Montaigne and Machiavelli on Zombies

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I thought I had read all of Montaigne’s essays!  Apparently not.  Withywindle at the blog Athens and Jerusalem reveals one I am unfamiliar with:

There are many sorts of zombies, and what means are efficacious against one are not against another. For some are fast and some are slow; some have the spark of life and others are revenant corpses; some savor brains while others will seize hold of what they can. Further, what we know generally of zombies is unreliable; for what Romeros says, Pliny contradicts; and Galen says first to do no harm, which does not appear to me to be of any use whatever. So the means to resist the undead are all uncertain.

I prefer to take no settled action. Some will flee zombies, others run toward them to decapitate them, but I will merely go about my daily round. If fortune dictates that I be bit by a zombie, or even eaten entire, I will attempt to compose myself in the interval before I begin to decompose; but there is no reason to be alarmed unduly before the event. Yet while I hold that philosophy should train us to be equable generally before the threat of the undead, yet may we scream as they approach, particularly if they are fast zombies, for it is not the job of philosophy to make us pretend a terror we feel not; and it is no weakness to be afraid of zombies at the moment. The weakness is only in the anticipation.

Go here to read the rest.  I think Montaigne is too lackadaisical in his advice.  I prefer what Machiavelli said on the subject:

I say, therefore, that since it is difficult to recognize these Zombies initially when they spring up, this difficulty caused by their deception which Zombies give in the beginning before their decay becomes manifest, it is the wiser proceeding to temporize with them when they are initially suspected than to oppose them. For by temporizing with Zombies, they will either extinguish themselves through decay, or the Zombies will at least be deferred for a longer time by placing them in gaol. And Princes ought to open their eyes to all these Zombies which they plan to do away with, and be careful by their strength and drive not to increase them instead of decreasing them through mistaken leniency, and not merely believe that by blowing up a few Zombies that the entire infestation can be done away with. But the force of the Zombie evil ought to be well considered, and when rulers see themselves sufficient to oppose it, to attack the Zombies without regard (to consequences), otherwise they should let the Zombies be placed under guard, and in no way attempt it. For it will happen as was discussed above, and as it did happen to the Zombie neighbors of Rome, to whom after Rome had grown so much in power, it was more salutary to seek to placate her and hold her back with methods of peace, than with methods of Zombie war to make her think of new institutions and new defenses against the Zombies. For their Zombie conspiracy did nothing other than to make the Romans more united, more stalwart, and to think of new ways by which in a short time they expanded their power against the Zombies: Among which was the creation of a Dictator, by which new institution they not only overcame the imminent dangers of the Zombies, but was the cause of obviating infinite Zombie evils in which, without that remedy, that Republic would have been involved in perpetual peril from the Zombies.

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  1. 0.o
    You listen to Coast to Coast, too?

    (Last Sat’s episode was a three hour meditation on the international and political response to zombies. Not bad, other than the guy 1] assumed movie-people were accurate representations of individual action, and 2] political groups would always do what he characterized them as doing before. Pretty obvious he was an “international realist” [who would have the ego to call their political philosophy ‘realist’?])

    Found the book:
    Theories of International Politics and Zombies

  2. Well Foxfier I do believe that the “realists”, and I do agree that is a presumptuous title, claim Thucydides as their guru and I think it was Thucydides who wrote:

    “The secret of happiness is freedom from Zombies. The secret of freedom from Zombies is courage.” 🙂

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