Naked emperors

Victoria Goddard’s new novellette, Game of Courts, is about Cavalier Conju enazo Argellian an Vilius, the Emperor’s chief personal attendant. It is lovely and sensitive and his viewpoint is extremely distinct from Cliopher s. Mdang’s – a hard thing to do for any author, let alone an author with a strong and beloved character right there in the same book.

Conju is in love (explicitly) with the Emperor. Cliopher is in love (to his own surprise, he thought it was a whole lot of other things) with the Emperor. So is the Moon and a lot of other minor characters.

Of course this makes me think about why an admired leader must also be a desired person.

Vespasian: Sacellum Augustali
Naked Vespasian

Of course there are half-naked pictures of Putin and Trump, as well, but Vespasian is somewhat less ugly. And yes, I know that Vespasian’s nakedness is supposed to be heroic, not sexual, but the sexiness is definitely there. I think the viewer is very much supposed to realize that kneeling to the Might of Rome may not be all that bad.

The funny thing is that I can’t remember any naked Great Leaders in Europe between Rome and Putin (except Napoleon, see update). Both Hitler and Stalin appeared fully clothed in every portrait I’ve ever seen, so did the British and Russian monarchs. In fact, the only Western Naked Great Leader I can think of is Washington.

His statues, of course, appeal to the Romans and bypass the centuries of Christianity. Perhaps the conclusion one may draw from seeing Trump’s and Putin’s nipples is that they are post-Christian.

Update: I am wrong, and badly wrong. Of course there was a Great Naked Leader in Europe, and it was Napoleon.

This is Napoleon as Mars the Peacekeeper by Canova, 3.5 meters tall and very impressive. This photo is of a copy from his Napoleon’s mother’s house in Rome. The original was sold by the reinstated French monarchy to the British, who gave it to Wellington as a gift. Wellington put it (all 3.45m) under the stairs in his house and used it as an umbrella stand.

Shortly afterward a group of English women commissioned a statue of Wellington a full meter higher, which I sincerely look forward to seeing when I’m in Hyde Park. Wellington, however, was not a ruler and so does not really fit into the theme of this post.

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