Ariel by José Enrique Rodó

By José Enrique Rodó

Trans., ed. Margaret Sayers Peden

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Example text

I admire them, first of all, for their formidable strength of volition and, as Philarete Chasles said of their English forebears, I bow before the "school of will and work" they have instituted. In the beginning was Action. A future historian of that powerful republic could begin the still-to-be-concluded Genesis of their national existence with these famous words from Faust. Their genius, like the universe of the Dynamists, could be defined as force in motion. Above all else, they have the capacity, the enthusiasm, and the blessed vocation for action.

Prudhommeian society will be a democracy that consecrates a Pope Nobody and crowns a King Anybody. Its citi[ 61 ] zens will despise the rebelliousness of merit. In their domain, nobility will be treated like a marble statue abandoned beside a rutted road, spattered by mud with the passing of every cart. Such mediocrities will call the dogma of vulgarity wisdom; meanness of heart, gravity; perfect adaptation to the mediocre, good judgment; and bad taste, insouciance. Following their concept of justice, they will rewrite history, substituting for the immortal either anonymity in shared oblivion, or the egalitarian memory of a Mithridates, who was said to remember the name of each of his soldiers.

Homais, whose heroism is mere cleverness placed at the service of an instinctive repugnance for greatness, and whose prime talent is for leveling everything that lies before him. Although immutable indifference and quantitative superiority are the normal manifestations of his strength, he is, nevertheless, capable of reaching epic levels of anger and of yielding to the impulses of aggression. " Given power, these Prudhommes so scaldingly satirized by Henri Monnier exert their triumphant will in the organized persecution of everything that shows the aptitude and daring for flight.

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