Alex Massie

The Roman Obama?

Text settings

Mary Beard, in good form today:

I’m surprised that no-one seems to have spotted an obvious Roman parallel for the success of Barack Obama. Or have I missed it? In the second century AD, Lucius Septimius Severus became the first ‘African-Roman’ emperor of Rome. Like Obama he was of mixed race -- his father from Libya, his mother of European descent. He too had an outspoken and determined wife, from Syria. And his first task on coming to the throne in 193 AD was to deal with a military disaster in Iraq (‘Parthia’ as it was then known).

Of course, I'm sceptical that there are often actually any (truly useful) lessons to be learnt from Rome but that doesn't mean one can't have some fun digging up comparisons from the ancient world.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleInternationalhistory