Rule number nine of history: tear down your idols. The idea of statues is so frustrating for a historian as they create an internal war within us. I have been known to stop and read every placard on every statue in every town I go on vacation with my family. As I read about the historical importance of whatever mundane event or person is being given credit, I can hear both the collective groan of boredom and the eyes rolling back into the head of my wife and children. What can I say? I like the statues! But the sad reality is some of these statues should not exist. Historically speaking, the figures were created initially as shrines to deities. This goes all the way to when man first learned how to chisel into a rock. But then eventually, as society aged, so did people's taste. The dreaded politician or emperor or king also wanted to be immortalized for centuries. This blurred the lines of fact and reality. Gods were perfect; humans are not. The statue seems to neglect the fact that these very fallible people did very ordinary things. Very mundane things.
Next time you see a statue of Nero, remember he ALSO pooped. But the unfortunate truth is these enshrined leaders also did terrible things to others. And it seems that we as humans remove any sort of onus or responsibility for horrific actions made by men in bronzed statues. We must tear down statues (meteorically, of course, please don't catch a charge on my account). Remember that fallible people are in charge always, and just because you are on a pedestal, you should not be removed from the court of opinion. This goes for every person in a position of power, regardless if they are marbleized or not. It makes me sick to my stomach to see or read all the people who venerate politicians, mostly if they ignore all the war crimes and human rights that have been violated in the state's name. It makes you wonder: does everyone or no one deserve a statue?
In the words of Shelly from his epic poem, Ozymandias: "Look on my works ye mighty, and despair."
3:12 Music Part 2
8:11 Jonathan Edwards
11:37 Early 18th Century Literature
17:12 18th Philosophy
22:22 Piracy Part 2
Music history of the United States during the colonial era
People & Ideas: Jonathan Edwards
The 18th Century
Pirates in the Caribbean
Ryan Lancaster wears many hats. Dive into his website to learn about history, sports, and more!