Transformation and Opinion
Pity the poor soldiers of the Grande Armée. How great they must have thought themselves in the first decade of the nineteenth century. Probably they had to given their name. And it certainly didn’t hurt that their martial service in those years came to grip all of Europe in a tight Gallic fist. The world belonged to them.
Then 1812 happened.
That’s when the tides turned. That’s when they met with Denisov, Dolokhov and the great, though small, Russian detachments waging partisan warfare against them throughout their retreat into Smolensk. How humiliating the defeats they suffered at the hands of these small bands must have felt. How could it be that so great an institution as the Grande Armée should be so thoroughly and rapidly diminished by such a lowly bunch?
All the things you see around you change immediately and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of these changes you have already witnessed. The universe is transformation: life is opinion.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations