When I was a young mann, before age had granted me her wisdom, I traveled far in an attempt to take for myself those gifts which time was slow to grant. In those travels I came to the vaunted Talqamar, hallowed ground for both intelligent menn and inquisitive minds alike. There I sat and heard speak the philosopher Callach Quintero, who lectured for long hours on our shared motherland of Alesia. On her history and customs few can elucidate, but the systems put in place each have purpose and are designed to accomplish the efforts of governance with efficiency.
On the particular day of my travel, Callach was engaged in this topic with the foreigner Aellus, who had little knowledge of our state and wished a more full understanding. I took great pain to faithfully transcribe the discussion, in order to preserve it for future generations, and so the wisdom would not be lost to time.
Aellus: Certainly you have heard of the Fallskeeper, considered by many to be the greatest leader of menn to have lived. And, if you know that name, then surely you know the feats he accomplished in his life. Not least among them was his gathering of disparate fiefdoms and forming them into a cohesive state, and by that effort, attained new glory for both him and his future citizens. Tell me then, how did Alesia come to form, and why are tales not told of its government?
For as I stand here today, I could not possibly consider Alesia to be a merit-less civilization. Surely, as we do in the South, you have your great menn who you revere? Tell me of them, and of your beginnings, so that I may know this land as I know my own.
Callach: Surely I would have been remiss in my studies had I not recognized the name of Lejan Fallskeeper, that mann that others may deify, as is their right. But I am not of his descendants, and I have no right to deify that from which I did not spring. But my own nation has had such great menn in it that are worthy of equal honors, and will continue to have such menn, I hope, for years yet.
If you name Fallskeeper, then you know too of the Mad King and his campaign; the roots of Alesia are to be found there, in that moment of time. But ah! Fear not, as I would not name that Tyrant to be among Alesia's great citizens. But to understand the systems of Alesia one must understand the systems which predated them, just as one must understand the sword to understand the shield. For without knowing the terror of the first, the splendor of the second loses some of its luster.
The Mad King subjugated. That is all that could be said of his reign. What was plundered was taken to fuel the subjugation of others, giving no heed for the denizens already occupied. It can thusly be said that this King, and therefore his government, focused only outward, at what could be taken and at what could be materially attained.
In that endeavor, he was successful.
Aellus: How can one name him successful, given he met his end by a revolution of his own people? I can think of no better index of failure than that.
Callach: You speak correctly in saying that the people revolted against him. And, I say, you are correct in saying he was a failure of a King.
Aellus: What you say now is at odds with what you have previously asserted. Either the Mad King was successful or he was not; he cannot be both.
Callach: Once more, you speak correctly in saying that a mann cannot be both successful and not in the same pursuit, yet we are speaking of two different pursuits, in which he may succeed in one and still yet fail in another.
Of his goal to conquer territory, he was successful. No mann alive or dead has ever laid claim to as many lands as the Mad King, and so he cannot be called a failure in this regard.
He can be recorded as a failure of a king, for as you astutely brought to attention, he was dethroned by way of a popular coup, the greatest testament to the failure of a monarch.
Aellus: So you have proven this Mad King to be both a failure and not. But how we have drifted from our original intent! I shall not allow you to be distracted from your duty again; name Alesia's great menn, and explain their greatness.
Callach: It is good that I have a taskmaster such as you; otherwise I fear we would be here many long hours, discussing much but saying little.
If you say Lejan was a great mann- and indeed, this I will not hold in contention- then we must examine what it was that Lejan did which made him great in the eyes of his peers and his descendants. That which he should be praised for above all else, which few menn have also achieved- what else could we name, other than the founding of his country? How few menn have been so privileged as to carve out their own fatherland from the continent, and secure a country for their kin! More than that, though, Lejan was great because he did all that was necessary to perpetuate his new nation, and ensure that it not collapse with his demise. Therefore, he was a great mann in life and a great mann even after his death.
This is yet another reason why the Mad King could not be considered great, or at least in the same vein as Lejan; the government which he had put in place would not stand after his death, and without him any legacy he might have hoped to entertain would crumble as a house built on shoddy foundation.
Therefore we must look to a mann who came after if we are looking for a great mann that fulfills the prerequisites set out by Lejan. Much like Lejan came to unite previously scattered duchies into a singular entity, Phyllain the Elder, of the same Xeilian line as that Mad King, united the previously splintered realms and made them one. By his actions, Alesia came to be and remains as such today.
Therefore, he was successful in the first venture that the Mad King had failed in; he carved out land as a nation unto itself, and maintained that land as its steward. But for him to succeed in the second aspect, that of forging an identity which may outlive his own, his kingdom would need to perpetuate. Here I would argue it has, as he has passed down a peaceful kingdom to his son, who now prepares to pass down the kingdom once more. In this way, Phyllain the Elder has created a nation which has persisted and accomplished that which has also made Lejan great.
Aellus: I will concede; Phyllain the Elder has both the qualities and accomplishments we have set out to be a great mann. But now tell me, because I have little understanding of the Alesian ways- how is it that the kingdom persists? Surely we can see that Phyllain has not succumbed to internal war as the Mad King had done, but what has kept him safe?
Callach: To delve into that one must learn of the intricacies of Alesia’s Conclave system, an endeavor which will stretch into the long hours of the night- indeed, to confine it to one night would be simply introducing the idea. Are you willing to embark upon this quest?
