Sic Transit again – It Happened Today, February 17, 2017
On this date in 364 AD, February 17, Jovian was found dead in his tent. And if your reaction was a rudely pointed "Who?", well, you have a point. Actually he was a Roman Emperor and an illustration of the vanity of much worldly ambition.
He only reigned for eight months, following Julian the Apostate’s sudden death during his bungled campaign against the Persians. He was foisted on the empire by soldiers, possibly in a case of mistaken identity. And though he was found dead in suspicious circumstances, nobody much cared to investigate them.
On the plus side, he did restore Christianity after Julian’s rather pathetic efforts to restore worship of the Olympian deities. And he did proclaim freedom of conscience while, um, forbidding magical rites and imposing the death penalty for those who worshipped ye olde Gods like Jupiter. Oh, and he had the Library of Antioch burned down because Julian had filled it with pagan books. Which actually annoyed his Christian as well as non-Christian subjects.
He then continued Julian’s retreat from the far east and signed a humiliating treaty with the Sassinids surrendering five Roman provinces. After which he made a bee-line for Constantinople to bolster his political position somehow. Except it ended up a bee-line to the cemetery.
To rub it all in, his successor Valentinian I did such a good job that he was nicknamed "the Great". Whereas Jovian was nicknamed "Who dat" or some such.
Another person who would have been better off staying on his farm. As would his nation.