Toxic Masculinity – Historian Edition

Justin, Philippic Histories 1.3:

Finally, following them, reigned Sardanapalus, a man more dissolute than a woman. His own prefect in charge of the Medes, a man named Arbactus, came to see him (a thing which had not been permitted to anyone before), and when he had scarcely obtained admittance through extensive canvassing, found him among a whole group of prostitutes weaving purple garments at the distaff and wearing a womanly outfit. He excelled all of the women in his softness of body and lasciviousness of eye, weighing out the tasks among the maidens. Having seen this, and indignant that so many men were subject to such a woman and that men who held iron and arms should obey someone who handled wool, Arbactus proceeded to his companions and related what he saw. He denied that he could obey someone who preferred to be a woman rather than a man. And so a conspiracy was hatched; war was brought against Sardanapalus. When he heard about it, he first looked around for a hiding place – not as a man about to defend his reign, but as women are wont to do from fear of death. Yet finally he proceeded to war with a few unprepared men. Once conquered, he retreated to the palace, where a pyre was built and set on fire. He threw himself and his riches into the fire, this being his only act in which he played the part of a man. After Sardanapalus, his slayer Arbactus, who had been the prefect of the Medes, was set up as king. He transferred the empire from the Assyrians to the Medes.

Eugène Delacroix, The Death of Sardanapalus

Postremus apud eos regnavit Sardanapallus, vir muliere corruptior. Ad hunc videndum (quod nemini ante eum permissum fuerat) praefectus ipsius Medis praepositus, nomine Arbactus, cum admitti magna ambitione aegre obtinuisset, invenit eum inter scortorum greges purpuras colo nentem et muliebri habitu, cum mollitia corporis et oculorum lascivia omnes feminas anteiret, pensa inter virgines partientem. Quibus visis indignatus tali feminae tantum virorum subiectum tractantique lanam ferrum et arma habentes parere, progressus ad socios quid viderit refert; negat se ei parere posse, qui se feminam malit esse quam virum. Fit igitur coniuratio; bellum Sardanapallo infertur. Quo ille audito non ut vir regnum defensurus, sed, ut metu mortis mulieres solent, primo latebras circumspicit, mox deinde cum paucis et inconpositis in bellum progreditur. Victus in regiam se recepit, ubi exstructa incensaque pyra et se et divitias suas in incendium mittit, hoc solo imitatus virum. Post hunc rex constituitur interfector eius Arbactus, qui praefectus Medorum fuerat. Is imperium ab Assyriis ad Medos transfert.

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