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The Theatre of Conquest: Ambition in Art and Anguish

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Prologue

 

Why do we covet what is not ours?

It is a question that echoes across the annals of human history, spanning continents and epochs, resonating in the footprints of mighty armies and imperious conquerors. Stacking claims and conquering lands is a practice so deeply woven in mankind’s past, that it came to define the very essence of human nature: eternally yearning for more, forever chasing an elusive destiny.

That you are here, tells me that you are interested in the art of conquest. Perhaps you desire to master its nuances, or your arrival was out of pure inquisitiveness. Regardless, we shall delve into the tapestry of motivations, ideologies and constructs behind it.

To do our conundrum justice, we must subject history to a prism, channelling its vast spectrum of colonial narratives, intriguing happenstances and fascinating stories.

Throughout this odyssey, you will witness how this pursuit becomes an engrossing story in its own right.

 

Act One: The Leader

 

Ah, the protagonist of grand narratives, the standard-bearer, eternally embraced by history books and fantasy tales alike. Your ambition, as an eager aspirant of conquest, seeks to claim such a mantle. More often than not, a leader’s legacy stems in essence from their mastery of the art of warfare. Some carved their renown through relentless campaigns spanning vast territories, while others instilled fear in formidable adversaries through their strategic brilliance and military acumen.

Yet, perhaps the realm of colossal battle triumphs remains beyond your grasp. Fret not, for many leaders, devoid of such gargantuan feats, thrived as charismatic visionaries, adept at rousing the masses. Many a great speechmaker has wielded mesmerising oratory prowess to unify a populace shattered in wealth or in spirit, presenting a glimmer of hope amid remnants of resentment and desolation.

Yet, still, if the eloquence to sway eludes you, fear is your unrelenting ally. Let your reign resonate with dread, entwining your name with terror. Let dissent crumble beneath your unwavering resolve, sparing neither foes nor the innocent at the faintest whisper of treason.

Embrace resolute authority, why not fashion your legacy in kind?

Choose wisely, seeker of greatness, for the next act calls to stage the very core of your dominion, your cause, the bedrock upon which rest your aspirations.

 

Act Two: The Cause

 

Doubtless, a conqueror cannot thrive on mere ambition alone. While riches, land, and resources offer allure, they do not constitute a purpose. What beckons is a pursuit far loftier, surpassing the trappings of earthly wealth and possessions.

Perhaps your right to rule is divine, for it is you who has been anointed to herd the masses and shield the realms of mankind. Of course, many a king has claimed a godly right to rule, but they are mere pretenders, surely yours is the sole true monarch of the celestial domains.

Should holy scriptures or the promises of bygone rulers pledge land as rightful recompense for your people’s tribulations, then yours it shall be. Disregard the current inhabitants; they are but a fleeting obstacle in the path of your manifest destiny, to be unceremoniously brushed away by your juggernaut.

However, if religious sanctity fails to justify your noble cause, then surely the annihilation of your rivals shall be a fitting purpose. Should you lack a foe, create a scapegoat; exploit any pretext to your advantage. The art of conquest often thrives on the existence of an enemy, whether it is real or crafted, is but a frivolous matter.

Select your cause, emerging leader, and allow it to chart your course. Yet, be mindful; you shall not traverse this road unaccompanied; the stage eagerly awaits your unwavering companion: your army.

 

Act Three: The Army

 

At the mere mention of « army, » the mind finds it easy to conjure a grand spectacle: legions of warriors adorned in armaments, awe-inspiring war constructs surpassing human imagination, and the tumultuous frenzy of colliding factions.

Your soldiers, mere mindless brutes, should know no loyalty beyond your command. Let them epitomise a chilling ruthlessness, remorselessly traversing any extremes for your victory.

Enforce their blind allegiance, release them upon the world, and witness the havoc they wreak as you play spectator from the sidelines.

Yet, amidst these vivid scenes of destruction, lies but a fraction of the symphony.

As the orchestrator, remember that this ensemble requires not only fighters but also heralds of praise and masters of propaganda. Craft a narrative that romanticises battles and immortalises soldiers. Adorn your campaign with a vibrant standard, weaving a compelling tale. In the theatre of conquest, it matters not who opposes when the world’s bards sing of your glory, guiding hordes of warriors and death machines toward resounding triumph.

And so, amidst the convergence of all elements for your grand campaign, one crucial decision lingers—the selection of your target.

 

Act Four: The Conquered

 

Although your cause may seem just and your army formidable, exercise caution in your choice of conquest. Your foes should ideally be perceived as primitive, incapable of defending themselves beyond mere sticks and stones. Why should they resist? Your might ought to be enough. They possess no entitlement to defend themselves or their way of life, for your mission is to civilise and rescue them from their own miserable, bleak existence.

So, by all means, spare no man, woman or child in your pursuit of a glorious destiny. And if your adversaries dare defend themselves against your overwhelming strength, twist the narrative, paint them as the aggressors, and employ any deceptive tactic to further suppress them. Because, clearly, that’s how righteousness prevails, isn’t it?Destroy homes, places of worship, schools, hospitals, leave no stone unturned as you erase your enemy from the history books. No cultural monument or homage shall remain, none other than the ones you shall erect to commemorate your resounding greatness.

And as you stand, witness to it all, amidst rubble and scorching flame, amidst devastation and sorrow, is it pride you feel at this sight? Or does a haunting shadow of remorse loom large?

