The Eunuchs Grow Restless

turnbillious IINarcissus Turncoatus, still (just) the Leader of the Patrician Party, and still (just) the First Man in Rome, stared desolately out across the Forum. His temple prostitutes, the Fair Faxes, had brought him bad news. After his flight, the legions which he had led so proudly into battle had been decimated by the Plebian upstarts. Indeed, he had detected hostility among the Fair Faxes themselves.

Only a few days ago the legions his predecessor had built up had made a proud showing, fit to roll over any Plebian opposition. He considered the scrolls he had had distributed to certain members of the Patrician Party, extolling the virtues of his father. “He taught me a lot of amazing things. He was incredibly loyal.”*

“Loyal”, what did that strange word mean? It was one of those puzzling words, like “honour” and “trust”, that seemed to keep cropping up. He wished he knew what they meant. “Loyal?”

But it had a nice ring to it, if only he could pin the meaning down. He wondered what it would be like to be “loyal” to someone. But why had those who read the message and its invocation of “loyalty” either choked with hysterical laughter or headed at top speed for the vomitorium? Perhaps it had not been effective propaganda after all, no matter how highly he regarded his own communication skills.

Turncoatius looked out again across Rome. On the distant horizon, a cloud of dust. The sign of an advancing Plebian army?

Narcissus Turncoatius’ Elusive Word
All Hail Narcissus Turncoatius

It was so unfair! The legions, and the Senators, he had bribed to connive at his predecessor’s assassination, where were they? Where was their “loyalty”. His ears strained to catch the stealthy footfall of any approaching assassin.

It was so unfair! He had almost emptied the Treasury to buy votes from the Southern Provinces by building, or promising to build, new underwater galleys there, to far outdo the great pleasure boats Caligula had floated on Lake Nemi. Yet it seemed they too had turned against him. Reports were that his legions there, as elsewhere, had been massacred. Was there no gratitude?

He knew he had led the legions to disaster, and had barely escaped with his political life. One more campaign, and the Plebians, under their crude leader Billious Shorticus, would be in Rome. Already, when he stepped into the street he could feel that the devotion of his guard, the Ay Bee Cees, whose support had brought him to power, was wavering. They and the Fair Faxes were muttering the name of Shorticus, and his instinct told him the muttering would soon grown louder.

A Roman in his position, he knew, ought to fall on his sword. But that was impossible: it was lodged in his predecessor’s back.

*Strangely, an identical message was sent to the translator a few days before the 2016 election.

Quadrant Online readers owe the translation above to Hal G.P. Colebatch

14 thoughts on “The Eunuchs Grow Restless

  • dsh2@bigpond.com says:

    Superb satire. Bravo, the true loyalists applaud you!

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    Love it. He should just go and a successor will arise. He should take Lady Macbeth with him. The perennial cockroach should finally meet Mr Mortein.

  • Jody says:

    Narcissus is having the last laugh: “Veni, Vidi, Vici”!!

    • denandsel@optusnet.com.au says:

      If Narcissus is happy having your last laugh, he has a weird sense of humour. To my mind it is more of an insane cackle betraying impending doom. What part of ‘Vici’ did Narcissus partake in besides assassinating members of his own team?

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    Hark! What says Hillarious Clintonis?

  • Bwana Neusi says:

    All Hail Narcissus Turncoatius!
    The gelded couriers of Fair Faxes foresee the advancing of a fire headed heathen from Boadicia-land in the north.
    It is also foretold that she screams a shrill language that assaults the ears of more refined citizens.
    They also whisper that she seeks to invade the sacred Senate with her venomous tongue – and verily she should never be made welcome.

  • en passant says:

    By forgetting the past we are condemned to relive it.

    Many years ago I applied for a job and was accepted. A short while later I had cause to ask why I had been hired as there were clearly more technically skilled people all around. You probably will not understand their reply, but I will give it to you anyway. “We hire people for their character as there are plenty of people with technical skill, but few that are trustworthy.”
    Tell me again that the past did not give a clue to Turdbull’s future performance. If you are struggling, contact ScoMo, McFarlane, Roy, Robert, Brough or Hendy, et al and aske them. The Password is “Loyalty”.

    • dsh2@bigpond.com says:

      Well said, en passant. Fancy, an en passant delivers checkmate.

    • Jody says:

      Loyalty!! Hilarious. Abbott wanted to throw Hockey under a bus to save his own hide at the eleventh hour when he asked ScoMo if he wanted the job!!!! As ever, it’s all in the eye of the beholder – and there is none so blind….

  • en passant says:

    Let me finish your quote for you: “There are none sae blind as as a Jody who is so biased to her cause that there is nothing that cannot be fabricated to prove their point” Robert Burns.

  • Salome says:

    Very good, but it’s ‘plebeian’.

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