Fell Off A Horse
January 1, 2014 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Roman Emperors Ranked By How Hardcore Their Deaths Were
posted by The Whelk (102 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

 
Valentinian I, whose brain exploded when he got angry at some particularly infuriating barbarian ambassadors, is my favorite.

Poor old Valerian, not sure I'd rate his ignoble fate so high.
posted by Artw at 8:12 AM on January 1 [7 favorites]


I would love to see the matrix for determining how hardcore these deaths were compared to how metal. And perhaps a panel show with one hardcore person and a metal head to discuss this and a team of researchers who are a bunch of kids into ska and prog metal.

The episode discussing emperors/Emperor would be so metal.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:22 AM on January 1 [12 favorites]


I feel a pie-chart of "assassinated" vs "other" would be useful.
posted by Artw at 8:23 AM on January 1 [11 favorites]


As an Irishman, this is very entertaining.
posted by nevercalm at 8:27 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Valerian's death, as described in this article, was likely early Christian propaganda, spread to demonstrate that bad things happened to those that persecuted Christians. While he was certainly captured by the Persians, I seem to recall that his soldiers were kept as honored prisoners and put to work on building projects. Wikipedia supports this version of his life, which isn't nearly as bad ass.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:27 AM on January 1 [4 favorites]


8. Vitellius (69): Dragged from hiding as his regime collapsed, strangled, then ritually thrown down a flight of stairs.

Doesn't sound like an accident.
posted by Brian B. at 8:30 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Man, Caligula didn't even make the top 40? Whoa...
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:34 AM on January 1


Wounded in battle with the Goths, he was carried to a small hut, which the Goths later burned down, unaware the emperor was inside is a good one. Goths were more hardcore back then.
posted by Artw at 8:35 AM on January 1 [20 favorites]


Caligula was just a run-of-the-mill assassination, so 40 seems about right.
posted by Pendragon at 8:39 AM on January 1


I didn't realize that "forced to become a bishop" was such a common contributory cause of death.
posted by Knappster at 8:41 AM on January 1 [6 favorites]


Rome had a lot of civil wars.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:41 AM on January 1 [11 favorites]


Goths were more hardcore back then.

Yeah, but the New Romantics were still just kind of there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 AM on January 1 [17 favorites]


All of those names get read in Mike Duncan's voice in my head
posted by motorcycles are jets at 8:44 AM on January 1 [20 favorites]


Roman Emperors Ranked By How Hardcore Thier Deaths Were

My eyes are burning.
posted by jcreigh at 8:47 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


1. This is the best Listsicle ever.

2. That's crazy that the iPad autocorrects "Listsicle."

3. 10 out of 65 died of non-horrific causes. How bad would it suck to be a kid in line for succession of the throne.

4. I'm assuming "forced to become a bishop" is some kind of euphemism for castration or sold into sexual slavery or some other horror.
posted by Random Person at 8:49 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Bashing the bishop was non-euphemistic back then.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


It's all grapes and orgies until somebody gets turned into a human footstool.
posted by phaedon at 8:57 AM on January 1 [30 favorites]


Tiberius (37): His entourage thought he died of old age, announced his death, then smothered him in a panic when he suddenly regained consciousness.

You can so see the conversations that led to this. Weekend at Bernies Tiberius'.
posted by arcticseal at 9:02 AM on January 1 [10 favorites]


We had to sit still and take it. It was among the Italians. It was real greaseball shit. They even shot Tommy in the face so his mother couldn't give him an open-casket funeral.
posted by phaedon at 9:04 AM on January 1 [16 favorites]


Valerian (sometime after 260): Captured by the Persians and died in captivity; rumored to have been used as a human footstool by the Persian king, killed by having molten gold poured down his throat, then taxidermied.

Wait, where did I see this...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:04 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


9. Commodus (192): Given poison by conspirators, but he vomited that up, so they brought in a wrestler to strangle him in the bathtub.

THE ROCK turns a corner, emerging from shadow into the steamy bathroom where COMMODUS pampers himself after the harrowing events of the day. COMMODUS looks up, dawning horror playing across his face. THE ROCK raises a single eyebrow.

