Felipe Segundo / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Philip the Second

     Despotism is a prodigious heir. It consumes the most treasured reserve in more benign days. Spain ceases to produce, under the Austrian kings, the opportune politician, the entrepreneur soldier, the subtle diplomat.
     Capable men are still abundant around Philip the Second, he envies and persecutes them. They evoke the wonder of a vegetation that renews itself triumphant over the weather as it turns hostile. He only accepts those who are similar to him in his practices of an insignificant and timed office worker, the ones that accompany him in the religion of the formula, the requisite and the dossier. A circumstance that explains the more sustained fortune of the Duke of Alba, a sophist instead of a soldier due to the habit of rumination and hypothesis.
     No one more adequate for the superfluous and impolitic punishment of Flanders. A type from his narrow, unkempt, famished and violent town. He unleashes his fanatical rancor against pagan life and the brimming prosperity of the country that is nourished directly from the loot. He wouldn’t have forgiven a Flamenco lady the attempt to seduce him with her luxuriant and fluffy beauty, because it would have led to the theme of a tragic romance forcing her death. He would have followed the coffin with a measured and proud step, and, once returned, he would have sat insomniac by the light of his silver candelabra, without taking off the velvet suit nor the bearing worthy of his martial self.
     The retinue of equipped servers facilitates Philip the Second’s plans with more assurance than the wealth of the entire new globe. No treasure is equivalent to a fecund spirit. But he tangles and paralyzes them with the detailed ordinance and rigid program. The absolute monarch is hostile to individual initiative, capable of altering the unity and uniformity that he proposes.
     This ideal in fashion at the time originates in how man simplifies in order to understand. Saint Thomas Aquinas gauges spirits because of the faculty for unifying. He assures us that superhuman beings understand with a minimal volume of ideas. The unit passes, without delay, from a requisite of thought to the goal of an ill-fated politics.
     The absorbing and centralizing effort was praised all over Europe by the theologians who remembered the reasons of Saint Augustine in The City of God and by the jurists who brought from Roman Law the machines with which to eradicate feudalism. For unifying, politics served the orthodoxy.
     Philip the Second personifies and extends the totalizing design that consolidates royalties. Under his authority he adds the clergy and sterilizes the enthusiasm of new religious orders. He lives in a solitary relationship with Divinity, whom he represents and substitutes on earth in contempt of the Holy See.
     A third irremediable decline under that amanuensis and swindler king, who accuses honorable people of rebellion, who never acknowledge him for exalting the armies and fertilizing discipline. Graduates and procedures consume the stipend of heroes.
     That mania of centralization and rules, grafted onto the perfidy of a Tiberius, had prospered with his being raised far from nature, amid etiquette and a formalist and petty education. Titian exhibits him inappropriately in front of a landscape painted with the hilarity of the colors of that era.
     The historian of that malignant life needs to reproduce the continuity of the dramatic piece and its growing effect, illuminating itself with the indignation of Alfieri. To force the fantasy of a seer and and a philosopher’s examination instead of an archivist’s details. To point out with a priest’s intonation the fatality that frustrates each of the king’s enterprises, and to promulgate in the horror of the denouement the edifying commentary of the chorus in ancient tragedy.

La Torre de Timón (1925)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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