6 April 2010

Blues and Greens

Ah, the good ol' days. Back in the 6th century the citizens of Byzantine capital of Constantinople were fiercely divided between factions supporting the Blue and the Green chariot racing teams.

On 13 January 532 the mob assembled in the Hippodrome for the races alternated between cheering on their colours and hurling abuse at the Emperor Justinian. Towards the end of the day the Blues and Greens stopped cheering for their teams and began to chant "Nika", which means "Conquer".

Intriguingly, in Latin America the cry of "Nica" is an abbreviation for ni cagando (literally "not even shitting", or "no way", or "up yours"). There is clearly some continuity there.

Anyway, the mob burst out of the Hippodrome and assaulted the palace. Fires broke out and half the city went up in flames. Justinian eventually made a deal with the Blues and massacred the Greens. After which the Byzantine empire reached its apogee and Constantinople was magnificently rebuilt.

Sigh. One can but hope . . .

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