous decisions from which Athens would never recover, never again to be a dominant player on the world stage. The most disastrous decision was the attempt to conquer Syracuse in far off Sicily. Two Athenian armies and an Athenian fleet never returned from Sicily.

When Athens finally surrendered in 404 BC, both Corinth and Thebes, Spartan allies, wanted Athens to be destroyed and its inhabitants enslaved. To its credit Sparta refused, citing the contribution of Athens to the defeat of the Persians. Imagine the effect on western culture if Athens had ceased to exist at the end of the fifth century BC.

In the discussion that followed the lecture Peter Macaluso referred to the next day celebration of Veterans' Day which of course was formerly Armistice Day, the day World War I came to an end. He pointed out that modern studies of the outbreak of World War I have indicated that like the Athenians the countries of Europe fell victim to excessive national pride (hybris). The major participants believed that their armies were exceptional and naturally invincible. Peter also referred to the work of Chalmers Johnson on the American Empire and the price of being stretched too far.