“there are two different ways of writing history: one is to persuade men to virtue and the other is to compel men to truth.”
― Robert Graves, “
Today marks the 1,961st anniversary of Roman Emperor Claudius I’s death. Like many of his family, his death did not occur naturally – he was poisoned, likely by his wife – setting the stage from his great-nephew, Nero, to become Emperor in his place. I’ve always loved the writing of Robert Graves, and I found his writings on Claudius – and the wonderful miniseries starring Derek Jacobi – to be completely mesmerizing. Such an unlikely ruler, and yet obviously far more clever than he was given credit for being. He lived to be 63 – itself surprising, and managed to survive as Emperor for 13 years. When younger, he had little interest in politics, perhaps one of the reasons that he lived long enough to become emperor, and he was actually a respected historian. Although no longer in existence, it seems that he wrote an extensive amount about the histories of Rome, Carthage, the Etruscans, and others.
Strange anniversary to mark, perhaps, but we can always learn from history, and some historical persons are too fascinating to ignore.
An even stranger fact about October 13, is that it didn’t exist in 1582. A mandated calendar adjustment took away the 5th thru the 14th of October. The Council of Trent gave us one of the reasons why ancient anniversaries are impossible to get right. Claudius’ family provided a couple of others by inserting months into the calendar.
To borrow a line from Douglas Adams’ “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe“:
“Time is bunk”.
Image from http://www.history.com