As we saw in the clip from Achilles in Vietnam, the improper appropriation of the honor by an undeserving commanding officer is not unique to the culture of Bronze Age Greece.

Achilles is not alone in his rage at the violation of themis. Indeed the phenomenon of “Stolen Valor“, or when someone falsely claims military experience or commendations, is the subject of a case that comes before the Supreme Court today.

At issue is whether the Stolen Valor Act is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. Do Americans have “a free-speech right to make false and outrageous claims about themselves without facing criminal prosecution from a government truth squad”, as the petitioner’s lawyer claims? Or, according to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, does “the aggregate effect of false claims… dilut[e] the medals’ message of prestige and honor”? I think we know what Achilles would say. But then Bronze Age Greece had no first amendment (just ask Thersites).