Lord Heseltine’s electrifying hair once whipped the party faithful into paroxysms of euphoria. But since today he sees his hopes of staying in Europe finally squashed, he is a shrunken, diminished figure, and low lie his leonine locks. Let Dikaiopolis restore their vibrancy and bounce.
Dikaiopolis was the hero of a Greek comedy composed by Aristophanes in 425 bc. An Athenian farmer, he had come early to that week’s citizen assembly, determined to end the war between Athens and Sparta that had destroyed his living. All he wanted was peace, but no one else seemed to share his concerns. So he sat there, waiting for business to start, fed up with being cooped up behind the protective walls of the city: ‘I’m always here first. I sit about yawning, farting, gazing out over the countryside, yearning for peace, hating the town, longing for my village. So I’m going to interrupt, bawl and revile the speakers, if anyone talks about anything other than peace.’ But when the assembly finally began, far from being about ending the war, it was all about an embassy newly returned from Persia (Persia!) with a (fraudulent) promise of money with which to continue it.
It was the last straw. So he went back to his village, made a Universal Declaration of Independence by sealing a personal 30-year peace with Sparta, marked out the boundaries of a market on his farm and opened it to everyone — Spartans and all — who wanted to trade with him. The play ended with a triumphant Dikaiopolis drunkenly celebrating a festival with a girl on either arm.
In the past, A&M has used this analogy to support the Brexit cause. But it could equally apply to the cause of staying in the EU. Let Hezza mirror Farage tactics and begin his fight-back by demanding that (say) Europhile London self-identify as an EU enclave, complete with single market and customs union. He would be back to his best, his revitalised hair tumbling over his noble brow, restored in all its pristine glory, and the great and good of the EU queuing up to do obeisance.