Listing a Tyrant’s life

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

W.H Auden, Epitath on a Tyrant

When I first started thinking about S&T, I knew I wanted it to be political. I rapidly felt the need to have a kind of pendulum effect between two eras in the setting’s fake history: a strict authoritarian rule which would naturally be followed by a period of lawlessness and civil disarray. This leads me to some more (vague) thoughts:

  • some people are genuinely nostalgic about the period when there was stricter control and they forget or just don’t want to remember how it was so terribly oppressive
  • tyranny really is just around the corner, a few unfortunate events and a well-placed charismatic figure is all it takes
  • It’s all about scale,  local leadership is far more accountable
  • The absence of local leadership, be it forcefully removed or just lacking, is awfully detrimental to the people

13647v

The authoritarian rule I mentioned is in fact divided between three tyrants, one after another. I don’t yet feel the need (or I’m too lazy maybe) to be very precise about these characters as the actual play will be at a point further in time, but I have to create some modicum of lore about them. Could come in handy.

So here’s a list of quirks I can use to flesh out these tyrants. I’ll keep the fantasy stuff for another time.  I didn’t invent anything new really, just stole eccentricities from a bunch of dead dudes (thank you Muammar Gaddafi, you’re malignant life helped my purpose).

The Tyrant has:

  1. burned down part of the city to make some space for a project of his.
  2. a harem with dozens of multiracial concubines.
  3. the habit of staging fake combat/sport/art performances where he can demonstrate his rather mediocre skills.
  4. female bodyguards in very alluring attires.
  5. written a treatise on proper behavior that is now set in stone everywhere.
  6. orchestrated a massacre of a minority group.
  7. the deep conviction that his people loves him, even with a rebellion raging all around.
  8. taken all of his armies in one big convoy to show off at a neighboring power’s frontier before going back.
  9. built a 50′ statue of himself.
  10. built a 50′ statue of his favorite pet animal.
  11. been pleased that the people chant whenever they see him.
  12. claimed that he received mandate from the gods.
  13. demanded that be erased all things concerning a famous hero.
  14. claimed to be the rightful successor of a famous hero.
  15. the habit of keeping exotic/dangerous pet animals.
  16. one or more secret prisons, nobody knows what happens inside.
  17. a few delusional pet theories that he likes to share in long-winded public speeches.
  18. the habit of receiving young virgins at least once a week.
  19. banned a long list of goods that he personally dislikes.
  20. a favorite sport team that doesn’t seem to be able to lose no matter how bad they play.
  21. a crush on a well-known beauty. She fled in exile.
  22. large portrays of him on the buildings of the city. Its a capital offense to put graffitis on them.
  23. the monopoly on a luxury good. It used to be available, now it’s his.
  24. once ordered a man to be executed. He didn’t chant with the crowd.
  25. once ordered a man to be executed, he wore a hat that was more ornate than his.
  26.  once ordered a man to be executed. He coveted the man’s wife. She killed herself.
  27.  once ordered a man to be executed, he was way too ugly.
  28. once ordered a man to be executed, he remembered him of someone.
  29. once ordered a man to be executed, he was his best friend.
  30. once ordered a man to be executed but then felt generous. He commuted the sentence to prison for life. The man was never seen again.
  31. built an extensive tomb to be buried with riches and his entire staff of (killed) servants.
  32. a bath made of gold.
  33. an artificial lake excavated in order to please his favorite concubine.
  34. often said that he doesn’t hold any power. The people have power. He’s merely the Guide.
  35. spies everywhere. Watch your words.
  36. no trust for spies. Not one bit.
  37. secretly helped the rebels organize so that he could better crushed them.
  38. named his half-wit older brother to the office of Minister of Public Health.
  39. banished his youngest son after a failed attempt on his life. He loves him very much.
  40. always consulted oracles before taking his most important decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

Emile Verhaeren: Les villes tentaculaires

Deux citations inspirantes pour mon setting:

C’est la ville tentaculaire

La pieuvre ardente et l’ossuaire

Et la carcasse solennelle.

Et les chemins d’ici s’en vont à l’infini

Vers elle.

Et l’autre:

Ô les siècles et les siècles sur cette ville

Elle a mille ans la ville,

La ville âpre et profonde;

Et sans cesse, malgré l’assaut des jours

Et des peuples minant son orgueil lourd,

Elle résiste à l’usure du monde.

 

Ozymandias

Posts tagged with “inspirations” will be about acknowledgements/tributes I wish to make.

I totally had this poem in mind when I wrote my last post:

Ozymandias of Egypt

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed,

And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, Ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

by Percy Bysshe Shelley