29 August 2007

Little Gordian Goes to War, Part II

Scroll down, please, or click, and read Part I first if this sequel is to make any sense.

While the Roman soldiers were still girding their loins, in April 239 AD the Persians made their first assault on the walls of Dura Europos, an outpost on the middle Euphrates and Palmyra's nearest eastern neighbour (its citadel pictured left). If once the enemy got onto the hills above the city, there would be no further natural obstacle nor fortified place that could check their advance between those heights and Palmyra itself. So, when the Persians attacked Dura, it must have sent shock waves right across the empty desert: if Dura were taken, could Palmyra be far behind?

Life in Dura was dominated by the presence of a large Roman garrison, which took over the entire northern part of the town, but its economy was based on the caravans that crossed the river there: this prosperity was already being undermined by constant wars and the severing of trade down-river in what was now Persian territory.

Still, the city presented an amazingly cosmopolitan appearance. In addition to the established mix of Syrians (especially Palmyrans), Mesopotamians, and passing nomads, some of whom probably already thought of themselves as Arabs, there were also Greeks, Parthians, and a thriving community of Jews with strong connections to the major Jewish centres across the Euphrates in Babylonia.

They constructed a rich synagogue, with stunning wall-paintings of Biblical scenes [the above panel shows the Exodus and Crossing of the Red Sea; all 28 panels illustrated at the Yale Divinity School website] -- and this despite the Jewish prohibition on graven images; but, hey! 3rd-century Dura was a tolerant, easy-going place. As witness, too, the nearby Christian house-church and baptistry, an evidently open presence in the middle of a major Roman garrison town, despite the on-again, off-again persecution of Christians elsewhere in the empire.

There is no evidence for Roman legions guarding the middle and lower Euphrates or policing the desert against nomads ever ready to ambush caravans and loot their goods. The whole area, it seems, was militarily dependent on Palmyra. A regiment of horse archers, the XXth Palmyrenes, protected the city. One of the officers who served in this regiment in the late 230s has a real presence for us.

He is Julius Terentius, shown in the centre of this wall painting from Dura's own Temple of Bel, leading his men in an incense sacrifice to the personified Fortunes (Tychai) of Palmyra and Dura and three other Palmyran gods. Julius Terentius is also named in the Greek verse epitaph which his wife put up for him when he died in battle: brave in campaigns, mighty in wars, dead -- a man worthy of memory, Aurelia Arria buried her beloved husband, whom may the divine spirits receive. That was perhaps the moment in April 239 when "the Persians descended upon us", as a graffito records. Perhaps this was no more than a Persian spring raid, taking advantage of the abundant fodder for horses on this side of the Euphrates, and it was beaten off, no doubt by the brave XXth Palmyrenes.

The First Campaign of Shapur against the Roman Empire

In Mesopotamia, too, Roman arms were successful: in 241/2, the emperor's father-in-law, the Praetorian Prefect Timesitheus led the army against the Persians on what had been, if only recently, Roman provincial territory. His first objective was to restore the lost province (roughly now northern Iraq and SE Turkey). He met up with the enemy near a town called Resaina (not far from modern Mosul), where he won a decisive victory. The cities of Carrhae and Nisibis were retaken:
Indeed, the king of the Persians became so fearful of the Emperor Gordian that, though he was provided with forces both from his own lands and from ours, he nevertheless evacuated the cities and restored them unharmed to their citizens.
The news was sent to Rome, and an exultant Senate decreed a Persian triumph for Gordian with chariots drawn by four elephants, and a six-horse chariot and triumphal car for Timesitheus. So, once again, the Romans, initially, were victorious - but it is much easier to invade Mesopotamia than to extricate oneself, and harder still to maintain one’s conquests.

Such felicity could not endure.

Gordian, of course, had not yet arrived at the front lines. All this had been accomplished by Timesitheus. It was only in 242 that the emperor set off on his own expeditio Orientalis, so Gordian's Mesopotamian campaign must belong to 243/4. Meeting up with his army near the Persian frontier, the Romans went over to the offensive. They marched southward to the borders of Babylonia, apparently having the Persian capital Ctesiphon (near Baghdad) as their campaign objective.

