An Equal Opportunity Betrayer

narcissus smugNarsissus Turncoatius, still (just) the first man in Rome, stirred uneasily on his couch at the sound of a scrabbling at the door. Since his disastrous campaign against the Plebians, which ended with his legions decimated and the Plebian leader, Billious Shorticus, pitching his tents within sight of Rome itself, he had slept badly. Not because he was leading the Patrician party which he had hijacked to disaster – to have been disturbed about that would have required a more robust conscience than he possessed, but because he knew assassination plots against him were gathering.

He had claimed to be able to attract the votes of the masses (like his hero, Mousey Dung of Cathay) but a million who had voted for his predecessor had not voted for him. Even his faithful catamites among the Fair Faxes and the Ay Bee Cees had begun to turn against him.

“Infamy!” He thought, repeating the time-hallowed classical quotation, “Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!”

He would have to get another sword, he thought. He wished his own were not lodged so firmly in his predecessor’s back, as, to the sound of a whining noise, he padded across the tessellated chamber and opened the door. Relief washed over him. It was no assassin, it was only Krud, the deposed and now insignificant former leader of the Plebians. Krud crawled in and grovelled at his feet.

“You promised me a sinecure!” He whined. “You promised!”

Narcissus Turncoatius could barely restrain a laugh. The wretched creature had been the leader (briefly) of Rome for a couple of years of misrule, yet remained naive enough to believe in Narcissus’s promises! If it was no longer a threat to him, it was no use to him either. The Bishop still supported it, Heaven knew why. Perhaps to set it up to fail on a larger stage than any now available to it here. But to Narcissus it hardly seemed worth the effort. Krud was a spent force, almost as unpopular and despised as … well, never mind.  Let promises and sinecures be reserved for those with a capacity to return the favour — that was statecraft.

With a sandal to the fair, globular head, he pushed the cringing figure away across the floor, out of possible dagger-range.

“It wasn’t much of a job anyway,” he told the pitiful creature, now attempting to lick his sandals. “Envoy to the Barbaricum. You wouldn’t have enjoyed it. It was beyond your abilities.”

“I have copies of my letters to you!” Krud wailed, grovelling in his tunic for the scrolls.

Tuncoatuis stepped sharply back, fearful that the verminous Pleb. might dislodge some lice. But then he remembered lice had displayed a curious reluctance to share his own garments. “They have some dignity” a philosopher had told him, using another of those strange words whose meaning he really would have to look up some day. “They care about the company they keep.”

The scrolls, dated April 4, May 1, and June 28, showed Krud’s claim that Narcissus had agreed to back him for the grand sinecure on several occasions

Krud had written that he and Narcissus had talked about the promised grand sinecure via a private messaging service known as Wickr as early as September the previous year. Krud said he had believed he had support from both Narcissus and the Bishop. The dates of the scrolls showed Krud and Narcissus had been discussing the matter even before Narcissus Turncoatius’ assassination of his own predecessor.

“You in fact sent me a message on your preferred Wickr system where you stated that you and the Bishop were ‘as one’ in your support for my candidature,” Krud had written in the scroll dated May 1.

Narcissus took the duplicate scrolls and read them briefly, striking a statesmanlike pose as he did so. Then he bent his head and spoke in solemn and imperial tones to the figure hunched at his feet.

“Get out,” he said, “before you find yourself a star attraction in the arena.”

As the door closed behind the departing petitioner, Narcissus stuffed the three scrolls he had taken from him into a brazier and returned to his couch. Something like a smile of self-satisfaction returned to his lips as he watched the smoke. Krud might go crawling to Billious Shorticus. “And the best of Roman luck there!” Narcissus thought. The idea that Krud might have made other copies did not cross his mind.

He had proved to himself, as well as to Krud, that there was nothing small or narrow-minded in his Statecraft. He was prepared to betray Plebian and Patrician alike.

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


15 thoughts on “An Equal Opportunity Betrayer

  • ken.harris@exemail.com.au says:

    I never thought I’d say this but I feel sorry for Rudd. OK, he’s a nut case–why else would he want the job?–but he shouldn’t have been humiliated in front of the world. A wiser PM would have killed this off without a fuss. Turnbull can’t even make the right decision for the right reason without messing it up.
    He’s the smartest man in the room, so his fan club says. It must be a very small room.

