Ploughing the Sea

Ulysses

When Paris eloped to Troy with Helen, the beautiful wife of Menelaus of Sparta it led to the Trojan war described by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey.  A little known tale from these stories is that the wily Odysseus did not want to leave his wife Penelope and their young son Telemachus to fight in a distant war.

King Agamemnon, brother to Menelaus, sent out the call for his warriors to join him.  He sent Palamedes as his envoy to Ithaca, the home of Odysseus.  When Palamedes arrived it appeared that he found Odysseus had gone mad.  The Ithacan King was out ploughing.  But he had hitched a horse and a bull to the plough and the different animals pulled the plough in a chaotic manner.  Furthermore he was ploughing the seashore and seeding it with salt.  Palamedes was not a fool and realised that Odysseus was only playing at being mad, so he placed the newborn Telemachus in the path of the plough.  A true madman would have run over the child.  Odysseus stopped.

Ploughing the sea shore is the act of a madman.  Ploughing the sea itself is even crazier.  One of the most famous quotes of Simón Bolivar is “all who served the revolution have ploughed the sea”.

El Libertador, the Liberator of much of South America from the Spanish Empire, was born July 24th 1783.  In his lifetime he fought 100 battles, travelling multiple times the distances of Napoleon or Alexander the Great.  His ambition was to create a young, new, dynamic nation in South America, free of the colonial shackles of Old Spain.  He saw his work come to nothing other than freedom from Spain.  If he lived today he would undoubtedly bemoan the lost potential.  Instead of building a Hispano-American superstate the region of Gran Columbia split into Panama, Columbia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.  Instead of an economic powerhouse it has resulted in a shambles of struggling nations plagued by political corruption, rebellion, crime and foreign interference.

 

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