“Imus ad internum examen. Flecte et expandit super maxillas eorum.”
Marcus Aurelius Publicus Juvenilus Probus ('P.J. Probus' when on stage in his pyjamas), Roman emperor for a respectable six years. He took over the Roman Empire after the experiment of letting a couple of ungolden oldies rule instead was discredited. Probus was a bit of a thruster, whether in politics, amateur medical procedures or when giving it hard on stage on the battlefield.
Probus got his chance at big job in 276 when emperor Marcus Claudius Tacitus died suddenly. Suspicions that Tacitus's brother Florianus Floridus had dropped poison in the emperor's wine to replace him would quickly lead to the army looking for a rival candidate for the imperial throne. The soldiers chose Probus, he of dubious fashion taste and hair, by raising him on their shields, spraying him with cheap Roman champagne and dressing the appointee in a freshly laundered purple cloak of office.
Annals of ProbusEdit
Born in 232, young P.J. grew up in the Roman province of Pannonia Inferior in the Balkans. Its next door neighbour was Pannonia Superior where the villas were more spacious and where the rich threw regular orgies around the pool. Life in 'Inferior' was less exiting and those who could, made their way out and joined the Roman army. Probus didn't fancy becoming a pool cleaner so he took Julius Caesar's coin and signed up.
Probus was given commands and lovely medals by emperor Valerian. Probus later became very close to Valerian's son and successor Gallienus and cried for a week when the latter was murdered in 268. Since Gallienus had a speech defect, he would often call P.J. Probus - 'B.J. Probus' who was a very different Roman commander.
For the next 8 years Probus rose up the ranks and improved as a 'raunchy Roman singer' of the time. He doesn't appear to have had time to take a wife or anyone elses so it is very possible that he was homosexual. Romans were no more tolerant of that than their Christian counterparts (the Greeks were another issue) so perhaps Probus was asexual. Contemporary accounts like The Collected Annals of Probus and To Make A Big Man Cry point in some interesting directions.
First out, Probus had to find and defeat Florianus. The two armies met near Byzantium. In a sort of 'testing the waters', the two armies paraded and made dummy attacks to see who had the bottle for a fight. Florianus's men decided they weren't going to die for the old boy and cut off their commander's head. Probus thanked them for the gift and sang to the troops until his stage jammies split to reveal an average imperial tackle. He then moved on to Rome to get his claim to the Roman Empire which was approved, processed and stamped by the Roman Senate the same day.
Then it was back out there along the frontiers to defend the Roman 1% elite against enemies external, internal and abysmal. Probus added the Persians as they were a class enemy to really get stuck into. Probus was successful, came back with titles like Probus Maximus and Probus Illumanitus. A nice haul of treasure and other junk was dumped in Rome and Probus said 'Now I can Enjoy this..'
Yet no sooner was he back then another cast of enemies rose up. This time it was a series of rival emperors who were chucked at Probus by their disruptive soldiery. Probus dealt with them all and came up with an idea. Evidently his soldiers needed some other distraction from constantly rebelling. So he issued an edict, which is part read like this:-
Soldiers of Rome! We have carried our eagles all over the known world and the unknown world. We are scared of no one but, really, it's time for us to do something else besides rebelling. We are all in this together. Here is a list of 'to do' things I want us to engage in:-
- Repair the roads
- Fix the leaky aqueducts.
- Redecorate the bath houses.
- Provide fresh milk for old ladies.
Long Live Caesar Augustus Imperator Probus PJ Maximus Head Clonkerus.
The response from the Roman army was pretty swift. In 282 a rebellion was headed by Probus's Praetorian Prefect Carus. It ended the same dreary way that soldiers had deserted so many emperors before, Probus's men switching sides and killing their commander whilst he was finishing the Aurelian Wall around Rome. Probus's sister Maria (the only other family member mentioned in his reign in a song) was allowed to cart her brother's body away and bury it underneath a shed. So died Probus.
A legend grew that 'P.J.' Probus had come back to life but had died when he spied the 'Mysteries of Phoney Beatlemania'. These were women-only events where a lot of alcohol was consumed and clothes removed in wild dancing. Probus is said to have stumbled into the party by mistake and was ripped to shreds by the female devotees. It is a colourful story but perhaps unlikely.
- ↑ We going to make an internal examination. Bend over and spread those cheeks.
- ↑ The 'surfing the shields' became part of Roman miltary tradition until Emperor Justin II in the Byzantine Empire
- ↑ See forthcoming article
- ↑ Barbarians were known for their larger, untidy genitalia.
- ↑ See Artemis
Marcus Claudius Tacitus