On the Temporal Nature of Life

On the Temporal Nature of Life

Posted on:Jun 14 2008
Captured by:Austin M

These words were written by Shelley in his poem Ozymandias. He wrote them after seeing the famous head of Ramseys.

    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.

The King Shabaka stone displays an account of the creation of the world. Unfortunately, it is impossible to read the entire text, because this great stone that was to be preserved for eternity had been irreparably damaged. It was used as a millstone by later generations.

Ancient Lykia appears to be somewhere east of Rhodes. We know very little about this culture.Greece called these people Lykians, supposedly after Lykos. The Lykians, however, called themselves Temerialia. We have discovered this in text written in Lykian, a language which today is only partially understood.

Almost nothing was known of these ancient peoples until 1838, when Charles Fellows discovered them on his trip to Turkey in the valley of Xanthos. Where he discovered the remains of many sculptured tombs.

We know they fought the Persians heroically. But Harpagos overran Lykia in 546 BC. These people were eventually absorbed into the Athenian empire.

How many other civilizations such as the Lykians have simply dissolved with the passing of time?

    We have little or no remnant of their existence.
    What point is it to live on this earth for the sake of monuments and money?
    It is one thing for a great leader or a hero to disappear from the annals of the world.
    But it is another for an entire civilization of heroes and ordinary people to simply vanish.

Those we recall are often remembered not because of their virtue but because of one or both of two factors: arrogance and luck.

We know a great deal about Ramases II because he was the most prolific builder of monuments in Ancient Egyptian sculpture. Certainly, the pyramids are remembered, but they hardly tell us anything about their builder. Ramases built monument after monument to himself, and he also appropriated the monuments of others.

Today, if you ask most people which Egyptian Pharaoh they can name, most will answer Ramases or Tut. So the unbridled arrogance of a leader has no small influence on whether or not we know who he is.

But this is still not enough. There is another factor. The second factor is that of sheer luck.

Those pieces which survive, those pieces which we have found have disproportionately influenced history.

Certainly history has those who have been ardent enough to do everything possible to ensure the survival of their name but failed to survive the erosion of time.

Some of their monuments have been completely destroyed; others are yet to be discovered.

But it seems that these two factors – arrogance and luck – have much to do with who we remember. The same observation can be made regarding ancient text. We have only seven copies of Plato’s work. But it is one of few manuscripts from its era. Is Plato the greatest mind of his generation? How can we know? How can we know what else was written?

We idolize Homer, but what other writers of his generation wove great epic tales? We will, perhaps, never know. What is most clear to me, however, is the truth of a simple poem. Only when life will soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last. The Christian leaves no monument, but transforms lives. His name may be forgotten. But he lives for a Kingdom that is not subject to the corruption of time.

The seven wonders of the ancient world are generally considered to be these: the Colossus of Rhodes, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassos, the Lighthouse at Alexandria, the statue of Zeus at Olympia by Pheidias.

Despite their spectacular presence in the ancient world, none of these wonders still exists. A story stands behind each, but the Temple of Artemis was destroyed in 356 BC. It was later rebuilt and it was in this place that Paul preached to the Ephesians. Its precise appearance is unknown. We draw some idea as to what it may have looked like from an ancient coin from Maximus. Other than this coin, it is difficult to know much about this Ancient Wonder. What we do know is that Paul, who taught at Epheses and wrote a letter to the Ephesisians, was martyred in Rome. He spent most of his life as an outcast; he was shipwrecked; he was imprisoned; he was beaten with rods. He was given forty lashes on two occasions; he was hated by the Jews and executed by the Gentiles. He wrote a few letters and he established a few troubled churches. But the great Temple of Artemis is gone. The Mausoleum is in ruins. Paul, however, and his writings have outlived and outlasted all of these. His impact is beyond measure.

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