Alcibiades made enemies wherever he went. He also had as many loyal friends and Socrates found he had a natural inclination for virtue. Alcibiades was capable of both good and evil only that he had to be tested by events to show what he really was.
Pericles was his guardian and the great man himself in his time was accused of sacrilege. During the construction of Parthenon there were accusations that part of the gold intended for Athena was stolen by Phidias the sculptor. His accusers suspected the great man also had a hand in it. It was never proved.
Later when Alcibiades got involved in a similar charge during his Campaign in Sicily he shrugged it off. He was sentenced to death in absentia and when he heard of it he remarked, “They shall know I live still.” He knew the past was a weight too much to be thrown off by anything he said.
We are in harms way by our past. Our forefathers who made material riches as an indicator of success have in a way done great disservice to us. We have gained ambition but not wisdom; Instant gratification has become our watchword. Since fashions of the world quickly change we are driven to join its bandwagon. We have in a way become prisoners of the moment as well.
Some take short cuts and when they are caught and disgraced aren’t we being unfair to point out them as guilty? None of us can escape our own part in this equation of life with morals.
Eleventh Commandment: Thou shaltn’t be found out.
Archive for September 11th, 2008
Heads You Lose, Tails I Win ©
In a curious town called Pie-In-The Skye one was caught for highway robbery. The peasants who overwhelmed him would not let him go. He struggled hard. Defeated he said in the end,” I am Red Baron! I rob the rich to pay the poor.” He said it as though he was embarrassed to reveal his identity. It made his captors squeal. They stood him up and roundly shook hands and said,
”Forgive us for roughing you up. You are our savior indeed. Forgive us.”
Red Baron was a hero among the poor. Unfortunately at that time King Red Ears was passing through the town and he had his soldiers pressgang all those whom they could find. Red Baron and the three peasants were brought before the king. Red Baron pleaded, ’Free us; we never did anything to incur your displeasure’. Meanwhile one of the soldiers identified him as the much dreaded Red Baron. King Red Ears said with a laugh,’ Welcome to the King’s Army. A great honour it is for a highway robber like you. Army or your neck!”
Red Baron hesitated. The king said,” Put your country first, man. Loyalty to me and to the land that gave you birth.’
The robber said,” I put my family first. Yet I am called a robber”.
Each of us is an individual and we represent our society with all our faults and strengths. On a scale of Representation an individual is as equal as the highest in the realm; a family is on equal footing as a nation in terms of Law.
Red Baron was no different from Red Ears. Should he not represent a family in need? What does a president or a king would say? ‘Put your country first and join up to fight my wars.’
What made Athens great? We only need to read accounts of Plutarch, Thucydides and Xenephon to know why. Take Pericles for example. He impressed his name to an age by the force of his character. His funeral oration to commemorate the honor and glory of the fallen comrades still moves us. Therein he showed to the world what made Athens the greatest city. What he need not have said was his own role in shaping its destiny. Athens was great because it had people like Pericles, Aristides, Themistocles and Socrates.
It also had people like Alcibiades whose virtues were not as much evident by many vices. Does it not speak something of the spirit of the times and also weakness of man in that life gave more room for vices than virtues?
Alcibiades was shaped by his times and it gave him short end of the stick.