6 de abril de 2014

Some tweets from "A Little History of the World" (by Ernst H. Gombrich)

  1. What I have always loved best about history of the world is that it is true.
  2. Because the Egyptians were so wise their empire lasted for longer than any other the world has ever known: nearly 3000 years.
  3. The idea that each sign might represent one sound, and that just 26 of those were all you need to write every conceivable word, was amazing.
  4. When the Greeks came to Greece, they were not yet Greeks. They were like the Sioux or the Mohicans you read about in stories of the Wild West.
  5. King Darius of Persia built roads so that his orders might be carried without delay to the furthest parts of his kingdom.
  6. Greek prince Pyrrhus lost so many of his men in a battle that he is said to have cried out, “One more such victory and we are lost! #PyrrhicVictory.
  7. The emperor Shih Huang-ti of China hated history so much that, in 213 bC, he ordered all history books be burnt.
  8. It’s a bad idea to try to prevent people from knowing their own history.
  9. If you want to do anything new you must first make sure you know what people have tried before.
  10. Rome received a letter with 3 words: veni, vidi, vinci (I came, I saw, I conquered). That is how fast Gaius Julius Caesar worked!
  11. It is said that Augustus never gave an order or made a decision in anger.
  12. Whenever Augustus felt his temper rising, he slowly recited the alphabet, and by the time he had reached the end he had calmed down.
  13. Jesus Christ taught that it doesn’t matter if a person is rich or poor, of noble or humble birth, a master or a slave, a great thinker or a child.
  14. Jesus Christ taught that all men are God’s children. That what matters is not judgement but mercy.
  15. The cross was even worse than the gallows. And this cross of shame became the symbol of the new teaching. 
  16. The Christians believed in just one God and were refusing to scatter incense before images of the emperor. 
    Ernst H. Gombrich
  17. It is said that Attila, the king of the Huns, never laughed. Power was what mattered. People said that whenever he trod, the grass ceased to grow.
  18. In the Middle Ages the building of a church was the work of the whole town, a communal offering to God. 
  19. Leonardo Da Vinci asked hospitals to give him the bodies of people who have died, which then dissected and explored.
  20. Leonardo: “Nature doesn’t break her own laws”.
  21. Charles V: “How did I ever presume to try to unite all the peoples of my empire when I cannot, even once, persuade a few clocks to chime together”.
  22. For Ignatius seemed clear that if you want to conquer others you must first conquer yourself.
  23. After Trent, priest would return to being priests, and not just princes living in splendour.
  24. Louis XIV to his grandson: “Never favour those who flatter you most, but hold rather to those who risk your displeasure for your own good”.
  25. Louis XIV to his grandson: “Never neglected business for pleasure, organise your life so that there is time in it for relaxation and entertainment”.
  26. Frederick II liked to say that he saw himself as the first servant of the state: the butler, as it were, rather than the owner.
  27. Mirabeau: "Go and tell to his majesty that we are here through the will of the people, and will not leave except at the point of a bayonet!".
  28. French Revolution. The people, it was proclaimed, would be the true rulers, and the king merely their representative.
  29. Napoleon: I rejoice that each of you, upon returning home, will be able to say: I too was of that army that conquered Italy!
  30. Napoleon was lord of almost Europe. He gave each of his relatives a kingdom – a little souvenir, as it were.
  31. From 1800 onwards it is even less possible to see the history of the world as only that of Europe.
  32. China’s Emperor to the king of England, 1793: “Our Celestial Kingdom possesses all things in abundance and wants for nothing within its frontiers”.
  33. The Japanese turned out to be the best students in all the history of the world.
  34. Industrial revolution: anyone who owned a machine, with the help of one or two assistants, do more work than 100 trained weavers.
  35. Machines were faster, better and very much cheaper. Machines don’t sleep and they don’t eat. No do they need holidays.
  36. Wavers, blacksmiths, spinners and cabinet-makers sank ever more into misery and destitution.
  37. In England in 1912 the death penalty was introduced for anyone found guilty of destroying a machine.
  38. People had many ideas about how to organize work in a socialist way, so as to put an end to the misery of starving workers.
  39. More colonies means more factories, more factories means more goods and more goods means that even more colonies are needed.
  40. Every day we know a little more about nature, and about human nature too. But the horror of poverty remains.
  41. Winston Churchill: “I can promise nothing but blood, sweat and tears”.
  42. With the mingling of peoples in our tiny planet, it becomes more and more necessary for us to respect and tolerate each other.
  43. We must make use of the moment we come to the surface of the river of history. It is worth the effort.
Ernst H. Gombrich: A Little History of the World, Yale University Press, 2005, 284 pp. 

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