Nothing in life lasts forever – and for many figures throughout history, that includes their grip on power, glory and fortune. Indeed, at one time or another, all these people had the world at their feet. Whether it was through their political or military power, their celebrity status or simply their renowned intelligence, they had it all to lose. And lose it they did, as they tumbled from grace in the most dramatic fashion.
As one of the founding fathers of Western philosophy, Socrates spent most of his life challenging the established beliefs of his fellow Athenians. While this earned him a great many admirers, it also led to his vilification by those who disagreed with him. The unstable sociopolitical climate at the time led to people ultimately rejecting Socrates’ forward-thinking views, and in 399 B.C. he stood trial on various charges including blasphemy. Rather than flee Athens, however, the philosopher accepted the death sentence that was handed down as a matter of principle.
19. Liu He
Liu He may as well have written the book on how not to be a leader. An emperor in the Chinese Han dynasty for just 27 days in 74 B.C., Liu He was said to have committed a whopping 1,127 offenses in that time. Among his transgressions were partying through the period of mourning for his uncle, whom he’d succeeded as emperor, and promoting his friends to positions of power. Eventually, officials got so fed up that they sought permission from his aunt to depose him. He was subsequently removed from power and assigned as the Marquis of a small province – where he lived until his death at just 33.