There are some people who are born ahead of time. In this series, we are going to talk about those geniuses.
Oscar Wilde once said, “The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.” And it is very difficult to disagree with him, after looking at the various genius people who at the time of their death were labelled ‘insane’ or as ‘traitors’ and other such humiliating adjectives in different times. When you sit down and ponder over this, you will find it very difficult to differ with the fact that, it took years for our society to accept a thinking, which did not confine to what was taught and what was deemed to be acceptable, to what was different and bold and to what was capable of bringing a revolution in itself.
Here are 3 geniuses in this first series that you need to know about:
He was condemned to death for refusing to follow the crowd, he was assumed to be corrupt, he was charged for brainwashing the youth of Athens. He was put to death by hemlock poisoning, after he gave his very famous speech in 399 B.C, which is now known as ‘Apology’ by Plato. The men and women of Greece looked on as Socrates died fearlessly, each of them questioning their souls on whether what was happening in front of them was right or wrong. One of the most famous quotes by Socrates, which he said on the day of his death was, “To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know.” This same man is now the known as the greatest philosophers of all time. He laid the foundations of Western Philosophy, and most significantly he contributed the Socratic Method, which he used to examine major moral ideas such as the Justice and Goodness. Students of philosophy and political science study his ideas which are applicable even today. Such was a tragedy of this man, who died, for a revolution of thought.
He was THE astronomer who stated the theory of the universe which placed the Sun, rather than the Earth, at the centre. He was criticized for going against what was pre-established, as it was widely believed at that time, that the Earth was the centre and the Sun revolved around it. His book named, ‘De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres)’ which was published, just before his death in 1543 was later banned because it did not go by the common myth and it stirred, what was known as the ‘Copernican Revolution’. A theory condemned at that time, was taken seriously only later, lots of time after his death. He is credit to bring about a scientific revolution and to have set down a quantity theory of money, a principal concept in economics to the present day. For once, imagine if Copernicus wouldn’t have had the courage to write about the heliocentric model of the universe, wouldn’t we still believe that the Earth was at the centre and then form other subsidiary notions from it?
JOAN OF ARC:
She led the French Army to many victories during the ‘Hundred years of war’. She was captured by the Burgundians, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon for charges of ‘insubordination and heresy’. The trial record demonstrates her remarkable intellect. This 19 year old woman had the courage to go against the Church and follow her conscience, was courageous enough to do what her gender wasn’t ‘allowed to do’, she chose to lead the armies at war rather than being at home waiting for the men to return safe from war. But, she was burned at the stake when she was 19 years old on charges of heresy. 25 years after her death when the case was re-opened the charges were slashed and she was then declared a SAINT on May 16, 1920 489 years after her death. She was also declared a martyr. But long after her death! To this day, Joan of Arc has remained a significant figure in Western civilization. From Napoleon I onward, French politicians of all leanings have invoked her memory, famous writers, filmmakers and composers who have created works about her.
Keep watching this space for Part 2.