This is SPQR News.
Reporting live from the Forum Again…
“Hello fellow Romans, my name is Reporterus Maximus. Thank you for joining our nine o’clock news at six. Today we will continue our report on Rome. We will have an opportunity to speak to some incredible people, and non-people, that helped shape the Roman and Byzantine empires.
Last week we talked to Julius Caesar, who is now dead. Due to the fact that he was stabbed 23 times. This made room for a new Triumvirate to spring up, between Gaius Octavius, Marcus Antonius, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.
Here he comes now! Caesar Augustus. Hey Augustus! looking good, how have you been? I see that you have changed your name, eh? Didn’t like Octavian much?”
“No, not really. I think it didn’t suit me much anyway.”
“Couldn’t agree with you more! So? How are things? How is the second Triumvirate?”
“You know how it is. Mark Antony, Lepidus and myself ruled the empire. Me and Antony never liked each other and Lepidus was always kind of a third wheel. I found an excuse to strip Lepidus of his power and exiled him.”
“That’s not very nice.”
“Nah, I guess not. My real trouble was with Mark Antony though. He married my sister, but still had relations with Cleopatra of Egypt. He even had kids with her. Can you believe the scoundrel! He was even leaving his legacy to her children. That really irked me. So I went to war with him”
“Wow, what happened?”
“I won, at the battle of Actium. Antony and Cleopatra ran back to Egypt and killed themselves… That was the last battle of the roman republic. Rome became an empire. I became an emperor! The Empire became very wealthy under my rule.”
“That is great! I am truly excited for you, but it looks like we are out of time. It was really nice to see you.”
“Thank you, for having me, and remember I was Rome’s first!”
“Sure… I kind of liked Cleopatra though…
And who do we have here? I was not expecting you, Mr. Kr. Stan.”
“I will not take up much of your time I promise. I just want to talk about “the fire” for a second.”
“No problem, take all the time you need,”
“My story goes like this: A magnificent fire started in Rome. Nero was the emperor, and as the fire spread, so did the accusations that he was the one that had started it. He tried his best to quell the flames, but the people’s suspicions did not subside. So, he found a scapegoat: the Christians. Back then, Christianity was a very new religion and it was small in numbers. It was barely a religion, a branch of Judaism really. The people of Rome didn’t like the christians already, so it was easy to point the finger them. Nero made a spectacle of it and fed his Christian suspects to lions, literally. That’s when the christian prosecutions began.”
“May I ask you how it felt?”
“There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Persecutions make you feel “not great”. Lesson of the day. Thank you for coming Mr. Kr. Stan!”
“I will be back…”
“Oh man… Here he comes again, do we have to talk to him again?
Here you are again! Bobus Buildus. Let’s keep this short, I want to know about the Colosseum.”
“Well dear sir, I don’t like talking much to you either, but here we are. You are simple-minded and need me to explain and describe even the most basic thing such as the Colosseum.
It is elliptical structure and is 189 meters long, 156 meters wide a base area of 24 000 meters. 48 meters in height and the perimeter is…”
“Let me stop you right there. I don’t think the listeners what to hear all of the dimensions. Just the basics please.”
“You must be thick, there is nothing basic about it.
I will try to be as basic as I can: it is a big stage that could seat 50 000 people. We built the best seats for the senators and high-ranking officials. There is actually a law which determined where people would sit. Of course, the very best seat is the emperor’s box. We also built trap doors for special effects. Everything is very high-tech, you know. We even have an awning to protect the people from the elements. Can you imagine that it has 76 entrances, no? Well it does.
All this was built to watch people kill each other all day. Those gladiators are savages.”
“You are a savage. Get out of here, I will not have you insult my favorite pastime. That guy rubs me the wrong way. I do not like him…
Anyway… Oh my Jupiter. Is that who I think it is? Is that mount Vesuvius?”
“Yes it is I.”
“Oh man, you better get out of here before someone notices you, you know we are still pretty upset about Pompeii.”
“I know, I am very sorry.”
