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A Bird in the Hand is Worth... : The Roman Emperor Honorius, so the story goes, had more on his mind than the impending sack of one of Europe’s iconic cities.
A Bird in the Hand is Worth...

Translated from History of the Wars III.2.25-26, by Procopius.

After the Roman Empire split into East and West, Constantinople’s glories in the East contrasted sharply with Rome’s growing vulnerability, and in 410, Alaric the Goth beseiged the former capital.

THEY opened the gates, and let Alaric and his army come and go as they pleased; and after plundering the whole city and killing most of the people of Rome, the invaders moved on.

It is said that at that time the Emperor Honorius, in Ravenna, received a message from one of his eunuchs, evidently in charge of the poultry, telling him that it was all over for Rome.

Honorius cried out, ‘And yet, just minutes ago he was eating out of my hands!’, referring to an exceptionally large cockerel which he kept, named ‘Rome’.

Realising that he had been misunderstood, his servant explained that it was all over for the city of Rome, which had fallen to Alaric.

At that, Honorius heaved a sigh of relief. “My dear fellow” he said, “there I was, thinking my bird Rome was dead!”

They say the Emperor was always uttering nonsense of that sort.

Translated from History of the Wars III.2.25-26, by Procopius.

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Picture: © Sylvia Duckworth, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
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