A Tyrant is A Tyrant, on Whatever Continent

Lord Pacal of Palenque, today located in southern Mexico

I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: ‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert … Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, a sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Fun project: write a send-up of Ozymandias that stars Lord Pacal instead.

Sources

Evergreen Verse, selected by Hilary Laurie, J.M. Dent, Orion Publishing Group, London, 1998. Ozymandias on p. 89

The Magnificent Maya, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1993. Photo of Lord Pacal on p. 85

14 thoughts on “A Tyrant is A Tyrant, on Whatever Continent

  1. Totally unrelated but this just reminded me of a fact I learned a little bit ago (and you maybe already know), that apparently the Easter Island Heads have full bodies that are buried beneath the ground. Kinda blew my mind. I’d always thought they were just heads.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Em @ The Geeky Jock

        From what I understand, yes! The deforestation (which occurred as the statues were built) led to significant soil erosion and the statues being buried … not all of them, but certainly some!

        It’s been a while since I read about Easter Island … but Jared Diamond has a chapter about in Collapse. I’d highly recommend the book — you’d enjoy it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks. I actually read Collapse. It’s been a few years (in fact, thanks for reminding me of the title. Maybe I can review it here some day.)

        I remember the chapter about Easter Island, the deforestation, and the cannibalism, but for some reason I don’t remember anything about the “heads” being full statues. I do remember being surprised to learn that they face inland. If I was going to carve a giant head, I’d have it facing out to sea.

        And, actually, looking up pictures on the Internet, there are tons of pictures of rows of statues (heads and bodies and in some cases still with the hats) standing in a row. Once I saw them, they looked familiar. So I don’t know why we think of the megaliths as “heads.” I guess because the most iconic photos of them are.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Em @ The Geeky Jock

        I would love to see your review of Collapse! — and, now that you mention it, I’m not sure if it does contain mention of soil erosion. If not, it’s probably from a documentary I once watched …

        Liked by 1 person

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