“I asked of Time for whom those temples rose,
That prostrate by his hand in silence lie:
His lips disdained the myst’ry to disclose,
And, borne on swifter wing, he hurried by!
The broken columns whose? I asked of Fame;
(Her kindling breath gives life to works sublime 😉
With downcast looks of mingled grief and shame,
She heaved the uncertain sigh, and followed Time.
Wrapt in amazement, o’er the mouldering pile
I saw Oblivion pass with giant stride;
And while his visage wore Pride’s scornful smile,
‘Haply thou know’st, then tell me, whose,’ I cried, ‘
Whose these vast domes that ev’n in ruins shine?’
’I reck not whose.” he said, ‘ they now are mine.’”

~ Alfonso Petrucci (c. 1490 – July 16, 1517)

Image: Ali Barid Shah Tomb, Bidar, Karnataka


The past provides the justification for the present, and we are inclined to find causes and destinies in past events. We often excuse ourselves when we commit a mistake that turns out, in retrospect, to have been preventable but we unfairly tend to hold people in history to account for not knowing something they could not have possibly known. Knowledge of the past is important for us to make sense of the world around us, but by the same token we interpret the past through the present-day world.

~ Arthur Dudney, Delhi: Pages from a Forgotten History