Destiny in History
Destined for greatness is an all too familiar phrase – it is the phrase used to describe the lives of certain individuals who against all the odds triumphed in the game of life. The lives of this sect of people present a clear-cut illustration of the power of destiny. For them, their future was set in stone, preordained and sealed by fate, so when life came with its daunting facades, their belief in the unwavering force of Destiny made apparent by their sustained work to achieving set goals and ambitions was enough to see them reach their destination, just like sleepwalkers.
Littered in history are many instances of such individuals, from birth to death, they're no less than heroic stories have continued to be a source of inspiration from generation to generation. If you’re looking to get inspired, here’s a quick rundown of Agents of Destiny whose paths manifested into sprawling tales of inspiration.
In the tough world of ancient Rome, where men adopted an alpha stance and women were side-lined both in politics and cultural affairs, Livia Drusilla was one of the very few women who scaled this societal firewall, before proceeding to doctor a significant portion of ancient Roman history.
“The mind of a strong man in the body of the goddess Venus.”
That's how Livia was described by her contemporaries. She was also called the sheer personification of dedication and power. Born in 58 BCE to Marcus Livius Claudianus, she was a member of a high brow senatorial family. At age fifteen, like most other girls in the Roman Empire then, Livia was married to Tiberius Claudius. Unlike, her contemporaries however she was unique, in that she chose not to thread the philosophic path which most children of the elite followed, she instead set her gaze on the male-dominated field of politics – this psyche helped in cementing her reputation as an epitome of chastity and Roman Traditionalism – to onlookers and bystanders that is, because she knew how to live well.
Following the cessation of the civil unrest that tailgated Julius Caesar’s death and after having two children for Tiberius Claudius, she met triumvir Octavian. Reports have it that he was instantly drawn to her. Livia would then proceed to divorce Claudius before marrying Octavian. This marriage, however, brought forth no fruits, leaving Octavian who went on to become Emperor Augustus with no direct heir to the throne. Through a series of intricately woven acts Livia, leveraging on her political astuteness and intimate relations with Augustus was able to secure the throne for Tiberius. This was despite his ‘illegitimacy’ to the throne, the presence of an indirect but legitimate claim to the throne (in persons of Gaius, Lucius and … sons of Augustus daughter borne to him in a previous marriage) and a mini-feud between Tiberius and Augustus.
Livia, tacitly, won the love and respect of Augustus.
Some historians noted that she was perhaps the only woman he truly loved. She provided golden advice to him and was even known to recruit younger maidens to satisfy his sexual cravings. Augustus, in turn, showered her with trust and respect which granted Livia tremendous influence over the emperor’s decisions. She coerced the Emperor to take decisions that strategically strengthened her sons claim for the throne, and some historians have suggested that she had a hand in the death of Gaius and Lucius who were both threats to her son’s ascension. Eventually, after the demise of Augustus, Tiberius now drawing from the politically sound background that his mother had put in place for him ascended the throne as emperor of Rome.
Livia was able to overcome traditional limitations that would have otherwise halted her quest for greatness. Against all the odds she succeeded in securing the throne for her bloodline despite falling short of the most essential requirement – direct blood relationship. She was greatly honored by Augustus and the Roman Empire in general, with the former dedicating a notable structure to her and proclaiming her the mother of the Roman Empire and Goddess of Rome – and the world at large.
Numerous depictions of the illustrious life of Winston Churchill; politician, historian, writer, Nobel Prize winner and forerunner of the British Empire in the 20th century are abounding today. And while these account focus on his many achievements, very few take into cognizance the trials and tribulations Churchill went through to become the revered strategist and politician he became. Similar challenges had grounded countless other men like him; his case was however different because he was destined for greatness; a fact he was well in tune with.
So, when a failed Dardanelles conquest, which caused the death of thousands of men in world war one (WW1) led to his retrenchment from the Admiral team, a splitting blow to his political figure at the time, Churchill did not relent. Granted, like most people he was deeply saddened by this development so much that it led to depression and his subsequent withdrawal from Parliament. For nearly a decade, Churchill went into a reclusive state, staying clear of politics and the brimming threat of a second world war. But when destiny called upon him at the commencement of the Second World War, it was a call that awakened him from his slumber.
Aside from political setbacks, Churchill was also a victim of life-threatening disease conditions. In a world where malaria and smallpox possessed immense lethality, Pneumonia was cancer. Churchill managed to overcome not one but two afflictions of the disease in 1886 and 1943, just before the start of World War II. At the age of eighteen while playing, Churchill fell from a dizzying height of thirty feet, rupturing his kidney and losing consciousness in the process. At this point, the world wasn’t known for its advancement in the field of medicine and how Churchill managed to survive these incidents is nothing short of a miracle or better put a divine act of destiny.
Churchill was well accustomed to death.