FADE TO BLACK

posted by invitapriore at 9:07 AM on January 1 [70 favorites]


This gets Didius Julianus wrong. He bought the empire by paying off the Praetorian Guard, but lost the civil war to Septimius Severus, and was imprisoned in the imperial palace. The Senate stripped Julianus of his powers, crowned Severus, put out word that Julianus had taken poison, and had him murdered by a common soldier.
posted by graymouser at 9:07 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Keep this list in mind the next time you think your city/state/province/country's politics are disfunctional.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:09 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Invitapriore: so you're saying that, in his final moments, Commodus finally got to smell what the Rock was cooking?
posted by jonp72 at 9:09 AM on January 1 [9 favorites]


Diocletian deserves higher. Any old emperor can be poisoned, stabbed, or ritualistically thrown down a flight of stairs; to do a relatively great job and then walk away is true badassery.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:11 AM on January 1 [14 favorites]


"Romulus" here is Romulus Augustulus. For the original Romulus (not an Emperor, of course) I believe there are two versions: one, the official one, that he was taken up to heaven by the grateful Gods, or two, which everyone actually believed, that he was stabbed to death because people had got completely sick of him being a dick about founding Rome.
posted by Segundus at 9:12 AM on January 1 [13 favorites]


I was a disappointed that they appeared to have missed one who'd had some hideous disease before google reminded me it was the Herods and not an actual emperor (Top Tip... don't look up Fournier's gangrene on wikipedia without some brain bleach handy)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:21 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


The list seems to exclude most of the Byzantine emperors (which is OK).

But my romantic favorite is Constantine XI, the man who held the throne in May 1453 when the Turks finally smashed down the walls of Constantinople and conquered the city--all that was officially left of the Roman Empire.

Mehmed the Conqueror offered Constantine the opportunity to surrender, to which he replied: "To surrender the city to you is beyond my authority or anyone else's who lives in it, for all of us, after taking the mutual decision, shall die out of free will without sparing our lives." He rushed about the city, organizing the defense and trying to keep up the spirits of the doomed defenders.

In the final horrible minutes, he is reported to have said "The city is fallen and I am still alive." He then tore off his imperial regalia and ornaments, leaving nothing to distinguish himself from the other soldiers and charged headlong into the mass of Turks pouring through the breach. He was never seen again.
posted by General Tonic at 9:27 AM on January 1 [66 favorites]


It's the lowest on this list other than just plain "natural causes", but I don't care, this one is the best:
64. Vespasian (79): Natural causes; quipped "Uh oh, I think I'm becoming a God" as he died.
posted by Flunkie at 9:29 AM on January 1 [22 favorites]


My eyes are burning.

And this is how hardcore your death is.
posted by The Whelk at 9:29 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Domitian and Geta were interesting in the aftermaths of their deaths. Both were subjected to damnatio memoriae by the Senate, a proto-Orwellian process that sought to remove their names from public records, melt their coins, deface their statues (literally remove the face), tear down their monuments and generally act as if they had never existed. Domitian got it because he had royally angered the Senatorial aristocracy, and Geta because his brother Caracalla wanted to justify his (Caracalla's) sole reign as emperor.
posted by graymouser at 9:30 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Narcissus is a cooler name than The Rock.
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on January 1


WHO EVEN TURNS THROWING PEOPLE DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS INTO A RITUAL?
posted by ardgedee at 9:43 AM on January 1 [35 favorites]


Wait, where did I see this...

Fun fact, even though most people think the Game Of Thrones universe is inspired by medieval Europe, most of the interesting stuff is from the late Roman period and the Byzantine Empire.

I'm pretty sure that, when George R.R. Martin doesn't know what should happen next, he pulls out his well-worn copy of The Secret History for inspiration.
posted by Sara C. at 9:46 AM on January 1 [10 favorites]


Romans had a lot of rituals.
posted by khaibit at 9:46 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


WHO EVEN TURNS THROWING PEOPLE DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS INTO A RITUAL?

You've clearly missed out on a British private education
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:47 AM on January 1 [33 favorites]


How awesome of a name is Maximinus Thrax? I've found the name for my first born son.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:54 AM on January 1 [10 favorites]


And this is how hardcore your death is.

