Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Photo Shoot Out: Hero

This week's Shootout features Heros of our towns. Clermont-Ferrand lists three claims to fame. One of them we saw two weeks ago, for the Dark Side so I'm not going to go into that. Another, and my favorite, is our horseriding boy here, Vercingétorix.
Back in the first century before the common era, Vercingétorix was the first celtic cheiftan to really federate the local clans into a significant political and military network capable of resisting the invading forces of Julius Caesar. Because the Arverni, as the Auvergnats were called then, did not have a written tradition, most of what is known about our hero comes from the writings of his adversary, recorded in Book VII of Ceasar's Comentarii de Bello Gallico. (Yes, that's a Roman soldier being trampled in the statue by Bartholdi that stands in our main square.)

Vercingétorix's main victory took place within hiking distance of my house, on the Gergovia butte just to the south. Well, people now suppose it was there - my archeologist friends insist the site is controversial and could actually be any of a number of hills nearby. I think it's the real hill, though - three sides are very steep and inaccessible, and the flat top is large enough to contain the Gaulish forces and their families, supplies, etc, for the duration of a long battle/short siege. Wherever it happened, Ceasar's forces were defeated, for once.
The Gaulish tribes, however, were still only loosely federated and not well equipped for war against the greatest military commander of the time. Just a few years later Vercingétorix attempted to hold the village of Alesia against Roman siege and eventually had to capitulate, being taken hostage and paraded around Rome in humiliation.

Our other local guy was much more demure.
Blaise Pascal here may have ridden a horse, but it's hard to imagine the mathematician-philosopher on a wild steed, brandishing weapons and trampling Romans. No, in the 17th century his thing was more about describing the scientific method, and exploring faith with logic.

Alas, I don't know anything more about his philosophy than that. I should really read the Pensées (Thoughts) someday. Along with the 24921 other books on my list... Pascal is with us still not just as a statue in a park; the local university is named after him.
Heroic footwear.
For more Shootout Heros, click here!


Argent said...

This is one of your most interesting Shootout posts. I was dimly aware of Vercingetorix but no more than that. Your pics are really good as well. Looks like a lovely sunny day, too! Happy weekend.

Barry said...

I was quite interested in Vercingétorix a number of years ago. Great to find him as one of your town town heroes.

Strangely Pascal's works are number 24921 on my reading list too!

Doreen said...

the sculptures are great! love the last shot of the shoes. interesting bit of history also. wow, to live back then must have been something. Mr. Linky is up and running now so please add your link.

CollectIn Texas Gal said...

Very interesting and informative ShootOut post. It's a pleasure to get to view the sculptures of your historic heroes. Nice photography with the blue sky background.

Ann said...

What is the blue flower in your header photo? Very pretty.

You have a France's day, Bastille Day .

Pauline said...

What grand historical heroes! And they wear very nice shoes, too. I don't think of myself as frivolous but I really love that shoe shot!

Sara Williams said...

Great post! Well done! I am a celt

Cheryl said...

These photos are wonderful. So glad I stopped by.

Rebecca said...

Interesting history and wonderful sculptures. I love the shoe!

GingerV said...

I liked your story very much - a few weeks ago and this weeks. I always wonder what our world would be like if the Romans weren't stopped in France, if the Russians hadn't stopped short of France and if the Germans hadn't been defeated in france (and Russia of course) France is the pivot point of our modern democracies.
lacking in true intellectual stamina Pascal's works have never made it to my reading list.

NanU said...

But how do you really know, Ginger, if you haven't read them?