Aellus: I have come seeking knowledge on matters of the Alesian state. To leave half-sated would be a disappointment. Continue on, philosopher, and I will listen for as long as you speak.
Callach: Very well, let it not be said that you were not forewarned.
First, allow me the courtesy of explaining the reasoning behind the Conclave. Let us start with the assertion that menn in general look to act in what is their best interest, that is to say, act in a manner which both preserves their current status and provides the most opportunity for improving that status. In order to do this they will look to affect change in their environment, as the changes they will look to implement will likely benefit them more- and what is a nation but a mann’s political environment? As it stands, there is no more open avenue to affect change than that of revolt or civil war; indeed, it is the route the duchy of Kallon would take when confronted with the horror of the Mad King. Now, let us assert that lifting arms in civil war is generally distasteful, insomuch as it increases the likelihood that a mann may lose more than what he has to gain from it. As such, only those menn with no other option to affect change may attempt that undertaking, as it poses that much danger to the individual. Therefore, knowing that most self-interested menn will look to affect change in their political environment by means of revolt, and that revolt is generally a means of last resort, menn offered an avenue to affect change without resorting to bloodshed will first explore that option. For this reason the Conclave was created; so that menn may have a means of affecting change in Alesia without engaging in rebellion. We have traded civil war for politics, which incurs much less death and destruction. Have I spoken in a manner disagreeable thusfar?
Aellus: I would say you have not. I will cede that this body of the Conclave presents menn with a route other than war in order to affect change. I will argue, however, that the self-interests of menn is no way to form a government, and that in doing so you are making Alesia a slave to the whims of the population. I cannot believe that is the case, as I have travelled through your lands and see no evidence of such. This tells me that there is more to this construct than you are letting on- be not a miser of information!
Callach: I assure you, it was not my intent to be seen as hoarding information. That is a currency of which I dispense readily. I will counsel you though- embrace Pacyen and find patience! I warned that this quest would be a lengthy one, and that there is much to be explained.
Now, you propose to say that the self-interest of menn may be, at times, at odds with the self-interest of a nation as a whole. This I will not contest. It a good thing, then, that the laws of Alesia are not dictated by this Conclave itself! The Conclave is, as you asserted, a means for menn to act in their own self-interest, to the potential detriment of the nation as a whole. A separate body or office is therefore needed to brace against the buffeting winds of those oft conflicting personal desire found in the Conclave. This task has been assumed by the throne, as it is expected of the King to not act solely in the interests of his own person, but in the interest of the kingdom. Alesia is like that of a great ship, navigating the treacherous seas of the world, and her King is her captain.
In this way both the needs of the individual mann to affect change and the needs of the nation as a whole may be met, with little risk of capsizing or mutiny.
Aellus: I see now what has previously been hidden. In this way, the whims of the people are kept in check by the powers of the King. But now, what keeps the powers of the King in check? Is there nothing to bind your captain to keep a faithful course?
Callach: There is, but it is even more obscure than the chain on capricious menn. Our King is bound not by legal code, but by the same self-interest that drives menn to desire change in the first place. If a ship were to drive ashore, or be sunk in a storm, or be taken by pirates, then one would expect the captain to be found among the bodies recovered from the wreck. If, however, he was found alive in the nearest port, he would be labeled a failure of a captain, and no mann would entrust him to sail even the lowliest dingy. So too it is for even the King- just as we have rightfully labelled the Mad King as a failure. It behooves a King to act benevolently to his people.
Furthermore, it stands that a perfectly omniscient and perfectly omnibenevolent King will both know and act in the best interests of his people.
Aellus: Yes, but it is not possible for mann to be both omniscient and omnibenevolent- were he possessing of both these qualities, it would be more fitting to call this mann a god. In fact, say I, and others of scholarly merit, it is not possible to be either omniscient or omnibenevolent- one would require a mann to know those things which may be unknowable, and the other requires a mann to forgo his own self-interest in order to pursue that greater good.
Callach: This is true. Though it may be impossible for a mann to be omniscient, he may certainly become scient enough in relevant matters to make informed decisions. And while he may not be perfectly omnibenevolent, he may become benevolent enough to act in ways which are right. And, as I have already posited, a King is incentivized to act benevolently. But how may a King become informed in the ways to act most benevolently? The answer to this has been covered before, and indeed, is the subject of your question! It is that great Conclave which serves a dual role, as both an outlet for the people’s desire to affect change, as well as the means by which the King gauges the whims of the people.
Because of this symbiosis, Alesia requires both her citizens and her King so that she may grow old contentedly. For as long as there are Alesians willing to inform and guide their King, and a King willing to cool the tempers of the people, there will be an Alesia. Therefore, we now circle back to your original question; you asked who the great menn of Alesia are. We previously asserted that great menn are those which secure for their nation a future. Therefore, knowing now that all menn in Alesia secure for her a peaceful future, we may conclude this: that all menn of Alesia are great menn, insomuch as they maintain this land.
Though the conversation continued on, it began to touch on more tangentially related topics more deserving of their own work than to be included in this one. As it stands, however, this dialogue shall hopefully impart on its reader some measure of understanding the Alesian state, how she is structured, and how it persists. In doing so I hope that Alesians of the future may understand the gravity of the tasks of government that they undertake. I hope too, that citizens of foreign nations may gain new insight into the working of Alesia and her philosophy.