Friday, April 17, 2009

The Motivation of Great Men

From "Fiction in History" (1973) by the British historian A.J.P. Taylor.
We [historians] manufacture heros simply because they occupy great postions. We forget that most of these heros were mainly concerned to show off and enjoy themselves - hunting, running after mistresses, building palaces, collecting works of art, or merely eating and drinking. If they carry this too far, we rebuke our heros for neglecting what we regard as their true historical duty of ruling. In my own opinion, most great men of the past were only there for the beer - the wealth, prestige and grandeur that went with power.