Men live on land as the fishes live in water—the great ones thrive by eating the small ones. Men have two choices: either they can be the big fish (great man) who lives by eating the small fishes (small men), or they can be the small fish who will get eaten by the great ones. The same rule applies to nations. The great nations thrive by eating the small (weak and foolish) nations.
Here’s a dialogue from the play written by Shakespeare, Pericles, Prince of Tyre:
Third Freshman: “Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.”
First Freshman: “Why, as men do a-land: the great ones eat up the little ones. I can compare our rich misers to nothing so fitly as to a whale: he plays and tumbles, driving the poor fry before him and at last devours them all at a mouthful. Such whales have I heard on a’ the land, who never leave gaping till they swallowed the whole parish—church, steeple, bells and all.”