Typos are my one weakness. Well, that and bullets.
posted by jcreigh at 10:15 AM on January 1


It's the lowest on this list other than just plain "natural causes", but I don't care, this one is the best:
64. Vespasian (79): Natural causes; quipped "Uh oh, I think I'm becoming a God" as he died.


The "uh oh" kills me. "Well Vespasian, you've certainly got yourself into a pickle this time!"
posted by jason_steakums at 10:20 AM on January 1 [26 favorites]


How awesome of a name is Maximinus Thrax? I've found the name for my first born son.

My junior year abroad program gave us all Roman Emperor names as an easy way of doing attendance, so I still get mail addressed to Tibby, and I'm getting married by a Max Thrax. It's the best name.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:25 AM on January 1 [4 favorites]


What is the Latin for "uh oh"?
posted by iotic at 10:25 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Ruh roh, puto deus fio, Raggy
posted by clockzero at 10:26 AM on January 1 [21 favorites]


iotic: "vae"
posted by clockzero at 10:27 AM on January 1 [4 favorites]


How awesome of a name is Maximinus Thrax? I've found the name for my first born son.


I'll fight you for it!!

Actually my husband and I are considering Tiberius as one of the middle names if we have a boy. It's because of Captain Kirk (we partly bonded over our love of Star Trek, having both been teased for it previously) but I suppose if that explanation doesn't satisfy we can tell people he's named for the emperor who was 'strangled by his panicked entourage' because he was supposed to be dead already!

Also, The Awl totally wins 10 Internets for "Listicles Without Commentary", because they manage to keep it funny and not click bait-y (I'm looking at you, every other listicle website.)
posted by polly_dactyl at 10:27 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Iotic-- or eheu, maybe? More of a woe, alas kind of vibe; good for swooning.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:27 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


My eyes are burning.

[There, their. Fixed.]
posted by cortex at 10:31 AM on January 1 [8 favorites]


I was thinking perhaps, "uhus ohus"
posted by iotic at 10:50 AM on January 1 [8 favorites]


Maximus Thrax was the first barbarian emperor, for extra metal.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Actually my husband and I are considering Tiberius as one of the middle names if we have a boy. It's because of Captain Kirk (we partly bonded over our love of Star Trek, having both been teased for it previously) but I suppose if that explanation doesn't satisfy we can tell people he's named for the emperor who was 'strangled by his panicked entourage' because he was supposed to be dead already!

To reinforce the latter interpretation, you might consider "Rasputin" as your son's first name.
posted by The Tensor at 11:07 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


I'm a little disappointed that they don't always list who did the assassinating. If they did it would become clear that the praetorian guard was the leading cause of death among Roman Emperors.
posted by VTX at 11:26 AM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Given his creativity when it came to murdering other people (not to mention his early endorsement of whoopie cushions), it's a real shame that Elagabalus met such a trite and mundane end.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:30 AM on January 1


Just in case he's not metal enough for you already, Maximinus Thrax was supposedly massively tall. We're talking Andre the Giant type size. So there's that.
posted by graymouser at 11:34 AM on January 1 [6 favorites]


From the link about Elagabalus
And he also built a very high tower from which to thrown himself down, constructed of boards gilded and jewelled in his own presence, for even his death, he declared, should be costly and marked by luxury, in order that it might be said that no one had ever died in this fashion. But all these preparations availed him nothing, for, as we have said, he was slain by common soldiers, dragged through the streets, contemptuously thrust into sewers, and finally cast into the Tiber.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:56 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


8. Vitellius (69): Dragged from hiding as his regime collapsed, strangled, then ritually thrown down a flight of stairs.
i told you, man
posted by LogicalDash at 12:16 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


>> WHO EVEN TURNS THROWING PEOPLE DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS INTO A RITUAL?

> You've clearly missed out on a British private education


So this is where the grading method of throwing papers down a stairwell comes from... ah ha!
posted by JoeXIII007 at 12:33 PM on January 1


SPQaaaaaaargghhhhh! - Julius Caesar supposed last words.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:42 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


It is a fucking CRIME that the HBO/BBC series Rome didn't do a third season that was a time-jump ahead to the reign of Elagabalus. So much crazy.
posted by Sara C. at 12:43 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Man, we need an Elegabalus today.
posted by telstar at 12:53 PM on January 1


It is a fucking CRIME that the HBO/BBC series Rome didn't do a third season that was a time-jump ahead to the reign of Elagabalus. So much crazy

It is a worse crime that the show was too expensive to make and HBO/BBC crammed what was supposed to be four years of story into the second season. Antony & Cleopatra was supposed to be one entire season by itself.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:56 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Eh, while I could see season 2 stretched out to a third season, I'm re-watching right now and I totally get why they compressed the plot. Frankly season 2 is a little slow, if anything.
posted by Sara C. at 12:58 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Um, be sure to do research before naming a child after Tiberius.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:00 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


I'm re-watching right now and I totally get why they compressed the plot.

