I billeted a strong force overnight in a citadel laid waste in former days by other generals. There we slept upon its back and flanks, while under us its landlords slept. And I said to my heart: Where are the many people who once lived here? Where are the builders and vandals, the rulers and paupers, the slaves and masters? Where are the begetters and the bereaved, the fathers and the sons, the mourners and the bridegrooms? And where are the many people born after the others had died, in days gone by, after other days and years? Once they lodged upon the earth; now they are lodged within it. They passed from their palaces to the grave, from pleasant courts to dust.
-Samuel HaNagid (993-1056), “The Ruined Citadel” (tr. T. Carmi). Samuel HaNagid was a Jewish general for a Grenadian Muslim army. We think of AD 1000 as so very long ago, as indeed it was. But there were people alive then, unreckonably far back from where we sit, who also could see themselves as the heirs of lost ages and old, old times. Someday we too will be dim figures of antiquity.
Hat tip to the Laudator Temporis Acti