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7 February 2013
“I am Darius, the Great King, King of Kings, King in Persia, King of countries, son of Hystaspes, grandson of Arsamenes, an Achaemenian.”
A paean to himself by the Achaemenid Emperor Darius in a rodomontade inscribed in three cuneiform languages – Babylonian, Elamite and Old Persian – on the side of Mount Behistun near Kermanshah (Bakhtaran) in what is now Iran.
Darius was Emperor of Persia from 521 to 486 BC.
From the Persian heartlands, he conquered Thrace, Macedonia and India as far as the Indus. He developed a highly sophisticated administration using Aramaic as the common language of communication. Persia was divided into 20 provinces, each under a satrap (governor). Imperial control was facilitated by a first-class postal service. The inscription on Mount Behistun, carved during the reign of Darius, charts his achievements. His only significant setback on the battlefield was when the Greeks defeated him at Marathon in 490 BC.
So this guy was a big shot in Persepolis. That’s all very well. But where is he now? How avails him now all his derring-do?
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear —
“My name is Ozymandias, 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.’
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). English poet.
It will be the same with the Emperor of our own day. Today it is Obama this and Obama that. Tomorrow it will be Obama nada.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.