Historic Victory

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As
U.S. forces surround the holy city of Najaf, and ponder an attack
on the Shrine of Ali (begun in 977 AD), Americans would be wise
to contemplate this moment of history:

On
September 26, 1687, the Venetian commander Francesco Morosini had
a problem in his on-going (third) war with the Ottoman Turks. He
was in charge of a military force in Athens, and his enemies had
secured their materiel in a place they regarded both as impregnable
and sacrosanct. They had holed up in a mosque that had once been
a church that had originally been a pagan temple. They had holed
up in a structure that, although defiled by fire, earthquake, Romans,
Christians, and Muslims, was fundamentally intact despite having
been completed in 432 BC. Over two thousand years later, the building
still stood: the crowning physical achievement of ancient Greek
art, science, civilization — one of the "seven wonders of the
ancient world."

His
enemies were "holed up" in the Parthenon.

Morosini
made his decision, and turned cannons on the Parthenon. He
scored 800 direct hits, and stopped only when a fire he’d caused
resulted in the explosion of the Ottoman powder magazine, finally
destroying two-thirds of the building.

Congratulations,
Signor Morosini! What an achievement! Future generations will be
so grateful for your victory!

Now,
what was it you were fighting about, again?

Here,
FYI, is his bio, verbatim, from The Columbia Encyclopedia,
Sixth Edition (©2003): "Francesco Morosini, 1618–94, Italian
soldier, doge of Venice (1688–94), of a family distinguished in
Venice for five centuries. Made (1657) captain general of the fleet
in a war with the Ottomans (1651–61), he conducted a brilliant campaign.
He again fought against the Ottomans (1664–69) and was tried and
acquitted for being defeated by them in Crete. In a subsequent war
with the Ottomans (1684–88) he conquered the Peloponnesus (1687);
under his leadership the Venetian empire had a brief revival."

Curious.
No mention of the Parthenon! His victories made this man the 108th
Doge of Venice! An Italian naval college is named for him even today!
Yet here’s the net: Morosini chose to destroy one of the monuments
of world civilization … so that "the Venetian empire had
a brief revival."

And
where are we headed?

August
20, 2004

Jonathan
Carriel [send him mail]
is a local area network engineer in New York City. He received a
B.A. and M.A. in history from New York University (1969, 1970).
Here
is his website
.

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