The Jewish Apocalypse of Elijah puts their numbers at 100,000 cavalry, 100,000 foot, and 30,000 men from ships. While we needn't take this too seriously, an army of anything like that size needs massive provisions for men and beasts, an effort made more difficult by their having begun their march much earlier than the normal campaigning season. Making matters worse, the retreating Persians surely carried out a scorched earth policy, which aggravated the problems of supplies.

At this crucial point, Timesitheus died under mysterious circumstance, whether of fever, as reported, or poisoned, as suspected. A sensible emperor might have read the omens, called it a day, and withdrawn with honour into Roman territory. Instead, the campaign against the Sassanians continued and the Roman army proceeded to march down the Euphrates during the fall and early winter.

That was a bad mistake.

The surviving Praetorian Prefect, Julius Priscus, convinced the emperor to appoint his brother Philip as Timesitheus' successor. Another bad mistake: Philip proved to have higher ambitions. The Historiae Augustae does not like Philip (any more than it liked Gordian's mother):
This Philip was low-born but arrogant, and now could not contain himself in his sudden rise to office and immoderate good fortune, but immediately, through the soldiers, began to plot against Gordian, who had begun to treat him as a father.
What Hist. Aug. oddly does not mention is that Philip was from the Nabataean-Arab region of the Hauran (the grim black basalt hills on today's Syrian-Jordanian border); and that, as a Byzantine historian tells us, was
a nation in bad repute, and [Philip] had advanced his fortune by not very honourable means, and once he had assumed office he began to aspire to imperial dignity.
So he is remembered in history as 'Philip the Arab' (ruled 244-249).

As if Gordian need more bad luck, he was about to clash in battle with one of the great warriors of history, the second Sassanian King of Kings, Shapur I .

Early in 244, the Roman and Sassanian armies met again near the city of Misikhe (modern Fallujah in Iraq: isn't it marvellous how such place names have become familiar to us? as the saying goes, 'War is God's way of teaching Americans geography'). In the ensuing battle, the Roman army was obliterated.

The Persian version of events, carved in stone with a trilingual inscription (at Naqsh-e Rustam near Persepolis in Iran) , claims that Gordian III was killed in the battle:
When at first we [Shapur] had become established in the Empire, Gordian Caesar raised in all of the Roman Empire a force from the Goth and German realms and marched on Babylonia against the Empire of [Persia] and against us. On the border of Babylonia at Misikhe, a great frontal battle occurred. Gordian Caesar was killed and the Roman force was destroyed.
An elaborate rock carving of Shapur's triumph at Bishapur in the Shiraz region of Iran, pictured above, makes the same point: it shows Gordian III trampled under the hooves of Shapur's horse (you might have to enlarge the photograph to see clearly the young emperor's writhing body beneath its forelegs). And, finally, to rub salt in the wound, the city of Misikhe was renamed Peroz-Shapur, "Victorious [is] Shapur."

Roman sources do not mention this battle at all ('media spokesmen' controlled the press in the ancient world too!). But Philip is universally blamed for causing Gordian III's death, either having him murdered or stirring up mutiny by deliberately cutting off the troops' food supplies. In these truncated editions, it was only after the Roman army (or what was left of it) retreated up the Euphrates that Gordian was assassinated and Philip took his place.
Then Philip Caesar came to us for terms, and to ransom their lives, gave us 500,000 denarii, and became tributary to us.
Whether or not Shapur is truthful in reporting that Philip acknowledged his suzerainty (he's the one seen kneeling before the Persian king), a peace of sorts was concluded. What is certain at least is that the Romans built a cenotaph for Gordian at a place on the Persian side of the Euphrates river, some 50 miles north of Dura Europos, and then Philip departed for Rome.

He took with him the ashes of the 19-year old Gordian, who had been, by all accounts, a cheerful, good-hearted lad. The Senate may (or may not) have placed the third Gordian among the gods, a suitably uncertain end to a murky reign.

The photo's of the citadel at Dura Europos and Julius Terentius fresco from University of Leicester . Main sources include F. Millar, The Roman Near East, and the websites of Simon James, and De Imperatoribus Romanis.

