Thursday 11 July 2013

How to Be a Courtier

Petronius was a courtier – or sidekick – of the Emperor Nero, a despotic Roman ruler who liked to execute people who annoyed him (like his mother, and his wife). Nero also fancied himself as a singer and poet. Petronius kept his head (on his shoulders) by making remarks that could be taken two ways. That way he pleased Nero while never actually telling a lie. Well, that’s what happened in the film Quo Vadis, anyway.

Petronius: [watching Rome burn] Now indeed, Nero has his place in history.

Petronius: [to Nero] You will be worthy of the spectacle - as the spectacle is worthy of you.

Others have followed his example. Even Nero, committing suicide, cried out: What an artist dies with me! (Allegedly his real last words: Qualis artifex pereo!)

A disguised King Pelios in Jason and the Argonauts, to Jason: The day your father lost his throne, I fought as bravely as any man.

Tacanco: we know no other company like it. (Rupert Goodwins)

This fancy gravy boat couldn’t make my wife’s sauces taste any better.

This show takes exhibitions to a whole new level. (The basement.)

UKIP members have nothing to fear from GCHQ intelligence gathering.

We wish him all the success he deserves.

Princess Anne was always known for her taste in hats.

This year’s entries are as strong as ever. (David Lammy’s comment on the 2005 Turner Prize)

Mrs Thatcher wrote a terrible Yes Minister sketch which the stars performed at an awards ceremony. Yes Minister author Jonathan Lynn said: "The Prime Minster has now taken her rightful place in the world of situation comedy."

The price of a luxury spa break in Southport/week at a bagpipe festival in Ghent/underwater grandfather clock for your swimming pool/16-course vegan banquet has to be whatever it costs.

Gyles Brandreth: It’s weeks like this that make me glad that I’m no longer in politics.
Ian Hislop: Do you know, I think most of us feel the same.

Evelyn Waugh's Scoop featured an underling who replied to any statement by his boss, Lord Copper, with: "Yes, Lord Copper." Or "Up to a point, Lord Copper".

Or you can always use this formula:

Kill List is probably the best hired killer/Wickerman crossover I'll see this year. (@unlikelyworlds)

Surely the most notorious production ever to be filmed in Malta. (imdb on Hieronymous Merkin)

This is the most ludicrous psychedelic zombie biker movie that Beryl Reid ever starred in.

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