Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Today In History: Dangerous Jobs.

Oh, sure, being a lumberjack or crab fisherman is dangerous, but usurping the imperial purple in Rome? That was nearly always fatal. It's a wonder anybody took the job.

Anyhow, on this date in 350 AD, a well-to-do young lad named Nepotianus, who'd had several relatives in the emperoring business, hired a bunch of gladiators and marched into Rome at their head. The timing seemed auspicious for a bit of throne-grabbing, since the general Magnentius was already in open revolt in Gaul, and our boy Nepotianus figured he had every bit as good a claim as anyone else.

Unfortunately for Nepotianus, his talent ran more towards improvisation than long range planning. Sure, everybody was running around calling themselves "Augustus" at the moment, but some royal ancestors and a platoon of gladiators were not as solid a claim on the throne as command of a major field army. By the end of June, troops loyal to general Magnentius had crushed Nepotianus' little power grab and paraded his head on a spear through the streets of Rome.


Bob said...

You know what the worst job was? Being Chancellor in England when the king's name was Henry and your name was Thomas. Think about it:

Henry II, Thomas Becket: Thomas Died.

Henry VIII, Thomas Wolsey: Thomas Died.

Henry VIII, Thomas More: Thomas Died.

Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell: Thomas died.

Ed Foster said...

And before commiting suicide, Magnentius managed to lose almost all his army against Constantius in a two year campaign noted mostly by each army's living off the land.

In other words, stripping most of the area from the eastern Alps to the west bank of the Danube bare and letting most of central Europe starve.

Suprisingly, although the supply system was far inferior to what it had been a century or two earlier, the fighting quality of the various mercenary groups composing both sides was quite good, a harbinger of things to come in the Eastern Empire.

To make matters even more interesting, Constantius lost half his army in the struggle, leaving just about nothing to stop the watching, waiting Goths.

Who actually did a better job of running what was left than the demented idiots they replaced.

Joel said...

Another inexplicable job? President of Afghanistan. I've often wondered how invaders find people to take that job. Somebody always does, and he always ends up hiding in Kabul behind a battalion or two of foreign troops, since his life expectancy would be measurable in microseconds if he ever came out.