26 August 2007

Little Gordian Goes to War

When we left little Gordian III in the year 238 AD (Maximinus and the Mystery of Monte del Grano), he had just been declared sole Emperor of Rome at the age of 13 years old. His elevation to Augustus followed on the violent demise of no less than five Augusti + 1 Caesar in that same year. Anyone who could read omens would have been forewarned, because, on 2nd April 238,
there occurred an eclipse of the sun, so black that men thought it was night and business could not be transacted without the aid of lanterns.
It was a one-way bet on emperors falling like flies, and (for those with lots of hindsight), a stellar prediction that Gordian III would have a short reign. There's little doubt that the Gordiani family, reputedly fabulously rich, had bought the support of the urban mob and bribed the Praetorian Guard, and so Gordian was saluted as emperor and took over the Roman empire.

But who was running the show?

Even by the standards of the mid-3rd-century AD, these are murky times.

Between May (or perhaps July) 238, when he became emperor, and late 240 (or perhaps early 241), when he married Furia Sabinia Tranquillina, the daughter of the Praetorian Prefect, Timesitheus, we can only assume that his mother and her coterie ruled the roost -- if only because she is later denounced for doing so.

We don't even know his mother's name (or his father's for that matter)! She was a daughter of Gordian I, and that is all that history records of her lineage. But this a female-orientated blog so we'll do our best with the little we have. And, on the way, have a fascinating lesson in the prejudices and accuracy of our sources.

The scandal of female rule, and his mother's brief regency.

We are again left almost entirely to the tender mercies of the Historiae Augustae, with its snippets of history padded out with gossip, fanciful anecdotes and spurious documents. The author of Hist. Aug. did not like Gordian's mother. Decidedly not. As he tells us, it was only after the boy's marriage to Timesitheus' daughter, that
his rule seemed not in the least that of a child or contemptible, since he was aided by the advice of his excellent father-in-law, while he himself ... did not let his favours be sold by the eunuchs and attendants at court through his mother's ignorance or connivance.
Or again, in an entirely fictitious letter purportedly sent by the 16-year old emperor to Timesitheus,
but now, the gods be thanked, I have learned from suggestions by you, who are incorruptible, what I could not know by myself. For what could I do? -- since even our mother was betraying us.
If this doesn't sound like a palace coup, I don't know what does. With what justification? Those eunuchs and women, of course:
For no one could bear it when commissions in the army were given out on the nomination of eunuchs [or] when men who should not have been were slain or set free through caprice [read: a woman's hand!] or bribery.
And, indeed, we hear no more of Gordian's mother, nor ever see her face on a coin. I fear the worst for her.

Who put the eunuchs in the palace?

Although eunuchs were a known phenomenon of the ancient world, they acquired high political positions in the Roman Empire only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. In other words, our censorious author is writing about his own times, the time of Constantine, after 324 AD. It's probably entirely anachronistic. Inscriptions mentioning eunuchs, however, show that their later high social position had roots in the oriental regions the Roman annexed to their Empire, in particular in Asia Minor.*
"... Those unhappy beings, the ancient production of oriental jealousy and despotism, were introduced into Greece and Rome by the contagion of Asiatic luxury. Their progress was rapid; and the eunuchs, who, in the time of Augustus, had been abhorred, as the monstrous retinue of an Egyptian queen, were gradually admitted into the families of matrons, of senators, and of the emperors themselves.
We never would go as far as the eighteenth-century Gibbon in Decline and Fall, but Greeks and Romans certainly associated emasculation with the East, the Persian courts (both Achaemenid and Sassanian), and contrasted their own "hard" masculinity with the effeminated or mutilated human body of the soft Orient." It is still very hard to engage the history of eunuchs or to consider the realities and perceptions of their lives, given the literary evidence reviling (eunuchophobia) or defending their physical alterations and political influence (Byzantine eunuchophilia).

Although the Emperor Domitian (81 - 96 AD) had decreed that, from now on, no one in the territory ruled by Rome should be castrated (a law mostly honoured in the breach), it wasn't quite for the "hard" Roman reasons that Romans liked to think. According to Cassius Dio in scandal-mongering mode, Domitian's older brother Titus (on the throne 79-81 AD) had always been strongly attracted to castrated boys. Now Domitian hated Titus, and Dio says that he outlawed castration only in order to insult his memory .

I'm not so sure.

Domitian himself had an eunuch lover, a boy from that hotbed of castration, Pergamum in Asia Minor. His name was Earinus, 'belonging to spring,' possibly a made-up name since, whatever his age, he would alway appear beardless and prepubertal. Earinus served as cupbearer, and was Domitian's favorite slave. The two most important poets of the time, Martial and Statius,** praised his beauty and delicately alluded to his being the Emperor's sex-toy.

