If we had to name the most risky office in the world, it would undoubtedly be that of emperor of the Roman Empire. Suicide, assassination, death on the battlefield: very few have quietly ended their days in their beds. More astonishing: the mortality of the Roman emperors seems to follow a Pareto law which one observes in many other physical phenomena.
During Antiquity, the Roman Emperor was arguably the most powerful man in the world. But it was also one of the riskiest jobs. Everyone knows the example of Julius Caesar, victim of a plot by his opponent Brutus and. We also remember , who committed suicide in 68 to avoid the execution, or of Caius Caligula, an autocratic emperor assassinated at 29 years old by the own soldiers of his guard.
Conspiracies, suicides and assassinations
In a new study published in, researchers have reviewed the 175 Roman emperors who succeeded to the throne, from Augustus (63 BC to 19 AD) to Constantine XI (1405 to 1463), in including those of the Byzantine Empire , but excluding the regencies or those who shared the post. Of the 69 emperors of the Western Roman Empire, only 24.8% died of natural causes; 40% were murdered, and the rest committed suicide or were fatally injured on the battlefield. Taking into account all the empires and the 175 emperors, the rate of drops to 30% but remains very high.
Curiously, the authors note that this distribution follows a Pareto principle where we observe a distribution of 80% of common events and 20% of rare events. ” For example, 80% of lunar craters are relatively small while 20% of craters are large. Likewise, on, 80% of users have less than 12 followers, and 20% have several thousand or more », Quotes Francisco Rodrigues, researcher at the Institute of Mathematical and Computer Sciences of the University of Sao Paulo and main author of the study.
A risk peak after 13 years in power
The authors also noticed another startling statistic: “ When we looked at the most risky period [de mourir], we noted that this risk is maximum when taking the throne. The risk then declines steadily until 13 years after taking power, when another peak in mortality is observed. », Says Francisco Rodrigues. The researchers put forward several possible explanations: ” Perhaps these 13 years represent the time it takes for opponents to come together or for new rivals to prepare. », Suggests Francisco Rodrigues.invoke weak periods of rain which caused Roman troops to starve, increasing the risk of mutiny.
This 13-year peak corresponds curiously to that of a, which analyzed the duration of dictatorial regimes in oil monarchies, and found that dictators stayed on average 12.3 years in power before being removed. had shown that the average duration of a civilization was 336 years, due in part to the growing complexities that make them collapse on themselves. The Roman emperors would thus perhaps be victims of their own arrogance.
The researchers also note that emperors who inherited the throne rather than seized it by force tend to experience a more peaceful end and an increased likelihood of natural death, such as Marcus Aurelius, who died in 160. after 40 years of reign. But even natural deaths can be painful: Galerius (AD 250 to 311) thus died in excruciating pain after a long agony due to a.