Decline and Fall (Main Forum)
Hi James. This old man (me that is) does not think empires are a good thing. He, I that is, am just amazed at how quickly the Roman Empire I grew up in has collapsed so completely.
And it was all done by 'great men'.
I have used it here before, the other day for instance but Lord Acton's observation "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. All great men are bad men" was made about the Roman Church around Vatican I.
Acton, a Catholic saw it at the height of its 19th century ruthlessness and ignorance. He coined this aphorism after a long discussion with Newman. Geraghty's book is an account of some of the bad men in Australia. They didn't care whom they hurt as long as they kept power (all for the good of the Church of course!)
Napoleon and all the others killed people. It is maybe a lesser sin but killing reputations, hopes and wholesome enthusiasm rates pretty highly on my list of deadly sins. We have seen a lot of that in my lifetime.
Shelley wasn't a Catholic but he got it just right. He's describing an ancient but now wrecked statue in the desert:
'My name is Ozimandias king of kings;
Look on my works ye mighty and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
- Decline and Fall - Enda, 2012-06-08, 12:13