Thursday, February 09, 2012

Name That Emperor

When this Roman emperor was unexpectedly elevated to the throne, he whispered to himself a line from Homer: "Purple death and powerful fate closed his eyes."  While on campaign as emperor, he adopted a common soldier's diet, forbidding "such delicacies as pheasant and sow's womb and udders to be ordered and served for him."  He was:

a.  Domitian
b.  Marcus Aurelius
c.  Septimius Severus
d.  Constantine the Great
e.  Julian the Apostate

The line, by the way, is from Book 20 of the Iliad:

. . . τὸν δὲ κατ᾽ ὄσσε
ἔλλαβε πορφύρεος θάνατος καὶ μοῖρα κραταιή

It is part of a passage relating the murderous rampage of the grief-stricken Achilles among the Trojans when he takes the field following the death of Patroclos.  In Alexander Pope's translation:

Thy life, Echeclus! next the sword bereaves,
Deep though the front the ponderous falchion cleaves;
Warm'd in the brain the smoking weapon lies,
The purple death comes floating o'er his eyes.

1 comment:

  1. No takers? Oh well. The answer is Julian the Apostate.


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