Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sire! Thou art not a God.

With all the news about competing military parades - President Trump now requesting a military parade through Washington, it is worth a look at the history of such events. (Note: North Korea’s parade the day before the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea; President Trump being so impressed by the French parade down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées).

They all started with the ancient Roman “Triumph”. This was a parade through the streets of Rome, organised to honour the return of a victorious military general. This was a massive and tumultuous event with trumpeters, strange animals, and wagons laden with captured (looted) treasures from far off lands. The victorious general rode is a special chariot preceded by captured prisoners.

Often the general was dressed in purple robes and crowned with a laurel wreath. Also sometimes his face was apparently daubed in red – to signify his closeness to the Gods.

But always, standing at his shoulder was a slave, whose duty it was to frequently whisper in the general’s ear, “Sire, remember thou art mortal” or “Sire! Thou art not a God”.

This was in recognition of the fact that men are mortal and vain. Sometimes those in power forget this and proceed to contemplate, vain gloriously, their own grandeur and status, and that, to use modern parlance, they needed to be brought down a peg or two.

So the parades we see today are the modern equivalent of the ancient Roman "Triumph" - without (one hopes) captured loot and prisoners of war. But sadly lacking, in these modern spectacles, is the important role of that vital ingredient, reminding the modern leader that, "Sire! Thou art not a God".


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