Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Golden Quotebook: Hugh Thomas on Franco

Of late, I have been thinking of Mediocrity and how it manages so well to survive. And that is not only because of the spectacle presented - rather against my expectations - by Don Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister who seems to be happy to play Elected Lackey to the Brussels Beurocracy (then again: what national leader does not these days?), but also because of the complete absence of M Holande from everyday French life. Four weeks I spent in my Motherland - and never once did I hear him referred to, spoken of, joked about or even imitated in a comedy show. What a difference with good old Sarko, who was ALWAYS in the news, if not for ordering the attack on some distant country you had never heard of, or losing his temper with British Prime Ministers for protecting British bread baskets, then at least for impregnating young Italian chansonnières known in the circles of married women as 'the Terminator' and - nomen non est omen - not asking for an abortion.

Anyway: mediocrity clearly has a long lease on life. As we also learn from this most observant quote from one of the very last historians who still knew his classics:

Upon the heaped skulls of all these ideals, in the dust of the memory of so much rhetoric, one more cold-hearted, dispassio­nate, duller, and greyer man survived triumphant, as Octavius survived the civil wars in Rome. Caesar and Pompey, Brutus and Antony, Cato and Cicero - all, with all their genius, lacked the minor talent of being able to survive: Franco was the Octavius of Spain. 
[Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, chapter 52: Conclusion]

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