Most Powerful Persian

Prince

A Mughal Prince in a Pavillion Surrounded by Ladies

Cyrus the Great, Cambyses, Bardiya, Darius the Great and Xerxes were the first five Achemenid Emperors of Persia.

Who could be greater than the King of Kings the ruler of the four corners of the earth?

Atossa.  Cyrus the Great and his wife Cassandane gave birth to four children; Cambyses, Bardiya (Smerdis), Atossa and Roxana.

Atossa was the eldest daughter of Cyrus.  Sister to emperor Cambyses and to the short reigning emperor Smerdis.  There is a very believable theory that Darius, a senior official of Cambyses, rose to power by assasinating both Cambyses and his brother Smerdis.  The official account is that Cambyses murdered Bardiya and hid the crime.  Then Cambyses cut himself with a sword and died of gangrene.  An imposter pretended to be Bardiya, and because only a handful of people knew about the murder, he might have gotten away with it.

So Darius and a crack squad of hit men stormed the palace and slayed the imposter Smerdis.

This story helps Darius portray himself as a good guy, and someone worth inheriting the mantle of King of Kings.

But he had no validity and no connection to the royal line.  So in a well trodden political move he justified his rule by wedding Atossa, the blood of the royal line.  She gave him a son, Xerxes, not his first son, but a son of the blood.  Xerxes was a grandson of Cyrus, nephew of Cambyses, and further cemented the rule of Darius the Great.

Atossa, daughter of an Emperor, sister of two Emperors, wife of an Emperor, mother of an Emperor.  How powerful is that lady?  And yet we know very little about this amazing woman.  It is said that Atossa had “a great authority” in the royal court.

In the west there has always been a great fascination with the goings on in the royal Harem.  This is dominated by male fantasies of exotic eastern ladies, profligate sexuality, nudity, decadence and a focus on the pleasures of the flesh.  In the West our knowledge of the Harem comes from The Arabian Nights stories and from  suggestive glimpses of the closeted lives of the seraglio which may be no more than the wild tales of sailors and travellers.

The truth of the harem was  far more down to earth.  If you read carefully you will learn that the ladies of the harem were not immune from economic necessities.  We have records of them engaging in trade and investments, using palace Eunuchs as intermediaries.  They represented a powerful 5th column in the politics of the empire.  In a world where access is power the ladies of the Harem had some of the best access possible.

Think of the Harem in ancient times like a modern professional political lobby organisation in Washington.  You pay them to buy access to votes.  In ancient Persia there was undoubtedly a long line at the desk of the head Eunuch of the Harem.  His effectiveness and his wealth were determined by his relationships with the right ladies of the court.

In this world it is clear that the almost unknown Atossa was the most powerful person in the history of the Achemenid Empire.  Daughter of Kings, Sister of Kings, Maker of Kings, Mother of Kings.

The Offended Moon (La Lune offensée); by Charles Baudelaire (Trans William Aggeler, 1954)

O Moon whom our ancestors discreetly adored,
radiant seraglio! from the blue countries’ height
to which the stars follow you in dashing attire,
my ancient Cynthia, lamp of our haunts,

do you see the lovers on their prosperous pallets,
showing as they sleep, the cool enamel of their mouths?
The poet beating his forehead over his work?
Or the vipers coupling under the withered grass?

Under your yellow domino, with quiet step,
do you go as in days of old from morn till night
to kiss the faded charms of Endymion?

— “I see your mother, child of this impoverished age,
Bending toward her mirror a heavy weight of years,
Skillfully disguising the breast that nourished you!”

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Revoke Article 50

 

Article

This petition will hit 5 million signatures today.  The March in London yesterday had 1 million participants.  How many British People have to ask before the Government give them an opportunity to have a say, now that the British people understand what it actually means to leave Europe?  What exactly is wrong with Theresa May and the Tory party?  Why is it a betrayal of the people to ask them “are you sure about this?”

Why are the Tory party driving forward to the worst possible outcome?  What is wrong with taking time over a decision that is going to have such a huge impact on Britain?  Who is profiting from this haste to leave?  Who is profiting from the chaos?

One thing I am certain of.  The ordinary British person on the street is not profiting from this, and will never profit from it in any way.

And I still blame David Cameron.  History will be very unkind to that man.

Brexit March

 

Impi! O nans’impi iyeza

zulu.jpg

Stanley Baker, the Welsh Actor responsible for the greatest British war movie ever made was born on this day in 1928.  Zulu was filmed in 1964.  It is Baker’s best remembered role and made a movie star of a young lad called Michael Caine.

Bravery is not the ability to face danger without fear.  True bravery is finding yourself in a hopeless situation, facing certain death, feeling awful cowardice and yet standing up to danger.

There is a moment in the film when the Zulu sing the song of the warriors.  The rag-tag unit of British soldiers listen to the Zulu, their power, their majesty and know that all is lost.  Then Baker asks the lads to sing “Men of Harlech”.

 

 

Tonight’s the night

Guillotine

Tonight’s the night.  Theresa May faces a no confidence motion in her leadership.  The UK parliament faces the vote on the Brexit deal.  The five years since David Cameron first promised the Brexit referendum come to a head tonight.

Westminster is imploding under the weight of imperialst bombast.  Clowns to the left of her, Jokers to the right, Theresa May is stuck in a limbo not of her own making.

