Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, November 15, 2007

  The Achievements of the Divine George

Res Gestae Divi Agricolae

This monumental text, dating to the first quarter of the 21st century, is generally regarded as the most significant inscription to survive from antiquity. It records the emperor’s own account of his public career, which coincided with the final transition from Republic to Empire. It is a very partial and partisan account of those critical years, which omits much that we would wish to know about. Yet it also affords us a rare glimpse into the mind of the man who revolutionized the state, then at the very height of its powers.

The inscription was intended to be carved on a pair of gold pillars that flanked the entrance to the emperor’s mausoleum and library in Dallas. These have long since disappeared (though the building’s foundations were excavated at the end of the last century). The composite text that appears here has been reconstructed from fragments of the many copies that were inscribed on public buildings in all the major centers of the Empire. The most complete copy was inscribed on the Temple of the Divine George in Anger (Germany), for which reason the text often is called the Monumentum Iranum. Other extensive fragments were discovered in Baghdad, Damascus, Basingstoke, Palermo, and Tibilisi.

The account consists of the following nine sections:

(§ 1-3) George’s early career and rise to political dominance
(§ 4-14) Honors and acclaim bestowed on the emperor by the Senate and people
(§ 15-18) George’s largesse
(§ 19-21) Building and restoration projects
(§ 22-23) Public diversions
(§ 24-25) Arrogance of his political opponents, his own righteousness and fidelity to law
(§ 26-30) George’s military successes
(§ 31-33) His foreign policy successes
(§ 34-35) George restores, preserves, and protects the Robust Republic

The text presents many linguistic difficulties; even after a century and a half of scholarship (since the discovery of the first fragment in a grain mill in Poland), several phrases remain wholly obscure. Older editions of the text tried to regularize the grammar and spelling according to the standard English of the 21st century. The assumption of earlier editors was that the text had been corrupted during its dissemination overseas to non-native speakers.

But with the discovery of two fragments in Detroit 40 years ago, it became clear that the idiosyncrasies of language were original to the emperor. The scholarly consensus now is that George wrote his Res Gestae in a deliberately archaizing style. Evidently he wished to emphasize his claim that he had restored a more pristine Republic, obliterating the corruption of recent years while hearkening back to the “robust” government of an earlier era. It is true that George’s language does not have all that much in common with what we know of 18th century English style. However it’s abundantly clear, especially from his use of the title “Father of his Country”, that the emperor wished to be likened to George Washington, the first President of the Republic. The best explanation of the strained grammar, then, is that it was a conscious evocation of bygone times.

In the text here, I have modified the original language as little as possible except where the phrases would be incomprehensible to a modern reader.

George’s pseudo-anonymous biographer, Krauthammer (“German gavel”), says that the emperor worked frequently on his Res Gestae from 2004 until shortly before his death (§ 118). The biographer also quotes several sentences from something that he calls “George[’s] Will”, but these do not appear in our preserved text. It’s believed that Krauthammer is referring to a different document than the Res Gestae. A second biographer, Oh Hanlon, adds little of interest although he does suggest that “Cheney” was an alter-ego for the emperor; many of his alleged exploits seem highly improbable, however, and it is debatable whether he was a real individual or a fictional court figure.

Column 1

A copy is set out below of “The Achievements of the Divine George, by which he brought the world under the empire of the American people, and of the expenses which he bore for the unitarian executive and people of this great country.” The original is engraved on two gold pillars set up at Dallas.

§ 1 At the age of forty-four on my own responsibility and at my own expense I raised an army of lawyers, with which I successfully championed the liberty of Florida when it was being oppressed by the tyranny of a faction. On that account the Supreme Court passed decrees in my honor, enrolling me in the presidency in the two hundred and fiftieth [sic] year of the Republic. It decreed me to be The Decider and assigned me the right to give my decisions to the Senate, and gave me imperium. It ordered me as Unitary Executor to provide in concert with Cheney that the Republic should come to no harm. In the same year, when both towers fell in battle with the Enemies of freedom and liberty, the people authorized me to use force to preserve, protect, and reorganize the Republic.

§ 2 I attacked the man who tried to murder my daddy, avenging his crime through tribunals created by laws I myself passed. And afterwards when his followers made war on the Republic, I defeated them in battle forty-two times. I sleighed [sic] with my own hands in single battle two enemy clan-leaders and raised [sic] their cities to the ground.

§ 3 I allowed Cheney to get me into many sival [sic] and foreign wars, on land and see [sic], throughout the world. When I won I spared the lives of any American citizens who pleaded for mercy, as long as I heard about them in time. When Enemies of our freedom and liberty could be pardoned with both safety and security, I preferred to preserve rather than exterminate them. The American citizens who took the soldier’s oath of personal obedience to me numbered about 2,700,000. I settled more than 170,000 of these in colonies oversees [sic] or let them go back to their homes after their periods of service. To all of them I granted benefits and money as a reward for doing their duty to me. I captured 600 tankers, not counting ships smaller than a football field in length.

crossposted from

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