Some are tempted to confuse the symbols of power with the reality of power. They are not the same thing. Power is the one thing that cannot be faked. For a time, perhaps, the bluffer can maintain an illusion of authority; he can go through his empty pantomime, imagining he is fooling everyone; but sooner or later, the truth will shine through. And then he will discover that the only one who has been deceived is himself. Symbolism, bombast, and slight-of-hand are no substitutes for the real thing. Some anecdotes from the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, so often mentioned in these pages, help us to reinforce this point.
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