I have to bring your attention to an article in Minerva Magazine. The headline reads: ‘Tribute to Palmyra. This is not the first time this city has been attacked.”
Minerva Magazine is the type of publication where it smells like it came fresh off the presses by the smell of printer’s ink. To me, a former graphic arts guy in college, the smell is heavenly. The magazine has large beautiful photographs of ancient artifacts, great articles and reeks of another smell: class.
If you get a chance, check out the NOV/DEC issue. As you know ISIL, a 14th century cabal composed of thugs and psychopaths, took explosives to the city and hammers to various antiquities. And according to recent reports, ISIL is collecting and selling whatever they can loot. The magazine article provides a look at a city before it was destroyed. There are 17 Century woodcuts, photographs of edifices and various funeral busts.
What has gone on in Syria and Iraq under ISIL’s ‘benevolent’ (sarcasm!) regime has a chilling comparison to a quote by Emperor Aurelian:
“The Palmyrans have been sufficiently slaughtered and cut to pieces. What have not spared the women; we have slain the children, we have strangled the old men, we have destroyed the husbandmen. To whom then shall we leave the land? To whom shall we leave the city?”
A couple of paragraphs in the article pays homage to a man that should be called a hero of that ancient city. We can remember Palmyra from its buildings, sculptures and art, but Kahled al Assad should be remembered with respect. This 80 plus year old man (with emphasize on the word MAN) was an archeologist that studied the ancient world of Palmyra. Most of us when given the opportunity to flee from approaching ‘barbarians’ would have gladly fled, but Kahled al-Asadd chose to stay and try to save the treasures and antiquities of an ancient people which he dedicated most of his life studying. He refused to reveal where he hid the artifacts. For that he was beheaded. There is no better illustration of Kahled al-Asaad’s bravery than Thomas Babington Macaulay’s poem titled Horatius:
“Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods?”
I stand in awe of this man’s bravery. I have met heroes in my life; I have the unique ability to recognize them. This man I gladly place him on my list.
I hope that with all my heart that the children of Kahled al-Asadd are alive. It should interest you to note that one of his daughters is named Zenobia.
Are you surprised?
Remember Palmyra. Remember Kahled al-Asaad.