Well, yeah. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I didn't find s2 slow, but then I haven't seen s1 so I don't have a lot to compare to. Frankly I would have loved to have seen ten episodes slowly documenting Marc Antony's degeneration. Plus the mid-season Octavian switch just annoyed me.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:24 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


As for a series, it would be fascinating to do the Severans. First episode Septimius Severus dies and leaves Caracalla and Geta on the throne. Next two episodes, Caracalla gets jealous of his brother and kills him. We follow Caracalla for an episode in Germany, an episode in Egypt (the bloody suppression of a riot in Alexandria), an episode in Parthia (fake wedding treaty where he kills the bride and guests), then in Edessa a lavish birthday celebration before he's killed taking a leak.

Then we spend two episodes on the plotting to get Elagabalus on the throne during Macrinus's reign, culminating with the coronation of Elagabalus. Then we spend four episodes with the reign of Elagabalus getting weirder and weirder, until the Praetorians finally acclaim Alexander and murder Elagabalus. End with the coronation of Alexander.

You get a ton of military intrigue, great roles for mature actresses in the various Julias, social unrest, religious cults, the greatest villain emperor in Caracalla, a cross-dressing bi psychopath in Elagabalus, and all the looming doom of the Crisis that will fall across the Empire. The whole thing takes a little more than 10 years of historical time and offers tons of juicy drama.
posted by graymouser at 1:34 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


WHO EVEN TURNS THROWING PEOPLE DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS INTO A RITUAL?


For some reason, I'm imagining them singing "Happy Birthday To You" as they swing him back and forth by his arms and legs.




He then tore off his imperial regalia and ornaments, leaving nothing to distinguish himself from the other soldiers and charged headlong into the mass of Turks pouring through the breach. He was never seen again.


*Nathan Explosion voice*


Uh...yeah...that's pretty brutal.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:49 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Died in battle against the Goths

That's how I want to go.
posted by photoslob at 1:54 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


I don't think anybody listed there went down harder core than Julius Caesar who I guess was never technically The Emperor.
posted by bukvich at 1:56 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


WH40k should have an Elegabalus, shake up the whole god emperor biz a little...
posted by Artw at 1:58 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]



Many of the alleged poisonings could have been death from natural causes (infectious disease, heart disease). That poison was rumored illustrates the limitations of Roman medicine and the instability of the imperial succession, as well as the nasty reputation of the people involved in the line of succession.

I would post Walter Scheidel’s “Emperors, aristocrats, and the Grim Reaper: toward a demographic profile of the Roman elite,” Classical Quarterly 49.1 (1999), 254-281 for you, but unlike many of his papers it isn’t open access.

"In the line of succession” is an anachronism: the Roman Empire established no regular, authoritative mode of hereditary succession. “Dynastic” succession meant only that the emperor favored a member of his family as potential successor. The emperors in any case, as with other aristocratic Roman men, weren’t very good at perpetuating lines of descent (this is a bisexual society with slavery, and also a pre-modern society with high infant mortality).

Adoption of the best man for the job (mature and steady, certainly not Caligula or Nero) was an alternative to dynastic succession, e.g. from Nerva to Marcus Aurelius, broken when Marcus denoted his son Commodus as successor.

Finally, the army might elevate the man it considered best suited for the job, or such a man might influence the army into elevating him, usually by offering the soldiers enough money. Events of this kind tended to happen in the periphery of the empire when other crises were going on, e.g. AD 69, “The Year of Four Emperors” (Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian), though military coups often involved the Praetorians in the city of Rome (in AD 69, Otho).

