Skip to comments.At Least Shakespeare's Tyrants Went Down Fighting
Posted on 12/18/2003 10:37:21 AM PST by quidnunc
The words of Maj.-Gen. Raymond T. Odierno of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division may well be the final epitaph for Saddam Hussein.
The general said, "He was just caught like a rat."
This is what tyrants are: despicable, petty human beings. And when denuded of the ill-gotten power with which they terrorize the weak, the innocent and the defenceless, they are unmasked as slinking cowards.
As Saddam's dreadful image filled our television screens, I reached for my copy of the complete works of Shakespeare.
It is instinctive to seek the Bard's advice, comfort, insight or wisdom on any situation, for he was one who seemingly had conceived of all possible situations in which men and women by design or ingenuity, by luck, fate, ambition, deceit or by whatever myriad of means might find themselves in.
Nothing surprised Shakespeare, for he had plumbed the depths of human psychology and dissected motivations from the meanest to the most sublime that drove individuals to act their roles on "The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,/ The solemn temples, the great globe itself" before being dissolved into thin air.
But not even Shakespeare the most complete and towering secular intellect of all time, as described by Harold Bloom, the wonderful critic and interpreter of the Bard imagined, at least in my reading, a more inglorious ending of a hated tyrant being brought out of a hole as a cowering rat.
Macbeth is Shakespeare's grim exploration into the blood-filled mind and deeds of a tyrant for whom there is no excess in being cruel in his drive for power. Macbeth's hands are so steeped in blood, as are those of Saddam, that no ocean will wash them clean, rather "The multitudinous seas incarnadine,/ Making the green one red."
And yet Macbeth, his fateful end closing in upon him, sword in hand and with a final melancholy soliloquy that almost humanizes him, dies fighting on the battlefield.
Then there is the evil and conniving Richard the Third, as bloodthirsty as Macbeth, as heartless as Iago, and driven with as huge a lust for power as Saddam.
Richard also meets his end in battle. His final cry as he exits "A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!" is not a plaintive appeal for mercy, but for more battle.
But there is nothing even in Shakespeare that prepares us for the banality of a gangster surrendering so meekly as did the butcher of Baghdad.
(Excerpt) Read more at canoe.ca ...
CATESBY Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue!
The king enacts more wonders than a man,
Daring an opposite to every danger:
His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death.
Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!
[Alarums. Enter KING RICHARD III]
KING RICHARD III A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
CATESBY Withdraw, my lord; I'll help you to a horse.
KING RICHARD III Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain to-day instead of him.
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
Lies ... d@mned lies ... and d@mnable lies!
FOR KING RICHARD AND VICTORY!!
[With apologies -- I memorized this more than 20 years ago as a senior class assignment -- I may have gotten some of it wrong]