His periodic stints at the battlefront made certain that he had a first-hand experience of it. However, his belief in destiny, the realization that he was made for greater things superseded any fear of limitations; a fact well represented in his ideology and political stance – at the advent of his election into the seat of prime minister, this is what he had to say
“I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last, I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”
From Rags to Riches – Benjamin Franklin
In the 18th century being the son of a candle maker almost or always translated to a life of poverty and strife. Benjamin Franklin was not just a son of a shoemaker; he was Josiah Franklin’s (Boston candle and soap maker) 10th son and 17th child. Unsurprisingly the Young Franklin had no formal education, and to quell his adventurous spirits; his lifelong dream was to become a seaman. This ambition to be a Seaman did not go well with Franklin Senior; he wanted his son to chase a more practical career, one like his.
To this effect, Franklin was enrolled for an apprenticeship in a local printing shop, under the stewardship of a close relative – unknown to Franklin and his father this singular decision would redefine the life of Franklin and in extension set off a cascade of events which ultimately culminate in the formation of modern-day America.
At the print shop, Franklin was groomed in the art of print production and operations. He doubled as a production assistant and a salesperson and was in most instances found hawking pamphlets and leaflets down the street. In time, the print shop recorded immense success, and in a glaring case of being under the influence of destiny, Franklin, despite lacking a formal education did not only develop a knack for reading, but he also began writing his own (unauthorized) essays under the pen name ’Silence Dogood.’ He was 16 at the time.
He was, however, not ‘silent’ enough, and soon enough Franklin’s mentor and brother James discovered who was behind the Silence Dogwood moniker – expecting to be an older, more experienced writer, he was far from pleased when he learned it was Franklin. The bulging popularity of Franklin’s writings made matters worse, and a year later, he vacated the printing shop onwards to New York and then New Jersey in search of a better life.
And a better life he did find.
Franklin set up shop in Philadelphia, in no time he achieved renowned fame and was well known for his annual Poor Richard’s Almanac. Displaying an astute sense of diplomacy, Franklin leveraged his political ties with the then government and slowly but steadily began to climb the political ladder. In 1753 he was officially appointed as the postmaster general in charge of all mail in the northern colonies. By the early 1770s however, consequent of growing unrest fired by the Stamp act British-American relationship was in a sour state. Franklin was soon relieved of his post of Postmaster. He returned swiftly to Philadelphia and secured a seat in the Second Continental Congress, the group spearheading the revolutionary war. In this capacity, Franklin utilized his Diplomacy skills to the fullest, using it to secure loans, sponsors, and resources for the impending war. In the company of his founding colleagues, Franklin composed the Declaration of Independence, signed the Treaty of Paris and the appended the new Constitution – three of which were pivotal in establishing the independent America of today.
The life of Benjamin Franklin is a blistering manifestation of destiny. It demonstrates how inconsequential a man’s origin or life history is to his end story. Franklin was the 10th child in a family of 17. Without formal education, he still went on to be the most read writer in the British colonies. What’s more, Franklin is credited with inventing the highly efficient wood stove, bifocal lenses, and the odometer whilst pioneering research in electricity. He was not an academician, but his impacts were more than those of the academicians of his time.
Deficiency in education never limited Franklin
If anything it worked as a stepping stone – if Franklin had attended college, the chances are high that he’d have become an academician engrossed with just reading books and writing essays. His start in a printing house exposed him to early fame and applause, two of which he exploited as a means to penetrate the American political system. From rags, Franklin ascended to renown and riches, and today his name echoes in the halls of American pride as one of the most influential Founding fathers.
Alexander the Great
Very few people have their names transcribed in over three different languages because very few people get to directly alter/impact the lives of a vast majority people. One of such individuals was Alexander the great. In Persian he was known as Alexander of Macedonia, the Arabs knew him as Al-Iskander Al-Makadoni, and Hebrews called him Alexander Mokdon.
Unlike Churchill and Franklin, Alexander the great had destiny written all over his face even before he was born. It is widely reported that Olympias, Alexander’s mother had a dream where her womb was struck by lightning that caused a blistering flame to spread far and wide. His father Emperor Phillip also had a similar dream where he saw his wife’s womb embossed with a lion seal – the interpretations of these dreams was that Alexander was, in fact, the Son of Zeus.
From his youth, he displayed god-like attributes, successfully taming a seemingly untameable horse, his father is quoted to have commented that his Kingdom was not enough for Alexander’s domineering spirit. Indeed Alexander’s ambition was far beyond human reach. Riding the wave of the belief that he had been divinely ordained to unite the many nations of the world, Alexander set out to conquer a vast majority of territories after his father died. At the time of his death, he had overpowered almost all of the Persian Empire. And while this legend lived only 30 years, his impact would go on to be felt by the rest of the world for ages to come.