Phaedrus the fabulist wrote some fairly fabulous fables. One of them, APES ET FVCI VESPA IVDICE, is particularly apropos today. In this fable a dispute arises between some bees and some drones. The bees have built a honeycomb in a large oak tree. The drones reward the bees’ labor by invading the honeycomb and claiming it as their own. The bees bring suit against the drones before a judge wasp. When the judge wasp rules in favor of the bees, rewarding them full and exclusive ownership of the honeycomb, the drones get angry and refuse to sign the agreement.
Napoleon is a drone.
Just yesterday he was so happy, puffed up with dreams of conquest and benevolent lawgiving. Today, however, he enters an abandoned Moscow. It’s a Moscow Tolstoy likens to a queenless beehive. Here is no bustling activity of a thriving metropolis. Far from it.
Napoleon expected a city abuzz. He expected to be greeted warmly as he dispensed his gifts of civilization. That has been taken from him. Instead he is offered a dead city and no glory of conquest.
So, as we all sometimes do when denied something we want, Napoleon marches off in frustration. Once again we see the folly of desiring something that we have no true control over. The lesson from today’s reading, then, is that if something does not belong to you it is impossible to lose it and therefore not worth fretting over.
Under no circumstances ever say ‘I have lost something,’ only ‘I returned it.’