by Reg Green (February 2023)
Standing Woman in Red, Egon Schiele, 1913
A review I read this week of a performance of George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man (at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, Southwest London) reminded me that, when I first heard of the play as a child, I was baffled by the title.
I looked it up and found that it was the first line of “The Aeneid,” and meant that its subject was war and the Trojan hero who allegedly founded Rome.
At the time the significance of all that was years ahead of me but at least I understood what kind of arms Shaw was talking about.
I still couldn’t get enthusiastic, however. Perhaps that’s because, unlike Aeneas, I’ve always been a leg man.
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Reg Green is an economics journalist who was born in England and worked for the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Times of London. He emigrated to the US in 1970. His books include The Nicholas Effect and his website is nicholasgreen.org.
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Nice punchline. And wise, too. Running away from a battle in which one has no stake may be much smarter that getting into it for no other reason than to show off one’s bravery and brawn, so giving priority to legs over arms may not infrequently be the better policy. Russian conscripts in Ukraine may (and often do) heed that sage advice. At least the million of them who fled abroad following the “partial mobilization” announcement…