Nashville Great Books Discussion Group

A reader's group devoted to the discussion of meaningful books.

Friday, July 14, 2017

HERODOTUS: History (Book 5)

Herodotus spent several chapters telling us about Persia, Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, and Scythia.  Meanwhile, back at the home front, he turns our attention to Thrace, the northern neighbor of the Greek world.  In some ways the Thracians are as strange as any of the “barbarians” Herodotus has covered.  He gives an example from the Thracian Trausi tribe.  “When a child is born all its kindred sit round about it in a circle and weep for the woes it will have to undergo now that it is come into the world, making mention of every ill that falls to the lot of humankind; when, on the other hand, a man has died, they bury him with laughter and rejoicings, and say that now he is free from a host of sufferings, and enjoys the completest happiness.”  What are we supposed to make of that?  It sounds similar to the book of Ecclesiastes, where “all is vanity.”  But this is not a theme that captures the ancient Greek imagination.  For them life was a struggle and they openly acknowledged that life can be tragic.  In fact, the Greeks invented tragic drama.  Aeschylus showed how the great king Agamemnon came to a tragic end because of hubris.  Sophocles showed how Oedipus suffered at the hand of Fate.  Euripides showed how Medea (one of those “barbarians” from around the Black Sea/Scythian area) was betrayed by that famous Greek icon, Jason.  These were all tragic lessons brought to the stage by Greek dramatists.  But generally life for an ancient Greek, man or woman, was not a tragedy.  Life was an adventure to be lived to the fullest.  Homer’s Odyssey is one of the truly great Western adventure stories about a long journey to get back home.  For Plato philosophy is the ultimate human adventure; the tragedy is that so few people follow it.  Herodotus proves this point when he goes on to say that for the Thracians “to be idle is accounted the most honorable thing, and to be a tiller of the ground the most dishonorable.  To live by war and plunder is of all things the most glorious.”  Thrace was not a country that encouraged philosophy.  Aristotle would emphatically reject the Thracian (or any) “philosophy” that encourages idleness and plunder.  For Aristotle happiness was the full development of human capacities to achieve excellence in whatever field is pursued, whether in work, in war, in drama or philosophy.  So what were these glorious Greeks busy doing while those far-away barbaric Persians were getting stronger and spreading their empire?  The Greeks were fighting bitterly amongst themselves.  Herodotus doesn’t make excuses.  He just records how the Greeks, in their own way, were just as avaricious and power-hungry as any Persian king ever was.  It’s true that Cyrus came to power by leading the Persians ruthlessly against the Medes.  And when Cyrus was killed his son Cambyses (who Herodotus thought was insane) took his place.  Then Darius led a bold and murderous coup to claim the Persian throne.  This sounds as bloody as our reading in 1 Samuel when Saul, like Cyrus, wanted his own son (Jonathan) to rule after him.  But the rise of David led to civil war amongst the Hebrew tribes.  Some were for Saul, some were for David, and many were just out for themselves.  This was how the game was played and the Persians and Hebrews weren’t exceptional in this.  Neither were the Greeks.  Aristagoras wanted to revolt against king Darius; not because he was a patriotic Greek but because he wanted to rule for himself.  He tried to get Sparta and Athens to help.  But Sparta had its own problems.  They had a king (Cleomenes) whom Herodotus suspected of not being in his right mind.  And at that time the Athenians were split between the backers of Clisthenes (who called the common people to his aid), and Isagoras who, finding things weren’t going his way, called on Cleomenes (a Spartan) for help.  When Isagoras (with the help of Cleomenes) drove out Clisthenes, where did Clisthenes turn for help?  To Sardis, to make an alliance with… guess who?  The Persians.  Got all that?  We need a program guide to keep up.  These real-life historical characters don’t sound much different from Agamemnon, Odysseus, and Jason.  Herodotus shows readers just how dramatic history can be.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

HERODOTUS: History (Book 4)

