Your RDA of Irony

Son of Obituary

January 17th A.D. 395: the Emperor Theodosius definitely had a bad day. However, he was one of the few Roman Emperors to die of natural causes.

Theodosius might be considered the true father of the Byzantine Empire. Until him, the Roman Empire had been considered one realm, even if it often had co-emperors to rule (and plot against each other). Theodosius decided simply to divide the empire in two, and it just so happened that he had a son for each half. His son, Arcadius the affable dolt, received the eastern half. It became the Byzantine Empire. His son, Honorius, the degenerate dolt, received the western half. It became a ruin. (Theodosius did have a reasonably bright child, but the Empire wasn’t ready for an Empress. She had the “consolation” of being the mother of an emperor, Honorius’ successor. Unfortunately, her son Valentinan III was just as degenerate as his uncle.)

Theodosius was also the first emperor to enforce the new religion on the Empire. Banning the Olympics was just one of his ways of suppressing the remaining institutions of paganism. Temples, and any of their assets, were seized. Some were converted into churches; many of the oldest churches today quite literally have pagan foundations. The other pagan buildings were used as quarries for their marble and columns; their material ended up in churches, too.

Theodosius’ polices incited a pagan rebellion in western Europe. The pagans’ choice for an Emperor was a grammarian named Eugenius. Since the annals do not record an Emperor Eugenius, you can guess who won.

  1. david traini says:

    Perhaps you are the reincarnation of Eugenius or of his half-brother Satirius. Or would you rather be the reincarnation of a satyr? Satyrs probably do not know how to parse a sentence or sentence a Parsi to death, but I am certain that they have a lot more fun.

  2. Mary Ann Jung says:

    Too bad Eugenius wasn’t around to tutor GW Bush. But maybe that would’ve put thousands of comedians out of work…

  3. Peggles says:

    All hail Eugenius the Jocund!

  4. If not an emperor, at least I am consoled that there have been four Popes named Eugenius. None, unfortunately, was exactly impressive. The first was a Byzantine lackey, and the second was a Frankish one. The third was driven out by the people of Rome, and the fourth was declared a heretic by a Church council–although he was only guilty of being corrupt, nepotic and vindictive, which was standard behavior for Renaissance Popes.

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