Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus
In response to Goetz K’s remark: “Perhaps the rule is that the more boring a work of art is, the more talking curators have to do. And surely that doesn’t mean things can’t get worse.”
By my rough calculations, I’d say that the US is hovering somewhere in the early Christian period of the Roman Empire. So we still have plenty of time left to die the death of a thousand cuts. Meanwhile we can observe the festivities. While the ascendancy to the throne of Emperor of the World this season is a bit less than salubrious, I predict that after the next 8 years of Lady Botox or “Swingin’ Dick” Donnie Trump we’ll be ready for new levels of the kind of intelligent and charismatic leadership that makes us the envy of the world.
As far as our current achievements go, let’s take a look at how we’ve already broken the record set last year (and it’s only early May!) for shooting deaths in the toddler category.
Last year, a Washington Post analysis found that toddlers were finding guns and shooting people at a rate of about one a week. This year, that pace has accelerated. There have been at least 23 toddler-involved shootings since Jan. 1 compared with 18 over the same period last year.
With a record like that under the Democrat’s belt, I can see why people trust Hillary to deliver gun control you can (body) count on. thing under control having done such a bank up job with it over their past 8 years. Fortunately, Bill and Hill launched the biggest prison system the world has ever known and if these three years don’t start to settle down we can send them off for some tough love inside it. At any rate, the Oracles tell me that if anyone out there is looking for a solid investment I’d shift out of oil, real estate, and the banking sector and start moving the big money into weapons, prisons and gold.
As to culture, I have no doubt that we’ll be locating any number of new superstars ready to surpass Wim DeVoye’s machine for producing human feces and Santiago Serra’s homeless people sodomizing each other. As you can see, the Europeans have gotten the hang of American Art and the competition for the Shock of the New has gone global. As Nero once said, according to the vision I had last week, “Give the people what they want and line up the investors. Nobody has ever gone broke underestimating the taste of the Roman people.”
So on to today’s reading from, Mary Beard’s Laughter in Ancient Rome. The setting: The Roman Colosseum, 192 CE:
In 192 CE, a young Roman senator sitting in the front row of a show at the Colosseum in Rome could hardly restrain his laughter at what he saw. It was not a good moment to be caught laughing.
The emperor Commodus himself was hosting the spectacles, to a presumably packed crowd of some fifty thousand people–senators, as was the rule, in the ringside seats with the best view, while the women and slaves were squashed at the very back, high up and hardly able to see the bloody conflicts playing out more than a hundred feet below them in the arena. It could be that, for this particular show, some people had decided to stay away, for the story had got around that the emperor–the star of the spectacle, as well as its host–was intending to dress up as Hercules and fire deadly arrows into the audience. Perhaps this was one of those occasions when it was safer to be a slave (or female) and in the back row.
Rich and poor, scared and fearless, the audience needed stamina. The proceedings went on all day for fourteen days. The seats were hard, and those with money and sense must have brought cushions, drinks, and picnics. Everyone knew that applause for the emperor’s antics–as gladiator, wild-beast hunter, and god look-alike–was required. On the first day, he killed a hundred bears, “hurling spears at them from the balustrade around the arena” (“a display of marksmanship rather than of courage,” as one eyewitness tartly observed). On other days, his animals were brought to him on the floor of the arena but safely restrained in nets, and after lunch he would follow up these beast hunts with some mocked-up gladiatorial combat (at which he was of course always victorious) before the regular fighters came out to please the crowd.
It was during these shows, which took place just a couple of months before Commodus’ assassination on 31 December 192, that our senator nearly burst into laughter but managed to disguise the telltale signs of mirth on his face by plucking some laurel leaves from the wreath he was wearing and chewing on them hard.
Yes. This is the kind of change you can count on, Goetz. The reason our democracy is so strong and vibrant is our unshakeable embrace of the Reaganite miracle of Trickle Down Economics along with getting rid of public education and mental health care and the rest of the fat in Government’s bloated budget. Who needs it when you’ve got the kind of well-informed and common sense voters out there selecting the very best America has to offer to lead us. And positivity! Positivity works every time. As long as we stay super positive and keep away from the negativity things will work out super-cool, dude.