Still reading my Gibbon. Last night I read about Pertinax. Replacing Commodus, who was a real shit, you would think he would've had an easy time of it. Would've too, if not for those bastards, the praetorian guards.
Pertinax was a good person: honorable, honest, just, etc... He takes over, and starts righting all the wrongs: lifting crushing taxes, restoring land illegally taken from people, calling people back from exile, etc... The people are overjoyed. After suffering so long under an evil tyrant, they can't believe their good fortune to have an emperor as good as Pertinax.
But as bad as Commodus was, he knew what side his bread was buttered on, and gave the guards a pretty easy time of it. They were grossly overpaid, and pretty much had free rein to do whatever the hell they wanted. Now Pertinax, he starts to reintroduce some discipline into the ranks of the guards. But they've had it so good for so long, they're having none of it. They march up to the palace, and kill the person they swore to protect; lop his head clean off.
Then, if that's not bad enough, they declare that they will be auctioning off the emperorship to the highest bidder. Some fat, rich senator, Didius Julianus, gets wind of this, and gives the guards just what they want, and they declare him the new emperor.
Gibbon says that on his way to the palace, he comes across the headless corpse of Pertinax, and the meager supper that was laid out for him. He shows indifference to one, and outrage at the other, and orders a lavish banquet to be brought out to him.
But, after having gorged himself, and been entertained with some dancers, he has a sleepless night. Apparently, he starts to wonder if he made a mistake, and how his future will turn out. Pertinax ruled for only 86 days. I wonder how long old Didius will last. I hope he has a nasty, short, brutish time of it. I can't wait to find out.