Truth fails not; but her outward forms that bear
The longest date do melt like frosty rime,
That in the morning whitened hill and plain
And is no more; drop like the tower sublime
Of yesterday, which royally did wear
His crown of weeds, but could not even sustain
Some casual shout that broke the silent air,
Or the unimaginable touch of Time.
—  William Wordsworth, Mutability.

James Ensor, The Red Judge, 1900.

I was tagged by the lovely @livys to list my 10 favourite historical figures!  In no particular order, they are:

1. Marcus Tullius Cicero.  I’ve best explained it here, but essentially: brilliant, jawdroppingly snarky, passionately idealistic, non-fucking-stop.  (given that we’ve all been over the similarities to AHam, I don’t know why Hamilton isn’t likewise one of my favourites?  Partly I think it’s Daveed Diggs’ starburst charisma as Jefferson pulling focus, partly it’s that I tried the Chernow biography and it was an over-detailed slog – I got about as far as the events of “Right-Hand Man” before throwing it aside.  Love his portrayal in The Dreamer though.)

2. Publius Ovidius Naso.  okay, this is (probably) his poetic persona rather than the real man, and again, the post linked above explains it much more eloquently than I can now, but who can resist this urbane romantic, with his teasing, self-deprecating sense of humour and broad-minded, warm-hearted view of love?

3. Honoré-Gabriel Riquetti, Comte de Mirabeau.  This is all Hilary Mantel’s fault.  In my review of A Place of Greater Safety I described him as a “kingmaking self-aggrandising silver-tongued human whirlwind” and I think we all know by now how much that is My Type. :D (also, lilac dressing gown!)  I am endlessly fascinated by his relationship with Camille Desmoulins; I mean, I LOVED HIM TO IDOLATRY LIKE A MISTRESS I just can’t.

4. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.  I’ve said more than enough here and here, but: what couldn’t this man do??  Apart from successfully depose Edward IV, of course. (though to be fair to him, he almost managed it twice!)  In another world there are Jacobean tragedies written about him, and his determination to forge his own fate, to follow his pride and ambition wherever it would lead.

5. Lady Caroline Lamb.  Byron so isn’t worth it, sweetheart.  I think it’s the intensity and extremity of her passions and actions, set against the repressiveness of Regency polite society, that fascinates me.

6. Dr John Polidori.  Not the first or the last person to have a giant, messy, teenage, do-I-want-to-be-them-or-do-them crush on Lord Byron. :D  So adorkable, and emotionally so so much younger than anyone else at Lake Geneva that summer.  I hate how popular discussion of the Diodati set always either condescendingly pities or ignores him; he deserves far better.

7. Empress Theodora.  I will read any and all novels about Theodora, no matter how terrible, because how the hell do you go from being a prostitute to one of the most powerful women in the world?! what sort of person do you have to be in order to do that?  She’s not necessarily all that likeable, but I find her completely fascinating, and she and Justinian are the power couple of power couples.

8. Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary.  my beautiful tragic rebel prince.  I just feel so sorry for this intelligent, sensitive, love-starved, unhappy boy.

9. Julian the Apostate.  All my favourite literary/historical boys are named Julian, it seems!  This is all the fault of Gore Vidal’s novel, but I fell completely in love with this romantic, bookish, exuberant, energetic dork, this accidental Alexander, who says and feels so much about everything.  Love his alt-historical portrayal in Julian Comstock too - the sweetest, funniest novel set in a theocratic post-apocalyptic dystopia I’ve ever read.

10. Alexander the Great. how can you not respond to that world-shaking, world-shaping charisma, that sublime (in the sense of both terrifying and beautiful) brilliance?  Also, I don’t know what to do with his feelings for Hephaistion; I read Robin Lane Fox’s biography a couple of years ago, and much as it admits there’s very little which can be said for definite, you still get a sense of how utterly essential Hephaistion was to Alexander, how trusted and depended upon, and how much the love that ran between them was a solid bedrock that couldn’t be touched by any other passions Alexander might have.  One soul in two bodies; he too is Alexander; that’s exactly how it was, and no wonder the book says the hardest thing to imagine is what Alexander must have been like after Hephaistion’s death.  

Bonus mentions for Anne-Josèphe Théroigne de Méricourt, because oh my heart (PROTECT ANNE THÉROIGNE 2K16.  Her whole life makes me so sad; for all her intelligence, resilience and courage, so much of it is about abuse and exploitation by men) and for Harriette Wilson, she of “publish and be damned” fame, who sounds like such wonderfully wicked fun.  Tagging: @estherburr, @modernmissbennet, @villierscy, @verecunda, @poorshadowspaintedqueens, @shredsandpatches, @scrollingplayers, @idionkisson, @isabellacapets, @shieldmaiden-tabris and anyone else who would like to do it!

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Please, do not settle. You are deserving, in all of you beauty, in all of your pain, in all of your happiness, in all of your flaws. Don’t make excuses for someone’s lack of love. There will never be a valid enough reason. You deserved to be loved, for everything you were, for everything you are & for everything you will be. Sincerely, E.V. Rogina // @evrogina