Wednesday, December 2, 2009

History Repeats Itself

At the end of the third century, the impotent Roman Emperor Honorius was holed up in his court at Ravenna as the Gothic army of Alaric pillaged Italy. An aide breathlessly informed Honorius that Rome had fallen. According to popular gossip afterwards, the emperor was distraught at hearing this until he was informed that it was the great city of Rome that had fallen, not, as he had presumed, his favorite chicken, Rome. (Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ch. XXXI)

Sixteen hundred years later, courtesy of NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and the Globe & Mail.
Some 1,700 luminaries, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were in the middle of dinner Tuesday night when smart phones throughout the room began to buzz with the news: “Lady Thatcher has passed away.”

Dinner chatter abruptly veered to expressions of shock and reminiscences of Margaret Thatcher, the 84-year-old former British prime minister, as news of her apparent passing spread like wildfire...

Turns out it was Transport Minister John Baird's beloved 16-year-old cat who had ceased to be.
There must have been another repetition somewhere in between, because this latest occurrence was definitely farce.


Carol L. Douglas said...

If you’re going to conflate the late Roman Empire with the Labor Party, I’ll carry that to a very tenuous conclusion. I'll point out that Tony Blair is being investigated for an inheritance-tax evasion scheme being described as ‘Byzantine’ in the Guardian.

The scheme is a way of bypassing inheritance tax rules posed in 2006, when Blair was Prime Minister. Not small potatoes, either… the Guardian says his scheme is sheltering around £14 million in current income.

“Doing well by doing good.” Pfft. I’m sick of these people.

Chops said...

This is definitely Roman Week at GR

Carol L. Douglas said...

Those who do not read Tacitus are condemned to listening to me repeat him.