Monday, March 18, 2013


                Damocles was one of the courtiers of King Dionysius II who ruled over the ancient kingdom of Syracuse (the Greek area of southern Italy) in the fourth century B.C. Damocles was much impressed by the immense wealth, luxurious life style, delicious food and palatial possessions of the king  and used to remark that  a king's life was the most fortunate experience on earth. 
                The words of Damocles reached the king's ears. To teach him a lesson, the king arranged a banquet and gave Damocles a chance to adorn the royal throne . He was provided with attractive attendants, beautiful dancers, costly clothing, delicious drinks, delightful lighting,  expensive decorations,  exotic perfumes, fabulous food, fragrant flowers, fine furniture,  melodious music, and luxurious surroundings.  Damocles felt that he was the most fortunate and the happiest man in the world.
                Suddenly he raised his eyes to the ceiling and was shocked to see a sharp sword suspended from the ceiling on a single horse hair, with its point almost touching his head. He was afraid that the fragile hair would snap at any moment  and the heavy sword may fall on him and kill him.  Terrified by the imminent danger, he could not enjoy any pleasure or luxury that surrounded him. He tearfully begged the king for relieving him from the present precarious predicament  to return to his poor but peaceful and safer life.
                From this bitter experience, Damocles learned that happiness is fragile and that danger surrounds every powerful person. The phrase 'Damocles' sword' implies imminent peril and impending disaster.
               'Death' is the Damocles' sword for all mortals. Death often appears unexpectedly. At every moment of life, we must be prepared and ready to meet and greet death as a friend. Life is short and all worldly riches and luxury have to be left behind when we die. They give only a temporary joy. Sinful indulgence in worldly pleasures may lead to everlasting agony in a hell of horror.
                Death is the universal equalizer. Everyone is equal before death as death comes to all - great and small. At his deathbed, Alexander the Great instructed his close associates to leave his hands hanging free on either side of the coffin during his royal funeral procession. That was to teach the world that he could carry nothing with him on his final journey.
                We fail to realize this truth till we reach the last moments in life. We waste a major share of our time, health and energy to amass fame, wealth and glory.
              There is a meaningful song in Malayalam which
may be translated as follows:
“Death will reach you once,
Bear in mind, mortals.
Actions done by you
Come along with you.
Do good deeds and be ready
Do not be lazy.”
                Man’s way leads to a hopeless end while God’s way leads to an endless hope. Let us plan ahead for the unavoidable departure from this world.
© By Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally, Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School, Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
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