Sunday, March 7, 2010
Ivan the Awesome
As it turns out, the proper translation of the sobriquet of Ivan IV of Russia is not "terrible" but something closer to "awesome," as in awe inspiring. Knowing this makes me feel better about my result on the "What Horrible Monster of History Are You?" quiz.
As it turns out, Ivan and I do have some things in common. We are both of Russian heritage. We're both avid readers. We share an instinctive distrust of authority for authority's sake. In his case this lead him to reform government to reduce the influence of the hereditary aristocracy. In my case it leads me to sometimes get on the nerves of people in authority. Were he to take the "What kind of friend are you?" quiz, he, like me, would probably be told he was the "smart friend." The quizzes would also probably tell him, as they did me, that he was evil.
Ivan vastly expanded the borders of his country during his reign. He also advanced trade with other nations, especially England. I've been to England several times. I've traveled a lot. I've bought many foreign made products. That's almost the same, right?
He was a patron of artisans. He built St. Basil's Cathedral. He wrote political epistles. I decorate cakes. Maybe I ought to make a St. Basil's Cathedral cake. I blog occasionally.
Of course Ivan also had eight wives, beat his daughter-in-law, and then killed his oldest son in a fit of rage when he complained. He likely had syphilis, definitely suffered from high exposure to mercury, and may, in fact, have been poisoned to death by the disgruntled aristocracy. A lot of poisoning seemed to go on in Russia back in those days. I've only been married twice, my children are happy and healthy and can't remember having been in a rage ever so they're pretty safe from that. I'm quite sure I have neither syphilis nor high levels of mercury in my blood. As far as I know, nobody is trying to poison me, though I'm sure there are those who have thought about it.