Angry apes

The action in Measure for Measure is driven by the dickish behavior of a petty bureaucrat who has suddenly been put in charge. Shakespeare had the number of such people, who plainly exist in every age, not least our own.


Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne’er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder;
Nothing but thunder! Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Split’st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle: but man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.

Measure for Measure, Act I Scene II

S0, right after posting the above I happened to be listening to this piece on the Radiolab podcast, The story is also in this Washington Post article. Basically, the CIA got real time satellite images of a convoy moving through the scablands of Yemen and decided that some al Qaeda prick we are after might be with them, so we had a drone hit them with 4 missiles. Turned out to be a wedding party traveling from the bride’s village to the groom’s, and zero connection with the Al Qaeda guy.

Talk about thundering as does Jove, I think hellfire missiles trump thunderbolts any day. We give people in a room in Langley or some such place the ability to reach down from the sky and obliterate whomever we we like;  8 people dead, mind you, and who knows what other damage just to maybe get one guy.

O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.

Measure for Measure, Act I Scene II