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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > April 2019 > Emperor Donald

Emperor Donald

For classicists, the times we live in have given rise to an entertaining, if depressing, parlour game: which lunatic/ depraved/autocratic Roman emperor does Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America, most resemble? Caligula might seem an obvious go-to. According to the scurrilous, highly unreliable and yet utterly enjoyable imperial biographer Suetonius, he made his horse a consul—which, frankly, Trump has all-but done, what with the series of donkeys on whom he has bestowed so many high offices. And yet in her book SPQR Mary Beard has offered the compelling, if not entirely convincing, notion that Caligula the depraved was really Caligula the cynical, poking fun at the innate absurdity of his role and of the Roman empire. Perhaps Trump is an archsatirist, but that would seem to accord to the man too much intelligence and wit.

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In Prospect’s April issue: Mark Damazer, the former controller of BBC Radio 4, tells the inside story of how the BBC has tried—and sometimes failed—to cover the political crisis that overshadows everything else. Elsewhere in the issue: Playwright and screenwriter James Graham profiles John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, as he takes centre-stage in the unfolding Brexit drama and Tom Clark examines the Independent Group and argues that they could well shake up the established political tribes. Also, Jennifer Williams highlights the growing gap between the haves and have-nots in Manchester—a city that is simultaneously experiencing a housing boom and a homelessness crisis.