  • Jody says:

    OK, I get it; you won’t be happy until Labor is returned. Patience.

  • ken.harris@exemail.com.au says:

    PS. Has anyone looked at the sequence of events? I got the impression that Turnbull was dealing with Rudd on the UN issue while Abbott was still PM?

  • mburke@pcug.org.au says:

    The shame of it all is that these two clowns are, or have been, perceived by a large percentage of the Australian population as being fit to succeed the real giants of Australian politics. (People may nominate their own choices as to which former PMs deserve to be called giants, but an easier task would be to nominate those who do not tower above Dumb and Dumber. Wee Willie McMahon, perhaps?)

    The way things stand now (unless the Herbert result is overturned on appeal), the only winners out of this last election will be the vultures of media as they feast on Parliamentary carrion. There certainly won’t be a lot of constructive government happening.

    • dsh2@bigpond.com says:

      I believe even McMahon had principles of some kind. It is interesting that both of these abject failures, Rudd and Turnbull, received record popularity ratings early in their terms as PM before the plebeians woke up to their intrinsic incompetence. Should we blame the cheer squads, the Ay Bee Cees and the Fair Faxes, for this misleading of the populace?

  • en passant says:

    Increase your medication, the current level of ‘reading, understanding and logic pills’ are not working.

    As it stands, ‘democracy’ in Oz is a broken wheel when the plebs are given such a poor selection of candidates to choose from. The fact that the majority of sheeples then blindly vote for parties that do not stand for their ideals says it all. Only about 20%-25% of voters seem to know and think about what they are doing.

    • Jody says:

      From my haze of medication I suggest that if you don’t like the current crop of politicians you should stand yourself. In short, put your money where your mouth is.

      I predict Turnbull will be overthrown either on the floor of parliament or by his own party. You won’t have to wait long for your revenge; just be very careful what you wish for.

      See? Medication works!!

  • denandsel@optusnet.com.au says:

    Good humour as per usual thank you Hal/Cato. But to my mind the debate/discussion should not be whether Australia/Roma Australis should nominate Rudd/Krudd or any other useless if not harmful bureaucratic socialist to the UN/Barbaricum [excellent terminology] post, but whether Australia should be in, or go to the UN/Barbaricum at all. At best, it is nothing more than a giant, socialist, bureaucratic, very expensive, hypocritical, un-necessary gravy train, albeit entertaining. I cannot think of even ONE useful thing this organisation has done. Any organisation that has brutal secular dictatorships and even more brutal theocratic Islamic totalitarian regimes as part of its ‘Human Rights’ committees, which have the gall to lecture open free countries like Australia/Roma Australis about the ‘rights’ of refugees/insurgents/gladiators [mostly created by and coming from those totalitarian regimes] forfeits any claim to validity on any subject. We should just get out of the UN/Barbaricum and let Rudd/Krudd nominate for this farcical organisation at his own expense, we should not pay another cent/drachma for anything to do with it.

  • Bwana Neusi says:

    Hal G P Colebatch has a brilliant way with words. I would like to see the entire “Narssisus Turncoatius” turned into a book of kinds, at the conclusion of this fiasco.
    Perhaps even a prequel to the current series could make an excellent addition – his attempts to join the Plebian ranks would be worth a chapter or two.

  • Geoffrey Luck says:

    Bwana: There will be no conclusion to this fiasco. Australia is finished!

  • iain says:

    That gwovelling wudd

  • Meniscus says:

    All this Proves that the delcons won the election. And how on Earth was someone like Rudd even in the running in the first place?


    • dsh2@bigpond.com says:

      Whilst Turnbull’s wings have been clipped, I would not go so far as to say the delcons won. Turnbull is still PM and will do everything, everything, to stay there whilst gradually eroding all of the Liberal principles many hold dear. Turnbull is not stupid but he is evil and he is determined to survive even if the Liberal Party dies.

  • brian.doak@bigpond.com says:

    Turnbull’s mother worked for the ABC for years. We all love our mothers, and Turnbull had no siblings.The ABC is like mother’s milk to him but is an asp to conservatives.

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