Americans aren’t the only ones who want “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Reading Herodotus it seems that even in ancient times all people wanted to live in freedom and be happy.  It’s not clear whether Herodotus thinks all people are essentially alike or if he thinks they’re fundamentally different.  Compare what he has to say about two great peoples, the Egyptians and the Scythians.  “The Egyptians adhere to their own national customs, and adopt no foreign usages.” (Book 2)  “The Scythians have an extreme hatred of all foreign customs, particularly those in use among the Greeks.” (Book 4)  In this way at least they’re alike; they both want to live in freedom and be happy living by their own traditional customs.  But in other ways they couldn’t be more different.  The Egyptians had been rooted in the same spot since prehistoric times.  They were an agrarian urban-based people.  The Scythians had wandered all over the northern part of Asia Minor.  They were a nomadic people.  “The Egyptians… believed themselves to be the most ancient of mankind.” (Book 2)  But “According to the account which the Scythians themselves give, they are the youngest of all nations.” (Book 4)  The Egyptians had to defend their homeland by the Nile River and had no place to retreat.  That’s why the Persians under Cambyses and Darius could defeat the Egyptians in battle (though they were less successful in Libya and Ethiopia).  The Scythians had a different defensive strategy.  They “make it impossible for the enemy who invades them to escape destruction, while they themselves are entirely out of his reach, unless it please them to engage with him.  Having neither cities nor forts, and carrying their dwellings with them wherever they go… how can they fail of being unconquerable, and unassailable even?”  Darius had to withdraw from Scythia without conquering them.  In fact, it was a somewhat humiliating retreat, not a strategic one.  Herodotus says “the Persians escaped from Scythia” and thinks they were lucky to get out alive.  The Greeks were intimately connected with both Egypt and Scythia.  Herodotus believed “almost all the names of the gods came into Greece from Egypt.”  He also says “I maintain that both the shield and the helmet came into Greece from Egypt.” (Book 2)  The seafaring Greeks were also well acquainted with the Scythians.  They had established colonies and trading posts around the Black Sea.  We can infer this from Herodotus’ testimony that “the Geloni were anciently Greeks who, being driven out of the factories along the coast, fled to the Budini and took up their abode with them.  They still speak a language half Greek, half Scythian.”  (The Budini were a people who lived in far northeastern Scythia.)  In spite of these intimate connections Aristotle still believed "It is proper that Greeks should rule over barbarians" (Politics, Book 1, chapter 2)  Why would he think this?  He believed Greek civilization was superior to all the others.  All people may want to live in freedom and happiness, but he thought the Greek way was best.  For example, Herodotus says “The Agathyrsi are a race of men very luxurious and are very fond of wearing gold.  They have wives in common...”  Aristotle thought wealth should be used to live a certain kind of moderate lifestyle, not a “luxurious” one.  He also thought the family (a husband and wife raising their own children) was the cornerstone of civilized life.  Herodotus told us that “The Androphagi are more savage than those of any other race.  They neither observe justice, nor are governed by any laws.”  Aristotle believed that when people are governed by rational laws they’re the best of creatures, but when they’re not, they’re the most savage of creatures.  For these reasons Aristotle thought it proper that Greeks should rule over barbarians, not the other way around.  That’s fine; but what did barbarians think of that idea?  Let Herodotus speak for them: “These be the names of the Libyan tribes whereof I am able to give the names; and most of these cared little then, and indeed care little now, for the king of the Medes.”  Presumably they cared little for the Greeks as well.  They didn’t give a fig for Darius or for Aristotle either.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

HERODOTUS: History (Book 3)

