Final Word from Friday, April 16, 2004

Back when Miloš Zeman was still at the top of his game, he told interviewers that he was leaving Czech politics to hug trees in the highlands because he didn't want to turn out like Shakespeare's Coriolanus. In the tragedy of the same name, which Zeman referred to as Shakespeare's most powerful work, Coriolanus was forced to flee Rome after his military successes provoked fears that he was becoming too proud, popular and powerful. His enemies convinced the common people to sentence him to death. After escaping from the city, he switched sides, came close to launching an attack against his own people, and eventually died at the hands of an ally he had double-crossed. During Zeman's most recent trip to Prague, he attended a production of the play. Surely he saw in it a reminder of why he shouldn't venture back into open political battle.


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