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 Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:15 pm

History has produced many instances of people who rose to prominence like shooting stars, and like shooting stars were extinguished all too soon. In our mind's eye and for posterity they will be forever frozen in adolescence or young adulthood, the contemplation of their achievements made all the more poignant for never knowing now what might have been had they spanned the three score years and ten which was allotted to others. Could the young Tutankhamun, for example, have become one of the great pharaohs of 18th dynasty Egypt, rivalling his predecessors Thutmose I or Amenhotep III for territorial expansion and aggrandisement of the kingdom? Had Lady Jane Grey not fallen victim to the successful counter-manouevring of Mary Tudor against Northumberland's audacious power-grab and had actually reigned to an old age, would we now be talking about a golden "Queen Jane" period as we do that of Elizabeth? (Or for that matter had her predecessor Edward not died at 15 years of age could it have been he who assumed this mantle?) Had Alexander, for all that he achieved, lived longer than his 33 years would he - or indeed could he - have expanded his empire even further?

Who else in history revealed potential, but sometimes little chance for much else, before a premature demise deprived them of the chance of fulfilling it? And who, all things being equal, might have stood the best chance of so doing?
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:02 pm

There is, in my view, a difference between someone who dies as little more than an adolescent and whose potential is largely a matter of speculation and greatly dependent on their status or political position rather than any abilities that we can definitely perceive - Tut being one good example - and those who die later but before fully expressing possibilities already apparent - eg Alexander.
In the first group I'd suggest that almost any dead heir or young monarch could be included but then that tends to be 'what if' territory. For example if Francis II, even if a bit of a wimp, hadn't died and an imaginary child with Mary QoS had succeeded to the thrones of France, England and Scotland, the history of the past 450 years would have been different, to say the least, but this is sheer speculation! Anyway surely the very fact of a death being untimely focusses attention on lost potential and tends to gloss over the less appealing possibilities, unless the deceased was so grotesquely appalling that it couldn't be ignored, so making any informed prediction difficult, not to mention the myriad variables that would come into play?

The latter 'died too soon' group is much safer ground, ones that jump out immediately are Mozart, Alan Turing and a whole slew of artists, authors and poets - Caravaggio, Emily Bronte, Byron, Shelley, Keats etc. Fair enough, hardly teenagers all and leaving a considerable body of work, but surely they died too young and there is hard evidence to support that notion.

I'll leave it you historians to supply the data to address this subject properly, I feel a Temp style delete coming on.
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:08 pm

I have wondered how Henry V might have been viewed had he lived longer - not that I am thinking he would have necessarily have achieved more, but that his reputation might somehow have been sullied. I am comparing him to Henry VIII and thinking had that king died younger we might have had quite a different opinion of him. This is perhaps more the opposite of the OP query.

Kents wasn't far off being a teenager. 24 is pretty young. All the Brontes died too young and it is interesting to think what they might have written had they lived another 20 years.

I was thinking about NZers and the one who came to mind most was Beatrice Tinsley who died of cancer aged 40. She was a cosmologist, with work on how galaxies evolve. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beatrice_Tinsley

The other one was a 17-year-old film maker who was already quite well-known for his films and who also died of cancer. Cameron Duncan. His early death seems a real loss to film. http://www.listener.co.nz/uncategorized/a-special-effect/

It's a bit pointless wondering about dead unknowns, but I do often think all those men killed in WWI must have included lots of potentials stars in some field or other. (Not to mention the loss of their potential genetic legacy.)

It might have been useful if the Fair Maid of Norway had lived a bit longer.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:27 pm

Some might have been welcome for what they prevented - if Arthur had survived longer, no Henry VIII (or at least no question of him marrying KofA)
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:03 am

Bit of a shame that Prince Henry, eldest son of James I and Anne of Denmark, died in 1612. He was only eighteen. He seems to have been a promising lad - intelligent and lively. General opinion seems to be that he would have made a good king.

His brother, young Charles, became the new heir.


Last edited by Temperance on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:27 am

Could have been a nightmare scenario had Lady Jane Grey and Edward VI survived - and even married. (Such a marriage apparently had been considered at one time, mainly by Jane's ambitious parents.)

Two fiercely intellectual, priggish, Protestant fundamentalists, arguing in Greek and utterly convinced that they were right about everything? Shudder.
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:54 pm

I've been thinking about the infamous 27 Club.

Rupert Brooke was 27 when he died of sepsis from an infected mosquito bite. He was en route for Gallipoli.

Perhaps Brooke was lucky; he died with all his illusions intact - and left us with his golden vision of manhood. One can't help but wonder, however, what kind of poetry he would have produced had he seen action and survived.
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:11 pm

Margaret of Scotland, grandaughter of Alexander III and otherwise known as the Maid of Norway would fit the bill. Her untimely death, as a child, began the disputed succession which ultimately led to the Wars of Scottish Independance. What may have been is anyone's guess.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:27 pm

Mmm, you lot all ponder that lot and I'll grieve for the early loss of Thelonious Monk, without whose music I could not finish the packing chore that is my current lot. Master of the pregnant pause, Monk, whose evry recording I have, you died too young, man.
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:41 pm

Look, I did not intend this thread to die an early death by self interest. There must be other instances that can refresh it.

Of course some early deaths of people of note were by other hands - quite a lot actually. Only the later Roman emporers died a natural death but that was only because there was not much of an Empire to be bothered enough to do otherwise, I suppose.
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:57 pm

Your wish is our command oh Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Mm how about William of Adelin, who perished with the wrecking of the White Ship off Barfleur. Only surviving heir of Henry I and whose death set Engand on a course for war which lasted 30 years.

William of Malmesbury wrote
"Here also perished with William, Richard, another of the King's sons, whom a woman without rank had borne him, before his accession, a brave youth, and dear to his father from his obedience; Richard d'Avranches, second Earl of Chester, and his brother Otheur; Geoffrey Ridel; Walter of Everci; Geoffrey, archdeacon of Hereford; the Countess of Chester; the king's niece Lucia-Mahaut of Blois; and many others ... No ship ever brought so much misery to England."
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:00 pm

@Priscilla wrote:
Mmm, you lot all ponder that lot and I'll grieve for the early loss of Thelonious Monk, without whose music I could not finish the packing chore that is my current lot. Master of the pregnant pause, Monk, whose evry recording I have, you died too young, man.

Machaut, Bach, Mozart, Purcell, Monk, Bird - lots of them would have been too young if they had been killed by a jealous husband at the age of 120.
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:38 pm

The Roman emperor, Titus Flavius Cesar Vespasianus, died of fever at the age of 41, having been emperor for only a couple of years - not young but at least old enough to indicate what might have been had he lived to a riper age. Perhaps he has a good record because his reign was cut short before he had any opportunity for wrongdoing. But he seems to have been well trained by his father Vespasian (himself far from the worst emperor) and in his short reign he seems to have coped well with a serious fire in Rome and with the eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum. How he would have gone on to rule is of course anyone's guess.

Titus was not universally respected of course - he was hated by the Jews for his conquest (under his father) of Judea and for the sack of Jerusalem.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Forever Young ... what might have been achieved with age?   Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:44 pm

Quote :
Titus was not universally respected of course - he was hated by the Jews for his conquest (under his father) of Judea and for the sack of Jerusalem
How did he manage to fit a city into one jute bag? I feel we should be told!
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