Destiny in History


To be destined for greatness is an all too familiar phrase – it is used to describe the lives of certain individuals who, against all the odds, triumph in the game of life.

The lives of this special group of people present a clear-cut illustration of the power of Destiny. For them, their future is set in stone, preordained and sealed, so when life comes with its daunting challenges, their sustained work makes the unwavering force of Destiny apparent as they achieve their goals and ambitions:

Reaching their destination, for certain, just like sleepwalkers.

History gives us many instances of those who, from birth to death, lived no less than heroic stories that continue to be a source of inspiration from generation to generation. If you're looking to get inspired, here's a quick rundown of agents of Destiny whose paths manifested into real life tales of inspiration.

Livia Drusilla

In the tough world of ancient Rome, where men adopted an alpha stance and women were side-lined both in politics and cultural affairs, Livia Drusilla was one of the very few women who scaled this societal firewall before proceeding to change a significant portion of ancient Roman history.

And this is how Livia was described by her contemporaries:

The mind of a strong man in the body of the goddess Venus.

She was also called the sheer personification of dedication and power. Born in 58 BCE to Marcus Livius Claudianus, she was a member of a high brow senatorial family. At the young age of fifteen, just like most other girls in Rome, Livia was married to Tiberius Claudius Nero.

But unlike her Roman sisters, Livia was truly unique, also in the fact that she chose not to just tread the traditional path that most daughters of the elite followed and become a perfect wife and hostess. Instead, Livia knew that her path was not that of a typical Roman lady, and so she set her gaze on attaining knowledge and philosophical wisdom, and on male-dominated fields, especially on politics.

Beautifully set in a carefully maintained air of feminine humility, Livia became a master operator, even when still quite young. A resilient diamond among soft pearls. And this attitude later helped her in cementing her reputation as an epitome of dignity and sacred Roman tradition – to onlookers and bystanders - because Livia truly knew how to become independent, how to live well, and, how to wield her will and power.

Following the brutal cessation of the horrid civil unrest that tailgated Julius Caesar's death, and after having a son, Tiberius, who became emperor later, with her husband, she met thentriumvirGaius Octavius, also called Octavian.

It proved to be a date with Destiny. Reports have it that he was instantly besotted by her beauty and that he felt mesmerized by her intellect.

Livia won the love and respect of Rome's most powerful man

And she soon found herself with child and proceeded to divorce Claudius. She gave birth to her second son, Drusus shortly before marrying Octavian. They were devoted to each other for more than 51 years, and Livia was her husband's trusted and savvy advisor, but their successful marriage remained childless, leaving Octavian, who went on to become the legendary Emperor Augustus, with no direct heir to the title.

Through a series of intricately woven acts, Livia, leveraged her political astuteness and intimate relations with Augustus. She succeeded to secure the throne for Tiberius. Some historians noted that Livia was the only woman Augustus truly loved.

Livia was beautiful, she was wise, she was strong, and, she was ruthless when necessity called. She provided golden advice to Augustus, and she was even known to recruit younger maidens to satisfy his sexual cravings.

Augustus, in turn, showered her with trust and respect which granted Livia tremendous influence over the emperor. She convinced the Emperor to make decisions that strategically strengthened her son's claim for the throne, and some historians suggested that she even may have had a hand in the death of Gaius and Lucius, who were both threats to Tiberius's ascension.

Eventually, after the demise of Augustus,Tiberius, now drawing from the politically sound background that his mother had put in place for him, took over the throne as Emperor of Rome. Livia was able to overcome traditional limitations that would have otherwise halted her quest for greatness.

Against all the odds this remarkable woman succeeded in securing the throne for her bloodline despite falling short of the most essential requirement – a direct blood line. She was greatly revered by Augustus and throughout the Roman Empire. Livia was also called Mother of Rome, and later, was made into a Goddess.

Livia was Roma, personified.

Winston Churchill

Let us visit the both illustrious and controversial life of Winston Churchill; politician, historian, writer, Nobel Prize winner and poster boy of the British Empire in the 20th century.

And while most are looking at his achievements or his flaws, very few take into account the trials and tribulations Churchill went through to become the revered strategist and politician.

Similar challenges had grounded countless other men like him; his case was different, because he was destined for greatness; a fact he was well in tune with. So, when a failed Dardanelles conquest, which caused the death of thousands of men in WW1 led to his retrenchment from the Admiral's team, a splitting blow to his political figure at the time, Churchill did not relent.

Granted, like most people, deep inside he was so saddened by this development that it led him to becoming depressed, and, subsequently, he even withdrew from Parliament. For nearly a decade, Churchill stayed clear of politics. Soon, Destiny called upon him to wake him from his soul's slumber.

He never had it easy. Aside from political setbacks, Churchill was burdened by illness. Churchill managed to overcome lung disease in 1886 and 1943, just in time.

