A team of archaeologists from Cambridge University, lead by professor Magnus Fortesque, recently discovered in the remains of a Roman temple, a scroll containing a record of the succession speeches made by the Roman emperors; Genocideus the Cruel, Sadisticus the Ogre, and Dementus the Perverse.
These three rulers were known mostly for their eccentric behaviour. For instance, Genocideus the Cruel was infamous for his obsessive skull collecting and tendency to compulsively strangle people, in an endless quest to acquire more skulls for his collection. He eventually hoped to construct a pyramid of skulls out of his collection in the middle of the Roman Forum, surmounted by the elusive 'perfect skull'. Sadisticus the Ogre is remembered primarily for painting himself green and living under a bridge, due to his deranged belief that a disgruntled wizard had turned him into a troll.
Finally, Dementus the Perverse became widely reviled for his insistence on turning the Roman Empire into a huge corporate marketing exercise. The populace were particularly irritated by his addition of billboards to crucifixes, as the sombre tone of crucifixions tended to be somewhat disrupted by giant adverts for products such as; “Glaucon of Damascus’s patented goat oil.” Eventually outright rebellion resulted from his decision to force those being crucified to wear sandwich boards.
Published here for the first time is a complete translation of the speeches made by all three emperors upon succeeding to the throne.
Genocideus the Cruel (Reigned: 190 B.C to 189 B.C)
I must apologise for my lateness senators, but I’m afraid I had to strangle a beggar I met on the way here, and as my dog refused to eat him afterwards, I had to strangle him as well. Before I knew it I’d wasted half an hour! Anyway, to business! My first priorities as emperor will be to cut taxes, to crack down on littering, and to kill everyone who does not conform exactly to this set of arbitrary skull measurements!
In order to make sure there are no mistakes I shall be carrying out all the skull measurements personally! I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this; no longer will I be tormented by the sight of inadequately proportioned skulls! I think you’ll all agree that nothing is more important than eliminating this problem, after all there’s nothing more repulsive than a man with an excessive skull circumference! Well, apart from a man with an inadequate skull circumference.
I’m just thankful that I have the best proportioned skull in existence; otherwise I’d have to decapitate myself! Of course I’d kill a few other people first in order to feel better about it! After all there’s no point being morbid about the whole thing.
I expect many of you are wondering how I’m going to ascertain whether people have the correct skull shape. Well the answer is simple, I use this tape measure, and to make doubly sure I hit them over the head with this special skull testing mallet in order to gauge skull density and structural integrity. I tried it out on my wife this morning, and it turns out she has one of the worst skulls I’ve ever seen. I mean just look at it! Smashed into a hundred pieces! I shall be writing to the manufacturers to complain!
Skulls are wonderful aren’t they? They make great pets, and they never argue, but that’s mainly due to the fact that you can only make them talk using ventriloquism.
It’s precisely for these reasons that I will be appointing skulls to very senior positions in my government. For instance I’m placing this skull in charge of my armies, I’m sure he’ll turn out to be a great general, after all he has no fear of death, because I already decapitated him! I also have another skull who’s going to be in charge of sanitation, I know he’s qualified because before I drowned him in his own sewage system him he was the designer of several aqueducts.
However skulls aren’t just useful as government ministers, skulls are fun for all the family! I should know, I killed mine and then used their skulls as bowling balls. It's the most fun we’ve ever had together, and it’s certainly made dinner table conversation more interesting!
Why don’t we all go for a game of skull bowling, followed by skull juggling, and then I could show you the skull puppet show I’ve been practicing. If you’re lucky I might even let some of you join my skull collection!
Sadisticus the Ogre (Reigned: 189 B.C to 188 B.C)
In my first act as emperor I’d like to reassure everyone that I will definitely not behave like my predecessor, Genocideus the Cruel, who let’s face it could be a little unpleasant! To demonstrate to the people that I’m merciful I will grant every Roman citizen a free goat, and a miniature statuette of their new emperor.
At this point I’d like to thank my co- conspirators for all their hard work helping me to poison my predecessor, and I’d like to offer my condolences to all the assassins who were disembowelled in the eleven failed attempts prior to this! I’m particularly grateful to Marcus for the helpful way in which he decapitated Genocideus to make sure he was dead. I’m also very grateful to the men of the Fifth Legion for the valuable work they did arresting and crucifying all of the former emperor's supporters, and selling their children into slavery!
But, to show that I’m merciful I will allow all those sold into slavery to regain their freedom. By participating in a human chess match, in which all the pieces that are taken are decapitated! Those who survive will be allowed to drown themselves for daring to oppose me!
In order to further demonstrate my benevolence there will be a banquet this evening, although I should perhaps mention that there will be a rather unusual menu. As a test of loyalty you shall all be invited to eat the flayed corpse of my predecessor! However to show I’m merciful I shall allow the severed head to remain uneaten, so that it might serve as my footstool!
I should perhaps warn everyone that unless the corpse is entirely devoured I shall see it as a sign of treason! And speaking of traitors I should like my co–conspirators to join me in a special toast! To treachery! I’m glad to see they’ve decided to drink all their wine. Mainly because it contains cyanide!
However to show I’m merciful I shall allow their corpses to be distributed among the poor! At a public barbeque. Once the traitors' corpses have been eaten the poor will then themselves be barbequed! To demonstrate that they can’t just go around eating their social superiors and expect to get away with it! Unlike my predecessor I intend to promote the rule of law!
