Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I advise you not to mess with anyone who has "the Great" added behind his name

Believe it or not, I'm blogging as a stress reliever. I'm in Lane, studying and reading excerpts from "The World's Greatest Letters" for my seminar class tomorrow. We're focusing on historical letters for tomorrow's class. I've finished the readings for Robert Frost and Journalism. I don't think I'll ever be done with the reading for Founding, but it is certainly something to aspire to. After I type this up, I'll be back to notes and reviewing for classes tomorrow...

My favorite letter exchange is between the then-20ish year old Alexander the Great and his elder King Darius. Alexander is encroaching on Darius's land and so Darius is not too pleased, and thus sends him a letter starting like this:
"From the capital of the kings of the world: As long as the sun shines on the head of Iskander [Alexander] the robber, etc. etc., let him know that the King of Heaven has bestowed on me the dominion of the earth, and that the Almighty has granted to me the surface of the four quarters. Providence has also eminently distinguished me with glory, exaltation, majesty, and with multitudes of devoted champions and confederates."

And ends like this:
"Behold! I send you a coffer full of gold, and an assload of sesame, to give you by these two objects an idea of the extent of my wealth and powers. I also send you a scourage and a ball: the latter, that you may amuse yourself with a diversion suitable to your age; the former, to serve for your chastisement."

You may imagine that Alexander does not take this well. He's going to kill the messengers, but they beg for mercy and he writes a letter in return instead, addressing it "to him who pretends to be king of kings" and then challenges him to battle, saying:
"Lo! I have resolved to meet you in battle, and therefore march towards your realms. I profess myself the weak and humble servant of God, to whom I address my prayers and look for victory and triumph, and whom I adore."

He ends the letter by saying (sorry for the length, but necessary for full effect):
"In return I send you a kaffis of mustard seed, that you may taste and acknowledge the bitterness of my victory. And whereas through presumption you have exalted yourself, and have become proud through the grandeur of your kingdom, and pretend to be a Divinity on earth, and have even raised to the heavens this standard I truly am your supreme lord; and although by the enumerations of your numbers, preparations, and might you have endeavored to alarm me; yet I confidently trust in the interposition of Divine Providence, that it will please the Almighty to make thy boasting attended by the reproach of mankind; and that in the same proportion as you have magnified yourself He may bring on you humiliation and grant me victory over you. My trust and reliance are in the Lord. And so farewell."

Needless to say, Alexander won and thus wrote another letter to Darius later, telling him that "In the meantime, whenever you shall have occasion to write Alexander, remember you write to him not only as a king, but also your king."

The first two words that came to my mind were "oh snap!" I would love to see world leaders have this type of rhetoric and "diplomacy" today haha.

You might think this is a lame way to de-stress, but hopefully I entertained you with these excerpts. I had to get out of my studying room but I'm avoiding people because, if I do not, we will inevitable get into talking for hours and tonight is not the night :)

Also, I like this one a lot too. This quote was not in a letter, but in the historical afterward note concerning the fall of Rome:
"Tell this tale to those that come after, so that they may know that even in the midst of swords and deserts and wild beasts virtue is never made a captive, and that he who has surrendered himself to Christ may be slain but cannot be conquered." -from "The Story of Melchus" by St. Jerome

best parts of today include (and in no particular order)
--talking to my little sister Megan on the phone
--voicemail from my cousin Sarah telling me she was just calling to tell me she loves me
--the hilarious e-mail/ office story from Rach

I'll be writing more letters to people I know soon, so get excited!

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