Your RDA of Irony

Fodder for Father’s Day

To celebrate Father’s Day, let’s consider some of the worst fathers in history.

Surprisingly, very few Roman emperors would qualify. Perhaps that is one of the benefits of sterility. Marcus Aurelius was one of the few potent potentates, and he was too good a father. He left the Empire to his completely incompetent son. (And now we know George H.W. Bush’s role model.) The Emperor Constantine demonstrated his Christian virtues by executing his oldest son; the prince was rumored to be having an affair with his stepmother. The lady died rather abruptly, too. Somehow this episode did not inspire the saying “Chastity begins at home.”

Herod the Great really did not massacre innocent children, but he could be ruthless with annoying ones. He executed three of his sons. One was a treacherous weasel (his paternity was never in doubt). The other two were merely obnoxious and overbearing; imagine if Meyer Lansky had somehow sired Ben Stiller and William Kristol. You could have guessed the outcome, and can we really blame Herod? Besides, Herod had an additional four sons, so he could afford the braticide.

Among the privileges of being a Tsar was killing your son. Ivan the Terrible won an argument with the Tsarevitch by applying a staff to the young man’s skull. Ivan immediately regretted his impetuosity and ordered the execution of anyone who might have caused him to be in a bad mood. Peter the Great’s reforms did not include a liberal approach to childrearing. Finding his son supported the Court’s conservatives, Peter had the Prince tortured to death.

Of course, who is to say that Ivan and Peter were being prudent? Spare the rod…lose the throne. When Alexander I seized the Russian throne from his father Paul I, Dad was “accidentally” strangled.

I suppose we should consider Henry II of England as our role model for both father and ruler. When your sons plot against you, just do enough to thwart and defeat them; but try to refrain from killing them.

  1. Alan says:

    Don’t you think the notion of “royal blood” has been a disaster for humanity, putting idiots and psychopaths in positions of great power?

  2. Peggles says:

    It’s not only “royal blood” that is disastrous. Look at our current weasel-in-chief – we inflicted him upon us ourselves (at least a weak-minded majority did.)

  3. Alan:

    Dynasties are usually founded by a person of extraordinary ability. Unfortunately, although the power is passed on, the ability rarely is. (The Tudors are a remarkable exception.)

    Peg: But our Commandude is of royal blood. That smirk shows his sense of entitlement.

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