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“..Leave me alone. I need to masticate and make some Bovril...”
“... When I walk I use my feet. If I speak I use my tongue. But if I pray I use my hands and then you will know that I have meditated long and hard on this paragraph. The label on the bottle also says take two every day and gargle...”
Marcus Aurelius (Full name : Wayne Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Hopalonginus) is usually listed as one of the cleverest Romans ever to wear the purple. He could write interesting books, offer sage advise on your investments and buy a round of drinks in your local golf club. For Edward Gibbon he was the last great ruler ever in the world and that everything had gone to the puppies since 180 AD.
Two Beards From Roma
Born in 126 AD - Marcus Aurelius was originally a street urchin known as the Artful Dodgy Romanuntil he was adopted as a son by Antoninus Pius. The old emperor said he could see promise in the young lad but just in case Marcus turned out to be a disappointment , Pius picked up another former forum forager known as Lucius Verus and adopted him too. The two boys had little in common except combing their hair the same way and growing curly beards. It was soon evident that Marcus was the 'Serious One' and Lucius the 'Fruity Fanboy'.
Pogonophiliacs Read On!
Antoninus's daughter Fiestina Faustina the Younger took a very big shine to Marcus and was determined to marry him - even though he was her in effect her 'brother'. He wrote her love stories like 'Discussions By Plato on the Meaning of Wine' and 'Cicero at the Circus' . It bowled her over and made her think that they would be blessed with some very clever children ! How wrong she was to be !
Moody Marc and Louche Luce
The Roman World was crying out for change and were happy to see the old bore Antoninus Pius sent on a one way journey onboard Charon's ferry in 161.AD. Marcus Aurelius got the job - and deciding that two beards were better than one - made his step brother Lucius Verus his co-emperor. I need someone out and about to flash the imperial facials in the East was apparently Marcus's reasoning. Luckily for Marcus Aurelius , Lucius seemed to be devoid of ambition or pretty much anything except posing for Roman artists to show off his permed hair. He wouldn't be a threat to anyone.
The Romans were soon puzzled to read that Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher, poet and amateur architect . Though they had thought the old Emperor had been a crashing bore - at least the Roman Empire hadn't fallen apart yet. What would Marcus do if the Germans, Parthians and Picts asked him outside for a fight ? Did he have the testicles to stand up to them ?? Could he do it ??? Yes they can...
Fruity Success and Failure
Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus didn't have long to wait to come up against trouble. The Parthians sent a congratulatory insult to them both and invaded the eastern provinces. Marcus Aurelius thought this would be a perfect ball crunching job for his co-hairy imperial colleague and dispatched the 'Crimped One' to take on the invaders on. However despite Marcus's expectations , Lucius Verus routed the Parthians and was on his way back to Rome when he conveniently died. Marcus said it was through an accident in the bath houses of Antioch or some other such nonsense but there was the suggestion that the Philosopher had got down and dirty and had secretly disposed of Lucius Verus. Either way , Marcus Aurelius was now on his own.
Plague and the Germans
Though Lucius Verus was dead , his army returned from the Eastern provinces riddled with a real stamp collection of nasty diseases. Soon everyone in the Empire had bad coughs, snotty noses and runny bums. The cities stank from the ordure of puss filled bodies and everyone thought Marcus Aurelius had forgotten to say the prayers to the Gods. Meanwhile across the stockaded imperial borders - the German tribes could see that the legions were thinning out as everyone trooped off to the medical tent to have sick fun with the day and night nurses.
Ignoring the rules of ancient warfare (according to the Romans which meant you got beaten) , hordes of hairy Germans in leathery shorts (of both sexes) decided to make for Rome to have one big barbaric party. Rome was in peril and no one thought Marcus could do it but he did and with help of some healthier legions (the IV Aspergers Asprin and VII Divine Disprin ) and auxilaries led by King Kleenex of the Pictish mercenaries drove the German menace out of Italy for the time being.
I want My Penis Honoured Too !
The victory over the barbarians were celebrated with some good old fashioned extra senseless blood letting at the Colosseum. However Marcus Aurelius looked bored and was soon doodling on a sheet of papyrus. He handed it to his scribes and asked them 'I Want My Willy to Puncture the Roman Skyline just like the one erected to macho man Emperor Trajan. So his architects were sent away to come up with 'Bonerix Victorix Upyoursix' .However in honour of the Emperor's Greek learning - it was to be officially called the 'Philosophical Phallic Pillar' (or Threepeeio).
