Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Justinian and Sporting Events

One of the Eastern Roman Emperors called Justinian the First got himself into terrible trouble following a chariot race, which in those days was a sporting event. The two teams were called The Blues and The Greens. Supporters of each team got totally carried away, and on this festive and often bloody occasion there was already disgruntlement within the Eastern Empire about the new legal code which had caused particular outrage within the populace for new rules around enforcing the tax code. One thing led to another and soon enough the city was burning, it was all the emperors fault, and rioters were preparing to install a new and more understanding Emperor.

In history the event is referred to as the Nika Riots. And while rioters were getting ready to declare a new emperor, never an easy thing to do, just far too many opinions, Justinian decided he was going to quietly leave the city and leave them all to it. It was his wife who put her foot down, she was rather fond of being an empress, she told him to man up gather his soldiers, who cost the empire a fortune to maintain, go in there and behave like an emperor instead of messing around like a gentle legal scholar obsessing on getting a grip on the empire's finances, and reforming the legal system so that it better reflected the fifth century and whole bunch of artsy-artsy stuff. Justinian decided to follow his wife's advice, and lo he's remembered in history as Justinian The Great, one of the best. Either way, however traditional it might be it's a sad day when it's down to a sporting event to determine the direction of a Nation.

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