Thursday, 9 October 2008

'Bonaparte before the Sphinx' - Jean-Leon Gerome

"In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte changed history.  In 1868, Jean-Leon Gerome showed us why."


What does historian Scott Powell mean by that comment above?  Find out here, in a thorough and entertaining historical analysis.

    Whatever may be said morally about Napoleon, there can be no question ... that he commands our attention. All of subsequent world history has been irrevocably conditioned by his presence in the time line, and it is in this regard that those of us who wish to change the world for the better should examine him.
What was it about Napoleon that was exceptional, not mundane? What made him ... a world-changer, as opposed to a mere cipher of history? The root of the answer is provided in the deceptively simple painting: Bonaparte before the Sphinx...

Read on here for the answers to these and other questions.  (And just by the way, it's still not too late to sign up for Scott's Ancient-History-by-correspondence courseSign up now before the NZ dollar tanks completely.)

1 comment:

  1. I think I understand. Bonapare understood that his accomplishments would not last forever, as the decaying Sphinx shows; he understood that he was an insignificant spec in the universe, and that any impact he would have on human history would be buffered out by time. He also didn't give a shit.

    Who cares about what "the universe" thinks of you, who cares if it "truly matters". All that matters is that you care about it. Your life doesn't draw is value from the universe, or from how many people remember it. It draws it's value from your's, and only your's, estimation.

    Sure, he went about it in hideously the wrong way, but Bonapare at least understood the fallacy of the nhilists, who do nothing because to them "nothing truly matters".


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.