You can't swing a dead cat in Ancient Rome without hitting a recently-deceased emperor or famous figure who came to an awful, blood-soaked end. Here are a few examples:
MARCUS LICINIUS CRASSUS: The richest man in the late Roman Republic couldn't avoid an ironic death when, after invading Mesopotamia in 53 B.C., he was captured by the Parthians and forced to drink molten gold. His severed head was subsequently used as a prop in a production of Euripides’s "The Bacchae," where he was then panned by critics as "stiff" and unconvincing."
OF THE ORIGINAL TWELVE emperors of Rome, nine are believed to have died unnatural deaths, dispatched via poisoning (Augustus, Claudius), smothering (Tiberius), stabbing (Caligula, Galba, Domitian), suicide (Otho), assisted suicide (Nero) and beheading (Vitellius). The other lucky three lived long, blissful lives of hypertension, nervous exhaustion and irritable bowel syndrome.
VALERIAN (A.D. 253-260): When it came to gruesome deaths, this poor bastard caught the gold ring. When the emperor Valerian was captured by the Persians in battle, they used him as a human footstool, then strangled him, skinned him, stuffed him, painted him red and hung him on the wall of a temple. For years afterward he was a popular staple of children's parties, where he would be filled with candy and pummeled with sticks.
THE THIRD CENTURY CRISIS was a violent, chaotic 50-year-period, in which 25 emperors rose and fell in barbarous and bloody fashion. It was finally ended by Diocletian in A.D. 284, who celebrated Rome's return to peace and civility with a spectacular triumphal parade. In an enlightened move, the confetti provided was an earth-friendly mix composed entirely of recycled emperors.
BYZANTINE EMPEROR NIKEPHOROS I (A.D. 803-811), whose name means “Bringer of Victory,” learned a thing or two about truth in advertising when he and his entire army were slaughtered in battle by Krum the Horrible, Khan of Bulgaria (not even remotely making any part of that name up). Krum is said to have had Nikephoros’s skull made into a gold-rimmed wine cup, which was known thereafter as “Bringer of White Zinfandel.”
Travis Horseman is a writer, actor, and an incurable graphic novel junkie. His love of comic books, theater and classical history have largely driven the course of his life, and he is doing his darnedest to unite them in Amiculus: A Secret History.