Examining ideas is at the heart of the Great Books reading and discussion program.  One idea that comes up over and over again is the concept of Fate.  Herodotus deals with this question in Book 3 of his History with the story of Polycrates.  In some ways Polycrates was a huge success.  “Wherever he turned his arms, success waited on him… he plundered all, without distinction of friend or foe.”  The Egyptian ruler Amasis grew alarmed and had this advice for Polycrates: “Amasis to Polycrates thus sayeth: It is a pleasure to hear of a friend and ally prospering, but thy exceeding prosperity does not cause me joy, forasmuch as I know that the gods are envious… For never yet did I hear tell of any one succeeding in all his undertakings, who did not meet with calamity at last, and come to utter ruin.”  It might not be true that all successful people eventually meet with calamity and come to utter ruin.  But many do.  In the Great Books we read about Oedipus (Sophocles) and Othello (Shakespeare) rising to the pinnacles of power and success only to “come to utter ruin” in the end.  Aristotle seems to agree when he says “many reverses and vicissitudes of all sorts occur in the course of life, and it is possible that the most prosperous man may encounter great disasters in his declining years, as the story is told of Priam in the epics; but no one calls a man happy who meets with misfortunes like Priam's, and comes to a miserable end.” (Ethics, Book 1, Ch. 9)  One lesson we might draw from Herodotus is not to get too satisfied in success, nor too despondent in defeat.  The wheel of fortune (Fate) will spin its own direction, regardless of human wishes.  Today most people don’t believe that.  Amasis did.  “He perceived that it does not belong to man to save his fellow-man from the fate which is in store for him.”  (As a side note: in this case Amasis was right.  Polycrates met a bad end.)  Another idea that keeps popping up in Great Books is the idea of Truth.  Just as the question of Fate has never been fully resolved, neither has the question of Truth.  A popular magazine recently had this headline on the cover: Is Truth Dead?  This is the question Socrates addressed in many of Plato’s dialogs.  Socrates emphatically believed that Truth was not dead in his day and wouldn’t be dead in ours either, because Socrates believed Truth was an eternal guiding principle.  But the magazine wasn’t really addressing the question of philosophical Truth.  It was talking about political truth.  Does it make any difference?  Is the Truth spoken about in philosophy different from the one we’re talking about in politics?  The Persian ruler Darius had this to say about telling the truth: “An untruth must be spoken, where need requires.  For whether men lie, or say true, it is with one and the same object.  Men lie, because they think to gain by deceiving others; and speak the truth, because they expect to get something by their true speaking, and to be trusted afterwards in more important matters.  Thus, though their conduct is so opposite, the end of both is alike.  If there were no gain to be got, your true-speaking man would tell untruths as much as your liar, and your liar would tell the truth as much as your true-speaking man.”  Maybe this is a cynical view but there’s a lesson Herodotus can teach us here.  When we listen to political speeches the right question may be not be: is this politician telling the truth?  The right question may be: what advantage are they trying to gain by giving this speech?

In the Great Books tradition there’s no right answer and wrong answer regarding Fate and Truth.  But some answers are better than others.  The same goes for the idea of Government.  In Book 3 Herodotus examines three types of government: democracy, aristocracy and monarchy.  Three Persians each give a speech showing the virtues and vices of each form of government.  Which one is best?  Who knows?  They can all work or they can all fail, depending on the people involved.  In the end, the Persians chose monarchy; not necessarily because it’s best but because they thought it would work best for them.  The Greeks chose democracy.  These choices eventually led to war.  It wasn’t just a war of blood and steel.  It was a war of ideas.

Friday, June 09, 2017

HERODOTUS The History (Book 2)


