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Posted on September 22, 2017, 08:54:20 PM by Jubal
Two Cows in Ancient Greece

By Jubal

Hello there! This week, Exilian Articles takes its first foray into the dread world of "humour". For those who don't know, the Two Cows Theory (link to original) is a joke-format that discusses different social, economic, and political systems from the simple perspective of one person who own two cows. Under a socialist system, for example, the government may take both and then give you some milk. Under a fascist system, the government may take both and shoot you - and so on. But what would happen if we applied this principle to the great societies of human history? We sent our editor (Jubal), twenty-one cloned Greek peasants, and forty-three* cows back in a time machine to the heyday of ancient Greece in order to find out...

You have two cows. Your slaves tend the cows, and you drink the milk, write philosophy, and vote on things. You think this is a perfect democracy.

You have no cows. Yet.

You have one cow. It is incredibly shiny and everyone keeps trying to steal it. You long for a quiet life and some actual milk.

You have two cows. You build them a very fancy cowshed and sell aesthetically pleasing pots of artisanal milk to passers-by at extortionate prices.

You have two cows. You sacrifice them and try to prognosticate the future. The future turns out to involve you having no cows and no milk.

You have two cows. You vote for the expropriation of cows from the wealthy. The resulting civil war kills half the cows in your city-state. You end up with two cows again.

You have two cows. You end up going to war for nearly a quarter of a century. You are surprised to find on your return that other people are drinking the milk. You kill them.

You have two cows. They bear your children.

You have two cows. They write beautiful romantic poetry for each other.

You have two cows. Everyone else thinks your cows are rubbish barbarian cows. You take all their cows as well just to prove a point. You keep going to more and more farms and taking their cows, only stopping when your cows refuse to swim across yet another river. You name seventy cowsheds after yourself along the way for no especially good reason. After your death, there are violent struggles over who owns the herd that last for generations. Your name will live forever amongst cowherds.

You have two cows and dreams of freedom. The Spartans come - but at least they only take the cows.

You have two cows. Your king makes you build a giant stone cowshed for them.

You have four cows. Everyone else only has two. This gives you the right and ability to rule a state. And lots of milk.

You have two cows. You try and get them to have a wrestling match.

You have two cows. The satrap officially has a right to the milk. The satrap has no idea who or where you are. You drink the milk.

You have two cows. Your philosopher-king tells you what to do with the milk. He is right.

You have no cows. You go to Messenia and spear helots until they give you milk.

You have two cows. You put them in a bathtub to see how much the water rises by. You are so excited about the result that you forget about the milk.

You have one cow and everyone else in Greece has two. This feels unfair, so you sell the milk to the Persians to annoy them. It doesn’t help.

You have two cows. You, and they, have a complete disdain for bulls.

You are given a large wooden cow. This goes badly for you.

So there you have it. Did you enjoy this confused wander through the world of ancient Greece? Comment below and let us know! We may fire up the time machine again sometime soon... see you then!

* What happened to Cow Forty-Three is a matter of dispute among scholars.