Dialogues of the Dead

Model of the Mausoleum, from Pliny's descriptionMorning at the remains of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Not much left, but they deserve better words than I have to do them justice:

Lucian – Dialogues of the Dead, XXIV

Diogenes: Why so proud, Carian? How are you better than the rest of us?

Mausolus: Sinopean, to begin with, I was a king; king of all Caria, ruler of many Lydians, subduer of islands, conqueror of well-nigh the whole of Ionia, even to the borders of Miletus.

What's leftFurther, I was comely, and of noble stature, and a mighty warrior. Finally, a vast tomb lies over me in Halicarnassus, of such dimensions, of such exquisite beauty as no other shade can boast. Thereon are the perfect semblances of man and horse, carved in the fairest marble; scarcely may a temple be found to match it. These are the grounds of my pride: are they inadequate?

Diogenes: Kingship–beauty–heavy tomb; is that it?

Mausolus: It is as you say.

Under the Mausoleum, in a pre-Mausolus burial chamberDiogenes: But, my handsome Mausolus, the power and the beauty are no longer there. If we were to appoint an umpire now on the question of comeliness, I see no reason why he should prefer your skull to mine. Both are bald, and bare of flesh; our teeth are equally in evidence; each of us has lost his eyes, and each is snub-nosed. Then as to the tomb and the costly marbles, I dare say such a fine erection gives the Halicarnassians something to brag about and show off to strangers: but I don’t see, friend, that you are the better for it, unless it is that you claim to carry more weight than the rest of us, with all that marble on the top of you.

Mausolus: Then all is to go for nothing? Mausolus and Diogenes are to rank as equals?

The not-so-final resting place of MausolusDiogenes: Equals! My dear sir, no; I don’t say that. While Mausolus is groaning over the memories of earth, and the felicity which he supposed to be his, Diogenes will be chuckling. While Mausolus boasts of the tomb raised to him by Artemisia, his wife and sister, Diogenes knows not whether he has a tomb or no–the question never having occurred to him; he knows only that his name is on the tongues of the wise, as one who lived the life of a man; a higher monument than yours, vile Carian slave, and set on firmer foundations.

Percy Shelley – Ozymandias

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,

And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

A modest residence in the corner of the Mausoleum

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