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Inspirational Reads

The Day the Republic Died

September 2, 2009

Robitussin is the opiate of the masses. Of course, by that, I'm implying that "masses" means my lungs and "opiate" means "thing that makes my lungs feel slightly better and less wheezy and somewhat clear of the thick, yellow lung butter that flies up my trachea when I cough".

As you might remember, a week ago or so, I was begging for your pity telling you about how I was afflicted with some mild form of palsy pox plague head cold. Well, I'm afflicted anew, or again, or I'm still afflicted, and now it's moved from my head down into my chest. Or maybe I've caught something new. Whatever it is, this hanta virus rubeola typhoid lung infection has stifled my creativity for the past few days. More than that, it's inspired me to lay around bemoaning the sad state of affairs that have led me to being stricken by the Plague, which has seriously cut into my time for writing this blog and for me to be out sexually harassing you in your comments sections reading and commenting on your blogs.

See, the thing about this illness is that it's been holding me down, giving me Dutch rubs for two weeks. Usually, it's my wife who is sick for two weeks, whereas I get a sniffly nose for a day or so, and then I'm back to trying to get her to engage in some sexual egress, despite the thermometer sticking out of her mouth and the sickly blush brought to her nose and cheekbones.

It's very fitting that I'm still dying of sickness and disease, because today is the day that the Roman Republic died. Hooray! Okay, so maybe it wasn't today per se (did you like how I worked a little Latin into that?), but today is the anniversary of the Battle of Actium, fought in 31 BC. The forces of Octavian--he who had been adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar--routed Cleopatra's army, which was assisted by forces that were loyal to Mark Antony (who was Caesar's second cousin). In case you weren't paying attention during history class and in case you haven't read Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (tut, tut), you'll do well to remember that Antony was boning Cleopatra.

Now, when Caesar was assassinated, Octavian, Antony and this other cat named Marcus Aemilius Lepidus set themselves up as political allies. They set about hunting down Cassius and Brutus for the murder of Caesar. After that was completed, things fell apart when Antony and Octavian came to a disagreement--most likely over who was going to going to navigate the Egyptian Queen's Nile Delta, if you know what I'm saying--and the dispute erupted into civil war within the Roman Republic.

Actually, truth be told, Antony was married to Octavian's sister, so when Octavian heard that Antony was plowing Cleopatra, he was none too pleased. In order to keep Cleopatra's trap shut, Antony ceded large tracts of lands in the eastern part of the Republic to her and her son. Cleopatra ruled Egypt jointly with her son, Ptolemy Caesar, also known as Caesarion (Little Caesar). He wasn't called Little Caesar just because of his awesome pizzapizza deals. In fact, Caesarion's father was none other than Julius Caesar, which of course made him a half-cousin to the men vying for power, but also made him a political threat. When word came back to Rome that big chunks of the eastern part of the Republic had just been given to someone else, the Senate was up in arms.

Seizing this opportunity, Octavian called Antony on it, and there began a power struggle. However, Octavian had control of the western parts of the Republic, which included Rome, so it wasn't too difficult to demonize Antony, and soon people were calling for Antony's blood.

Things came to a head on September 2nd, 31 BC at the Battle of Actium, which was a sea battle fought just off the west coast of Greece near the Ionian Sea. Antony's forces were routed, which essentially secured all of Rome for Octavian. Not one to leave enemies in his wake, Octavian pursued Antony and Cleopatra. Again, their forces clashed near Alexandria in Egypt, this time in a land battle. And by "clashed" I mean that Antony's forces saw they were outnumbered 2-to-1, causing them to immediately defect or surrender to Octavian as he approached.

All the while, Antony is watching from a tower in Alexandria. You can almost hear him screaming "sonuvabitch!" from that tower window as he watched the white flag wave (Antony's forces were largely comprised of soldier from the Italian peninsula, so I can't even levy any insults toward Gaul here). Having had enough, Antony did the honorable thing and fell on his sword--badly. Apparently, during the course of falling on his blade, he...missed...merely giving himself a flesh wound. If this guy were a baseball franchise, he'd be the Chicago Cubs. The badly-wounded Antony was taken back to Cleopatra's chambers, where he lingered for a bit, but finally succumbed to his self-inflicted wound, dying in J. Lo's Cleopatra's arms...leaving her to face Octavian alone.

Nothing says "love" quite like leaving your paramour to deal with an angry political rival and his enormous army.