In Book 2 Herodotus takes us on a travel tour of Egypt.  This may seem like a diversion from his topic of the great wars between the Greeks and the Persians, but it’s a pleasant diversion.  And it’s actually on topic because it’s an exploration of: (1) how the Greeks became Greek, and (2) the tools of history which Herodotus was just beginning to develop.  History is, of course, the study of the past.  And Herodotus begins Book 2 by noting that “The Egyptians… believed themselves to be the most ancient of mankind.”  Who better to tell about the past than “the most ancient of mankind.”  Whether this is actually true is debatable.  But there’s no denying the antiquity of the Egyptians.  They were an ancient people even to the ancient Greeks.  And the Egyptians were exceptionally skilled in many areas, including history.  Herodotus says “The Heliopolitans have the reputation of being the best skilled in history of all the Egyptians.”  Compare this to his fellow Greeks.  Herodotus thinks “The Greeks tell many tales without due investigation… it seems that such a story proves the Greeks to be utterly ignorant of the character and customs of the people.”  Herodotus personally went on a tour of Egypt to conduct his own historical research.  What he found was amazing.  After talking to people who actually lived there he concluded: “What they said of their country seemed to me very reasonable.”  Let’s start with geography.  Herodotus believes location made the Egyptian people who they were; specifically, Egypt itself was a gift of the Nile River.  Herodotus records that “At present, it must be confessed, they obtain the fruits of the field with less trouble than any other people in the world, since they have no need to break up the ground with the plough, nor to use the hoe, nor to do any of the work which the rest of mankind find necessary if they are to get a crop.”  This may not be literally true but it does show how the flooding of the Nile gave the Egyptians enough leisure time to pursue other activities.  And they had many, many other activities.  Herodotus goes into great detail about their customs.  He talks about their markets and business practices, where they eat their food, what the duties of the priests are, how Egyptians support their parents, how they wear their hair, and a long section on their pets and how they generally treated animals.  Herodotus tells how Egyptians felt about the cat, the crocodile, the hippopotamus, the mythical phoenix, and various snakes.  That all sounds interesting but what does it have to do with the Greek and Persian wars?  It turns out that Greece was heavily influenced by the Egyptians.  Take religion for example.  Herodotus believes “Almost all the names of the gods came from Greece into Egypt.  My inquiries prove that they were all derived from a foreign source, and my opinion is that Egypt furnished the greater number.”  He goes on to say that “Whence the gods severally sprang, whether or no they had all existed from eternity, what forms they bore; these are questions of which the Greeks knew nothing until the other day, so to speak.”  In fact, the Egyptians seemed to know more about the Trojan War than the Greeks themselves did.  Herodotus comes to the conclusion (based on his Egyptians sources) that the Trojans didn’t give Helen back to the Greeks because the Trojans didn’t have her.  Paris had taken her to Egypt, not toTroy.  Take another example, the great Greek lawgiver Solon.  Herodotus says it was the Egyptian ruler, Amasis, who “established the law that every Egyptian should appear once a year before the governor of his canton, and show his means of living; or failing to do so, and to prove that he got an honest livelihood, should be put to death.  Solon the Athenian borrowed this law from the Egyptians, and imposed it on his countrymen, who have observed it ever since.  It is indeed an excellent custom.”  Greek culture was not just an extension of Egyptian culture but Herodotus shows that the Greeks did borrow many things from Egypt; just as the Romans borrowed from the Greeks, the British from the Romans, and Americans from the British.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

HERODOTUS: History (Book 1 Ch. 95-216)

