Archive for July, 2011
If News of the World came to its end in scandal its beginnings were not auspicious either. It always had the taint of certain evil star as though it was conceived between a rake-hell who put up the means and the chambermaid the topics of interest.
Frederick Greenwood (1830-1909)who was the editor of Pall Mall Gazette one day met Lord Riddell (1865-1934) in his club and the latter announced that he owned a newspaper.
‘Oh do you,’said, Greenwood,’ what is it?’
‘It is called News of the World- I’ll send you a copy,’ said Lord Riddell. In due course it was sent to the famous editor. Later they met and Lord Riddell asked him what he thought of it.
‘I looked at it,’ replied Greenwood,’ then I put it in the wastepaper basket. And then I thought,’ If I leave it there the cook may read it- so I burned it!”
(The story of the Pall Mall Gazette. JW Robertson Scott (1950). p.417-The Oxford Book of literary anecdotes)
Solon the law giver after an extended tour through Egypt went to the Lydian capital and King Croesus on hearing his presence invited him over. At Sardis he was shown his opulence and all that befitted the majesty and grandeur of his name. Three or four days later Solon was asked by the king ‘Who is the happiest man you have ever seen?’Solon named one Athenian and said he was the happiest since he died in the midst of battle in his service to the city- state. The king asked who be the second most and again Solon named two brothers who died surrounded by their own kith and kin after fulfilling some great deed. The king was somewhat peeved for he was expecting the noble Athenian would give him the honor of being the happiest mortal.
Realizing this he said,’Croesus, I know God is envious of human prosperity… man is entirely a creature of chance…until he is dead, keep the word ‘happy’ in reserve. Till then he is not happy, but only lucky.’
The great monarch was not happy with his answer and soon dismissed him from his sight. Now it so happened Croesus had two sons one was deaf and dumb and the younger Atys was a fine young man on whom the king had much hope.
One night the king saw a horrible dream in which he saw Atys dying from the blow of an iron weapon. Next morning he saw to that all iron weapons with points were removed out of the young man’s sight. Soon he found a wife for his son and forbade him to go out with other Lydians either to war or to the hunt.
Around this time a Phrygian of noble birth sought exile in his kingdom. He had accidentally killed his brother and begged the king to absolve him from man-slaughter and the king according to the prevailing custom did. After the formalities the king asked Adrastus to live in the palace.
It was at a time the nearby area was terrorized by a monstrous boar that laid waste of the fields and men were most frightened by it. A group of Lydian took their complaint to the king and begged him to send his son at the head of their hunters to put an end to their misery. The king still reeling from the dream refused saying his son was as a newly married man, exempted from any service other than his duties to his bride. Atys somehow got wind of this and he went to his father. He said it was humiliating for him to be confined to his home and insisted that ‘honor demanded that he prove his mettle before his bride and the people.’ The king at last explained about the horrible dream and his concern for his safety.. The young man won the day by pointing out that it was a spear point and not the tusk that killed him in the dream. The king knew he was beaten in the argument and he let him go. Before the hunting party got under way he called for Adrastus and pointed out how he had helped him in his most dire need and asked a favor in return. ‘He had to look to the safety of his son. The noble Phrygian was somewhat in a fix. He said,’ A man under an ill-favored star has no business to mix with those who are lucky.’ However he said he would repay the king’s favor with his life since he relied on his support and he was obliged to the king for his past favor.
The king was relieved and sent him to keep an eye on his son at all times. Thus Adrastus jointed the hunt and moved in the direction of Mt. Olympus where the boar was spotted lately. The huntsmen closed the circle following the dog’s scent of their quarry. The boar was cornered and wanted to break out its trap. In the confusion the huntsmen hurled their spears and the point of Adrastus accidentally struck Atys and he died instantly. The dream of Croesus had come true by the very hand of the man whom he had taken to his family fold!
Man is indeed a creature of Chance. (Selected from the Histories by Herodotus)
Vyasa who composed the Vedas planned the epic in his head and its complex structure was so grand that he could not write it all down. So he approached Brahma the creator with a request to help him out.
‘Why don’t you write it all down?’
Vyasa said it was work that held up his creative flow. ‘I want some one who can write with fluency and be able to make the epic correct in every detail’.
Brahma suggested Ganapathi and to the elephant god he went and laid his problem. Lord Ganapathi accepted the challenge and said,’Epic poet you can recite your epic and I shall write it down. Only that I should not pause ever and the moment my pen stops that is the end of my service’.
It was a challenge that made Vyasa understand the uphill task. Vyasa had already begun the grand epic in his head. He knew which way he wanted to take his narrative and the people who carried his story forward. It was impossible to give up for one whose pen was unstoppable.
The sage bowed before the elephant god and requested him to take his seat. Lord Ganapati sat down with his steel pen and sheaves of palm leaves all cut and ready for the task ahead.
Thus Vyasa began a torrent of words creating such rhythms that made the head of Ganapathi swim. Vyasa noticed that the elephant God was almost losing his control at such onslaught of ideas and music so he said,’ Now a word from the sponsors, Have you tried Kesavardhini hair oil and so on’ The elephant god immediately sobered up on hearing such a jingle and it helped him to get hold of his pen. Vyasa the sage every half an hour so would come up with another product and by such judicious mix of advertisements thrown in between kept Ganapati in line; what is more these nonsensical jingles gave him time to compose the narrative in the manner he wanted.
Unfortunately ever since the noblest thoughts of man whatever be its sweep has come somewhat compromised with commercial angle. Gods who are paragons of virtue began to lust for twadry stuff for which mortals below killed and cheated one another.