“You want to inherit a precarious political position in a time of political crisis and likely rule briefly before being hacked to bits by rebellious soldiers? Is that your final answer?”
Pertinax was Roman Emperor for a very short amount of time in 193AD. Whilst Roman emperors were normally nominated by a previous emperor who had enjoyed their ass or attained the purple by killing their predecessor, Pertinax instead became emperor by winning a stupid gameshow.
Pertinax's early life really isn't very interesting. This is a man no one could possible give a shit about until he won that gameshow. Trust me on this.
He sat around the Roman senate playing tiddlywinks and falling-asleep and felating the occasional duck. That last bit I made up because, to be honest, his political career was pretty unexceptional. He did some military stuff too, probably, and I think he was proconsul in Africa for a bit which I've no doubt involved a lot of sunbathing between signing death warrants. As I said, there's nothing that interesting until 193AD. Skip to there.
This is more like it! After Commodus was killed the Romans had no idea who to turn to for their next emperor, it was simply a dead end for them. If history was anything like Hollywood's wicked lies then they'd have chosen that big bloke played by Russell Crowe but they couldn't because HE DIDN'T REALLY EXIST. So instead the senate met and tried to decide on someone before the Praetorian Guard showed-up and put swords to their throats and said "Your polly-tics isn't the way to sort this out, how about a lovely gameshow? Something we can sit down and watch wiv the wife and without any blue language".
The quiz was called Who Wants To Be A Roman Emperor? and was held in the forum in Rome, watched by a crowd of thousands of plebs and presided over by Crispus Tarrantius, a senator known for his jowly face and long pauses both of which were seen as important in this most pivotal gameshow.
Most of the contestants managed to only reach the 'rank' of 'Centurion' before losing all their (literal) life-lines and being evicerated and thrown into the Tiber. By the time Pertinax had his turn in front of the senator the floor was slippy with blood and some of the audience were being sick which was just adding to the mess.
As the new contestant took his seat in front of the jowly senator a hush descended on the crowd and the official evicerator started sharpening his knife once again, everyone thought this was yet another wannabe who was going to end up little more than a distraction for passing flies. But Pertinax, being a nerd, knew the answers to all the questions and shocked everyone by ascending to the imperial purple without having to use any of his life-lines, not even one of his buttocks. Pertinax became emperor, the crowd cheered, the Praetorian Guard gave each other 'uncertain' looks and Pertinax made his first order: that someone mop the forum and clean-up the intestines.
Sheer Impertinax !
Now that he was emperor, Pertinax was determined to make clear to the Roman people that although he had won the Roman Empire under game-show rules he was going to reign like a tough cookie. So he banished the shameless Crispus Tarrantius to a remote TV station on the Channel Islands and changed the rules so that no one could challenge his authority. All went well for about three months until he received a note that the Praetorian Guard had been issuing Roma Lotto Tickets, inviting the winner to become the next emperor. This so outraged Pertinax that he swore an oath on the warm entrails of a sacrificial hamster at the Temple of Divine Mysteries and ordered the Praetorian leaders to report to him at the Palatine Palace.
You Are the Weakest Emperor - Goodbye !
The Praetorians turned up and, after some thought, decided they were not bright enough to debate with the Emperor and his confusing constitutional arguments; so they simply slew him and marched back to their camp with the imperial regalia to announce the winner of the Roma Lotto 193 AD. As for Pertinax's corpse, it was left in a bloody heap with a note that read 'Pret..praet..Prats..oh shit - you know who we are - we killed yer Perty! We Rool OK !??'
For those lacking more stories about Pertinax - a publishing house called Orion have invested squillions in some lame book attempt to make this guy a hero, and that if the Praetorians hadn't killed him, Pertinax would have founded a Roman Empire that would still be around today! We asked a leading historian about these claims and he responded that they were "shite" and then chased us from his lawn with a rake.
- Crispus Tarrantius. A Britannic British Joke. Don't worry. His American cousin is Quentinus Tarantinos.
- The temple was named after the famous transvestite courtesan of Emperor Nero called Dragus Queeny Divine.Her priests also sang 'You Think You're A Man' during the ceremony.