In this section Herodotus traces the rise and fall of Cyrus.  The rise of Cyrus was either inevitable or highly unlikely, depending on how we interpret the sources Herodotus gives us.  He says he will “follow those Persian authorities whose object it appears to be not to magnify the exploits of Cyrus, but to relate the simple truth.”  The truth turns out to be not so simple.  This much we know for sure: “The Assyrians had held the Empire of Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years, when the Medes set the example of revolt from their authority.”  Herodotus relates how at first “Deioces collected the Medes into a nation, and ruled over them alone.”  His son, Phraortes, went a step further.  He “began by attacking the Persians; and marching an army into the country, brought them under the Median yoke.”  Then Phraortes’ son, Cyaxares, “was the first who gave organization to an Asiatic army… who before his time had been mingled in one mass, and confused together.”  After combining the Median and Persian empires, Cyaxares set his sights on conquering the Assyrian empire.  “A battle was fought in which the Assyrians suffered a defeat.”  After 520 years of Assyrian rule what we now call Asia Minor was united under a Mede-Persian empire.  Almost united.  A few city-states still wanted independence.  This would eventually lead to war between the Persians and the Greeks.  But this is just background information for the real story Herodotus wants to tell: the rise of Cyrus.  Astyages became king after Cyaxares.  He had a daughter and dreamed she would give birth to a boy who would de-throne him.  So instead of marrying her to a Mede nobleman he gave her to Cambyses, “a Persian of good family, indeed, but of a quiet temper, whom he looked on as much inferior to a Mede of even middle condition.”  This is where Cyrus enters the stage of world history.  In a story reminiscent of Oedipus the King, Cyrus is miraculously saved from being killed as an infant.  When he’s grown to manhood he leads a revolt of the Persians and defeats the army of the Medes.  That’s how he became sole ruler of a vast empire.  For almost thirty years he was victorious and spread his rule over most of the peoples surrounding him.  Eventually he tried to conquer the wrong people.  “The Massagatae were ruled by a queen named Tomyrisa.”  When he invaded her country Tomyrisa warned Cyrus to back off.  She sent a message and told him to “be content to rule in peace thy own kingdom, and bear to see us reign over the countries that are ours to govern.”  Cyrus ignored her warning and invaded anyway.  This was a fatal mistake.  A battle was fought and “at length the Massagatae prevailed.  The greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed and Cyrus himself fell, after reigning nine and twenty years.”  What does all this have to do with the Greeks?  Before his fatal encounter with the Massagatae Cyrus had subdued most of Asia Minor.  But the Greek city-states in Ionia and Aeolia resisted.  They appealed to mainland Greece for help.  No help was offered but the Spartans did send a ship of fifty men to keep an eye on what was happening and warn Cyrus not to molest any of the Greek cities.  Cyrus saw them and asked “Who these Spartans were, and what were their number, that they dared to send him such a notice?  …If I live, the Spartans shall have troubles enough of their own to talk of, without concerning themselves about the Ionians.”  In hindsight it was clear that Cyrus had enough problems without trying to conquer the Massagatae.  He had his hands full just keeping his provinces in Asia Minor under control.  Cyrus had conquered Lydia but as soon as he left, they revolted.  He asked his political aide Croesus (the former king of Lydia) “Where will this end, Croesus, thinkest thou?  It seemeth that these Lydians will not cease to cause trouble both to themselves and others.”  The Ionians and Aeolians, like the Lydians, saw themselves as freedom fighters.  Cyrus saw them as a “cause of trouble both to themselves and others.”  Persia didn’t need Spartans or other Greeks stirring up more rebellion.  By the end of Book 1 Cyrus is dead.  But the Persian empire is still intact.  This is a war just waiting to happen.   

Saturday, May 20, 2017

HERODOTUS: History Book 1 (1-94)

Herodotus tells the reader what his book is about with this prologue: “These are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, which he publishes, in the hope of thereby preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done, and of preventing the great and wonderful actions of the Greeks and the Barbarians from losing their deserved share of glory; and withal to put on record what were the grounds of the feud.”  The “researches of Herodotus” include documents he’s read and stories that he’s heard from others.  He gathers them all together, sorts through them, and then shapes them into a long story about how the Greeks fought off the Persian attempt to dominate them militarily and politically.  Why would he go to all this trouble?  He’s already told us.  Herodotus thinks it’s important to remember the past and honor those who deserve it.  We could just build a monument.  But a monument doesn’t tell a story.  History does.  It’s interesting that Herodotus begins with what was most important in Greek culture: the story of the Trojan War as told in Homer’s Iliad.  He says “Alexander (Paris) the son of Priam… fully persuaded that as the Greeks had not given satisfaction for their outrages, so neither would he be forced to make any for his.  Accordingly he made prize of Helen…”  This is some background that pre-dates the Iliad.  The Greeks had “carried off Medea” from the area of Asia Minor, where Troy is located.  So Paris didn’t think the Greeks would mind if he did the same thing.  He was wrong.  As Herodotus writes, “the Asiatics, when the Greeks ran off with their women, never troubled themselves about the matter; but the Greeks, for the sake of a single Lacedaemonian girl (Helen), collected a vast armament, invaded Asia, and destroyed the kingdom of Priam.”  Here’s one of the puzzles of ancient history.  When Jason abducted Medea the “Asiatics” didn’t retaliate by invading Greece.  So why did the Greeks invade them when Paris abducted Helen?  One of the main themes of Herodotus is the clash of values between cultures.  He gives a good example of this in two attitudes regarding nudity.  The Greeks celebrated the human body with their artistic depictions of nude models.  The Asiatics were much more modest and circumspect in their attitude toward the human body.  Why?  Those were their customs.  That was the way they had been taught.  Herodotus writes that Gyges (an “Asiatic”) says “Our fathers, in time past, distinguished right and wrong plainly enough, and it is our wisdom to be taught by them.”  This is one reason we study history; to see how notions of “right and wrong” develop over time and how different cultures perceive them.  Herodotus portrays this vast diversity in his History.  Besides the problem of distinguishing between right and wrong Herodotus also examines the meaning of happiness.  Is it the same for the Persians as it is for the Greeks?  Or do their interpretations of happiness differ, as they do regarding nudity?  Herodotus tells the story of Croesus, a splendidly rich king, and Solon, a wise philosopher.  Croesus thinks Solon will appreciate all his wealth and asks Solon who he thinks is the happiest of men.  To Croesus’ surprise, it’s not him.  Solon admits a rich man has many advantages if “he is whole of limb, a stranger to disease, free from misfortune, happy in his children, and comely to look upon.”  But he goes on to say, “Call him, however, until he die, not happy but fortunate.  Scarcely indeed can any man unite all these advantages: as there is no country which contains within it all that it needs, but each, while it possesses some things, lacks others, and the best country is that which contains the most; so no single human being is complete in every respect; something is always lacking.  He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man alone, sire, is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of ‘happy’.”  This is true not only of men, but of entire nations too.  Those nations which can gain “the greatest number of advantages” will be happiest.  Thus Herodotus has set the stage for the monumental struggle between the Greeks and the Persians to obtain these advantages.       