This sounds like a nightmare and it is, but it is an irony that the period with one of the longest runs of hereditary succession (the House of Theodosius, 379-455) was also the period when the Western empire was falling apart.
posted by bad grammar at 1:58 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


"yeah, it's, um, knife poisoning. Yeah, that's right."
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


"Became so angry at German ambassadors who were not sufficiently deferential that he suffered a rage-stroke."

I am German and this explains a lot about my life.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:22 PM on January 1 [14 favorites]


I didn't realize that we Persians killed so many Roman emperors. I knew about Valerian's fate, but that's it. I've actually seen the large bas relief near Shiraz which depicts Valerian acting as the Parthian king's footstool. Most historians, however, believe that Valerian was quickly and unceremoniously executed by the Parthians and did not in fact live for several years as a human footstool/slave before eventually being killed by his captors.

Oh, and I think the linked site confused Valerian's fate with Marcus Licinius Crassus's, the richest man in Rome (and the antagonist in the film Spartacus). Crassus led a disastrous campaign against the Parthians and was defeated handily at the Battle of Carrhae in one of Parthia's greatest victories --led by their brilliant general Surena-- against the numerically superior Romans. There are dubious accounts of the Parthians executing Crassus by pouring molten gold down his throat to demonstrate how his insatiable desire for more and more wealth finally got him killed, but in all likelihood he was quickly murdered during a parley-gone-wrong with the Parthians. The Parthians weren't that poetic and didn't usually display a fondness for irony.
posted by Devils Slide at 2:23 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:43 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


It's the lowest on this list other than just plain "natural causes", but I don't care, this one is the best:

64. Vespasian (79): Natural causes; quipped "Uh oh, I think I'm becoming a God" as he died
.

I love Vespasian. To me, he explains why the Roman Empire was a success, because it was good at promoting men like him, whatever their background, who worked not for their own ego but for the public good. And he had a mordant sense of humour. He put things back on the rails after the disastrous year of the four Emperors and restored the finances ('How can you tax the common urinals?" "Son, the money doesn't stink.")

Where Nero had built a golden Colossus of himself, Vespasian started a huge amphitheatre: he wanted to make the point that it's not about the Emperor any more, it's about providing for the Roman people. But the Roman people kinda liked the golden statue and ended up calling the people's amphitheatre the Colosseum.

Just sometimes, people get better rulers than they actually deserve.
posted by Segundus at 2:48 PM on January 1 [15 favorites]


But all these preparations availed him nothing, for, as we have said, he was slain by common soldiers, dragged through the streets, contemptuously thrust into sewers, and finally cast into the Tiber.

I like that it was done "contemptuously," as if being thrust into sewers wasn't bad enough.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:56 PM on January 1 [7 favorites]


Can't find a source for this one, so it may be in a novel, but I think it has the authentic Vespasian feel. He's just been acclaimed Emperor.

General: So, Vespasian, you will head for Rome?
Vespasian: No, I don't think so.
General: But you're now the Emperor.
Vespasian: Yeah, but what's happened recently? So Nero was Emperor, in Rome, right, what happened to him?
General: He was killed.
Vespasian: Then there was Galba? He went to Rome? What happened to him?
General: He was also killed.
Vespasian: Alright. Then there was Otho. He went to Rome immediately. Is he still around?
General: No, he too was killed.
Vespasian: Right, right. Then I recall the Emperor Vitellius? All within like a year? He went to Rome. What became of him?
General: He was killed.
Vespasian: Right so now I'm Emperor and you think I should go to Rome. That's great, only don't you think people will maybe get the idea I'm kind of a slow learner?
posted by Segundus at 3:00 PM on January 1 [20 favorites]


I love Vespasian. To me, he explains why the Roman Empire was a success, because it was good at promoting men like him, whatever their background, who worked not for their own ego but for the public good.

Mike Duncan sort of half-makes the case that part of what finally doomed the Western Empire is that the Italian aristocracy finally refused to allow Germans to become emperors. So, for someone like Vespasian, who was not really noble (although well enough connected), there was more profit in trying to hold the Empire together rather than, say, calve off Syria and Egypt. For the various German and German-descended generals, there wasn't much benefit to try and hold the mess together rather than grab for part of it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:00 PM on January 1


who I guess was never technically The Emperor.