When Earinus sent a lock of his hair to the god Asclepius at Pergamum, Martial gurgled,
A mirror advising his beauty & a sweet-smelling lock
of hair - these are the presents set up as sacred
to Pergamum's god by the palace-slave his master loves
most, the boy whose name signifies "springtime".
but he somewhat spoils the romantic effect, at least for the squeamish, with these later lines:
Our Caesar has a thousand pet-servants like you; his hall's
immensity hardly contains these ethereal males.
Meanwhile, Statius celebrates the same temple event, with the goddess Venus arranging the boy's fate, thus,
Come, then, boy. Come with me.
I will speed you in my chariot across the starry skies,
a wonderful gift for a leader of men. No commonplace duties
await you. Your destiny is the palace, to be a slave for love.
I've never seen, I swear, nor engendered anything so sweet
the whole world over.
All very well, but even the god of healing could not heal Earinus' unkindest cut.

But I digress.

Trouble on the borders

While Rome itself stayed largely calm in the early years of Gordian's reign, there were elsewhere severe earthquakes, so terrible that whole cities with all their inhabitants disappeared in the opening of the ground. More prosaically, there was trouble with Germanic tribes and in Libya. In 238, tribesmen crossed the Danube when Maximinus left the region undermanned in his attempt to march on Rome. The governor of Lower Moesia (modern Bulgaria and Romania) , Tullus Menophilus, restored peace in the region through force and bribes, for which good work he apparently was executed for treason; perhaps not all was as calm as it seems. In 240, in the absence of the Third Legion ( which had been disbanded by Gordian III for their part in the deaths of Gordian I and II) the governor of Africa rebelled but this uprising in Libya was brutally crushed.

And then came the Persians.

The Persians seized the cities of Nisibis and Carrhae in upper Mesopotamia (in what today is today the Kurdish area of northern Iraq), which had been under direct Roman control for more than a generation.

In 240, Shapur son of Ardashir became King of Kings. In the same year Hatra, the location of Rome's easternmost military garrison, (today in northern Iraq roughly 55 miles south of Mosul), was captured by the Sassanians.

Planning for a massive Roman military counterattack was soon underway.

(To be continued...)


* Youvl Rotman, "The Roman Eunuch and The Hellenistic Heritage", a paper presented at a Hellenic Studies Workshop.

** Translations by John T. Quinn, Earinus the Eunuch: Martial (from Book 9) and Statius (Silvae 3.4)

23 August 2007

Total Nonsense

Following the lead of the inestimable Opinio Juris, I rushed to check my film rating, now extended by the ever helpful Mingle2 to blogs. My breath was bated but I needed to know:
is Empress of the East wholesome enough for American kids?
Opinio Juris flunked the test (No one 17 or under admitted; the fiends had brought up 'torture' 18 times!) but I just scraped through, even though they caught me saying 'dead' four times and 'punch' -- but only once ['pleased as punch'; but what the heck?].

Why is 'dead' so dangerous , whereas 'murder' is unremarked? I confess to having much murder on my blog -- Roman emperors were falling like flies in the year 238 AD; and more is on the way. My competitive spirit is stirred (Zenobia would understand). Dead, dead, dead, so there! With any luck at all, I'll soon be as naughty as Opinio Juris, never again to be read by those 17 and under. Or even, one day, win the scarlet R and be 'Restricted'. Restricted to what, I wonder?

Thank heavens, no one could take this rating stuff seriously. Not even a government. Could they?

With my next post, we return to ancient history, Little Gordian Goes to War (and comes back dead, dead, dead).

19 August 2007

Zenobia: What's in a Name? (Updated)

The composer Zenobia Perry (1908-2004) at
the piano while celebrating her 95th birthday.

Every once in a while, I get an email through my website from one or another young woman named Zenobia, saying something like, "I've got this weird name, Zenobia. Can you tell me about who she was?"

And I invariably reply, "Read my book" [Book I of the future trilogy, Chronicle of Zenobia: the rebel queen].
Last week, I received another such crisp missive:

My parents named me Zenobia, been doing research to find out what the name means. By any chance, can you provide this information to me. Thx
Unfortunately, this corespondent's email address keeps bouncing back, leaving "Read my book" fluttering helplessly in the ether. Maybe she'll reach my blog one day: it's a good question, with some interesting twists and turns to it.