Not satisfied with a column - Marcus Aurelius also got a shiny equestrian statue for himself. It was set up with other Roman horse related statues at the Circus Maximus and arranged in a way that seemed all the previous emperors had entered into a horse race and were just waiting for a starting signal to start trotting around the circuit.
No More Adoptions
Marcus Aurelius and Faustina soon had a growing family of their own imperial children so didn't think they needed to adopt. The policies of the previous rulers since Nerva were abandoned and Marcus wrote down this in his book Fornications.
“.. Sod this adoption lark. The next Emperor is coming direct from my loins.”
Faustina is blamed for this change in imperial policy that had appeared to serve Rome so well for the last sixty years. She had also grown bored with Rome being so now 'safe and boring' and thought that her son Commodus would really make the history books sing. It was all Faustina was now left with as her husband spent longer and longer in his library writing books that all had to start with 'M'. This however he was unlikely to adopt another street urchin to be the next emperor - so to make sure she had all the waifs and strays of the Roman Empire removed and dumped in the deserts of Libya with just a packed lunch and bottle of fizzy water to survive. None did of course but Faustina thought she was giving the orphans a 'partial sporting chance'. No one would get in the way of 'cutey Commody' if Faustina could help it.
The Christians were pretty happy during this reign though Marcus Aurelius was still with the damned in their eyes. Also the Roman authorities were still engaged in their habit of permanently retiring Popes before they were due to go - though there were rumours that in fact no Pope had readlly died Horribly since the time of St.Peter..probably.
Don't Bother Me Again ! I want to remain Alone and Stoical
Marcus Aurelius's hopes to continue his career as a budding writer were cut short by the German tribes along the border in what is now Austria. He had tried to mollify them and curb their barbarian urges by opening a sticky bun cafe in Vindabona. However as usual , there was an argument about the service there and the Germans rebelled and disgorged their food on the streets. This meant the emperor had no option but to go there at teach the barbarians table manners.
Just as he was about to leave Rome, Faustina died as she was not keen to go with her husband. Saddened by his loss , Marcus Aurelius marched with his legions to Vindabona . He took along Commodus in case junior had plans to start off a new imperial reign without him but also wanted to show his boy that you can settle arguments with reason and not a massacre. So Marcus Aurelius arranged to meet the German tribal leaders in a serious of non-contact Conflict-Free Issue Resolving Meetings. However it was the depth of winter there and no one was keen to argue out in the cold.
The emperor tried the We're the Civilised Ones Here Mate approach and a philosophical point scoring game with the German tribal leaders. However this didn't impress them much so Marcus Aurelius stood barefoot in the snow to show that he had a 'tough side' as well as a tender one . But it was the Emperor who 'blinked first' , by dying from frostbite. Commodus as the new Emperor quickly concluded business by handing over to the Germans a large bribe and shopping vouchers if they ever came to Rome without an army. He then left and headed back to Rome to throw a monster party. Commodus called the 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Gala Night Spectacular. ' The era of adoption was over - it was now the age of natural born debauchery.
For the British historian Edward Gibbon, Marcus Aurelius was the golden template as a ruler and the last moral Roman. So it wasn't fun if you were a woman, or a slave, or anyone who had to work to stick a bowl of pasta and garlic bread on the table. But Gibbon was right. Nearly ever emperor after him was essentially a murderous little shitzu.
- ↑ What happened to his companion Oliverius is simply not known in this world
- ↑ Ruled out - too many beards.
- ↑ Porkus Pious says Marcus Aurelius also did stand up comedy in the Theatre of Marcellus
- ↑ The horse was called 'Incontinentus - The Wonder Esquine'. You can still seem them in Rome. Unlike nearly every other Roman statue made from metal - this one wasn't melted down during the Middle Ages. Apparently Christians said it was Constantine on his horse Dobbinus but as they knew Constantine was a full body shaver - they couldn't be the same person. Perhaps everyone needed glasses in those days - or - like Malaria - Myopia also plagued Rome.
- ↑ Possibly as it started with 'F' - this book is Faustina's but masquerading as one written by her hubby. Gibbon thinks so - as does Lemur and St.Bonobo
- ↑ The books we have now do not include 'Masturbations' . It was read by Saint Jermone and then burnt in 394 AD on the orders of Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great.