Monday, January 09, 2006

Maximus Notorious, the obscure emperor

After watching the 13-episode British soap-opera, I, Claudius, it is time for me to write the biography of a Roman emperor whose story has been obscured within the recesses of history. This emperor’s full name was Caesar Maximus Circus Barrus Notorious, but his peers referred to him as Maximus Notorious. Maximus Notorious reigned from MXVCQO to MXVCRP during the papacy of Mal-De-Mer, a pope who was most famous for his miracles curing sea-sickness, although he himself never set foot upon a boat. It is because of Mal-De-Mer that we have the famous legend of the “papal cat” whose shadow (or ghost?) can be seen in a nearby window during the pope's weekly address to the pilgrims in Vatican Square.

The reign of Maximus Notorious was quite short, as he suffered the fate of many an emperor before him: poisoning by a close family member who had designs upon the throne. In the case of Maximus Notorious, the poison was sprinkled upon a plate of broccoli, which was the emperor’s favorite dish. Witnesses said that Maximus Notorious took one bite and started gagging. This display made quite an impression upon the children of the court, who avoided broccoli thereafter.

Maximus Notorious was not a popular ruler. It was his idea to institute mandatory bedtimes and insist that people brush their teeth after feasting. During his reign, lounging on couches while eating was banned, as the emperor thought slouching promoted bad digestion. The introduction of leafy greens was introduced to the menu, which dismayed the primarily meat and fig-eating aristocracy. The emperor made a decree that no one could leave the table without eating a healthy portion of the leafy greens, and the dish became disparagingly known as “Caesar’s Salad.”

The wife of Maximus Notorious, Minima Fama (who was also his brother’s best friend’s sister’s daughter), was more indulgent, and was known to serve cookies before dinner, much to the disapproval of her husband. Once, the emperor was so furious that he locked Minima Fama in a tower for three days with nothing to eat but carrots, celery sticks, and hummus dip. He also banned cookies. Rome was in an uproar. Fearing an uprising and restoration of the Republic, Maximus Notorious quickly retracted the cookie-ban, but the damage was already done. After Minima Fama was released, she insisted upon her own separate kitchen. Filled with remorse, Maximus Notorious granted it, but mealtimes were never the same afterward, and the guests said as much.

Not long after, the aforementioned poisoning of the broccoli occurred. Several members of the royal family were suspected, including Minima Fama, but after it was pointed out that there was no way the empress would go near broccoli that was as overcooked as Maximus Notorious liked it, she was exonerated of all suspicion. Not much else is known of the inquest into the poisoning, or even who ruled Rome afterward, though it is commonly believed that the emperor’s daughter, Octavia Septima Pentaquarta Maxima, ruled over the Roman Empire until the Senate got the matter sorted out.

Little has been written (until now) about this emperor, but recently, a little ditty was discovered among some excavated ruins:

Maximus Notorious
Your reign was short but glorious
Although this rhyme’s laborious
Your name is quite

As I've mentioned, Maximus Notorious was not a popular emperor, and that is probably why this anonymously penned ditty is not as well-known as the verses produced by Horace and Ovid.


Fridaysweb said...

Well, now. That explains a lot about bedtime and dinner rituals, huh? I hope no one poisons my broccoli or takes away my cookies. :)

Brad the Gorilla said...

As long as you're not trying to become emperor of the Roman Empire, you're probably in the clear!

Nonny said...

That was to cute. Did you write that? Please say yes :)

Lone Star Ma said...

That is so funny. I love the broccoli part.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks, all! I did indeed write the piece. It was something I had to get out of my system. I confess, I got lousy grades in my history classes, which is weird because I actually liked history. I had a hard time keeping dates in my head, as well as who did what, unless there was a specific story attached to the event.

Tony said...

Personally, I've always been fascinated by the relationship between Notorious and Mal-de-Mer. Mal-de-Mer was dedicated to converting Notorious, but Notorious kept inviting him to the palace only to play the worst practical jokes on him. He was always hiding Mal-de-Mer's glasses and serving him creamed cauliflower telling him it was mashed potatoes.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

No, no, not the dreaded mashed potatoes/cauliflower switcharoo! Of course, if it has enough butter and garlic in it...

HitManJ said...

No worries, Alkelda, Brad is fine. I'm sure he just is worn out from all the stress of the competition, his little tantrum, and such.

Lady K said...

Akelda, I have a ceasar's salad almost every day for lunch, with either shrimp or chicken on it. One of my favorite dishes in the whole world.

QUITE interesting history, too. I don't think I'll look at broccoli quite the same again, though, unless it's with cheese. hee hee!

I'm posting again, by the way...not much right now but the best is yet to come, right?