Saturday, April 25, 2009
A Date With The Hermitage
Being an incorrigible geek and a History freak (say... that rhymed!!), nothing can please me more when the city I currently reside in also houses one of the largest museums in the world, namely the Hermitage. Founded in 1764, by Catherine the Great, it also encompasses the residence of the former Tsars of Russia called the 'Winter Palace'.
Today like any other day we had a boring(not to mention stinky) autopsy class, after which my friends suddenly decided to visit the Hermitage. Initially hesitant, I finally agreed. For what can I say? The weather was perfect, and its not like I was going to indulge myself in academic pursuits at home anyway. A sunny 16 degrees, and an almost cloudless sky beckoned us to tour the great halls of the famed museum.
All the photos have been clicked by yours truly with my W760i walkman man phone!
We breakfasted on some cheesecake in a local cafe and made our way to my favourite site of pilgrimage (have priorly visited the museum countless times).
The thing about the Hermitage is that its not your everyday kind of boring museum. Technically you do not need to be a geek to appreciate the splendid architecture both inside and outside. Not to mention the fabulous collections of works of art right from ancient Greece to medieval China. For me its akin to heaven since I have been wallowing in ancient history since I was a kid. To be actually be face to face with the Sarcophagus of Egyptian kings of old or the marble busts of Jupiter (the Roman King of the Gods), makes ancient History come back alive.
I know a great deal of people find history boring. And feel like there is nothing in common with the lives men lead then to the lives which we lead now.
But I disagree.
I doubt that there is an iota of change between the lives of people now and then.
What has changed?
Both ancient Rome and the current world had democracies. If the modern world had Hitler, the ancient world had its Nero. If the ancient world had a proud and dominating Rome which the other nations submitted meekly to, the current world has the United States.
Just like the modern world nations have scientists developing new and unheard of technology in the field of warfare, so did the ancient world have Archimedes who is known to have who set fire to an entire Roman fleet by focussing the sun's rays into a powerful heat ray, using giant parabolic mirrors.
Corrupt leaders like the Roman Emperor Caligula who built self glorified statues of themselves existed then, much akin to certain self glorified leaders who exist today in a certain south Asian country which we are all familiar with.
Nothing changes with time. Human nature can never be subject to change. What changes is the way of life, the technology, that's it.
The same avarice, the same greed, insecurity, corruption and the polarization between the rich and the poor, persist through centuries, irrespective of how "civilized" we claim ourselves to be. There is no such thing as civilization. There is only the perpetual want to constantly satisfy ones desires. And the perpetual want to survive at all costs.
The ancient races were no different from the current age of man we see today.
Hence I believe that history indeed repeats itself. In more ways than one.
The idea behind history, is to make sure one doesn't repeat the same mistakes over and over. But I suppose no one really paid attention during their history lessons. Including our so called leaders. Rather than moving forward, we seem to be stuck in an eternal circle doing the same things our ancestors did centuries ago over and over again.
Museums preserve not mere material relics, but also the souls of the Kings of old, who look down upon the visitors and try in vain to get them to avoid making the same mistake time and again.
A museum is the reflection of man's former self, through the deeds he left behind.
And though we might assume the reflection in the mirror to have changed over the years. It ironically remains the same.
Its up to humanity to break the perpetual circle through the lessons it has learned from the ages of old.
So that future generations can look up to us as those who didn't just mutely observe the proceedings around us, but actually sought to change the course history for good.