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

BIBLE: 2 Samuel 19 - 1 Kings 2

Aristotle once wrote: “For there is required, as we said, not only complete virtue but also a complete life, since many changes occur in life, and all manner of chances, and the most prosperous may fall into great misfortunes in old age, as is told of Priam in the Trojan Cycle; and one who has experienced such chances and has ended wretchedly no one calls happy.” (Ethics, Chapter 9)  This was certainly true of David.  The end of the book of Samuel isn’t the end of David’s life.  His long life doesn’t come to an end until the second chapter of the book of Kings and David has trials and tribulations right up to the very end.  Only then can the reader look back and reflect.  Was David a good king?  Was he a good man?  Like many strong characters, in literature as well as in life, the answer depends on who you ask.  Let’s reflect on David as a king.  Israelites who were followers of the house of Saul wouldn’t have much good to say about David.  To them he was a bloody man and an outright rebel against the authority of Israel’s real king, Saul.  When David had to leave Jerusalem after Absalom’s rebellion, Shimei had this to say: “The Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.”  Another man who never accepted David was Sheba and “he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.”  On the other hand, David had many faithful followers.  When he fled Jerusalem we read that “all the country wept with a loud voice, and… lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him.”  Was David a good king?  What would Uriah say?  Bathsheba?  Joab?  Absalom?  From a human perspective David must be judged on human terms.  From a divine perspective we come to different conclusions.  One of the lessons of the book is that God is working through history for His own purposes, not David’s.  The book of Ruth (right before the book of 1 Samuel) ends this way: “And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”  The Gospel of Matthew begins this way: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…  And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias…”  Boaz (Booz) was David’s great grandfather.  He took a Moabite named Ruth as his wife and after a couple of generations David was born.  David was just one link in a long chain of generations.  He was an important link, that’s true, but the meaning of his life can only be viewed within the context of what came before him and what came after him.  An important question remains.  Was this story a story about God working out his purpose in human history?  Or was David’s life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, merely the result of his own human efforts?  David himself has this to say in Chapter 22 (which is also Psalm 18): the Lord has “delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.  They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.  He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.”  David certainly believed it was the hand of God that delivered him from his enemies.  Modern readers may be more skeptical.  Why would God, if there is a God, delight in a man who committed adultery and then murder to try and cover it up?  What would Aristotle think of David’s ethics?  Would Plutarch use him as an example in his Lives?  The Bible is not a Greek book based on rational thinking.  It’s the story of God’s people told through the lens of human history.  David learned the hard way that God’s ways are not man’s ways; and that everyone, good or bad, eventually goes to his own grave.  “So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.”