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There were 71 Roman Emperors and one wonders why they bothered. [1] They had a few lavish parties and they threw their weight around awhile – after all it’s going being king – but it hardly seems worth it. None of them sounded very happy, and about 33 of them were murdered or executed. With that track record one would think job of Augustus would be a hard post to fill. Still, there were no lack of contestants wanting to try, according to a podcast I am listening to. One fellow named Didius Julianus basically bought the job shouting bribes outside a building along with another chappie doing the same thing. DJ got the job having the highest bid, and then when he couldn’t put out the enormous amounts promised, he was knocked off and serves him right. He lasted nine weeks.

I’m also listening to podcast on the popes. There were 260 of these fellows, many were well over four feet, and more than a few were not all they should be. [2] Being Pope doesn’t sound much better than being Emperor, what with all of Europe bitching at you, but at least you aren’t bumped off. They sometimes rivaled The Emperors in lunacy, bribery, and perversity, but unlike The Emperors they ought to have known better. Despite the headaches and health hazards of the job, there were no lack of clerics clamoring for the chair. It’s grim reading, all the shenanigans that went into making a pope, but admittedly it is jolly good fun intrigue. Often there were two of them at a time, and once there were three popes. It makes for a smashing film.

There are some similarities between these secular and religious rulers of the world, or what was consider the world at the time. [3] Both were promoted by their peers, both were often elected through ‘bigger army diplomacy”. Both types sometimes but not always lived in Rome, and both wore fabulous gowns. Emperors weren’t celibate but then again a lot of Popes weren’t either. A few of each sort were dumped in the Tiber after death. Often they had children but the offspring didn’t necessarily got the job after Daddy’s death.

Urs Truly has never been a competitive avarice type, lusting for power and adornment, so it bewilders me why men covert such especially if it produces ulcers, sleepless nights, and premature aging and death.[4] There were a few fellows who truly didn’t want to be pope or emperor who were thrusted onto the throne and told to get on with it. As a lot they didn’t do too bad, but I don’t remember reading any Yelp! reviews they thought it worthwhile. I know of one Emperor who actually retired (to grow cabbages of all things) and one Pope gave a papal decree saying it is OK if Popes step down and promptly did. His successor, smelling a rat, had that pope imprisoned and probably bumped off.

There are no more Roman Emperors last time I looked but there are still Popes, although I hear tell the current one didn’t want the job and many wish he would step down too. I think the next time they gather in Rome to elect a new one they should return to bidding like our friend Didius Julianus. This wouldn’t look good but at least The Papacy could get some much-needed cash to help pay for renovations to St. Peter’s.

[1] The actual number varies, depending if you count a few loud-mouths who insisted they were the proper Emperor not that other fellow.

[2] Excluding the ones who said they were popes but they don’t count in The Observer’s book of Popes.

[3] Thems living in North America, for example, didn’t care.

[4] It may also be because I am content to wear trousers.

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