Did Nostradamus predict President Trump?

Illustration: Rob Beschizza

Michel de Nostradame, the 16th century apothecary and seer, published prophecies that remain chilling to this day. Their power is in their peculiar mix of vagueness and specifics: they describe nightmarish scenes with names and analogies that adhere with unsettling elegance to the political forces and personas of later ages.

Here, for example, is a classic quatrain held to describe the French Revolution:

"From the enslaved populace, songs, Chants and demands While princes and lords are held captive in prisons. These will in the future by headless idiots Be received as divine prayers."

Once you've decided what any given quatrain is about, it reads like an eyewitness report by an educated man from an earlier era, trying naively to describe in terms meaningful to him the sights of an apocalyptic technological future. You can imagine him getting high, looking into the fire or a glass ball, and feverishly transcribing the incomprehensible terrors he observes.

Among Nostradamus greatest hits were Hitler (to whom references to "Hister" are said to apply); Saddam Hussein, whose name accommodates the terrifying "Mabus" character; and Barack Obama, of course, who fits that name even better.

Sure, it's all quite silly, a load of could-mean-anything Renaissance creepypasta. And there's humor to be found in the fact that Nostradamus is so good at predicting things that have already happened.

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