 

The Curtain Call

 

Alas, like echoes of history, you too find yourself grappling with the weight of an irreversible toll—a toll exacted by your own misguided ambitions. The tragic realisation arrives belatedly, casting a pall of regret as you witness the irrevocable loss. The hasty pursuit of glory or dominion, once draped in allure, now reveals its harrowing cost. Innocent souls, unwittingly drawn into the fray, find themselves condemned to untimely graves, casualties of a cause that, in hindsight, seems ever more futile. Ancient sites, crown jewels that stood the test of time, stalwart guardians of history’s legacy, are now but bygone vestiges, remnants of a distant past.

As the curtain draws to a close, a deafening silence fills the void where applause should’ve echoed.                  Instead, hushed whispers and echoing cries of lost dreams and shattered hopes reverberate through the solemn air, bearing witness to the tragic consequence of hubris. In the haunting silence that follows, one truth lingers unmistakably clear—no cause, however grand, justifies destruction, and the sacrifice of innocent lives.

 

Written By : Zied Kharrat .

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Chapter 4 : Medusa, Beyond the deadly gaze.

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I was walking in this single-file tunnel for an endless period, unsure of what had brought me here or how to escape, and seriously starting to wonder if I belonged in this drastic and terrifying place at all. The darkness grew heavier with each step, like a persistent blur of black and white, that I could not for the life of me, ignore. 

As I looked right and left, I could discern stone statues stiffened with a sordid expression. Mostly men, holding sharp weapons, so detailed and realistic that I could almost hear their frightened tones and their screams; One thing is sure, no artist could ever do this great of a job.

I couldn’t shake off this feeling of discomfort and this eerie sensation that I was not alone. Was I being followed? Or was it the statues’ heavy presence? I thought morbidly and then I heard her. Slicing through the empty silence, a feminine voice echoed from behind, making my hair stand on end. 

“Don’t you dare turn around, gentleman, or your fate will be as such.”

I stood stock-still for a moment, a million questions rushing through my mind, could it be the sculptor of all this madness? Even though I deeply wanted to see her, I tried as hard as I could to keep facing forward.

  “A rather splendid collection isn’t it ? All these men meant to hurt me in one way or another, but what I perceive as self defense, is often considered as an act of unwavering violence, and here they stand, serving as a grim reminder of my curse”, she continued. 

I felt a tone of strength in her voice, a vibrant force that seemed to resonate with confidence. Each word she spoke carried a certain conviction, imbued with an intensity that sought not just to be heard, but felt. Drawing both a captivating and fearsome image of herself, making me more curious about her tale.

“I’m Medusa , one of the three gorgon sisters, the only mortal one in fact, born to Phorkys and Keto, the so-called primordial sea gods. Initially, I served  as a priestess to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and battle. I was not born a monster but was made one, doomed to live away from the world’s gaze.  

Although,  In this twisted form, I found an unexpected freedom, an autonomy outside the reach of gods and men alike. In seeking to punish me, they granted me a form of immortality, a legacy that will outlast those of my accusers. 

Speaking of my accusers, I am to go to trial, we can’t keep  Zeus, Poseidon and Athena waiting, they already don’t like the thought of my mere existence.” 

Walking forward, I kept wondering what possible crime could one commit to be forever punished? Although Medusa did sound like pure evil to me, I somehow felt like a part of the puzzle was missing, one I could only figure out in this enormous place we landed in.

Three towering high chairs stood ominously at the front, where the judges would preside over the trials. Each chair seemed to loom over the proceedings, their tall backs resembling twisted, skeletal figures reaching out from the darkness. The light spreading asymmetrically, made the judges’ faces obscure and unclear. As I stood before these imposing thrones, I couldn’t help but feel intimidated.

“We are gathered here today to preside over the case of Medusa, This trial will determine the fate of one accused of violating the sacred temple of Athena and defying the sacred oath of virginity sworn to the goddess, our purpose being to ensure justice prevails”,  Announced one of them solemnly.

“I was raped !”, Echoed the voice of Medusa.

“Raped, you say? I know exactly what I saw that day on the stairs of my temple, and it didn’t look much like it, you asked for it, it is quite glaringly obvious”, said Athena. 

“The irony is indeed bitter, one might expect that a goddess of your stature would embody fairness and protection, especially towards her devoted followers, but instead you chose to turn me into a monster with snakes instead of hair, not even through my own actions, but because i was non-consensually abused by Poseidon! sitting next to you, and having a say on my fate as well.” Answered Medusa, making the judges talk over each other due to confusion. I could barely distinguish the voices, but their words were more than clear. 

“What is it that you were wearing that day?”

“If what you are saying is in fact true, why didn’t you fight back?” 

“Gods will be gods, it’s only normal!”

“Gods will be gods indeed” retorted Medusa, “Heartless and intrepid. Their power will never justify cruelty towards mortals, and I refuse to accept eternal punishment for the deeds of those who let their desires win over their sanity.” 

As black and white mix together to give a gray nuanced tone, I finally understood that the monstrous image that Medusa holds only exists because it has been directly determined by the gaze of those who saw her as an offender rather than a victim of Poseidon’s lust and Athena’s wrath.

Gods do not have power to repress mortals. Instead, it is mortals who empower gods by believing their repressive attempts. So without fear or regret, I could look at the Medusa straight on. She is not deadly, she’s beautiful and she’s laughing. 

 

Written by : Sarra Lasram.

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