Stumped on a Byzantine emperor’s nickname? Meet Rhinotmetos.

Stumped on a Byzantine emperor’s nickname? Meet Rhinotmetos. - JUSTINIANII
Byzantine emperor known as "Rhinotmetos" ("the slit-nosed")

Once upon a time, in the ancient city of Constantinople, there lived an emperor with a peculiar trait. His nose, shaped like a little valley, was famous throughout the empire, and people called him “Rhinotmetos,” which meant “the slit-nosed.” The emperor, whose name was Justinian II, was a brilliant and ambitious ruler, determined to expand the influence and power of Byzantine empire.

Some of his subjects, however, were not so impressed with their emperor’s appearance or his policies. They criticized him openly, calling him all sorts of nasty names and challenging his authority. Justinian, being a proud and stubborn man, decided to teach them a lesson they would never forget.

One day, he came up with a devious plan. He would create a crossword puzzle with a clue that referenced his infamous nose, knowing that his critics would never be able to solve it. The answer to the clue was his own name, “Justinian II,” but spelled in Latin form as “Justinianii.” He published the puzzle in all the major newspapers and ordered his spies to watch and listen for any reaction.

As he had expected, the puzzle caused a stir among the people of Constantinople. Some tried to solve it, but most gave up in frustration, knowing that their emperor had once again outsmarted them. Justinian, pleased with himself, went on to strengthen his military and political position, leaving his detractors behind.

And that, my dear friend, is the story of how a crossword puzzle helped an emperor prove his point and become known as one of the most formidable rulers of the Byzantine Empire.