Cleopatra immediately begged Octavian for mercy. Despite her pleas for mercy, Octavian opted for the non-compassionate route, and told Cleopatra she would have "a special role" in Octavian's triumphant return to Rome. He did this while killing and butchering her son--essentially turning "Little Caesar" into "Littler Pieces of Caesar." I told you he was not one to leave an enemy behind.

"Fuck this," Cleopatra said, and killed herself, either by sticking her hand in a jar containing an asp or by simply ingesting a poison. Either way, she was dead, and so was the Roman Republic. Octavian returned to Rome triumphant, having seized direct control of all the lands commanded by the Roman forces. Elated, the Senate rewarded him with the name "Augustus" and the title "Princeps" (First Citizen). As there was no one left to challenge his power and authority, Augustus then became the first Roman Emperor. Through his wanton slaughter of Antony's supporters, the fifty Roman legions at his back, and the massive armada he commanded, Augustus began what was known as the "Pax Romana" (Roman Peace), which is still the longest continuous period of peace in continental Europe's history. It essentially lasted from 30 BC to 476 AD when Odoacer deposed the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus.

So, you'll forgive me if I've been a little lax in the whole posting thing, because I've been sick. And, I hope you forgive me for the little wrap up here at the end, because it is truly, truly terrible. In case you can't tell, you should sing this to Don MacLean's American Pie, thus making it truly groan-worthy:

So, say 'bye-bye' to the Republic, guys,
Antony was partin' Cleopatra's thighs,
And Octavian started spreading these vile lies,
That Antony was messing with his family ties,
Saying this would the day that Marcus dies,
This would be the day that he dies...

I swear, it was the Robitussin talking. Now, pass me another little shot glass full of the stuff and let me get back to sleep.


erin said...

My favorite story of all time is Cleopatra's. I had this dream as a young girl that I would get married in Cypress on the same small island that Caesar and Cleo were married.

I ignored the fact that he later claimed that to be false...that they were never married...that her son was illegitimate or not his (I can't remember this part).

And I also loved Antony and Cleo's kids names...once again, a totally girly thing. Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene and
Ptolemy Philadelphus

Sass said...

You wrote that all, whilst sick?


Oh, and as a Cub fan...yeah. Sounds about right. ;)

Feel better soon, my friend.

red said...

Man, I wish HBO didn't cancel Rome. RIP (maybe) Lucius Vorenus!!!

otherworldlyone said...

I love that story. It's so romantic. Especially the falling on the sword bit.

Good job! Now get some rest. We do, in fact, miss your pervy comments.

SoBeAck-with a K said...

I'm not ashamed to admit I did sing your little ditty...out loud. Get well!

Soda and Candy said...

Aaaah! I can't read this because I'm watching HBO's Rome series and I don't know my history!

I'm sorry you're not feeling good. I hope your wife harasses you for sex as revenge for when you did it to her!

BeckEye said...

I love when people make up their own lyrics to songs. And I love when they're much worse than the ones I make up.

I've never seen the Cleopatra movie, but I think I heard that dude on AMC talking about how the censors made them cut out the part where Liz Taylor says, "Fuck this." What a bunch of bullshit.

Douglas said...

I'll probably get banned for life for asking this but...

Was that September 2nd under the old calendar or the new one? I get so confused because there have been all these revisions. I've gotten so I prefer the circa to an actual fixed date.

I kinda liked HBO's version. Lots more sex and violence and intrigue.

If this is what you are like when you're sick, imagine how good you'd be on drugs.

Scope said...

So Mark Anthony's woman had a big ASP you say...

~E said...

Wow. So I was trying to read thru blogs for the first time in god knows how long and as soon as it said "Battle of Actium" I was afflicted with good ole MEGO (mine eyes glazeth over) and horrible memories of 10th grade History came screaming back at me.

with that said, Hope you feel better!

Mala said...

If you're well enough to right all that, you can certainly put out for your wife!

Mr. Condescending said...

I was sick too and had to refrain from too much blogging. I'm better now though, just a little sniffles.

I like chris rock's talk about robitussin.

Nej said...

I'm bookmarking this post so I can read it again later. Afraid I won't remember a word of it by tomorrow. Getting myself quite the DayQuil high. Summer colds blow goats! And just in time for the long weekend. :-) :-(

And, for some reason, I now have this HUGE craving for pizza.

Gauche said...

wow. this is one of the most interesting blogs I've ever read....mainly cause I LOVE HISTORY and I love the way you told this particular story. I'm serious. this was a very entertaining read and I salute you for your storytelling ability. well done my friend, well done. thank you!!

p.s I adore you!

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