"If we credit what should seem the most authentic of all records, an oration, still extant, and delivered by the emperor himself to the senate, we must allow that the victory of
Alexander Severus was not inferior to any of those formerly obtained over the Persians by the son of Philip. The army of the Great King consisted of one hundred and twenty thousand horse, clothed in complete armor of steel; of seven hundred elephants,
with towers filled with archers on their backs, and of eighteen hundred chariots armed with scythes. This formidable host, the like of which is not to be found in eastern history, and has
scarcely been imagined in eastern romance, ^49 was discomfited in a great battle, in which the Roman Alexander proved himself an intrepid soldier and a skilful general. The Great King fled before his valor; an immense booty, and the conquest of Mesopotamia, were the immediate fruits of this signal victory.
Such are the circumstances of this ostentatious and improbable relation, dictated, as it too plainly appears, by the vanity of the monarch, adorned by the unblushing servility of his
flatterers, and received without contradiction by a distant and obsequious senate. Far from being inclined to believe that the arms of Alexander obtained any memorable advantage over the Persians, we are induced to suspect that all this blaze of imaginary glory was designed to conceal some real disgrace.
Gibbon, Decline and Fall
"Brief gun battles erupted when American forces surrounded this belt of rich green farmland, created by a broad curve in the Tigris River, early Monday, American commanders said. Four Iraqis died, four Americans were wounded and 375 Iraqi men were detained, the Americans said.
The American assessment is that Tikrit, Kirkuk and Baiji, which are farther north of Baghdad, are relatively secure. But the American military command has been concerned about resistance in a swath of territory around the towns of Balad, Taji and Baquba, roughly 30 miles north of Baghdad. Only several hundred Americans have been patrolling them.
Gauging the intensity of the surge in attacks has been difficult. American military officials disclose the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq but do not routinely publicize every attack on American forces. Military officials declined a request this week to produce figures totaling the number of attacks on Americans forces over the last six weeks."
And so this seems that as the fabulous Weapons of Mass Destruction recede ever further into the intelligence fictions where they were manufactured, the War, which has been declared over and done with, rumbles less fabulously, and much less reported, in the background. Could it be that all this blaze of imaginary glory is designed to conceal some real disgrace? Could it be that our own obsequious legislatures are letting an incompetent chief get away with both the destruction of the government's ability to carry out its domestic functions and the misgovernment of a not quite fully conquered territory, with the vampiric sucking of American and Iraqi blood, every day, reaching our ears merely as a distant rumor?
Naw. Too improbable.