Winds of Dune

Entry from the Authorized Dune Encyclopedia:

Butlerian Jihad ("The Great Revolt"); Its Cause and Effect.

Before the rise of the Atreides, historians argued endlessly whether great people made great events or great events made great people.  The impact on history of Muad'Dib and the Emperor Leto renders the question moot, but before those tremendous personalities, the question is legitimately raised.  We face the question specifically when we consider events as pivotal as those that occurred between 200 and 108 B.G.:  Did a vast sea-change in the human ocean produce Jehanne Butles (See Butler, Jehanne), or did this remarkable and luminescent woman by her will shift the currents of humanity?

Even the name we use for the period implies and answer to the question: If we call those events "The Butlerian Jihad," we side with those historians who define as "great" those individuals who move the mass of humankind in a new direction; if we use the term "The Great Revolt," we ally ourselves with those who see "leaders" as simply the front rank of a humanity moving in the direction the masses determint.

Historians close to those events also speculated on this same question.  The writings of one of them, recently discovered, shows how that turning point was viewed in the calm immediately following it.  Kruwl Sheivvun (c.113-185) served as Imperial Historian under Saudir II.  In his major work, The Founding of the Empire, Sheivvun speculates on the Jihad, employing the metaphor of waves as affected by the tides.  At flow, each wave breaks and recedes, but the series of waves creeps higher and higher on the beach until high tide is reached.  Should someone wish to divert the waters of the high tide for human purposes, the task would be impossible during the ebb.  Likewise in human affairs, he argued.  A popular readiness for change is aimless without capable leadership; but the great leader without ready support ends in obscurity.  However, when human genius combines with the movement in the tides of the people, new directions result.  Such a combination was the Butlerian Jihad.

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