Glory and Obscurity

“Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.”

Who do you suppose said that? An obscure figure unknown by history? A great historical figure whose glory fled? 

It was the latter – Napoléon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821), glorious military conqueror, political hero of the French Revolution, and Emperor, who died ingloriously in exile on the Isle of Saint Helena.

Napoleon and the Napoleonic Code

Napoleon and the Napoleonic Code

The Napoleonic Code, which forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs should go to the most qualified, remains his legacy. Upon his death, more than 1,000,000 people are said to have viewed his remains when he was brought home to Paris.

Obscurity: “the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.”

Might Napoleon have endorsed Nelson Mandela‘s sentiment, spoken when Mandela was leaving behind a glorious career and office in South Africa:  “I would like to rest, and welcome the possibility of reveling in obscurity”?

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 4, 2015