“For those who don’t know, Vesuvius is a volcano. It erupted and killed nearly everyone in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Pompeii was a great city, and Herculaneum a smaller one that served as a summer destination for the rich romans”
“Yeah, I exploded very hard. I couldn’t keep all of that hot ash and gas in anymore. I am sorry. I remember it like yesterday. It was noon time, my top exploded and I sent ash up into the sky, almost 12 miles high. It was very pretty actually… But I mean in a horrifying way. I have erupted before but nothing like that, that was something special. I covered everything with 16 feet of ash. I could see all the little people running around below me (all 2000 of them), but I could do nothing, I am a volcano. I kept exploding for the next 24 hour, I have to admit that it wasn’t pleasant for me either. One good thing that came out of this was that I preserved the city exactly as it was that day and it let archaeologists and them historians learn a great deal of Roman life.”
“Always a silver lining!”
“Okay… I have to go, I feel bloated again. It is a matter of time before I explode again.”
“You better get out of here then, you crazy volcano you. Crazy, I tell you… Now who do we have next. Mr. J Fish? What are you here for?”
“I would just like to tell a quick story also.”
“Sure go ahead!”
“I would like to remind you how the romans destroyed the Jewish temple. The Jewish people lived in oppression for a long time by the Romans. At times it wasn’t so bad, and at times it was really horrible. After a while we could not take it anymore and revolted. What did they do, they attacked us with all of their might and destroyed our holy temple. It was a great tragedy, we scattered all over the word.”
“Freedom is important, I can agree. Having said that, I’m Roman so…”
“I will go now, but I will be back…”
Is that Constantine! Wow, I can’t believe you showed up! Could you please tell us what happened to the Roman empire, you know better than any!
Who is that with you? Is that Mr. Kr. Stan again?”
“I told you I would be back, and here I am” – Mr. Kr. Stan.
“It all began with Diocletian, when he decided to split the empire. Make it into two: western and eastern. He had noble intentions, but I think that is exactly when the decline began.
I became the sole emperor of western Rome after defeating Maxentius and made the empire strong again. I brought many reforms and new ideas and stopped the prosecution of the Christians”
“That’s why I am here.” – Mr. Kr. Stan.
“I also fixed the economy with gold coins, and I moved the capital east to Byzantium, which I renamed Constantinople. Also I am really good at fighting wars.”
“Yes you are, but remember god helped you through it all.” – Mr. Kr. Stan.
“Yes he did, I will even get baptized before I die. I still consider my great accomplishment was to bring christianity to the people. I built churches and painted crosses on shields, I did everything I could to promote christianity through the empire. After me, Theodosius made the Roman empire officially christian.”
“But what happened to the western empire?” – Mr. Kr. Stan.
“Barbarians happened. This was way after my time, though.
The romans suffered a great defeat by the Visigoths and their king Alaric. After that defeat, Rome lost its appearance of invincibility. This opened the door for more barbarian attacks, which slowly chewed away at the empire, until finally the Goths took power. The eastern part survived for another 1000 years as the byzantine empire.”
“Can you tell us more about the Byzantine?”
“You should talk to Justinian about that. I am tired, it’s time for me to rest. Let’s go Mr. Kr. Stan.”
“I will be back!” – Mr. Kr. Stan.
“Can someone please get Justinian in here! Now! Oh, he is here. Here you are! Would you please tell us of your empire?”
“I would be happy to. Me and my lovely wife, Theodora, did much to bring Eastern Roman empire, or Byzantine back to its former glory. The church where we were married, the Hagia Sophia, was sadly burned down by rioters, so we rebuilt it. We managed to put a marvelous dome on top and make it even more spectacular than it ever was. I also published the “Codex Constitutionum” and the “Digesta”, basically the standard for laws. We also took care of some of the barbarians around the area, and returned some of our territory.”
“But how did it fall?”
The Byzantine empire always had a lot of problems with the Persians, always fighting…”
“Then I come in!” – Mr. M. Slim
“Mr. M. Slim? What are you doing here?”
“Just observing” – Mr. M. Slim
“Yeah right! The Arabs constantly attacked our empire, this was of course after my time. It was the Arabs and the Muslim Turks who finally brought down the Byzantine empire. They even turned the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.”
“Each civilization has their time!” – Mr. M. Slim
“Speaking of time… Looks like our time is over folks. Thank you for watching the SPQR News and good night!
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