At the age of eighteen while playing, Churchill fell from a dizzying height of thirty feet, rupturing his kidney and losing consciousness in the process. At this point, advancements in the field of medicine were modest, so how Churchill managed to survive was seen as being nothing short of a miracle or, perhaps, acts of Destiny.

Churchill was well accustomed to the threat of death

His periodic stints at the battlefront made certain that he had a first-hand experience of it. However, his belief in Destiny, the realization that he was made for greater things superseded any fear of limitations; a fact well represented in his ideology and political stance – at the advent of his election as Prime Minister, this is what Churchill had to say:

I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last, I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.

From Rags to Riches – Benjamin Franklin

In the 18th century being the son of a candle maker almost or always translated to a life of poverty and strife. Benjamin Franklin was not just a son of a shoemaker; he was Josiah Franklin's , Boston candle and soap maker, 10th son and 17th child.

Unsurprisingly, the young Franklin had no formal education, and to quell his adventurous spirits; his lifelong dream was to become a seaman. This ambition never sat well with Franklin Senior; he wanted his son to chase a more practical career, one like his own.

To this effect, Franklin was enrolled for an apprenticeship in a local printing shop, under the stewardship of a close relative – unknown to Franklin and his father, this singular decision would redefine the life of Franklin, and in extension, set off a cascade of events which ultimately culminated in the formation of modern-day America.

At the print shop, Franklin was groomed in the art of production and operations. He doubled as a production assistant and a salesperson and was seen hawking pamphlets and leaflets down the street.

In time, the print shop recorded immense success, and in a truly representative case of being under the influence of Destiny, Franklin, despite lacking any formal education, did not only develop a knack for reading, but he also began writing his own essays under the pen name 'Silence Dogood.' He was 16 at the time.

He was, however, not 'silent' enough, and soon enough Franklin's brother and mentor James discovered who was behind the Silence Dogwood moniker. And the rising popularity of Franklin's writings made matters worse, so, a year later, he vacated the printing shop onwards to New York and then New Jersey in search of a better life.

Franklin set up shop in Philadelphia, in no time he achieved fame and was well known for his annual Poor Richard's Almanack. Displaying an astute sense of diplomacy, Franklin leveraged his political ties with the then government and began to climb the political ladder.

In 1753 he was officially appointed as the postmaster general in charge of all mail in the Northern Colonies. When he lost his post of Postmaster, he returned to Philadelphia and secured a seat in the Second Continental Congress, the group spearheading the revolutionary war.

In this capacity, Franklin utilized his diplomatic skills to secure loans, sponsors, and resources for the impending war. In the company of his founding colleagues, Franklin composed the Declaration of Independence, signed the Treaty of Paris and the Constitutional Amendments – all pivotal in establishing the independent America of today.

The life of Benjamin Franklin is a blistering manifestation of Destiny

It demonstrates how inconsequential a man's origin or life history can be. Franklin was the 10th child in a family of 17. Without formal education, he still went on to be the most read writer in the British Colonies.

What's more, Franklin invented the highly efficientwood stove, bifocal lenses, and the odometer, while pioneering research in electricity. He was never an academic, but his impact had more weight than that of the academics of his time.

Deficiency in education never limited Franklin

If anything, it worked as a stepping stone – if Franklin had attended college, he may just have become your typical academic. His start in a printing house exposed him to early fame and applause, two elements he exploited as a means to penetrate the American political system.

From rags, Franklin ascended to renown and riches, and today his name echoes in the halls of American pride as one of the most influential Founding Fathers.

Alexander the Great

Very few people have their names transcribed in over three different languages because very few people get to directly touch the lives so many people. Enter Alexander the Great. In Persia, he was known as Alexander of Macedonia, the Arabs knew him as Al-Iskander Al-Makadoni, and Hebrews called him Alexander Mokdon.

Unlike Churchill and Franklin, Alexander had Destiny written all over his whole, pretty brutal life being even before he was born. It is reported that Olympias, Alexander's strong-minded mother, dreamt that her womb was struck by lightning that caused a blistering flame to spread far and wide.

His father, King Phillip of Macedonia, also had a similar dream where he saw his queen's womb embossed with a lion seal – the interpretations of these dreams were that Alexander was, in fact, the Son of Zeus. From his early youth, he displayed God-like attributes, like successfully taming a seemingly untameable horse. And he was educated by the great philosopher Aristotle.

His royal father is said to have commented:

My kingdom was not enough for Alexander's domineering spirit.

Indeed, Alexander's ambition went far beyond human reach. Riding the wave of the belief that he had been divinely ordained to unite the many nations of the world, Alexander set out to conquer a vast majority of territories after his father died. And yes, he was strong, he was tough, and, he was a mass-killer. A typical leader of his time.

Alexander overpowered almost all of the Persian Empire and conquered most of the then known world. And while this controversial legend of a man lived to only 32 years, his impact went on to be felt by the rest of the world for ages to come.

Last updated 25 March 2024

If you wish to find out more about The Destiny Book why not read the article A Teaser to my Book on Destiny.