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June 24, 2011     Post-Gazette
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Page 2 POST-GAZETTE, JUNE 24, 2011 by Prof. Edmund Nostra Turiello A weekly column highlighting some of the more interesting aspects of our ancestry.., our lineage.., our roots. CHICKEN NERO " Some astrologers predicted approaching horsemen forced a long reign for Nero and some even described the re- turn of all of his former for: tunes• These dreams were soon shattered by the news of uprisings and revolts in the provinces. He immedi- ately formed many wicked plans of monstrous propor- tions. He planned to degrade and assassinate the com- manders of the armies along with the governors of all of the provinces, to massacre all exiles and also all men of Gal- lic birth then in the city of Rome, to direct the armies to ravage the provinces, to poi- son the entire senate at ban- quets, and then as a "piece de resistance" he planned to release all of the wild beasts that were held in captivity so that they could roam the streets while he set fire to the city. Needless to say, these plans did not make him the prime candidate for the "Man of the Year" award. Meanwhile realizing that the end might be near he put some poison in a golden box and sent his most trustwor- thy servants to Ostia to get a fleet ready. After evasive an- swers and outright refusals he put off further decisions until the following day. He awoke about midnight to find that he had been completely deserted with the exception of two or three freedman, and is reported to have cried, "I have neither friend nor foe." He ran out to throw himself in the Tiber but stopped when his feet hit the cold water, thereby providing inspiration for the culinary concoction of later generations called "chicken Nero." This is where the chicken is served in a standing position with its feet in borsch. He accepted an offer to use a villa about four miles away and traveled part way by horse and the rest of the way by walking or crawling through the brambles• Word was soon received that he was declared a public enemy by the senate and that they had ordered punishment in the ancient fashion. This kind of punishment consisted of being stripped, secured by the neck in a kind of fork, and then beaten to death with rods. ThoUghts of this kind of execution plus the sound of him to say, "What an artist the world is losing," then with the help of the freedman he drove a dagger into his throat and he was gone. It is said that in death his eyes pro- truded from their sockets in such a fashion that all who saw him shuddered with ter- ror. Funeral rites were con- ducted and his ashes were deposited in a family tomb. In retrospect it should be noted that while history should regard Caligula as the most grotesque figure ever to serve as emperor of the Ro- man empire, Nero certainly finished a close second. He was degenerative in his hab- its and shameless in his per- sonal appearance. He longed for immortality and everlast- ing fame. He achieved his immortality through his deeds and of course not through his person. His de- pravity and cruelty will cer- tainly live in the hearts of Christians for all of "the time that they remain on earth. The manner in which he at- tempted to achieve everlast- ing fame was exactly what made him one of the most infamous persons to ever draw breath. He and he alone was responsible for the per- secution of St. Peter and St. Paul. The huge obelisk in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome should serve as a con- stant reminder of two of the most brutal men that this world has ever known. The obelisk was brought to Rome from Heliopolis in old Egypt and was transported via a special boat that was con- structed by Caligula• It was later placed on the spina (median strip) of Nero's cir- cus, and it was at the base of this obelisk where St. Peter and countless numbers of Christians were martyred. It was moved from its original position close by to its present location by Pope Sixtus in 1586. Caligula died at the age of twenty nine after four years of reign and Nero died at the age of thirty one after fourteen years of reign. Oh how his- tory would have been changed if these two cruel and evil men had never walked upon the face of this earth. NEXT ISSUE: The End of the Line The Agency for all your Insurance Coverages Richard Settipane AUTO HOMEOWNERS TENANTS COMMERCIAL Experience makes the difference SPECIALIST in RESTAURANT and BUSINESS POLICIES CALL TODAY FOR YOUR QUOTE 617-523-3456 - Fax 617-723-9212 1 Longfellow - Place Suite 2322 - Boston, MA 02114 Conveniently located with Free Parking Res Publica by David Trumbull Don't Know Much About History Songwriters Sam Cooke, Lou Adler and Herb Alpert, in their 1960 hit "Wonderful World," pled ignorance of his- tory and other academic top- ics. Today they'd find them- selves joined by millions of American high schoolers. On June 14  the U.S. De- partment of Education re- leased results of the U.S. History 2010 National As- sessment of Educational Progress at Grades 4, 8 and 12. The results, are not good. At 12 th grade just 12% were "proficient," represent- ing solid academic per- formance. At grade 12 a student is proficient if he can "understand Missouri statehood in the context of sectionalism" -- most could not. At grade 8 the percentage at or above proficiency is 17%. For fourth graders, 20% are proficient. In other words, the longer kids stay in school the worse they do relative to how someone in their grade ought to do! Not all of the questions are available, as many will con- tinue to be used in tests. From among the grade 12 questions published on the Department of Education website I selected some of the more difficult to see how the pupils did. From the list {a) Soviet Union, (b) Japan, (c) China, or (d) Vietnam, merely 22% of 12  graders correctly iden- tified (c), China, as an ally of North Korea during the Korean War. Just one-third of 12 th graders correctly identified President George Washing- ton's foreign policy as "avoid- ing permanent alliances with other countries." Two- thirds of the students thought Washington was an interventionist in foreign affairs. Likewise, just one-third correctly answered that Thomas Jefferson's election as President is sometimes called the "revolution of 1800" because it was the first "peaceful transition of power from one political party to another." The rest thought there actually was a popular uprising in 1800, or that the Elector College was abolished, or that it had something to do with the Louisiana Purchase. Presented with charts showing gross domestic pro- duction increasing, unem- ployment declining, and wages rising during World War Two, merely 43% cor- rectly answered that "the war caused a major increase in economic production in the United States." For more information on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, I suggest you go to the Department of Education website. While there you can take an online sample test and find our whether you are smarter than a 4 th, 8 th, or 12 th grader• Quincy's Angela Cristiani Elected Political Director of Boston Teachers Union Quincy's own Angela Cristiani was elected as the newest Political Director of the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) this past week besting her opponent with 62% of" the vote. Ms. Cristiani, a licensed school psychologist, brings a unique set of credentials to the union's leadership. Once a dancer with the Boston Ballet, she always has shown a commitment toward teaching, serving her community, and donating her time to charitable works. Throughout her educational career she has remained dedicated to the arts, her students, and helping others in need. BTU President Richard Stutman, Who also won his election, offered his con- gratulations to Ms. Cristiani and the other newly elected BTU officers. "The 10,000-member Bos- ROL£X " ESTATE JEWELRY Bought & Sold Jewelers Exch. Bldg. Jim (617) 263-7766 I I I I I I 345 Broadwayr Revere 781-286-CASH I Honest & Trusted for 33 Years!! I www.selloldmass.com L$ lilXlXOll(IJ ..... t11111], __ S j ton Teachers Union con- gratulates Angela on her vic- tory as its new political di- rector," said Stutman. "Along with the election of three new Executive Board mem- bers, the Boston Teachers Union is pleased to have as elected officials a seasoned team of education profes- sionals who are dedicated to making our schools as good as they can be while protect- ing the interests of our stu- dents as well as our staff." The Boston Teachers Union represents 5,500 teachers and other profes- sionals including nurses, psychologists, and guidance counselors• In addition, we represent approximately 1,000 paraprofessionals, and close to 500 substitute teachers, along with 3,000 retired members. It is the largest public sector labor local in New England. 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