||[Feb. 13th, 2008|07:20 pm]
There's a story about a minor Roman colonial official in Hispania, round about 70BC. This guy was about thirty years old, from a noble family, regarded as a decent orator, slowly shuffling up the rungs of power in the Roman Republic. The story goes that he encountered a statue of Alexander the Great and wept, because at the age of thirty Alexander had ruled the entire known world, and here was he, a minor functionary stuck out in the arse-end of the Roman Empire, with no achievements to speak of.
You might have heard of this official before: his name was Julius Caesar.
(So how much of the known world have you got your sights on?)
Also, what is your tablet of/where is it from, do you know?
Hmm, that comment was for pozorvlak, in case you hadn't guessed!
(dumb, me? ;) )
It's in the British museum, in their Babylonian collection. It's a mathematical text: something to do with the calculation of volume. The date's about 1900BC: you'd know better than I would what was going on then :-) There's a bigger picture here
- I may once have had a bigger version, but I think it was on the phone that went through the wash last weekend :-(
Why stop with the known world? Alexander didn't :-)
Nonono, you've got the timing wrong. It has to be
VOLES.... in SPACE!
Nope, VOLES...*drumroll* in SPACE!!! *trumpets*
You're right, much better :-)
“It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years.”
-- Tom Lehrer
That's why I love this story - it provides such a nice counterpoint to the dozens of precocious genius stories out there. Who's more famous now, Alexander or Caesar?
It's perhaps significant that I think of this story more and more often as my thirtieth birthday approaches...
Hmmm. I will be precisely coming up to my thirtieth birthday when I finish my masters in economics, being then read primed and trained to....
TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!
(Did I get the intonation right?)
"What shall we do tonight, Brain?"
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!"
I think that's missing some drumrolls and trumpets.
Most things are.
The reason I like the Lehrer quote is that it shows you the usual quote from the other end. Yes, Mozart had done a lot, but he definitely wasn't going to do any more, on account of being dead. I on the other hand can do as much more as I like, as well as the stuff I've done so far.
I vaguely remember reading about a well respected aikido sensei who started training when he was 50 odd... I think it was an interview - he said that when he started learning, he found it harder going than the young lads, and took longer to learn everything. But as they moved on with their lives and dropped out, he kept training, and did very well for himself.
Unfortunately, in the absence of any names or contextual information, my google-fu fails me :/
I certainly think of age as increasingly an irrelevant property of an adult human...
I see! Yes, that is good :-)
I saw something in the papers the other day (Guardian G2, yesterday, IIRC) about the effect of exercise on lifespan - apparently, the most dramatic improvement is in people who take up exercise late in life. Of course, it didn't say what regime gave the greatest total lifespan - I suspect it's "exercise early, exercise often".
It is also a rather sobering thought that when Tom Lehrer was my age, he had already published one record and one academic paper. I am, however, alas, still almost a decade to young to be able to say that when Tom Lehrer was my age, he had already uttered that quote.