Eagles and parrots

Lyle Burkhead (LYBRHED@delphi.com)
Sat, 12 Oct 1996 02:56:03 -0500 (EST)

> When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.

--Winston Churchill, as quoted by Greg Burch

The eagles and parrots here are mythological creatures, not actual
animals. Churchill had a classical education. He had grown up with
Aesop's fables and many other such stories, in which eagles, lions,
bears, foxes, and so forth are personified. He was making a statement
about politics, using metaphorical language. He never intended his
statement to be literally true of birds in nature.

An eagle is a far-sighted statesmen who can take in an entire situation
and decide what to do. When the eagles retire from public discourse,
the parrots take over -- i.e. small-minded people who have no vision and
no judgment of their own, people who can only repeat mindlessly what
they hear.


[PS This was written before I saw Michael Butler's post.]