Monday, December 8, 2008

Questions of Government

"But this basileus of yours, this emperor, as you call him, was he crowned in Pavia or in Rome? And why in Italy, if he's the basileus of the Alamans?"

"One thing at a time, Master Niketas. For us Latins things aren't as simple as they are for you Romei. In your country someone gouges out the eyes of the current basileus, and he becomes basileus himself., everybody agrees, and even the patriarch of Constantinople does what the new basileus tells him, otherwise the basileus gouges out his eyes too."

"Now don't exaggerate."

"Exaggerate? Me? When I got here they told me right away that the basileus, Alexis III, ascended the throne because he'd blinded the legitimate ruler, his brother Isaac."

"Doesn't anybody ever eliminate his predecessor and seize the throne in your country?"

"Yes, but they kill him in battle, or with some poison, or with a dagger."

"You see? You people are barbarians. You can't imagine a less bloody way of managing questions of government. And besides, Isaac was Alexi's brother. Brother doesn't kill brother."

(Eco, pg. 32)

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