What is greatness?


So, Winston Churchill won the Greatest Britons poll in the end. A fairly worthy winner I suppose, but frankly, I don't see the point. For one thing, I don't really see how you can compare such a varied bunch of people at all and come out with a single measure of "greatness". Are we judging people in the context of their time, or ours? Elizabeth I was certainly a strong and intelligent woman, and it's nothing short of miraculous that she even managed to survive for 45 years, let alone keep power for that length of time. But today, that feat would be much less remarkable.

In the end, it seemed to come down to who appealed most to the public (which can surely be the only explanation for the appearance of Princess Diana in the top ten). In other words, just another popularity contest.