There was no constitutional office of "Emperor." The title Imperator did not imply absolute rule; it was a military distinction, meaning that one held imperium (the right to command troops) but no more. The legal power of the emperors was actually in the bestowal by the Senate of tribunicia potestas (the powers of a tribune), and we date the reign of an emperor from when they were given these powers. Ceremonially the important thing early on was Princeps Senatus or first citizen of the Senate, and Augustus or Honored One, both of which were titles of dignity that preserved the republican pretenses of the first 300 or so years (the Principate). They were given Caesar as a title, which eventually came to indicate successors to the throne. Emperors were also made Pontifex Maximus, linking them to the civic religion. An emperor would serve as Consul a few times, an entirely ceremonial role, but since this office was important in the cursus honorum as favored officials advanced, they were only named three or four times. The emperor could also be named Pater Patriae if he was on the Senate's good side, and maybe a title like Germanicus with a major victory in Germany.

The exact constitutional setup of Julius Caesar's rule from 49-44 BCE was different. He was given the powers of a Dictator (originally an emergency office used during civil unrest) and a tribune for life. In a legal sense he was more powerful as Dictator than the later emperors were with tribunicia potestas but the effects were the same.

In contemporary terms, the emperor would have been referred to as Caesar, or possibly Augustus. But since we mostly use Caesar to refer to Gaius Julius, and Augustus to refer to Octavian, we use emperor as a convenient shorthand. We also use nicknames to refer to several emperors, such as Caligula (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Severus Antonius Augustus) and Elagabalus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus).

But yeah. Julius Caesar wasn't Emperor, but that's mostly because Octavian's republican pretensions and political realities meant he had to use a different set of titles and honors to define his rule.
posted by graymouser at 3:06 PM on January 1 [27 favorites]


Actually my husband and I are considering Tiberius as one of the middle names if we have a boy. It's because of Captain Kirk (we partly bonded over our love of Star Trek, having both been teased for it previously)


That reminds me of when Triumph the insult comic dog visited the Star Wars Attack of the Clones premiere in NYC. All the hardcore Star Wars nerds had been camping outside the movie theater for days in anticipation of the opening, and of course Triumph used the opportunity to heckle and tease them mercilessly. Anyhow, there was a very pregnant woman among the SW fans, which led to the following exchange:

Triumph: "So what's going on here? You've got a little future nerd in there?"
Woman: "Yes, future nerd. Future Jedi."
Triumph: "When's he due?"
Woman: "June 27th. Six weeks."
Triumph: "Wow...that's the last time he'll ever see female genitalia."
posted by Devils Slide at 4:34 PM on January 1


42. Caracalla (217): Murdered by one of his bodyguards while urinating on the side of the road


Should be #1.
posted by spitbull at 5:08 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


The best are the ones that read like they could be deaths in nethack:

56. Theodosius II (450): Fell off a horse.

Maybe he should've tamed it first?

55. Claudius II (270): Plague.

Serves him right for taking an unrefrigerated sip of juice.

8. Vitellius (69): Falling downstairs.

This is what happens when you're encumbered!

14. Carus (283): Possibly struck by lightning.

I'm sure a unidentified wand was probably involved in this one.

61. Glycerius (480): Forced to become a bishop.

The dev team thinks of everything.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:17 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


spitbull: It's especially appropriate when you consider that Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire called Caracalla the "common enemy of mankind."
posted by graymouser at 5:22 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


It's all grapes and orgies until somebody gets turned into a human footstool.

And then it's a party.
posted by zippy at 5:29 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


♫ Those are people who died, died
Those are people who died, died
They were all my friends Emperors, and they died ♪
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:30 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


61. Glycerius (480): Forced to become a bishop.

The dev team thinks of everything.


