Monday, October 29, 2012

You, Claudius

In the spirit of staying up too late, which I often do, I spent many Saturday nights/Sunday mornings in September watching episodes of the 1976 BBC series I, Claudius on WETA UK.  The show, based on the book by Robert Graves, is a false autobiography of the Roman emperor Claudius.  The characters are mostly a bunch of Roman dudes with bowl haircuts and names like Gaius Drusus Germanicus Triceratops. Many of them are at least partially insane, most of them  want to rule the Roman Empire, and all of them are being poisoned by their wives.  I found portions of the story extremely confusing, but was able to navigate much of it using knowledge left over from my high school Latin days. 

An unexpected surprise was the appearance of Patrick Stewart in the role of Sejanus, who was prefect of the Praetorian Guard during the reign of Emperor Tiberius.  

A week or two after seeing Stewart in this role, I was struck by the realization of a shocking coincidence which, I felt at the time, would rock our view of the universe itself.  Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard, earlier acted alongside a character named Tiberius . . . and Captain Kirk's middle name was Tiberius!! (Kirk's middle name was not presented as Tiberius in the original series, however, it was presented thus in the animated series, and was one of the fews elements of the animated series later accepted as canonical.)

The whole thing can be presented in a circular progression, as follows:

Captain Jean-Luc Picard --> Patrick Stewart --> Sejanus --> Emperor Tiberius --> Captain James Tiberius Kirk --> Captain Jean Luc Picard

This coincidence has a big impact on me because, due to my participation in Latin club/Certamen activities and my own inherent nerdiness, Star Trek and the Roman Empire both took up large amounts of my time in high school. 

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