First, what it means.

Zenobia's Semitic name is Bat-zabbai (BTZBY), simply, 'daughter of Zabbai'. This need not refer to her biological father but rather could signify that she was born into a family or clan bearing that name. Zabbai means "of god" or "gift of god" and the name (and variants such as Zabeida, Zabdila, and Zabda) are translated somewhat freely into Greek as Zenobios (Zen = Zeus + Bios, "life); whence the feminine Zenobia.

Her own father was very likely Julius Aurelius Zenobios, τὸν χαὶ Ζάβδιλαν , also called Zabdila', the prince of Palmyra who had welcomed Alexander Severus to the city in 231 AD. It's not just that he has this name and rank, and that the dates would fit, but also that his statue once stood in the Great Colonnade exactly opposite Zenobia's own statue -- which seems a deliberate statement by the queen: my father and I should be honoured together. Not quite QED but a pretty good case for this paternal line. There is no record at all of her mother's name or family, though it is likely that Zenobia's claimed descent from the ancient Seleucid rulers of Syria, Antiochus VII and Cleopatra Thea, is through the maternal line.
Female, inspired, and black

Why is anyone named Zenobia today?
Obviously, any baby girl whose mother has a keen sense of history could be called "Zenobia", but, at least in English-speaking countries, it's a name almost exclusively given to black babies -- as an inordinate amount of time spent Googling* will confirm. It's on the list of black girls' names. Why is that?

The Palmyran queen appears to have entered that fuzzy realm between history and mythomania and been given a black identity. On the time-line of black history for the year 267 AD, you read:

A black woman, Queen Zenobia, rules Palmyra, an ancient city in Syria, northeast of Damascus, until 272.
How does a Semitic queen, with a small amount of Macedonian blue blood in her veins, get to be seen as black? To paraphrase Mary Lefkowitz, author of Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History (1996), the short answer is 'by mistake." Two mistakes, in fact.

The first mistake was to conflate Zenobia's Macedonian-Greek ancestress, Cleopatra Thea, with the Great Cleopatra, Cleopatra VII.
It has long been a tenet of the Afrocentric school that Cleopatra VII was black. Lefkowitz says the first American writer to suggest that she had a black ancestor was J.A. Rogers, in World's Great Men of Color, Volume I: Historical Figures Before Christ, Including Aesop, Hannibal, Cleopatra, Zenobia, Askia the Great ... and Many Others (1931).

Needless to say, this impeccably Ptolemaic princess was not black and Lefkowitz utterly demolishes the idea. Talking about Zenobia, Rogers indeed confuses Zenobia's ancestress with Cleopatra VII and, since he thought that this Cleopatra was black, assumes that her descendant, too, must have been at least partly black. Other authors have followed Rogers and made similar claims about both queens but with evidence that has been just as poor.
Rogers is also responsible for the second mistake, taking too literally the Historiae Augustae's description of the queen (anyway, a fantasy paean to female beauty)
her face was dark and of a swarthy hue
but this was written by a Roman describing how Syrians looked to him: darker than Romans, certainly, but not black like a Moor.

With all due respect to Mary Lefkowitz, I think she may not have gone back far enough in fingering Rogers as the source of error. Zenobia Perry (pictured at the top of this post) was born in 1908, which suggests that the name was already popular among blacks. I have nothing more to say on this subject, so I'll switch gear and tell you something about this remarkable woman, who was a composer, poet, pianist, and educator.

She was born in Boley, Oklahoma, once the largest all black town (pop. 4,000) in America.

It was founded in 1904, just four years before Zenobia's birth, by J. B. Boley, a white man, who contended that black people were perfectly able to govern themselves. Visiting it early in the century, Booker T. Washington declared that it was, “The most enterprising, and in many ways the most interesting of the Negro towns in the U. S.”

Southern migrants in search of better opportunities flocked there but, after Oklahoma became a state in 1907, most townspeople were disfranchised. Although the day to day effects of segregation were muted, and until the depression ruined its modest prosperity, Boley was an important location for blacks in the state as they fought for the right to vote again.

