It is a curious fact of Roman imperial history that, whenever a man named Germanicus seemed poised to assume the purple, he came to a bad end.

Germanicus Julius Caesar, the wildly popular adopted son of Tiberius, died in suspicious circumstances in Asia, probably assassinated on the orders of his own adoptive father. As if that were not bad enough, his son was Caligula and his grandson was Nero.

Marcus Julius Publius Flavius Germanicus took poison when his name was misspelled on the pedestal of a statue erected to him by order of the Senate.

Marcus Flavius Publius Julius Constantinus Germanicus was murdered by his own mother during a heated dispute over the etymology of the word epistasis.

Flavius Julius Marcus Sabbatius Trajanus Frigidarius Germanicus was found strangled to death with the Empress Theodora’s apron strings.

Silvio P. Germanico, “The Last of the Augusti,” declared himself Emperor of the Romans during the celebrations after a victory of A. C. Milan over Perugia, attracting several dozen loudly enthusiastic followers. He was arrested for obstructing traffic and fined 18 euros. He is now employed in the telephone-sales division of a Milanese company that manufactures inferior ballpoint pens for the American 99¢-store market.