Your RDA of Irony

Virtuous Romans–One Paragraph Will Suffice

On this day in 86 B.C., the Roman leader Gaius Marius died.  Being an excellent general, enlightened reformer, and unimaginatively heterosexual, he would never merit a series on PBS or HBO.  Marius never even got a supporting role in a Hollywood epic.  Because of his poor sense of timing, he lived too late for Hannibal and too soon for Spartacus.  (It is Marius’ unique misfortune that Hollywood insists on historical accuracy only where he is concerned.)

Nevertheless Marius has a vicarious glamour.  He married into a family of aristocratic underachievers named Caesar.  With Uncle Marius’ help, young Gaius Julius would amount to something.


  1. Bob Kincaid says:

    Not so fast there, Eugenicus!

    Gaius Marius was the central character of “First Man In Rome,” the first book of Colleen McCullough’s ancient Rome septology. And even if Marius wasn’t kinky enough to support a miniseries, his first protege, Sulla, more than made up for it.

  2. So now we can blame Ms. McCullough for failing to make Marius worth a miniseries. If only she had written a part for Barbara Stanwyck as a lusty Vestal Virgin.

  3. Bob Kincaid says:

    Barbra Stanwyck? Lusty vestal virgin?


    Interesting (I hope) sidebar: I learned the meaning of “carnifex” reading about Pompey’s Pappy. They hung that moniker on him because of his casualty numbers.

    Near here in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia, there’s a Civil War battlefield. The Battle of Carnifex Ferry. Butcher Ferry. Nice. Appropos, by a long shot, or a hand-to-hand eye gouge.

    Thanks to Ancient Rome, the irony (or lack thereof) wasn’t lost on me.

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