makes Reality clear
as it passes
the more days left behind
of its facts
its names and dates
Not even the most trivial decision can be made in a vacuum. Something pushes, something else pulls: lunch dates get made, bedtimes are set. Heroines rise. Villains fall.
Washington, at first, wanted thirteen independent states, not a country. That is, he wanted thirteen independent states until he realized none of them could win their war alone. Like many of his early compatriots, he was more at home with The Articles of Confederation than the United States Constitution.
Quincy Adams thought slavery was thirty years past its due death. He lived long enough to sow the seeds of its destruction.
Lincoln freed the slaves he could reach, but he meant to save the Union. He saved the Union at the cost of a million deaths.
Washington got his nation. Adams saved out a few hundred slaves. Lincoln saved the Union, back with the Union was thought worth the saving.
We remember them for things other that what they meant to do.
What did our Villain mean to do?
He clearly meant to serve as spiritual Messiah for the House of Israel. He said so.He said it more than once.
We remember Him, however, for the times He stepped out of His Messiah for Israel role.He responded to faith greater than He found in Israel. Even when He did not see faith, He fell victim to mercy when confronted with a naked Gadirean. He touched lepers, forgave whores, consorted with the dead, showed compassion to Romans.
le trahison des clercs
A Roman general was so appointed for a specific military situation. Once a Roman general and his legions won their victory the general was to disband his legion and return home to Rome, perhaps for a triumph, but, mostly to become a private citizen again. There was no perpetual military cadre. The Senate ruled, appointing generals, establishing proconsuls, scheming, finagling, looking our for their own interests, caring for the welfare of the lesser citizenry, ruling the military.
The Romans thought citizenship mattered. They hated kings, hated them with zeal and banished them as soon as they could find them. One favored part of a general’s triumphal procession was his exhibition of various kings taken in his wars, still dressed in gorgeous robes and wearing their crowns. At the end of the procession the captured kings were relieved of all coverings and garroted. The crowds along the way knew where the kings were headed, even if the kings did not: the crowds howled their approval. Kings deserved to die.
Some historians believe this; before a revolution can begin the intellectuals of the old order have to desert. The thinker, the critic, the polemicist doesn’t just become silent. Each despairs, All desert.
The orators, the sentient ones, stop loving the old reality with the love of a new bride, who loves her new husband such htat she can see only his virtues. Love without conditions gives way to a new sight; the squalid reality that dooms the marriage.
Rome hated kings. Their Democratic Republic began when the citizenry exiled haughty Tarquin. The great unwashed set up two praetorships, later called consuls, from among their number. Two praetors were elected, each to serve one year, simultaneous to the day with one another. Each had particular duties to perform. They could wear purple on their togas, consult the oracles with kingly rituals, even gaze on the three prophetic scrolls of Sybil.
The noble Romans founded first a Republic, then an empire, then broke up the Republic and the Empire as they lost sight of their first ideals. They hated kings, honored citizenship, loved freedom, dreaded disgrace. When they lost touch with those ideals the Romans lost their way. They had to have their ideals; the very word originated with them and came to mean that perfect person or thing, present only in an idea, incapable of embodiment. The Roman strove for the ideal, the life lived by those on the Palatine Hills. Sans ideals, the Roman became what he hated, in his heart of hearts. He might as well be a king.
The main task of each praetor was to watch the other praetor. Each was to squelch the ambitions of the other, so that no actual king could emerge. They even had term limits; one year of service in a life time.
The politicians, the nobles, the ruling elite immediately began to test the limits of the Republic. Every ruling caste wants its rule to be dynastic. A year as consul, only a year, with an equally powerful consul blocking your way just would not satisfy. Marius served seven terms, each bloodier than the previous one. The Venus blessed Sulla fought down Marius and the sea pirates who bedeviled Rome. He became the first consul to invade Roman soil; he only left power to go back to high, scandalous living with, among others, an aging drag queen whom he claimed to love.
Pompey the Great captured Judea as an afterthought. He had crossed over to Jerusalem after he depleted Antioch in Syria, which was the kingdom he came to capture. Pompey was amazed at the ferocity with which the Judeans defended their Temple. When he completed his conquest, Pompey swaggered into the inner sanctum of the Temple to honor its God with his presence. Various reports indicate he was more than a little disappointed to find the room empty. He appointed a docile High Priest, left the Temple standing and went on his way to more important work. This would have been about 62 BC. By the time our Perfect Villain came into being Judea had been a Roman vassal state for decades; bound to Roman business interests, Judea learned its place, minded its own affairs quietly and paid its tribute faithfully.
“No gain comes without someone else’s loss,” the Romans believed. No one had to wonder who was to gain and who was the loser in this arrangement.