A king without free subjects is nothing worth

At Gutenberg this week, I'm formatting a biography of Alfred the Great by Charles Plummer (1902).  In the war-torn and squalid late 9th century of England, Alfred stood out for the noble and energetic qualities of his mind and character.  After preserving Wessex from the Viking menace, Alfred translated a number of Latin works into the vernacular, including Boethius on the Consolation of Philosophy, though the loose editorial standards of the day leave some doubt how much of his translation is faithful and how much expresses his own fine instincts.  Here are some maxims from one of his translations:
[that] reward should not be looked for in this world, but should be sought from God alone; that a good name is better than any wealth; that true nobility is of the mind, not of the body; that an honest purpose is accepted, even though its accomplishment be frustrated; that a king without free subjects is nothing worth; that no one should be idle, or wish to live a soft life.
Alfred traveled to Rome as a child. As king, he sent emissaries at least to the Holy Land, as perhaps as far as India, no small achievement for his time.


Grim said...

Alfred is of course the hero of The Ballad of the White Horse, Chesterton's book-length epic poem. It's discussed in the archives of Grim's Hall occasionally.

douglas said...

Boy, in the old days, they didn't throw around the title "Great" lightly, did they? You had to earn it.


Ymarsakar said...

Alfred sounds like he would have found agreement in much of the doctrines of the Latter Day Saints, or Opus Dei, the main branch not the side branches.

For those mortal humans that believe they will obtain additional time after mortality, then they will plan in the long term for accountability. Even a mortal that lives 25 years vs 75 years, will obtain a different perspective, let alone 75 vs 700 years or 950 years vs eternity.

What might have sounded like fun showing the true mask of personality and gaining a negative first impression, might be sustainable and tolerable for the next few years. But would not be tolerable to be reminded of in the next 1000 years. They will remember everything I remember, and even more than that. Constantly being reminded of everything they have done, their failures and successes, would be intolerable to many. A side joke at someone else's expense, will come back to haunt them for all eternity: not worth it. People avoid certain behaviors to avoid human law suits, but they could never imagine what a divine lawsuit is and how long it lasts.

Once this mortal avatar shell dissipates and is reconstructed, I will be sure to remind everyone of all the little details that was so easy to ignore and forget in this life. They will regain everything the cup took away.

douglas said...

With everything going on in Iran right now, this quite strikes me as particularly timely.