How Fleeting is Empire

The Maps of War site has a review of Middle Eastern empires beginning about 1800 BC. I’d have added a couple of phases at the end, including the Cold War divisions of states by their alliances with the US and the Soviet Union, and then the new US empire in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus bases in some of the Stans of Central Asia and Qatar and Kuwait.

It reminded me of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, “Ozymandias:”

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:
“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.

(1818)

Here’s the Youtube version:

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