Episode 37: Dwarves. Shoulders. Giants

Episode 37: Dwarves. Shoulders. Giants

Ep 37 Dolby

Perhaps the greatest bit of reading in the entire corpus of historical writing is to be found on pages 637 and 638 of Robert K. Massie's Peter the Great biography, where he goes into detail about the 18th century Russian obsession with dwarves. Every respectable house kept a couple around, and Peter in particular kept his favorite dwarf with him at all times. He would organize highly solemn official state functions and then, the next day, go through the whole thing again, this time with dwarves replacing the original participants. He found it hilarious.

There is also at least one instance on record of Peter forcing one of his nobles to gnaw a muscle off of a corpse. Peter was fascinated with surgery (he carried instruments with him and would perform surgery on anybody sick who'd let him get away with it) and so, during his Great Embassy to the west, he made sure to stop by as many autopsy amphitheaters as he could. One of his nobles made the mistake of expressing disgust at the whole thing, resulting in Peter's command that the noble crawl towards the corpse on his knees and bit off one of the muscles in repentance for his unenlightened views.

- Count Dolby von Luckner

Ep 37 Geoff

The Count beat me to the punch. I was going to talk about how the barest of facts make up our caricatures of history. When discussing Peter the Great it is hard to get past all the dwarves and viscera.

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