June 14, 2007

With chains

    "Often he would send for men whom he had secretly killed, as though they were still alive, and remark off-handedly a few days later that they must have committed suicide. ... [He] made parents attend their sons' executions. ... Having invited another father to dinner just after the son's execution, he overflowed with good-fellowship in an attempt to make him laugh and joke. He watched [one of his staff] being flogged with chains for several days running, and had him killed only when the smell of suppurating brains became insupportable. ... The method of execution he preferred was to inflict numerous small wounds; and his familiar order: 'Make him feel that he is dying!' soon became proverbial. ...

    [T]wo books were found among his papers [after his death] entitled The Dagger and The Sword, each of them containing the names and addresses of men whom he had planned to kill."
Who is this person? Who wrote these lines about him?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Caligula? Robert Graves?

n!

Hypertree said...

it reminds me of what those capitalist imperialists write about us socialists!
That we bleed our nation with a thousand small cuts, that we flog its future until the smell of piling poverty becomes too much to bear, that we execute aspirations by insisting on governmental chokeholds on education and infrastructure.

But you know these capitalists, they do not understand things are not always logic, they are the heart as well. Who was the heroic figure in the para btw?

J. Alfred Prufrock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Alfred Prufrock said...

My guess would have been Muhammad bin Tughlaq, but I think n! is right about Caligula.

Very heartening, that there is no regional bias to cruelty.

J.A.P.

Dilip D'Souza said...

n!: good guess(es). Not quite right though! I'll leave you to figure out how, give it a day or two more.

JAP: MbT is also a good guess. I don't know that I would agree with "very heartening", though ...

I can think of at least 2-3 other names that might fit.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

n! is right, of course. Rolfe's translation of Suetonius' "Lives of the Caesars".

Such charming people. All hail TGGG.

J.A.P.

bangalore daze said...

Caligula, Suetonius, Graves is right, says google.

Might fit (some of?) our politicians' treatment of our citizens too! And thankfully in metaphor alone.

Dilip D'Souza said...

I see there's no need to wait 1-2 days, as I indicate din my previous comment here ...

... Caligula it is, described in these lines. The writer is indeed Suetonius, translated by Robert Graves -- The Twelve Caesars.

Suetonius' work must have been the basis of Graves' wonderful books "I Claudius" and "Claudius the God".

Anonymous said...

Oh,I loved both those books (thanks St. Xaviers library!) which is why perhaps Caligula and Graves were the first thoughts that occured to me.

I should read this one too.

n!