In fact I just thought of a great new law! Lets burn people alive if they deny that I can levitate!
Why are you all staring at me like that? ARE YOU DENYING THAT I CAN LEVITATE?!
Dementus the Perverse (Reigned: 188 B.C to 160 B.C)
In my first act as emperor I want to assure people that the depravities of my predecessor Sadisticus the Ogre will not be repeated. I would like to emphasise that I have no intention of living under a bridge and eating passing children. Not after the divine retribution Sadisticus fell victim to, when a particularly heavy child caused his bridge to collapse on top of him.
Therefore my first priorities will be; to strengthen bridges throughout the empire, to allow crucifixions to be sponsored by leading nail manufacturers, and to insist on renaming the Roman Empire; Ronald McDonald’s Coca Cola Experience.
I don’t see why you’re so upset by that last point, I think we all recognise that corporate sponsorship is the future, after all this is the Bronze Age!
Ever since Mr McDonald arrived here in his giant, cigar shaped, nuclear powered time machine he’s done wonders for our economy! He revolutionised slavery when he introduced name badges and barcodes He also managed to get our galley slaves to provide service with a smile.
All he asks in return is that we rename a few things, and change our logo to a giant letter M. Which reminds me, what do you think of renaming our next campaign of imperial conquest, The Sprite Genocide Championships? I’m assured that Sprite is a most refreshing beverage and the perfect drink after a hard days looting and pillaging!
I also intend to sub-contract some of our aggressive expansionism out to British Imperialism Solutions. They assure us that they’re far more condescending to foreigners than any of their competitors, and they also have no intention of learning the local language. I must admit, they have sent us a rather large bill for monocles and pith helmets, although I’m assured that these items are essential to their work.
Anyway, there’s very little anyone can do to stop any of this because I’ve already signed the contracts, which reminds me, you’re not allowed to wear sandals anymore, under a new sponsorship deal with Belgium’s largest shoe manufacturer you all have to wear clogs.
A Note on the Commercialisation of History
The discovery of the scroll containing these speeches resulted in severe criticism and negative publicity for several large corporations, who were accused of tactless and irresponsible commercial exploitation of history. The McDonalds chicken crucifix was singled out for particular criticism, as was IBM’s sale of a supercomputer to Pythagoras.
IBM has so far declined to comment on the criticisms, but a spokesman for McDonalds responded with; “It’s not our fault if Cicero likes a Big Mac, we were just following free market principles.”
At the time of writing the discovery of a Roman statue depicting Julius Caesar brandishing an AK-47 has increased the acrimony in the debate between those who oppose the commercial exploitation of history and those who are in favour of Napoleon’s new Zeppelin fleet.
Professor Pendleton the inventor of time travel, who first devised his machine, in order to go back and stop himself from making embarrassing spelling mistakes, also condemned the misuse of time travel for profit stating: “I only invented it in order to be able to stop myself misspelling the word Deoxyribonucleic, to prevent myself forgetting to turn off the gas, and to kill Hitler. Now people are using it to create all sorts of Paradoxes. Only last week I woke up to discover that Ghandi now brandishes twin Uzis of justice and vengeance against British rule, and Pythagoras designs jet aircraft for Boeing .”
A particularly blatant example of the kind of effect the commercialisation of history can have on the interpretation of the historical record, occurred days after the initial publication of the speeches, when a new version, purporting to be a more accurate account of Genocideus’s speech was unearthed deeper in the remains of the same temple:
Genocideus the Fun (Reigned: Long enough to know that Coca Cola is a magical elixir which makes a man a god!)
I’m just thrilled and honoured and thrilled, to be chosen as the next Ronald McDonald Imperialism Administrator I’d like to thank my agent, my publicist, my therapist, my agents therapist, my interior designer, my tennis partner and the concept of western free market capitalism. Thankfully the concept of the minimum wage doesn’t exist here, so Mc Donald’s have been able to drive down the price of burgers quite substantially.
We wouldn’t be as successful as we are today without all the toiling armies of slaves we use to make our burgers, literally. If there’s one thing I appreciate about living in the Bronze Age it’s the greater social acceptance of cannibalism. That’s the kind of entrepreneurial thinking encouraged by the relative lack of red tape during this period of history.
The Bronze Age isn’t just a great investment opportunity, it’s also a really great time to be a DIY enthusiast, nails are cheap, and petty criminals are plentiful. I always say you haven’t lived until you’ve crucified a pickpocket, they also make excellent shelves, once rigour mortis sets in! Crucifixions also draw large crowds, and make excellent advertising opportunities, just ask the manufacturers of “Salty Jim's Haddock Slices” what advertising at crucifixions did for the sales of their product. Sales rocketed after Jesus was crucified with an advertisement for them above his head. The Roman Empire also helped to improve sales of Fluffy Jack Mc Rabbits Chocolate Eggs, when they crucified a serial arsonist in an Easter bunny costume.
The incident with the scrolls has ultimately lead to calls for greater regulation of time travel, after Pythagoras’s triangular jet aircraft were involved in a number of fatal accidents, and the factory where Salty Jim’s Haddock Slices are manufactured was burned down by a mob of angry Christians, who also crucified and burned an effigy of Salty Jim. Corporate tampering with history has lead to a number of bizarre paradoxes, for instance, there are now two Richard Nixons, one good and one evil, they have to share the same office, and are both simultaneously president. They spend all day endlessly ordering and then countermanding nuclear missile launches, there is as yet no end to the stalemate in sight.