I thinks she has done a wonderful job with a terrible hand of cards.  She leads a party split between Hard Line Brexiteers, disillusioned remainers and confused Euroskeptics.  She is reliant on the Lunatic fringe that is the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland to prop up the Conservative majority in parliament.

Her opposition is lead by the very confusing Jeremy Corbyn who seems to stand against the interests of his core vote by supporting the Brexit.  But he wants to undermine any realistic deal of a Brexit that is workable for the British Economy because in addition to supporting Brexit he has to oppose Theresa May.

May herself started from a position of “Remain”.  Yet she is the only Tory who seems capable of delivering any sensible exit strategy.

To say that the entire omnishambles is like a scene out of the Office being led by David Brent would be an insult to David Brent.  His managerial capabilities are head and shoulders above anything exhibited in Westmister in the last few years.

It is on days like this we should remember the great words of Winston Churchill:

We shall go on to the end.
We shall fight in Felixstowe, we shall fight in the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confusion and growing strikes in the air,
we shall destroy our island, whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight each other on the beaches,
we shall fight each other on the stairs and landing,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills;
we shall fall asunder, and if, which I firmly believe may be the case,
this island or a large part of it were penniless and starving,
then the European Union beyond the seas, assisted and guarded by the British Fleet,
would carry in supplies and famine relief, and with all its power and might,
step forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old farts who voted to leave.

 

 

Bad Verse

Mortal Refrains

Born this day in the year 1847 Julia A. Moore is considered by the literary world to be the female version of  William McGonagall which is to say she is the queen of bad poetry.

She wallowed in poetry written on the death of children, but any decent disaster could coax a few lines of execrable verse from her pen.

Brought to fame by a mischievous editor, James F. Ryder, who circulated her book as a joke, she achieved no small notoriety.  A review of the book The Sweet Singer of Michigan Salutes the Public from the Rochester Democrat gives a good flavour of the reception of her work in literary circles.

Shakespeare, could he read it, would be glad that he was dead …. If Julia A. Moore would kindly deign to shed some of her poetry on our humble grave, we should be but too glad to go out and shoot ourselves tomorrow

Moore became widely known and staged readings of her poetry to a backing of orchestral music.  She was mockingly cheered and praised by many and thought the laughing and jeering was directed at the orchestra.  When she realised the truth she made the following statement to her audience:

You have come here and paid twenty-five cents to see a fool; I receive seventy-five dollars, and see a whole houseful of fools.

The point about Moore is that she was published and republished.  Her books sold.  There is an important lesson here.  If you can’t be good perhaps you should strive to be really, really bad.  Because there is nothing in mediocrity.  And amongst all those who laughed I guarantee there were many who saw nothing wrong with Moore’s verses, and enjoyed them as a form of chicken soup for the soul.

 

Dear Love, do you remember? : by Julia Ann Moore

Dearest one, do you remember,
As we sat side by side,
How you told me that you loved me,
Asked me to be your bride.
And you told me we’d be happy,
Through all the years to come,
If we ever would prove faithful,
As in the days when we were young.
Oh! how well do I remember,
The kind and loving words,
And now as I sat dreaming,
The thoughts my memory stirs.
But the days have passed before me,
And the scenes of long ago,
But I can never forget the
Days that have passed o’er.

Oh! how clearly I remember
The days when we were young,
How we would tell to each other
Of happy times to come,
And as we would sit together,
That dear loved one and I,
Oh, sat dreaming of the future,
And childhood days gone by.

Dearest love, do you remember
The first time that we met —
Our youthful days have gone, love,
I hope you love me yet,
Now we are growing old, love,
Our heads will soon be gray,
May we ever love each other
Till from earth we pass away.

 

 

Theresa May Prevail

boudica

On the birthday of William Blake here is what is probably, in England anyway, his best known poem.  It is one of the most popular and patriotic English hymns of the Anglican Church.

It is the essence of what it is to be English.  The English Rugby song is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.  Queen Boudica, that very embodiment of Britannia, is portrayed riding her Celtic Chariot.

As the British Parliament prepare to vote on the Brexit deal with the EU it is not the Northern Irish that matter, nor the Welsh, nor the Scots.  This is England Theresa May.  This is the time to embody England, to don the mantle of Alfred the Great.  To hell with those pesky Celts, this is an Anglo-Saxon matter.

Jerusalem: by William Blake

And did those feet in ancient time
walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

For Brexit Posterity

Resigned

Dominic Raab_________________ Esther McVey________________ Shailesh Vara

I wonder will anyone even remember their names in five years time.  Big news today as they resigned posts in the Tory Party in rejection of the Brexit deal agreed with the European Union by Theresa May and her dwindling cabinet.

The British Press continue to push hard to see the most hard landing of Brexit realised.  How do we know this?  The following Tweet puts it perfectly:

Mogg Tweet

As the Tory Party implodes you get the sense that everyone just wants the pain to end.  You can almost imagine Theresa May praying that the dissenters reach their target of 48 letters to the 1922 committee to trigger a no confidence motion.

As one columnist put it today it is far easier to criticise the Cabinet for failure to deliver the promised herd of Unicorns, than to engage in the tricky task of Unicorn breeding.

The cabinet may accept the deal only to be rejected by the party, the parliament or even the people, who might just vote the Labour Party back in.  Not that Jeremy Corbyn deserves a crack at the whip.

I have no further predictions.  The plot of the Brexit story reads a lot like G.K. Chesterton’s “The Napoleon of Notting Hill” where the people defy all political predictions on national direction by stagnating.