RESTORER OF THE WORLD?
Is Australia’s least-loved Prime Minist-ah
a re-incarnation of the Roman Emperor Aurelian?
Is Spin-Master Tony Abbott,
“Used to giving unquestioned commands in the field, (Aurelian) had no time for the traditional collegiate approach of the Principate.” -Alexander Canduci,”Triumph and Tragedy”*
There is nothing new under the Sun, or so
it says somewhere or other in one of the darker bits of the Bible, and certainly there is nothing new in the Dark Art of Political Spin, even when it is practised in those parts of the Body Politic where the Sun doesn’t shine.
I stumbled across this Ancient Truth again the other day,
as a man stumbles across a forgotten, rolled up carpet in a darkened room, as I was listening to Tony Abbott on the TV.
Australia’s current Prime Minist-ahh was explaining
how being born in a Desert was a “Lifestyle Choice” that disqualified you from receiving Social Services. Suddenly I noticed that my Personal Assistant (or, as she prefers to be called, Executive Personal Assistant), had fallen into a light trance whilst we listened to Australia’s least loved Prime Minister, and was now mumbling the words;
“Oh, Restitutor Orbis!”
over and over again.
I was amazed. Not only because my EPA knows no Latin, but because it was by that title; “Restitutor Orbis” (“Restorer of the World” to you Plebs) that one of Rome’s more beloved Emperors, Aurelian, was honoured by a grateful and appreciative ‘Senatus Populus Que Romanus‘.
What possible connection could there be, I puzzled, between Tony Abbott and the Emperor Aurelian?
After all Lucius Domitius Aurelian (reigned 270-275C.E.) was one of Rome’s more successful generals, repeatedly turning back Gothic tribes and re-uniting severed limbs of the empire. He was a successful administrator also, reviving the economy and pulling the Empire back out of the economic and political chaos of the mid-third century. And Aurelian really knew how to keep his Senate onside with no problems pushing thru legislation, unlike you know who.
Maybe it was the infrastructure thing, I mused; Abbott’s always going on about roads and stuff, whilst Aurelian went on a building spree that left the Empire’s cities surrounded by walls,
a boon to the tourist trade even to this day.
No, it was more than mere bricks and mortar,
my Intuition told me, it was something else..
Suddenly I saw what my Personal Assistant’s Spirit Guides were trying to tell us; for I remembered that Aurelian, whatever else he might have been was also, as is Abbott, a Grand Master of the Dark Art of Political Spin.
Aurelian, for instance, never just executed an enemy. Not when he could “magnanimously” forgive them and march them in
one of his Triumphs for the Masses to marvel at his clemency. (Joko Widodo take note)
And then there was the Dacian Incident.
Now the Province of Dacia, between the Danube and the Carpathian mountains, had been added to the Empire about a hundred years or so prior, by the Emperor Trajan.
Trajan himself was perhaps Rome’s most successful General ever, and the last Emperor to add territory to the Empire.
At the time Dacia had rich gold and silver deposits, justifying it’s acquisition. But by the time of Aurelian those mines had long been worked out, and the province, lightly settled and never properly Romanised, was now more of a liability than an asset. For one thing, it added an extra five hundred miles or so of frontier that had to be garrisoned. Garrisons aren’t cheap.
So Aurelian decided to abandon the Province. He let it be known that, in a number of stages, the frontier troops would be pulled back to the Danube. People would be offered help to relocate south of the Danube, or they could choose to stay if they chose, but they were warned that “services would be withdrawn” from that area. They would be on their own and could expect no help from the Empire. It just wasn’t economically viable.
The trouble with this eminently responsible economic policy was that it involved a huge loss of Prestige, and could end up being politically fatal for Aurelian, fighting,
as he was, to reunite a recently fractured Empire.
Besides this, Dacia, as previously mentioned,
had been acquired by the ever popular Trajan,
and was the last time the Empire had acquired substantial new territory. (Trajan’s other conquests being fleeting at best).
Damn it! There was even a huge column in the centre of Rome commemorating the Dacian Conquest for the God’s sake! Trajan’s column was an integral part of the Roman brand, its very Self Image. Tourists came from the provinces to marvel at it. And you’re gonna tear it down? No, the Roman public’s self-esteem seemed inextricably linked to hanging onto the now worthless province.
But Aurelian, a crafty lad of peasant stock had a crafty idea.
Aurelian transported the uprooted citizens to a stretch of land south of the Danube. It had been called Moesia, an unregarded little backwater, but now, by Imperial decree it was renamed the ‘Province of Dacia’. Yes. That’s right, Dacia was now south of the Danube.
So Aurelian could claim that they never abandoned Dacia. They simply relocated it. “It’s still there!”, he’d say, “See, there it is on the map. And it’s full of Dacians too, so
what more do you want!?”
It was a bold plan and Aurelian may well
have gotten away with it, given time.
But alas, he lost the confidence of his Praetorian guard, as Cabinet was called in those days. For one thing he’d started insisting that everyone address him as, “Dominus et Deos Natus” (Our Lord and God). Getting wind of Aurelian’s plans for a cabinet reshuffle, and an Inquiry into Ministerial Corruption, his Ministers quickly moved first and called for a “Spill”- in this case, mainly of Aurelian’s blood.
Interrupting my reflections on the weird resonances between Tony Abbott and the Emperor Aurelian, and snorting like a surfacing sea-elephant, my EPA suddenly snapped out of her trance.
“Whazz.. What’s happening?” she asked blearily.
“Tony Abbott has moved Fitzroy Crossing south in an effort to improve train services”. I told her, “It’s now a suburb of Perth, right there next to Christmas Island“.
“Wait..Isn’t Christmas Island, like, an island?”,
she demurred doubtfully.
“Not anymore”, I explained, “They moved it inland to make it harder for boat people to access Centrelink“.
“Are you kidding me?” she asked, frowning.
“Restitutor Orbis, baby”, I told her, “Normal services will be restored shortly”
*[(c) 2010 Murdoch Books Aust]
SOLAR POWERED GUERRILLA GIG
SUNDAY MARCH 15th.
Under the William Jolly Bridge
featuring the Rev Hellfire & more..
Yes if you’re in the geographical vicinity of Brisbane,
the Reverend Hellfire will be appearing today underneath
the William Jolly Bridge (on the south bank) from 1pm.
Joining a host of avant garde artists, punk bands and the homeless, the Reverend will be taking part in a solar powered, unauthorised Guerrilla Gig, organised by local iconoclastic
poet and provocateur, Gerald Kearney.
Come join the Fun! From 1pm to sunset,
or till when the Council turn up and drive us away.
Thanks & Acknowledgment to the Homeless,
in whose Living-room this event will be taking place.
The Reverend Hellfire is..