356 BC-Herostratus Destroys the Temple of Artemis-Almanac of Absurdities Flashback for 7.21.2012

Click here for the Audio Almanac

You may have heard of a Pyrrhic Victory, a victory that comes at a devastating price. That term came from King Pyrrhus of Epirus who beat the Romans in the so called Pyrrhic War around 280 BC, but lost much of his own population in the process. Well today we’ve got something similar to Pyrrhic Victory that maybe you haven’t heard of before: Herostratic Fame. You may never have heard the term, it’s a little obscure, but it could have been lost entirely to history. On this day in 356 BC, a fellow by the name of Herostratus set fire to the wooden beams that supported the Temple of Artemis in the area once known as Ephesus, and is now part of Turkey. The Temple was completely destroyed. The priceless, historic building lost on that summer day was a glorious structure nearly 400 feet long and 180 feet wide, the first Greek Building that we know of that was constructed out of marble. It was exquisitely decorated with reliefs and other sculpture. The building was so magnificent it was included in the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Herostratus, we are told, destroyed this miraculous building in order to become famous. The same urge that now drives the entire “Reality Television” industry. The Historian Valerius Maximus recorded Herostratus’ motive…quoting here, “so that through the destruction of this most beautiful building his name might be spread through the whole world.” Apparently Maximus never mentioned Herostratus’ Name, and here’s why. The Ephesians put Herostratus to Death for his arsonous lust for glory, and just to make the point clear, they made it a capital crime to mention his name. The urge to record history overcame this prohibition, however, and the historian Theopompus preserved it in his chronicle “The Hellenics.” So, to review, Herostratic Fame is glory and notoriety intentionally gained through barbaric and destructive acts. It’s a very useful term in our current environment. For example, there may not be many Heroes right now in the US House of Representatives…but we’ve got Plenty of Herostrats. And if the Sandal Fits, Wear it.

Album Notes:  Grateful Acknowledgments to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8.  “Clenched Teeth” Written and Performed by Kevin McLeod,  Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks.  Some audio may be used under the Fair Use Doctrine

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About denniscmichael

Voice Artist, Writer, Journalist, even sometime actor. For 18 years the writer and voice for CNN's Hollywood Minute.
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