Zenobia Perry was originally trained in piano by a local teacher. She then went on to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where she assisted the famous black choir director and composer William L. Dawson. Afterwards, she headed a black teacher-training program, supervised in part by Eleanor Roosevelt, who became a friend, ally and mentor and sponsored her graduate studies in education in Colorado. Additional studies in composition were with French composer Darius Milhaud and Aspen Conference on Contemporary Music in the late 1940s and 1950s.

In short, Female, Black, and Inspired.

From 1955 until 1982, she taught and was composer—in-residence at Central State University in Ohio, ending as an Emerita. After her death at the age of 96, some of her friends set up a website in her honour. It has this sad little note:

I am still looking for a publisher for her biography so that all can read about her life and music. Two publishers have told me there is no market for a biography of a Black American woman composer!
I thought about this a long time. What part of that configuration killed the market? Would there have been a market for a book about a White American woman composer? A Black American male composer? A White American male composer?

You get the idea.

Updated 22 May 2012

Zenobia Perry talks about studying with Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943).  Perry studied with him in 1931 in Rochester, NY:

This brief excerpt is from a longer 2003 interview with Zenobia Powell Perry, done the year before she died.  It will be included in documentary film on her life and music, a project of Jaygayle Music Productions.

14 August 2007

Women of Inspiration

While researching online for my 'Zenobia: What's in a Name?' post, I came across an astonishing group of Gullah dolls by her namesake, Zenobia Washington. You don't know what Gullahs are? Neither did I.

The Gullah people (not dolls) are a distinctive group of Black Americans from South Carolina and Georgia, living in small communities along the coastal plain and on the chain of Sea Islands which runs parallel to the coast. Because of their geographical isolation, the Gullah have been able to preserve more of their African cultural heritage than any other group of Black Americans. They speak a creole language similar to Sierra Leone Krio and make African-style handicrafts.

Of which Zenobia's dolls are a remarkable example.

I especially like her Women of Inspiration series such as (above, left) 'A Woman Ruler' and (below, left) 'Black Butterfly Dancer'. I'm not normally a handicrafts sort of person but these vibrant concoctions of glass bottle, fabric, beads, and feathers are magical.

“My community is rich with wise women, healers, warriors, and black butterfly dancers," this Zenobia says. "My dolls pay respect and homage to the women that raised and continue to nurture me. Each one says thank you for keeping me grounded in a culture that is both my resting and rejuvenating place, my home, my self.”

I apologise for being side-tracked from ancient history, but I couldn't help myself. Anyway, these dolls, since they're female, inspired, and black, are a perfect introduction to Zenobia: What's in a Name?

You're see why this coming weekend, when I belatedly get that post up.

10 August 2007

Well Behaved Women?

Well, quite.

Zenobia could not agree more.

I'm busy writing "Zenobia: what's in a name?", which should be ready for Sunday posting.

Meanwhile, you can follow the on-going discussion about 'Hairiness Makes the Man' on The Toynbee convector, to wit, Effeminate Natives of Asia, and the aptly titled Homo hirsutus .

Photo by otherthings, shared under a Creative Commons license (or so I hope).

03 August 2007

Eternal Rome

Just because it is calumny doesn't mean it's not true.

Of course the Emperor Elagabalus could have had boy-lovers and sexual relations with his favourite chariot-driver. Who would have minded, if he had otherwise behaved like a Roman? Look at the revered Hadrian and his catamite, Antinoos: the emperor even deified the boy (pictured left) after his early death from drowning in the Nile in 130 AD.

Anyway, the boy-love tradition is alive and well in Rome. Yesterday, the city held the first ever gay kiss-in at the Colosseum. At least 1,000 gay and lesbian couples kissed-in in this amorous in-your-face demonstration called to protest the arrest of two young men recently caught kissing (or perhaps something more) in the 2 AM moonlight just outside the Colosseum.

Said one of the boys, "Who wouldn't want to kiss in the moonlight by the Colosseum?"

"That was no kiss!" said the cops.

All the details, all the scandal at Direland.

The Colosseum kiss-in occurred on the same evening that a 500-yard (metre) portion of the Via San Giovanni in Laterano was re-baptised 'Gay Street'.

After the baptism, hundreds of gays and three government Ministers (Equal Opportunity, Social Unity, and Health) marched from the new Gay Street and the Coming Out bar to the near-by Colosseum to join the kiss-in. It is not known if the Ministers kissed.

The government has not yet fallen. Elagabalus should have been so lucky

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