The Mosaic Soliloquies VI

Joseph P. Farrell

The Former Lord Patrician Vardas, Ruminating to Himself after His Public Scourging and Exile by His Sister, Her Imperial Majesty, Theodora Augusta, Empress of the Romans:

That bitch leaves me with thirty stripes on my back, three mansions in Thessalonika, a thousand or so works of art — jade and ivory mostly, I’ll have to check — and statues, I mustn’t forget the statues. She took all the rest, the slutty bitch! Confiscated! Left me nothing!…not enough, maybe, to pull it off. A cistern full of gemstones, a few diamonds, rubies, sapphires…hmmm…maybe some emeralds, I think. Buying influence is expensive. I’ll have to get rid of my slaves, sell them to the fleet for the galleys. Then there’s those four chests of gold buried in the back here…a little silver, some jewelry and baubles…that rare manuscript that might fetch a handsome sum from the old rabbi in town, another that would delight a sorcerer, and they’re easier to find anyway. Not much…there isn’t much left at all…maybe it’s sufficient…could I get credit from the moneylenders?

What am I thinking!? Theodora will be watching them…stuck out here in this miserable village…too far from the City. No more late night meetings and muttered contracts and diplomacy and the business of state and opium parlors and manipulating the silk rade and barbarians and the whores at the Forum and their tight little…stuck out here in this sinkhole of Nicea like a rat on a sinking ship!

Empress Augusta indeed! The little whoring bitch! If those sods in the City but knew thou dost lay with thine husband only to birth a son to that bollockless and bloated fat lover who hath to eat the testicles of bulls to get his concupiscence! Slut! Feigning thy public devotion to the iconoclasts and consenting to their tortures and executions of iconodules, whilst secretly conspiring with the latter and endowing their churches and monasteries! Call me hypocrite! Whore!

Golden elixir of revenge…Sergius must have had a hand in this perfidy…and Eusebius! O Eusebius what pain I shall store up for thee! And that fat lump of lardy eunuch, Theoktistus…pricking my sister with his bladeless dagger!

Control, Vardas, control…calm…one, two, three, four. After all, thou art a man of “Christian virtue” now…hast a letter from Rome saying so! From the pope’s very own librarian to boot! “Rome hath spoken, the matter is settled.”

Where’s the damned quill? This paper is crap…that scratchy Arab shit. What should one expect in Nicea?

Things to do:

One: Acquire a base of power and influence in the City again.

Two: Restore the stability of the Empire which this ridiculous iconoclasm shatters;

Three: Damn flies! take credit for doing so;

Four: Keep our foreign enemies unstable while I deal with the outstanding problems;

Five: Gain the trust of Theodora’s bastard heir and, through that trust, totally corrupt him;

Six: Destroy the Frankish Empire, confer item Four: “outstanding problems”;

Seven: With regard to item Six: Gain friends in the old Rome, and cement them indissolubly to me;

Eight (and most important): Restore myself, my fortune, my position, my power, and advance them beyond their former state.

I’ll have to give a few banquets…court and woo the intellectuals, yes, that’s what I’ll do. “Vardas, repentant of his former ways, wishes to make amends for the good of the Empire.” I’ll endow academic chairs, maybe even found a university, a “Higher School” of political science, and for those that find the occult fashionable, maybe some dramatic readings from my grimoire with some astrologers and soothsayers and crystals. Hmmmm….

For the philosophically inclined, maybe some small and exclusive gatherings to read and study the ancients, Plato and the Nicomachean Ethics by tedious old What’s-his-name. I’ll have to hire some musicians, flutes and drums, and some liars and fruits from the Forum for some of the clergy, rivers of wine of course, fine foods, too, maybe some curries from India? — Where am I going to get Indian curries stuck here in Nicea? Deal with that later — Impress them all with my learning and fine letters and newly-acquired morality and docility and taste and refinement.

Nine: Hire physicians!

Can’t forget that! O, yes, dear whoring sister mine! Thy womb will dry up like a sepulchre and issue thee no more heirs; thou wilt be compelled to lavish all thine attention and affection and high expectation upon thy son, who shall be my creature in thy downfall. The Patriarch’s baptizing him today, the triple immersion for young little Michael: I will take him, and thrice dip him into sluts, wine, and opium. Then, dear Theodora, motherly hopes dashed, thy hate will become sufficient to cloud thy reason and impair thy prudence, as Michael seeks out “good old uncle Vardas, because he understands me, and thou shalt grow cold to the touch of thy eunuch and he to thee. He’ll just have to be executed anyway.

Ten: The West:

Hmm…a little donation, that’s what I’ll call it! “Donation” contrived and forged, make it look real so the stupid Franks or Germans or whatever they’re calling themselves these days will never notice; make him a sort of “bishop of bishops” — O man! that’s rich! — he’ll go along with that, so with the stroke of a pen I’ll clog the whole machinery of their government. O this is the best yet! And that will be that!


Vardas was interrupted by a sudden noise from his gardens. An intruder perhaps? Grabbing his jeweled dagger with the special undulating assassin’s blade, he stole silently into the night air.

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