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What a Roman orgy says about Miley Cyrus

Imagine who might deliver a tirade against the “sexual shamelessness of Lady Gaga,” global warming, the liberal media, Washington elites, political correctness, “Kardashian-style displays of wealth,” and “Clintonian influence peddling.” You probably aren’t imagining a professor of Greek and Roman Classics, usually regarded as one of the tweedier and more buttoned-up academic disciplines. But Victor Davis Hanson, a prominent classical scholar, ancient historian and Hoover Institution senior fellow, has given us exactly that in a blog post for the National Review last week, complete with a picture of Miley Cyrus’ now notorious performance at the Video Music Awards.

True to his training in Classics, Hanson takes inspiration and his title, "American Satyricon," from a venerable ancient text, the "Satyricon" of Petronius, which was probably written in the 60s A.D. and which Hanson describes as “a brilliant satirical novel about the gross and pretentious new Roman-imperial elite.” It is certainly that, but Hanson’s is not the only way to read it. In fact a more careful reading of Petronius’ text tells a different story, not only about the decline of societies like Rome or our own, but about diatribes like Hanson’s.

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