It was -1 to his luck each time he used an edged weapon or failed to move diagonally
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:32 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Reminds me of Dumb Ways to Die. I would enjoy an all-Roman Emperors version.
posted by emjaybee at 5:38 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


I've always had this sort of mild fear of being attacked in the bathroom. I mean, you're so vulnerable in there. From now on I'll call it the Caracalla Complex.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:26 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Well, Caracalla is still renowned for his giant baths....
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:36 PM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Diocletian was bad-ass and I want to go how he died: tending to his vegetable gardens before dying of natural causes.
posted by Mezentian at 6:41 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Annoy an emperor
Step off the Tarpeian Rock
Join a gladiator school
Slip while cleaning the warm pool

Roman ways to die
So many Roman ways to die
Roman ways to moriiiiii
So many Roman ways to die

Lose a civil war
Mutinous soldiers in a coup
Sleep around as a Vestal Virgin
Be a part of Caracalla's kin

Roman ways to die
So many Roman ways to die
Roman ways to mortem obire
So many Roman ways to die

Natural causes are a go
Ignore that smoking volcano
Tick off the Praetorian Guards
Smothered by your so-called friends

Roman ways to die
So many Roman ways to die
Roman ways to moriiiiii
So many Roman ways to die

Set Rome on fi-iire
Fight the Persians in person
Ritually thrown down the stairs
Be deposed, tortured, and decapitated

Roman ways to die
So many Roman ways to die
Roman ways to mortem obire
So many Roman ways to die

Sold into slavery
Skimp on entail readings
Lightning? That's just Jove!
Experiment with Justinian plague

Roman ways to die
So many Roman ways to die
Roman ways to moriiiiii
So many Roman ways to die

Seduce the wife of your guard
Cut a vein on a pottery shard
Feed the emperor's moray eels
Be Catullus and have all the feels

Roooooman waaaay to diiiiiiiiiieeee- so manyyyy Roman ways to diiiiiiieeee

Euterpe I'm so sorry, I'm so so sorry
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:05 PM on January 1 [18 favorites]


9. Commodus (192): Given poison by conspirators, but he vomited that up, so they brought in a wrestler to strangle him in the bathtub.

For some reason, I cannot read this without imagining Joaquin Phoenix and King Kong Bundy or Jake "The Snake" Roberts being involved.

Also, someone getting hit in the head with a folding chair.
posted by 4ster at 7:21 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Murdered by one of his bodyguards while urinating on the side of the road

Relinquite gun. Tolle cannoli.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:55 PM on January 1 [12 favorites]


2. That's crazy that the iPad autocorrects "Listsicle."

Listicle = List + article, not List + popsicle.
posted by dhartung at 12:45 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I've got an entire listsicle in my freezer that should last me clear through to 2015. Let's face it, though, it will probably be gone by next week.
posted by Flunkie at 5:36 AM on January 2


According to Etymonline it was originally from Renaissance "lick" + "testicle" but has undergone "profound sense development since the late 18th century"
posted by iotic at 6:33 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


1. Orange
2. Red
3. Purple
4. Everything else
Infinity. Testicle
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:49 AM on January 2


42. Caracalla (217): Murdered by one of his bodyguards while urinating on the side of the road

Should be #1.


I had the same thought. You know these deaths were hard core as fuck when "killed while peeing" doesn't even crack the top 40.
posted by sonika at 8:13 AM on January 2


I had the same thought. You know these deaths were hard core as fuck when "killed while peeing" doesn't even crack the top 40.

I dunno, is "killed while peeing" that Hardcore? "Killed by peeing," on the other hand....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:36 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I dunno, is "killed while peeing" that Hardcore? "Killed by peeing," on the other hand....

And then you get to Tycho Brahe - killed by *lack of* peeing.
posted by sonika at 11:11 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


I've actually seen the large bas relief near Shiraz which depicts Valerian acting as the Parthian king's footstool.

Sorry, I was mistaken when I wrote the above sentence. Valerian was captured by a Sassanid king (Shapur I), not a Parthian one. And the bas relief I mentioned shows Valerian kneeling before a mounted Shapur I, not being used as a footstool (although it is indeed rumored that he was used as such).
posted by Devils Slide at 12:51 PM on January 2


And Tycho Brahe's pet moose, died by stumbling down a stairway in a drunken stupor.

Might typically be viewed as more "ignominious" than "hardcore", but not when you take into account the fact that it was a moose. That's pretty hardcore for a moose.
posted by Flunkie at 4:07 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


"Burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp" noticeable by its absence.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:33 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Theodosius II (450): Fell off a horse.

My mother managed to rename a strangers horse Theo, short for Theodosius (she started calling it that when she didn't know it's name, finally everyone started calling it that).

I just got the joke.
posted by Elysum at 3:28 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


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